Good Gravy!

By The Twits



Chet slumped down on the couch, his face the perfect picture of dejection. Even Henry sidling up to him for a little attention didn’t raise the fireman’s spirits. In fact, he pushed the dog away with an irritated groan.

“Go on, Henry, leave me alone.”

“What happened, Chet, did you miss ‘Terror in the Library’ last night? Or maybe your sister finally fessed up and admitted that you were adopted,” Johnny snorted.

Aww, shut up, Gage.”

The answering chuckle did nothing to alleviate Chet’s sullen mood. In fact, Johnny’s amusement over his disposition only served to fuel Chet’s bad temper. Sinking farther into his seat, the moody Irishman was about to reply when Roy walked in, and the look on the paramedic’s face seemed a mirror image of Chet’s. Only Johnny seemed to be in a chipper mood this shift.

“Good morning, Roy. How are ya?”

“Fine, Johnny, I’m fine.”

A shadow seemed to fall over the younger paramedic as he studied his friend’s face.

“What d’ya mean, fine? You sound awful. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong. Everything’s fine.”

Roy reached for a cup and quickly poured it full of hot coffee. The morning commute had not been easy; the rain causing added stress to the already busy freeways. With less than a week until Thanksgiving, it seemed that half the people in the city were headed somewhere else. Whether it was people hurrying to the airport or train stations, driving out of the city to visit relatives, or simply rushing to the stores for the annual holiday groceries, the traffic was hectic at best.

The worst part was, his usual holiday spirit had faded after A-shift found out they’d be on duty this Thanksgiving. With young children at home, Roy hated working any holiday, but he knew he had to take his turn just like all the others. Pulling out a chair and settling down to read the newspaper, he idly noticed Chet’s glum expression. Wonder what’s bothering him. . .

Marco and Mike joined the group several minutes later, and the room took on a familiar tone of questions and answers as everyone caught up on each other’s latest news. Although everything seemed normal enough, there was an underlying tension that Johnny couldn’t quite put his finger on.

Of course Chet was in a mood, still sitting on the couch with a scowl that would frighten Henry, ‘if’ the dog were paying attention to him, which he wasn’t. And Roy was obviously in an irritable mood. Even though he had the paper spread out before him, Johnny knew his partner wasn’t really reading it. Actually, he wasn’t even looking at it anymore; he was just sort of gazing across the room.

“Good morning, men.”

“Morning, Cap.”

“Hi, Cap.”

Hank Stanley made his way to the coffee pot, his eyes taking in the group, and instantly recognizing several glum faces. With C-shift still out on a run, Cap knew they had a little time to spare this morning, and he decided it wouldn’t hurt to give his men a couple extra minutes before roll call. Leaning back against the counter, he didn’t waste any time getting to the point.

“So, what’s up?”


The faces of the five men in his charge stared up at him from their various corners of the room. He received responses from four of them.

"Nothin', Cap," replied Gage.

Marco shrugged, "Nothing really. The weather is a bit depressing."

Mike nodded, "That's about it, Cap."

Roy frowned, "Everything's fine."

A frown slowly appeared on Hank Stanley's lean face. That didn't work out the way I wanted it to, he mused. Something isn't right here.

"Chet?" he called out to the only one not to respond to him.

The irritated firefighter looked up and shrugged. "Nothin'." His curt reply spoiled the captain's good mood.

"Fine. Then I suggest you all line up so we can get started on the day's work. Might as well keep busy until C-shift returns to quarters." He turned and left the room.

"What's with him?"

"Dunno, Marco. He seemed in a good first," replied Stoker who looked at Kelly.

"Yeah, till Chet's mood rubbed off on him."

"Shut up, Gage!" Chet's mood was still evident.

Johnny was about to reply when the captain stuck his head through the door. "Coming? Or do I need to issue engraved invitations?"

The five men hurried out into the apparatus bay and lined up for roll call.




The rest of the morning went slowly, which worked out for the best, as C-shift had returned at 0830 and the trucks were in need of a clean up. Mike spent most of his time working on Big Red and the paramedics took their time cleaning up the squad. Once they finished, they planned a trip to Rampart to replenish supplies. The previous shift had resupplied but just enough to cover their basic needs, nothing extra.

Roy got the captain's okay for the ride to Rampart and was relieved to see that Hank Stanley seemed in a better mood. He, himself, felt a little better but he was still thinking about another holiday away from the kids.

