This is not intended as a *what to do when* type of story, but is strictly for
Dejavu’ – Almost
A Follow-Up to Snakebite
By Audrey W.
Chet Kelly looked over as John Gage came into the locker room at the station to get changed into uniform. The curly-haired fireman was already in his uniform, but had waited around to talk to Gage. It had been three months since John had been bitten by a rattlesnake while on duty and Chet had done much of the work to help keep the paramedic alive during the trip to the hospital. The result had been a stronger trust between the two, though neither would admit it around the rest of the crew. They still often came across as nemeses, Chet usually getting the best of Johnny with pranks.
Chet cleared his throat in an effort to get Gage’s attention.
“Something wrong with your voice, Chet?” the paramedic asked as he unbuttoned his white shirt.
“No, I was just wondering if you wanna go target practicing tomorrow after we get off.”
Johnny stopped what he was doing and looked at his shiftmate. “Target practicing? You mean like shooting at cans or somethin’?”
“Yeah. . .you know. . .with a BB gun.”
Continuing on with getting changed, he shook his head. “I don’t know, Chet. I’m not big on guns--”
“It’s a BB gun. It’s practically harmless.” When he saw a look of doubt, he added, “It’s like a kid toy, John, only with a little more umph to it. And what could possibly happen with a BB gun?”
“I seem to remember being told as a ‘kid’, I could put my eye out with one.”
“But not if a responsible adult is using it. And we’re responsible. . .”
“Why don’tcha ask Mike or Marco?”
“I did. They’ve both got stuff going with family.”
Johnny sighed. “All right. What the heck. It might even be fun.”
“Great! We’ll decide on a time tomorrow when we get off duty.”
Johnny watched as Chet exited the room, going into the apparatus bay. Roy was just coming in and noticed the wide grin on the fireman’s face. He gave a worried look toward his partner.
“What’s that all about? Or do I want to know?”
“We’re gonna go target practicing tomorrow.”
Roy had just put his left hand on his locker to open it, when he stopped upon hearing the information. “Target practicing? You mean as in shooting?”
“Relax. It’s just a BB gun,” Johnny snorted. “What could possibly go wrong with a BB gun and two responsible adults?”
“With you and Chet? Just about anything.”
The younger man frowned, giving his partner a glaring look. “Ha ha.”
The two continued on with changing, Roy occasionally giving Johnny a wary glance.
. . . . . . . . . .
The following day, Johnny and Chet were out in a field on the outskirts of town, away from any homes. With a few old cardboard boxes stacked up on top of each other seventy-five feet off in the distance, a large paper bulls-eye taped to one side near the top, the two men were taking turns shooting at the target. After several minutes of practice shots, they’d decided to make it more competitive.
“I’ll change out the target, and then you go first. Ten shots, then we’ll put up a new target again and I get ten shots,” Johnny explained. “Then we can see who’s the best.”
“Okay, but I wanna practice more after that.”
“Sure, Chet. I have a feeling we’re gonna see you need the practice,” Johnny snickered. He headed out across the field to the boxes.
As soon as Gage neared the cardboard stack, he knew he was in trouble. That all too familiar rattling sound had the paramedic frozen in place. Barely moving his mouth, he called out, “Chet! I think we’ve got a problem. . .”
When Johnny didn’t respond, the curly haired fireman started towards him.
“Don’t come any closer.” Johnny whispered loudly.
“Why not? What’s--” Now close enough to clearly hear the snake, he had his answer. “Where. . .where is it. . .exactly?” he quietly asked.
Johnny looked down with his eyes, hoping that would clue his friend in. It was right beside him, up against the stack of boxes.
“What’re we gonna do? It’s not like I can . . .wait! I’ve seen something like this in old westerns. Well, not exactly, but you know what I mean.”
Johnny looked on, baffled at what Chet had in mind.
“I’ll shoot it!” He started to raise the gun.
“A BB gun isn’t gonna do anything, Chet,” Johnny said as quietly as he could and still be heard. “It’ll just piss him off.”
“It might run him off, too. Or at least divert his attention away from you.”
“Wait. How do I know you won’t hit me?”
“Look at the target. Did I miss very bad?”
Johnny slowly turned his head to glance at the paper. “I don’ know. We were both shooting, remember?”
“I can do this. . .trust me.”
The paramedic sighed. He sure didn’t have any other ideas. “Okay. But, Chet. . .hit__the___snake.”
