This story has characters from and references to the stories ‘Knee High To A Grasshopper’, ‘Melvin’s Super Secret Project’, and ‘Road To Fame’ located on the Stories Page of this site. It’s not absolutely necessary to read these prior to this story, but it might help to glance over them or the third one listed above.
By Audrey W.
Johnny and Roy climbed out of the squad at the scene of a house fire. Quickly grabbing their turnout coats, they slipped them on as they trotted over to the captain from Station 45. Engine 51 had been called out on a hardware store fire while the squad was at the scene of a minor motor vehicle accident, so now the squad was responding with a different engine crew. The vehicles had arrived at the scene within a few minutes of each other.
“What’ve we got?” Johnny asked, watching the smoke billow out from one of the windows of the house.
“I’ve been told there’s one family member not accounted for. A four-year-old boy. I’ll have two of my men go in with a hose to keep the fire contained, while you two do a quick sweep.”
The two paramedics nodded and ran back to the squad to get their air tanks and masks.
With the gear in place, Johnny and Roy hurried towards the burning house. They met up with the two firemen from 45’s who would be following along with them. Without a moment to waste, the four men headed into the flaming structure.
It was difficult to see in the smoky interior of the house. Johnny and Roy stuck close together until they came to a staircase.
“I’ll go upstairs, Roy. You look down here.”
Roy didn’t like the idea of splitting up, but they’d done it before. And if they went to the wrong floor together to find the boy, it could mean his life.
“Okay, but make it quick.”
“I will. I don’t want to be in here anymore than you do.”
The other firemen stayed at the bottom of the staircase in an effort to keep the flames from spreading.
“Anyone in here?” Johnny called out, his voice muffled by the mask. He looked around the bedroom he was now in. Seeing it was empty, he quickly moved on. He continued through each of the three bedrooms. Finding no one, Gage headed to the bathroom at the end of the hall.
Roy had searched in all the accessible places of the downstairs. He finally located the boy who had been hiding in a closet in the kitchen. As he lifted the semi-conscious youth, Roy took off his mask and placed it over the boy’s face. When he got to the staircase, he hollered up to his partner.
“Johnny, I’ve got him! Let’s go!”
Gage was already at the top of the stairs and glad to be heading down. When Roy noted the dark-haired man was on his way, he left with the boy in tow.
The two firemen from Station 45 still had the hose trained on the fire inside. As Johnny stepped off the final stair, he chanced a glance behind him, once again glad to be on his way out. His left heel caught the edge of the step, and the paramedic lost his footing. He grabbed the railing for support. Suddenly one of the firefighters was at his side, helping him.
“I’m okay, I’m okay. Help your partner!” Johnny could see the other firefighter had his hands full with the fully charged hose. The man hadn’t expected to be holding it by himself.
“But, John, you slipped!”
Gage was surprised. He didn’t think he knew the men here with him. Dismissing the curiosity, he waved the fireman away.
“I’m all right! Go!”
The man hesitated, but complied. Johnny was relieved that the guy didn’t notice he had to limp as he made his way out of the house.
Roy looked up from his place near the squad where he already had the boy on oxygen and was talking to Rampart. He noted the slight limp to his partner’s walk.
“You okay? What happened?”
“Nothing,” Johnny said, as he pulled off his mask. He wiped away the sweat on his forehead. “I just took a wrong step. I’m fine.”
Roy nodded. “How about you ride in with the kid?”
“Roy, I’m fine. I can drive the squad. Look, it doesn’t hurt.” Johnny pressed his left foot on the ground to show it wasn’t painful. He hid the fact it did hurt a little.
“Okay, if you say so.”
“I say so,” the younger man grinned. He knelt down by the patient. “How’s he doin’?”
“He’s better. He’s conscious, but disoriented. I’m ready to transport.”
“Okay, let’s get him loaded in.”
The two paramedics helped the ambulance attendants to get the boy situated on the stretcher and in the ambulance. Johnny gave his two customary slaps when the door was closed and watched as it pulled away. He then gathered up the equipment left on the ground and tossed it in the squad. As he headed for Rampart, he thought back to the fireman inside the house. He had meant to ask the captain who it was. Johnny shrugged.
Oh well, it’s not important.
When Johnny got to Rampart, Roy was just going into Treatment Room 4 with the boy and an ambulance attendant. He started to walk towards the closed door, when someone put a hand on his shoulder and stopped him.
Gage turned around and saw Dixie standing behind him. She had an expectant expression on her face.
“What?” Johnny wondered.
“C’mon.” She motioned for him to follow her into a room two doors down.
“What’s up, Dix?”
“You tell me. Your partner just asked me to have your left foot looked at, as he came in the door.”
“He did? Already?”
“Yep. So, in you go, Johnny. Doctor Morton’s waiting for you.”
“Awe, Dix. It’s nothing. I just took a wrong step.”
Dix cocked an eyebrow at the man. “Now you know as well as anyone, sometimes that’s all it takes.” She opened the door to Treatment Room 2. “Humor us, if nothing else.”
Johnny shrugged. “Okay, but it’s nothing. Really.”
Dixie half listened as she gave him a light shove into the room.
Roy and Dixie turned to see Johnny coming out of the treatment room. As the younger paramedic walked up to the base station, Roy questioned him.
“Well? What’s the verdict?”
“Besides that,” DeSoto grinned.
“Well, it’s just like I thought. I probably twisted my ankle enough that it bothered me for awhile. But it’s fine now. Doesn’t hurt a bit,” Johnny explained, once again demonstrating by putting pressure on his left foot. “See?”
Morton stepped into the corridor in time to catch Gage’s actions. He shrugged at the questioning looks from Dixie and Roy.
“He’s right. Gage is good to go.”
As if on cue, the HT beeped and the paramedics were sent out on another call.
After taking an asthma patient, who was having a severe attack, to Rampart, Johnny and Roy were on their way back to the station. Johnny turned in his seat to face the older paramedic.
“You know, you worry more than that fireman from 45’s.”
Roy was puzzled. He hadn’t seen the man race over with concern when Johnny had lost his footing in the house.
“What are you talking about? What fireman?”
“When I stepped off the staircase wrong, one of the firemen who were in there with us left his partner to handle the hose by himself. . .he ran over to check on me.”
“Oh. Well, he was probably thinking you would need help out.”
“Yeah, seemed like it. Still, he shouldn’t have left his partner. I was still standin’. . .I was fine.”
“I’m sure someone will let him know if it was the wrong thing to do.”
