Captain Smith's Christmas


Captain John Smith, who held the reputation for the fire department's worst grouse, opened the locker room door, and held it open.  "Lopez!  Kelly!  Roll call!"  he said.  He wore his white captain's hat.  The gleam in his eye gave both Marco and Chet the feeling he had somehow overheard them.  They grimaced at each other.
A draft blowing in from under the apparatus floor door only made Captain Smith's presence all the more painful for the crew as they lined up.  Their anxiety over Captain Stanley was palpable.  His replacement seemed to sense it.
"I will be working with you this shift," he started.  "As you know, Captain Stanley's in the hospital with pneumonia.  We will get by there sometime, if we can."
The unspoken question on everyone's mind was, "When?  When can we see Cap?"  They craved visiting him as if they were children.  Had Captain Hammer not been available?  Surely we can swing by Rampart sooner rather than later, thought Stoker.  
Captain Smith looked at Stoker quizzicly, then returned to his usual stoic expression.  He rattled off the morning duties, and dismissed everyone to their chores.  The station's other shift members were in the kitchen, cooking up a feast for the homeless--their yearly Christmas project.  According to Captain Smith, after Johnny and Roy did their equipment checks, they would help distribute toys at the hospital.
"Maybe we can see Cap then?" Johnny pondered to Roy as the former pulled out the oxygen tank.
"Only after we've seen the kids."
"True.  If Cap's contaigous. . ."
"You got it, palie," said Roy as he opened the drug box. 
Just thinking about visiting Cap was a relief from the dark cloud that followed them.
On both paramedics' minds were the unspoken questions of: What about the victims they would encounter during the shift?  Would Captain Smith try to block their treatment?  He was no friend of the paramedic program, and nearly cost a young boy his life when he objected to Roy injecting the victim with epinephrine to relieve an asthma attack.  Other paramedics had commented on his ill-will as well.  Would the man ever change his mind?
"It'll be interesting to see how he acts today," said Johnny with a nod of his head toward the kitchen.

The homeless were already lining up along the driveway, and would be entering the side door to the kitchen/Dayroom.  They would eat their fill from the food on the table, sitting in the extra chairs and even on the floor to partake.
One of the firefighters had written "Merry Christmas" in beautiful calligraphy on the blackboard.  Someone else had brought in colored chalk, and decorated the board even further with Christmas motif.  More garland and lights were along the ceiling line, and around the blackboard and bulletin boards throughout the station. 
Alarms started coming in.  Captain Smith was like a shadow to the paramedics on runs.  He insisted that the engine crew tag along.  Truth be told, he still had not bought into the paramedic concept.  He made the excuse that the paramedics might need assistance.
Assistance? Roy thought, as he drove back to the station.  He recalled the runs they had had already, and it wasn't even lunchtime yet.  A broken toe; a little boy with his head stuck in the wall--well, he could see rationale for that one, but cooking oil saved the day--and a broken arm.  No cardiac arrests or anything that was truly life-threatening.
"Seem to be a lot of homeless this year," Johnny mentioned, jarring Roy from his thoughts, when they returned to the station.  He hadn't noticed, and said so, as he backed the squad into the station.  His prayer was that none of the homeless would get behind him and get run over.

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