Listen, Would Ya?
These guys, gals, and the show do not belong to me, just borrowing them for some fun!
Roy DeSoto pulled his Porsche into the parking lot of Station 51, muttering under his breath. He angled the nimble car into the spot next to his partner’s white Land Rover, not bothering to back it in. He eased his 6’1 frame out of the car and moved rapidly towards the side door of the station. Still talking to himself, he breezed through the door, grunting in acknowledgement to the hails from some of the men from both C shift and A shift.
“What the heck is wrong with him?” One of the linemen from C shift queried, looking at the retreating back in puzzlement. “DeSoto is always early, and I think he has more words in his vocabulary then that!”
A shift’s lineman, Marco Lopez, looked up from the cup of coffee he was pouring at the stove. “Maybe he hasn’t had his coffee yet?”
There were mumbled agreements chorused out as the men returned to their prior activities. Papers rustled, coffee flowed, and conversation resumed as the incident was quickly forgotten.
“She says I don’t listen to her…..what about her not listening to me….”Roy mumbled, stalking across the apparatus floor and slamming shoulder first into the swinging door that led to the lockers. He slammed to an abrupt halt just inside the door, oblivious to the door swinging back and smacking him in revenge. He groaned and slapped a hand to his head at the slightly raised voices that greeted him.
“Listen, would ya, Chet? You can’t say that to a chick and…….oh, hey Roy!” Johnny interrupted his discourse and spun around to face his partner, brown shirt dangling from his fingers; he paused a second as if remembering what he had been doing before his heated discussion with Chet Kelly. Grabbing a hanger, he draped the shirt over it and shoved it back in the locker. “What did you do on your days off?”
“Not a damn thing, according to my wife,” Roy blurted out into the shirt he was pulling off over his head. At the silence that followed his uncharacteristic answer, he looked over at John Gage and realized that he now had the full attention of both Gage and Kelly. They were staring at him, shocked expressions fully engaged.
“Oh great, now someone listens to me,” DeSoto groused under his breath, yanking the shirt off his arms and tossing it haphazardly into the locker. He grabbed a white t-shirt out of his bag that he had dropped onto the bench; he chanced a quick glance over at his partner.
Johnny was biting his lip in an apparent effort to remain silent. His eyes darted sideways and met Roy’s.
“Joanne, huh?” He finally asked quietly, sidestepping closer to Roy so that Kelly couldn’t hear them. He shrugged his blue uniform shirt on and leaned against the locker next to Roy’s, fingers busy buttoning as he gazed quizzically at the other man.
“Yeah, says I don’t listen to her. Says I never listen to anything that she has to say, that I tone her out, hear what I want to hear…..selective hearing she calls it,” Roy snapped angrily, jerking up his navy blue pants and tucking in his shirt. Johnny glanced at his watch and hastily backed up to his locker to finish dressing before roll call. Pants and shirts in place, he dropped down into his locker and stretched his long legs onto the bench to pull on his black socks and black shoes, tilting his head towards Roy as he did so.
“You, uh…I mean, what did you say back to her?”
Roy slammed the locker shut and glared at the younger man. “What was I supposed to say? You’re the expert with women, you tell me!”
He turned and stomped out of the room, leaving Gage dumbfounded with his hands hovering over his partially tied shoes. Kelly moved up beside the momentarily frozen paramedic and smirked.
“Listen, Gage, you should know better than to….”
“Shuddup Chet!” Johnny spat out, moving back into action. “I can handle Roy, you go hang the hoses or somethin’!”
Chet nodded sagely and slowly followed Roy’s path out the door. “Gladly, gladly my friend….”
John sighed and dropped his feet on the floor, rubbing his face with both hands, before bouncing to his feet and following the lineman. “Oh boy, this is gonna be one long shift……”
After roll call and receiving their assignments for the day, the paramedics performed their calibrations and checked their supplies, moving methodically but silently through their day to day activities. After several failed attempts to engage DeSoto in any kind of conversation, Johnny gave up and retreated to the dorm to make the beds and clean the floors.
Roy, his mumblings finally silenced, furiously attacked the apparatus floor with a mop. He gazed into the dirty water, thoughts swishing through his head. He then pounded the mop back into the bucket, splashing half of the water back onto the floor and his boots. He ignored the minor flood and slapped the mop haphazardly back across the section of the floor that he had just cleaned.
