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Johnny stopped before pushing her into the house. Slowly he unlocked the door and propped it open. “Welcome home, Mrs. Gage.” He kissed her lightly then proceeded to carry her over to the couch. “Wait right there.”
Giggling she looked up at him, “Do I really have a choice?” He went back closed and locked the door…
“No. Be right back,” he said as he disappeared into the kitchen. She looked around the room they had finished decorating yesterday. The last things they had placed were the paintings over the fireplace and her doll and display case on its table. They had added the nitch just for that reason. She heard a popping noise in the kitchen but could not place the sound. Johnny came into the room pushing the serving cart with a pitcher of orange juice and two crystal goblets set on a silver tray. A small silver vase held a red and white rose. He poured the juice into the goblets then handed her one.
“You, John Roderick are an incurable romantic. I love you darlin’ Boyo more than l can ever say.”
“If I’m a romantic it’s because of you. Right now I’m a hungry romantic.”
“Well unless you want me to walk to the kitchen I think you better bring my chair to me.”
“Brat.” She could see the worry behind the teasing. “Don’t move. Promise?” She nodded and took another sip of her drink.
He had just gone out the door when the phone rang. She could not reach it from where she was sitting. She thought about trying to get over to it but decided to keep her promise. She knew it had been hard for him to give up the security of the apartment especially after she had been stranded. Even after Maria and Hector had moved he knew that most evenings and nights Eddie and Cindy were home and would help her if needed.
He brought the chair in and lifted her into it.
“After breakfast, we need to go make our new bed. I got everything else in there pretty much put away with Jo and Kathy‘s help. Then after they left I realized I needed help with the bed.” The new bed was queen size and they had it too close to the wall on the one side for her to get her chair between the bed and the wall. “It needs to be moved over; it’s not in line with the grab bar.”
“It shouldn’t be too hard to move. Come on, I will help you fix breakfast. We need to make sure we have everything in the right place for you.”
After breakfast, they made a few minor adjustments on the placement of some things. They went into the bedroom to make the adjustments she needed in there. Together they made the bed then Johnny went out to the kitchen and got some sodas and took them to the small table that was set up in the sun room they had added to the bedroom. In the original plans, it had been a small sitting room type area. They had made it larger and added a sliding patio door to make it a separate room.
“Happy?” He asked watching her face.
“Very. I can’t wait to have our family come visit but at the same time its nice to just be the two of us here. Ben told the crew to take the day off. They will be back tomorrow to work on the other stuff. Eddie promised the landscaping around the house and pool would be done by Thanksgiving if the weather held.” The front was finished. “We should invite the guys over for a game night …maybe Friday since you’ll be off then and Saturday.”
“I’ll ask them tomorrow.” They spent the rest of the day enjoying their new home and making little changes as they found the need.
Johnny had given himself extra time to drive into work. He had timed the drive before but never during the early morning traffic. It had been a pleasant surprise that it had been an easy drive with not a lot of traffic, actually less than he had some days from the apartment. He was changed and drinking coffee when the others on a shift started in. Lee had sent two coffee cakes so the shifts could share. As soon as Roy came out of the locker room they went to the squad and did the calibrations and checked supplies as the previous shift had gone on 2 last minute calls and had just returned. They had finished when Cap called for roll call. Announcements were read, chores were assigned and they were dismissed.
“Cap, we need to run over to Rampart and get some supplies before we start chores.” Roy said as the men started to leave the bay.
“No problem…Why don’t you check with Marco to see if he needs anything from the store?”
As they drove over to Rampart, Roy told Johnny about the latest visit from Jo’s mother.
“I thought she had been acting better since Jo told her off?”
“She has her nose all out of joint because Jo told her we weren’t going to her aunt’s for Thanksgiving.”
“Because you were invited to our place? Lee would understand if you didn’t come.”
“No, it’s a power play on Arlene’s part. Besides, it is a 4-hour drive to her aunt’s. They eat exactly at 12 and give you these offended looks if you aren’t on time. Then the men watch football while the women clean up. The kids are bored the whole time. Then you have another 4-hour drive home. Even if I got off exactly at 8 we would be late and they would have already started eating. It is not worth it. Of course her mom’s suggestion was she drive down to their house on Wednesday night and come back Saturday night.”
“Man that stinks I can’t even imagine what it would be like if Jeff or Maria and Hector hadn’t liked me. Don’t think I would have made it past Hector that first date if he hadn’t approved of me.”
“Did she ever tell them about your mistake with asking her to go dancing?’
“Only Jeff and he said it was up to her if she wanted to give me a second chance.”
They arrived at Rampart, got the supplies, and headed back to the station. Roy had the apparatus bay and Johnny the dorm. Neither job took long. Johnny finished and went out to see if Roy needed any help. They had just finished in the apparatus bay finished when the SCU sounded.
“Engine 51, squad 51 man down at 2790 West Stanton…cross street Merry Hill…”
“That’s the old warehouse they are doing all the work on…Converting it into some kind of artist center. We had a call over there last week …” Johnny said as Roy pulled out in traffic.
When they reached the address, they saw a crowd of people by one of the side bays. Pulling over as close as they could get them quickly grabbed the equipment, they anticipated needing. They made their way through the crowd.
“In here, a shelving unit came off the wall and fell on top of Hudson. We tried to move it but he started screaming.” They went inside followed by Cap. Soon as they walked inside the firefighters could smell turpentine…
Cap keyed the HT and told Stoker to have HQ call and have the gas and electric o the building shut off. They carefully made their way to the fallen shelving. There was broken glass and tubes of paint and bundles of brushes spilling out of smashed cartons. They moved boxes carefully as they heard the trapped man’s moans.
“Some of those cartons are pretty heavy…no wonder that unit fell.” They could see where the bolts had torn out of the wall. Cap shook his head at the mess. “OK, let’s move this shelving. Roy, you and John pull him out while the rest of us lift. “OK on three…one, two three.” The three men strained to get the shelving lifted far enough to get the man out. Roy pulled the man by his shoulders as Johnny guided his legs. They could see the bloody left pant leg. As soon as the man was safely out they let the shelving fall back to the floor with a loud crash.
The first order of business for the paramedics was to try to stop the bleeding. Johnny had cut away the bloody denim as Roy got the items he needed from the trauma box.
“Cap, can you get Rampart on the biophone, please?” He had already begun to wash off as much blood as possible so he could see exactly what they were dealing with.
“Rampart this squad 51, how do you read?”
“Loud and clear 51.” Joe Early answered.
“We have a male approximate age 35 that has 4 cuts on his left leg. The bleeding has slowed on three of the cuts but the one close to the femoral artery is still bleeding heavily. The patient is semi conscious. Vitals are…” He repeated the information Roy gave him. Johnny had put pressure bandages on the cuts on the lower part of the leg.
“Start an IV D5WTKO and transport as soon as possible. Apply a tourniquet to control the bleeding, keep a close eye on the pulse in his lower leg.”
Within minutes, they had him ready to transport. “’I’ll go in with him. See you at Rampart.” By the time Johnny reached Rampart Roy was waiting so they headed back to the station.
As Roy drove to Rampart, Johnny was thinking it was a relief that things had finally calmed down. The false alarms and distributive events that had plagued him and Lee and the station had stopped. This was due in part to Cisco and the police finally being able to identify one of the suspects. A small time crook named Gui Liu had been identified as the fake cab driver who had stranded Lee. Johnny’s mind wondered back to that day at Rampart. Kel had agreed they could go up to her office while they waited for the IV to finish.
The lab had found no usable fingerprints and Cisco had been more than vocal in his frustration at the lack of any tangible leads or evidence. Cisco started to towards the door when Lee called to him, “What about my wheelchair?”
“John can pick it up at the impound lot. I’ll call them and clear it.”
“Did they dust it for prints? I don’t remember him having gloves on when he helped me into the cab. He helped me in and then put it in the trunk. I remember him laughing as he slammed the trunk lid.”
“Little Sister you would have made a hellva cop…I’ll have them check it out.” He had called back 3 hours later to tell them they had a name to go with the prints.
“You ok? You have not said a word since we left Rampart. Something worrying you?” Roy asked because a silent John Gage was not normal. They were almost back to the station.
“No just thinking that maybe the trouble Liu was causing is over. Cisco thinks he has left the county and maybe his partner went with him.”
“I hope so Junior for your sake.” Roy answered, knowing Johnny still worried about Lee being out there by herself when he was working. He also knew that Jeff had the state of the art security system installed including motion lights outside in several locations.
Lee hung up the phone smiling. Johnny had called to tell her all the guys would be coming over Friday night for dinner and games. She was at the small secretary they had put in the sunroom. It had belonged to her grandmother Spencer and had been in the storage locker Ben Oliver had watched over since her grandfather’s death. The furniture had been well cared for and polished twice a year. She planned a menu and made a grocery list. This would be the first time anyone from the station had seen the house except Roy and Jo. Maybe it had been silly but she wanted to keep it just theirs for as long as possible. She had felt bad that Johnny had to put up with Chet’s complaints and snide remarks. She was sure that he had not told her the half of it since he didn’t want to add to her stress or give her more reasons to be mad at Chester B. It was nice to feel so relaxed after all the drama of the summer and early fall.
Johnny was on the couch reading with Henry’s head in his lap. Absent-mindedly he would scratch Henry’s ear from time to time. Chet came in from the bay.
“Gage, any chance you and Lee are gonna rent your apartment for a reasonable rate?”
“Now, Chet, somehow I think what you see as reasonable and what Lee sees as reasonable would be two very different amounts. What would you consider a reasonable rent?”
“For an apartment that size, maybe $250.00 a month?” Chet said with a grin. “For a friend …”
“Chet, she has plans for that apartment so give it up. Don’t go buggin’ her about it tomorrow night.” He got up and went into the dorm. He settled down on his bunk to read.
The late afternoon and evening was peaceful. After dinner and clean up all were relaxing except Cap. Chet and Marco were playing gin, Roy was doing a crossword puzzle and Mike and Johnny were playing chess. It had surprised some that Johnny was actually a very good chess player. Cap was able to make a dent in the stack of never ending paper work. He came out of the office.
“Lights off in 10 minutes.” Cap announced as he washed his coffee cup out. “No arguments Kelly.”
“Cap, would I argue with you?”
“When one of those crazy horror movies are coming on, yes.” Cap answered.
Johnny and Mike finished their game with Mike winning but it had not been an easy win.
Lee answered the phone on the second ring. “Hello.”