Chet nodded and took aim.
. . . . . . . . . .
Roy hurried into the emergency entrance at Rampart and quickly looked for Dixie McCall. The head nurse had called him, notifying him that he might want to come see his partner.
When he saw her come out of Treatment Room Four, he anxiously approached her. “I came as quick as I could. Is he in there?”
“No, he’s in Three. He’s with Chet Kelly.”
“Chet got hurt too?”
She shook her head. “Just your unfortunate partner. Keep in mind what I said on the phone. It’s not as bad as it looks.”
Roy stared in puzzlement a moment, then looked over his shoulder at the door to the other treatment room. He eyed Dixie once more before proceeding to take her advice.
. . . . . . . . . .
As he slowly opened the door, Roy saw a very groggy John Gage lying on the exam table, an IV in his arm. Two bandages were on his right calf. His jeans had been cut up the side to the knee and the material lay open.
Both Doctor Brackett and Chet looked to see who was coming in, the latter wishing he was anywhere else but where he was at the moment.
“Uh. . .”
“Your partner here decided to tempt fate again,” Brackett explained with a slight twitch to his mouth.
“Roy. . .it wasn’t my fault. We were practicing shooting at the target and when John went to change out the bullseye, he met up with the relative of an old friend. There was nothing we could do. . .he was stuck.”
“You mean. . .?”
Chet nodded, assuming Roy had guessed right. “It was a rattlesnake, man. If Johnny moved at all it was likely to strike. So I used the BB gun to try and divert its attention. . .”
Roy looked at his partner again. Gage’s eyelids were droopy as he gazed at the men with an obviously clouded mind.
“He knows better than that.”
“Actually I’m not sure which of the three of us moved first or if it was a chain reaction. I just know he ended up with the snake’s fangs and a BB in his leg.”
The paramedic’s mouth dropped open. He looked at the two bandages again. The picture was starting to come together. “You shot Johnny?”
“It was an accident, Roy. I was aiming at the snake, I swear! But when we all moved. . .”
Roy looked to Brackett. “Is he gonna be okay?”
The doctor smiled and nodded. “The good thing was we already knew this time that he wasn’t allergic to the antivenin. And Chet did a great job of getting him to the nearest fire station where paramedics were on hand.” He pointed at the upper bandage. “The BB was easy to get out. It didn’t penetrate very far into the skin.”
DeSoto winced and he thought back to Gage’s words. ‘What could possibly go wrong with a BB gun and two responsible adults?’ I guess a lot when a snake comes into the equation.
. . . . . . . . . .
Two days later, a very chipper John Gage was sitting up in his hospital bed, feeling much better than he had been. Enjoying more sympathy from a few favorite young nurses, he barely noticed the door to his room open and two familiar friends peek inside.
Pulling his attention away from the girls, he smiled. “Hey, come on in. Come on in.”
The nurses waved as they departed, giving the men some time together.
“Well, this is a familiar setting,” Roy stated as he and Chet stepped closer to the bed. “I stopped by yesterday but you were still kind of out of it.”
“Yesterday is a blur to me,” Johnny agreed.
“Hey, I’m sorry I shot ya,” Chet put in, hoping words would be enough.
Gage grinned. “That’s okay. I don’ think it was all your fault. I kinda got nervous with both you and the snake havin’ me in your sights and I might’ve prematurely moved a little.”
“Can’t say I’d blame ya.”
Roy looked at the two men and folded his arms across his chest. “Well, I hope you’ve both learned a lesson from all this.”
Johnny nodded. “I have. That Chet needs practice shooting at moving targets as well as stationary ones.”
The curly-haired fireman grumbled, then smiled. “Hey, now there’s an idea. . .”
“Forget it!” Roy and Johnny said in unison.
Note: Though in real life a bite from a rattler involves swelling of the affected area and skin discoloration from the venom, I didn’t want to go there in this story, but rather keep it glossed over as it was in the episode Snakebite. For more information on rattlesnakes, here are a couple of links:
Thanks go to Jill Hargan for the beta read. :o) Thanks also to Jane L. for the inspiration. When there was a rattlesnake in our yard Monday, I had to squirt one of our dogs (his name is Gage) with the hose to keep him from it till I could get him far enough away to where I could grab his collar and get him out of harm’s way. When I told Jane about it, her comments brought the image of Johnny and Chet to mind. Also, thanks to my husband on the help about BB guns, distance and stuff. :o)
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