By Audrey W.
Wondering what his partner John Gage was up to, paramedic Roy DeSoto wandered into the dayroom in search of the younger man. Sure enough, there he was, sitting at the table with the tip of his green pen resting against his head and his ‘little black book’ of girls he’d gone out with open in front of him. His brow was furrowed in deep thought.
“You look like your brain is about to short out.”
Johnny looked up at Roy. “What?”
“I was just tryin’ to remember who Karen is.”
“That’s just it, Roy. I don’t know.”
“You’ve got a girl’s name in there and you don’t know who she is?”
“Yeah. But if she’s in here I must’ve dated her. And it’s not like I’ve gone out with that many girls that I’d forget any.”
“Maybe she just wasn’t a fun date. Maybe she wasn’t all that memorable.”
Johnny’s eyes narrowed in thought. “Or. . .she was. So memorable, I figured I’d always remember her so I didn’t bother to make a point of it. But now I can’t remember her because I forgot to.”
Roy shook his head and walked out of the room.
Johnny went back to studying the name, but the klaxons went off, interrupting him.
“Squad 51, unknown type rescue, 2123 West Peach Street, two one two three West Peach Street, cross street Taylor Avenue. Time out 13:24.
The paramedic quickly stuck his pen in his shirt pocket, then picked up his book as he got up from his seat at the table. He shoved the book in a back pocket of his trousers as he trotted toward the apparatus bay.
The ‘unknown rescue’ turned out to be a teenaged boy who’d run into the back of a parked car while riding a bicycle. Aside from a skinned up right arm from when he dumped his bike onto the street, going down with it, his left shin had a deep cut just over an inch in length from where it had impacted against the vehicle.
“How come you didn’t see the car?” Johnny wondered. He was setting up the biophone to contact Rampart while Roy gently cleaned up the bleeding wound as much as he could.
“I did. . .well. . .sorta. I knew it was there. . .” He sucked in a breath and gritted his teeth as Roy sprayed antiseptic on the injuries. “I almost missed it. . . if my leg hadn’t hit the bumper,” he explained through clenched teeth. “Just that--”
“He had his head turned around. He was looking at me,” a teen girl interrupted with a proud grin.
Johnny and Roy looked up at the blonde. She was pretty with a trim figure. A type both could imagine as a cheerleader.
“What’re you talking about?”
“You. You were looking back at me and crashed.”
“No I wasn’t. I don’t even know who you are!”
The girl scanned the area, noting a few people who’d gathered nearby since the arrival of the paramedics. Her face flushed slightly in embarrassment. “You. . .you don’t?”
“No! I was looking at her. . .Marcia!” He’d pointed to a friend of hers a few feet away on the sidewalk.
“You don’t remember me from Algebra One and Language Arts class? Kimmy Bell?”
“No,” he repeated.
Kimmy turned to look at her friend, who was all smiles now. Her lower lip trembled and she ran off, sniveling. As she reached a yard across the street, she turned and yelled to Marcia, “Just for this you can’t borrow any more of my 45s ever again! And forget about my Tommy Roe album!”
Marcia’s smile faded. She was obviously torn on her decision, but priorities won out. Smoothing things out with Kimmy was important. “Sorry, Gary.” And she ran to catch up to the other calling out, “It’s not my fault! I don’t even like him!”
“Girls!” the boy exclaimed with a shake of his head.
“And they only get harder to figure out the older ya get,” Johnny commented.
Roy could’ve argued that point at the moment by bringing up the fact he was married to a wonderful lady he understood well. But why give the kid false hope? It seemed with the younger crowd, his partner could be right.
Gary’s parents showed up at the scene while Roy was securing a pressure bandage on his leg. Since it wasn’t a real serious injury, they’d decided to take him in for stitches themselves. His dad hoped for the teen’s undivided attention on the way to the doctor’s to emphasize the importance of watching where he was going while on wheels. He’d have his driver’s license soon, and running into the back of anything with a 4000 pound object going at any rate of speed would be much worse.
As Roy and Johnny headed back to the station, the senior paramedic asked, “So have you thought of who the mystery girl is yet?”
“No. . .no I haven’t. And thanks for bringing that up,” Gage said sarcastically. “I was hoping I’d forget I forgot and maybe I’d remember that way.”