“Hi, Baby girl…You doing ok?” He was glad to hear how relaxed she sounded.
“I’m fine, Boyo, just missing you here beside me. You have a good day?”
“Pretty easy one. You check everything was locked and the security system on?”
“Yes. I double-checked. I love watching the sky from the sunroom. I worked on the WBSF applications and just kind of hung out and played in our kitchen fixing a few things for tomorrow.”
“Our kitchen in our house…sounds pretty cool. Call if you need anything in the morning. Love ya.”
“Luv ya muches and mores Boyo.”
The SCU went off at 6:15 with a call for a sick child. Johnny gave the directions to Roy and tried to remember what it was about that address that was bothering him. As they drove towards the turn off Johnny realized they were near the spot the fake cabbie had left Lee stranded. That had been the worst 15 hours of his life, not knowing where she was or if she was hurt. “Turn left at the next cross road.” Johnny said as they passed the turn off to the pumping station.
“I don’t remember a house out this way.” Johnny said puzzled. He checked the map again. “The next left should be the road we want. Just under that overpass.”
They started under the overpass but suddenly Roy shouted, “Brace yourself Junior.” There road was blocked. Roy pushed on the brakes as Johnny put his hands on the dashboard. The squad jerked to a stop and before they realized what was happening the roof and hood was being bombarded by rocks and chunks of cerement. The windshield turned into a spider web of fine cracks. They did not try to speak over the sound of the debris hitting the squad. Finally it stopped. Slowly they got out to check the antenna and other damage.
“The radio is pretty useless,” Johnny said as he picked the broken antenna up from the ground. “I guess this answers my question.”
“What question?” Roy was use to how Johnny’s mind could jump from one thing to the next with no obvious connection.
“If the harassment was over or just slowing down to put us off guard. Why don’t you try to start the engine? Maybe nothing inside was damaged too badly?” Not sounding very positive.
Roy turned the key and they heard a sputter and a clink and a clank then silence. He and Johnny were able to get the dented side door open and set up the biophone. However, all they managed was some static. They were in a dead zone.
“We know there is a phone back at the pumping station, its only about a mile from here. You stay here with the squad and I’ll go back and call for help.”
“How fast did you run last week when you and Cisco were running up that mountain canyon? “
“I’d say we averaged about 7 minutes a mile…why?” Johnny said looking puzzled at the question.
“So I should expect you back in about 20 minutes? Have dispatch do a call back on that last call just in case it was real. With any luck we should be back to the station close to 8.”
“I’ll have dispatch call Cap. And those were uphill miles on uneven ground…Should be able to do this one in 5.” With a wave, he took off running. Roy watched him until he was out of sight. He walked around the dented squad. He grimaced remembering the dressing down that Charley, the mechanic had given him and John last week when someone had dinged the driver’s door in a crowded parking lot. They were really going to catch it now. Too nervous to sit still he started to move some of the smaller rocks and pieces of the cement away from the squad. He let his mind wander to what he and Jo had planned for the week end. Friday night at the Gage’s then Saturday’s honey do list. Jo was getting in the holiday mood. They both knew this was probably the last year Jenny believed in Santa. Not that they would give up the pretense…that was still part of the fun with Chris, just on a different level. His foot brushed against a small rock, dislodging it. It hit another rock and started a chain reaction and before he could move, Roy lost his balance and went down hard. The pain in his foot and leg was bad and it took a minute for him to see or feel the cut on his arm.
Johnny reached the pumping station and stopped to catch his breath before going to the call box. He dialed the number for dispatch.
“This is John Gage, paramedic with Station 51 in Carson. We were on a call when our squad was attacked. We are broken down about a mile past pumping station B689...A bunch of rocks were thrown off the old over pass on Highway 689.…Also verify the last call we received, a child ill on Tremont Road…790 West Tremont.”
“We will send a tow truck and a sheriff …Anything else you need?”
“Let our Captain know what is going on so he can let the next shift know. They are going to need a replacement squad.”
“Will do.” Johnny hung up and began the run back to the squad.
Lee woke up before the alarm. She laid there thinking about the plans for the day. After breakfast they were going into the community center to swim then she would start cooking for the day. Since she was wide awake she decided to make some sweet rolls and some dinner rolls. She saw the half full bag of pretzels and decided to make the pretzel salad that Johnny liked for the party and some cookies. She couldn’t remember when she had felt this relaxed. It wasn’t until she was taking the second batch of peanut butter cookies out of the oven she realized Johnny should have been home 15 minutes ago. She didn’t worry as it wasn’t unusual for him to be late if they got a last minute run.
Johnny ran back to the underpass. At first he didn’t see Roy and wondered where he had gone. As he got closer he saw him half sitting, half laying against the rocks.
“Roy!” He moved as quickly as was safely possible over to his friend. Roy opened his eyes.
“What happened?” He was doing a quick evaluation, getting a pulse and respirations.
“The rocks moved and I couldn’t get my foot out, then I fell. Nothing is broken, just caught. The cut isn’t deep, jagged.”
John went over to grab the trauma kit. After getting a BP, he cleaned the jagged cut and bandaged it. Roy didn’t say much as his friend concentrated on the job to be done. Once the arm was taken care of Johnny began moving rocks.
“That was a fast 2 miles.” Roy said trying to keep the mood light.
“Level ground and the wind to my back on the way down.” He had moved all the rocks he could without help. He knew a wrong move could be worse than no move at all. “They’re sending a tow truck and a sheriff’s deputy. With their help I can move those last few rocks enough to get you out.”
“Is that rumbling I hear your stomach or the rocks slipping?” Roy teased.
“I was just thinking about Lee fixing breakfast and the stuff she wants to fix for tonight.”
“Thought tonight was just gonna be a real informal get together.”
“Informal or formal you know that girl is gonna be cooking up a storm.” Johnny said. “She has steaks to grill…so you know that means a couple different salads and something for dessert as well as chips and dips.”
The deputy sheriff’s car pulled up next to them. Sam Kline walked over to his friends. “The dispatcher didn’t say there was an injury…You need an ambulance?”
“Unless you can give us a ride after we free his foot.”
“We can do that. There is another unit up on the over pass…So, you think your not so friendly antagonist is back?”
“That or someone who gets his jollies dropping things off overpasses.” Johnny and Sam worked together to get Roy’s foot out from the rocks. Sam called his dispatcher and had Johnny patched into Rampart. He gave them Roy’s vitals and soon had the foot and ankle splinted as a precaution. When the tow truck arrived Johnny and Sam put the trauma box, drug box, data scope and biophone in the cruiser’s trunk and left for Rampart. Roy was on the back seat sitting so his injured foot was on the seat, Johnny was up front with Sam. Sam had talked with the other officer before leaving but it didn’t sound if there were any real clues up on the over pass.
“Where were you two headed any way? There isn’t anything out there but some old abandon farm houses not enough water to make them livable.”
Once they got to Rampart Johnny called the station. He wasn’t surprised that Hank answered even though his shift had ended 20 minutes ago.
“John, what the hell happened? You and Roy ok?”
“Roy is gonna need some stitches and they’re x raying his foot and ankle just as a precaution. Someone dumped a load of rocks on the squad. I’m gonna call Jo and have her come pick up Roy. I’ll call Lee and have her run in and get me.”
“I can bring your Rover over to you and then you or one of the guys can run me back here. No need to bother Lee.”
“Thanks Cap.” Johnny took a deep breath and called Jo. She answered sounding out of breath.
“Roy is fine they are doing x rays on his foot and ankle but just as a precaution…And he has a cut on his arm that is gonna need a few stitches.” After saying that all in one breath Johnny took a deep breath as Jo processed the fast spoken sentence.
“Are you ok?” She asked before asking him anything else. She appreciated that he had made sure she knew it was nothing major.
“Yeah. Can you come down here to pick him up or do you want me to just bring him home?”
“I was just on my way out the door to take the kids to school. Can you stay with him until I can get there?”
“Sure no problem.” His next call was to Lee. He explained what was happening.
It was a little after 10 when Johnny got home. Lee was in the kitchen doing the last of the clean up. After kissing her, he poured himself a cup of coffee.
“Roy said to tell you that he and Jo will be here around 6 after dropping the kids off at Kathy’s. He’s going to miss at least one shift.”
“Ok, so now you gonna tell me what has you worried?’’ She had swung her chair around so she was looking at him. “Is it the others seeing the house? Or something else?”
“What makes you think I’m worried about something?” He put the coffee cup down and leaned back against the counter.
“Boyo, your eyes give it away. I love that you try to protect me…but you know I read ya like an open book. That’s one of the things I love about you is your honesty and openness.”
“The rock slide wasn’t a rock slide. Someone dumped rocks and cement off the over pass. The police don’t know if it’s Liu or some other nut case.”
“Then we will trust them to take care of finding that out. Cisco and the others haven’t stopped looking. Besides, we have more important things to think about. What games do you think they’ll want to play tonight?” She moved closer and motioned for him to bend down. She kissed him then moved back.
“I have no idea…you girls beat us so bad at trivia last time …” Johnny moved away from the counter. “Is that bacon I smell? Or did you get so busy with tonight you forgot breakfast?”
“I have cornmeal batter if you want waffles and soft boiled eggs…or whatever you would like.”
“Waffles and eggs, please. Anything in particular we need to do after breakfast. Before we go swim?”
“After we get the kitchen cleaned we could take a nap. 5 o’clock was a long time ago.”
“Why were you up 5? Are you that worried about tonight?” Johnny was concerned. He remembered how nervous she had been that first party at the apartment. “Did you throw up?”
“No. I’m not sure if I was worried exactly, maybe more like excited.”
“They are gonna love the house and think you did a fantastic job decorating it…I think it’s a good mix of my taste and yours.”
“The only thing missing is a nursery.”
“Hey, I thought we agreed not to worry about that. I’m happy like we are.” He kissed her lightly on the forehead. “No tears ok? Today is gonna be a good day.”
After the kitchen was cleaned they went into nap. Johnny moved so he was on his side right next to her, his arm across her.
“You know you can’t sleep like that.” She said with a giggle.
“Nice. Junior claiming this as his chair?”
“Most of the time but I’m sure he’ll gladly share it with you. How is the arm?”
“A little throbby.”
“Nice medical term there, Pally.” Johnny said as he came into the room with an armful of firewood that he put in the copper bin. “All ready to light if you want after while. The grill is heating.”
