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Paybacks

Part 1

An Emergency Story by 

Alana

LINKS TO PARTS 1. 2. 3.

The road through the park was one of Lee’s favorite drives. She traveled this road two or three times a week. It made the drive between Rampart and WBS calming and relaxing. She knew when it was less traveled and tried to schedule her trips then. The trip to WBS had been very productive. She had been able to finish all the paper work needed to close out the accounts for the month and then had a chance to visit with Ben and make some plans for the house. Johnny had no idea that the extra space added onto the garage was not only going to be his new dark room but there would also be a wood working shop. He thought the extra space was just general storage area. Ben was taking care of ordering all the equipment and some supplies for the shop. That all would be billed to her personal credit card, not the account for the house’s construction and decorating. Everything was moving along so well. If the weather held, they would be able to move into the main house the week before Thanksgiving.

 

Lee felt something hit the car and she jerked the wheel as it skidded off to the left. She eased off the gas and turned the wheel into the slide just as Jeff had taught her. She had heard a pop and thought she had blown the front passenger tire. Trying to keep calm, she realized she was going off the road and tried to steer between the trees. She felt the jolt as the car hit the tree and the pain exploded in her back. The last thing she remembered was calling out Johnny’s name.


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Johnny was on top of the hose rack enjoying the relative peace and quiet being away from Chet Kelly’s mouth.  Chet wanted to go out to see the new house.  He also wanted to know what they were going to do about renting out the apartment. Johnny knew Lee had plans for the apartment but was not ready to share them yet. He also knew there was no way he and Lee was going to be Chet’s landlords.

 

“I don’t see what the big deal is about keeping this house so secret.  Roy and Jo have been out there and they have seen the plans. You’re just being bull headed.” Chet had ranted the last time he and Suzi were over to the apartment.  Today he had went on and on after finding out Roy had been out to the construction site when they had been off earlier in the week

 

The SCU sounded…”Station 51, Squad 51 single vehicle accident Baylor Park Road…”

 

“Lee likes that road. There isn’t a lot of traffic and it’s peaceful.” Johnny said. He was not concerned since he knew Lee was at work.

 

“I’ve been to the soccer field over by there a few times.” Roy said as they made their way thru the early afternoon traffic. “Lots of trees and some curvy places.”  As they rounded a curve, they saw the red Mustang’s back end jutting out of the low ditch, its front against a large tree. It was not until they were closer they saw the license plate. Johnny was out of the squad before it came to a complete stop

“John Stop!” Roy’s voice rang out over the silent road. “Now!”

 

“What is that twit doing jumping out of a moving squad?” Hank Stanley muttered as he watched his junior paramedic stumble as he ran towards the car, ignoring Roy’s command.

 

Johnny barely heard Roy over the roaring in his ears. He continued on to the driver’s door.

 

“Gage, back off, that’s an order.” Hank Stanley was in full authoritarian voice. As strong, as his instinct was to listen to his captain the need check on her was stronger.

 

Taking a deep breath, he reached up checking the pulse in her neck, seeing the blood on her face from a cut. The pulse was fast but strong. “We need a backboard and a cervical collar.” He called out to whoever were listening. His total attention focused on running his hands over her neck and back as far down as he could reach then her legs and arms.   Roy and Johnny got the collar on her then with help from Marco and Chet onto the board. “John, back off now. I am going to get her vitals…”

 

“Check her hand, it looks swollen…” Johnny said as he felt Cap’s hand on his shoulder.

 

“Let him do his job. Come over here and sit down.”

 

“Cap, I need to be here…She’s gonna be scared when she wakes up…I won’t get in the way, just let me stay close. If I can keep her calm maybe she won’t go into muscle spasms.”   Against his better judgment, Cap agreed but reminded him to stay back unless Roy asked him to come over.

 

“Rampart, this is Squad 51. How do you read us?”

 

“Coming in loud and clear 51.” Joe Early responded.

 

“Rampart, we have a car crash victim. Be advised the victim is Lee Gage. We have taken spinal precautions. She has a cut on her forehead and possible broken fingers on her left hand. She is unconscious, vitals are…” Johnny listened and sighed. Except for a slight elevation in blood pressure, the numbers sounded good. “She had opened her eyes briefly while we were taking her out of the car.” The fact it was a nice day and she had the top down had made the transfer a little easier.

 

“51, start and IV D5W and transport as soon as possible. Ask Johnny if she has been taking any pain medication.”   Roy relayed the question.

 

“Just Tylenol usually at night…Don’t think she took any last night,” Johnny answered.

 

Hearing Johnny’s voice Lee’s eyes opened. “Boyo.” She whispered then closed them again.

 

“Johnny, come talk to her. She opened her eyes when she heard your voice.”   Roy put the phone down and started the IV. Cap and the others had been talking to the deputy sheriff that had pulled up just after they arrived. Just as he finished inserting the IV, the ambulance pulled up.

 

“Tire.” Her eyes closed and they could see her trying to arch.

 

“Shush…you’re safe Baby girl.   I‘m  right  here.”   Rubbing her hip and left leg as he talked. He concentrated on the knotted muscle just below her knee and at the point where the head of the femur fits into the hip socket. The kneading seemed to release some of the tension as his voice calmed her. “Can you open your eyes for me?”

 

“You’re really here?” She said as she opened her eyes. “I …was afraid   I dreamed you came.  It hurts.”  She  tried to  turn  her  head.

 

“Don’t move around…You’re on a back board. Where does it hurt?”
 
“My han …nd.” She closed her eyes. “Sleepy.”

 

“No you need to stay awake.  It’s ok, sweetheart, don’t cry.” He kissed her lightly. “We’re gonna take you to Rampart and after they check you out they’ll give you something for the pain.”

“You’re going  in the ambulance?”

 

“Sure, me too,” Roy said as the ambulance attendants came over. “Cap can Chet drive the squad in?”

 

“Sure thing, Lee you let me know if these two don’t behave.”

 

“Vince, the keys are in the car…Just let me know where they towed it. Can you let Cisco Alvarez know we’re taking her into Rampart?”

 

“Sure. I’ll be over to get her statement.”


 

Johnny held her hand and talked to her but Roy did the support care.


Once she was in the treatment room Johnny and Roy went into the doctor’s lounge for coffee. Johnny paced and talked about a lot of stuff. Roy listened making comments as needed. Cap called in a need for a replacement before they left the accident scene, after about 15 minutes,  he called to tell Roy that Johnny’s replacement was on his way in. Cisco was on his way to the hospital so Roy went back to the station, telling Dixie to call if anything changed.

 

“You two can get into more trouble,” Cisco said as he came into her room.

 

Johnny was sitting next to the bed, his folded arms cradling his head as he leaned on the bed.   “How is she?”

 

“A slight concussion. Five stitches on her forehead and three broken fingers. There is a  crack  in  the  bone  below  her  knuckles on  her  left  hand.  They decided it was better to give her something to sedate her since the  muscle spasms kept getting worse.”

 

“Sorry I took so long to get here but Vince Howard called me back. She didn’t  wreck because of a tire blowing out. The tires on the passenger side both had bullet holes in them. Her mustang is pretty much history…”

 

“Someone did this on purpose?” Johnny sat up straighter. “Who? Why?” The first person that came to his mind was Tiffany. He could see her hiring someone to do that out of spite. The publicity and cost from her involvement with CS McFarland had a negative effect on her life style and finances. Then he decided no, she would not have troubled herself to any degree over him.

 

“Did you bring her purse to the hospital with you?’’   Cisco asked, sounding like a police officer and not Lee’s big brother.

 

“Never gave it a thought.” Johnny answered. “I just was worrying about the muscle spasms.”

 

Cisco shook his head. “What about her jewelry?”

 

“I have her engagement and wedding rings in my pocket…They had to cut them off her hand, it was so swollen. I don’t remember seeing the emerald ring she had on her right hand…it was the three little ovals with the little diamond bits in between., the silver one we got at a Christmas bazaar…and her necklace…They’re gone.”
 
“Her locket?”

 

“No. It’s at the jewelers.”

 

“I’m gonna check down in ER to make sure they don’t have the other jewelry. You doing ok? Want me to bring you some coffee or something?” Cisco had walked towards the door. “Mijo, she’s gonna be fine. The docs  here will take good care of her.”

 

Cisco had not been gone long when Lee woke up. Soon as she saw Johnny, she started crying after she saw her hand

 

“Shush…you’re alright.”

 

“My rings…they took them. I fought to keep them…Don’t be mad.”

 

“I have them, Baby girl, Dr. Early had to cut them off, your hand was so swollen. No one is mad at you.”

 

After taking to Dixie and Joe Cisco called Ben Oliver. Ben said he would call the accountants to take care of the missing credit cards and checkbook when he went back up Johnny was sitting on the bed, almost holding her. He could see she had been crying.

 

“Hey, sleepy head. “ Cisco bent down and kissed her softly on the cheek. “You feel up to talking to me?”

 

“No, I want to sleep." It amazed Johnny that when she woke up after being sedated she was always wide-awake and no problems with being sick to her stomach. “My car?”

 

“You and Johnny can have fun car shopping.” Cisco smiled at her.

 

“I didn’t think I hit the tree that hard.” Lee said

 

“You didn’t. Someone put a bullet in the radiator and one in the engine.” She looked at him then began crying. Cisco gave her a kiss on the forehead and said he would talk to her later.

 

 

The two men were waiting in a small seedy bar to get paid. The man who had hired them was supposed to bring them another thousand dollars. They had gotten a little over $200 from her purse. They had sold her credit cards and checkbook to a person they knew for another $100. The ring had gotten them another $250, $100 for the necklace she had been wearing. It would have been nice if they could have gotten the diamond and the wedding ring but she had fought them and just as they were starting to get somewhere they heard a car approaching. Frustrated, Torres had fired into the engine compartment of the car. The hood had popped and was opened.

 

“Liu you think we’re gonna get stiffed?” Torres asked after they had waited 45 minutes past the agreed upon time.

 

“We still made out ok…those rings would have been another $500 at least.” Torres said as he finished his beer. “Maybe we should have grabbed that wheelchair too.” They looked up as someone approached the table. They smiled as they recognized the visitor.

 

“I hear you two did well.” Troy Braxton said as he sat down. “I was waiting to hear from a friend at Rampart how she was doing. Whose idea was it to break her fingers and hand?”

 

“She wasn’t cooperating…I tried to take her wedding ring and she balled up her fist…I was trying to make her open her hand.”

 

“Nice touch…It’s gonna cost her insurance company a pretty penny to replace the mustang, all that special equipment. Here’s your money and you maybe hearing from me again. My employer added a bonus.”



Dixie and Kel came in just before visiting hours were over. Lee was asleep again.  Johnny was reading.
 
“You plan on staying all night?” Kel asked as he read over her chart.

 

“Yes. She never leaves me here alone.” He laid the book he was reading in his lap. “She had another muscle spasm about a half hour ago…not as bad. I talked to Marco’s cousin Ibbie; she’s going to work for us for the next few weeks. Her husband is in the Navy and she just moved back here while he is going to be out of the country for the next 6 months.”

 

“Sounds good. I’ve already cleared it with the nursing staff for you to stay. Did you get anything to eat?”

 

“Yeah I went up to her office and made myself a couple of sandwiches and got some chips and a couple of pudding cups…Doc, you’re sure other than the broken fingers and cracked bone in her hand that  she is ok?”

 

“Yes. She was lucky the angle of the blow to her head was awkward and didn’t do much damage…”

 

“Ya know, I kind of hope its Cisco that finds those guys…and they resist arrest.” He brushed a stray lock of hair back from her face.

 

“Yeah, me too.”

 

“They didn’t have to hit her…and she should have just given them the rings…I can buy her new ones, even better ones now.”

 

“Would you have handed over your ring?” Dixie asked with a slight smile.

 

“Yes…maybe…no…probably not very easily.  But that’s different,” Johnny replied.

 

“How? A bullet would have done just as much damage to you as it would to her. John, the biggest diamond in the world would never be as precious to her as the one you slipped on her finger.” Dixie looked at him fondly. “She would have handed every bit of jewelry she had to them willingly except those rings and her locket.”

 

“Everything looks good. If she has a good night, she can go home tomorrow. She isn’t going to be able to transfer independently for a while. I don’t want her putting a lot of weight on that hand until we know that crack is healed. The fingers were fairly simple breaks.”

 

Lee opened her eyes at the sound of the voices.   “Johnny…go home, get some sleep.”

 

“Forget it…he’s staying. Even if I made him leave this room he’d camp out in the waiting room or your office.” Kel said. “You two are a good match with those hard heads.”

 

“We’re a good match in everything.” Lee said watching Johnny’s every move. “Well, almost everything.”

 

“What aren’t we a match in?” Johnny was sitting on the side of her bed. She closed her eyes and didn’t answer. Johnny gave Dixie and Kel a puzzled look.

