Friend in Need; Friend Indeed
I followed Johnny out the door to the parking lot behind the station. Johnny wasn’t talking and that wasn’t normal. He sat down, leaning his back against the station wall, knees pulled up and arms resting on them – staring off into the distance. I stood near him, watching. He had a large bandage on his hand and a small one above his eye. I knew he was hurting and not just physically. His eyes were so sad and brimming with unshed tears.
The day started out like most others – everyone congregating in the kitchen for coffee before roll call. Then Chet and Johnny started their normal banter, but Chet took it one step too far razzing Johnny about his heritage. Before you knew it they were really yelling at each other and Cap had to step in and calm things down by assigning Chet to latrine duty - for a week! By the time the station was called out on their first run, Johnny had been hit with two water bombs. To say the least, he was not very happy!
The last run was long – over three hours before everyone returned to the station. Roy and Johnny were the last to arrive. They didn’t say anything, just walked in and slumped into chairs. This was not a good sign! It meant that things didn’t go well with their victim. They always tried so hard, giving it their best and took it personally if things turned out for the worst. When Johnny suddenly got up and headed for the door; I followed.
I looked across the parking lot. There were the normal six vehicles – a late model sedan, two pickups, a small sports car, that boxy thing Johnny loves so much and that funny looking van. I knew what I had to do.
I nudged Johnny as I walked toward the vehicles. Stopping beside the van, I turned to face Johnny, making sure I had his attention. When I did, I raised my leg and relieved myself directly on the front tire. As I trotted back to sit by Johnny’s side, I noticed a small smile forming on his face. He began scratching me behind my ears.
“Way to go, Henry,” he said softly, his smile a little bigger. I put my paws on his chest and licked his face savoring the taste of smoke and sweat combined with the saltier taste of tears.
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