They hadn’t been partners for very long, however it had been enough time for Roy to figure out Johnny could be quirky at times. What he’d deem a bit of a ‘nut’; though a friendly and harmless one.
The next two calls the paramedics were sent out on also involved girls of sorts. One was for a little seven-year-old who’d had a severe asthma attack. A child-sized dose of epinephrine brought it under control and she was taken to Rampart for further examination.
The other was a ninety-year-old lady who was knocked off her feet when a gallon-sized jug of milk came flying off the shelf of a refrigerated section in a grocery store. An employee replenishing the supply from the back had shoved the remaining jugs forward too hard, thus sending the one out into the unsuspecting shopper.
Her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who had taken her shopping, seemed more interested in Johnny than anything else, her longing gaze constantly on him.
Once Roy was on the way with the victim in the ambulance, Johnny headed for the squad to follow behind. As he reached for the door handle, the granddaughter came up alongside him.
“Shouldn’t you be on your way to Rampart?” he asked her.
“In a minute.” She handed him a small piece of paper. “Call me.” A wink and she was on her way to her car.
He glanced down at the information, then looked up to see her walking between other vehicles as she made her way across the lot. He shoved the paper in his shirt pocket and climbed into the squad. Johnny doubted he’d actually call her; after all, he obviously couldn’t keep track of the chicks he’d dated as it was. The last thing he needed was another one.
For now, anyway. . .
Several minutes after they’d returned to the station once the grandmother was in the capable hands of a doctor, Roy again found Johnny sitting at the table in the dayroom. His book of girls’ names and phone numbers was open in front of him.
Chet wandered into the room behind Roy and took in the sight while the latter questioned, “You still haven’t thought of who she is?”
“Who who is?”
“No one, Chet,” came a response, Gage’s attention never leaving his book.
“Well, apparently it’s someone or you wouldn’t be talking about her.”
“Johnny has a girl’s name in his little black book and he can’t recall exactly who she is.”
The younger paramedic’s gaze shot upward. “Roy!” he whined.
“Gage forgot a chick he went out with?”
After a moment of silence between the three, Johnny gave in with a frown.
“All right, if you must know, I did.”
“I already knew. Thanks to Roy here,” the fireman said with a pat on DeSoto’s back.
“What ever. Chet, don’t you have somewhere else you should be. . .like cleaning dust bunnies out from under the beds or somethin’?”
He pulled out a chair and sat. “No.”
“Oh. Well, I guess I do then.”
Johnny got to his feet, picked up his stuff, and headed out of the room.
“Hey, Gage, maybe a game of Twenty Questions would remind ya who she is.”
Once Johnny was gone, Chet looked at Roy.
“I give ‘um another hour before he starts to lose it. If he opens his locker, less than that.”
“Whata you mean?”
He got a wary look in response.
“What’s in Johnny’s locker?”
He shrugged. “Let’s just say the Phantom was getting bored.”
Roy turned and looked toward the doorway his partner had just left through. He hoped what ever it was wouldn’t be lasting, like the water bomb in Johnny’s locker three shifts earlier. Because the only thing worse than an obsessed Gage would be a grouchy wet obsessed one.
Johnny no sooner got to the other side of the apparatus bay when the klaxons again sounded. This time it was for a woman stuck. In the back of his mind, he half wished her name would be Karen.
Not that he’d wish anything bad on anyone. . .and certainly not Karen, who ever she was. But he figured it would sure be nice if it was a simple rescue, that it would turn out to be her.
A wave a guilt washed over him. He was going against his nature to even think such a thing. After briefly chastising himself, he climbed into the passenger side of the squad, his girl problem shoved aside.
It wasn’t hard to guess what had taken place. The back bumper of a car was visible from a gaping hole in a garage door.
A few neighbors stood watching, a couple of ladies present each holding a hand over their own open mouths as they shook their heads in disbelief and worry.
“Oh, please hurry!” cried out a girl in front of the house when she saw the men scramble from the vehicle. Roy guessed her to be about twenty-years-old. She jumped up and down, her large breasts bouncing underneath her tight fitting t-shirt. Her chin length brown pigtails done in doggy-ear style flopped up and down as well. “Hurry, hurry!”