 

“You two behave and the nurses know you’ll call if she needs anything. The best thing for her right now is rest. You get some too.”

 

The next morning Kathy brought Lee some clothes to wear home around 8:30. Lee had been awake since six o’clock and was anxious to get home.


“Where’s Johnny?” Kathy was surprised when she didn’t see him.

 

“I sent him up to talk to Nell and to get me a Dr. Pepper.”

 

“And so you could cry in peace?”

 

“I wasn’t crying just have a bad headache and my eyes are watery.”

 

“Now, if I believe that I would be buying ocean front property in Arizona. So what gives? Is the pain that bad?” The doctor in her coming to the forefront.

 

“No.” Before she had to say more Johnny came in. “Thanks Boyo.”

 

“You’re welcome.  Hey Kathy, how’s it going?”

 

“Fine, I’m going to head over to your place and have some breakfast started for you and maybe see about doing anything that I can to help. You need anything from the store?”

 

“Some lunch meat and eggs and milk,” Lee said. “That was my grocery list for yesterday.”   Kathy took the money Johnny gave her and left.

 

Johnny had told the nurse he would help Lee get dressed. She was sitting in the hospitals wheel chair “Sweetheart?” Johnny squatted down in front of her. “What’s wrong?” She looked so sad and far away.   There was a look of deep pain in her eyes.

 

“You talked about how your aunts always said you were a burden…Now you’re stuck with me. I’m more of a burden than you could have imagined when you proposed. I’m sorry to cause you so much worry and trouble.”

 

He placed his fingers gently over her lips.

 

“Hold it, no one, not even you, is going to say anything bad about my baby girl.” He wiped the tears away. “You are the most important part of my life…nothing is going to change that. I never ever want to hear you say anything like that again. I know this has to be scary… I’ve been in the same place, after the monkey virus, after I got hit by a car…hell, even when I had the blood poisoning and vertigo last fall. The times I have been hurt or sick since we got together, you never made me feel like a burden. I promise you I never have ever thought you were one and I never will.”

 

Roy drove the Rover over to the hospital as soon as he got off. Chet then took him back to the station to get his car. He stayed only long enough to give John the keys since all the guys were beat. The night had been long and busy.

 

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Lee was asleep and Johnny was washing the dishes when the phone rang. He grabbed it quickly before it could wake her. “Hello.”

"Johnny how is she?” Jeff asked “I got your message but wasn’t able to call until now.”

 

“Sleeping. The pain meds are knocking her out. But sleep is really what she needs right now. Soon as she’s feeling up to it we’ll go see about getting her a new car. She said it could take awhile to get her special controls put in. In a way, I’m glad since she won’t be able to drive until that hand is healed.”

 

“If you need anything you call that number again and leave a message. Any leads on the men who did this?”

 

“Not yet"

 

“Don’t let her shut down. She can do that when she is feeling extra stressed or helpless.   It can happen fast.  Tell her I said I love you, gotta go.”

 

Lee was awake but had her eyes closed so she didn’t have to talk to Johnny. Feeling so defeated and useless she just wanted to be alone. Finally, she had to open her eyes and ask for help. Johnny had turned the intercom on when he went out to the other room She pressed the intercom. “Can you come help me?”

 

After she had finished in the bathroom, Johnny pushed her out to the front room and settled her in the recliner. “Anything you want?”

 

“No thank you.” She closed her eyes

 

“Cisco is going to be here soon, you feel up to talking to him?"

 

“No, but it has to be done.”

 

Johnny noticed the almost robotic tone and the lackluster expression.  He remembered Jeff’s warning.  “Ok let’s get one thing straight.  None of this is your fault.  A  ring and a car can be replaced,  so  can credit cards and  check books…I’m  sorry  you  got hurt…more than I  can tell you.  Not because it is going to cause any problem for me or anyone else.  I am sorry it’s causing you pain, mentally and physically.   I think  the  day I  placed  that  engagement  ring  on  your  finger  was the  happiest ,proudest  day of my  life  until  the  day  I put  the  wedding  ring to  go with it  on  your  hand..  I can replace these rings, if I had to.  What I could not replace is you, ever.  HOW DO I MAKE YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?”   His voice rose but she knew it was not in anger at her.  “Baby girl, don’t ever think I would be better off without you.  If I needed to take a leave of absence or even quit my job to take care of you I would.  Gladly.”

 

“You  say  that  and I  think  you  really  mean it…But you  would be so  miserable  without your job. I would  be even  more  miserable  knowing I  had  taken that  from  you, too.  Give me a little bit of time to get my head on straight.   .   Knowing  you  would  do  that  for me and  still love me…I  can’t  explain what it  means…Just  be patient with me, ok?”

 

“I  think  we  need to  stop  trying to  protect  one and other’s  feelings and  be  honest  with  each  other.   We try so hard to protect each other we get all twisted up in knots.  We need to be honest about what we think and feel.”

 

“What I feel right now is lousy.  The drummer pounding rhythms in my head is playing a totally different song than the drummer beating on my hand.”   

 

“Do you need a pain pill?  Aren’t you one of those people who are always telling me not to let the pain get ahead of me?”

 

“If I take a pill I’ll be asleep when Cisco gets here.   I want to get this over with.   Did you call the insurance company?”

 

“Yes. They called back.   They were sending an insurance adjuster over to the police impound.   Said there shouldn’t be a problem.  I also called the dealership.  Soon as you are feeling better, we will go look at cars.”

 

“I don’t think I want another convertible.   If we get a baby I think I need something more family style.”

 

“When we get our baby…Ok, you need something to drink?”

 

“No, I’m fine.   John Roderick, promise me something.”

 

“Not until I know what I’m promising.”  He had learned the hard way not to give her unspoken promises.

 

“That  you will  never stay  with  me out of  pity or  guilt…I  couldn’t   stand  to see that in  your  eyes.”

 

“That’s an easy promise, Baby Girl, because it’s never gonna happen.”


They heard the elevator door open.   (Jeff had had it fixed so it played  loudly when opened so no one could come up unannounced.)

 

  Johnny got coffee for him and Cisco, a glass of juice for Lee.  Cisco   settled on the couch, Johnny pulled a chair over next to Lee.   He  tucked  the  blanket  around  her  legs  and fluffed the  pillows  she had  her  hand 

 

“Mijo, you going to work in the morning?” Cisco asked before he began his official visit.

 

“I’m not sure.  Marco’s cousin is coming over but it depends on how she is feeling.”

 

“I’ll be fine and you are going to go to work and not worry about me.   Guess we know now why the adoption agencies all rejected me…I can’t take care of myself, let alone a baby.”

 

“Lee stop it right now.”  Johnny was not going to listen to her put herself down like that.  “When the time is right we’ll get our baby.”

 

“Ok, now that you had your little pity party, let’s get this over with.  Tell me what happened.”

 

“I  was  driving  through  Baylor  park, everything  was  quiet and  peaceful,  I  heard 2  pops, hit a  tree.  The last thing I remembered was calling for Johnny.  When I woke up two men were standing there laughing.  It was like they wanted me to see them.  The  Mexican  looking one  hadn’t  shaved  for a day or two,  his  long hair  was  dirty  with a dirty  bandana  tied  around it.  The  dirty  tee shirt  had a  skull  with  a  lightning   bolt  thru  the  eyes…across the  front  like a  Z.  Had  the  same  Z bolt on his  hand  but it  didn’t  look  right…like it  was a  fake.   The other man was Asian.  He didn’t say much.  The  Mexican   used  bad  grammar, and  sounded almost  fake, his accent  was too  much  like a  bad stereotype. He took my ring and necklace.  But, I  balled my  left fist and  wouldn’t   open it…He  hit me across  the  back of my  hand.  The other  one  held my  hand  while  he  tried  to  unbend  my fingers.  He  laughed  when he  heard  the  first  bone  break…But then there  was  the   music…you know  when  you hear a  car  with its  radio  too  loud…Then he  hit me, with the  gun.  The other guy   grabbed at his arm, said they had to go…”

 

“That’s probably what saved that hard head of yours.”

 

Johnny felt sick listening to her describe it as if it had happened to someone else. 

 

“Any more questions?” Johnny asked as he got up.

 

“Not right now…good remembering little sister.”

 

“You taught me the Kim game a long time ago.  Guess I still play it well.”

 

“You gonna explain what the Kim games is?”


“Later.”  She said as she watched Cisco writing.  “The  Mexican,  he  was  left  handed, The Asian  was  right handed and  had a  funny  way  of  standing  with his  head  cocked  sideways,  as if  he  was  trying to focus with only one  eye.”  She yawned.   “There  was  something  strange  like  they  had  laid in  wait for me…the  Asian   guy  he  said  something   but I  can’t  remember  what…it  sounded  funny   fake…”

 

“Ok, a pain pill for you.  You want to stay here or go back to bed?

 

“Here with you.”

 

“Ok.”   He gave her the pill and watched as she took a little sip of juice. “Drink the whole glass.”

 

“I’m not thirsty.”  However, as he stood frowning at her she drank all the juice.

 


Johnny got up and carefully made his way to the bathroom.   He had  gotten up  early  to  give  himself  extra  time to  take  care of  anything Lee needed  before  Ibbie  came.  He came out of the bathroom surprised to see her sitting up on the side of the bed.

 

“What do you think you’re doing?”  He stood there watching the various emotions play over her face.

 

“I  am  sitting  up and  I  am  going to  transfer to my chair  then  go  make  you  some  breakfast.  It will not be anything great…But I think I can make toast.  You set  up  the  coffee  pot  last night…so you  get  coffee,  juice  and toast to  go  with  your  cereal.  You just have to pour everything…”

 

“How did you manage to sit up with putting any pressure on your hand?”


“I grabbed the middle of the bar and   just kind of twisted.  Look, you need to trust me, ok.  I  am not  going to  do  anything  stupid  but I am  not  just  gonna  sit around  hopeless  and  helpless.”

 

“Let me help you transfer at least.”  As  worried as he  was he  couldn’t  help  but  be proud  of  her  nerve and determination.

 

“You can watch but I am doing it myself.”   She shifted her weight slightly and leaned forward.  Johnny  watched as she  grabbed the  edge of the night  stand  and  pulled  herself  up to standing.  Pivoting  slowly she  almost  made it  before  her  knees  buckled and she started to fall.  Johnny grabbed her  easing  her down into the chair.  She looked down at her feet not saying anything.

 

“You almost made it.  Let Ibbie help you today and tomorrow we’ll work on it together, Ok?”  He watched her eyes as they narrowed but then she nodded yes.  “It’s gonna be ok.   Now, let’s go have some breakfast.”

 

Ibbie came at seven.  Lee and Johnny had met her at several Lopez family gatherings.  Ibbie understood that Lee was going to need help with most basic activities. 

 

“You have any problem, call me.  I’ll  call  you  when I  can  just because I’ll  miss  you not  because I  don’t  trust you,  understand?”

 

“We’ll be fine.   You remember not to worry about me but keep your mind on   your work.” 

 

“Johnny,  I  will  take  good  care of   your   lady…Can  you imagine  what  Marco’s  mother  would  say if I  didn’t?   She would  have my head.”

 

“That’s ok.  Cisco thinks Maria is gonna have mine for not calling her.  And I told him not to either.”

 

“Did anyone tell Aunt Louisa that?  She writes Maria every week.”

 

“I maybe busted.”  Johnny laughed and kissed Lee  lightly.  “Behave yourself today.” 

 

“I will.  Love ya Boyo…stay safe, all of you.”

 

Ibbie went in, changed the bed, and laid out a clean gown for Lee.


 

The morning  went  well  as  John  did  his  chores and they did  some  routine  drills.  After he finished his chores, he went to help Marco and Chet   hang hose.  The previous shift had been busy  so there was a backlog of hose to work with.  The three working together had soon caught up.  The smell of Mike’s sloppy joes cooking made them hungry.  They had just finished when he called them into lunch. 

 

Johnny fixed his plate and was happily eating and listening to the conversation.   Marco and Chet were comparing the merits of two TV detectives.  Roy and Mike listened  shaking their heads at the two.  Cap was just listening and watching his crew inter act.   He noticed John  had been  quiet  all morning  and  now  was  concentrating on eating not joining in  on  the  conversation.

 

“Everything ok John?”

 

  “Yeah,  just enjoying the food and the company.”  He gave the Cap a quick smile.  “Lee was going to call Emily today to thank her for the flowers.   She was going to do it yesterday but she slept a lot.   She wanted to do it herself not have me do it.”

 

“It’s not gonna be easy her only having one hand for a few weeks.”  Hank said not wanting to pry.

 

“Marco’s  cousin Ibbie  is  staying  with her  while I’m at  work.”

 

“Are you gonna get any rest that way?”  Hank asked concerned for his friend.