He was unaware of the two men watching him; his captain was leaning on the doorframe of his office, while Mike Stoker leaned on his own mop in the doorway of the day room and observed. Two more pairs of eyes joined the engineer in the doorway and silence reined for several minutes as they too watched the strange behavior of the usually reserved paramedic.
“What is going on with Roy?” Marco whispered to Chet, waving his hand in the direction of the bay. Kelly grabbed the back of his friend’s shirt and pulled him backwards.
“Wife troubles….how long do you think it will take Gage to get it out of him?”
“End of shift, at least…..” Marco mused thoughtfully. “Roy can be pretty tight lipped about things.”
“No way, man,” Chet hissed in reply. “Listen, you know how Johnny gets. He’s like a dog with a favorite bone; he’s not gonna let up! I say he gets it out of Roy by the end of their second run.”
The linemen continued to argue as Stoker moved back into the room, smiling at the heated discussion but declining to take part in it. Intent on finishing his task, he shooed the men with a flapping hand towards the kitchen.
Captain Hank Stanley rubbed a hand on his chin as he took in the sight of DeSoto mopping the same area of floor for the third time, his actions still fierce and frenzied. He sighed as the sound of raised voices filtered out of the day room; he pushed himself in resignation from the doorframe and poked his head into the other room. That was enough to silence them.
He moved across the bay, his footsteps echoing in the cavernous room, emptied of vehicles. Totally oblivious to the commotion around him, Roy continued his assault on the unresisting cement, his back towards the noise. When Stanley cleared his throat, the younger man jumped and dropped the mop.
“Sorry, pal,” he said softly, resting his hand for a second on DeSoto’s shoulder. “Something bothering you?”
Roy blinked at him a moment in confusion, before bending down to pick up the mop. He rested both hands on the handle and looked at his captain. “I guess so. It’s just something my wife said; I need to think it through.”
“Well, think it through a little faster, Roy. Your buddies in there are worried about you.” Stanley swept his hand towards the kitchen, then moved it back and with two pointing fingers motioned towards the dark rectangle of wet floor the two men were standing on. “You’ve mopped the same patch of floor at least three times.”
Roy groaned inwardly but kept his face expressionless as he realized the truth of what his captain was saying. “Right, Cap. Sorry.”
Hank nodded and strolled back to his office, keeping his smile at bay until he hit the sanctuary of his little room. “Twit,” he mouthed, grinning widely but feeling a pang of sympathy for DeSoto. “I wonder what she said.”
Feeling disgusted with himself, Roy steadfastly mopped the garage in a grid pattern. He was careful to keep his movements steady and calm, not wishing to draw any more attention to himself then he already had. He couldn’t believe that the argument between him and Joanne earlier was spilling over into his work space.
“Is that what happens after you had been married for four or five years?” He pondered to himself, careful not to vocalize his churning thoughts. “Every little thing blows up into a gargantuan “problem”, and then it all follows you into work?”
He paused briefly to survey the floor, making sure he was on track, before continuing on his sudsy odyssey. “The really rotten thing about this whole thing is, I don’t even know if she was referring to a certain incident, or the entire time that we have been married. I mean, why, does she bring it up now, that I don’t listen to her? Does that also mean that I don’t listen to the guys here at work, that I tune them out too if I don’t like what they’re saying? Oh, hell……”
The confused paramedic stopped again, realizing that what he had just thought could very well be true. He definitely had developed a deaf right ear with Johnny; driving in the squad with the often talkative Gage had resulted in him filtering out, sometimes, a lot of his inane chatter. This was something he most assuredly did with his wife.
“Just like I do with Jo,” Roy mumbled, out loud this time. “I harvest through their words, their chatter, their complaints and whining, and pick out only what I want to hear. And the rest of the guys, I simply absorb myself into something, like reading, so that their conversations and arguments just blend into a nice, soothing white noise…….
Slamming the mop into the bucket for a final time, Roy rolled the whole thing out the back door. He dumped the little water remaining in the container and rinsed it out, then hung the mop upside down to dry on the rack attached to the building. He forced himself to take a calming breath and walked over to his car, running his hand along it as he continued to the block wall that divided the parking lot from the industrial building behind it. Turning, he leaned against the already sun warmed blocks and folded his arms, listening to the sounds of the morning traffic roaring on the freeway behind him.
“Maybe she’s right…….I don’t really listen……….”