With the squad compartment doors open, Johnny and Roy grabbed the biophone, trauma and drug boxes, and rushed toward the garage as the still excited young woman’s jumps continued.
Roy had a feeling he’d have to put his partner’s eyes back in his head by the end of the rescue if the girl kept it up.
A man peeked out from the hole that was once a white garage door.
“Hey! I don’t think she’s seriously hurt, but she’s very upset! I can’t get the girl to let go of the steering wheel.”
“All right,” Roy said with a nod, now just outside the door himself. “Was there anyone else in the car?”
The man looked at the buxom girl who had followed behind the two rescuers. “Her friend said no and I didn’t see anyone.”
“Her dad’s gonna kill ‘er!” the friend blurted out. “He’s gonna kill ‘er! Can’t you guys tell ‘um it wasn’t her fault?”
Johnny glanced over his left shoulder as he stepped through the opening after Roy. “I’m sorry, but that part’s outta our hands.”
He didn’t wait to see the pout on her face at the answer.
The man inside hadn’t been exaggerating. The nineteen-year-old driver was clutching the steering wheel like her life depended on it. He’d even had to lean in from the other side to put the car in ‘park’, then turn off the ignition for her. But even with that being done, her right foot was still on the brake.
Johnny eyed the mess inside the garage. The car had plowed into a large red tool box on wheels with the left front, which apparently propelled it into some wooden shelves off to the side. They and their contents. . .tools; cans of screws, bolts, washers and nails that had dumped out. . .were scattered on the floor along with debris from the door, a large piece of it resting on the hood of the car.
The girl just kept begging them to put her out of her misery, claiming she’d rather die than face her dad. Like with many kids, the mother wasn’t as feared when it came to discipline.
Johnny climbed in on the passenger side to help check her over while Roy leaned in from the other side. After getting her name, they worked together to get her hands free of the steering wheel, both men reassuring her everything would be okay.
“Just remember to let us do all the work,” Johnny reminded as he carefully moved her right foot off the brake pedal. He then gently examined her neck. “Do you have any soreness here, Jenny?”
“A little,” she sniffled.
“I’ll get the collar,” he told his partner.
As he got her vital signs, Roy reassured her that as a father himself, his daughter sharing her name even, he knew her dad would be relieved she wasn’t seriously hurt.
“But I’ll be grounded for life!” she cried.
“I wouldn’t worry. No one ever makes it past the first two weeks. By then the parents usually need a break.”
That made the girl smile some, though only for a few seconds.
While they worked on her, she explained how she’d gotten into the situation. She’d intended to stop in the driveway so she could get out of her car to open the garage door. But when she saw her friend running across the yard toward her, she’d gotten distracted and mashed down on the gas pedal instead of the brake. The rest was obvious.
Shortly after she finished her story, Jenny was on her way out on a backboard and stretcher, the ambulance attendants taking her through an entrance to the house from the garage and out the front door of the home. It was both easier and safer to get the stretcher out that way. Johnny and Roy followed right behind.
The police officer who’d arrived on the scene would question the driver at Rampart. He’d already gotten witness accounts.
As they neared the ambulance, Roy took one more look at the friend of the victim. She was standing in the middle of the yard, where she’d been when Johnny informed her where they were going.
“I wonder if Karen’s anything like that?”
Gage shook his head. “No. . . That I’d remember.”
He set the boxes in the rear of the ambulance and Roy climbed up inside, the victim already in place. Within a few minutes, both the squad and ambulance were on their way to Rampart.
Gage walked over to the base station where Dixie McCall was talking to someone on the telephone. When she was finished, she returned the receiver to its cradle and eyed the dark-haired paramedic.
“What’s wrong? You look a little preoccupied.”
“Oh I am. I’m very preoccupied, Dix.”
“Anything you want to talk about?”
“I don’t think so,” he said with the shake of his head.
“Okay, if you say so.”
She stepped over to the desk nearby and took a seat on the stool behind it. Johnny watched as the head nurse picked up a sheet of paper and pen. He could see it was the nurses’ schedule Dixie was responsible for every month.
“Hey, Dix. . .” he said as casual as possible.
