Hook, Line, and Sinker!
“So Johnny what you got planned for your days off?” Roy queried as he began stuffing his dirty uniform into his duffle bag? “You heading for the mountains?”
“Nah, I’ve got some errands I need to take care of and the Rover needs some work – tune-up and a good cleaning – so I thought I’d do that later today and then go for a short check ride to the beach either late this afternoon or tomorrow morning, depending on when I get things done.”
“Want to come over for dinner tomorrow? Joanne is fixing pot roast and…"
“What do you need help with, Roy,” Johnny anticipated with a grin.
Roy chuckled. “You sure know me, don’t you, Junior?”
Johnny just continued to smile in return.
Roy sighed and explained. “Joanne’s got some large shelving units that she wants put up in the laundry room and that means disassembling the old ones and taking them to the dump. I could sure use your help.
“Well-l-l, I guess I could sacrifice some time tomorrow evening - if it means one of Joanne’s great pot roast dinners.”
“You’re welcome, Pally.”
They were just about ready to leave when Chet came bounding into the locker room.
“Well, Johnny, what you got planned for your days off? Got some cool date planned with some hot chick?
Johnny glanced over at Roy and gave him a smile and a wink. “Actually, I do, Chet.”
“Come on, tell me all, Johnny. Who? Where? When?”
“Why should I tell you, Chet? You’ll just tease me about it later.”
“Come on – you’ll tell me… eventually. So get it over with now and we’ll both be happier.”
Johnny sighed, giving in to Chet’s prodding. Chet was so anxious to get the information he didn’t realize just how quickly Johnny gave in, and didn’t notice the gleam in Johnny eyes as he began.
“Well Chet, she’s really incredible! She’s not your typical LA kind of gal. Her family’s actually from England but she not stuffy, just a real down-to-earth kinda girl. She loves the outdoors just like me -- long drives in the desert, camping and fishing in the mountains, leisurely drives along the coast…”
“How come you’ve never mentioned her before? Where did you meet her? Come on, Gage, tell me all the gooey details!”
Johnny leaned his back against the lockers and looked over at Roy, who was digging deeply for something in his locker, trying desperately not to laugh out loud at the way Johnny had caught
Chet – hook, line and sinker!
Folding his arms and staring straight ahead with a sort of dreamy, far away look in his eyes, Johnny continued.
“I met her several years ago when she was living in a small town up the coast. We went for a drive along the Coast Highway. Man, it was great! She now lives here, near Carson, and we go for drives every chance we get. She and I are just real good friends who get together whenever we can to escape the city.
“So where are you taking her this weekend, Gage?”
“Well, she hasn’t been feeling too good lately – nothing serious, just kinda tired from working and she has a slight cough. We don’t have much planned. I’m picking up some things that she needs and then we’ll just spend some time together later this afternoon; maybe take a short drive to the beach. She promised to help out some friends tomorrow so she doesn’t want to overdue it today.”
Chet just stared at Johnny trying to decide if what he was saying was true or if Gage was pulling his leg.
“Roy, have you met this mystery girl of Gage’s? Is she for real or is Johnny just making her up?”
“I have. And yes, Chet; she’s very real; definitely not a figment of Johnny’s imagination,” Roy confirmed while still engrossed with removing things from his locker; never making eye contact with Chet for fear of giving Johnny away.
Johnny quickly pushed himself away from the locker getting nose to nose with Chet. “”What, Chet? Don’t you believe me? Are you questioning my integrity?”
“Ah, no Johnny. I believe you. I guess I was surprised that you had never ranted about or even mentioned this gal before. What’s her…?”
“Well, Chet,” Johnny interrupted before Chet could ask her name, “Now you know about her. Are you satisfied?”
Johnny turned away from Chet, ‘obviously upset’, trying to control his emotions, and finished stuffing his things into his duffle bag.
“Yeah … sure, Gage. Listen, you have a good time. See you next shift.” With that, Chet grabbed his stuff and almost tripping over the bench, practically ran from the locker room.
Johnny sat down on the bench, shaking with laughter. Roy joined him and soon they were almost in tears they were laughing so hard.
Roy finally caught his breath and grasped his partner’s shoulder. “Johnny, you do realize that if Chet finds out 'who' -- or should I say 'what' -- you were talking about that you will be getting a major visit from the Phantom?”
Johnny stopped laughing and sighed, “Yeah, Roy. But I think it will be worth it. Man! I really got him this time.”
“That you did, Junior. That you did,” Roy replied, giving Johnny a friendly slap on the back.
Roy gathered his things and closed his locker.
“I’d better be going. Joanne’s waiting breakfast for me. See you around 2:00 tomorrow, Junior. That way we can take the stuff to the dump before it closes at 4:30.”
“Sounds good, Pally. See you then.” Johnny grabbed all his things and headed out to his Rover. He gave the front fender a loving tap. “Come on, gal, let’s get you all fixed up the way you should be. Then we’ll take a leisurely drive to the beach.”
Opening the door, he threw his duffle bag in the back, hopped behind the wheel, and headed for home, smiling all the way.
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