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Part 2

An Emergency Story By




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.
“To  my  beautiful  green  eyed  lady…Thank you for  being  you  and  filling  our home  with  love.”   She took a sip from her glass and was surprised.  It was mimosa.


“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. 
“LA County Fire 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.

“You spoil me so much.”  She felt her body relaxing as the heat from his body eased the tension in her back.  Soon as he knew she was asleep, he eased away after making sure her support pillow was in place.  As soon as he lay on his back and his arm covered his eyes he was asleep too. 


Lee was finishing setting the table when Jo and Roy came in.  Roy was limping a little but otherwise seemed ok.  He sat down in the new recliner. 


“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 don’t have to answer to you, Chet.   I think this conversation is over.”  She started to turn the same time he started to move.   The force, which the back of his hand hit her, surprised them both.  Lee just sat there tears running down her face.


“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.

“You ready to go back out and have a good time?  I  know  Chet  can  be a jerk at  times  but I  also  know  no matter  what he is  a  good  friend and  would  never  hurt you on  purpose.”  Johnny’s voice was comforting.


“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.”


“About Chet?”


“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.  


“Good.  Chet?”


“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.”

Johnny knocked on the doorframe.  “You wanted to see me 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.
 Darlin’ Boyo,
     Just a reminder…I BELIEVE IN YOU!   Always and forever!
     Love you MUCHES and MORES!


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. 

Torres was not in a good mood at all.   The fact Braxton was late as usual wasn’t helping a thing.  He finished his beer and sat there waiting for the waitress to make her way back to the booth.


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.

There had to be another way…



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.
“If  you had  read the  lab  report  you  would  have known  Liu  had a  variety of  street  drugs  in his  system,  one of  which  had  had  been  cut  with  strychnine.”


   “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. 

They followed him into the living room.  Lee put down the magazine.

 “Hi. This is a nice surprise.”


“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.”


“What   are you talking about?  When we  go to  Hawaii  you and  Jo and the  kids are coming too,  over  spring  break.    What are you yelling at me for?”   They were standing just inside the door.   Lee and Em could hear them as they came into the living room.  


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.

Roy got the mother settled down as Johnny talked to the teenager, Todd.


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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