“Probably,” Johnny agreed. His curiosity was beginning to come to life as he once again tried to place the voice of the fireman. He still didn’t know how he knew him.
When the two men got back to the station, the engine crew was just returning from the hardware store fire. The two vehicles backed into the apparatus bay. Hank Stanley and his crew wearily climbed down from the engine. Johnny and Roy were already out of the squad, and waiting for their shift mates to join them.
“Must have been a rough one,” Roy commented as he took in the exhausted appearance of the crew and the acrid smell of smoke that hung with them from the store fire.
“Yeah,” Johnny added. “You guys look beat!”
“Man, we are.” Chet sighed. “I hope we don’t see another one like this for awhile. The hardware store was a total loss. What a mess.”
Mike had already headed for the shower. Marco was on his way to the dayroom.
“My stomach’s growling. What do we have to eat?”
“We really worked up an appetite,” Chet explained.
“Well, I hate to give ya bad news, but we’ve been out all morning. There’s no food ready to eat.” Johnny knew it was his turn to fix lunch. He had bought hamburger on his day off and brought everything in that he would need. “Give me about fifteen minutes,” he said as he turned and headed for the dayroom.
Chet looked at Roy and gave a small smile. “Even Johnny’s hamburgers sound great right now. You know we gotta be hurtin’!”
The crew of A-shift sat around the table in the dayroom, their plates of food in front of them. They had only been eating for five minutes, but Chet’s hamburger was almost gone already.
“Gage, I gotta hand it to ya. These burgers are pretty good!”
Marco laughed. “Chet, an old shoe would taste good as hungry as we are.”
Johnny scowled. But just as quick as he was offended, he was already over it. On to another train of thought, Gage eyed the others at the table.
“Hey, you guys know the engine crews at Station 45 very well?”
The men all shrugged.
“What shift?” Mike asked.
“I don’t know. This shift.”
“A-shift?” Chet questioned.
“I’m not sure. But whatever shift they’re on now.”
Chet rolled his eyes. “What shift are they on, Gage?”
“I don’t know. I thought you guys would know.”
“They’re on the same shift their paramedics are,” Marco answered.
Johnny scowled again. Marco was getting too good at these wise-guy answers.
Chet must be rubbing off on him.
“Oh, forget it,” the dark-haired paramedic said, taking another bite of his burger. He shoved the piece of food to his inside left cheek, as he decided to try another approach. “Do you guys know any of the crews at Station 45?”
“Yeah, sure we do,” Marco answered. The others nodded in agreement.
Hank Stanley looked curiously at Gage. “John, what’s this about?”
“Oh, nothing, really. Just one of the guys on the engine crew at a call today knew me by my first name. But we don’t work with them enough to know them very well. And since he had his mask on and was in a smoky house, I couldn’t see his face very well.”
“So, you have no idea who it was?” The captain asked.
Johnny shook his head. “No. It’s no big deal. I’m just curious.”
Gage looked across at Chet.
“Uh oh, what?”
“Uh oh, when you say you’re just curious, it means you’ll be talking about this for the rest of the shift. It’ll be your latest obsession.”
“I’m not obse--”
“They have a couple of new guys,” Hank supplied, interrupting the conversation.
“Just forget it, Cap,” Johnny said, waving off the information.
Before the men could finish their lunch, the tones sounded.
“Squad 51, unknown type injury, 3202 North Hill Street, three two zero two North Hill Street, time out 12:20.”
“Well, so much for finishing lunch,” Johnny said, standing up. He followed Roy out of the doorway.
As Roy pulled the squad over to the curb in front the address, a young woman came running out of the house. Johnny opened the door to the squad and began to get out, when the woman grabbed his arm.
“Oh thank God you're here. You have to come quick!”
Roy had just come around from the other side, as Johnny was trying to calm the lady down.
“Alright, now take it easy. What's the problem, ma'am?”
“In the kitchen. . .my boyfriend . . .he's hurt!”
Johnny and Roy started to get out their equipment, figuring on the basics they would need. “What happened to him?” Roy asked.
“Uh. . .he hit his head on the counter.”
The two paramedics were walking along side her up the sidewalk to the house.
“What's your boyfriend’s name?” Johnny asked.
As she opened the back door to the kitchen, a moan could be heard. Johnny rushed in, going over to the young man sitting on the floor propped up against the cabinets. He was conscious, but looked to be dazed.
Gage squatted down beside him. “Greg, can you hear me?” He felt the back of the man's head, and found a small lump.
The man nodded. “Yeah. . .both of you.”
Johnny glanced over at Roy, who was putting the BP cuff on the man's arm.
Roy hasn’t said anything yet.
He then returned his attention to Greg. “You're seeing double?”
The man shrugged. “I don' know . . .you got a twin?” He shut his eyes tight, grimacing in pain.
Johnny pulled out his penlight, checking Greg's pupils. He then looked for signs of bleeding in the ears. Finding none, he took the man's left wrist checking his pulse. Roy was now counting the respirations.
Johnny set up the biophone, contacting Rampart. After he reported the vitals to Doctor Early, he looked at the girlfriend. “When did this happen?”
“About 30 minutes ago. Look, is he gonna be okay?”
While Johnny relayed that bit of information to the hospital and waited for instructions, Roy talked more with the girl.
“He’s gonna be fine, I’m sure. How did this happen?”
“Well, it's stupid really.” She hesitated, then seeing a questioning look in Roy's eyes, continued on. “I was alone in here fixing us sandwiches. Greg snuck in and came up behind me; he goosed me in the side. Well, it scared me, so I swung at him. I guess I surprised him. He backed up, slipped and wham, hit his head on the counter on the way down.” The woman glanced over at Greg, who was now throwing up. “I’m sorry, honey!”
Johnny rode in the ambulance with Greg, while Roy followed behind in the squad. Once the patient was in a doctor’s care at Rampart, the two men headed to the station.
Roy backed the squad in to the now empty apparatus bay.
“I hope the run they’re on now is easier than the hardware store fire,” Johnny commented, looking at the empty spot beside them. “Those guys deserve a break after what they went through there.”
“Yeah, I know. But they’ll manage if it’s another big one.”
As they entered the dayroom, Johnny noticed a note taped up by the phone. He pulled it off and read it.
“Oh, this is really funny, Chet!”
Roy was at the sink, his back to Gage. He turned around and looked for Kelly. Johnny was already on his way over to his partner.
“Will you look at this, Roy?” He shoved the small piece of paper in front of DeSoto. As soon as Roy started to read it, the paper was snatched away.
