A/N: This was written per my 7-year-old daughter's request:
Daughter: "Mom, how 'bout if there are some kids in a tree in the rainforest, and the tree is going to fall down, and Johnny and Roy have to rescue us?"
Me: "Um, I'll see what I can do with that..."
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, don't make a dime. I just let them out for air.
Hank the Bully
Roy DeSoto slid into the driver's seat of the squad. "All right, Junior, let's roll," he called out to his partner, who was finishing packing up the paperwork from their last run. "I wanna get back to the station in time for some of Cap's chowder!"
Roy winced as Johnny slammed the door hard.
"Boy, pal, if people had one bit of common sense, we'd be out of a job," grumped Gage.
"Yeah," replied Roy, "I can't believe that not one of the guys at that shop figured that it wasn't such a hot idea to store the gas can on top of the electric heater! I mean, even my kids know better than that!"
"Well, pardner, I guess that's why we have fire code inspections." Johnny pushed his shaggy hair out of his eyes and turned to his partner, who hadn't yet started the squad's diesel enginge. "Well, come on! Let's go get us some chowder!"
Roy sighed. "You're forgetting something – again!"
Johnny looked out his window to see what he'd neglected to pick up. "Well I don't see anything! I've got the clipboard right here, and all the paperwork's on it. I didn't take my helmet out – see, it's right here! Now let's go!"
"Weren't you just talking about common sense? Remember the new safety regs? 'Drivers shall not start any vehicle's engine until all occupants' seat belts are securely fastened,'" Roy intoned.
"Geez, Roy," said Johnny, reaching around for the belt, "you sound like Brice when you quote the regs like that." He clicked the buckle. "All right, are we good to go?"
The squad's engine started with a rumble, and they pulled away from the now shut-down machine shop. Johnny cranked his window down to catch a breeze, as they passed through a quiet residential neighborhood on their way back to the station.
As they halted at a four-way stop, Johnny suddenly sat up. "Hey Roy? Hold up a sec – I think I hear something!" Johnny leaned out the window for a better listen. "Turn the engine off – I definitely hear someone."
"Hey, mister fireman! Help! Over here!"
Roy picked up the radio, ready to report in a possible call, as Johnny got out to have a look around.
"Up here!" a small voice called.
Gage craned his neck, shading his eyes from the sun. "Up in the tree!" the voice repeated.
Sure enough, when Johnny stood below a towering ash tree, he saw a treehouse, about 25 feet up. There were two girls in the treehouse, waving frantically.
Johnny waved back up. "Hey, kids! Are you all right?"
"Yeah, mister, we're fine, but we can't get down! We've been up here for hours and hours, and my Mom is gonna be real mad!" The taller of the two girls, who had blond pigtails, looked to be about six years old.
"Uh, why can't you get down?"
"Our ladder got stoled!" wailed the smaller of the two girls.
Johnny gazed up the sturdy trunk of the tree, realizing that there was in fact no ladder visible.
"All right, kids, just hang on. We don't have a big enough ladder to reach you, but we'll call our buddies and they'll be here in just a couple of minutes." Turning to the squad, he said to Roy, "Hey pal, why don't you call it in to dispatch, and have them send us the engine."
Roy waved and gave him a thumbs-up. He pressed the talk button on the radio handset. "L.A., this is Squad 51; we are responding to a still alarm at–" he checked the street sign– "3200 Tompkins Street, cross street Auburn. Children stuck in a tree. Request you respond engine 51 to our location."
"10-4, Squad 51, responding engine 51 to your location," replied dispatch. "ETA 4 minutes."
"10-4 L.A., Squad 51 out." Roy replaced the handset and waited till he heard the station get toned out.
Roy joined Johnny at the base of the tree. There was a loose pile of lumber at the base of the tree, suggesting someone had started at the top of the makeshift ladder, and ripped out each rung as they descended.
"Man, that's a nasty trick to play on a coupla little kids," said Johnny to Roy.
"I'll say," said Roy. He looked up to the treehouse. "What happened?" he hollered up to the kids.