 

“Sure…She doesn’t need a lot of help…my biggest problem is gonna be not offering too much.   She has a  pretty independent spirit, I  don’t  want to  do anything to  hurt  that.   She was trying to figure out how she was going to get to work  in a few days.   We have to get her another travel chair…the one in the car is trashed.”

 

The SCU sounded and they were off.    The small auto repair shop was in flames when they reached it.  Cap quickly  had Marco and Chet laying hose  while the paramedics put on their  protective  equipment.  According to  the information given  them there  were  3  maybe  4  people inside the  building   in  the  office at the  back.  

 

“Roy, John, make it fast.”  Cap was worried about all the paint and paint thinners, etc stored in the building.   The guy  over  there said  he was pretty  sure there  were 2 or  3  guys back in the office.    Get in, grab them, and get out.   This place is a time bomb.”   Hank had called for additional help.  There was  no  chance of  saving  this  building  but  they had to  try to  contain and  preserve the other  buildings close  by.

 

As they made their way to the back office the smoke grew thicker and   blacker.    Once they were in the office, they looked around confused.  There  were  three  dummies in  the  chairs,   scattered  around  the  office  were  smudge  pots   pouring  out  black  smoke.   Roy signaled  that they were heading out, Johnny followed.   There  was  a sound or  a feeling,  Johnny  never really  knew  what  alerted  him.  Johnny  lunged at Roy knocking him forward and to the right.    The  lunge  carried  him  forward ,as he fell  he  felt  something  hit his shoulder as the explosion rocked the building.



Lee  was reading the  grant applications that  Ben  had  sent  over  that  morning.

 

“Mrs. Gage,  is  there  anything  special  you  would  like  me to  fix  for  lunch or dinner.”   Ibbie asked as she came into the living room.

 

“Please, call me Lee and come sit down.   Johnny hired you to help me with whatever I needed.  You were not hired as a house cleaner.  I  appreciate your running the sweeper and dusting.   John Roderick gets a little  over  protective of  me  but I  am  not a  china doll  that is  gonna  break.   The next time you come  wear  jeans and  a sweat  shirt or  whatever  you are  comfortable in…If   you want to  sit out here and  watch  TV or  read  that is  fine.  There is a TV in  your room  if you prefer  staying back there, it’s  your  choice.  Help  yourself  to  anything in the  fridge or  cupboards.   If there is a kind if  soda you  like but  isn’t up here I am  sure it’s down in the  store room.    We appreciate you coming to help me and I hope we can be friends.”

 

“I appreciate your friendship…I was a little nervous about taking this job.”

 

“Why?” 

 

“Because I have heard so much about you and Johnny from my aunt and cousin.  I was afraid if I  didn’t  please you, it would reflect badly on them.”

 

“Nothing  anyone could  ever do  would  make Mama  Lopez  less  dear to us  or Marco  less of a special  friend to Johnny and  me.   You know what really sounds good is pizza.  The number is on the pad by the phone, you like everything on it?”   They had just ordered the pizza when Jo called and said she wanted to come over.   The  pizza and Jo got there about the same time.   By the time, they were done eating all three were laughing and having a nice visit.   Ibbie  gathered up the lunch dishes and left Lee and Jo to go over the grant applications.  They approved  some and others they just shook their heads in disbelief.   After they finished there was still some time until Jo had to be home for the kids.   Ibbie, taught them to play Mexican train dominos.   

 

“Would you get that please?”    Lee asked Jo  when the  phone  rang.

 

“Hello.”

 

“Jo?   I thought I called Lee’s number.”  Jo recognized Hank’s voice and shivered.   “I just called your number a minute ago.”

 

“You did, I’m here visiting.”   Lee was watching her and saw the stricken expression on her face.  “What’s wrong?”

 

“The guys are on the way from Rampart.  It was just precautionary.  They were a little banged up. They are both gonna be going home.”


“Do you want me to come pick them up?”

 

“If you could that would help.”

 

“Let me  call and make arrangements  for   my  neighbor  to  have the  kids  come over  to  her  house.”

 

Lee was listening and biting her lip trying not to panic.  Jo hung up. 

 

“They are  fine  just a  little  banged  up…I’ll  bring  Johnny  home and see about  getting the Rover  home  tomorrow.”

 

“Thank you.   Hank didn’t say how it happened?”

 

“No, just that went as a precaution to Rampart and they were being sent home.”

 

An  hour later Lee was watching Johnny sleep in his recliner as she sat at the  dining room  table doing some  paper  work.  Other than moving slowly, he seemed fine.  Ibbie  was in the kitchen fixing dinner.   Ibbie took a glass of soda over to Lee. 

 

“Thanks.   Would you be able to stay, at least part of the day tomorrow?”

 

“Of course.  I can stay as long as you need me.  I just need some time to run home and get some clothes.  The more I work the more I will be able to save to  buy a  house  when  Jerry  gets out of  the  Navy  at the  end  of  this  cruise when he retires with  20 years.   He is a master mechanic.  He loves working on big machines…especially airplanes.”

 

“If  he is  looking  for a  job  when he is  out  let me  know I  have  some  friends who can always use  good  plane mechanics.”

 

“Is there anything special you would like for dinner tomorrow?   I can go to the market when I go to get clothing.”

 

‘Not that I  can  think of …but if I  do I can  call Keelsons, they deliver.   We have an arrangement with them and some other favorite places.”

 

“Marco said you have many friends because you are such a good friend to others.”

 

“I try…to Johnny it comes naturally.”

 

“I heard that…and it comes to you as naturally as breathing.”  Johnny said not opening his eyes.  “You never give yourself enough credit.”

 

“Is there anything you would like?”   Ibbie asked him.

 

“Something to drink.”   Johnny said.  “Something smells good.   What’s for dinner?”

 

“Beef stew and biscuits and Cole slaw.   I made that so there would be some left for tomorrow.   It needs to cook awhile longer.   While its  simmering  I  could  run to my  aunt’s  and  get  clothes  for  several  days.”



Cisco Alvarez was not happy as he read the report from the crime lab.  The fingerprints on the car had been so smeared they were unreadable.  The  men  had  used  some  sort of  grease  on  their  hands  and  had  deliberately  moved  to  smear  whatever they  touched.  What  he had  found  out  was the  T-shirt  Lee had  described  was one worn  by  members  of the  Zapata  Lighting  bolts.  No one was stupid enough to wear one of those shirts without permission of the Jefe.  He and the Jefe were old friends of sorts.  The Jefe’s mother and grandmother were very special friends of his mother.    Several gang  members  worked for  his  father on a regular  basis  and  others on an  as needed  basis.   They had always stayed legal with any dealings directly involving his family.   He mumbled a few choice words as he dialed a familiar number.

 

“El Toro Restaurant.”

 

“This’ Cisco Alvarez.  I need to talk with Don Alexander.”

 

“Don Alexander is not here if you leave a number I will have him call you.” 

 

“You be sure you do that…Tell him it’s about Little Sister.”   He gave the phone number and hung up.  

 

In less than 10 minutes, The Jefe was on the line.

 

“I  was surprised you called.  My manager said it concerned our young friend.   Her  generosity  to the  children’s center is  well  known and I  was very pleased to hear the  center  just  received  many  books  from  her  foundation.”

 

“Did you also hear she was involved in a car wreck that wasn’t an accident?   Someone  shot  her  tires  then  proceeded  to  break her  fingers  trying to  steal her  wedding rings.  She  gave them her  purse  and  other  ring  without a  fight. They hit her with a  gun… luckily not  hard enough to  damage that hard head.”

 

“It pains me to hear she has been hurt.  That one  you call Little  Sister has  a  heart  as  pure as  our  mothers…and a  temper to  match.   How can I be of help to you in this?”

 

“The man who hit her wore a Z lightning bolt tee shirt.  He made a point of her seeing his hand with the Z bolt on it…”

 

“None of the Z bolts would harm her.  They know she is under my protection…just as your family is.”

 

“Ask  around and let me know of anyone who tries to  sell a  gold  chain  with a  charm shaped like  a rose  or an emerald  ring  with 3 little oval  shaped stones and  some  small diamonds…Her  checkbook and  credit  cards were taken and  used  before  they were cancelled,   Her husband  was so  busy with her he never  thought about  her  purse.   His  squad was called to the wreck.  You remember her husband and his friends?  They risked their lives to save your grandson from that fire at your daughter’s  home…”

 

“I will have  some of  my  associates  look  into  the matter…But I  know of no one in my employ  who  would  harm  your  Little Sister  or  her  family.”

 

“While I do  not agree with much  that you  do,  I  have always thought of  you as a man of honor.”   With that, Cisco hung up.



The two days  since Johnny and Roy were caught in the explosion had passed quietly.    The  pain in  his  shoulder had gone away and he was  anxious to get back to  work.  Johnny went into the locker room.  Chet and Marco were in there.

 

“Good morning all.”  Johnny said as he opened his locker.  He would never admit it but he was relieved not to ever have to worry about water bombs any more. 

 

“You sound chipper.”  Chet said.  “Lee feeling better?” 

 

“Yeah she is.  Marco, her and Ibbie are getting along really well.  Ibbie is gonna  teach her how to make  some sort of  seafood  dish. Roy came in just as Johnny finished changing.  

 

“Pally, how’s the ankle?”  Johnny said seeing the ace bandage under Roy’s sock.   “Any problems?”

 

“Nawh.   Doc  just said to keep it wrapped another day or two.  How’s the shoulder?”

 

“Good.  Lee would hardly let me help her transfer at all.  Ibbie stayed some extra time.”

 

“Yeah Jo really liked  her.”

 

“Roll call in five minutes.” Mike said sticking his head into the locker room. 

 

Hank quickly went through the chore assignments and plans for the day.  “Roy, John  after roll call I need to talk to you in the office.”

 

“Gage what did you do now to get Roy in hot water?  You’ve been here twenty minutes and already causing trouble?”

 

“Chet, shut up will ya?”  Johnny  and  Roy  went out to do the morning  calibrations  then  into the  office  before  they went to hang  hose.

 

“You needed to see us Cap?”  Roy asked as Johnny stood back looking uncomfortable.   Chet’s comment bothered him more than he wanted to admit.

 

“Shut the door please and have a seat.”  Cap said.  The serious look on his face was starting to make both the paramedics uneasy.

 

“The  insurance  company that  holds the  policy on the  automotive  shop  sent in their  own  investigator.  He said there was no reason for the explosion as that area held no chemicals.   On further investigation, he found what was left of a small triggering device.  The explosion was triggered in the office area.   The  owner  of the  shop  has a spotless  record   so  they are  putting this down to an  unknown  bomber.    You two were lucky  you weren’t in that office when it went off.”

 

“We would have been if  that one shelving unit hadn’t blocked our way.  We had to stop and move it to get to the door.”  Roy said with a shake of his head.  “What about the guy that worked there?  That told us there were people in the office?”

 

“The owner has no idea to who that was.  The shop isn’t open on Sunday.   There shouldn’t have been anyone there.”   Hank looked at the two.  “Headquarters got a note in the mail.  It  was  sent  before the  fire…Said it  wasn’t easy  to keep  people safe when the smoke was so thick and black. That even  good  captains  make  mistakes.   Just be careful ok.”

 

The paramedics left the office neither one saying much to do their chores.

 

The SCU sounded just as they were finishing lunch.  The call was for a MVA.  Once they reached there, they found six cars and a truck.  The engine crew began pulling battery cables and washing  down the street.  Johnny went over to the nearest car, a station wagon.  The  driver, an  older  man,  was  sitting there  looking  out at the  car  he had  hit.

 

“55 years I’ve been driving and I never had a ticket….Now   this…” 


He looked at Johnny.  “Can you tell me I didn’t hurt anyone seriously?  My   son has been after me to give up driving…guess now I will…”

 

John was taking his pulse as the man spoke.  “Sir, calm   down   now.  You need to slow your breathing down…I’ll be back to check on you…”

 

Johnny went over to the light blue sedan.  A woman and child were in the car.  The child was securely fastened in a car seat crying.  The woman was wearing her seat belt and shoulder strap.  She was rubbing her wrist.

 

“My son…is he ok? I can’t undo my seat belt.   Please take care of Denny.” 

 

“Can you tell me your name?”  Johnny asked.

 

“Cindy Graves.”

 

“We’ll take good care of you both, Cindy.   He looks fine, just a little scared.  Let’s see about you.”   Johnny tried to undo the belt but it was jammed.  The  front of the car was pushed in from hitting the car in  front of it.  Johnny  used his knife to cut away the belt and began his exam talking softly  to her.  There  was  no apparent  neck or  back injuries  but  just to  be sure, he had Chet  got a  backboard and helped him get her out.   Johnny  splinted the wrist, then got the two year old out of the car, seat and all.   Once he had him out, he did his exam. Ok,  little  guy,  let’s get you looked  at, your  mama  is  worried  about  you.”

 

“How is he? Denny, sweetie, mommy is right here.”

