Welcome to Grandview FD, Vinnie Cappaletti
“Son of a *****!” was all that Jake could say.
“Excuse me?” asks Vinnie.
“Didn’t Mommy teach you how to knock?” an irritated Jake asks.
“You don’t have a door on your office entrance, so it looks like a commons area” protests Vinnie.
“Looks like a what? Nevermind. Someone get me a cup of coffee…and a door,” commands Jake.
“Where’s your paperwork?” asks Jake, as he pulls the staple out of his thumb with his teeth and gets a band aid from his wallet.
“I gave it to the girl downstairs. She said that she’d get it to the proper authority,” Vinnie says proudly.
“Look; we don’t have a girl that works here. Did she have on a babushka and smell of elderberries?”
“ Huh? What’s a bushka; what’s an elderberry?” asks Vinnie.
“It’s an obscure reference. Forget that,” says Jake. “You gave official, fire department documents to Crazy Mary. She just thinks that she works here. We let her run the paper shredder from time to time! It’s a big deal to her.”
“Ah, CRAP!” says Vinnie, as he bolts out of Jake’s office and down the stairs. He misses the last step and sprawls on the floor. His left ankle was already throbbing.
“What are you doing? I was just bringing your paperwork to Captain O’Melia,” says a familiar, female voice.
“Are you Mary?” asks Vinnie?
“No; I’m Lori. Who’s Mary?” she asks.
“Captain O’Melia said that you were Crazy Mary and that you were shredding my paperwork,” said an obviously confused Vinnie.
“I think that someone is having some fun with you. My name is Lori and I am an administrative assistant for the fire department. Don’t mistake me for a secretary. I don’t make coffee and I don’t take shorthand. You need something done? Ask nicely and I will add it to my “To Do” list. Otherwise, we WILL have problems. And one more thing, since I see you staring at it; I wear colorful headpieces because I am going through another round of chemo. I am a cancer survivor. Any questions?” asks a grinning Lori.
“Do you have an ice pack?” asks Vinnie.
“They got ‘em on the rescue rig,” Lori tells him. “Help yourself.”
When Vinnie got back to Jake’s office, Lori was just leaving.
Jake said, “Thanks, Lori. You’re a great, little secretary.”
Lori shot back, “Go to Hell, Jake.”
“Been there, Lori. It’s called marriage’, Jake chuckled without looking up.
Lori just shook her head and winked at Vinnie as she went by him.
Vinnie is just shy of 6 feet tall with a very athletic build. He isn’t muscular, but is solid as a rock. Vinnie is a runner, prefers calisthenics and resistance exercises to weight-lifting and eats healthy. His big, brown eyes allows him to see beyond the destruction and despair that families endure in the aftermath of a devastating event in their lives to find that his heart, strength and courage is up to the task. He understands his place in the world.
“Have a seat, newbie,” says Jake, as he continues to look into the folder.
“Where?” asks Vinnie.
“Where what?” Jake asked.
“Where do I sit?” Vinnie inquires.
“Sorry.” And with that, Jake cleans the magazines from the folding chair with one sweep of his arm. “Maid doesn’t come in till Friday,” he chuckles.
There is an uneasy silence in the room, as Jake looks intently at the papers that are Vinnie’s personnel file. Vinnie puts his hand into his mouth and begins to chew on a fingernail.
“Don’t do that; it bugs the hell out of me,” Jake says without looking up.
Vinnie thought; how did he DO that? It’s like he has a sixth sense.
“I’m-“ says Vinnie, cut off in mid-sentence.
“Shhh; I’m getting to the good part,” says Jake with mock excitement.
Vinnie fidgets. He is starting to feel pressure in his gut.
His stomach is turning flip-flops and growling loudly. He tries to quietly pass a fart, but it reverberates against the upholstered seat of the folding chair and catches the attention of Jake.
“Can’t you just sit there quietly…and without shooting dookies on my one, good chair?” asks Jake.
Before Vinnie could answer, Jake threw up his hand like a traffic cop.
“OK; first of all, you’re a college boy; a ‘communications’ major. How in the hell did you make the leap from ‘communication’ expert to firefighting?
And if you tell me that you want to give something back to the community, I will puke down your back as I kick your sit-down place right outta my fart-scented office,” threatens Jake.
