“Oh, Sweetheart, I don’t know...yeah, we have tomorrow off, but... sure I do, but it’s just that... well, I’ve never...”
Roy slightly dropped the newspaper he’d been reading, just enough to peer over the top of the page at his flustering partner. Since Johnny had answered the ringing phone himself, no one had a clue as to the identity of the caller, but it was obviously more girlfriend trouble. With a shrug of his shoulders, the senior paramedic returned to his reading, only to be interrupted by Chet.
“Well, who do you think it is, Roy? Sounds like things aren’t going too well. Suppose he’s gonna get dumped again?”
“Leave it alone, Chet.”
“Hey, I was just wondering, that’s all.”
“Yeah, and after you wonder about it, then you’ll start to pick on him, and then I get to put up with him. Just leave it alone, okay?”
“Aww, Roy, you’re no fun.”
The Irishman’s wide grin was lost on the paramedic as he returned to his paper, only to be interrupted again by Marco who’d just walked in.
“Who’s Gage talking to? Sounds like he’s got a problem.”
Hoping that, if he didn’t answer, the two men would just go away and leave him in peace, Roy stared harder at the black marks in front of him. But he had to admit his curiosity was piqued. He knew that Johnny had been dating several different girls, but no one in particular, and it had actually been some time since he’d received any personal calls at the station. Johnny was still arguing gently into the phone when Cap and Mike entered the room. They, too, looked at Roy questioningly. He longed to shout: ‘why do you think I always know the answer?’ but the paramedic merely shrugged his shoulders instead.
The voice at the phone rose slightly as Johnny continued to plead with the caller, causing everyone to glance up in curiosity.
“Yeah, but . . . awww Jen . . .”
Blue eyes stared up from the table in surprise as a giggle erupted from his left. Staring at his partner, Roy could see the man’s head hanging as the next words floated softly across the room.
“Well. . . let me talk to your mom . . . . Hi, Joanne. Yeah . . . yeah . . . well, I understand your problem, but . . . can’t somebody else . . . yeah, but I’ve never . . . Joanne . . .”
The next part of the conversation gave the men little more information to go on, and Johnny’s hesitation had turned into a full-blown whine. Roy was past being curious; he definitely wanted to know what was going on.
“Alright, I’ll do it. Yeah. . .yeah . . . okay . . . you’re welcome. See ya tomorrow.”
Suddenly the call was over, and Johnny was slowly hanging up the receiver, his last sentence still hanging in the air. Turning towards the table, the paramedic was surprised to see the rest of the crew staring at him expectantly. “What?”
A burst of laughter was his answer as Chet doubled over in glee.
“We thought you were getting dumped again, Gage. But now we find out you were just setting up a date with a younger woman. That’s just so sweet . . .”
“Shut up, Chet.”
Johnny dropped into a chair next to Roy and picked up another section of the newspaper. He effectively cut himself off from the rest of the crew as he hid behind the large page, but his partner was not about to be cut off.
“What was that all about?” asked Roy.
“Nothing? Sounded like something to me.”
“Well, it’s taken care of now.”
“What do you mean? What’s been taken care of? What did Joanne talk you into this time?”
“I don’t want to talk about it, okay?”
Pushing himself from the chair, Johnny walked out of the Dayroom, and minutes later the sound of a bouncing basketball could be heard.
With a soft sigh, Roy got up and headed for the dorm. He knew he wouldn’t get anything from his partner, at least not for a while. Might as well go to the source, and he didn’t want to be making that call in front of the crew.
Settling himself at the small desk in the quiet room, Roy dialed the familiar number and waited impatiently until a warm voice answered.
“Hi, Joanne. It’s Roy . . .”
Several consecutive runs kept the paramedics busy for the next several hours, giving the partners no chance to discuss Jennifer’s phone call. It was late afternoon when Roy walked through the Emergency Entrance of Rampart Hospital to find his friend chatting amiably with head nurse Dixie McCall. Johnny’s crooked grin and animated hand gestures gave the impression of someone in good humor, and Roy wondered at the strange ability his partner had of being able to switch moods so quickly. Although Johnny could drive him crazy at any given moment with his tirades and unusual schemes, he was also the most easy-going, and good-natured man he’d ever met.
Striding up to the desk, Roy smiled at his friends. “Hi, Dix. Everything okay?”
“Sure, Roy, everything’s fine. Johnny, here, is just filling me in on his plans for tomorrow.”
Turning to his partner, Roy almost expected to see the same frown he’d worn earlier. Instead, the young man seemed amiable enough, one set of fingers drumming softly on the counter, while the other gently pulled on the green pen clenched between his teeth.
“Plans? You mean the plans you have with Jennifer?” Roy asked.
“And you’re okay with that?”
“Sure, why not? Might be fun.”
Roy rubbed the back of his neck, his eyes darting back and forth between his partner and the head nurse. He knew his mouth was hanging open, but words wouldn’t come.”
“You okay, Roy?” Dixie prodded gently.
“Yeah, I’m . . . Fun?” He turned his gaze back to Johnny. “Are you nuts? What could be fun about it? I think you’re crazy to have agreed to this, and I told Joanne so. In fact, I can’t believe she asked you in the first place.”
“Well, it’s not like she had a lot of choice. With your sister-in-law needing Joanne’s help, and you already committed to working that extra shift, who else would she ask?”
“I don’t know. Maybe my mother. . . one of the other moms from school. . . the lady down the street. . .somebody. But. . .but you, Johnny? I’m sorry, partner, but I can’t see you-”
“For your information, your mother wasn’t available tomorrow. And what’s this about some other girl’s mom or a strange neighbor instead of her uncle Johnny? What’s wrong, Roy? You don’t think I can handle it? Don’t you. . . don’t you trust me?”
Johnny’s affable look was quickly disintegrating, and Roy knew he had only himself to blame. Still, this was his daughter they were talking about, Jennifer’s happiness. He had to ask the questions. It was a father’s duty. His responsibility. On the other hand, he had no reason to doubt his friend. Maybe Johnny was up to this. Maybe it would work out all okay. Joanne had been the one to start this whole thing, and she said Johnny would do just fine. Besides, Roy had no desire to set his partner off on a shift-long pout, either. Time to backpedal.
“No, it’s not that at all, Johnny. Of course I trust you. And I’m sure you can handle it. It’s just . . . .”
Two sets of eyes stared at Roy as he searched for a plausible answer. Dixie cleared her throat, her eyes discreetly turning towards her papers, while Johnny simply chewed harder on his pen.”
Roy finally acquiesced. With Joanne firmly behind the plan, who was he to try to change things around now? After all, he was just the father. And so he faced his partner with a half-smile, and a light slap on the shoulder.
“Nothing. It’s nothing. You’ll do fine. I’m sure you and Jennifer will have a good time. And you’re sure to find something at the mall.”
“Of course we will, Pally. I mean, how hard can it be? After all, we’re just shopping for a homecoming dress, for cryin’ out loud.”
Hope you don’t mind that I resurrected an old storyline of mine. After shopping 8 hrs with my girls for homecoming dresses, this just seemed like an appropriate time to dig this one out.
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