The Unknown Rescue
By Audrey W.
“Squad 51, unknown type rescue, 2114 West Whipple Street, two one one four West Whipple Street, cross street Hillside, time out 14:11.”
Johnny and Roy ran to the squad. The vehicle headed for the street, Johnny acting as navigator for his partner. Once they arrived at the address, the paramedics quickly took the drug box and biophone out of the squad, walked up to the front door of the house and knocked.
“Seems awful quiet,” Johnny remarked. “Wonder what’s up?”
Roy knocked on the door again, this time a little harder. Soon after, the door opened.
A woman about twenty-eight years old with shoulder length brown hair stood in the doorway.
“Firemen? Wha…? Why are you at my house?”
“Ma’am,” Johnny began, “we got a call for a rescue here.”
“A rescue?” The woman asked, surprised. “I’m afraid there’s been a mistake.”
“Mommy,” a little voice cried from behind the woman. “They gotta help Spike.”
The woman turned around, facing her six-year-old daughter. “You…did you call these men, Amanda?”
“No, Mommy. I talked to a lady. Honest.”
The woman turned her attention back to the paramedics. “Oh dear. I’m so sorry.”
“Who’s Spike?” Roy asked. “As long as we’re here we can take a look at him.”
“Can you?” Amanda asked hopefully. “Oh goody! He’s hurt real bad!”
The little girl ran out of sight, into another room.
“Uh, ma’am. We’re confused,” Johnny said pointing between himself and Roy. “Is someone hurt or not?”
“Well, you see--”
“Here he is!” Amanda returned, running up to Johnny, a small coffee can in her hands.
Peering into the can, Johnny could see a tiny green worm, one-fourth inch long. It looked like it was squished in the middle of its body. A short brown stick and 3 blades of grass were in the can with the worm.
“Its not moving,” Johnny remarked.
Roy peeked into the can, while the little girl was explaining.
“His name’s Spike. He’s an inchworm. You have to make him better. He’s my bestest friend in the world,” Amanda cried.
“Roy,” Johnny whispered out of the corner of his mouth, “he’s dead.”
“Honey,” the woman began, “I told you not to handle him too much or something would happen. You squished him. These men can’t be here for a worm. They have people to save.”
“But he was so cute and cuddly, I couldn’t help it. I showed him my playroom and everything,” Amanda was crying harder. “Please, Mister? Make him better.”
“I…we…you see…” Johnny stuttered. “Roy, you can jump in here at any time.”
Roy squatted down to get to the same level as the little girl. “You see, Amanda, we save people. If we tried to use our equipment on him…well, I’m afraid it would just make him worse.”
Worse? Johnny thought. How could it get any worse than dead? Good one, partner.
“You aren’t gonna save him?” Amanda asked, her lower lip trembling.
Johnny couldn’t take it any longer. “Oh here,” he set down the biophone and took the can with the worm out of the little girl’s hands. “We’ll take him to the worm hospital and I’ll bring him back in…oh…say a…a…well, a few days.”
“Can I visit him?”
“No!” Johnny shouted. Looking embarrassed, he softened his approach. “Um. No…no they don’t allow people visitors at the worm hospital. In fact, I gotta hire a butterfly transport to drop him off.”
Roy stood up looking incredulously at his partner. Where is he getting this from?
Johnny saw the look Roy was giving him and shrugged, mouthing Well?
“Well, okay. I can wait till you bring him back. But you promise you won’t keep him?”
“Okay,” the little girl sniffed. “Can I blow him a kiss before you go?”
“Uh…yeah…sure.” Johnny lowered the can so Amanda could say her goodbyes. Turning to Roy he asked, “Did we make ourselves available yet?”
“I am now. Meet you at the squad, Florence.”
Johnny shot Roy a glare. “Oh, very funny.”
Grinning, Roy picked up the equipment and headed back towards the squad.
Once the goodbyes were done, Johnny walked over to the squad, climbing in.
Amanda’s mother smiled as the paramedics pulled away from the curb. She hoped the dark haired one knew what he was doing.
Well, how are you gonna save the little girl’s worm?” Roy asked, glancing at Johnny as they traveled down the highway. “You dug yourself a deep one this time.”
“Inchworm, Roy. And I’ll do it…I’ll do it. I…I just gotta find another green inchworm is all,” he shrugged. “I’m off tomorrow…I can go to the park.”
“Oh that ought to be cute. A grown man looking for an inchworm in a park. You want to borrow my kids?”
“Ha ha. Hey, it’ll be a piece of cake.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Johnny had been in the park three and a half hours and still no sign of an inchworm. Many people stopped to observe the man on his hands and knees looking through the grass. At one point a police officer approached, grinning when he saw who had been reported as a suspicious individual.
“What in the heck are you doing, Gage?”
“Shhhhhh. I’m looking for something.”
“Did you lose something?” The officer asked.
“No, I didn’t lose anything,” Johnny replied, annoyed. “I’m trying to find an inchwor…oh never mind. I’m almost done.”
The officer walked away shaking his head. Whatever it is, I don’t want to know.
As the officer left, Johnny found what he had been searching for. “Ah ha!” He put it in the small can beside him and took the new inchworm home.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The next morning on their supply run to Rampart, Johnny talked Roy into going to the little girl’s house to return the worm. Roy peered in the can that was sitting between him and Johnny on the seat.
“You gotta be kidding! That worm is twice the size.”
“Inchworm, Roy. And I already have that covered. Just let me do the talking.”
“Oh, sure. No problem,” Roy said, shaking his head.
Amanda was sitting outside in the front yard when the paramedics arrived. Johnny climbed out of the squad taking the can over to her.
“Here’s your inchworm, sweetheart,” he said, grinning. “All better.”
Amanda looked in the can. “He’s so big!” She eyed Johnny suspiciously. “You sure that’s him, Mister?”
“Yeah…yeah, I’m sure. He ate really well there. The butterfly even had to fly lower bringing him back because of the weight.”
Roy rolled his eyes as he listened in the squad.
“Oh, thank you, Mister Fireman!” The little girl hugged Johnny tight around the waist. “You really are a hero.”
Amanda ran inside her house, yelling, “Mommy, Mommy! He saved Spike! Just like he promised he would!”
The mother came out on the lawn, walking over to Johnny. “Well, I know it meant a lot to her. Thank you for taking the time.”
“Sure. No problem. But, please make sure in the future she doesn’t call the Emergency Dispatch for an inchworm, ladybug or anything else like that. You can just call the station and when we get time, we can come by if we’re needed non-emergency. But I’ll let you in on a secret.” Johnny looked around conspicuously. “I don’t do well at catching lady bugs,” he whispered.
“Got it.” The mother grinned, waving as she walked back to the house.
Johnny climbed back in the squad, looking over at Roy.
“You amaze me at times, you know that?” Roy shook his head. “You’re lucky she believed you about the inchworm’s weight.”
“Hey, it’s all in the delivery, Roy. It’s all in the delivery.”
“You ready to go to Rampart now?”
“Yeah.” Johnny looked over at Roy. “Hey, not a word of this to Chet, got it?”
“Got it. Your secret is safe with me.”
When Roy pulled into Rampart later, he grinned. But no one said I couldn’t tell Dix.
This story was inspired by my six-year-old daughter and her inchworm, Spike, who lived with us all of one hour before he met his maker. He received the tour of our house and mostly her room, even “watched” TV with her. :o) A big thanks to Kenda for the beta read.