Vinnie explains: “well, my dad agreed to pay for my degree if I went to his alma mater. They didn’t offer fire science there, but I thought if I ever wanted to get into a fire prevention bureau or public information, ‘communications’ certainly wouldn’t hurt.
And I don’t have nothing to give back to this community, because I’m not from around here. I’m from Waterbury.”
“Then, how did you find out about us,” asked Jake.
“Internet!” replied Vinnie.
“Sweet Jesus; a communications computer whiz,” says Jake as he shakes his head. “Says here that you got the highest score on your entrance exam, set a new agility course record and finished first in your academy class. You some kind of Wonder Kid?” cajoles Jake.
“Nope. A little town next to the college kind of adopted me after I helped their volunteer fire department direct traffic at a car wreck. I served on their department for the four years that I attended college. Summers, I worked on the fire lines out West,” Vinnie says with pride.
“So; they’d turn on the Bat Beam and you’d go save the citizens?” asks Jake.
“Does your sarcasm get any better or is this as good as it gets?” asks Vinnie, who is getting agitated.
“Oh, I think I can do MUCH better with my sarcasm. I’ve only had three cups of coffee, so I’m still a little slow,” says a grinning Jake.
“What I meant to say is: are you always sarcastic?” asks Vinnie.
“No; sometimes I’ll just say some pretty damned mean and ugly things. I guess I get it from The O’Reilly Factor or maybe from my degree in Cynicism ,” says a reflective Jake.
“Here’s the skinny. You are replacing a guy that me and the others trusted with our LIVES! Chuck didn’t have to be told where to go, when to go or what to do when he got there. He could vent a roof with an AXE quicker than most guys could with a SAW!
I saw this guy eat smoke and spit fire. He could throw a 24-footer by himself. He made a two-handed grab at the Hudsons’ house fire and carried two kids out; one over each shoulder. He got decorated for it with a medal for bravery.
Anyway, he would come out of a building, blow snot, grab a quick shot of water and go right back in. He loved it. He was a GREAT firefighter.
He wasn’t afraid of dying; he was afraid of failing. He took it personally and rejected giving up. He had great instincts and made good decisions. He could see problems before they became problems AND he could predict a mistake that a rookie was about to make, which kept them out of trouble.
AND, we wouldn’t be having this ‘walk down Memory Lane’ if that scumbag-of-a-drunk hadn’t hit him at the scene of an MVA a year ago.
Chuck worked hard to try and get back, but his legs wouldn’t let him. Now, I’m the sorry sumbitch that has to tell him that he’s going on permanent disability.
I would offer him a job in Dispatch, but he’d just laugh and tell me to stick it.
Are you going to sit there and tell me that you can replace a guy like that?” Jake wondered.
“I hope so,” was all Vinnie could muster.
“You’ll need more than Hope,” Jake says.
“These guys don’t know you, haven’t even met you and they already HATE you.
Hell, I ‘m standing here talking to you and if I had the choice, I’d rather be slamming my nuts between two bricks!
But don’t take it personally. I’m sure that once you figure out how to ‘communicate’, your star will rise very quickly.
And for God’s sake; when-nope; check that-IF you go with us for beers, it’s GUINNESS or a good micro-brewed Boston lager. None of that ‘lite’ crap. “Carbs” is the least of our worries!
And while we’re talkin’ about Respect; if one of the other jakes sits down in the TV room, hand ‘em the remote. And if they change the channel and you don’t like the program, go read a book or play with your Matchbox cars.
And a word of warning: the chief has a peculiar and excruciating punishment for screw-ups!” Jake warns.
“You going to tell me what it is?” asks Vinnie.
“Naw; I’m going to let you find out for yourself. Welcome to Grandview, Firefighter Cappaletti,” Jake says with an evil laugh.
As Vinnie is leaving Jake’s office, he bumps into this massive, tree trunk of a hulk, who spills his coffee down the front of his duty shirt.
And Jake could be heard laughing hysterically from his office…
The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© is a fictional literary work. It is protected by federal copyright. The article is published under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella and is the intellectual property of Art Goodrich a.k.a. ChiefReason. It cannot be re-printed in any form.