“It says, ‘Gage, your guardian angel from 45’s called while you were out. He wanted to know if you were still on duty and doing better now. I know who it is and you aren’t going to believe this one. Chet’.” Johnny looked at Roy. “He knows it’s driving me nuts. So why did he have to end the note that way?”
“Because he knows it’s driving you nuts.”
“I can’t believe the guy called here. You know,” Johnny began as he tapped the paper on Roy’s chest, “I’ll bet Chet made this phone call up just to get to me.”
DeSoto stared at the paper hitting his chest. He shook his head and turned back to the sink. “You want some coffee?”
“No. . .yeah. I don’t know.”
Roy handed Johnny a cup of the brew and they sat at the table. The younger man was still fixated on the note.
“You aren’t going to believe this one,” Johnny read again. “Why not?”
Roy wished he could string Chet up by the thumbs for this. If Johnny wasn’t obsessed before, he certainly was now.
Marco and Chet climbed up onto the engine. They had been dispatched to a rubbish fire and it was out in minimal time. As Mike drove back to the station, the two firemen talked.
“You shouldn’t have worded that note to Johnny like you did,” Marco chastised. “You know he’s going to be thinking about it until we get back and you tell him who called.”
Chet grinned. “Yeah, he probably is. That’s the beauty of it, Marco. Gage is an easy target with stuff like that.”
“But still. Think of Roy.”
“Awe, Roy can handle it. He didn’t get too mad when I got Gage going on the tax audit again.”
“I guess we’ll know how both of them are taking it, if they got back before us.”
“Yeah. I’ll bet Johnny’s still reading the note, trying to figure it out.”
Marco just shook his head. He figured one day John was going to get back at Chet good.
The paramedics were dispatched out to a heart attack victim before the engine returned to the station. This time Roy rode in with the victim and Johnny agreed to drive the squad. As he started to climb in, the victim’s neighbor stopped him.
“I just want to thank you for getting here so quickly. We were so afraid he was a goner.”
Johnny smiled. “You’re welcome. But we’re just doing our job.” He looked ahead to where the ambulance was disappearing around a corner. “Look, I have to follow behind the ambulance. So, since everything is okay here, I’d better get going.”
The neighbor moved back from the squad. “Sure! Thanks again!”
The dark-haired paramedic nodded as he got in and closed the door. He waved to the man standing nearby as he pulled away.
Johnny flipped on the lights and siren, following well behind the ambulance. As he drove through an intersection, he caught a movement out of the corner of his left eye. Turning his head, he saw too late that he was about to be hit. Before it even registered, the sound of metal crunching on the driver’s side filled his ears. The squad was pushed to the right by the impact.
Gage surveyed the scene from inside once everything was stopped. A blue truck was nearby, the right front corner of the vehicle was smashed in from the impact. Johnny felt like he was okay, so his first thoughts were of the other people involved. He quickly reached for the mic and called in the accident. Next he tried to open the door, and couldn’t. It was jammed shut. Johnny then scooted over to the passenger side and it was then he realized he had been pushed into another car. He couldn’t get out of the squad.
Well, this is just wonderful.
Once he sat still a few minutes, Gage began to feel the effects of the accident. His left side hurt from where he apparently hit the side of the cab and he tasted blood in his mouth. As he looked in the rearview mirror, he could see a large cut on his lower lip. Pulling it down some, he could see a cut inside as well. Johnny couldn’t recall hitting his mouth on anything in the squad. The accident had happened so fast. He surmised he must have hit it on the steering wheel, though.
Onlookers were now approaching the damaged squad to see if the paramedic was okay. He tried to roll down the passenger side window since it was closer now, but it wouldn’t budge. As bad as the driver’s side door was probably damaged, he doubted it was worth the effort to try.
The dark-haired man sat back and sighed.
Man, Roy’s gonna wonder where in the hell I am. I hope I’m okay enough to stay on duty.
He stared a minute at the radio.
I can call him on there. Of course! Why didn’t I think of that before?
The sound of sirens approaching brought his attention back to the world outside – the call to Roy was forgotten.
Roy went into the treatment room with the heart attack victim. He helped transfer the man to the exam table and get the IV bag hung. Once the patient was set, DeSoto went out to the corridor to meet up with his partner.
“Hi, Dix,” Roy said, walking over to the base station.
“Well, hi yourself, Roy. Where’s your partner?”
“He’s not around here?”
Dixie shook her head. “Haven’t seen him yet.”
Roy chewed his lower lip and looked around. He then looked back at Dixie. “I didn’t think he was far behind us. I wonder where he is?”
“Maybe he got hung up in traffic.” She eyed the HT in DeSoto’s hand. “Why don’t you call him on the radio and see if he’s still in the squad?”
The paramedic smiled. “You know, I get so used to holding on to this thing, I forget it’s there. Thanks, Dix. I will.”
“You’re welcome. Of course you have to do it from here so I’ll know, too.”
Johnny watched the paramedics from 36’s go to the occupants of the truck first. The engine called to the scene was just pulling up when the radio sounded. “Squad 51, HT 51.”
Gage reached over and picked up the mic without taking his eyes off the truck. Engine 45? Oh man. I’ll find out who the fireman is.
“Go ahead, HT 51.”
“Johnny, where are you?”
Two of the crewmembers from Engine 45 approached the squad, while two others went to the other car involved. Johnny’s mouth dropped when he saw a very distressed fireman running to his aide. It’s him? He’s a firefighter now?
“Roy, you aren’t gonna believe this, but I found out who that fireman is.”
“Never mind that. Where are you?” His partner asked, forgetting the usual radio protocol. Roy was too involved trying to figure the situation out.
“I had a wreck, but I’m okay. We’re gonna need a new squad, though.”
Roy held the radio down and looked at Dixie. She appeared to be a shocked as he was. He tried to contact Johnny again.
“Squad 51, HT 51.”
Gage watched out the driver’s side window, oblivious to the voice of his partner.
“Squad 51, HT 51. Johnny, do you copy?”
“John, are you okay? Are you hurt bad?” The fireman from 45’s asked as he tried to open the driver’s side door, having no luck. He looked at his crewmate, who was now right behind him. “Get a crowbar.”
Johnny was in shock. His ‘guardian angel’ was a man who had caused him quite a few problems in the past. Things that still had the paramedic bewildered as to exactly what had happened to him. And now the guy was the one who was going to get him out of the wrecked squad.
