Turkey Day Surprise
By Audrey W.
Mike Stoker carefully backed the engine into Station 51’s apparatus bay. The crew had just returned from a run and was looking forward to a Thanksgiving meal they’d left earlier, when the engineer brought the large vehicle to a stop, the front half of it well outside the bay.
Captain Stanley looked at Mike in surprise. “Why’d you stop out here?”
“I didn’t wanna run over the turkey,” he replied, his attention focused on his side view mirror.
“The turkey.” He glanced at the captain. “There’s a turkey in the station.” Mike then returned his gaze to the mirror. “I think he just ran behind us.”
Hank peered in his own side mirror; when he didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, he grinned. "Okay, you got me with that one. You can back the engine the rest of the way in now.”
Mike opened his mouth to deny he was setting the captain up when Chet spoke for him.
“He’s not kidding, Cap. There’s a turkey in the station.”
Hank turned around in his seat to see Marco nodding in agreement. He then once again looked at Mike.
“How would a turkey get in the station?”
“I don’t know. But there he goes again,” the engineer said. “He just went toward the dayroom.”
“Maybe it’s John and Roy’s idea of a joke for Thanksgiving,” Chet suggested.
Hank pursed his lips in thought, his eyebrows furrowed. “Well, I’d agree, Chet, but considering they left with us and aren’t back yet, I’d say that’s not likely.” He let out a sigh of resignation. “How ever it got here, I guess there’s only one thing to do.” He opened his door and soon the four men were all standing on firm ground.
“What are we going to do, Cap?” Marco asked.
“Catch him,” he shrugged.
As the men went about the plan, paramedics John Gage and Roy DeSoto returned in their squad. Roy watched in the rear view mirror as he backed the red truck toward the apparatus bay. Before he got it halfway in, he hit the brakes, jerking the vehicle slightly. Johnny quickly reached for the dashboard to stabilize himself, then shot an irritated glance at his partner.
“What’dya do that for?”
“Cap, Marco, Mike and Chet just ran behind us chasing a turkey.”
Johnny continued to stare, then gave a lopsided grin. He gave a playful punch to Roy’s right shoulder. “Hey, that’s pretty good. That’s a good joke for Thanksgiving. I’ve gotta admit you made me stop and think there a sec. You can back in now though,” he added, facing forward in the cab.
Roy put the squad in park and turned off the ignition. “I’m not kidding. They were chasing a turkey.”
Johnny watched as his partner opened the driver’s side door and climbed out. He immediately opened his door; once he was facing the apparatus bay, he saw the turkey in a standoff near the locker room door. With the rear access door that led to the back lot closed, the bird had no where to go from its corner.
“Whose idea was this?” Gage asked as he started forward.
“We don’t know,” Mike explained. “It was here when we got back.”
“What’re we gonna do with it?” Roy wondered.
“Well,” the captain began, “providing we can catch it, we’ll probably turn it over to the proper authorities. It must belong to someone.”
“Are we gonna have it arrested for breaking and entering?” Gage snorted.
Hank didn’t answer, though the other men rolled their eyes at the attempt of humor. He looked at his engine crew and nodded at their questioning looks.
“Now!” he yelled and he lunged for the bird, landing where it had been, but was no more. The captain found himself instead on his hands and knees and turkeyless.
Mike went after the runaway bird first and was lucky enough to catch up to it. He reached out for its body as Johnny and Roy joined in to help.
Marco and Chet assisted Hank with getting to his feet. With his ego more bruised than his knees for the moment, the captain stood and watched as the other three men managed to get a hold of the uninvited guest.
“Now what?” Johnny asked as he, Roy and Mike each still kept a hold of the turkey’s body.
“I guess we call animal control,” Hank answered.
“Is there an identification tag on it anywhere?”
“Chet, it’s a turkey, not a dog,” Johnny said wryly.
After the captain went to his office to call for animal control, an elderly couple the firemen had helped in a car accident a few months before showed up at the entrance of the station.
“Are you boys enjoying your Thanksgiving?” the man asked.
All six sets of eyes, including the turkey’s, settled on the elderly couple.
“Uh. . .it’s been different,” Chet commented.
“I see you found your gift.”
“G. . .gift?” Mike questioned, still holding tight to the feathered foe.
This time the woman spoke up. “We read in the paper yesterday that firemen always appreciate being remembered at the holidays. And one of the suggestions was to take a turkey to a station for Thanksgiving.” She paused and all six pairs of eyes remained staring.
“Well,” the husband began, “We figured since you boys did us a favor and got us out of our mangled car when we were in an accident, that we’d repay you with--”
“A turkey,” Roy finished.
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Uhm. . .I think they might’ve meant a cooked one,” Johnny offered from his seated position on the cement floor.
“Oh dear. . .” The woman looked at her husband. “You know, we just haven’t done too well in the thinking department since we hit eighty-five.”
“I’ll say.” He eyed the men. “Of course they meant a cooked one. Well, we can probably have one of Baxter’s relatives back to you all browned and with trimming by late tonight.”
“Well, actually his name’s Ted. But we like that anchorman character on the ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ so much, we decided to call him Ted Baxter, then Baxter just stuck after that.”
“That’s okay,” Roy said. “About bringing one back, I mean. It’s the thought that counts and the memories just from Baxter’s visit should hold us over for a few years.”
Five heads nodded; Johnny did a double take at the turkey when he could’ve sworn Baxter nodded too.
Can’t be . . .
The couple exchanged smiles between them, before the man once again spoke. “I guess it paid off to bring Baxter over here after all then.”
At that moment Hank came out of his office, a smile on his face. Rubbing his hands together, he walked toward his men as he stated, “It was hard to get anyone with it being the holiday, but they should be here in. . .an . . .hour . . .or. . .” he trailed off when the men shook their heads. Chet pointed to the elderly visitors.
“Cap, these fine folks thought they’d give us a free turkey for rescuing them from a car accident a few months ago. They dropped off Baxter here while we were out on a call.”
“Baxter? Oh. . .Oh!” It finally registered what Chet was telling him. He reached out and shook the man’s hand, then the lady’s. “Thank you. Thank you very much. We appreciate the thought, but. . .uh. . .I don’t think we can keep a live bird at the station.”
“Not a problem. Your men already explained it to me.” He walked over to where Johnny, Mike and Roy still had a hold of the turkey. “C’mon, Baxter. Your job is done here.”
The three firemen slowly released the bird and were shocked to see it just toddle away toward the street with the couple. The firemen all made their way out in front of their vehicles and watched as the back door on the passenger side of the couple’s car was opened and the turkey waited till the man lifted him in.
Six mouths dropped open in shock.
“I don’t believe it,” Johnny stated.
Hank just looked down at his own sore knees, certain he was going to have matching bruises.
Mike and the others were speechless.
Finally the captain broke the silence. “Well, I guess there’s just one thing to do.”
“What’s that?” Chet wondered.
“Call animal control and tell them they aren’t needed after all.” Once again he went to his office.
“I thought turkeys were supposed to be dumb.”
“They are,” Roy assured his partner. “I guess Baxter isn’t smart enough to know that.”
With nothing to add to the comment, the men went back to their Thanksgiving dinner, then duties at the station; Mike backing in the engine while Roy took care of the squad. The visit from Baxter was going to be a Thanksgiving experience they’d all remember for a long time to come.
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