 

“Other  than a  wet  diaper  he is  fine…Now  you relax   until  we  can  get you in an  ambulance.”  Johnny went over to where Mike was on the biophone.  “Here is the vitals and information on blue sedan’s occupants   and the station wagon.

 

Roy was checking on the driver of a small red sports car.  The  car  had  spun around  after  being  hit  by  a  van.  The driver had a cut on his forehead and was being argumentative. 

 

“Your vitals are good; your pupils are equal and reactive.  I’ve  got they  bleeding  under control…just  sit  quiet and  we’ll  have  you  out of here in  few  minutes.

 

“I’m JJ Weston and I demand you get me to a hospital now.  I’m a very important man and I need treatment now.”

 

“Mr. Weston, you’ll have to wait your turn just like everyone else.”

 

“I’ll have your job for this my lawyer will see to it…”   Roy walked away to the next car. Marco and Chet had helped do initial assessments  so Roy   had been working his way down the line.

 

The truck driver was standing beside his truck talking with the CHP officer. 

 

“The first car stopped suddenly and it set off a chain reaction.  I tried to   stop   but I skidded right into the van.  I  wasn’t  going  the  speed limit  because a had  seen a  herd of  deer  criss  crossing the  road about a  mile  back  and  one or  two  more  in the  field there.   Think that what caused the first driver to stop.”  He rubbed his head.  “I drive this road a lot and see them all the time…Th…”

 

The man stiffened and fell forward.  Grossman caught him and yelled for help just as Roy started over to him.

 

“Johnny, I need you.”

 

The two paramedics got the vitals and had Mike move over closer to them.  “Marco,   we need the O2 and the data scope.’’

 

“Rampart  we have a male  approximately  45  years old,  he  just  collapsed  while  talking  with a  police  officer.  Vitals are…have him on 6 liters O2   and are sending you a strip.”

 

After several  tense  moments  they  got  the  driver  stabilized and   while  Roy  waited  with him  Johnny  checked  out the  last  driver.  She was crying as she stood looking at a small deer she had hit.

 

“I almost missed him but he turned back.”  She said as Johnny came closer.  The guy behind me  didn’t even slow down…”

 

After talking  with her and  checking  her  pulse and  respiration   Johnny  guided  her  over to  a  quiet  place to  sit.  “You rest just a minute and someone will be over to talk with you.”  Another  ambulance and  an CHP cruiser had  joined  the  group  while  Roy  and  John  had  been  talking.  Soon the ambulances were loaded and Chet was following them in the squad.    Roy was in the ambulance with the   truck driver and one   JJ   Weston.   Weston was ranting about the way he was denied  treatment.  He  was ranting  about  suing  the  fire department and the CHP  and  about  how  he  was missing an important  meeting.    Roy  was  glad once they  got to the  hospital  he  could  get out  and  not have to  bite his  tongue  any  longer.

 

When  they got  back  to the  station  they  cleaned  up  the  squad  then  went in to get  some coffee.  The pot was empty so Roy fixed a   fresh one.    The  engine had  been  called out  to a  trash  fire  while  they  were at  Rampart.

 

“Ya  know,   that  fire at the  auto  shop the  other day…We  should have  known  something  was wrong  when we  saw  those  smudge  pots.  There has to be a reason…”

 

“Someone with a grudge against the shop owner?  Or the fire department or the world.  Who knows?”

 

“Yeah.  I  don’t  think I’m  gonna  tell Lee about  this.  She is uptight about her accident.  I’m glad her and Ibbbie get along so well.  Makes it easier on all of us.”

“Jo said she is really excited about the house being ready by Thanksgiving.”

 

“Yeah, she is gonna be disappointed if it isn’t.  Even if the  other  buildings  aren’t  ready  I  hope  the  main house is.   It’s  worked out  well,   most of the  rain  we’ve  had  this month has  been   early  evening  or  late at  night.  They have six weeks to get   it ready.  Everything that we absolutely  do not need is packed up and in storage.  

 

The  engine  returned and  the crew  was  happy to find  a  fresh  pot of  coffee  waiting.

 

======================


The  next  two  weeks  went  by   with a  rash  of  minor  irritations  at the   station.  There was an increase in prank calls   for both the squad and the engine.   They  came  back  from  one false alarm  to  find  that  someone had  let the  air  out of  Roy and  Johnny’s  tires.  Another  day  they  came  back to  find  the  power  off  because  someone had  cut a  line to the  electric  pole. The  worst  was the night  the phone  rang every  10  minutes   from  midnight  to  3a.m. until   someone  broke  into the  station  and  trashed  Cap’s  office  and  the kitchen.

 

Lt. Crocket    and  Chief  McConnikee   spent  time  together   in  the office  with  Hank while the  others  cleaned  the  fridge and  Johnny  and Roy  made a  run to  Keelson’s.   Mark Keelson and his son Stevie were stocking shelves.

 

“Hey guys, how’s it going?”

 

“Not too good, some joker trashed the station.   We need to  replace  almost  everything  we  had  in the  fridge and  most of  what  was in the  cupboard.   We have a list here…”  Soon  with  Stevie’s  help  they had  everything on  the  list  plus  some  extras.   .

 

“Wish I could give you guys a discount.”  Mark said looking at the total.

 

“Don’t worry about it.”  Johnny handed him his credit card.   “I rather be here shopping than cleaning up  the mess back there.”

 

They went back to the station and carried in the bags.  After they had them all carried in and placed on the table Johnny went into the office.  

 

“Here’s the money back.”  Johnny said handing the envelope back to cap.  “Let’s just call it even.”   When  Cap started to say something Johnny just shrugged.

 

“What’s going through that head of yours?”  Cap looked at his junior paramedic.  “Something.”

 

“Look, you know and I know I can afford this.   I also know  none of this funny stuff happens to any of the other shifts.   All this has started since the tires were shot on the mustang.   I just have the feeling it has connected all somehow.    Nothing I can put my finger on, just a feeling.”

 

“I’ve  come  to  trust your  feelings  about   some  things….If  that  feeling  gets  too  strong,  let  someone know.    Don’t try to be some kind of hero.” 

 

Marco was filling the canisters with the flour, sugar and cornmeal.  He had already put the coffee   in its canister in the fridge.  The  shelves  were stocked  with the  basic  items  including  hot  chocolate  mix and  marshmallows.   There was a fresh pot of coffee brewing and water on to make tea.  “Hey  John,  thanks  for the  spices and  herbs…Gonna  grill  some  streaks  and  fix  a salsa  to  go over the  baked  potatoes.   Roy said to mark the other steaks for B and C shift.”

 

As  they  were eating  Chet  decided  to  continue his  quest to  find  out about the  new  house.  “So,  Gage,  when  you  get this  house  finished  you  gonna have some  kind of  housewarming?”

 

“That’s up to Lee.”

 

“So when do we get to see this house?”

 

“When she is ready to let people see it.   And if  she  catches  you  snooping  out  there, you’ll  never  get invited.  They  have  cameras  out there  to  keep  people  away  from the  equipment  they  leave there.  There is  security  lights  and  sensors…I  think  her  uncle  is  testing  some  new  stuff out  there  for the  company  he  works  for.   They are into that high tech stuff.”

 

“Awh  you can’t fool me…you’re bluffing.”  Chet said with a smirk.

 

“If you don’t believe him ask Cisco.”  Roy said.   “He helped John   put up the no trespassing signs.”   DeSoto smiled at the slight paling of Chet’s face.  It  was  an  open  secret  that Cisco  did  not  like Chet in the  least.  Cisco  tolerated the  Irish  firefighter  because of  his  respect  and  fondness  for  John  and  because  Lee would  be upset if  he  did anything  to  make  Johnny  unhappy.  

 
==================================


Torres and Liu were waiting for Troy Braxton.  They were not happy.   A  friend  had  told  them  they  needed to  get  out  LA  for  awhile  as  questions  were  being  asked  about  the  two  men  who had  shot the tires  on  a  red  mustang.  It  seemed  that  the  girl  driving  the  car was Cisco  Alvarez’s  Little Sister  and  was  a  favorite  of  the  Jefe of  the Z bolts.   That  could cause  problems  especially  if the  kid he had  bought the  T-shirt  from  chickened  out and  told.   He had  drawn  the  Z bolt  tattoo  on his  hand  and had made  sure  that  the  girl  had  seen it.   Braxton  had  said  to  be sure she  knew it  was a  Mexican  and  an Oriental   who  attacked  her.  Maybe  that  would make  her less  quick  to  judge   others  for  not  running to  their  defense.   After waiting for a half hour, Torres was ready to leave.

 

“Think we’ve been stood up.”  Torres complained as he finished his third beer.  This is getting too strange, all this cloak and dagger stuff.”

 

“Hey, you’re the one that said this was gonna be easy money.”  Liu   was more than a little drunk and stoned.  “Think I’m gonna go to China town   up in San Francisco  for awhile.”

 

Just as they were about to leave Troy Braxton come over to their table.  He smiled at the two disgruntled men.

 

Heard you weren’t happy with our arrangement.”  He sat   down.  “What’s the problem?

 

“The  problem is  we  got a  crazy  cop  after us and  a  Jefe   who  is  out  for  our  heads.”   Torres said.   “You  didn’t mention  that this hit  was  gonna  be taken  personal  by  the cops and  the  bad  guys.”

 

“She   does seem to live a charmed life.   Hear  her  husband is  gonna  be  doing  some over time at  88  soon…and  that   they  are  making  really good  progress on  the  new  house  they are  building.  Be a shame if something happened to that nice new building, wouldn’t it?  Or to that upstanding young paramedic…But then,  It  could  mean a  really  nice  payday for  you two.  If you aren’t chickens.”

 

“Just what do  you want done?”  Torres asked.  The idea of a nice payday was too enticing.  

 

“Just a little disruption. Seems Mrs. Gage wants to have the station Thanksgiving dinner at their new place.    And   minor  injuries  are always  happening to paramedics…Nothing too drastic…and  the  crew  of the  perfect station…maybe they  need  to  have a  run of  bad  luck  too…Heard  that  someone  messed up   their  neat  little  station…That shining  example of  virtue  Hank  Stanley  had to  re do  and refile  some of that  paper work  he  loves so  much.

 

“What do you have against that station?   That paramedic’s  wife…what  was the  big  deal  about  taking her  wedding  rings  if  you  were just  gonna  let us  have them?”

 

“You just do what you’re told…you’re getting paid enough.” 

 

“Not  enough to  get on the  wrong  side of  Cisco  Alvarez  or  the  Z Bolt  Jefe.”  Lui said.   “That man is crazy.”

 

Laughing, Troy Braxton raised an eyebrow, “Which one?”

 

==============================


Lee was on her side watching Johnny sleep.  He looked so peaceful and content.  She  knew she couldn’t/shouldn’t  lay  like that  very  long  but she  needed   to  watch  him  and  draw  from  his peacefulness.  She  knew he had  no idea  she had  heard  him  and  Roy  earlier  or  that   his  words  had  been  just  what  she needed  to hear.   That  she had  been  trying  for weeks  to  find  the  right  words  to tell him  she  had  given  up.   She let her mind drift back to the conversation she had overheard.

 

She was in the hallway coming from the extra bedroom.  The apartment door was open since Roy and Johnny had been taking boxes down to the basement storage area.  She could not see them but could hear them clearly.

 

“…she  tries  really  hard  but I  don’t  think  Lee is  ever  gonna  be able to   do it…She  tries but…it’s  never  gonna  work…but I  can’t tell her  that  without  making  her  think I  was  disappointed  in her.”

 

“Are you?”  Roy asked smiling.

 

“Nope, I love her for all the things she can do…”Johnny   laughed.  “But her getting in and out of the Rover independently is just not working.   There  are so  few  things she  can’t  do…even  after the  doctors or  therapist  said  she couldn’t.   That is  why I  am  so  sure she is  gonna  be a great mother.   If the jerks give her a chance.”

 

“Someone will.  And, junior, you’ll be a great dad.”

 

“I had great dads to learn from…You and Cap…and my dad.   Then  you  add  Lee’s  dads  into  the  mix…Jeff,  Hector  as well  as  her  dad   And  look  at the  great  mom’s  she  had…and  then  you add  Jo  and  Kathy and  Em  into  the  mix…She  has  been  learning  from  the  best…”

 

“Baby girl, what’s wrong?”  Johnny’s sleepy voice interrupted her rememberance.   “Why are you laying like that?” He  had turned over  so he was facing her.   “Tell me.”

 

“Just thinking how lucky I am to have you in my life, to have you believe in me.”   He pulled her over to him.

 

“That works both ways, Baby girl.”



Chet came in just as Hank was calling for roll call.  The curly headed Irishman was clearly upset.  He went into the locker room and quickly changed into his uniform. 

 

“Nice you could   join us Chester B.”  Hank said.  Looking at his linesman Hank regretted his slightly sarcastic tone.  “Are you ok Pal?  Concern showed in Hank’s voice as well as on his face.