‘Bob’. . .er. . .Melvin Meyers is the one? Chet was right. . .I don’t believe it.
Roy held the radio down near his side again.
“He did say he was in an accident, right?”
Dixie nodded. “That’s what it sounded like to me”
“And that we’d need a new squad.”
“Yeah. Maybe the radio went out all of a sudden, Roy. I’m sure someone will be calling on the base station soon if anyone was injured in the accident.”
Roy nodded. “Yeah. . .yeah, you’re right. You know, I can’t believe he was more worried about who his mysterious firefighter was.” Seconds later Roy reiterated, “Yes, I can. This is my partner we’re talking about.”
Johnny yelled so that Melvin could hear him through the glass. “I’m okay! Don’t worry, I’m fine!”
“But you’ve got blood all over your shirt!”
Gage looked down at his blue shirt. Sure enough, his lip had bled quite a bit and the blood had gotten on the front of his shirt. He pointed to his cut lip.
“It’s just this! Lips bleed a lot!”
Melvin didn’t say anything, just nodded. But his concerned expression didn’t change. He considered John his buddy and he wanted to make sure his ‘friend’ was okay.
One of the paramedics was now with Melvin.
“What’ve we got? Is he hurt?”
“He’s bleedin’. But he says he’s okay.”
The paramedic looked in the squad. “That’s Gage. He always says he’s okay. Don’t believe him until we check him out. Once you get the door open, call me over. . . my name’s Keith. . .and don’t let him out of the squad ‘til we know he’s okay.”
Melvin nodded. His partner was back over and was working the crowbar to open the door. Once it popped open, Johnny started to scoot to get out, when Melvin stopped him.
“You have to stay in there ‘til the paramedics check you out.”
“Whataya mean? I’m okay! Look, just a split lip. I’m fine.”
“Keith!” Melvin yelled as he waved the paramedic over. He kept his hand on Johnny’s chest. “No.”
“Look, Melvin, I’m a paramedic, remember?” Johnny said, splaying his left hand on his chest. “I’d know if I’m not okay. I’m okay.”
Melvin stepped back as Keith stepped over.
“Okay, Gage, let’s see what we’re dealing with here.”
“A spli li,” Johnny said, as Keith examined his lower lip.
“Looks like you’ll need stitches. Anything else hurt?”
“Uh uh. Well, my left side kind of hurts, but not bad.”
“Pull your shirt out,” Keith directed.
Johnny sighed. “Okay. Here.” He pulled his shirt up, along with his t-shirt so that the paramedic could see his side.
“You’ve got a bruise startin’ there.” Keith gently probed the spot where the bruising was. Johnny gritted his teeth trying not to react. “I don’t think you cracked any ribs, but I’m sure Brackett will want to x-ray ‘em.”
“How are the others that were involved?”
“One person in the truck has minor injuries, the other came out injury free. They had their seatbelts on. The lady in the car has a pain in her neck.” He finished his basic examination of Johnny. “You feel up to walking?”
Johnny nodded and climbed out to follow Keith. Melvin was close on his heals, watching Gage’s every step.
Keith’s partner, Ben, was already on the biophone talking to Doctor Early about the other victims when the threesome approached. Keith directed Johnny to sit down on the bumper of the squad as he took and wrote down vitals.
Johnny glanced up as he felt someone staring at him.
“Shouldn’t you be doin’ something besides watching over me?” Johnny asked.
Melvin looked around. “I. . .I guess so. I just wanted to make sure you’re okay, John.”
“I’m okay. . .I think the paramedics can handle it from here,” Johnny said, grinning.
“Thanks for getting’ me out, though.”
“Sure.” Meyers turned and started to walk away, somewhat dejected.
Johnny felt guilty. After all, Melvin was just trying to help him. He decided to give the guy a chance. Maybe nothing strange would happen to him this time.
“Hey, how long have you been with the fire department?” Johnny called out. “And where in the heck are your glasses?” He already began to regret it when he saw the overzealous expression on the man’s face as he walked back over.
Roy listened at the base station as the information on his partner came over the speaker. It didn’t sound too bad. Even though the paramedics on the scene said Gage hadn’t complained of any noticeable pain, Roy knew as well as anyone, his partner had a tendency to downplay his own injuries. Only time would tell how he really was.
“Meyers!” The captain from 45’s called out. “Get over here!”
Melvin had been sitting beside Johnny, rattling off about his experiences as a firefighter since the day of entering training and how he had arrived at the decision to switch from eyeglasses to contact lenses. Johnny was amazed a guy could get so much information out in a matter of minutes. The pause by Meyers when his captain yelled at him was a welcome break for the paramedic.
“I’ll catch up with you later and finish, okay, John?” Melvin said while he looked over at the angry captain.
“Yeah, sure. . .I’d like to hear more,” Gage lied, not wanting to hurt the man’s feelings again.
Meyers stood up. “See ya later!” He smiled and waved, then trotted towards the damaged vehicles still in the intersection.
“That guy can really talk, huh?” Keith remarked. “Do you know him very well? You seem kind of annoyed around him.”
“‘Bob’? Er. . .Uh - Melvin? Not really. . .well, kinda’.”
Keith’s eyebrows raised in curiosity.
“One day he was suddenly around, know what I mean? He was a male nurse at Rampart and his name was ‘Bob’. He brought a tray of food into my room when I. . . uh. . .had a small problem that landed me in the hospital. Then somewhere along the way, he just became ‘Melvin’ and we were rescuing him from an apartment fire. And then later we were watching him on the Mike Douglas Show. For some reason, I don’t recall a lot of details about that period of time.”
Keith raised his eyebrows further and shook his head. “I’d ask you to explain more of what you do remember, but I don’t wanna know. Some things are better left unknown, ya know?” He motioned towards the ambulance. “Ready to go to Rampart?”
Johnny nodded and stood up. He waited until the lady with the sore neck was loaded into the ambulance on the stretcher and one of the other victims with minor injuries was seated. Then he climbed in and sat on one of the benches. The other victim from the accident was allowed to ride in the front of the ambulance.
Keith handed the equipment to his partner, Ben, then closed the doors, giving them two slaps. He got in the squad and followed behind the ambulance.
Johnny gave a quick shrug and a small wave to Roy as he was ushered into a treatment room. Wanting to know exactly what was up with his partner, DeSoto followed behind.
The blonde paramedic watched as his partner slowly got up on the examination table. He shook his head when he saw the blood on the front of Johnny’s blue shirt.