“Uh huh. . .?” She kept busy with her work as she waited for him to continue.
“Is there a nurse named Karen here?”
Dixie looked up and noticed Roy had just joined them. She gave him a smile in greeting, then answered to Johnny, “No, there sure isn’t.”
“Has there ever been?”
“What’s this about?”
“He’s got the name written in his ‘little black book’ and has no idea who she is.”
Johnny’s lower jaw dropped. “Roy! I didn’t want that ta get out.”
“It’s okay, Johnny,” Dixie assured with a smile. “If I think of one, I’ll let you know.”
He gave Roy an irritated glance, then turned his attention back to the head nurse. “Thanks. At least somebody’s takin’ this as serious as I am.”
“I’m--” Roy stopped when Doctor Brackett joined them. Now wasn’t the time to blurt out more on the subject.
“Hi, Johnny. . .Roy.”
“Hey, Doc,” Gage responded as Roy gave a nod.
When no one else said anything more, Brackett shifted his gaze to Dixie. She made an ever so slight motion with her head toward Johnny. The doctor acknowledged with a wink.
“Well, I guess we’d better get back to the station,” the younger paramedic said. “And you’ll call me if you think of anything?”
Dixie again smiled and nodded. “I sure will.”
“Good deal. See ya Dix. . .Doc.”
Johnny stepped away and Roy tagged along after a “Well, see you later”, followed by an eye roll.
When the two were out of earshot, Doctor Brackett asked, “So what was that all about?”
“Promise you won’t say anything to them later?”
He nodded his head ‘yes’.
“Johnny has a girl’s name in his little black book and he can’t remember who she is.”
“Why doesn’t he just – never mind. A guy can’t call a lady he went out with and ask her which one she was.”
“He asked me if there was a nurse here at one time named Karen.”
“Hmmmm. . .” He gave it thought as he rubbed his chin. “Not that I can recall.”
She straightened the papers in front of her and set them aside. “Wanna get a cup of coffee?”
“Sure. While we have the chance.”
The two headed down the corridor for the doctors’ lounge.
Roy glanced at Johnny, who was watching out the open passenger window of the squad.
“This Karen situation is really getting to you.”
“It is,” he agreed, his gaze now on his partner. “It really is.”
“Why don’t you go back to your original plan? Stop thinking about her so much and maybe then you’ll recall who she is.”
Johnny shook his head. “Nah. . .I don’t think so.”
“Because I keep comin’ back to the fact that’s what made me forget in the first place.”
Roy opened his mouth to respond but quickly closed it, having decided to leave well enough alone.
“So you figure out who your mystery date was yet?” Chet asked once Roy had parked the squad in the apparatus bay at the station. The paramedics were still in the cab of the truck. Johnny rolled his window up in answer to the question.
“You’re gonna have to get out of the squad sooner or later,” Roy reminded him.
“Yeah, but this’ll give me peace for a few minutes.” He turned in his seat to face the older man. “Why’dya hafta tell Chet?”
“You know if you just give it a chance, maybe he’ll end up being a help.”
“I’d like to know the answer to that, too. How can I help?” Chet wondered. He’d been listening near Roy’s open window.
“Oh boy,” Johnny grumbled. He then looked sharply at the fireman. “Chet, don’tcha have something you should be doin’right now? Like. . .well. . .anything but standin’ there talkin’ ta us?”
He pretended to give it brief thought. “You really need to work on a different comeback line, John. But, no. Don’t you guys have something you could be doing besides sitting in the squad?”
“You’re right,” Johnny blurted out immediately. He opened his door and climbed out, then peeked back inside. “See ya later, Chet.” With that, he closed the door and walked away.
Roy stared at the empty seat beside him. He wondered how he ended up the one still in the squad when it was his partner who wanted to stay closed up in it to begin with.
Chet wondered what it was Gage was going to do next. But a gut feeling told him he shouldn’t pursue it. If he were to get Johnny more riled up now, Roy would likely want to wring his neck.
After getting a drink of milk in the dayroom, Roy wandered in front of the trucks as he made his way across the apparatus bay to the dorm room. He was in search of his partner, who apparently was still doing what ever it was he’d left the squad to do.
