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Gage immediately frowned. "Chet, did
you go and do something stupid like
yell at Bonnie over some infraction or

Kelly stopped working out with his hand
held barbells on the exercise mat next to
the mop cupboard. "What?Huh?" Then
he noticed Bonnie laying low too.
"I haven't moved from this mat
buddy since your phone call. I'm innocent
this time. Maybe she's mad at you. It's
your bunk she chooses to use as territory
marking post on occasion."

"Very funny.." Johnny said. He walked over
and noticed Cap watching Bonnie too from
his black recliner. "Cap, what do you make
of it?"

"I don't know. Maybe she's sick or something.
Her food's hardly touched. Why don't you two
go check her out? You and Roy are the stationhouse
paramedics here.." he said in a no nonsense tone
of voice that was also an order and he arched an
eyebrow before turning back to his stocks page.

Johnny began a protest, "Cap I..."

Hank briskly folded his paper to another page loud
enough to drown out Gage's remark. Then he
said, "Do I hear a little bird in here? Sounds
like it's tweeting too hard or something.. Marco,
why don't you go to the shed and open the
main doors so it can get on its merry way.."

Chet sniggered and so did Marco and Mike.
Roy just rolled his eyes at his long time partner
and was the first one to get up out of
his chair to amble over to where Bonnie was
cowering under the couch beneath Marco's legs.

DeSoto knelt on his knees and peered into
the darkness under the leather cushions.
"Come here Bonnie.. Come on, girl. I just
want to take a look at you.." he started
baby talking when she picked up her muzzle
from the floor and dipped her head at him,
rising to her feet. "Yes, let me see you..."

The tiny Yorkie whined a bit,  and timidly wagged
her tail but came finally into his hands. Roy picked her
up, scratching her head and sat on the couch
with her.  

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Johnny sighed heavily and pushed back with a
linoleum wood squeal in his kitchen chair and
made a production of joining Roy with Bonnie.

The dog was just as shy but affectionate with
Gage as she was with Roy and that puzzled
both men when nothing seemed amiss with
her physically. Johnny said, "Now, Cap. I've
been down this doggy exam route before.
There's nothing wrong with her that we can

"There must be Gage. Have you ever known
Bonnie to cower and hide before??" Cap

Chet piped up, "Not even after she's been
using Gage's sheets as a latrine..."

The guys laughed.

Johnny glared at them. "Ok, all right you
guys..So you've had a good laugh off me.
Now be quiet for a sec.."Then he lifted
Bonnie's chin and went nose to nose with
her. "Bonnie..Hey, I'm not annoyed at all here..
At least, not with you..." and he shot a
look at Chet. "So what's your problem
you little wriggling ball of fur?"

Bonnie whined again and licked his nose
bashfully. Gage caught his breath and
pulled away, wiping doggy kiss off.
"Yeah,.. love you too.." and he got up
again. "Listen, Cap, I don't know what
her problem i--hey... I know, maybe
she's sick of her food. You know, maybe
she wants a change.."

"Yeah, a change like staying
away from you, Gage.." Kelly said,
unrelenting. "Why else would she
be singling out your bunk and not
anyone else's?"

Cap threw an "end of fun" look at
Kelly and replied. "Worth a shot there,
Gage. Why don't you try some of that
bacon from the crisper. There's some left
over in there from breakfast."

Mike said, "You mean, Marco didn't
finish it all?"

Lopez vigorously shook his head.
"My throat's still rawer than anything.
I only wanted a few bites.."

"Ok. All right.." Johnny said holding up
surrendering hands. "I'll bribe her,
just like I do with the cookies at night
to keep her from howling.."

Bonnie watched Johnny go to the frig,
listening to his babytalk tempting,
right up until the bacon was held under
her trembling nose. Her whine cut off
and she sneezed with tension, jumped
off the couch and retreated underneath
it once more.

The whole gang heard her whimpering
start up all over again..

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Johnny threw up his hands in resignation
and shrugged. "I tried.." Then he looked
at the bacon in his fingers and decided
it looked pretty good so he dropped
some of it into his mouth and the rest
he slid under the couch with his foot.

Cap concluded. "Chalk it up to another
Bonnie personality quirk. Michelle did say
Bonnie would be very like her mother that

"Spitting image..." Gage grunted.

Roy said, still slumped quietly on the couch.
"I don't know.. This Bonnie's got more class.
When she has a bone, even Steger on B shift
can't get it away from her."

"Heh. That's true.." Gage chuckled. Then he
put his hands on his hips. "Why don't we
just wait and see how she does for the
rest of the day. If she's still off by shift
change, we can just have them call the
V-E-T later.."

From under the couch, Bonnie's soft, incessant
whines shut up.

"Smart dog.." Marco said. "The old Bonnie
never caught on to us spelling that word
out l-.."

Right then the doorbell on the side entrance

"Ah, it's the school kids.." Mike said, "They're
here with their teacher to get a tour of the

"All right everyone.. Neaten up. Gage, tie your
shoe.." Cap ordered. Gage lifted a knee and
did so, losing his balance in his haste.

Then all stood as Mike led their guests into the kitchen.
"Hello. Glad you could make it.. Everyone..this
is Miss Cindy Thorne.. and these, running around
us in figure eights, are seven students
of hers from the Grover Middleland school.. "
Stoker introduced.

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A short pixie like blond in a scarlet red dress
came through the door and took off her
sunglasses. "Fireman Stoker. Nice to see you
again.. I hope it's not too busy a day today for
that tour we prearranged." she said, shaking
the hand of the man she had only heard on
the phone before.

"Not too busy.." Stoker grinned, letting go
of her palm. "Glad you made it over. Traffic
must have been a bear.."

And at the same time.. Gage spoke too.
"No, no.. it's ok. In fact, we've done nothing
much in the way of runs today.. except a few
alley burns and a bunch of thugs who made
off with the sq--" Johnny started up, but Roy nudged
him subtly in the ribs in a hint.  "Ah,..helped us
get a lot of cleaning done today..."

Cindy stayed focused on Mike, the one fireman she
knew and replied to his comment.
"The usual. I had the school van take us over
instead of using the bus. I parked it in the back
lot, is that ok?"

"Sure.. that's fine. That's where we
park our own cars.." Marco said.

"That's right.." Cap brightened eagerly. "We have
uh, milk and cookies for the kids if you'd like after
the tour... Fireman Lopez's mother brought some over
with lunch just two hours ago..." he said thoroughly
gentlemanly. All the gang's faces lit up when the kids
excited laughter and chatter about being in a real
station house brought back childhood memories
of their own and they gathered around the happy
throng of seven children.

"That's ok, captain. I made sure the kids had
eaten before bringing them over. Last thing
they need is more sugar. They're rowdy enough as
it is.." the pretty teacher said as clusters of girls and
boys ran in circles in a good natured tag game around
them all.

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