“Good. So everything is ready.” She looked around at the room. While it was a large room it was an inviting room that felt like a home not just a house.
Johnny and the guys had gone outside to start grilling. Johnny had shown them where the other garage was going to be and they saw the half finished pool house. He had told them about the plans for the picnic shelter to be started in the spring. Roy was sitting on one of the wooden loungers so his foot was slightly elevated. He was watching the expression on Chet’s face and was puzzled how angry he looked.
“So what are you going to do with the apartment?” Cap asked. Lee had told them her uncle had signed over the deed to it as a wedding gift.
“How about renting to me?” Chet asked. “Or won’t Cisco let her do that?”
“Cisco doesn’t have any say in it. I told you she has a plan for it. She isn’t gonna rent to you so stop asking.” He had his back to Chet concentrating on the steaks and chicken he was grilling. “Someone go tell Lee the meat will be ready in 10 minutes.” Chet went inside.
Lee was doing last minute things before the food went to the table. She heard someone come in but kept working, her back to whoever it was.
“I want to know why.” Chet demanded.
“Why what?” Lee confused by his question and attitude. She turned to face him.
“Don’t pretend you don’t know I asked Gage to rent me your old apartment. Why won’t you rent to me?” He stepped nearer to her.
“Because you don’t meet the requirements set up for the new renters.” Lee said calmly.
“I don’t meet your requirement? Who are you to judge me?”
“I think you need to go get John.” Emily said to Jo. It was only then Chet realized the two women were looking at him, shocked expressions on their faces. Emily went over to the younger woman as Chet backed away as Melissa, Anita and Suzi came down the hallway. (They had been looking at the plants in the sunroom and had stayed in there longer than Jo and Emily.)
Soon as Roy saw Jo’s expression he knew something was wrong. “Johnny, Lee needs you now”
Johnny handed the tongs to Cap and went inside quickly. He left the sliding door opened.
Emily was holding Lee’s hand talking to her softly but moved away when Johnny came in. She motioned the other women to follow her outside.
Johnny squatted in front of her, his eyes blazing as he saw the red splotches and the small trickle of blood at the corner of her mouth. He stood a up and turned to Chet when he saw the look in her eyes as Chet moved closer. “YOU DID THAT TO HER?”
“Boyo, it was an accident. I zigged when he zagged.” Her voice was soft and she was fighting for control. “Please, calm down. Don’t ruin our first party for our family in our home…not over an accident.”
“Don’t tell me a mark like that was made accidentally.” Johnny growled.
“John Roderick, listen to me, it was an accident, as much my fault as his.”
Roy had come into the kitchen when they heard the shouting. “Junior, why don’t you take her down to your room?” Johnny nodded.
“Roy, like she said it was an accident…I turned to go back out and she turned at the same time.”
“You were mad when you came in here. What were you thinking?”
“I just wanted to know why she wouldn’t even talk to me about renting their old place. I kinda been thinking maybe Suzi and I …Ya know she’s the only one I’ve dated for almost 2 years…that would be a nice place for us …”
“Lee didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. WBSF owns the apartment now and it will only be rented to firemen or law enforcement personnel who was injured in the line of duty. . Do you have any idea how hard it is to find an affordable handicapped accessible apartment in LA?”
“Why didn’t they just tell me that?”
“Maybe because she wanted it all set up before anyone heard about it or maybe because she didn’t see any reason to publicize it. It’s a private matter between her and Johnny and the foundation.”
Johnny got a cold washcloth and gently washed Lee’s face. He took several deep breaths and made himself calm down. Lee was right he didn’t want to ruin this night she had worked so hard to make special.
“I know he wouldn’t. He has a good heart.” She was hoping she sounded more positive and sincere than she felt.
He kissed her gently before taking her back out to the living room. Em and Jo had finished putting the food out and Cap and Mike had finished the grilling while Roy and Marco had talked with Chet.
“Ok, everyone, I want to make it clear that what happende was an accident…I wasn’t paying attention and when I went to move I just ended up in the same space Chet’s arm was as he turned…Ya all know what a klutz I can be. So let’s eat and then play some cards and trivia.”
“Lee, Johnny, I want you to know it was as much my fault…I guess I turned to quick and didn’t even realize we were that close.” Chet did look very contrite and hoped they all believed him.
“We know…now let’s eat.”
As the meal progressed everyone relaxed and the guys demanded a rematch in trivia. The women won but it was closer than the last time. After that, the people played some poker while the girls played yahtzee.
“Hey, Baby girl, is there any of that pretzel salad left?” Johnny asked as he folded another hand.
“No…, but there are cookies and brownies.”
“Ice cream and topping?”
“Yes …chocolate and caramel…You want a brownie sundae?”
“Sounds good to me.”
“Chocolate or peanut butter brownie?”
“A little of both with chocolate and nuts.” Johnny said with a grin. Lee shook her head and went out to the kitchen. The other women followed and soon everyone was eating. Lee sat back and watched enjoying the talk and laughter. As everyone was leaving Johnny stopped Roy before he went outside.
“I’ll be over about 10:30 to help with the honey do list. Lee is going to go shopping if Jo wants to go with her. Maybe they can have Kathy join them and they can have a girls day out…Know Stacy and Jen would like that.”
“And you would feel better if Lee wasn’t out on her own?” Roy said.
“Yeah. But, if I thought there was any real danger I wouldn’t suggest anyone go with her, I would take her.”
“I’ll talk to Jo and have her call you in the morning.” He looked over at Chet pulling out of the driveway. “You handled that well.”
“I didn’t want to ruin Lee’s first party here. But so help me if he ever does anything to hurt her again he will never step foot in this house again.”
“I think he knows that.”
Lee was walking to the library by herself even though Maria told her to wait until someone could go with her. Theresa had said she would go but then went off with her friends. She had been waiting for the next book in the series and now they had it. She had to get there before someone else checked it out. She turned the corner and debated going the long way around…but she was in a hurry. It would be ok once she passed the alley. Maybe Bobby and his friends would not be there yet….
“Hey, where you going Orphan?” Bobby snarled at her. “Getting brave? Think I am too afraid of Francisco to keep my promise to you?”
“”You are just showing off for your creepy friends. You wouldn’t dare call him that if he was here.” She hoped she sounded braver than she felt. “Now move.”
“No way, till you pay the toll. Give me that bag.” He grabbed for her book bag but she swung it and hit him on the arm.” His friends laughed at him.
“That was pretty damn stupid even for you.” He reached out and grabbed the bag. He dumped the books on the ground and snatched up her billfold. “Hey guys, the beer is on the orphan. Twenty dollars. Wonder if she has anything else interesting in here…Just some old pictures and a card with phone numbers…” He looked at the shell necklace she had on. The shells looked old but the chord they were on looked new, like it had been restrung. He grabbed the necklace and broke the chord. She screamed as he stomped on the shells, crushing them. She moved towards him but he back handed her and she fell to the ground. As she began screaming the others ran…But Bobby stood there laughing at her. She got up and ran back to the apartment. Ran towards safety.
Johnny felt her body stiffen even before the first scream brought him fully awake. “I’ve got you Baby girl.” He held her tight as she sobbed, not fully awake. For several minutes he held her not saying anything just being there for her. “When you’re ready, tell me about it. Was it Chet you were dreaming about?” He noticed her staring at a photo on the wall. It was from the wedding, a group shot of the best man and groom’s men.
“Yes and no…it was Chet but it was about something that happened when I was about 10.” She closed her eyes and pressed harder against him, shivering. He wrapped his arms around her tighter. She told him the dream. “Bobby was a bully who was in and out of trouble…Cisco arrested him a couple of times when they were older.”
“I remember you two talking about him. He was killed right?”
“In a prison fight. I never realized it before…” It was as if a light bulb had switched on over her head, like in the cartoons. “They look alike…well kinda…their hair does…Chet scares me because he looks like Bobby. And because the first time I meet him he laughed and made fun of me like Bobby did…whenever I am around him it’s like being around Bobby. Boyo I have tried so hard to change how I felt when I am near Chet. Even after I think I have changed how I feel, he laughs at me or says something that hurts my feelings…it starts all over. I feel bad and guilty then I get mad because he makes me feel that way. It’s not Chet...it is all the old fear and hate I had for Bobby that makes me so scared and defensive. The day he hit me…He crushed the shell necklace my dad made me. It was the last present he ever gave me. Jeff had it restrung several times as I grew. I wore it almost every day…Losing that was another link to them gone. Now that I know that, maybe Chet and I can really be friends?”
“Maybe so but I think you need to tell this to Chet…when you two have time to talk about it.” He kissed her. “What did Jeff do when he found out?”
“Went over to Bobby’s house. His dad was drunk like usual. In addition, he took a swing at Jeff. Jeff knocked him out; the police arrested him and Bobby both. Bobby was already on probation so he went to the detention center for 6 months. His dad served 30 days for assault and drunk and disorderly. The $20 bill had a telephone number written on it and an address. The police knew Jeff’s writing.”
“You stay here and I’m going to go make you some hot chocolate and then we are going to get some sleep. OK?”
“Thank you for loving me so much.” Johnny turned on the over head light and the radio on before leaving the room. Since both of them had nightmares they both understood the images and feelings linger even after you were awake.
The next morning they went over to the DeSoto’s house. Kathy and the girls were going to meet Lee and Jo at Styles Remembered then go from there. (Chris and Jimmy were off to a scout project, another parent had picked them up earlier.)
They were in the garage getting the tool Johnny needed to fix the leaking bathroom faucet and clean out the slow running kitchen drain.
“I could have done that you know.” Roy said as Johnny had his head under the kitchen sink. Roy was sitting at the kitchen table watching. “But I appreciate you doing it.”
“Yeah and when you tore those stitches out Lee would have my head for not helping you after all the help you gave us moving.”
“The professional movers did all the hard work.” Roy shook his head at Johnny. After all this time and all the changes in his life Johnny still had trouble accepting a compliment or thanks.
“You helped get the boxes ready for moving. It took us one trip to move my stuff from my old place to the apartment and I thought I had a lot of stuff then.”
“You had your stereo and 2 suit cases and a box of pictures and the blanket Little Fox gave you.”
“And a broken dream catcher that my uncle destroyed because he knew it was the only thing I had left of my mom. I made one for Lee not long after we got engaged. She had a really bad nightmare last night.”
