By Lizabeth S. Tucker
Johnny reached over Roy's shoulder and snagged a glass of beer from his partner's hand. He ignored both the annoyed sigh from Roy and the soft giggle from Joanne over his actions. "Hey, I've been helping to set out the food for this shindig and I'm thirsty!"
"Johnny, that is a beautiful costume," Joanne said, reaching out to touch the ivory bars running down the man's chest. "What are these made of?"
"Bones." He laughed as she jerked her hand back quickly. "It's really not a costume, but I didn't feel like getting one at the last minute."
"Yeah, all that's left then is Batman and giant bunny rabbits," Roy chuckled.
Johnny looked down at his thin frame, shrugging. "I don't see myself as the superhero type."
"Well, Batman isn't really a superhero since he doesn't have special powers, but I get your point. You might be a little skinny for the costume."
"Hey, I'm not skinny, I'm…I'm…wiry. That's it, I'm wiry."
Joanne admired the Native American outfit, the boned chest plate and the leather leggings hugging Johnny's muscular legs. "If it's not a costume, what is it?"
"It's authentic. I think it belonged to my great-great-great grandfather. At least, that's what I remember hearing from my dad when I was a kid." He flashed a crooked grin at his partner's wife. "You look gorgeous, Jo. But how did you convince Roy to cut his hair in a pageboy?"
The brunette's brown eyes twinkled. "Oh, a little of the right persuasion and Roy will do anything."
"Hey, let's not go there, okay? Johnny doesn't need the details of our personal life, Jo."
She ignored him. "The only problem is that Cher towers over Sonny. Even in these heels, which are killing me by the way, I'm just even with Roy."
"Ahhh, don't worry about it. You're so gorgeous in that slinky outfit and long hair that no one will even know Roy is there."
"If that's true, how come I had to cut my hair?" Roy said wryly. "And why couldn't I just wear a wig? Do you know what the guys will say when I come to work tomorrow?"
"I do." Johnny paused. "Little Lord Fauntleroy." He snickered, sipping at the beer again while looking around the room. "Hey, anybody see Chet? I wonder what he's wearing.
Joanne's eyes widened when she saw Chet walking into the auditorium from over Johnny's shoulder. *Oh, this is going to be good. I wish I had a camera!*
"Did you see Cap and his wife? He makes a pretty decent Rhett Butler, but Mrs. Cap is really hot as Scarlett."
"I don't think Cap would appreciate your calling his wife 'hot', Johnny. I'm not even certain about your eyeing my wife."
"I wasn't…I didn't…aw, man." The blush on Johnny's face amused his friend.
"Chet's right. You are soooo easy."
Shrugging, Johnny tipped the beer glass up and took a mouthful just as he turned and caught sight of his crewmate. "Glag…snort…glub…" Beer shot out his nose as fast as it had gone into his mouth.
Roy, his mouth open in shock, randomly hit at his choking partner's back. "What the…?"
Joanne began to be concerned about Johnny's ability to breathe. "Roy, should you try that Himmler thing with him?"
This caught Roy's attention. "Himmler thing? What? What are you… Oh, you mean the Heimlich Maneuver?" He eyed Johnny who was slowly recovering and now seemed to be erupting into hysterics.
"Chester, what the hell is that?" Johnny was now walking around the man, eyeing the most unusual costume he had ever seen.
"You know damn well what it is, Gage. Go on, get it out of your system."
"Does it make any noise?" Johnny poked a finger into the pink rubber in the general direction of Chet's stomach. "Man, it's…it's absolutely perfect for you."
"I'd say it was perfect for the Phantom, wouldn't you?" came a sweet voice from behind the DeSotos.
Roy and Joanne turned to see Chet's sister, Moira, standing there wearing a green tunic and matching tights with a bow and quiver hanging over her shoulder. She was also grinning ear to ear.
"The King of Practical Jokes lost a big bet."
"Ahhhh," Johnny said. "Tell me more." He draped his arm over Moira's shoulders, ignoring the brotherly glare from Chet. "This must've been a wing dinger of a bet to get Chet decked out in that pink monstrosity."
"Well," the petite young woman began, "it certainly was. It all started with a melon, a head of cauliflower and a runaway basket. Oh, and a beautiful young woman."
"Better and better."
"Moira Louise Kelly, you're gonna be in so much trouble if you tell Gage anything."
Moira looked at her brother, then at Johnny, before shrugging. "Sorry, Johnny. He is my brother. I suppose I should try and keep peace in the family, for Mom's sake at least."
"But, sweetheart, look at Chet. You can't expect the story of how you got him into that costume to stay a secret forever."
"Gage, watch who you're calling sweetheart," Chet warned.
"I am watching. I'm pretty sure I called Moira sweetheart. You didn't think I was calling you sweetheart, did ya, Chester B.?"
As best they could considering their different heights, Johnny and Chet stood nose-to-nose. Just as Moira was about to intervene, Johnny began giggling. He waved his hand in the air before splaying it on his chest. "Man, I can't argue with a man wearing a giant cushion. A giant pink rubber cushion."
Chet sighed before grinning devilishly. "Go on, call it what it is."
"Okay, okay. You're wearing a whoopee cushion." At this, Johnny broke up again, joined by other members of the Station 51 crew as they heard his delighted laughter. Soon the air was filled with laughter and highly inappropriate jokes.
Thanks to Audrey for providing the photograph that inspired the story.