The senior paramedic figured he’d find a still dry Gage, as he hadn’t heard a yell from the locker room. If ‘The Phantom’ had really planted a water bomb of sorts in Johnny’s locker earlier, it more than likely was still waiting for him to stumble upon it.
Roy opened the door and peeked inside. He could see Johnny’s shoes still on his feet at the end of the bed beside his. He entered the room and let the door close freely behind him.
He proceeded to and beyond the chest-high brick divider between his and the newest captain’s bed, then stopped at the foot of his own. Gage was stretched out on the next bed over, his gaze locked on the ceiling directly above.
“It’s easier to sleep if your eyes are shut.”
“I’m not tryin’ ta sleep.”
“Counting tiles on the ceiling?”
Roy took a seat on his own bed and rested his forearms on his thighs, his hands hanging loose between his knees.
“I give up.”
“I’m meditating,” Johnny offered, his attention still focused above.
When he didn’t get an answer, Gage turned his head to look.
“I’m thinkin’ if I have total peace ‘a mind, who Karen is’ll just float back into my memory.”
“I guess maybe I don’t get what the big deal is,” Roy admitted. “If you can’t remember anything about her, she couldn’t’ve been that special.”
Johnny sat up and swung his legs over the side of his bed and leaned forward, his right elbow on his knee. “Roy, she made it into my book, didn’t she?”
His partner nodded.
“Well then, there ya have it. She’s gotta be a hot chick somehow.”
Roy once again found himself sitting alone when Johnny suddenly snapped his fingers and jumped to his feet. He took off at a trot toward the locker room.
Now why would he go in there? DeSoto wondered to himself. Then it clicked. He quickly got to his feet as well, calling out, “Hey, I wouldn’t--” But a yell from the other room silenced him.
Too late. . .
Suddenly the klaxons sounded and the station was sent out on a call, along with Engines 18 and 16. Roy wasn’t surprised to see his partner climb into the squad after setting a balled up towel on the seat between them, the front portion of his hair and shirt wet. The frown on his face said it all, but Roy figured he’d ask one nagging question.
“So did you get the answer you went looking for?”
“I wasn’t looking for one,” he deadpanned. “I just wanted the pack a’ gum I remembered I left in my jean pocket.” To a raised eyebrow he shrugged. “I guess the meditation worked for something.”
The senior paramedic forced back a smile as he took a small piece of paper with the call information on it from Captain Stanley through his window and handed it so his partially soggy partner.
Johnny hadn’t figured out who the Phantom was yet, a fact Chet should probably be glad of at the moment, Roy decided.
The station was dispatched out for a structure fire, which turned out to be a two-story house. Neither Engine 18 or 16 had arrived on scene yet when Station 51 got there.
A fairly large crowd of onlookers was gathered across the street from the place; a man and a lady holding a baby wrapped in a blanket in her arms were on the other side, just at the edge of the yard of the burning home. Both individuals came running when the firemen arrived.
The captain climbed down from the engine and directed his crew while the paramedics waited to see where he wanted them as they put their turnout coats and SCBA gear on.
“Marco, Chet, grab an inch and a half!”
The instructions were called out over the frantic cries of the woman.
“Please! Please, you’ve gotta help him!” Her cheeks were wet from tears.
Johnny and Roy listened as the captain tried to calm the lady down while he looked beyond her to the man who was with her.
“Her husband,” the man offered.
“Yes,” she cried.
“Where is he?” he asked as he scanned the area for any sign of a man in distress.
“He ran into the house!” the man explained. “I told him I’d just gotten off the phone with the fire department . . . as soon as I realized their house was on fire I called. But he wouldn’t wait.”
Again, the woman added, “We just got back from visiting my parents. He went in to get his mother’s cat! We’re taking care of her and Davey knows it’ll devastate his mom if Tinkerbell dies!” She broke into sobs and the man with her put an arm around her trembling shoulders.
The captain turned to his paramedics.
“John, Roy. . . make it a quick sweep through.”
Both nodded and took off at a fast trot, securing their air masks in place as they went.
Hank glanced at the burning home, smoke billowing out the open front door. “A cat could be anywhere.”
“Tinkerbell’s always upstairs.”