 

“Cap there is some sick people out there.  My  mom  gets a call  my  brother  has  been  shot and she  needs to get to Rampart.  I  get a  call  that  my  mom  has  been  taken  to Harbor  General  with a  possible  stroke  and  Denny  gets  a  call that I’m  at  Blair  General  and had  been  caught in a  building  collapse.   None of  us  can  get a hold of the  others  and we all assumed  the  the calls were real…I  thought Denny  was on  his  way to Harbor  General…It’s  really  sick.”

 

“But everyone is ok?” 

 

“Yeah  Mom  was a little  shook  and her  blood  pressure  was  really  high  but Dr. Early took  care of her.  The  police are  gonna  try  to  find out  who  it  was…If  it’s  someone  playing  tricks  on  people in  general or firemen or police in particular.”

 

The  rest of the  day  was  quiet  and  they were able to  get  some  additional  drill  time in lunch.  After  lunch  the  squad  was sent to  do some  fire  safety  inspections.  Johnny noticed that two of the O’Shea  establishments were on the list. 

 

“Cap, can I talk to you in your office?”   Johnny asked.

 

“Sure John.”  Hank could see Johnny was worried about something.  They went into the office.  “Have a seat.”   Johnny sat down looking uncomfortable.  “What’s the problem?”

 

“Cap,  I  don’t  think I  can  do the inspections  at  Johnny  Pat’s Place or  the  O’Shea  Bakery and  Deli.  Legally I mean.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Because  they are  part of  Mick and Sean’s  company…O”Shea  Family  Eateries….WBS  owns  three of  their  building and  doing  in  house  financing.   Lee and I  own a  10%  interest in  the  company.  Mick and Sean insisted on it when she wanted to loan them money.   She helped with the negotiating for the buildings and financing.   She had it  checked out with the department’s  legal  department  since we  don’t  pay  for  what we  buy  at the restaurant or  deli  unless its  something  huge.   Lee pays  for the  luncheons  and  food  she  has  for her  office…But I don’t  think  it  would  be  ok  for me to  do  inspections  on a  business I  had an  interest  in  and  don’t  want to  put the  department in any  iffy  legal positions.”

 

“Thanks for telling me …I’ll check with HQ if they want to give them to one of the other stations.”

 

“Thanks. “

 

He went back out to where Roy was waiting.  “Everything ok?”

 

“Yeah…We aren’t doing the O’Shea inspections.   Cap’ll take care of   getting them reassigned.”

 

The inspections were almost finished when the squad received a call to a MVA.    Johnny’s  heart  sunk   when he  saw a  horse  van  that  had  been   hit .  There were several horses standing   in the median eating grass.  Two men dressed in jeans and flannel shirts were   standing near them.

The  two cars  and  horse van  were  in  the   left  hand  lane  and   Vince  was  directing  traffic  around   them.   The  drivers of the  two  cars  were  fine  except  for a  minor  bruises and  being  shaken  up.  The driver of the horse van had a small cut on his   check.   The biggest worry was the teenage boy in the   horse trailer.   The horse in the trailer would not let anyone near  the boy.

 

“We can call and try to get a tranquilizer gun…”

 

“What’s the horse’s name?”  Johnny asked   coming   up behind the others.

 

“Gallant Wind.   Most of us call him GW…a good horse.  I’d hate to see anything happen to him.”

 

“Yeah me too….Look, Cap, let me try something…”  Johnny was taking off his jacket.  “You  got anything  up  front  that  would have a familiar  smell  to  him?  Something that belongs to one of the wranglers he  likes?”

 

“Jake’s hat…Him and Jake are buddies.”

 

“Good   give me the hat…the rest of you stay back.”

 

“Junior, what’s going on in that head of yours?”

 

“Just something my grandfather taught me a long time ago…I need   something to use as a blindfold…”

 

The driver  came back with the hat and a sweaty old towel.  “That towel smells like Jake and GW.   Jake used it to wipe GW down after we got him in the van.   GW,  he  doesn’t  like  this  van,  the  trailer he  usually  rides in  was in  for  repairs.”

 

Johnny slipped off his shoes and socks and his uniform shirt.   Before  putting on  Jakes hat  he rubbed  the  towel on his  arms and  chest,  then  put the hat  on.

 

“You stand back and let me try this.   GW’s tack in with him?”

 

“Yeah.” 

 

Johnny made his way carefully to the back of the trailer.  A quick  glance  showed  him the  boy  was  breathing and  was  ok except  for a  small  cut  on  his  arm.   Talking softly he moved towards the horse.

 

“I hope he knows what he is doing.”  The driver said.  “That  horse is about crazy with fear.”

 

“I wouldn’t worry.  He worked herding sheep from the time he was five.  By the time he was 12 he was a top horse hand.”

 

“Where?”   Realization slowly dawning on the driver/rancher

 

“Lame Deer, Montana.”

 

Johnny was talking to the horse in a quiet singsong voice.  The horse watched an unfamiliar person   who smelled like his friend.  The quiet voice was calming and soft  in a singsong rhythm. 

 

The horse stopped pawing the air and seemed to turn its head toward the sound.   The  smell of  blood and  fear  wasn’t  on  this  man  but the smell of his friend  Jake…

 

“Come on, you’ll be fine…, come on…”  Johnny  still  used the  sing  song cadence but  switched to  English  so  his  friend  would  know  what he  needed.  “Roy,  get the  boy  out…Its  the  smell of  his  blood   making   ole GW a  little  up  tight…got  him  blind folded  so we  should  be  fine…”  Roy  and Chet   did a  grab and  run  on  the  young  boy  then  Johnny  led  the  horse  outside.

 

“Good  boy…yeah  you’re fine…”   He had a bridle on him.  Before anyone, could react he was on the horses back galloping  down the median.  He only went a short distance  before he turned back at a walk.  He turned to one of the wranglers.  “Give him some oats and water,  let him  rest a  few  minutes  before  you  put  him back in there.” 

 

“Young man, that was some of the finest horse talk I have heard since I left Montana. “  The driver said extending his hand.  “GW’s stud fees are gonna guarantee my ranch survives over another bad winter.”

 

“He’s a mighty fine horse.  “Just a little confused by all the noise and smells.”   He patted the now calm horse’s neck.  “He’s a real beauty.”

 

“I hear you’re from Lame Deer…  I know a few people around there.  Heard  about a LA fireman  and his  wife that  shook  things  up  there awhile  back.   Got the best of the local bully boys.”

 

“Yeah, well, they messed with the wrong person.”  He was uneasy.  No one except Roy knew the whole story about the trip to Lame Deer.   He wanted to keep it that way He left the man  standing  there  with the  horse to go help  Roy  with the injured  boy.  Roy  rode into the  hospital  with the  boy  and  the  driver of  one of the  cars  who  had a cut  on his  forehead, neither  were  hurt seriously.

 

Another few minutes and they had everything cleared  up.  A  tow  truck  had  came  for the  two  cars, another  horse  van  had  been  found  to  come  pick  up the  horses.

 

On the way back to the station from Rampart, Johnny was extra quiet.   Roy knew when he was ready to talk he would.

 


The engine  was not in the bay when they returned.  Johnny  went into the locker room then to the shower.    Roy fixed a fresh pot of coffee and put potatoes on to boil.  It was his turn to fix dinner and he was making au gratin potatoes to go with ham slices.   Johnny finished his shower and came out to get some coffee before  calling Lee. 

 

“Gage residence.”  Lee answered on the second ring.

 

“Hi…how’s your day going?”

 

“Fine…better now that I’m talking to you.  You sound tired.”

 

“I’m fine.  We  got  back  from a  run  and  since it  was  quiet, so  thought I’d call  you.   You getting a lot done today?”

 

“Yep, Ben sent over a big stack of applications…a lot of holiday type requests.   Jo is coming over and we’ll work on them together.  She is   bringing the kids so we will probably order in pizza.   You sound tired, anything wrong?”

 

“No was just thinking about  you…Maybe  tomorrow we can go out to the  house and  check  on it…Does  Ben  still  think we’ll  be able to move  in before Thanksgiving?”

 

“Yeah  the  outside and  the  guest  house  and  garage  won’t  be  done  but  they have scheduled the final inspection  for the  house  on  Thursday.  Once that is done we can start moving.   They talked a few minutes longer then   Johnny  set the table.  Roy had the potatoes in the oven and was making a salad.  He would  heat  up the  peas and  carrots  when the  engine  got  back  and  put the  ham  slices on to  heat then  also.

 

“Everything ok?”  Roy asked trying not to pry but worried about Johnny’s mood.

 

“Yeah.  That  guy  with the  horses  he  knew  about  Lame  Deer….I  just  want to keep  that in the past. I don’t want them to  know about Uncle George or  how the aunts  were…or  how  much  time I  went   away…I don’t  want  Chet to  have more  to tease me about or  worse yet,  for the  guys to all pity  me.   It’s  funny  but all  day  I’ve had  this  feeling  something  bad  was  gonna  happen.”

 

The engine  returned  soon  and  while  the  crew  cleaned  up  Roy  put the  finishing  touches on  dinner.   Johnny  was quiet during the meal but no one except Roy noticed as Chet and Marco were arguing football.


=============


The phone rang and Lee answered expecting to hear Johnny’s   voice.  Instead, there was a stranger on the line.

 

“Yes, I’m trying to reach Mrs. John Gage.” 

 

“This is Mrs.  Gage.”

 

“I’m  sorry  to   have to  call  you  but  your  husband  was injured  at  work  and is on his way to Rampart General.  They will need you to sign admitting papers.”

 

“I’ll be there as soon as possible.”  She hung up and took a deep breath.  She  dialed the  cab  company  and  requested a  cab   reminding   them  she  was  in a  wheelchair.   (She had used this company several times in the past.)   She then called the police station.

 

“Lt. Alvarez, please.”  She knew he was working  the night shift this week.

 

“Just a minute.”   The desk clerk rang the office.  Dan Kessler   was filing some papers but stopped and went over to answer Cisco’s phone.

 

“Kessler.”

 

“Dan, it’s Lee.  Is Cisco there?” 

 

“I’ll track him down, he’s around here somewhere.   I can have him call you when he comes back in.”

 

“Tell him I’m on my way to Rampart, Johnny’s hurt.   I’ve got to go down and wait for the cab.”   She hung up not waiting for him to say anything else.  Dan   buzzed the captain’s office.

 

“Is Cisco there?”

 

“He was…think he went down to records,  said he  would  be back  here  in  a few  minutes.”

 

“Tell him  Lee  called…Johnny ‘s on his  way to  Rampart…she  called a  cab  and is  on her  way  there.”

 

 

The  SCU’s  went off  and  the  engine and  squad  left the  station to  a reported  car off  a  canyon  road  about  20  minutes  from  them.  When they reached the area, they saw the broken guardrail.  There  was no  visible  movement  around  the  car  but  there  was a  body  laying  near it.

 

“Roy, you and John go on down. We’ll give you as  much  light as we can…Give  Marco  the  keys  so  he  can   turn  the  squad  around…”

 

Soon the two paramedics were making their way down the hillside.  The  dark  uneven ground  made it  difficult to  proceed  very  fast  but  they  knew slow and  safe was the way they had to  go.  When  they  reached  the  bottom  they were  surprised  to see  two  dummies  laying by the  car.   The name tags were crudely printed Gage and DeSoto.   Roy keyed the HT.

 

“Cap, it’s an old junker with dummies named Gage and DeSoto…we’re coming up.”

 

They were almost to the top when Roy’s foot caught on a root.    He twisted one way but his foot went another.  It didn’t take Johnny long to get it freed.  Once they were up top, Roy took his shoe off and  let Johnny examine it,  even though he was sure, it was fine.

 

Cap came over to them after talking to dispatch.  He was frowning.


“Seems there is a rash of   prank calls. 88.  was  called  out  on a  false alarm  so we were sent on this one.  Looks as if A  shift is the target of this prankster.   Just what we need on top of JJ Weston and his threats.”


Cap shook his head.  “I think some people are just looking for excuses to sue for a fast buck.”

 

They headed back to the station.  They were surprised to see a sheriff’s car sitting there waiting on them.
 
Sam Kline got out of his car and walked over to Captain Stanley.  Hank and all of 51’s crew were friends of his, especially Johnny.


Sam watched as the crew went on into the kitchen.  Hank and Sam followed.

 

“Ah, John,  can I  see you in  the  office?  You  too,  Roy.”

 

“What’s the problem?”  Roy asked.  “ There a problem with one of the runs?”

 

“No.  The sheriff’s  department  got a  complaint  about a  loud  party and  someone  shooting off  guns…John it was at your place on Calvert  Road…There isn’t a  window  out there that isn’t  broken.”

 

“Does Lee know?”  Johnny closed his eyes.  “She was so excited about moving out there.”

