|The Call of the Day
Author: SaraiEsq PM
What's behind Mike Stoker's hoarseness at roll call? Is Chet right - did Mike forget get how to talk on his days off? Or, is something else going on? This is the story I promised Mike I would finish writing in "A Late Night ...".Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor - M. Stoker - Chapters: 9 - Words: 25,687 - Reviews: 24 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 3 - Published: 08-16-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8437528
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
THE CALL OF THE DAY
I do this for fun not profit; the characters (with the exception of Patty, her parents, and Rand) are not mine but the mistakes (without exception) are. This disclaimer also applies to the brief appearance of our favorite boys in dark blue, Adam-12.
Additional notes accompany Chapter 3. Dates are used throughout, but don't get too hung up on them.
And, before you ask, yes, there are some background sketches I plan to write related to this story.
But now, without further ado, …
straight from Station 51 to you …
the story I promised Mike I'd finish.
Stoker, take it away!
Hey, Mike! Where are you? (mumbling) Geez, give a guy a story and then he disappears. What am I gonna do now? (snaps fingers) Ah-ha! I know. (louder) Uh, Cap? Can I talk to you for just a minute?
=+++= / +====
"Roll call in five, gentlemen," Captain Hank Stanley of Station 51 called out to his men, the scrape of chairs from the kitchen and the banging of doors from the locker room letting him know he'd been heard.
"Here, sir," Roy replied calmly.
"Here, Cap!" Johnny chirped happily.
"Here," Chet said smugly.
"Here," Marco responded genially.
"Here," Mike croaked in reply, wincing slightly.
"Hey, you okay there, pal?" Captain Stanley asked, clapping a hand on his engineer's shoulder.
"Whadya do? Forget how to talk on your days off?" Chet asked, jumping in before Mike could reply.
"Just a sore throat," Stoker said hoarsely, ignoring the other man's joke.
"I know just the thing to fix you up! My grandmother used to make this herbal tea for –," Chet started in a more kindly tone of voice.
"Later, Kelly!" the captain barked without heat.
"Alrighty then," he continued, "back to our required reading for the morning."
After roll call was finished and the morning's tasks assigned, Chet sidled up to Mike and said, "Seriously, babe. What you need is a cup of my grandmother's herbal tea, with honey. It's great stuff. I've got some in my locker if you want to try it."
"Chet, uh, why do you have your grandmother's tea in your locker?"
"Uh, it actually, uh, helps after eating a little too much smoke, too. Granddad was a firefighter, ya know."
"Ahh," the engineer replied scratchily, glad there were no paramedics in sight to check out his throat. "If this doesn't resolve soon, I'll take you up on it. Thanks, man." Chet nodded and headed off to clean the latrines. Forget how to talk, Mike thought with a smile for Big Red's massive control panel. Chet, if you only knew!
=+++= / ++===
The next morning when his shift ended, Mike Stoker headed across town, arriving only a few minutes before the meeting started. He had just stepped through the door and pulled off his sunglasses when he heard someone call his name. "Mike! Saved you a seat."
"Hey, thanks, Patty," he replied, crossing the room to sit down next to an attractive young woman with an abundance of dark hair. Perhaps fifteen other people were settling into their chairs around the large conference table.
"Did you and Big Red get into any trouble yesterday?" she asked impishly, knowing he'd just come off-shift and sometimes had good stories to tell. Patty knew he didn't tell her all the stories he could; he glossed over the more horrific incidents, certainly. Today, however, Mike looked relaxed and not too tired, so she figured it had been a good quiet day.
Before he could reply, a thin man with oversized glasses stood up and called the meeting to order. Mike settled for flashing Patty a smile and whispering, "Nothing I couldn't talk my way out of."
"Okay, folks, thanks for coming. The final totals aren't in yet, but it looks like our last event was a great success." Light applause, high-fives, and a whoop or two broke out around the table of volunteers. Bill held up his hands unnecessarily for quiet and continued. "But, as usual, we've got no time to rest on our laurels because, drum roll please, we have more events coming up." Mock groans ensued. "Now, next month, we have two small fundraisers – on the eleventh and the fourteenth – and then the gala event at the Exhibit Hall on the seventeenth and eighteenth." He paused as pocket calendars were pulled out, opened, and marked. "Mike, your schedule is the tightest most of the time, so why don't we start with you. What shifts do you think you can take this time around?"
Consulting the schedule he'd copied down at the station that morning, Stoker replied succinctly, "The fourteenth is no problem, Bill, but the seventeenth is completely out. I can take the later shifts on the eleventh and the eighteenth, though, if it helps. And I can help with the promotions, of course."
"Good. I don't know if Charlie will be up to calling two days in a row, but I'm sure Frank can handle things until you get there on the eighteenth, can't you, Frank?" An older man wearing a tweed jacket nodded. "And it looks like there'll be plenty of work to do even if Charlie is in top form – our Patty Mack has those donations rolling in."
"All for a good cause," Patty chirped, green eyes laughing.
=+++= / +++==
When John Gage arrived home that morning, all he wanted to do was sleep. He and Roy had responded to three runs during the night, the last of which hadn't turned out well at all. The attempted suicide call had come much too late for them to help, but that knowledge hadn't taken the sour taste out of his mouth. The victim's mother had taken it hard and blamed them for not being able to help her boy.
After a long shower, the dark-haired paramedic tumbled into bed and much-needed rest. Most of his neighbors worked during the day – which made it easy to grab a nap when he came off shift. The ones who didn't tended to be quiet. There were exceptions, including the young couple three doors down, but they weren't, as a rule, morning people so he was able to drift off to sleep with only the usual sounds of the day filtering into his apartment.
A few hours later, a new sound insinuated itself into his dream, mixing with it then calling him out of sleep.
He was standing in the hallway outside the teenager's bedroom. His partner had entered the room first and quickly checked the body on the blood-splattered bed. When Roy shook his head to signify the boy had been successful, Johnny had not been all that surprised. He turned to carry the unneeded equipment back to the squad and was stopped by the victim's mother. "Where are you going? Why aren't you helping my son?" she shrieked up at him, blocking his way. "I'm very sorry, ma'am, there's nothing we can do," Johnny said gently. "You have to try!" she shrieked again, grabbing his wrists more tightly than he'd ever thought possible from a woman her size. The equipment he'd been carrying fell to the floor with a double thud. He heard a rumble of sound and looked down to see her small, careworn hands transform into thick, sticky ropes, and wind tightly around his wrists and forearms, binding them together painfully. A double thud from the bedroom caused Johnny to look through the doorway again. Roy was sprawled across the bed now, wrists bleeding profusely, while a surly-faced teenager with empty eyes stared down at his handiwork. "Johnny, do something! Help me!" his partner called out. "I can't," Johnny said, desperately pulling at the ropes. "My hands are tied." The door slowly began to close and Johnny tried to bring his arms up enough to push the door open again. During the next rumble of sound, one of his arms flew free, and smacked into –
The solid oak nightstand beside his own bed. Ouch. As his pulse slowed, Johnny could hear the noises from his dream here in the waking world, too.
Rumble, thud-thud. Rumble, thud-thud.
There was something familiar about the sound coming through the half-open window, he thought, eyes shielded by the arm now thrown over his face.
Rumble, thud-thud. Rumble, thud-thud.
Drums. Not from a rock-n-roll band, but from his past – tribal drums. The distinctive, melancholic resonances of a native flute joined the drums then. Tucking his hands behind his head, Johnny found himself soothed by the sounds and the well-worn memories they called forth.