“You’re going to need stitches in that lip,” Morton said as he examined the splits. He prepared a syringe and was ready with the needle to give Johnny a local anesthetic.
Gage knew there was no way around it. He put up a brave front as Mike administered the medication in two places.
“Now, while that takes effect, take off your shirt so I can get a look at your left side.”
“’Kay.” Johnny glanced over at Roy, who remained silent. “See? I told you I was okay. But the squad,” Johnny winced as Morton probed his ribs. “It’s hurtin’.”
Roy could tell the squad wasn’t the only thing hurting from the accident. “We’ll get a new squad. I think they’re waiting to see if you’re going to need a replacement, too.”
“I hope I don’t,” Gage frowned. His face brightened when he remembered he hadn’t told Roy about Melvin. Although it wasn’t as easy to talk with a numb lip, Gage gave a concentrated effort to sound out his words. “Hey, I didn’t get to tell you who that fireman turned out to be!”
Morton had a nurse call for x-ray and was now ready to suture the dark-haired man’s lip.
“Can you stop talking for a minute so I can fix your lip?”
Johnny gave the doctor a sour expression.
If he thinks I talk a lot, he should meet Melvin!
As soon as Johnny was cleared to return to duty, he met Roy at the base station. Morton had made the senior paramedic leave the treatment room so that Gage would shut up and x-ray could do their job, as well.
“So?” DeSoto wondered.
“I’m back on duty!”
Roy eyed Johnny’s appearance. “You’d better get a new shirt when we get to the station. And be careful with the stitched lip and sore ribs.” He watched his partner walk around the counter to get a cup. “Not to mention, you still tend to hobble.”
Johnny turned to face Roy. “Oh I do not.”
“Trust me. . .you do.”
Roy keyed the mic on the HT to let Dispatch know they needed the new squad brought to Rampart General and that Gage was cleared for duty. Johnny stepped around the counter and filled his cup with water at a drinking fountain. As he came back to the base station, his partner was waiting.
“Okay,” the blonde paramedic began, “who was the mystery fireman? You’ve been dying to tell me.”
“Oh, right! You won’t believe this, Roy!”
“I might if you ever tell me.”
“Melvin,” Johnny said, a smug look on his face.
“Melvin? Melvin who?”
“The Melvin. You know. . .Bruce the rat, I disappeared, Mike Douglas Show was off the air for a week after he was on it. That Melvin.”
“And this is good? That he’s following you around, checking on you?”
“No. Well, yeah. . .in a way. I don’t know.” Johnny waved his right hand in frustration. “But he means well, I know that.”
“At least if you vanish again, we’ll know where to start looking. . .Station 45.”
“I hope you told him ‘thanks for looking out for me, but no thanks’.”
“I. . .uh. . .actually, Roy, I couldn’t do it.” When Johnny saw the disbelieving expression on his partner’s face, he defended himself. “I didn’t want to hurt the guy’s feelings.”
“So, what did you tell him?”
Gage’s reply was quiet. “That I’d like to hear more of his fire fighting stories.”
Roy shook his head. Sometimes Johnny could be too well meaning for his own good.
Once in the new squad, the paramedics were sent to the scene of the accident to transfer their other equipment into their current vehicle. As Roy pulled over near the intersection, he could see a policeman standing near the wrecked squad, guarding their supplies.
“You weren’t kidding when you said it was hurting.”
“Nope. It got hit on both sides. I was stuck in the cab.”
“You’re lucky you weren’t more seriously injured.”
“Yeah, I know,” Johnny snorted. “Everyone was lucky in this one.”
Roy parked near the old squad. The two men got out, explained to the officer who they were, and the three of them worked at getting the equipment moved over. When they were all set, Johnny and Roy returned to the station.
Johnny climbed out of the squad and headed for the locker room. Roy went into Captain Stanley’s office to update him on the younger paramedic.
First thing Johnny did was examine his stitches in the mirror. They weren’t very noticeable overall. But the tissue around them was swollen. The dark-haired man winced as he touched it with his fingers.
Oh well. . .guess it could be worse.
Next Gage opened his locker. He took off his bloodied shirt and tossed it inside. Some of the blood spots had soaked through to his t-shirt, so Johnny pulled that off over his head and tossed it inside the locker also. He glanced down at the bruise on his left side that was now darker.
Oh man, it’s gonna hurt if I have to wear a safety belt on this shift.
Johnny put on clean shirts and closed his locker. As pushed on the door to the apparatus bay and strolled across towards the dayroom.
Roy had finished updating Captain Stanley and had just entered the dayroom, when his partner came in.
“How’s the lip?” Roy asked.
Chet whistled. “Man, John, it’s really swollen! You sure you wanna work like that?”
“Yes, I’m sure. I’m fine,” Gage said as he filled a glass with water. He set it down on the table and pulled out a chair.
“You sure have been saying that a lot this shift,” the senior paramedic said, grinning.
“It’s just been one of those shifts, Roy. But the way I see it . . .I’ve had my share now. The rest of the time should be better. It sure can’t get much worse,” he snorted.
“It can now,” Marco commented. The others nodded in agreement.
“I just jinxed myself, didn’t I?”
Again, four heads nodded. The conversation was interrupted as the telephone rang. Roy was still on his feet, so he answered it. A smile spread across his face as he set the the receiver down and tapped his partner on the shoulder.
“It’s for you.”
Johnny’s face soured. “Melvin?”
“Oh man. I shouldn’t have been so nice,” Gage whined in a hushed tone. Once he picked up the receiver, he changed his voice to a friendly one.
“Hi! What’s up?
“Yeah, yeah. . .I’m fine.”
Johnny gave Roy a disgusted look when he heard him say the word ‘fine’ at the same time, mocking him.
“What? Uh. . .no. No, I don’t have any plans.
“Sure, I’d love to hear the rest of your story.
The dark-haired man cringed at his own words.
“Okay. . .okay. . .o”
Just then the tones sounded, sending the squad off on another call, this time to an unknown type rescue.
“I’ve gotta go, Mel!”
Gage hung up the receiver and followed Roy out the door.
“Turn left up here,” Johnny said, directing DeSoto to the call. “That should put us on the right street.”
Roy did as directed and the men could already see a teenage girl standing on the sidewalk flagging them down. As the squad pulled up to her, the girl was at the driver’s side door.
“Am I glad to see you guys!”
“What happened?” Roy asked as he got out of the vehicle. Johnny was already out and getting supplies out of the compartments.