 

“There wasn’t  an   answer when we called her. I thought you might know   where she went.”  Sam did not like the way this was playing out.  From the panic-stricken look on Johnny’s face, he knew the answer.

 

“She wasn’t planning on going anywhere.  She still doesn’t have a car.”

 

“Maybe friends came over at the last minute and they went out to get something to eat.”  Sam said trying to be reassuring.

 

“No.  This late she wouldn’t go out…unless it was an emergency.”  Johnny   was pacing.   “If someone called her about the house she would have called me or Cisco…”

 

Sam called into  his dispatcher then made another call.  Johnny sat there not saying a word.    Roy went out and got him a cup of coffee and one for Sam.  The  three  crew men  sat  quietly  waiting to  hear  what  was  happening.

 

Cisco  pulled into the  parking  lot of  Rampart  and  was surprised  to  see the  empty parking  spot.   He parked and went into the relatively quiet ER.  Betty was at the desk where he usually saw Dixie sitting.

 

“Can you tell me how seriously John Gage was hurt?”  Cisco asked.  “Have they brought him in yet?”

 

“I’m sorry…I can’t give out information on patients…”  Confused since she had not heard anything about Johnny getting hurt.

 

“I received a message from Lee that she was on her way here and that Johnny was hurt.  She is family.”  Wondering if Johnny had been taken to another closer hospital.

 

“I haven’t seen Lee or had had any word on Johnny getting hurt.   There haven’t been any calls from any squad in the last hour and a half.”  Betty   shivered at the anger she saw on his face.

 

“My little  sister  called  the  police station  and  said she  was  on  her  way  here.   Now you are telling me you did not call her.   Who is in charge here?”

 

“Dr. Brackett is in treatment room 3...”  Cisco   took a deep breath. He realized he had frightened her.  “Sorry didn’t mean to growl at you.  It’s just  that  Lee  should  have  been here  by  now  unless  the  message I  got  was   messed  up.   I’ve  been  looking out  for  her  since she  was  7 years  old, it’s a  hard  habit to  break.”

 

“I can understand that…she and Johnny are a special couple.”  Kel came out of the treatment room and spotted Cisco.  “Well. Lt. Alvarez,  what brings you here tonight?” 

 

“I  got a  call  they  were  bringing  Johnny in and  Lee  wanted  me to  meet  her  here.  But neither have made it here.”

 

The phone rang.  “Emergency, Mrs. Matthews.”

 

“Betty, this is Roy DeSoto.  Lee isn’t there by any chance, is she?”

 

“No, but Lt. Alvarez is here looking for her and Johnny.”  Betty answered.  “Do you want to talk to him?”   She handed the phone to Cisco.  “It’s Roy DeSoto.”

 

“Roy, where are you? What’s going on?”  Cisco   demanded. 

 

“We’re here at the station. Someone shot out the windows at the new house.   Any idea where Lee is?”  Roy asked.

 

“No I got a message to meet her here at Rampart,”   Cisco sounded angry.

 

  “You don’t think she would go out to the house?”   Roy was getting more concerned with each question and answer.

 

“I’ll  go  check…Tell  John  to  stay  there…I’ll  call  you  soon  as I  get out  there.”   Cisco slammed the phone   down.


 

Lee   was down stairs waiting on the   cab.  She   checked her  purse to make  sure she had  some   money  and her  keys…It  seemed as if  it  was  taking  forever for the  cab to get there.  Finally  it  pulled  up  and the  cabbie got  out and  helped her into  the  back  seat.  She waited as he put the chair in the trunk.  He got back in. “Rampart General correct?”

 

“Yes, the Emergency Room entrance.”  She closed her eyes and said a prayer for Johnny and all the crew.    It seemed as if   they were taking a    long way around to the hospital.  Even  in  the  dark  she  could  tell  they  were  going  the  wrong  way.

 

“Excuse me,  but  this isn’t  right”  Lee said  trying  not to  show  how  scared she  was.

 

“You trying to tell me how to do my job?  You   one of those know it all’s   who think they are better than everyone else?”   The driver sounded slightly drunk.

 

“I drive to Rampart several times a week; I know how to get there.”

 

“Too bad you aren’t driving now.”   Lee sat back and   closed her eyes.  She knew the worst thing she could do was panic.   Roy  and the  guys  would  be  with  Johnny  so  he  wasn’t  alone.  She said a prayer for him and the doctors and nurses.  She  hoped it was Kel or Joe not Mike Morton on duty.  To be  fair,  Mike  was a  good  doctor  but  his attitude  with  Johnny  was  difficult  for her to  forgive.   Would Johnny forgive her for leaving him?   She  wasn‘t  afraid to  die  but  she  was  afraid of  how it  could  hurt  him.  Please Roy, you and Jo  have to take care of him  if something bad happens tonight.   Maybe  she would  get  lucky  and  the  cabbie  was  just  drunk  and  not  mean…  The cab stopped and she heard the driver get out. 

 

“Since  you’re  so  smart,  find  your own  way  to the  hospital…I’ll  just  collect  my  fare…”  He  opened  the  door and  took  her  purse  and  took  the  money  out of her wallet.  There was only about $45.00.  “Too bad you don’t have any rings on tonight…”    He slammed the door shut and started to walk away. “Your  friends  are  going to  get  tired  of  you  causing  all  this  trouble…See  how  you like it  when they  all  turn  their  backs  on  you.”       He  made a  big  show  of  putting  the  keys  in his  pocket before  walking  away.  Even if  she  could   manage  to  get out of the  backseat  her  wheelchair  was  locked in  the  trunk.

 

 

Cisco called the cab company to see if Lee had been picked up.  He knew she always used the same one since it was wheelchair friendly.   He  was  told  that  she had  called and  a cab  had  left to  pick  her  up 25  minutes  ago.   The dispatcher tried to raise the cab but received no answer.  The  dispatcher   said  they  would   keep  trying and also alert  other  cabs  to  be on  the  lookout  for the  her  cab.   Cisco  drove out to the  house  but  saw  no one  except  the  repair  crew from  WBS.   They were trying to board up or cover all the openings in case of rain.  The foreman stopped   Cisco.

 

“You have any idea who would do something like this?  Lee and Johnny are good people.   They have been  more than  nice to us  guys  working out here…Lee  sends  out  food  to us and  makes  sure  we have  plenty of  water and  those  cold days, she  sent out  gallons of  hot  coffee…No one  that  works for  WBS  is  treated anything  but  fair…This time of  year   some of the  crew is usually  laid  off or  has  their  hours  cut…We‘re  working  overtime  and  they  hired  guys  from other  crews  that  didn’t have  no  work…”

 

“Yeah I  know,  my  dad and  brother  run  Alvarez  Landscaping…Lee’s  family  helped  my  dad  start his  business…She’s  pretty  special  to  us…”

 

“Well,  when  you  find her  tell her  we’ll  get her  house  fixed  just as  quick as we can. “

 

“I will, she’ll appreciate that.”

 

“Yeah  I  know…That’s  why  I had  no  trouble  getting  guys  out here  this  time of  night.   Did  you  get  the  film  out of that  camera  they  put in  the  tree?  It looks like a bird house.”

 

“No but I will.  Thanks.   You wouldn’t happen  to  know  who  put  that  camera  up  there  would  you?”

 

“The  guy  that  put  it  up said  her uncle  sent  it…trying out a  new  toy.”

 

===============

 

Cap knew he should call lights out but he also knew it was useless.  They had made another pot of coffee and were sitting around just waiting.  Chet  was  flipping  through a  magazine,  Mike   had  been  on the  same  hand of  solitaire  for  10  minutes.  Marco   was  sitting  over at the  table  with the  jigsaw  puzzle  but hadn’t  put a  piece in place  since he  sat  down.  Cap  had  been  the  phone  to  headquarters  filling  them in on  the latest  false  alarm and  Lee‘s  disappearance.  Roy and Johnny were outside by the back wall.

 

“Why would anyone want to hurt her?  Is it because she married me?”

 

“John, you don’t know anything has happened…It could all be some big mistake.”

 

“Like her tires getting shot out   and her fingers  broken…Now  the  house  getting  vandalized…I  keep telling her  it isn’t her  fault  we  keep  getting  turned  down…They have to  look at my  being  a  half  breed and  with  Aspergers  and  just  laugh  at  the  nerve of me  even  trying…but  she   won’t  even  listen  to me  say  anything  negative…It’s  my  fault  she  felt   like a  failure.  Maybe she  just decided she could not take it anymore.  I had  to  shot my  mouth  off  about  wanting  kids and having  a family…God,  please,  let her  be  alright…”  Johnny sunk down on the ground.  “She is my life.   Even if she left because she didn’t want to be married any more…let her be ok…”

 

“John, she would never leave you any more than you’d leave her…that’s just the panic talking.”

 

The   time was moving so slowly. A little after midnight, Johnny and Roy went inside.  Cap had finally told the others to go to bed.  

 

“Roy,   go to bed.   Please.”  Johnny begged him.  “Just let me sit here.”

 

“And have Lee have my head?  No, I will be fine on the sofa here.   I can make you some hot chocolate if you’re thirsty.”

 

“Naw, I couldn’t keep it down… She  drinks  that  stuff  by  the  gallon…with  lots of  marshmallows  or  whipped  cream.   She  likes it  with  peppermint in  it  sometimes…You  think  she is  warm  wherever  she is?  Her back and legs hurt  more than she wants to admit in the cold and damp.”

 

“I don’t know Junior, we can just   hope.” 

 

=========================

 

Cisco was back at the police station and in the lab.   He had called Jeff to get the information he needed to open the camera without damaging the film.   It had  not  been  easy to  tell Jeff  all  that had  gone on the last  few  hours.

 

“If   you need help call…If they have hurt her …”

 

“I hope they have sense enough to just play silly games.   Most of  what   has  gone  on  since they  wrecked  her  car  has  been  petty  and  annoying. The windows at the house will take a few days to replace.   Roy is keeping a close eye on Johnny.  We already have off duty police and firemen volunteering to look for her.”

 

“Let me know soon as you hear anything.”

 

========================

 

Lee  was  glad she had  grabbed her  cape  before  going out  to  wait  and  that she  hadn’t  taken the time to  change  out of her  sweats.   She wrapped the cape around her legs tucking it under her as well as she could.   She  had  thought  about  trying to  get into the  front  seat  and  blowing the  horn  or  using  the  radio.  Then she realized the cabbie had pulled the mic off the unit.  If in  the  morning  she  could  tell if  there  was  any   traffic  or  places  nearby  she  would  try  for the   horn.  There  was  no  use   running the  battery  down if  no one  was around  to hear  or  try to  move around in  the  dark.  She concentrated on thinking about   the good things happening in their lives right now.    The  house  was  going to be  done  by  Thanksgiving  and  they  would  be moved in  ready  to  celebrate  the  holidays.  Jeff was   coming for Christmas and maybe Matt.   They were going to invite Johnny’s aunt also.   Johnny…she worked   hard at not crying at the thought of him.  Would he  wonder  why  she  didn’t  come or  was he  hurt  so  bad  he  wouldn’t  know?  The others would wonder and be looking for her.   Cisco would be looking   for her not   that he had any idea where to start.   She trusted Roy to watch out for Johnny.   As she sat there, her mind wondered back to the last time Johnny had been at Rampart.  It was when the infection from his ear spread   to his whole system.  

 

 Johnny had been sleeping most of the day.  She had  managed to  get him  awake  enough  to take his  antibiotics  and  to  drink  some  of the  fortified  orange  juice.   Kel had  been  worried about  him  becoming  dehydrated  since  he  was  sleeping  so  much  and  his  temperature had  spiked  again  over night.   The sleeping   was a side effect of the pain meds.   When he was awake he had complained about the pressure building in his ear again.  Lee had called Kel   but he was not available.  Mike Morton had suggested a warm compress.  It was time for the next round of antibiotics so Lee went into the bedroom.   The only  light  was a  small  lamp  on  the  dresser as he had  complained the  light  hurt his  eyes.   Lee  put  her  hand on  his  forehead  and  was  alarmed  at the  heat  radiating  off  him. “Johnny… “His only response had been a low groan.  He  turned  his  head  away  from  her when  she  attempted  to  wipe  his  forehead  with a  cool  cloth.  The pain  that  went  through  his  head  when I he  turned  it  was  unbearable  and he  screamed as he  tried  to  push  her  hands  away  from  him.  The  movement  only  increased  the   pain   and  the  waves of  nausea  he had  been  feeling.  Lee saw the bloody   pillowcase when he moved his head.   She pressed the intercom and Hector answered   right away.  “Johnny needs a squad…and I need you up here.”  Maria had called  the squad while Hector came up.  He had  gotten  Johnny  on  his  side  and  held  the  pan  while  he  threw up.   Lee did not remember much of the trip to the hospital.  What she did remember was   waiting in Kel’s office.   With  Hector  holding her and  telling her it  would  be ok…singing  the  song  to her  that he  had  sung  to her  when she had  nightmares  when she  was  8... He always   could make her feel safe.    She missed  him and  Maria  so  much  but  was  happy  they were able  to  be  with their  son and  his  family.  


