By Audrey W.
“See you at Rampart!” Roy DeSoto called out as he closed the rear ambulance doors.
His partner, John Gage, gave a nod and slight wave in reaction, then was on his way to the hospital with their latest charge.
A young voluptuous blonde woman who’d been posing for pictures in her aspirations to become a professional model had taken one step too many backwards and fallen off the edge of a railess pier. Though she’d ended up on the sandy beach surface below the section of it, she’d landed hard and awkwardly on her left arm which resulted in a compound fracture and separated shoulder.
John was quick to volunteer to be the one to ride in with her, which was no surprise to Roy. Though Gage knew professionalism was of the utmost importance in their job, the bachelor certainly didn’t mind any time spent with a pretty girl.
Roy on the other hand was happily married. He was fine riding in or driving the squad. But he often wondered if someday his partner would end up with one of the single ladies they ‘rescued’. After all, he’d come close to developing a relationship with one by the name of Paula when he took care of her little dog while she was in the hospital after being injured in a car accident. Of course, that period of time had been anything but easy on Gage and the rest of the crew.
Maybe it wouldn’t be such a good idea. . .
Roy backed the squad into a space just outside the ER doors, the ambulance his partner had come in still in a parking space beside it. He climbed out and headed into the building to meet up with Gage.
John was still in a treatment room with the victim. Which room that was, Roy wasn’t sure. Just as he approached a nurse in the vicinity to ask if she knew, his partner emerged from Treatment Room Two.
The dark haired paramedic glanced over his shoulder at the door that had closed behind him, then walked up the corridor toward DeSoto.
“How’s she doing?”
Again, Gage glanced at the door before returning his attention to Roy.
“Man, she’s incredible. Incredible! There she is with the fracture and bad shoulder and all she could ask is how long she’ll be in a cast. . .she wants to get back to modeling as soon as she can.”
“That’s incredible alright,” he flatly agreed.
But to him, it really wasn’t incredible at all. She wanted to be in front of the camera, so it only stood to reason she’d be more concerned about that than anything else. Roy wondered if the other picked up on the lack of sincerity in his answer.
Apparently Gage hadn’t.
“Man, Roy, I tell ya. . .I could sure get along with a chic like that. Beautiful on the outside an’ tough as nails on the inside.”
“Well, maybe you two’ll meet up again someday.”
John shook his head with a frown. “Nah. Unfortunately her photographer is also her fiancé.”
“Nope. Didn’t have to. She told me all about their plans to climb to the top together.”
“Ah. . .I see.”
That was a relief. For a moment Roy had thought his partner broke protocol after all.
As the two headed for the base station to get a refill of supplies, Gage offered, “Ya know, just once I wish I stood a chance with one of these damsels in distress. Just one time. . .a lasting relationship, I mean. Not just dog sitting,” he added, expecting Roy to bring up Paula.
“Well, if it was August instead of early February, I’d say make a birthday wish.” He looked at Gage and smiled. “There’s always Cupid next week on Valentines Day.”
“Please. I’m twenty-four years old. You know how many Valentines Days have let me down?”
Gage rolled his eyes as he came back dryly with, “Let’s just say enough.”
While his partner gave the nurse behind the desk a list of what they needed, Roy wondered if Gage really would get his wish.
The following shift, three days later in the afternoon. . .
“Hey, Gage! Telephone! It’s a female!”
John came out from under the passenger side of the squad on a rolling cart, dropped a wrench on the concrete floor and quickly scrambled to his feet. He gave a brief smile to his partner, who’d been tinkering under the red truck’s hood, as he trotted around to where Chet Kelly stood in the doorway of the dayroom.
“Did she give a name?” John asked.
The fireman shook his head. “Just that she wanted to talk to you.”
Gage’s crooked smile broadened, but disappeared when he couldn’t fit into the room with the doorway partially blocked.
“Chet, would ya get outta the way?”
“Sure, allow me,” he said as he stepped inside and stood just feet from the wall phone, where the receiver lay on a shelf just under it.