"It was the bully," shouted the bigger girl. "He tried to come up, so we shut the trap door and sat on it so he couldn't get in. That made him real mad, and he came back with his hammer and ripped off all the steps my dad nailed to the tree."
"Yeah, he's MEAN!" said the smaller girl. "And now we're stuck, and I reeeaallly have to go! Bad!"
Roy tried to hide his smile as Johnny squirmed uncomfortably at this remark.
"Okay, girls, our friends will be here with the tall ladder real soon," Roy shouted upwards. "Hey, what're your names?"
"We're not s'posed to tell our names to strangers!" the younger girl replied, suddenly authoritative.
Roy grinned. "Well, that's pretty smart. We'll just have to give you nicknames then. I think you're Shorty, and your friend is Pigtails."
The girls' giggling was audible from below. "Okay, then we'll give you nicknames too! You can be Little Boy Blue," stated Pigtails, pointing to Roy, "and he can be, um..."
"Bo Peep!" shouted Shorty. Johnny cringed slightly.
"No, dummy, Bo Peep's a girl," retorted Pigtails.
Roy quickly replied to the girls, "I think Bo Peep will do just fine. Ow!" he hissed, as Johnny punched him in the arm. "Now what kind of example are you setting here, punching me in front of a couple of kids?"
"Yeah, thanks a lot, DeSoto – if Chet hears about this, you're a goner."
"Look, here comes the BIG fire truck!" Pigtails shouted gleefully. "It's WAY bigger than yours! How come you guys got such a small one?"
People from the neighborhood started to gather as they heard the siren of the approaching engine. Johnny addressed the group as the engine pulled up. "Anyone here who knows these girls and can get their parents?"
One boy, about ten years old, replied, "Yeah, that's Clara and Gracie. I can go get Clara's mom if you want – they live right over there," he said, pointing across the street.
"Thanks, bud. Be sure to tell her they're okay, so she doesn't get upset!" said Johnny, as the boy trotted off.
Captain Hank Stanley jumped down from the engine, and ran over to the paramedics. "Roy, John, what's the story here?"
"Well, Cap, it seems that the neighborhood bully ripped the ladder off the treehouse when the girls wouldn't let him up," explained Roy. "They're fine, but they really want to get down. Another kid just ran to get the older one's mom."
Cap glanced up the tree, estimating its height, and checked the area around the base. "Chet, Marco, bring the extension ladder. Mike, how 'bout if you grab a Halligan to trench out around the ladder's feet – the ground's really uneven with all these roots."
The men trotted back to the truck to grab the gear, just as the helpful boy returned with Clara's mother.
"What on Earth is going on here?" Clara's mom enquired, observing the commotion.
"Hi mom!" waved Pigtails/Clara. "The firemen are getting us down with their ladder! Cool, huh?"
"Ma'am, they're fine," the captain assured her. "I'm Captain Stanley of the L.A. County Fire Department. It seems the neighborhood bully took down the girls' ladder, and my paramedics heard the girls calling for help as they were stopped at this intersection. My men are just setting up ladder to bring them down. It sounds like they've been up there for a while, but we'll have them down in a jiffy."
"Boy, Hank, you're really gonna get it this time," muttered the woman angrily. The captain turned, surprised to hear his name, but the woman was absorbed in watching the proceedings.
Stoker was busy leveling the bottom of the ladder as Chet and Marco extended it up to the now-open trap door. The men tamped the feet of the ladder down in the dirt around the roots, checking for stability.
"All right, Roy, why don't you go up and get those kids down," said the Captain,
"Sure thing, Cap." Roy, who had already put his safety belt on and hooked another to it, headed up the ladder.
"Yay, Little Boy Blue is coming up to get us!" shouted Shorty. "Me first, me first, 'cause I have a REAL emergency here!"
Chet, who was steadying the ladder, raised an eyebrow at Johnny. "Little Boy Blue?"
"Don't ask, Chet, don't ask. The kids gave him a nickname," said Johnny. "If I were you, I'd just drop it. I don't need Roy all grumpy on me the rest of the day, do I?" He desparately hoped that Chet would assume only Roy had gotten a name from the girls.