“Yeah.” Johnny slid out from under the sink. “But in a strange way I think it was a good thing. After we talked about it she was so calm, like a huge burden had been lifted.” He stood up and ran some water in the sink. He watched it go down then checked there was no leaks on the pipe he had just tightened. “She is gonna call Chet and talk to him.”
Lee and Jo brought the guys a pizza. Jen showed them the new book she had gotten and her new jumper.
“Daddy, Aunt Lee said maybe we could have a sleep over at the new house after Thanksgiving, if it was ok with you and mommy. Mommy said you would talk it over.”
“We will later. Junior you want soda or a beer?”
“Soda. So what did you girls do besides shop?” Johnny asked once the adults were settled at the table.
“We got manicures and decided that next time we were gonna get pedicures too. Then we shopped some more then went to O’Sheas for lunch. Roy, I found a nice jacket for you on sale. I got Chris a new sweatshirt. I found a skirt I really liked and got it.”
“What did you get Baby girl?” Johnny said between bites.
“I got a new sweater to match my new skirt that goes very nice with my new turtle neck.”
“That goes with your new shoes?” Johnny asked raising an eyebrow.
“No, that goes well with my new heels and my new flats.” She giggled at his shaking his head. “And no you won’t like the new heels. However, I do. Oh, and I got you two new shirts and a pair of slacks to go with your new sweater.”
“What new sweater?”
“The dark green one I got you.”
“This was supposed to be your day to have fun and enjoy yourself. Not a shopping trip for me.” He rolled his eyes at her but they were laughing.
“Johnny, she had more fun picking out your new stuff than she did for herself, even the shoes.” Jo said laughing. They all knew Johnny still hadn’t figured out Lee’s love of shoe shopping especially for high heels. (Which she wasn’t suppose to wear and drove him crazy when she did.)
“Besides with the holidays coming up you can use some new things. You just gave a couple of boxes of jeans and shirts and stuff to a charity shop.”
“I did?” Surprised. When did I do that?”
“When Jo and I cleaned out your closet and dresser when we were packing to move.”
“Lee even got rid of some of her shoes…and several boxes of clothes and household stuff.” Jo added. “Inspired me to clean out the kids closets and they cleaned out their toys and books.” Lee and Jo worked on WBSF applications while Johnny went out to rake leaves and clean up the flowerbeds.
“What’s wrong Princess?” He squatted down in front of her. “Why the sad face?” Jenny was sitting out on the deck as he was going inside after finishing the yard.
“I told Aunt Lee all about my bulletin board and all the neat stuff in my room and Stacy Lee’s corner of the room. She said it sounded really pretty. I just wish she could see it. Sometimes it just makes me sad all the things she doesn’t get to do.”
“Me too, sometimes. That is our secret, ok. It would make her sad if she thought we were sad for her. She wants us to be happy when we think of her. The things that she can do are what really matters. What she does best is love us.” He gave the little girl a kiss on the forehead and a hug.
Johnny followed Lee out of the driveway and most of the way into work. She had taken a few extra days off and it actually felt good to her to be going back to work. She knew Nell could handle the office as well as she could and enjoyed the work.
“Hi. Nice to see you back.” Dixie said as Lee went up to the desk. “What happened to you?
“I zigged when I should have zagged. Nothing serious.” Lee shrugged the question off.
“So, all settled in?” Dixie changed the subject knowing Lee wasn’t going to say anything more about the bruise.
“Pretty much. We keep finding little things that we want to change or hadn’t thought of… You and Kel and Joe need to come out to dinner some night soon.”
“I’ll have them check their schedules. Did Johnny know who he was going to have for a partner today?”
“Nope, really didn’t care as long as it wasn’t Brice.”
“Things still bad between them?” Dixie was surprised since it wasn’t like John to hold a grudge.
“I think they have agreed to disagree and just try to stay out of each other’s way. Johnny was more upset about what he said about me than anything else. Since I don’t care about his opinion I can ignore it. Now if it was someone I considered friends that would be different. Brice is an acquaintance and a member of the fire department so I will behave in a civil manner.”
“Why do I see an evil gleam in your eyes?” Dixie asked.
Wide eyes and smiling, “Who? Me?” She splayed her hand over her heart before busting out giggling. She went up to her office still giggling.
Johnny was changed and out drinking coffee when his temporary partner came in. It was one of the new graduates, Rob Jones. Johnny introduced himself and showed him where to put his stuff. Rob said that since graduation he had been working mostly out of stations that went to Harbor General.
“The others will be coming in pretty soon. Cap is already here. Kelly has a strange sense of humor but he’s a good guy. Don’t take anything he says too seriously. Especially about Friday night. Lopez and Stoker are stand up guys.”
“I have heard about Kelly from a friend over at 88. Said he was a good firefighter but a bad joker.” Rob shook his head. “Is it true he planted a stink bomb in a locker and got Cisco Alvarez with it instead of the guy who owned the locker?”
“How did you hear about that?”
“My friend. He said Lt. Alvarez was threatening to arrest Kelly after beating some manners into him.”
“Let’s not mention that to anyone. And I don’t think Cisco would appreciate anyone going around saying he threatened a citizen with a beating.”
“You know him?” Rob turned a little pale.
“Yeah, he’s my wife’s foster brother. And he doesn’t like gossip.” That’s all they needed was for Cisco to see Lee’s face. The bruise was faded but still visible.
Cap called for roll call. He went over the regular items then looked at Gage and Kelly. There didn’t seem to be any undue tension. “John, Chet I want to see you two in the office. Ok get busy.” The two followed their captain into his office. “Shut the door.” Chet did. “I just wanted to make sure there aren’t any problems stemming from Friday night.”
“No, not as far as I am concerned. Lee told me it was an accident and I believe her. Said it was just as much her fault as Chet’s.” Johnny said with a shrug.
“I felt like a jerk and I told her and John I was sorry but like she said it was an accident. From now on I’ll be more careful.”
“Good, now back to work.” Cap muttered twits under his breath as he went to work on the morning’s paper work. After chores we done they were able to get in several drills before lunch. As usual Johnny was first done with the knots and getting into the gear. Marco was second, Mike third and Chet fourth. Rob was last but that wasn’t unexpected. What was unexpected was when Cap handed the stopwatch to Mike.
“Time me. It’s been awhile since I did this with you guys.”
“Go,” said Stoker. They all watched as Cap did the exercise. Time.”
Cap smiled as Mike read the numbers. He was a fraction behind Gage and a fraction ahead of Stoker. “Kelly, why don’t you and Jones run thru this a few more times. Remember to stay focused.” He looked at Gage. “While they’re doing that you can make sure the log book is up to date then clean up the squad. The windows need washing.”
John nodded and went into to work on the logbook. He finished and went out and cleaned the windows. It was a few minutes until lunch so he went into the dorm and called Lee. Just as she answered, the SCU went off. “Luv ya bye”.
The call was for an injury due to a fall from the roof of a house. However when they got there the man was on the roof of the garage.
“Ma’am, can you tell me what happened?” Johnny asked young Chinese woman that met the squad.
“He was on the roof fixing a wire …I was inside…There was a popping sound then he yelled and I heard something fall.” I came outside. At first I didn’t see anything then I saw Yi on the roof of the garage. I called you.”
Marco, go into the house and check the electric is off.” Cap ordered.
“Rob, you wait down here…I’ll go up and get vitals and do the assessment.” Johnny said as Chet and Ryan moved the ladder the man had used to get on the house roof over to the garage. Chet steadied the ladder while Ryan set up the biophone.
The man on the roof was Chinese , about 30 years old. He was conscious and didn’t seem to be in too much pain despite the strange angle his left leg was twisted. He moved when Johnny reached for his wrist to get a pulse.
“Take it easy. My name is John and I’m a paramedic. We’ll have you off of here in a few minutes, mister?”
“Yi Wong…Damn, hurts.”
“Do you have pain anywhere besides your leg?” Johnny asked as he finished the initial exam.
No…man can you give me something for the pain?”
“Not until the hospital ok’s it.” He didn’t want to tell the guy they probably wouldn’t since there was the possibility of a head injury. “I need a splint and a back board, cervical collar.” Rob brought the supplies up. “Cap, we’re gonna need a stokes…” Johnny and Rob got the collar on the man then moved him carefully onto the board. The man was conscious and kept asking for pain medication. Johnny had called for the stokes after noticing a lack of response when he moved the man’s right leg.
As the stokes was lowered Cap was giving the information Johnny had gathered to Rampart. Johnny got a new set of vitals as Rob relayed the information. Dr. Morton, who ordered an IV. They had him ready to transport when the ambulance arrived.
“I’ll ride in with him.” Johnny climbed in. Rob shut the door giving the two slaps that signaled the drivers they could go. Johnny checked the IV hook up and got a new set of vitals. The ETA was 20 minutes and Johnny did not expect any problems. He was doing a vitals update.
“Kinda funny isn’t it?” Wong asked.
“What is?” Johnny looked up from recording the newest set of vitals. The blood pressure was higher but not enough to worry him.
“That Cee Cee would call the fire department and they’d send you.” He looked at Johnny and realized the paramedic did not have a clue. He closed his eyes and smiled. Johnny just shrugged it off.
Five minutes later Wong went into a seizure. Johnny had Hal radio the new development to Rampart. Once in the treatment room Morton examined the unconscious man. His blood pressure had dropped. Morton looked at Gage but before he could ask a question the HT clicked on. Morton motioned for the paramedic to leave.
The run turned out to be a minor incident, a baby sitter who panicked when the 2 year old she was watching had a temper tantrum and held his breath until he went limp. The mother returned home just as they were arriving. She said her child had done this several times and her pediatrician had told her to ignore it. But the mother and the paramedics both told the young sitter she had done the right thing. It was definitely a case of better safe than sorry.
When they called in available the dispatcher told Johnny that he needed to report to Rampart to see Dr. Morton.
“What do you think that is about?” Rob asked. The doctors still intimidated him a little.
“A question about one of the runs, or something he wants us to take back to the station.” Johnny answered unconcerned. In the back of his mind he decided to run up to the office and get something to eat since they missed lunch.
Johnny went into the ER feeling good. Dixie told him to go into treatment 3. He had no idea what Morton wanted and was completely blindsided by him.
“Where was your mind when you were treating the guy who fell from the roof? Thinking about food or just not paying attention? And, what did you add to that IV? Glad you got your mind back on business when he seized…” Morton fired the questions so quickly Johnny couldn’t answer them as quick as they came.