John followed behind. He grabbed the receiver, then turned to give the observer an annoyed look. With a hand over the mouthpiece, he asked, “Do you mind?”
“Hey, I’m the one who answered the phone. I should at least be entitled to hear firsthand what comes from it.”
“Okay, okay. But if it ends up as a date, see if she knows someone who can make it a double for us.”
The fireman left the room, figuring John wasn’t about to do what he requested. But it had been worth a try. They’d been out on a couple of double dates before.
Once he had his privacy, the paramedic brought the receiver up. “Fireman Gage speaking.”
“Johnny, this is Dixie McCall.”
“Dixie! What can I do for you?”
While it obviously wasn’t exactly the call he had hoped for, he and Roy were fond of the head nurse of the ER at Rampart. They had become rather close friends with her during their first few months on the job as paramedics since they were required to have a nurse along with them on rescues. She often was the one that filled the spot. Since then, they’d looked forward to seeing her during their stops at the hospital.
“Oh, I just wanted to give you the good news that the police were able to locate a relative of Charlene Nix. Turns out she’s married.”
He failed miserably to hide the disappointment in his voice. “Married?”
Charlene was a victim he and Roy had treated first thing when they’d come on shift. She was a very pretty young lady who’d suffered a concussion when she was knocked out and mugged apparently on her way to or from work, judging by the nametag pinned to her blouse. No one knew how long she’d lie in the alleyway she was found in. She didn’t know either, nor did she recall where she lived. Thus the police started a search for anyone knowing her. Gage had hopes she was single and perhaps they’d build a lasting relationship if he could help her through the crisis.
“That’s right. Apparently she didn’t just get her purse stolen but her wedding ring as well.”
“Oh. That’s too bad.”
“Yes, but at least now she’s not alone.”
He forced a cheery tone to his voice. “Yeah, that’s great! Really great, Dix. Thanks for passing on the good news. I’ll tell Roy.”
“I thought you’d be happy to hear it all turned out okay.”
“Happy. Yep, that’s me. Thanks again.”
After they exchanged goodbyes, he hung the receiver back on the phone, then stood a moment taking in the news more. With a sigh, he exited the room and rejoined his partner out in the apparatus bay. Roy had just closed the hood of the squad.
“For a guy who just got a call from a girl, you sure don’t look very happy.”
John shrugged. He then leaned with his elbows on the driver’s side fender of the truck.
“You know that girl we treated this morning and took to Rampart. . .”
“The one that was mugged and had amnesia?”
“Yeah, Charlene Nix.”
Roy grew alarmed. “Don’t tell me she took a turn for the worse. . .”
John stood up straight. “No, no. It’s not that. It’s just that the police located a relative.”
His partner smiled. “Hey, that’s great.”
“Yeah. Great. It was her husband,” he deadpanned.
“Oh. I get it now. Another damsel in distress you were interested in got crossed off the list.”
“You got it. Man, she was so pretty. Grateful, too. . .Roy. . .” he trailed off and just shook his head.
“I guess you could say your desires got nixed.”
John groaned. He wished Roy would’ve nixed his attempt at humor.
Valentines Day and a couple of shifts later:
The crew of A-shift, minus Captain Stanley, looked on as Marco taped a Valentine card up on the inside of his locker door.
“I didn’t know you had a girlfriend, Marco” John said.
Chet snickered from where he stood at his locker beside the Hispanic fireman’s. “He doesn’t. That’s from his grandmother.”
The two paramedics exchanged amused glances before continuing to get changed into uniform in front of their lockers in the row over from Chet and Marco’s. Mike was on the other side of the latter’s and just shook his head.
“What’d you give Joanne?” Gage wondered.
Roy smiled proudly. “A card, box of candy and a dozen roses.”
“So, Johnny, any special Valentine for you?”
“No, Chet, and thanks for the reminder.”
“Hey, what’s the big deal? I don’t have one either.”
“Cupid’s arrow,” Roy mumbled so only his partner could hear. “You never know.”