With that the captain called out, “Check the upstairs first!”
Just as Johnny and Roy reached the front door, Engine 18 arrived, 16 right behind. Two from the crew of 18’s were told to grab another inch and a half, and cover inside with Chet and Marco, while 16’s crew worked the fire from the outside through a kitchen window.
Captain Stanley sighed as he walked over to his engineer, Mike Stoker, who was monitoring the gauges for Chet and Marco’s line. It was always frustrating when a civilian went into a burning building to try to rescue a pet. If they only thought ahead to what the person or people they had outside waiting would feel like if they didn’t make it out. What would Davey’s wife and baby do if he perished in the blaze? The captain was certain the husband and father didn’t take them into consideration, except maybe once he was inside again and realized just how dangerous of a situation he was in.
Inside, the fire had spread from the kitchen to the livingroom, much of the furniture already in flames.
The paramedics headed upstairs, making their way through the dark smoky haze that filled the home. When they got to the top of the steps, they decided it would be better to split up, each taking a side of the hallway. With the flames below licking at the ceiling in places, it wouldn’t be long before walking on portions of the upper floor could become risky.
“I’ll check here,” Roy called out, his voice muffled by his air mask. He nodded his head toward one of the bedrooms on the right.
Johnny gave a quick signal with his left hand that he understood and went to the room across from it. A few quick moments later, both men came up empty handed and continued on. Johnny was about to look in the next room on his side when Roy called out from the other doorway, “I see him!”
Both rushed into the third bedroom and to the nearly unconscious man’s side.
“Don’t worry, we’re gonna get you out of here,” Roy assured the man, though he doubted he was fully aware of what was going on. With Johnny’s help, he got him on his shoulder in a fireman’s carry.
Johnny glanced around, wishing he could see better in the thick haze of smoke. “What about the cat?”
“We’ve gotta get out of here!”
“I’ll make it quick, you take him!”
There wasn’t time to argue. Davey desperately needed oxygen to flush the carbon monoxide from the smoke out of his bloodstream. Besides, if there was anything the older man had learned about his partner early on, it was that he didn’t give in easily. That was evident even while they were still brand new to their extended role in the fire department and Gage was at odds with Doctor Brackett over what they should and shouldn’t do.
Roy handed Gage the HT from a pocket in his turnout coat and took off while Johnny stuck the radio in his coat pocket as he made his way over to a bed. He shown his flashlight underneath and was disappointed when he didn’t see the cat. He then did a quick search through a closet, but didn’t find her there either.
Johnny kept low as he left the room and went for the next, which was a bathroom. But again, there was no sign of Tinkerbell. He was about to give up when he got a hunch. When he was a boy, his grandmother had had a cat that could open cupboard doors and often crawled in with the linens to sleep uninterrupted or when it was scared.
The paramedic looked at the cupboard under the sink.
I wonder. . .
He opened the door and was grateful to see his instincts had been right. But the cat wasn’t breathing. The cupboard had prevented her from being in the heaviest of the smoke, but her smaller lungs had taken in enough.
Johnny picked up Tinkerbell and held her close to his chest. He set down his flashlight and shoved his helmet off his head with his free hand. It hung from his neck by the strap. He then pulled off his air mask and held it over the cat’s face, watching a few moments as he hoped for a sign of life.
Nothin’. . .
It was time to go; he’d just have to keep the treatment up on the way out.
The dark-haired paramedic remained crouched as he made his way from the room and hurried down the hall, coughing. Though lighter, which was a sign the flames were being extinguished, the smoke was still burning his throat and stinging his eyes. He kept the mask on the cat as he did his best to make it down the steps without the use of the railing. The firemen from 18’s saw the paramedic when he was near the bottom and one immediately went to his aid. The other strengthened his grip on the hose and nozzle, determined to maintain control until his partner came back.
The fireman assisting Gage felt his charge stumble as he helped him out the front door. Johnny’s hold on Tinkerbell released as he hit the ground, his fall slowed by the fact he had someone easing him down. She lay beside him, still motionless.