“Hey, slow down…Look; I had my mind on the job. I did a quick assessment on the roof then a detailed one once he was on the ground. The broken leg was obvious I splinted that before we put him on the board and into the stokes. HE did not react to any touch on the other leg. I checked vitals several times…the BP was a little high but not in a dangerous range, he was alert when got in the ambulance. Then he had a seizure and we notified you.”
“What about the morphine? You trying to be a nice guy and ease the pain? Give him too much?”
Johnny was so outraged he was having trouble keeping a civil tone of voice as he answered. “I followed procedure and did not add anything to his IV that was not ordered. If you have anything else to say talk to Dr. Brackett.” He turned and started out the door.
“Gage, come back here.”
“I’ve got work to do at the station.” He left before he said something that would get him in more trouble than he was already in. Rob followed him out. Johnny did not respond to Dixie nor did he see Lee coming towards the desk. She frowned at the look on his face. He looked right past her. Dixie watched as Lee just sat there looking Johnny’s retreating back. Lee turned and started towards the elevators when she heard Dr. Morton’s voice she stopped.
“What’s with Gage today? He can’t even get a patients name right.” He slapped the file on the desk. “He calls the guy Yi Wong but when we looked in the guy’s wallet for any kind of insurance information it says his name is Gui Liu. His carelessness almost kills the guy and he can’t even get the name straight.”
Lee went up and called Cisco then waited for Johnny to call her.
Johnny poured a cup of coffee and took a sip. He was waiting for Cap to get off the phone so he could tell him about what Dr. Morton had said. Rob was out in the bay cleaning the windows and mud spots from the last run.
Chet came in as Johnny was pacing around the kitchen and day room like a caged tiger. With his usual lack of insight, Chet saw this as an opportunity to poke fun at the paramedic.
“What’s wrong Gage, you lost without DeSoto here to tell you what to do? You miss his holding your hand?”
Marco and Mike were just coming into the kitchen area as Johnny turned towards Chet. The look on his face was pure rage. “Shut your damn mouth. I know my job and I don’t need anyone telling me how to do it.” He slammed the coffee mug down with such force it shattered and coffee splashed on the wall and counter.” He stormed out not looking at his friends.
“What did I do?” Chet looked at his friends. Mike did not say a word just cleaned up the mess. Cap had heard the yelling and came out to see what had happened now. He saw the mess that Mike was cleaning up and raised an eyebrow at the three men.
“Well, what happened?” Cap said after no one answered Chet’s question.
“I just was asking Gage why he was pacing around muttering to himself.”
“That’s all you said?” Cap looked at him not sure that that was the whole story.
“Well, maybe not in those words exactly…But nothing to make him go ballistic.”
“Where is Jones?” Cap said as he looked around the room. It was clear from the expressions on his men’s faces they had no idea why Gage had reacted like he did. “You’re sure it hasn’t anything to do with the other night?”
“No, Cap, we told you that was all settled and John knew it was an accident. I was giving him a hard time about pacing around, asked him if he needed DeSoto to hold his hand and tell him what to do.”
“Of all the…ok…get back to work…” Hank knew John was probably either out sitting in his Rover or out by back wall Before he could look either place the SCU sounded.
Lee hung up from talking to Cisco and decided she was going to stay up in her office and out of trouble. She would let Cisco and Kel deal with Mike Morton. It was Nell’s day off so she had the office to herself. She was caught up until the mail came in so she began working on the applications from WBS she had put in her tote. The usual pre holiday increase was starting. She quickly sorted them into three piles yes, no, maybe so. The no’s went straight into the trashcan. The yes into a yellow file and the maybe’s into a folder for Jo. The charities involving children almost all automatically went into the yes pile, as they were mostly renewals. Lee heard the door open and Kel came in followed by Cisco.
“What did the Boyo do now?” She slipped the applications into the desk drawer.
“What makes you think we didn’t come up to eat?” Cisco moved over to the coffee pot. “I can always get a good bagel here.”
“Very funny and you Doctor?”
“Can’t a friend just come up for a cup of coffee and a doughnut?” He said as he moved towards the counter.
“Not when it’s you two together.” Lee answered. “What do you want?”
“Just wanted to make sure you weren’t planning to do something you’ll regret later.” Kel said after taking a sip of coffee.
“I think you will find, Dr. Brackett, there are very few things in life I regret doing,” she answered coolly. “I take it you two are not here about a medical problem with John Roderick?”
“Cut the innocent act. Dixie saw you down there and the look on your face.” Cisco laughed. “Dix said if looks could kill we would be sending flowers to Morton’s family.”
“Ms. McCall is entitled to her opinion.” Lee said with a blank expression. “I am sure if there is a problem between. Dr. Morton and my husband, John Roderick can more than take care of it himself.” She tilted her head and smiled. “Now if anyone wants to move this out of the professional realm into the personal…Now that is another story, totally. I am staying out of it unless the attacks become personal. In my humble personal opinion, what Dr. Morton did bordered on slander. Professionally it was totally uncalled for. If he had questions they should have been addressed in private, if he was unhappy with the answers, Dr. Morton should have contacted you. He should have never spoken to a nurse about it in public like he did. As loud and in the tone of voice that he used.”
Kel had to admit she had a point. Mike had not acted in a very professional manner.
“Johnny is an excellent paramedic and doesn’t need me or anyone else to defend him. I will support him as will all his friends, but he doesn’t need us to defend him.” She did not crack a smile and her eyes were hooded. Cisco thought she looked like a cobra about to strike and just as deadly.
“I need you to come down and identify a suspect. “
“Gui Liu?” Lee questioned. “Do you think I would make a good witness under the circumstances?”
“Cut the BS…I don’t have time for you to play Dragon Lady. Liu is going to be in here for awhile and I want you to ID him so I can get him moved to a secured floor or to a prison ward at Harbor General.” Cisco told her. “I am sure Kel will be talking to John and Dr. Morton about the incident.”
They went down to the Liu‘s room. Kel talked briefly with the nurse then Lee and Cisco followed him into the cubical. Lee wheeled up too him and stopped short. A cold shiver ran through her, a mixture of fear and disgust. The man opened his eyes as if he could feel her staring at him.
“Mrs. Gage, is this the man who assaulted you and stole your purse, a necklace and ring when your car hit a tree in Baylor Park.?” Cisco asked formally.
“Yes, he was one of the two men there.” Lee answered simply. Gone was the haughty play-acting that she was in control of the situation.
“Is this the man who left you stranded in a cab near a pumping station after picking up at your apartment.”
“Yes, he is.” She heard her voice crack and felt Cisco’s hand on her shoulder.
“Are you willing to come down to the police station and sign a formal statement?”
“Yes. We can go now if you like.”
“That will be fine. Mr. Liu is there anything you want to say?”
“No…she said it all. That husband of yours …did a good job on my leg. Did he know? It was me?”
“You’ll have to ask him but knowing John, it wouldn’t have made any difference in how he treated you if he did or not.” Kelly Brackett said with conviction. “He is one of the best because he cares about the person he is helping.”
“You and your friends under estimated their friends. They’ll never give up on these two, because they know Lee and John will never give up on them.” Cisco said before starting to leave the room, pushing Lee. Kel motioned for him to stop.
“I’m going to go over the lab work, then I’ll talk with Mike.” Kel looked down at her. “I would say that Mr. Liu has a history of drug use from the look of his arms. I’m sure John did everything by the book.”
“As I said before, Dr. Brackett, that is a professional concern and that is between you and John Roderick.” She turned so she was looking at Cisco. “I think we were on our way to the police station.”
Cisco shrugged and gave Kel a look that said good luck. After going up to her office so she could get her purse Cisco took her to the police station.
“So how did it go?” Dixie asked when Kel; came back down to ER.
“Well, Ms. McCall you are entitled to your opinion and anything concerning medical matters will be dealt with by myself, John Roderick and Dr. Morton. Remind me never to make her that mad."
A convertible had hit a fire hydrant and water was spraying and running everywhere. A second car had them hit the first. As Chet and Marco worked to get the hydrant shut down Cap called the water department to have the water cut off. Johnny and Rob began taking care of the injured. The worst was the driver who hit the hydrant. His chest had slammed the steering wheel.
Working to get a cervical collar on the driver then onto a back board Johnny kept track of the boy’s breathing. They had to get him out of the car and away from the sprouting water before they could do a full exam. Cap and Mike had gotten the driver of the second car out and had him sitting where it was dry, Once they had the first boy out of the car and onto dry ground Johnny sent Rob to check him out.
“Can you set up the biophone for me and bring the trauma case?” Johnny called over to Cap and Mike. “And the data scope…and the OB kit.”
Cap looked at Gage like he had lost his mind but soon they had all the equipment he had requested by him.
“Rampart, this is Squad 51. Do you read?”
“Loud and clear 51.” Dr. Early responded.
Cap repeated the vitals and information that Johnny gave him.
“Send a strip 51 then start an IV Ringer’s lactate and 6liters oxygen.”
Then it made sense to Hank what he wanted the OB kit for. The soft absorbent towels and pads. Before they could send the strip they had to dry the victim’s upper body. They dried his back and chest then placed a yellow blanket between him and the backboard. The plastic yellow sheets they used to lay the victim on were not absorbent enough. The strip was sent and the proper care was given. The other driver had a small lump on his forehead but was alert and going to Rampart in the back of Vince Howard’s patrol car. When questioned the 19 year old driver admitted they had been drinking and street racing.
Johnny rode into the hospital with his patient. He kept a close eye on his breathing and vitals. He wasn’t about to give Morton or any other doctor any reason to question his judgment. He kept his concentration on his patient and was happy when they reached the hospital. Dr. Early was waiting for him in treatment room 2. Dr. Early ran another strip then ordered X-rays. As they were waiting out in the hall.
“The police brought the other boy in …said he had been drinking…”
“I didn’t smell anything on his breath.” Johnny answered with a frown. Since he seldom drank he usually noticed an unpleasant smell.
“Vodka. They stole it from the grocery store where they work as stock. That was a good call using the materials from the OB kit to get him dry enough for the strip.”
“Yeah, well tell that to Morton. He thinks I am incompetent. That I didn’t do an adequate assessment …then…” He stopped not wanting to be as unprofessional as he felt Morton had been. It was just as wrong for him to criticize one doctor to another as it was for Morton to say what he did to Dixie. “If you don’t need me anymore, I think’ll run up and see Lee.
“Sure I think we’ll be sending our speed racer up to O.R. Soon as we get the x-rays back.”
“Thanks Doc.” Rob was waiting when he came out.