“My brothers got in a fight! And Jim shot Mikey with a cross bow!”
At that news, the two men stepped up their pace and followed quickly behind the girl.
When they entered the house, the paramedics saw one boy about ten years old sitting on the floor and the other, who looked to be closer to fourteen, on the couch, an arrow through his lower left leg.
“Did you call the cops?” Johnny asked the sister.
“No, they’re my brothers. I can’t do that.”
“Sorry, but you’ve got no choice.” Gage set up the biophone while Roy began to get vitals and examine the injury. “Where are your parents?”
“Call them. We can’t help your brother without at least one of them giving us permission.”
The girl nodded, a frown on her face. She slowly walked to the phone and called her mom. She could hear Johnny requesting a police officer to the scene. This was not going to be good for her or her brothers, the sister surmised.
It hadn’t taken long for the police nor the mother to show up at the scene. And a short time later, the paramedics had the boy at Rampart. Johnny leaned on the wall near the base station as Roy came out of the treatment room. They had decided Gage should follow behind in the squad, despite what had happened earlier, just to prove to themselves things were indeed back to normal.
“Now, that’s what I call ‘not fine’,” Johnny said, motioning towards the treatment room. “That poor kid was really hurtin’.”
“Yeah, he sure was. I just hope the fighting ends there. No telling what kids like that can end up doing to each other. At least the parents are aware of the problem now.”
Gage stood up, hiding a grimace as his sore side made itself known again. “You ready to go?”
The two men walked down the corridor and out to the squad.
While they were enroute to the station, the paramedics were sent on a call with Engine 45. This time it was concerning a trapped woman.
“This is your lucky day, huh?” Roy teased when he heard Engine 45 involved in the call.
“Oh shut up,” Johnny shot back as he placed his helmet on his head.
Roy pulled onto the street and the two men could see a red brick ranch style house, a man in the front yard walking out towards the sidewalk.
“There it is, Roy,” Johnny said, pointing.
They got out of the squad as the man approached.
“What's the problem, sir?” Johnny asked.
“My wife. . .she's stuck in the tree house. She climbed up to get our four-year-old daughter down and now she's afraid to climb down herself. She won't talk to me or anything. I think she's having trouble breathing.”
“Does your wife have asthma or any other obvious conditions that might affect her breathing?” Roy asked.
“She’s probably hyperventilating if she's nervous,” Johnny commented. “We'll be able to tell when we see her. Where's your daughter?”
“Still up there, trying to calm down her mother.” The man shook his head. “Women, huh? They get in the darndest situations.”
Roy grinned. “In our business we see a lot of men in the strangest situations, too.”
Their equipment gathered, the three men started to the backyard. Sirens could be heard as the Engine 45 pulled up to a stop. Johnny glanced back to see the guys getting off the truck, then continued on following behind Roy.
I’ll volunteer to climb up. That’ll save me from listening to Melvin.
It took a lot of fast-talking, but Gage had convinced Roy to let him climb up to the woman in the tree. As DeSoto watched his partner climb, he had a growing feeling it had been the wrong decision.
The crew of 45 came up behind Roy.
“I can’t believe John went up the tree!” Melvin exclaimed. He tapped Roy on the shoulder. “You’d should keep a better eye on your partner!”
The blonde paramedic shot Meyers a glare.
“He wanted to go up there. He can do it. . .he’s fine.” Roy couldn’t believe that he’d used that word to describe his partner. Johnny was rubbing off on him. And the nagging doubt the younger man was fine tugged at Roy. As he looked up, he could see the woman easing herself out of the tree house at Johnny’s coaxing. Once he had her talked out on the ladder the woman looked down and went into hysterics.
Roy’s concern increased as he watched Johnny struggle as he tried to calm the woman down while placing a safety belt on her.
Johnny looked down and watched the belt hit the ground after the woman had knocked it away.
“Great,” he muttered. He waited for Roy to toss it back up to him. Once he had the equipment, he tried again.
“Ma’am, you’re gonna have to hold still so I can get this belt on you. Then you’ll be safely secured with a rope to get down.”
“I ca. . .ca. . . ca. . .n. . . . .n’t . . .”
“Just hold on. I’ve almost got it. You’ll be okay.”
“There, you’re all set. Let me tie you off and we’ll lower you down.”
Once she was set, the process of lowering the distraught woman began. In a last minute panic the scared woman swung out her right arm, her hand connecting with Johnny’s left temple. The paramedic was surprised at the power of the hit. He was momentarily stunned as the others continued to man the rope to lower the woman.
Once the mother was on the ground, Gage got the little girl onto the ladder. She assured him she could be brave and climb down just fine. When he offered her a piggyback ride anyway, the little girl went on to insist she could do it alone. Johnny let the child climb down.
No sense holding back a budding adventurer.
He was about to follow behind, when a bout of dizziness hit. Gage clung to the ladder while he waited for it to pass.
“You okay, Johnny?” Roy called out.
“Yeah. . .I’m. . .I’m . . .” I’m not gonna say it. “I’m okay!”
He started down again, relieved when he was standing on firm ground.
Roy continued to check out the woman’s health, while Melvin met Johnny at the bottom of the tree.
“You’ve got a red mark and small bump on your forehead . . .right here.” He started to point at the man’s left temple.
Gage knocked Meyer’s hand away. “I know. . .she popped me one up there.”
“You better get it checked out.”
“I will. They’ll look at it at Rampart.”
Johnny made a sour face again when he saw Melvin walk over to Roy and tell him something. The concerned look on his partner’s face said it all. Johnny gave in and headed over to get checked out on the scene, the voice of the captain from 45’s calling out, “Meyers! We’ve got another call!” in the distance.
“So, you’re all right then?” Roy asked as Johnny came out of Treatment Room Two. “Morton cleared you for duty again?”
“Yeah, I’m. . .” Gage stopped himself. “I’m good to go.”
“Why don’t you just give up and have Cap call a replacement?”
“Because, Roy, it’s not necessary. It’s not like I can’t do my job.”
“No, but all the odds seem to be stacked against you.”
“It has to get better. I’d like to blame Melvin for all this somehow. But I can’t this time,” Johnny frowned. “It’s just been a tough shift.”
“I don’t know if the guy is a blessing or a curse, Johnny. He means well. And he’s worried about you. But if he wasn’t on you so much, you wouldn’t have been so anxious to go up that tree.”
“Yeah.” Johnny shrugged. “Well, what are the odds we’ll be called out with Engine 45 again?”
The expression on Roy’s face spoke volumes.