Two captains were instantly there to help with Gage and the cat. Captain Stanley and the fireman grabbed the paramedic under the shoulders and by his feet and carried him to where Roy was still working on Davey. Once he was seated on a yellow safety blanket, still supported by them, the two removed Johnny's air tank and helmet, then carefully laid him on his back. 16’s captain took care of Tinkerbell, giving her CPR and oxygen once they were away from the still burning home.
Johnny coughed under the oxygen mask that was placed over his nose and mouth, and his head lulled to the side. He opened his still-stinging eyes to slits and grimaced as they watered.
“I admire your heroics, pal,” Hank commented. “But I think we’re going to have to get a few things straight on just how much we risk for a family pet.”
The words didn’t surprise Gage. He knew his superior wouldn’t be happy with him taking his mask off while still inside.
Captain Stanley helped Roy to get a set of vitals and relayed them to Rampart while the senior paramedic checked back on his other patient. Roy glanced at the cat a few feet away, still being worked on. What was it he had told Gage once? ‘Rule number one: Never get emotionally involved with the patient’. But fact was, just about every fire fighter did under certain circumstances. Even when it came to animals.
While Davey’s wife cried with joy that her husband was alive and would likely be fine after a stay in the hospital, Roy helped to lift him onto a stretcher. He then returned his attention to his partner to get him ready to transport as well.
“C. . .ca. . .t,” Johnny coughed out, having lifted the mask off his face.
Roy again looked to the animal, this time with a grin. She was lying on the ground, clearly weak and a long road ahead of her to recovery, but miraculously alive. The only thought that went through his mind as he took in these two latest victims to emerge from the house was that Gage could always find trouble when girls were involved. . . apparently even the four-legged kind.
Roy put the oxygen mask back in place, then patted him on the left shoulder. “Take it easy. She’s alive.” He noticed a brief smile of relief under the clear mask.
“It was good to see you again, too.”
There was no mistaking the hoarse voice of his partner from the other side of the door. One or more toxins in the smoke at the house fire the day before had left Gage with an irritated throat, and landed him in Rampart for breathing treatments and observation.
Roy opened the door to Johnny’s hospital room after hearing the tail end of the conversation; and obviously a reunion of sorts. He stepped aside as he entered, to let the pretty young nurse who was in the room exit. She gave him a quick smile and was gone after a sweet “Don’t forget to call me” to Johnny.
The blond paramedic watched the door close, then looked at his friend who was sitting up in bed, the head of it elevated and a pillow behind his head.
“Karen?” he asked, a finger pointed toward the door.
Johnny shook his head. “Nah.”
“You sound terrible. Maybe you oughtta quit flirting with the nurses and give yourself some rest.”
Johnny splayed a hand on his chest. “Me?” he croaked. “They’re the ones comin’ in. It’s not like I’m goin’ out an’ gettin’ ‘um.”
It was a good point. One Roy couldn’t argue. But since Gage had only been in the hospital less than twenty-four hours, he wondered just how many nurse visitors there were so far.
“Hey. . .I remembered who Karen is.”
The comment brought him out of his thoughts. “You did?”
Roy walked over to a chair that was a couple of feet away from the side of the bed. He pulled it back a little more and took a seat in it as Johnny began to explain.
“Ralph Miller’s. . . from 10.”
“One of the engine crew when I was there. . . He got hurt in a fire and I happened to be in the room visiting when a nurse he liked came in. . .He flirted, she gave ‘im her number. . .Only he had me write it in my book at the time so it wouldn’t get lost.”
“So you never went out with her?”
“Nope. Not once. Not one__ single__ time.”
“So all that obsessing over a girl’s name was for someone you didn’t even know?”
“Obsessing? I wasn’t obsessing. I was just curious.”
“Like when you were ‘curious’ about that Adam-12 episode we missed the ending to?”
Johnny just frowned. So what if he’d wanted Roy to call home to his wife, if he questioned the hospital staff and tried a few other means in an effort to get the conclusion to the show.
Roy noted the displeased look. Other than Johnny not appreciating the latest comment, he knew the younger man had to be relieved and very happy that he’d finally solved the Karen mystery.
He guessed now wasn’t the time to remind Gage there was still another little mystery to be solved. Johnny still didn’t know who the phantom at the station was. That was a subject best left alone until it had to surface. For Johnny and Chet’s sake. . .and certainly his own.
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