She  spent the  time   remembering  things she had  done  with  Matt and her  New  York  family,  trips  she had  taken  with  Jeff  or  visits  to  friends  around  the  country.  Anything  except  Johnny…That  was  too  painful  and  when  the  panic  set in.  She   knew she had to stay calm and   everything would be ok in the morning.  She prayed  he  was  ok and  that his  friends  were  watching  over  him  then  cried herself  to sleep.

 

Johnny made another pot of coffee while waiting for morning to get there, and then went over to the couch.  He moved Henry over then sat down.  Henry placed  his head  in  Johnny’s  lap  and  let  Johnny  rub  his  ears.   “Ya  know, Henry, when  we  find  her,  I‘m  going to  lock  her in  the  house  whenever I  leave it.  Or have her  uncle get me one of those special ankle bracelets that keeps track of people”   Henry   made a soft snoring   noise.  “Glad someone is getting some sleep.   Hope  she is…You  know  she  is  up to something…I  think it’s part of a  Christmas surprise for me.  She  was on  the phone the  other  day  and stopped  talking  soon as I  walked  in  the  room.   I still haven’t any idea what I’m  gonna get her for her birthday or Christmas.”  He took a deep breath.  “She has to be alright…”   He took a drink of the now lukewarm coffee.  “Did you know she wants a dog?”   She  said  that  was one of the  advantages of  our  new  house,  we  could have all the  animals  we  wanted.  She even checked   on the zoning  for horses.   I use to  think I  wanted a  horse…now  I  don’t  want  anything  except  to  hear her  laugh and  call  me  Boyo.”

 

Johnny  heard  a noise  and  looked  up  to  see  Mike  standing  there  listening.   “I didn’t mean to eaves drop.”  Stoker said as he sat down.


“I  was  just  laying in  there…Trying  not  to imagine  what it  would  be like  not to  know  where Melissa  was or  Mikey.   We   haven’t  told  anyone  yet   but  Mikey is  gonna  be a  big  brother.   Melissa  was gonna wait until the holidays to tell anyone, that is when we’ll see our folks.”

 

“That’s great.  Lee’ll be planning a shower for her.” He stood up.  “She’ll start a savings account for the new baby…just like the one she started for Mikey.”

 

“You started one for your baby yet?” 

 

“No, she isn’t making too many plans anymore.”   The sadness in his eyes was more intense.  “She blames herself…said we shouldn’t have gotten married.  That she asked  too  much  of  me…I  finally convinced her  we were gonna  be  fine  if it  was just the  two of  us…”

 

“They’ll find her and it’ll be ok…”

 

 

A shift was up before the morning tones.  No one had gotten much sleep.  They all jumped when the phone rang.

 

“Station 51, Captain Stanley, speaking.”   Hank answered

 

“Hank, its Cisco.  A patrol unit just found the missing cab driver.  He  was  hit over the  head and  left  tied  up  in  a shelter   in  Baylor  Park.   Said he stopped to help two men push a truck   out of the way.  It was blocking the road.   The cab was on  it’s way to pick  up Lee.   Dispatch  had  given  him  the  fare  since  he  was near  Lee and Johnny’s  place and had  driven  Lee  several  times  lately.”

 

“But still no  word on her?”

 

“None.  There is  a  APB  out  on the  cab…The information has  been  shared  with CHP,  the  county  sheriff’s  department  and  all  local  law  enforcement  agencies.   Deputy Chief Gilmore is a good friend of Jeff’s and he  has made this a priority.”

 

“Look,  my  guys  all  want to  help,  just  tell  us  where  you  want us.”

 

“Tell  your  guys  to go  get some  sleep  and  if  we  don’t hear anything   by  noon I’ll call  you.
 
Hank could hear the frustration and worry in Cisco’s voice.   “You don’t  think  they  would  …”  He  couldn’t  finish  the  sentence.

 

“At this point I don’t know.


====================

 

The  sound of a  dog  barking  woke  Lee  up  but  she  couldn’t  see any  one.  She looked at her watch, it was a little after seven.   She moved carefully not wanting to set her back or hip into a muscle spasm.   She was cold, hungry and had to go to the bathroom.    She  rolled the window   down   to see if she could hear anything.   She thought about Johnny and the tears started.

 

“Stop that,” she said aloud.  “Crying isn’t going to help anything.   It’s  fairly  warm in here,  it’s  dry…Nothing  can  get to  you…and   sooner or  later  someone  will  find  you.  The cab company will be looking for their cab.   Bet  Cisco  called  Jeff…but  she  wasn’t  sure if  he  was in  DC or  London.  Stop being a big baby and think.”  She laughed.  “As if talking to myself was going to help matters.”    She  listened  but  didn’t  hear a lot of  traffic  sounds,  but  did  hear  birds.  She noticed a small building nearby.   It looked like some sort of storage shed.     Maybe there would be something in it that someone would need soon.  She wondered how Johnny  was.   She took a deep breath and slowly counted to ten.  Getting into a panic was the worst thing she could do.   She had to stay calm,  not let the muscles in her hip  and back get all knotted.    If  she did  some of the  easier  exercises  to   limber  up  then  she could  maybe  get  out of the  back  seat and into  the  front.  Then  if  she  saw  anyone  she  could  blow  the  horn  loud and  long…

 

Roy  called Jo after the kids had left.    She answered on the second ring.

 

“I was waiting for you to call…Have you heard anything?”  She asked after the brief greetings.  “I told the kids you had to help Johnny with something this morning.”

 

“The police are out  looking  for the  cab and  the  cab  company  has  people  looking  for any sign of their  missing  cab.   If  they  don’t hear  anything  by  noon,  the  guys are  going to  start  searching.  They’re  going to   be  looking  in  parks  and  out of the  way  lots…They  think  the  same  people  who have  been   doing  the  false alarms  and  making the  prank  calls  are  doing  this.”

 

“You sound tired…did you get some sleep?”

 

“Not much…Johnny wants to go out to the house and check on the damage.   He  thinks  that whoever  has  her is the  same ones  that  shot  the  windows  and  her tires  out  then  took her  ring and necklace.  He thinks if she hadn’t fought them they wouldn’t have hurt her.”

 

“What do you think?”

 

“He may be right.  All  the other  garbage that has  been  happening  at the station and the harassment   no  one has  gotten  hurt  except  her.   He thinks she is just stranded somewhere waiting on him to find her.”

 

“Knowing her, she probably is.  Give him my love.”

 

They drove out to the house neither saying much on the way.  Roy was driving the rover.  They had  put  extra  blankets,  Johnny’s  first  aid  kit  he used on  camping trips and  some bottled water  in the rover  before leaving the  house.

 

They pulled into the yet to be paved drive way and looked at all the men working.    The supervisor came over to the van.  He frowned when he saw Roy in the driver’s seat but smiled when he heard Johnny’s voice.

 

“Jerry, this is Roy DeSoto, my partner and best friend.”  He looked at the destruction.  “Anything damaged bedsides the windows?”

 

“A few stray bullet holes but  nothing major.   When the  guys  heard  about  the  windows  then  that  she  was missing…some of them  came out  to help with the  repairs.  They did it because they care not because they expect to be paid.   They  told  that  policeman  that  was  here earlier  we  would  help  any  way we  can.”

 

“Thanks…That means a lot.   You make sure everyone that is here has their time turned into payroll.  Was it Cisco that was here?”

 

“Yeah…I’ve met his dad and brother…They’re good people. You let us know if there is anything…”  He stopped not sure what else to say.   

 

“Thanks…We  better  get out of  your  way…so do  you  think  it  will be ready  for  us to move in  before  Thanksgiving?”

 

“Yeah it will…We’ll make sure it is.”

 

“She’ll appreciate that.”  Johnny looked around and went   back to the rover.


Lee looked at her watch surprised it was after 11:00 now.  She had fallen   back to sleep at about nine  she thought.  She had  decided  to  do  her passive movement  exercises to  try to  starve  off  the  muscle  spasms .  She  closed her  eyes  and  concentrated  on   moving her  toes,  then  ankles  slowly  and  making her muscles  relax  and  follow  her  directions.  Her mind wondered back to a morning in late June they had met with the builder in Ben’s office. 

 
“So we are agreed on the plans with   the changes you just made?”

 

“Yes, the  changes  in  sitting  area in  the  master  bedroom  and  the  extra  space  added  to the  garage.   It  will  need  running  water as it is to  be  my  husband’s  dark  room.  Then additional   room for storage.   Ben and you can work out the details.”   It  was the  first time  she had  ever  known  so  early  what  she  was  giving  Johnny for  Christmas   There  would  be a  second  garage  build  later to  house  his motorcycles  and  the  garden  tractor  and  whatever  other  tools  and  guy  stuff  he  wanted.   That  would  be  built  after the  pool  house….this  house  was  going to be  everything  they had  ever  dreamed  of.  It was  more  than  Johnny had  ever dreamed  of but  that is  what made it  so  important  to her to give  him  a  home  that  was  his  not  one  someone else had  had  first.


====================

 

Hank waited until 12:05  then called Cisco.  He had asked Em to wake him up at 11:30 if he fell asleep.  It had been an uneasy night for all at the station.   The  only call had  been a minor  trash  fire  and  there had  been  no  calls  for  the squad.    Dan answered the phone.  Cisco had left a message for Hank.   Hank  then  called the others and  they  made arrangements  to meet at the  station   then  go  over to  Baylor  park  and  start  searching  the  wooded  area  there.  When  they  met at the station  Chet  was  surprised  Johnny  and  Roy  weren’t  there.

 

“Cap, any idea where Gage and Roy are?”  Chet asked looking concerned.   “Gage doing ok?” 

 

“They  were  going out to the  house  then  Johnny  wanted  to  to  try  some  places.  He’s running on caffeine and adrenalin  right now.”

 

“Do they have any idea who or why?  Lee  and  John  are  always  helping  someone…why  would  anyone  want to  hurt  them?”  Marco asked. 

 

“Why  would  anyone  want  to  to  harass  the  station   like  they have  done in the  last  few weeks?  The  false  alarms,  the trashing  the  place,  calls  to  your and Chet’s  family  about  fake  injuries?  Mike’s  truck  got  egged  and  someone  let  the air out of  Roy and  Johnny’s  tires while  we were on a  run.”  Hank went over the list in his head.    “None of it makes sense.”

 

“But  the  worst  seems  to be  aimed  at  Gage…Lee  getting  hurt ,  the  house and  her  disappearing.”   Marco said with a shake of his head. 

 

“Maybe it’s Lee they are really targeting.  What better way to hurt her than to hurt John?”  Mike said quietly.   The others looked at him nodding in agreement.  That did make some sense.  “Maybe the other stuff was just to confuse us.”

 

“Or we just got caught in their fallout for their mess.”  Chet grumbled.  His  mom  was  still  having  trouble  sleeping  after  the  fake  calls  they  received.

 

“Kelly,  I  don’t  want  to hear  you  ever  tell  John  this is  his  fault,  or  even  hint it.”  Cap said sternly. 

 

A  few  more  minutes of  talking  then  they  went to the  area  they had  been  assigned.


============================

 

Roy and Johnny  had  just  left the  area where her car had been wrecked when  they  got a  call  from  Cisco  on  Johnny’s  CB. 

 

“Mijo, someone called the station.  Said  if  you  went to  the  scene of  your  most  odious  escapade  you might  find  something  you  lost.  Any idea what   they mean?”

 

“Odious?   What the hell…”  Johnny was frustrated and this was making his head spin.  “That means rotten…stinking…”

 

“Nauseating… The pumping station.”   Roy said.   “Didn’t you tell me you were nauseated when you were there?  The smell …when you got to the hospital was still pretty obnoxious…”

 

Johnny  gave  Cisco  the  approximate  address  and  they  headed  out  that  way.


=======================


Lee   was only half-awake.  It was getting harder to stay awake   and  when  she  was awake    she  felt  dizzy  and  had  a  hard  time  staying  focused   on  anything.  She was so thirsty; her mouth felt like it was full of cotton.  She had sucked on the last of the mints she had in her purse.  She  realized  now if  she had  been  going  to  try to  move to the  front  seat  she  should  have  done it  earlier.   Now even the slightest movement made her muscles ache and cramp.  She was lying down, curled up in a ball.   Even if   someone  didn’t  see her in the  cab  they  would  come  investigate   why a  cab  was  parked   out  in  the  middle  of  nowhere, right?   It  made  sense to  her,  but  then  it  was  like  why  would  that make sense,  nothing else did.   Her eyes closed and she drifted off into an uneasy sleep.