“I just did it again, huh?”
Roy nodded and gave a weak smile. “That you did, Junior.”
It was evening, and the guys at Station 51 were just finishing dinner. It took Johnny a little longer than usual to eat because of his swollen lip. As Mike and Marco cleared the table and placed the dirty dishes in the sink, the tones sounded.
“Station 51, Engine 110, Engine 45, apartment house fire, 823 North Hill Street, eight two three North Hill Street, time out 18:46”
The smoke from the fire could be seen before the men arrived at the building. As they pulled up, Johnny and Roy took in the sight before them. A crowd of people who had been evacuated were across the street, and Engine 110 was already on the scene. Engine 45 arrived and pulled up behind the others.
Hank Stanley had a brief discussion with the other two captains, then called out the orders for his men.
“Marco, Chet! Help the crew from 110 with the east end of the building. Roy! You and John grab your equipment. There’s a man across the street who needs medical attention!”
The men immediately did as they were told. As the two paramedics arrived at the crowd, they were directed to a man who was having trouble breathing.
“How long has he been like this?” Roy asked.
No one knew exactly when it started. He had come out in that condition. After setting the man up on oxygen, Johnny contacted Rampart. He read off the vitals Roy had given him.
When the man showed improvement, Johnny stood up and looked at the burning building. Hank was waving him over. Gage glanced at Roy. The senior paramedic had everything under control.
“I’ll be right back, Roy.”
DeSoto nodded without looking up. “Okay.”
“What is it, Cap?” Johnny asked, as he trotted up to the man.
“I just found out there may still be a man in the apartment building. One of the tenants said there was a salesman going door-to-door around the time the place caught on fire. I need you to go with one of the firemen from 45’s to do a quick search. The victim should be on the west end of the building. Don’t even try the east end if you don’t see him. It’s too involved already.” He paused, looking at Gage’s lip. “You gonna be okay with a mask? Maybe I should get Roy.”
“I’ll be okay. Roy’s with our patient.”
“Okay, pal. You know the drill. . .quick in, quick out.”
Johnny nodded and headed over to the squad to get his equipment. He met up with Melvin Meyers at the west end of the building.
“Hey, far out, John! We’re a team!”
“Yeah. Cool.” The paramedic’s tone was much less enthusiastic, as an uneasy feeling came over him.
The two firemen had decided to stick relatively close together, each one taking a set of apartments on opposite sides of a hallway on the same floor. They wanted to cover as much ground as possible, in the most expedient way they could manage. As they verified each place was clear, the men would mark its main door with an X.
After not finding anyone on the first or second floors, Johnny and Melvin made their way up the stairs to next level. They continued searching in the same fashion as before – Johnny checking apartments on one side of the hallway, Melvin on the other. Gage had just placed a mark on one of the doors, when he thought he heard a sound from inside. He went back in. He intended to leave the door open wide, but it had a natural hang to it that caused the door to be partially closed. Johnny waved the problem off, and began to look around.
“Hello? Anybody in here?”
Johnny was just coming through the doorway between the bedroom and the livingroom after searching the apartment, when a sudden explosion on the east end of the building rocked the structure. Gage was thrown against the doorframe. It knocked his helmet off, his head striking the edge hard. The man fell to the floor, unconscious. The front door that had been partially open was now closed.
Melvin slammed against a livingroom wall in one of the apartments. Regaining his footing, he ran out into the hallway. There was no sign of Gage anywhere. He looked for the X’s on the doors across the hall to see where his companion left off with searching. Meyers quickly ran to the unmarked ones, shouting for Johnny as he moved along. When he didn’t get an answer, he assumed the paramedic had gotten out when the building exploded.
Maybe John found the victim and carried him out.
He decided that must be what happened. Meyers started down to meet up with Gage outside. But as the fireman reached the next floor down, he couldn’t leave. It didn’t feel right. He knew John would never have left him behind . . . not without letting him know what was up. The dark-haired man had to be somewhere inside. After all, Gage had even been honored as a hero in a bank robbery at one time, which told the fireman that John was at least as brave as . . .well. . .even though Melvin had promised himself no more idolizing cartoon heroes. . . John was as brave as Batman. Only problem was, John got hurt a lot more. Melvin went back up the third floor and began searching the apartments with unmarked doors more thoroughly.
The man who had remained in Roy’s care waved off a trip to Rampart since he felt better once he got some oxygen. When the MICU form was signed, Roy was available to help with the fire. He ran over to Hank Stanley when he heard and saw the explosion in the east end of the apartment building.
Captain Stanley was urgently trying to contact Johnny on the HT to let the paramedic know he had just received word there was no one left in the building after all and to get out immediately. The man they were searching for had been across the street all along. Getting no answer, his concern for the men inside grew. He turned to call Roy over, but the man was already at his side.
“Roy, you and Marco are gonna have to go in and look for Gage and Meyers. I can’t get an answer from John on the HT.”
Roy nodded and started to put on his mask.
“Oh, and there’s no victim,” Hank said, anger in his voice.
“He was off by himself smoking a cigarette.”
Roy was disgusted. “Figures.” The blonde paramedic quickly got his mask on and met Marco at the west end of the building.
Melvin was frustrated. He had looked everywhere he could think of and still no sign of Gage or the victim. The smoke was getting thicker and he knew another explosion could come at any time. But something told him not to give up. John and the other man had to be close by.
Johnny slowly came to. Unaware of where he was, he felt something on his face. Gage absently took off his mask and coughed from the offensive air he breathed in. He reached out for something to pull himself up. His hand met with the doorframe, and he slowly worked his way to a sitting position. Johnny leaned against the wooden surface and closed his eyes; he drifted away from consciousness.
Roy and Marco shouted for Johnny and Melvin, their voices muffled by the masks.
“If Meyers caused anything to happen to Johnny. . .” Roy trailed off.
Marco nodded his understanding.
They had seen all the marks on the doors. Their thoughts on finding any not marked took the men to the third floor. Roy spotted Melvin coming out of one of the apartments.
“I. . .I don’t know! I can’t find ‘im!”
“You lost my partner?”
“He has to be here somewhere. This is where we were when he disappeared. I’m rechecking all the apartments. I would’ve called for help, but John has the radio.”
Roy couldn’t believe it. Johnny had vanished and just like before, Melvin had been at the scene when it happened. The blonde paramedic knew one thing. If his partner didn’t turn up before twenty-four hours passed, Melvin would be staying at the DeSoto house under close guard until Johnny was found.