John rolled his eyes as he closed his locker, then sat on the bench in front of it to put on his shoes.
Secretly, he hoped Roy was right. That he’d meet the damsel in distress of his dreams and they’d ride off happily into the sunset. Or rather to Rampart General and maybe he’d pick her up a day or two later to give her a ride home to the apartment where she hopefully lived alone. Or with a cute roommate things could work out with of they didn’t with her.
“Hey, look over there!”
Roy took a quick glance to the right from where he sat in the driver’s seat of the squad. He and John were on their way back to the station after assisting Engine 16 with a trapped hiker in Topanga Canyon, just outside of Carson. The man had been lucky and only suffered minor injuries, thus he didn’t need to go to the hospital.
DeSoto immediately saw what his partner was referring to. A somewhat disheveled lady who looked to be in her early twenties had just made her way up to the side of the paved canyon road and was waving her arms in the air to get their attention. She was dressed in blue jeans and a black leather jacket over a white t-shirt. To Roy, she was like a female version of The Fonz on the TV show Happy Days.
Roy pulled off to the side as much as he could before bringing the truck to a stop. Both men scrambled out to the lady’s aide.
“Oh, I’m so. . . glad you came. . . along,” she said nearly breathless. “I heard. . .a rumble. . . .something going by. . . . .as I was climbing. . .up. I thought. . .for sure . . .I was too late.”
“That must’ve been the engine,” John stated. “There was a fire engine on a rescue with us. That was them going by.”
“What happened?” Roy asked. “Were you in an accident?” He looked the lady up and down in search of any signs of injury. Her jeans and black leather jacket were somewhat dirty, but otherwise she appeared okay.
“I was out for a ride. . .on my motorcycle. I lost it on the gravel shoulder. . .when I accidentally left the pavement. . .I bailed in time. . .but my bike went for a ride down. . .the embankment. I just need help. . .getting her back up.”
“Her? There’s another victim?”
She shook her head. “She’s my bike.”
John had remained silent through the conversation, taking in the scenario. This was the girl he’d been waiting for; the chic who could be a lot of fun to hang out with, who could add excitement to his days off. She had to be tough to just bail off a motorcycle before it went off the edge; quite adventurous to be in such good spirits afterward, too. Only problem was, he didn’t know if she was available. Nor was he sure exactly how to ask.
“We’ll bring the bike up for you, miss. . .uh. . .” Gage volunteered.
“Penelope. Penelope Barnes.” She reached out to shake first his hand, then Roy’s as John told her their names. “I can help,” she offered.
“No. . .no, you wait here while we get it.”
Roy was in full agreement. She’d been through enough, and they didn't need to risk her getting injured in the process. He radioed for a police officer since they were tachnically at the scene of an accident.
On their way back up with the rather large bike, Roy pulling as John pushed and carried a discarded candy apple red helmet, the latter had a deja’vu. He recalled a not-so-long ago incident when they stopped to help a lady get her horse out of a trench. He’d gotten the ass end then after doing all the work of digging a pathway for the animal. And that was about all he got, because Roy received the grateful kiss on the cheek. Maybe being the ‘front man’ would be better.
How silly was he going to sound asking to switch places? After a few seconds thought, he decided: very.
Once they were back on the shoulder of the road with the bike, Penelope hurried to take over for them. The officer that had arrived on scene followed along.
“Oh thank you, thank you! I never could’ve done it alone!” Penelope cried out.
“You really lucked out. The damage isn't too bad,” Roy commented.
But it was obvious she was going to need someone to give her and her bike a ride home. Officer Howard trotted to his squad car to make the request.
As John handed her the helmet, he somewhat hesitantly informed, “I kinda own a motorcycle, too.”
Roy looked on wondering how a person could kind of own anything. But it became apparent that cupid’s arrow had hit his partner. Zinged one right into him sometime between when they’d stopped and now.
“Maybe we can go riding sometime. . .if ya want, I mean. Once you get it. . .uh. . .her. . .repaired.”