===============================


Roy  didn’t  say a  word  as  Johnny   sat  staring out the  window  at the  passing  scenery.  He  knew  that  when he  was  ready  Johnny  would  share  what he  was  thinking. 

 

“What if this is just another way to confuse us?   What if whoever did this was afraid we were getting too close?   Cisco  said if it  was an  ordinary  kidnapping  we  should have  gotten  ransom  note  within the  first  couple of  hours…”

 

“Let’s  worry  about  that  after  we  check  out  that  pumping  station.   From   the message they left, it’s the most logical  place to look.  You  said  yourself  you  thought  her  fingers  getting  broke  were an  accident…that they  panicked  when she  fought  them.”

 

“Yeah…but   what if she fought them again?”  Johnny said softly.  “She wouldn’t risk it would she?”

 

“I honestly don’t know.”  Roy answered honestly. 

 

They reached the pumping station before   Cisco.  At  first  they  saw  nothing  but  as  they  pulled  up  closer  they  saw  the  cab  parked  under a  tree. 

 

The two quickly were out of the rover opening the back door of the cab.   

 

“Baby girl…”  Johnny said softly as he gently touched her neck.   He felt the pulse and said a silent prayer of thanks.  Her eyes  opened and she smiled before closing them.  Roy went to get the blankets and first aid  kit..   “Lee, open your eyes.”
 
“No, if I wake up you’ll be gone again.”  She  mumbled  and  tried to  turn  away  from  him,  keeping her  eyes  closed  tightly.

 

“No, I won’t, silly girl.”  He kissed her lightly on her forehead.  “We are here with you…me and Roy and Cisco.”  Cisco had radioed for an ambulance and squad.   Roy    came  back,   Johnny nodded his thanks as he began to get her vitals.  She watched his every move but didn’t say anything.

 

“How is she?”  Cisco said as he hovered. 

 

“Other  than  being  dehydrated  and  cold, I’d  say  she  was  doing  good.”  Roy answered as Johnny was busy gently massaging her hip.  “Her vitals are good except for her BP being a little low.”

 

“Lee, honey, talk to me.”  Johnny said in a gentle but firm voice.

 

“It really is you?  I’m not dreaming?”  She asked still confused.  “You were hurt…how are you here?”

 

“They lied to you…I’m here and you’re gonna be fine.”   She started to cry and he kissed her.   “It’s ok.  You’ll be at Rampart soon and they’ll take good care of you.”   He looked at Roy the concern on his face intensified. 

 

“Promise not to laugh?”  She asked closing her eyes.

 

“I promised that a long time ago, remember?” 

 

“I  think I  wet  myself when  my  leg was cramping…Don’t  want  them  to  know.”

 

“It’s ok  no one will know.  You just rest a few minutes.”

 

Dwyer and his partner   pulled into the space next to the rover.  Roy  met  them  telling  them  they needed  the  cervical  collar and  back  board.  When they got over to the cab Johnny was taking her blood pressure again. 

 

“Her  blood  pressure is  low,  seriously  dehydrated…Every  time  she  moves I  can  see the  muscles in her  hip  and  legs  cramping.   When she was crying there weren’t any tears.”  He gave them the numbers for her vitals.  Ready  to  move  her  soon  as  we  get the  collar  on and the  board in  place.  You want me to do it?”  

 

“Yeah, I think she’ll handle it better with you doing it.”

 

Roy  was on the biophone.  “Rampart, this is squad 51, how do you read?”

 

“Loud and clear 51.” 

 

“Rampart  we have a female  patient  23 ,  she is  suffering  from  severe dehydration  and   muscle  spasms.  Be advised the patient is Lee Gage.”   He gave the vitals.  “She   is almost  ready to transport.  John is helping them get her on a back board.   She panics when he is out of her sight.”

 

“I would  guess the feeling is mutual at this point.  Start an IV DW5TKO and get her in here.”

 

“They are getting her on the gurney   now.   Cisco  and I will be following the ambulance in.   Dwyer is riding in the ambulance with  them.”

 

“Good.   Tell them to keep an eye on her blood pressure and keep her calm as possible.”

 

“Roy, you call Jeff   soon as we get to the hospital.  You still have that card he gave you?”  Cisco asked as he watched them load her into the ambulance.

 

“Yeah.  I have two others to call.  Jo and Kathy both will be on their way to the hospital.”

 

==============================

 

“Treatment room 3.”  Dixie quickly told the attendants.  She followed after telling Betty to watch the desk.

 

Johnny was taking the collar off her.  Kel was  standing  back  letting  him  take the lead in  getting  her calmed down.  “You’ll  feel  better  soon…Doc  here is  gonna  take real good  care of  you.”

 

“You won’t leave me?”  Lee said grabbing his arm.  The movement sent a wave of pain down and across her lower back.

 

“I  don’t  think I could ,make  him  leave without a  few  big  orderlies  to  carry  him  out….Now  calm down.”  Kel said coming up next to her.  “Dix, get her blood pressure please.  Johnny, you  want to  help me and Dwyer to  get her off this  board.   What’s the best way?”

 

“Doc  you  get her  under  the  shoulders,  Charlie,  under her   knees  and   ankles,  I’ll  get  her  lower  back…On  3...1...2..3.”

 

She worked  hard not to cry out as they moved her.  She tasted the blood as she bit  down  on the inside of her lower lip.

 

“Leona  Elizabeth stop that.”   Johnny could tell from the expression on her face she was biting herself.  “It’s ok to yell…”

 

“No it isn’t…not lady like…Dr.  Ryan told me he would give me another shot if I yelled again…don’t like him?”

 

“Who is Dr. Ryan?”  Johnny asked confused.  He knew all her doctors.

 

“He is the one she threw the bedpan at.”  Dixie said.  “That was what 7 or 8 years ago?”

 

“She’s  been  confused  a  few  times  since  we  found  her…When she  was  crying,  there  weren’t  any  tears.”  Johnny  said  as he  gently  stroked  her   forehead.,  “We  all  know  she  gets  teary  eyed  at  commercials  with  puppies  and  little  kids.”

 

“I  think  as  the  IV’s   bring  her  fluid  levels  up  she’ll  be  fine.  Why   don’t we have a nurse get her into a gown and we’ll get her up to a room.”

 

“No…”  Lee said surprising them all.  “I am not staying here, I’m going home.”  She turned to look at Johnny and Dixie.  “You can’t make me.”

 

“Shush,  don’t  get  yourself  all  upset…The  muscle  relaxer  is  just  starting  to  work…”

 

“I  was so  scared  for  you…they  said  you  were  hurt…was  afraid  you  thought  I  wasn’t  coming…I  was afraid  if  …if I  died  you  would  blame  yourself…So  scared  for  you…”   She closed her eyes again.  “Don’t laugh at me…”

 

“No  one is  gonna  laugh at  you…I  bet  Dixie  can  find  you a  set of  scrubs and  Doc’ll  let  me  help  get you  cleaned  up.”

 

“That  would  be  fine  as long  as  you stay calm  and  give the  meds a  chance to  work.   Now I think we have some anxious  people I need to go talk to.”  Kel and Dixie left them.

 

“I  promised  you  no  one is  going to  laugh  at  you  when I  am around…They  will  laugh with  you  not at  you,  understand.” 

 

“Did I dream it that you were mad at me?  Because  it  was  my  fault  all  this  was  happening  to  Station  51?”

 

“Why would you even think I’d say something like that?”   Johnny questioned.   “None of this is your fault.”

 

“But he  said  it  was…He  said  all  my  friends  would   turn  their  backs  to me  because I  caused  too  much  trouble.   You  would  be  so  disappointed  in  me if I  caused  you to  lose  friends…” 

 

“Shush, you know none of our friends are like that.   Hell,  Baby  girl,  look  at all the  trouble I have  caused  them  over  the years.   He was just messing with your mind.   Do  you have  any  idea  how  many of our  friends  were out  looking  for  you today?  How many   prayers were said for both of us?  Soon  as Dix  comes  back  in  we’ll  get  you  cleaned  up  and  I  bet  after you  get  done  with the IV’s  we  can  talk  Doc  into  letting  you  go  home.   Besides anyone who turned against you wouldn’t be a friend of mine.” 

 

Dixie  came in  with a  set of   scrubs and a student  nurse  followed  with  warm  water and  wash cloths , towels  and soap.  Dixie thanked her and sent her out of the room.   Lee stayed quiet as Dixie and Johnny cleaned her up.  If  Dixie  noticed  the  damp  sweats and panties  that Johnny  quickly  put into the  plastic  bag  she  never  let  Lee  know.    Dixie  wisely  let  Johnny   do  most of  the  work,  helping  only  as  needed. 

 

 When they were finished, Lee smiled at her good friend.  “Thank you it feels so good to be warm and clean.   I was starting to think I’d never feel that way again.”

 

“Tiger  here did  most of it, I  was  just his helper  when  we had to turn  you.   There are some people waiting to see you.  Feel like some company?”

 

“Sure she does.   Think before we let them in we can  let her sit in a wheelchair?”

 

“I’ll check with Kel  but I think he’ll probably say yes.” 

 

“John Roderick, you won’t make me stay here, will you?”  She asked soon as Dixie left the room.  “I just want to go home.”

 

“If that is what Doc says is best for you…then I want you to stay.  But I will be here with you every minute.”   He kissed her.  “You know,  I don’t  think  you have  ever  called me  John…it’s  either  John  Roderick  or  Johnny.”

 

“Don’t change the subject.   Is there is any way we can go home soon?”

 

Dixie and Kel came   back in, Dixie pushing a wheelchair.  Lee  looked at Kel and smiled and batted her eyelashes.  “Does this mean I can go home?” 

 

“It  means  I  am  going to  let  Johnny  take  you  up  to your  office   until  the  IV  is  finished.  Then  you  come  back  down  here and we’ll  see  how  you’re  doing.  Any problems he’ll bring you down here, understood?”

 

“Yes.”  Lee answered softly.  “I feel a lot better now.”  She got a stricken look.  “My new travel chair.  He locked it in the trunk of the cab.”

 

“We’ll  get it in a  day or  two…you  won’t  be  needing it  because   someone  will  be with  you If you have to  go any  place and  they  can  put  your  chair  in  the  trunk  or  back  seat.”   Dixie and  Kel  helped  Johnny move  her into the  wheelchair  and  he  covered  her  with  the  blanket tucking it  in  tightly  around  her.  Dixie  began  pushing her  towards  the  elevator  as  Johnny  and  Kel   walked  behind her  talking.

 

“I think once that IV is done the best thing for her is to go home.  I’ll  send  another  IV   you can  use  if  her  blood  pressure  starts  dropping.  The more liquids you can get her to drink the better.  The muscle relaxers and your being with her have stopped the worst of the muscle spasms.”

 

“She doesn’t know about them shooting up the new house.  I’m gonna wait awhile before I tell her.”

 

“I think that’s a good idea.  She’s strong  but  between  her  car  getting  wrecked  and  this…That’s  a lot  of  stress.”

 

“She  has  been  really  looking  forward  to  moving  into that  house  before  Thanksgiving.   I don’t want her to be afraid  out there alone.”

 

“She would be more worried about you being afraid for her.”   Kel said as they joined Lee and Dixie at the elevators.   “You   go on up, I’ve got some work down here.”

 

“Kel, thank you.  I’m sorry I caused so much trouble.”  She   looked   up at him.  “Please forgive me.”

 

“You and that hose jockey of yours keep   life interesting.  Besides, none of this is your fault.”


============================

 


Cap and  the  crew  were  waiting  in her  office  along  with Cisco and  Jo.  Kathy  had  hours at  the  clinic.    They were all  pleasantly  surprised  when  they  wheeled her in.   The  first thing  Johnny  did  after  he  locked her  brakes  was  get her  sweater  out of  the  closet.  She  smiled her  thanks.

 

“Well.  Little  sister,  you lead  us  on a  merry  chase.  Glad  to  see you  back  where you  belong.”  Cisco  said as  he  moved over to   give her a  kiss  on the  cheek.  

 

“Glad to  be back and  sorry for all the trouble I caused  you.”   Everyone could  hear  the  sadness and  fear in  her  voice.

 

“Young  lady,  stop  the  BS  right  now.  None of  this is  your  fault.”  Captain  Hank  Stanley  said in  full authoritative  voice.  “I  don’t  want  you  to  be  wasting  time  worrying  about  such  silliness.”

 

“The  last thing  he  said  to me  was  you  would  all  be  mad at me  because all the  trouble at 51  was  my  fault.  I  think   they  said it  before  at the  wreck  but I  can’t  remember if it  was  real or I  dreamed it.”

 

“They  said?  You  saw  this  cabbie  before?”

 

“He  was  the  Oriental  guy   who  was there  when  my  car wrecked.   I  realized  that  after he  left  me in the  cab.”

 

To be continued in part 2

 

Posted to Site 1/1/2014

 

 

LINKS TO PARTS 1. 2. 3.

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