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The Leatherheads

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Johnny was a few minutes early. He poured himself a cup of coffee and wandered over to the bulletin board, looking to kill a few minutes before the start of the shift. A large grin spread across his face when he saw the new flier announcing the upcoming California State Firefighters’ Association convention. After setting the Shadowleaf mug on the kitchen table with a loud THUD, he began racing for the door. Little did he know that C Shift had created a few unintentional booby traps due to the overzealous use of waxy aerosol furniture polish. Liberally spraying a waxy cleaning product vaguely in the general direction of furniture was not really polishing anything. It just created a surface similar to an ice rink in the surrounding area. Johnny hit a slick patch and went sliding, at first doing a good job of keeping himself on his feet, arms flailing. Then he hit another patch, black wax if you will, invisible to the naked eye. KWACK! Down went Johnny Gage, right on his tail bone.

Johnny continued on to the locker room, moving a little more slowly, where he found Roy changing into his uniform. Without explanation, he grabbed Roy by the elbow, and forcefully led him back to the lounge.

“Jeez, Johnny! Let a guy zip up his pants before you start dragging him out into public! And why are you walking like that?”

“My ass had an unfortunate meeting with the floor. Watch yourself. C Shift went all out with the wax again. I’m sure I have Captain Hookrader to thank.”

When they arrived at the bulletin board, Johnny pointed to the flier. Roy shrugged, “Yeah, the convention is coming to L.A. next month. You knew that.”

Johnny pointed again, “Look at the schedule of events, though. Look! A PARADE, Roy! A parade with an antique car division!”

Johnny often seemed to think that Roy was a mind reader, but this was one of the rare times that Roy actually understood what Johnny was getting at. They had spent nearly 200 hours restoring their Old Engine, a 1932 Dennis purchased almost a year and a half ago at a junk yard for $80. The parade would be the perfect opportunity to show off all their hard work to their colleagues, friends and families.

They turned to each other and smiled. “It’s only a few weeks away,” said Roy, “but I think we can have her ready.”

“We’ll spend all our days off workin’ on her,” added Johnny. “The body’s looking great. It’s just the engine and transmission that need a little work.”

“Oh, is that all?” asked Roy sarcastically.

Roy wasn’t sure about spending ALL his days off working on the engine. Joanne might have something to say about that, but he smacked Johnny on the shoulder, smiled, and said, “Let’s do it!” He’d find some way to make Johnny understand the importance of balancing work and family life. When that went completely over his head, he’d just have to make Joanne understand the importance of balancing Johnny’s big ideas while attempting to curtail bouts of poutiness.

There was a $5 entry fee for parade entries that would be used to purchase trophies and furnish small cash prizes for the winners. Johnny immediately began grabbing at Roy’s pocket, looking for his wallet. Roy smacked his hand away, attempting to maintain some bit of personal space, got out his wallet himself, and gave Johnny $3.00. Johnny handed him back 50 cents change, they shook hands, and the deal was sealed. Johnny would file their entry form and pay the fee, and with just a little more work and in twenty-five days they would be waving at cheering crowds and collecting their prize.