“Miss. McCall said to tell you she needed to see you, that it was important.” Rob said as soon as he saw Johnny. “She said she would be right back.”
“Ok.” He poured himself a cup of coffee and offered Rob 1.
“No thanks. I’m more of a soda drinker.”
“You know whenever you’re here and have time you can go up to Lee’s office and get a soda or a snack.”
“Lee’s office?” Rob looked confused.
“It’s officially the office of Data and Statistical Analysis and not part of the hospital. Most people around here just call it Lee’s office. She has a set up so starving paramedics and firemen and a few law enforcement officers can get something to eat any time of day or night.” He gave him the code for the key pad. “After we talk to Dixie we’ll go up there if we don’t get a call. I need to pick up some papers anyway for the station. Since we missed lunch I may grab something from the fridge. There should be some chicken salad and some tuna salad there today.”
Dixie came back to the desk. She smiled at Johnny after looking him over carefully. “Glad to see you calmed down. I know you and Mike had a disagreement, but I didn’t think I would ever see you walk by Lee and not see her. From the look on her face she couldn’t believe it either.”
“I didn’t…Did I?” He looked like someone just slammed a fist into his mid section. “I walked past her and didn’t see her? I wouldn’t…I couldn’t? Could I?”
“Yes you did. She left a note for you.” Dixie felt sorry for him.
“Left a note? She went home? Was she upset?”
“Not at you…Cisco had her go down to the station to sign a formal statement. According to Kel she is pretty upset with Dr. Morton and Kel isn’t exactly on her favorites list.” She gave Johnny the note. He stuck it in his back pocket.
“Come on Rob we need to get back to the station.” He started to leave then turned back to Dixie. “Sorry if I was rude before…just kind of lost my focus…But not with the patient.”
“No problem, Tiger. You might want to stop at Nana’s on the way home in the morning.”
“Yeah, that’s a pretty good idea.” He flashed him one of his crocked smiles. “A very good idea.”
The trip back to the station was quiet. Johnny had a headache but he wasn’t sure if it was from not eating since breakfast or from all the crap that had happen since the run before lunch. Hopefully there would be something to eat at the station. If nothing else he knew Lee had some sour dough bread in the freezer that he could toast.
They went into the kitchen. Mike looked up from the article he was reading. “There is tuna fish salad and chips…sorry all the soup is gone.”
“Thanks…think I’ll get some bread out of the freezer. Rob you like sour dough bread?”
“Where are Chet and Marco?” Johnny asked as he got the bread out.
“Hanging hose. Cap said he wanted to talk to you after you got something to eat.” Johnny plugged in the toaster.
“He mad?” Johnny asked. “I kinda lost my temper.”
“More concerned than mad I think.” Mike closed the magazine. “Chet…”
“Chet is Chet. I know.” Johnny said with a sigh as he rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Rob go ahead and eat while I talk to cap.”
“Come on in…have a seat.” Hank leaned back, his hands behind his head. “You know if there is a problem you can come talk to me?”
Johnny was feeling like a kid called to the principal’s office for misbehaving.
“Yeah…Morton…Cap, I didn’t screw up…I did a full assessment and I did it right.” Johnny stood up and started pacing around. “Then Kelly … mouthed off… I needed Roy to hold my hand…that I didn’t know what I was supposed to do…Cap I walked out of Rampart .”
“You go eat and calm down. You think Morton will make trouble?”
“He might go to Dr. Brackett but that would be fine…I didn’t mess up.”
Johnny went out to the dorm and took the letter from Lee out of his back pocket. He sat down to read it. He smiled when he saw it was on the pretty stationary he had given her as a surprise after they had been to a craft fair earlier in the fall.
He reread the note then stood up. . Folding the note carefully he put it in his wallet before going out to the kitchen. A sandwich and chips table along with a glass of ice tea was waiting for him.
“Thanks.” Johnny said before he started eating.
Braxton sat down and waited for Torres to say something. “Did you bring our money?”
“Now have I ever stiffed you? I hear your friend isn’t feeling too well.” Braxton said with a smirk. “I would call it ironic that it was Station 51 paramedics who took such good care of him. What exactly was the nature of his accident?”
“The fool was on the roof and fell. Cee called for help and you know the rest. He had been drinking and popping pills and who knows what else for the last day or two. Said he was going stir crazy out at the farm but since the cops were looking for him it was the safest place to be.”
“Heard from a friend that Dr. Morton wasn’t real happy about the treatment Liu received and was complaining about it in public. So do you think Liu will talk?”
“No he’s too scared. The head of the Z bolts is still making noises about finding the fake members…he is more scared of them than the cops.” He took a long slow drink of the new beer the server had set down. “You sure have a lot of friends. Too bad none of them work at the police station.”
“What makes you think they don’t? Liu messed up big time leaving his fingerprints on that wheel chair. Too bad for him Mrs. Gage wanted to be a cop. I heard it was her idea to check for prints on her chair. You get word to Liu that when he h gets out of the hospital to stay out of sight, maybe even leave town. Seems Gage and DeSoto saved some of the Z Bolts’ kids during a house fire and his wife helps out at the rec center they go to so the ‘Bolts leader likes them. My employer is getting a little impatient to see some real damage done to the reputation of the Gages and Station 51. If you can’t do it, maybe I need to find someone who can.”
“That might be a good idea at least for awhile.” Torres said. He was glad for the out. He hated to admit it but having the Z Bolts and Cisco Alvarez both looking for him was making him paranoid.
“Fine, here is your money and Liu’s...See if you can keep out of trouble.” The two men left, Braxton leaving first then Torres ten minutes later.
Troy Braxton was angry. This wasn’t working out the way it was suppose to at all. He had thought that Lee Gage would jump at the promotion and moving to Sacramento. He had heard about the new job and the increase in salary only a fool would have turned down, especially after seeing she made less than some secretaries. Then talking with the fire department up there…It had been so easy to pretend to be Gage and talk to them about moving into a position up in Sacramento. The lure of being the senior paramedic at a bigger station…who would not have been flattered? Only someone who already had more money than they knew what to do with, that’s who.
Johnny went got the log book up to date and did some rechecks on supplies. He had replaced the items in the OB kit and cleaned the inside of the squad. Anything to keep busy. He wanted to call Lee but wasn’t what sure to say. The engine was called out to assist another station. Johnny looked around the kitchen and decided to start dinner. Chet had hamburger in the fridge so Johnny decided to try recipe he and Lee had done about a week ago. While the hamburger and rice was in the oven he fixed a salad and had some cauliflower on the stove. He sat the table and was chopping up fruit when the engine came back in. He had cleaned all the prep dishes.
“Something smells good.” Cap said as he walked into the kitchen.
“Hey, I was gonna cook…” A very tired Chet Kelly said looking around the kitchen, relieved he was not cooking.
“Well, there is time for you to get a quick shower until the porcupines are done. Look, I over reacted and was a kinda a jerk earlier. Sorry.”
“No problem…I sorta went a little too far, too. Seriously, you know I really respect what you and Roy do and that you are both good at your job.”
By the time Chet and Marco and Cap had got cleaned up dinner was ready and on the table. Dinner was a pleasant and Johnny let Morton’s remarks slip to the back of his mind. While the other people were watching TV he slipped away to call Lee.
She was relieved when she heard his voice. She had wanted to call him so badly but knew she had to give him time to think it out and sort out his feelings.
“Did your day get better?” She asked. “You sound better than the when I heard you earlier.”
“Yeah it got better when I read your note. I can’t believe I walked right by you.”
“You were kind of preoccupied. I understood. Cisco took my formal statement and identification of Liu.” Lee said keeping her voice steady.
“Think Cisco will find out any more about whom else is involved?”
“Cisco thinks he will talk since they are going to charge him with kidnapping. Said the other is little more than a purse snatching charge since there is no way to prove they are the ones who shot out the tires. He figures that gun is long gone.”
Johnny wanted this to be over so she would be safe. He realized they had been lucky when she was stranded. He had never thought of it as a kidnapping. She had just been stranded somewhere in his mind. He shrugged guessing that had been his way of dealing with the fear. Weren’t that many kidnapping victims who made it home safe?
After a period of silence on his end of the phone. “You ok?” He heard the worry in her tone, it was a slight change but he felt it.
“I’m fine was just thinking about how much I love you and how much I need you. I better go…Make sure everything is locked up tight, ok?”
“Love you and you all stay safe. See you in the morning.”
“Dix, tell Mike I want to see him in my office ASAP!” Dr. Kelly Brackett said as he walked past the desk headed to his office. Kel was behind the desk when Mike came into the office. “Sit down.” He ordered.
“What’s up?” Morton puzzled by Bracket’s attitude, sat down, He put the cup of coffee he had in his hand on the corner the desk. “There a problem?”
“Yeah I think so. Can you explain to me why you accused John Gage of almost causing a patient’s death from carelessness in front of a room full of people?’ Kelly slapped down the file. “Had you even read the lab reports yet when you made that remark?”
“No, I had just spent twenty minutes trying to save Liu’s life. He was seizing and having trouble breathing from a possible o.d.
“When he comes in next shift I’ll tell him I made a mistake and that I am sorry. He’ll hem and haw then be fine with it.”
“I don’t think so this time.” The phone rang. “Excuse me.” He answered and made a few one-word comments. He hung up and frowned at Morton. “Have you seen the paper this morning? I suggest you get a copy and read it. Under no circumstances are you to talk to any reporters. That was the hospital administrator. All statements will come from his office.” He looked at the puzzled doctor. “Mike there is a front page article about you charging Gage with endangering a patient because he was careless. Then it goes on to ask if it carelessness or revenge.”
“Revenge? For what?” He asked, totally clueless.
“Gui Liu is the man who left Lee in the taxi and stole her purse. They gave Johnny a false name, he didn’t know that when he brought him in. Lee and everyone else down in the ER heard you talking to Dixie. Lee called Cisco…They got a statement from Liu. Then late last night he had several more seizures…He is in a coma.”
Hank was about ready to pull the phone out of the wall. Every since he had got home, the phone had rang non-stop. The first had been Chief Houser. After that the reporters had started in calling wanting interviews with him, John, the whole station.
Lee went out to the kitchen to start breakfast. She had the answering machine on and had changed the message. She put the bacon in the oven and went to check the four calls that had came in since she had talked to Johnny just before he had left the station.