John waited anxiously for an answer while Roy walked to the squad to radio them in as available again.
“That’s very sweet of you, but I don’t think so. You see, I’ve been going out on rides by myself because I broke up with a guy I used to ride with. I’m not ready to jump back into it yet.”
Damn. . .not again!
He couldn’t believe it. For a third time, he’d lost out with a damsel in distress.
He didn’t find it too amusing when Roy later suggested Cupid only came toting one arrow.
“So I think I’m just gonna hafta stick to nurses,” John told Dixie after explaining his struggles with the other ladies. He and Roy had taken a victim of an electrical shock into Rampart and while his partner briefed the doctor on the slight improvement of the man in transit, John waited by the base station where Dixie was working.
“Didn’t you tell Roy you were running out of options with the girls here?”
John’s mouth dropped open in stunned surprise. She was obviously referring to a rant he’d given his partner after another of his relationships with a nurse had fallen apart. He’d gone on and on about how pretty soon he was going to be left with just candy stripers to choose from. He’d never intended his thoughts to be shared, especially with someone like Dixie.
“Uh. . .,” he forced a slight laugh. “A guy can kinda get carried away with words in a given situation, ya know. I--”
He stopped when he noticed Roy come out of the room. He narrowed his eyes in aggravation, but quickly dropped the attitude. To confront Roy on it now would just open the whole thing up for a discussion he really didn’t want to get into . . .especially on Valentines Day.
Dixie smiled. She knew he’d be chasing after a nurse again when the right one came along. He couldn’t resist trying for a girl with a pretty face.
The two paramedics wished her a happy Valentines Day for the third time, then headed out to their squad.
Late in the afternoon, Roy and John found themselves called out on another rescue, this one for a man down.
They’d soon find out that they weren’t needed after all. A repeat robber had been chased down in a hilly neighborhood near Carson after abandoning his car. He’d faked chest pains until a very persuasive deputy made him fess up that he was trying to pull one over on the authorities.
Once they were informed by an officer at the scene while still seated in their truck, Roy started to pull away from the grassy edge of the yard when he and John heard a familiar voice call out, “Hey, Johnny Gage!”
DeSoto stopped the squad.
Gage looked out the open passenger window to confirm the source of the voice. He cringed when he saw he was right.
Coming toward the squad with a smile on her face was a lady deputy he’d once tried to date. Sheila was very pretty and she’d certainly caught his interest the fist time around. But unfortunately, she couldn’t let go of her job while off duty and their one date had ended up with her chasing after a purse snatcher, two hours at the police station while she filled out paperwork, and a very sore shoulder that he’d never tell anyone exactly what happened to cause it. Pride wouldn’t allow.
“Johnny, long time no see, huh?” She said as she reached the passenger side of the squad.
“Yeah. . .almost a year.”
She glanced over her shoulder when she heard her name called out by one of the other cops. Sheila then returned her attention to Gage.
“Look, I’ve gotta go. . .gotta ride in with the perp.” She pulled a small tablet out of her uniform pant pocket and jotted something down. As she handed a piece of paper off it to the paramedic, she explained, “Here’s my number in case you lost it. Give me a call sometime.”
Sheila then walked away without giving John chance to respond.
All of a sudden John dating one of the victims they rescued didn’t sound like such a bad idea to Roy. At least Gage probably stood a better chance of coming out of it in one piece. He leaned forward and looked over to see the anguished expression on his partner’s face.
“You’re not actually going to take her up on that, are you? You’d better make sure you have a first aid kit, complete with a sling, if you are.”
Of course he wasn’t. He knew better. But at the same time, she was so pretty. So intriguing . . .still. Forget the damsels, now he was the one in distress
“No, but man. . .” John groaned as he once again eyed the paper she’d handed him. As painful as it was to do so, he crumpled it up and stuffed it away in his trouser pocket so he could toss it later.
Oh well. . .there’s always Valentines Day number twenty-five.
This was inspired by the picture. :o)
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