Another thought crossed the paramedic’s mind. If Johnny had the radio, maybe they could find him by the sound of someone trying to contact him. Roy pulled out his own HT and keyed the mic.
“Engine 51, HT 51.”
“Go ahead, HT 51.”
“Cap, Johnny has the other HT and Meyers says he's not sure where he is. I think if you try to contact Johnny, we might locate him through your voice.”
“10-4, HT 51. Let’s give it a shot.”
Roy turned to the other two men.
“Marco, why don’t you take one side of the hallway, while Melvin and I take the other. And remember, it’s just Johnny we need to find. The other supposed victim has been outside this whole time.”
Melvin was stunned. The whole search could have been avoided if the ‘missing’ man had just made someone aware he was already out sooner than he did.
The three men split up to look for Gage. Roy watched a moment as Melvin entered into one of the rooms. The senior paramedic thought about his joke to Johnny that if he disappeared with Melvin around, they’d know where to look. It didn’t seem so funny at the moment.
As Hank tried once again to rouse his lost paramedic on the HT, Melvin heard the faint sound of a voice when he opened one of the doors. As the sound grew louder, he hurried inside. There was Gage, unconscious and slumped in a doorway, his air mask hanging down to his side. Captain Stanley’s voice sounded over the speaker of the HT again as he tried to contact his paramedic.
Melvin hurried into the hallway and shouted to the others.
“I found him! I found John!”
Roy barely heard the fireman, but it was enough to tell him it was important. When he saw Melvin emerge with his partner in a fireman’s carry, he breathed a sigh of relief. The relief was short lived when he realized Johnny wasn’t wearing an air mask. How long had it been off?
Roy grabbed the equipment out of the squad, as Melvin laid Gage out on the ground. Marco set up the biophone, while DeSoto got oxygen on his still-unconscious partner.
“Is he gonna be okay?” Melvin asked as he squatted down beside Johnny.
“I hope so.”
Meyers wanted to stay and make sure his hapless friend was all right, but he was being called to another area of the fire by his captain. He looked at Roy as he got to his feet.
“I’ll check up on him later.”
Roy nodded. As the fireman walked away, he called out, “Melvin – thanks!”
Meyers grinned and trotted towards his crewmates.
Captain Stanley walked over near Roy. “That guy’s become quite a fireman, huh?”
“Sure has. I guess you just never know how much doing something different with his life might change a person. Kind of change him, anyway.”
“John doing okay?”
“He’s stable, Cap. But he’s still out. Do they have any idea what exactly caused the explosion yet?”
“Nah, not until a crew can go over the remains of the building when it’s cooled some. It came as a surprise, that’s for sure.”
Roy looked down at his partner. A surprise quite a few of us could’ve done without.
Before long, Johnny began to come around. As his awareness increased, he reached up to lift the oxygen mask off his face.
“Oh no you don’t,” Roy said, moving Gage’s hand away. “You need that on.”
“What happened?” Johnny’s voice was muffled and raspy.
“There was an explosion in the east end of the building.You and Melvin were inside when it happened.”
“Yeah. In fact he may have saved your life.”
Johnny gave Roy a surprised look. He quickly reached up and pulled off the oxygen mask.
Roy snatched the mask from Gage and placed it back over his nose and mouth.
“Yes, he did. He stayed inside to look for you and when we got to him, he was already rechecking the apartments on the third floor. He found you in one that had been marked as clear.”
Johnny gave Roy’s words some thought.
“Oh yeah. I could’ve sworn I heard something in the apartment after I checked it. Guess I must’ve let the door close by mistake.”
“Or the shaking of the building did it, when the explosion occurred.”
“How’s the victim we were searching for?” Johnny was still sounding raspy. “Did you guys find him?”
“There wasn’t one.” Roy could see the puzzlement in his partner’s eyes. “He was outside the whole time you guys were looking for him. I guess we can just be grateful he didn’t leave the scene. At least we eventually got word he wasn’t in there.”
Gage silently agreed. Better to have that outcome than a death in the fire. He lifted off the oxygen mask again.
“I think I’m gonna throw in the towel on this shift. I can’t take anymore of this. My head hurts, my throat burns, and I just feel like crap.”
DeSoto grinned. “I don’t think you’re gonna have much of a choice this time, anyway. You were unconscious for awhile and there’s a lump on your right temple where you hit it on something. That’s gonna get you at least an overnight stay at Rampart for observation. Not to mention the smoke inhalation. Now, how about you leave the mask on.”
This time Johnny placed the oxygen mask back in place on his own. He reflected on the day’s events as he was lifted into the ambulance.
Next time a shift starts out like this one, I’m gonna beg to be taken off duty before it gets any worse.
A few days later, an off-duty Melvin Meyers stopped by Station 51 to visit with Johnny and Roy. Most of Gage’s injuries from before were barely noticeable and the current shift had gone without incident for the paramedic.
“You know, Melvin, you’ve turned out to be a pretty good fire fighter,” John offered. “Maybe someday you can fill in for one of the guys on our shift.”
The fireman’s eyes widened. “Uh uh . . .no thank you.” He shook his head. “No offense, but I don’t think I should work with you any more than I have to. You’re accident prone!”
Johnny sat in stunned silence, while Roy tried to hide a grin.
Not noticing the reactions, Melvin continued.
“Well, I’d better be going. See you around. And I’ll tell you more of my stories when you feel up to having company, John.”
Gage nodded, still not sure what to say. He watched the retreating back of Meyers, as their visitor left the dayroom. He gave a bewildered look to Roy, who was smiling wide now. Johnny then returned his gaze to the doorway Melvin had just walked out of.
“Accident prone? I’m not accident prone,” The younger paramedic mumbled, his right hand splayed on his chest. “It was just one of those shifts. It’s not my fault a truck plowed into the squad in the middle of an intersection, or that a lady smacked me in a tree . . .or a building exploded . . .” Johnny pointed in the direction Melvin had exited. “I’m gonna prove to him I’m not accident prone. I don’t care how long it takes, Roy. Melvin is gonna know it was just_ that_ shift.”
DeSoto shook his head as Gage continued.
“I guess I’ll try talkin’ to the guy first, when he comes over to tell me more about what he’s done in the fire department. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always another way. . .and I’m sure I’ll figure out what it is.”
Roy rested his chin on his hands and sighed.
I knew it was asking too much for Melvin to be in our lives and not cause a problem, even if inadvertently.
Thanks for the beta read, Kenda!