Three were from reporters. There was one from a furious Roy DeSoto. Lee dialed the number slowly not sure if she should call or wait for Johnny to get home. Roy picked up the phone on the first ring
“Sounds like you’ve had a bad morning too.” Lee said quietly. “Anything I can do to help?”
“No. How’s Junior holding up?” His tone had softened when he heard her voice. “How are you holding up?
“He is on his way home. We’ll be fine. The department is issuing the standard no comment to reporters and Chief McConnikee called and so did Bob Houser to say they had complete faith in him. McConnikee called the station, Bob called me.”
“I’m surprised you sound so calm.” Roy wasn’t only surprised he was a little worried.
“I screamed and cried and said words Maria doesn’t know I know in Spanish…but I have to be calm and supportive of the Boyo when he gets home.”
“So any idea what you are going to do next?”
“I am going to fix his favorite breakfast then we’ll talk and then go about our day just like we planned.’
“You have him call me. Jo said to call if you needed her.”
Thanks…give our love to her and the kids.”
Johnny drove home listening to some of his favorite music on the cassette player Lee had had installed in his Rover as a birthday present. Once or twice he thought he saw a blue van following him but decided it was him being paranoid. He went into the house smiling at the smell of bacon. He went into the kitchen. “Good morning Baby girl.”
“Morning’ breakfast is almost ready.” She turned her chair towards him. She locked her brakes and pushed herself to standing. “I love you and I am not going to listen to one negative word out of you about you not doing your job right. Is that understood?” She took four steps and was in his arms. Her hand cupped his neck as she kissed him, his arms holding her up, tightly against his body. He could feel the tension in her, as she pulled even tighter against him. She pulled back from the kiss and laid her head against his shoulder. “I don’t know why or who but I know somehow this is my fault. They are doing this to you because of something I did. I’m so sorry, please forgive me.”
He scooped her up and carried her into the front room… Sitting down on the couch with her on his lap. “Now you listen to me. You have nothing to be sorry for. You aren’t responsible for other peoples’ actions. I have no idea who told that reporter what Morton said or why Morton was in such a bad mood…I know I did my job…I also know that you are the best thing thing in my life…you and the DeSoto’s, the guys at the station…as long as you believe in me I can handle whatever anyone else says.” Her head was nestled on his shoulder. “I admit it hurt and I was angry but once I thought about it, I was ok. I went over it in my head and I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t miss any sign of head injury, or mistreat the patient . Hell, I didn’t even know it was Liu until later.” He relaxed some. “There is a point in my life that this would have over whelmed me and I probably would have went away. But thanks to Roy and Jo and the guys and you…now I have the confidence in myself to face the emotion. And if I didn’t you all would be there to keep me from going anywhere.” He kissed her. “Right now I’m trying to decide where I ‘m gonna take you…” He whispered into her ear. She laughted.
The messenger left the envelope for Chief Houser at the reception desk. The clerk signed for it and called up to the Chief’s office. It was about a half hour later that someone picked it up and laid it on the Chief’s desk. When he came back from a meeting in another office he opened it and swore quietly when he read it. Picking up the phone him called Hank Stanley.
“Hank, have you talked to John Gage since this morning?”
“No, not since we talked at the station. He wanted to get home and talk with Lee. Why has something happened?”
“I received his resignation not only from the paramedic program but from the fire department. He said he and Lee were going to divide their time between here and Hawaii.” Bob Houser took a deep breath. “I never thought she would do this.”
“Who would do what?” Hank said. He was shocked
“John said it was in the best interest of his marriage to resign. If Lee said she wanted him to resign, he would. He would do anything for that girl.”
“Yes, but I don’t think she would ask him to do that. I’ll call John.”
Emily had been listening to Hank’s side of the conversation. She could see the hurt and concern on his face. “What happen?”
“Chief Houser said John resigned and that Lee wanted him to, that it was in the best interest of their marriage.”
“I don’t believe it. Let’s go over there and talk to them.” Emily refused to believe it. Lee would never ask Johnny to give up his job.”
“Lisa, take this up to Dr. Brackett’s office, please. Tell him a messenger just brought it.”
“Yes Miss. McCall.” The student nurse took the envelope and gave it to the doctor then returned to the ER. Kel had thanked her and laid it down to finish his phone call. He read the letter swearing softly. He headed down to the ER desk. Dixie and Mike Morton were standing there.
Looking at the expression on his face as he approached the desk, Dixie knew something was wrong. “Dix gets that pig headed hose jockey on the line. Tell him to get in here now and to bring that hot headed wife of his with him.”
“Kel, what did he do?” Mike asked.
“He quit the fire department. Said that he was resigning due to the stress the job was placing on his marriage.”
The doorbell rang so Johnny went to answer the door. A very worried Hank and Emily Stanley were standing there.
“John we need to talk. In private or with Lee here.” Hank said no smile on his face ort in his eyes.
“I think Emily and I will go out to the sun room so she can see my newest project.” Lee said before John could answer.
“I think that would be a very good idea.” Emily followed her out to the sunroom. Johnny and Hank went out to the kitchen.
“Coffee or tea or a soda?” Johnny asked.
“A soda sounds good. “ They sat down at the kitchen table. “I thought we have a good working relationship as well as being friends.” Hank said looking at the glass in his hand.
“Yeah so do I.” Johnny answered, confused by the conversation.
“Then why didn’t you tell me there was a problem. Maybe we could have helped…Emily is always there if Lee needs to talk. I know as much as you love your job you love her more but…I can’t believe you would let Lee pressure you into quitting the department. If you didn’t want to tell me, couldn’t you talk to Roy and Jo?”
“Lee would never pressure me into leaving the department. Why would you even accuse her of that?” Johnny looked at his friend in shock.
Emily looked around the elegant but comfortable room. She was not sure where to begin. The plants were a mix and arranged so they did not look arranged but were splashes of color. “This is a very calming room.” Emily said as she sat in the comfortable rocker. “Very peaceful.” Lee, I know it’s been a hard summer for you…Maria and Hector moving, the house and the adoption applications…”
“The adoption rejections.” Lee corrected her. Emily ignored the comment.
“That plus the kidnapping and all the harassment ….Why didn’t you share with us…You know Jo and Melissa and I are always there for you as well as your friend Kathy…Why did you let it get to the point it was harming your marriage?”
“OUR marriage is fine…nothing is ever gonna change how much I love him. Except each day, he gives me reasons to love him more… Why would you even think that?” Lee was in total shock. Had she said or done something to make others think she and Johnny were having problems.
“Then your being unhappy doesn’t have anything to do with Johnny resigning from the department?”
“No, why would you think he was resigning? He is not happy with Dr. Morton and all this mess but he would never resign. Especially not without telling me or blaming me.”
The silence was broken by the sound of the doorbell and someone yelling as they pounded on the door. Johnny opened the door to see a very angry Roy DeSoto there. Jo was standing behind him, “What kind of bull crap are you pulling John? If you want to go running off to Hawaii you could at least have the guts to tell me.”
The three men looked towards the women as Emily spoke. “I think we all need to sit down and calm down. Lee did not ask John to resign. John did not send letter to Chief Houser resigning. Hank, you owe Lee an apology for thinking she forced Johnny into resigning. Roy you owe them both an apology for yelling at them. Jo, I think you and I need something to drink…Lee can we get you something?”
“A soda please. Roy what would you like?” Johnny went to use the phone in the bedroom.
“A cup of coffee to wash down the crow I have to eat?” He gave a slight grin. “Maybe Lee will bake it in a pie instead of making me eat it raw.”
“Don’t have any humble pie but how about some Dutch apple with raisins and walnuts?”
“Sounds mighty good.” He smiled knowing that was her way of saying all was forgiven.
“I want to say something before Johnny comes back in here. I made a promise to him and you all that I would never try to change his mind about anything he loved doing…fishing, camping, hiking…but most of all his job. If I said or did anything to make you think I broke that promise I am truly and deeply sorry, that is all I have to say.”
“Brackett got a letter also.” Johnny said as he came back into the room. “I have no idea who sent them but I do know that Lee would never pressure me into quitting.” He went over to her and took his usual position behind her, his arms crossed over her protectively, his chin resting on the top of her head.
Lee was in her office working on the minutes for the advisory board meeting. She had stopped playing games with Brice over the name and had went back to the original name with the ok from Chief Houser. She was surprised when Kel came into her office and not really pleased.
“Looking for more coffee and doughnuts, Doctor?”
“I thought you were all over being mad?
“Why whoever told you that?” Very wide-eyed and innocent with a slight southern drawl.
“When you start with the peaches and magnolia routine I know I ‘m in deep trouble.”
“Why on earth would you say that Dr. Brackett? You’re the head of Emergency medicine everyone is suppose to jump at your every word…It’s a command performance when you want someone in your office…Even if they are pig headed and hot headed?”
“Dix told you that I said that when she called you the other day?”
“Dixie did not call me, the person who called me did not identify themselves except to say they were calling on your behalf…and the wording and tone she used was extremely rude. I can understand you being upset with what was happening but that does not give you the right to call Johnny names. I don’t give a flying fig what names you call me but I will not listen to anyone call Johnny names like she was…that includes you and Mike Morton.”
“Wait a minute here, I asked Dix to call you. And yes, I did call you hot headed and John pig headed but that was the only thing.”
“Morton didn’t call Johnny an incompetent half breed?”
“Of course not. How could you believe something like that?” He was louder than he realized until he saw her square her shoulders and looked at him, her eyes blazing.
“I would strongly suggest, Dr. Brackett, you either keep a civil tone and lower your voice or get out of my office.” Her voice matched his in tone if not volume. “I was sitting there when Mike Morton told Dixie that Johnny’s carelessness almost killed a man. So why wouldn’t I think he would say the other?”
“Let’s go talk to Dixie and see who called you.”
Dixie was just coming out of a treatment room when Lee and Kel got to the desk.
“You just missed Johnny and Roy. They made a supply run.”
“Dix, do you know who called Lee yesterday, asking them to come in?”
“I thought you did. I got a message you had called her while I was in with Joe helping with the hysterical mom and two year old. There was a note on my desk.”
“Ok, thanks. It seems our prankster is back but he is getting more malicious and bolder.”
Johnny and Roy had two runs before lunch. The first was an older lady who had fallen and needed help getting up. The other was a teenager with a broken leg who had over turned his wheelchair trying to roll on two wheels. The boy’s mother was more upset than her son was.
The 16 year old complained, “It’s boring just sitting here…just trying to have some fun.”