Up in the treehouse, Roy tightened the safety belt around the younger girl, hooked her belt to his, and carried her piggy-back down the ladder. As soon as they were down, the little girl said, "Okay, thanks, bye, REALLY gotta go," and ran straight into the house belonging to the yard the treehouse was in.
Chet adjusted the ladder's feet slightly, and smirked at Roy. "Okay, Little Boy Blue, hop to it!" Roy shook his head, and headed straight back up the ladder.
"Geez, Kelly, let it rest! What's with you today, anyhow?" Johnny complained.
"Gage, babe, you gotta take your opportunities where you see them. I can't let a gem like that pass by, can I?"
"Apparently not," grumbled Gage.
Roy reached the bottom of the ladder with his second charge.
"Wow, wait'll I tell the kids at school that I got rescued by a real, live fireman! Thanks, Boy Blue!" By now, there were several other children from the neighborhood gathered to watch the events, and Clara didn't seem to mind being the center of her friends' attention.
Roy smiled at Pigtails/Clara, and then shot Chet a warning look. "Hey, kiddo, why don't you just call me Roy. That's my real name."
"Okay, Roy. You can call me Clara – that's my real name, 'cause I guess we're not strangers any more," Clara looked at her mom. "Right, Mom?"
The woman nodded. "Thanks, Mr. DeSoto," she said, reading off Roy's name tag. "And you better believe that I'm going to have a serious word with Hank about this!"
Captain Stanley, who was just on his way over with paperwork for the mother to sign, once again was surprised to hear his name. Chet's ears perked up – the trickster in him sensed another opportunity.
"Boy, I could tell you another thing or too about Hank, too," said Clara to Roy. "Mom says it's not tattling if it's about mean ol' Hank, right Mom?"
The men looked expectantly at their captain.
"Um, uh, who?" stammered John.
"You know, Hank!" The girl stomped her foot. "Hank the Bully!"
The crew tittered. Captain Stanley took off his striped helmet and rubbed his brow, sensing a headache coming on.
"So, you have a bully named Hank, huh?" said Chet.
"Uh huh – he's older than us, and he's REAL mean. He always bosses us around, too!"
"Believe us, sister, we know that can be a real problem," replied Chet. "Hey, we know some cops – do you want us to call them to take care of Hank? Cause it's no good to have big kids around who spoil your fun all the time."
"Nah," said Clara, shaking her pigtails, "I think we oughta just get my mom to tell on Hank to his mom." The other kids around nodded in agreement.
Henry Stanley started to look irritated. "All right, boys, time to get back to the station."
"Yeah," said Chet, "that's probably a better idea. You be sure your mom tells his mom that Fireman Chester B. Kelly said that Hank went too far this time!"
Cap glared at Chet. "Latrine duty, Kelly? Four shifts, or five?"
"Aw, c'mon, Cap, I'm just giving the kids a little sound advice," Chet whined plaintively. "Right kids?" he continued, egging them on.
"Yeah! Hank is mean!" shouted one of the kids.
"All right, five it is," intoned the captain. He turned to Clara's mom, and said "Ma'am, I have some paperwork for you to sign, if you would. It's just a statement that the kids are fine and you agree that they don't need to be transported to the hospital."
"Oh, sure, Captain, uh..." the mom tried to peer around the clipboard to see the Captain's name tag. "Sorry, I don't remember what you said your name was."
"Stanley," replied Cap, "Hank Stanley."
The mom paused in her perusal of the form, realizing what had been happening. "Heh, oops," she said sheepishly, signing the paperwork and handing the clipboard back. "Sorry! No offense meant."
"No worries, ma'am," replied Cap, "I think I can keep my boys in line."
As the crew packed up the ladder, Johnny and Roy got back into the squad. Chet was letting Clara "help" carry the ladder back to the engine.
Johnny leaned out the window, and waved to the kids. "Bye, kids! Be careful!"
Clara waved back. Just as the squad was about to pull away, Clara yelled back to Johnny, "Buckle up, Bo Peep!"
Chet's face lit up with glee.