“Most wheel chairs aren’t that well balanced and when they come down hard it isn’t good for them or you. Especially the rented ones that are not always in the best of condition. My wife read me the riot act when she saw me doing that in the hospital one day. Asked what if I tipped over or went over backwards and got hurt worse…what if the chair broke…She made a lot of sense. You messed up the brake on this side.” Johnny was fixing it as they talked. “It’s really lost and might not hold when you went to transfer. That could have caused you to fall…maybe break your leg or worse.”
Roy and the mother came back over to where Johnny and the boy were. “I fixed the brake he had loosened so it should hold. Just check them every so often to make sure they are still holding tight. And don’t forget to use your seat belt.”
“Thanks for the advice. No more stunts.” Todd said looking thoughtful as his mother looked relieved.
“Did he tell you about the time he tried to pull a wheelie and ended up flipping over backwards? Re-broke his foot.”
“Is that when your wife got mad at you?”
“I did that before I met her. I don’t think she knows that story and I’d like to keep it that way.” Johnny said with a grin. “Makes life easier.” Todd’s mother signed the form Roy gave her and they left.
“He was lucky he didn’t damage that cast or re injure that leg.” Johnny said as they drove back.
“Yeah and his mom was really relieved he listened to you about pulling stunts.”
Johnny got out of the water and went over to the chair controls and raised them slowly. He had already positioned Lee’s chair so it was no problem her transferring over. She wrapped the oversized towel around her. “You ok?” He asked.
“Just fine, thank you kind sir. It was nice having this place all to ourselves.”
“Let’s go to breakfast then to the grocery. I want to get some fresh cranberries to try out that new recipe I for from Nell. So as far as I know there is going to be ten of us for Thanksgiving dinner.”
“I was thinking maybe we could invite Sam Jessup too.” Johnny said as he pushed her towards the locker room. “His folks will be in Virginia and he gonna be alone. Katie, his daughter will be with her grandparents and her mother’s family.” Sam was a K-9 officer for the sheriff’s department and a good friend of Johnny and Sam Kline.
“Of course invite him. Anyone else?” Lee asked. She knew he had asked Rosemary. However, they hadn’t gotten an answer yet.
On the way to O’Sheas’ they talked about several minor things. Lee could tell there was something on his mind but was waiting for him to tell her what he was worried about. They were almost there when Johnny began telling her what was on his mind.
“Dr. Early doesn’t think that Liu will ever stand trial. The stroke he had was pretty bad.”
“That stroke was nothing you could have prevented or anticipated with the medical history you were given. The medical facts are conclusive and even Morton had to agree with the findings. Drug and alcohol abuse were the contributing factors.” Lee answered. “The blood work proved that.”
“I know but still…all the stuff in the paper and on the news. It’s just not good for the department or program.”
“John Roderick, aren’t you the one who told me I wasn’t responsible for what others did?” She said softly. She had picked him up at the garage where he had taken the Rover to have some work done. It was just routine malignance that any other time he would have done his self but with the rain decided it made better sense to let the professionals do.
“Yeah, I remember. Look, I’m going to get you out then go park…Order me some milk…Had enough coffee earlier.” He got the chair out of the back and her settled in, making sure she fastened the seat belt.
“Lee, it’s good to see you. Johnny with you?” Janet the morning host asked.
“He’s parking the car.” She moved to the family table and had ordered when Johnny made his way to the table. He kissed her then sat down.
“So what am I having for breakfast?” He asked after taking a drink of milk.
“Steak and eggs, potatoes O’Brian, toasted Soda bread.”
“Sounds good. You have hash or sausage gravy?”
“Hash with a side order of biscuit and gravy…I couldn’t decide.”
“Good choice.” He knew she would be sharing her breakfast with him. “Anything we need to do after breakfast besides stop at Keelson’s?”
“No…not that I can think of… We do need to start Christmas shopping for New York but I want to wait until after Thanksgiving. I want to make this the best Thanksgiving ever.”
“Just relax and enjoy and it will be fine.” The food came and they talked a bout what they needed to do to get ready for the holidays. After lunch, they went back to the store then home. They had only been there a few minutes when someone rang the doorbell.
“Boyo, can you get that….” Lee called to Johnny. He was putting away things in the pantry while she was folding towels.
“Sure.” He went to the door half expecting it to be one of the guys from the station.
“Hello, John, hope this isn’t a bad time.” Micha Little Bear said.
“No, not at all. Come in, welcome.” Johnny replied. “It’s good to see you.” He led him into the front room. “Have a seat. Lee’s back in the laundry room. I’ll go get her.”
When they came back into the living room Micha was standing before the paintings. They were what attracted every one’s attention the first time they were in the living room. Micha turned at Lee’s welcoming hello.
“You were a beautiful bride just as your mother and mother in law were.”
“Thank you. I try everyday to live up to them. I want them and our fathers to be proud of me. I have no doubt, how proud they are of Johnny. Boyo, would you get me a soda please? Micha what would you like to drink?” Lee wheeled herself to the couch and transferred on it easily.
“Coffee would be fine if it’s not any trouble. I should apologize for just coming over without calling first.”
“Not at all, our friends know they are always welcome to come over. We had ran some errands earlier so I am running late on a few household chores. Johnny has spent the better part of his day off helping me catch up on things.”
“Don’t let her fool you. She had most of the things on her list done before we met up to swim laps. He put the tray down on the end table. “Lee made the cookies yesterday…I love peanut butter cookies. Clair Sullivan use to make them and send them to the firehouse and I’d have milk and cookies before going back to the reservation.” He did not add that some days that was the only thing he had to eat. He did not like admitting things like that to others.
“I’ve seen him put away a dozen of those while waiting for me to cook dinner or watching TV after dinner.” Lee said laughing as she watched Johnny eat a cookie. Micha also ate a cookie as he was looking around the room. “Are you staying in LA for long?”
He took a sip of the coffee then put the cup on the table. “I’m not sure. I came to pick up the body of a young man from the reservation. He was killed in a car-truck accident. He and his wife moved to LA a few months ago. He was working construction and she was waiting tables at a small dinner. He picked her up after work a few days ago and a trucker who had been on the road too many hours fell asleep at the wheel. Mark was killed outright. Anna’s great grandmother and your great grandmother were cousins…or married to cousins…The records from back then aren’t real clear. However, that is not the reason I came to you. Anna is on a life support machine. She is at a center that specializes in brain injuries. They are willing to continue treating Anna for a reduce amount in exchange for the rights to do a study on the case . Their involvement would end at the time of birth or with the mother’s death if she was not able to deliver a live child. If there is any way possible her grandmother wants to keep her alive at least till the baby is born. As far as anyone can estimate that would be late March or early April. They didn’t tell anyone she was expecting when they left the reservation 3 months ago. The day after they were married. The doctors say at t his point the baby is doing better than they expected…”
“Maybe WBSF can help. Give me the details and I will start the paper work.” Johnny reached over and squeezed her hand.
“There is something else I would like to discuss with you.” Micha said before picking up his coffee cup.
Johnny came into Lee’s office with a handful of papers. The look on his face told her there was a problem.
“What now?” She closed down the computer. “Don’t you dare say anything?”
“There has been a formal request for a board of inquiry into the charge of negligence resulting in serious harm to a patient.”
“Liu? Who filed it? Morton?” Totally stunned.
“ A concerned citizen has requested the hearing and further details would be made available within an appropriate length of time. If the board of inquiry deems it reasonable a formal hearing will be scheduled. Legal council may be attained through the union or privately for both the board and any other hearings in the future.” Johnny read to her as he paced.
“So we get a lawyer and do whatever we need to clear this up. Boyo, no one thinks you did anything wrong. From what Dix said even Morton admitted he spoke out of turn.”
“Good maybe he’ll say that at the inquiry.” Johnny went over to the refrigerator and put two sodas and some chips in a sack along with some brownies. “We missed lunch.”
“Take the container of chicken salad. There is other sandwich stuff there and Mick comes tomorrow with more. You can take the ham salad too if you want.” She watched as he got the stuff and added it to his sack. “Do you want me to call a lawyer? Ken or Maggie? Alternatively, maybe I will call John Paul. However, do not worry. Is this for you or your partner that day also?”
“Mainly me as I was senior paramedic that day and the one most actively responsible for the patient’s care.” He sighed then came over to the desk and kissed her. He put a can of soda on her desk. “Call and talk to John Paul and let me know what he thinks we need to do. Don’t worry about me, ok.” He kissed her again. “I’ll call you later after you get home. Be careful it looks like it might be raining before the day is over. Keep these; Cap has a set of them and so does Brackett.” He pointed to the papers on the desk.
“Stay safe, Boyo, and tell your friends I said enjoy the food. They need to stay safe too.”
Within minutes after he left she was on the phone to her good friend John Paul; Broussard’s office in Sacramento. The office answering machine came on. She listened to the message then left her own. “This is Lee, the Boyo needs your and Maggie’s advice. And I could use some of your sesame seed cookies and one of special bear hug.” She left the office and her home number.
Lee worked awhile longer then started putting stuff away. She had read the the papaers Johnny left her over twice and they still didn’t make any sense. The actions they were basing the charge of negligence on were superficial at best. It was documented that false information had been given to the paramedics as was proof he had illegal drugs in his system. There was no evidence that Johnny knew who Liu was at the time of the treatment or that he had not followed procedure. Other than the false charge of theft by a victim several years earlier (the real thief had been found and confessed) there was nothing in his file except evidence of his being an outstanding fireman/paramedic. She decided to go home and get some her house work done and maybe cook some things ahead for tomorrow. She had just put 2 pans of rolls into the the oven when the phone rang. It was John Paul’s secretary.
“The judge is tied up in a meeting but he wanted to be sure you knew he got your message and him and his beautiful Maggie will be in LA tomorrow by noon. He wanted to know the nearest hotel near your new home.”
“You tell him he will be the first guests staying in our new home over night…And no arguing with me. The pies will be coming out of the oven in time for lunch.”
Lee called the station but got no answer. She put it into the back of her mind and got the larger of the two guest rooms ready for their friends.
Two hours later, she got a phone call. Lee answered expecting it to be Johnny.
Lee, it’s Hank.” He said the tension in his voice clear.
“Is he hurt badly? Do I need to get to Rampart?”
“He’s not at Rampart.”
“Where is HE? What happened?” She demanded before Hank could finish his sentence.
“Calm down, he isn’t hurt. He’s in jail.”
Posted to Site 03/29/14
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