The drive to Rampart was quiet. Gage wanted to quiz his partner on his mood but he didn't want to start an argument. When Roy wasn't in the mood to talk and he pushed it, well... there were usually hard feelings and he just wasn't up to dealing with that.




Dixie was sitting at the base station desk, working on a stack of charts, when the paramedics arrived.

"Looks like you've been busy this morning," Johnny noted with a shy smile.

"Yes. Yes we have. It's been unreal. You know the typical 'It's raining and everyone needs to be seen in the ER.' I'm beginning to hate rainy days."

Johnny was about to mention the way the rain had put half the station in a foul mood but thought better of it when he caught Roy's look. "We’re just here for some supplies. Might be a crazy day and we don't want to be caught short."

She smiled back at him and pointed in the general direction of the supplies. "You know what to do and what you need. I'll sign when you're through."

Roy went to the drug cabinet and obtained the controlled items they needed and Johnny packed a box with the rest of the supplies. Their lack of conversation was not lost on the head nurse.

"Anything wrong?" she asked hesitantly.

"No, why?" asked Roy in reply.

Johnny glanced up and then went back to filling in the requisition. The lack of comment on Gage's part clued her in that this time it was Roy who wasn't willing to talk about something. That could make for a long shift for all involved and also for a very cranky John Gage.

"So, you guys working on Thursday?" she asked.

"Yeah," replied the younger paramedic. It didn't seem to bother him. He wasn't big on holidays...except Christmas.

Roy's expression said it all. She knew he was less than happy about having to spend Thanksgiving away from his family. Now to get him to realize it could be so much worse.

"Johnny? Would you mind if I borrowed your partner for a few minutes?"

"Nope." He chuckled when he saw the look on his Roy's face.



Dixie herded Roy into one of the now empty treatment rooms. While she cleaned, he helped and waited for her to ask the inevitable question.

"'re working on Thanksgiving. Does that bother you, Roy?"

"No. It doesn't. It's okay."

"Roy DeSoto, don't give me that line of bull."

He stared at her in disbelief. She sounded almost angry. "I've worked more than my share of holidays and it's no big deal. I know you have kids and want to be with them. But there will be other holidays, other Thanksgivings. You should be glad you have a family to go home to. Some of your colleagues and friends don't. I know you're a little upset about having to miss this one, but you should count your blessings and carry on. . .that’s what the holiday’s all about, isn’t it?"

Roy thought about what she said. Dixie was right but it was his argument with Joanne that had really fouled his mood. She wanted him to swap shifts with someone and he had refused. When he explained that to Dixie, she seemed a bit embarrassed.

"Sorry, Roy. I should have known."

"Well, you weren't completely wrong. It bugged me too, but when she started insisting - that's when I got angry. I'm kind of glad I have to work now."

Dixie laughed. "I take it you haven't told your partner?"

"No, but only because the last time Jo and I argued, he tried to ‘help’ us fix the problem and made it worse."

"I see. Well, try not to be so grumpy, okay? It's going to make Johnny grumpy eventually and then we all suffer."

"Yes, ma'am. But Chet has the corner market on grumpy today. He came in in a foul mood and he's making everyone nuts, even Cap."

"Now that isn't good." The two shared a laugh and returned to the base station.




"Everything okay?" Johnny asked when he saw Roy and Dixie returning.

"Yep. Let's get back to the station before Chet has a chance to spoil Cap's better mood. I, for one, don't want to be walking on eggshells the rest of the shift."

"Yeah, maybe we can make some plans for Thursday. Ya know, since we all have to work - "

"It's okay, Johnny. We have to work. It's not a problem. I think it’ll be nice to spend the holiday with you and the guys."

Gage gave him a strange look, and Roy knew that he'd be grilled about why the change of heart later. They bid Dixie goodbye and left through the ER exit.




Johnny jumped out of the squad before Roy had even turned the engine off, rewarding him with a look of disbelief from his partner. The younger paramedic hurried around to the driver’s side and met up with Roy as he was climbing out.

“C’mon, you’ve gotta admit, it’s a good idea!”

DeSoto gave a skeptical glance in return. It wasn’t lost on Johnny.

Roy, it’ll be great!” He paused a moment before continuing. “Let’s just mention it to the other guys before you say ‘no’.” Another skeptical look and Johnny was at it again. “You said Dixie cheered ya up. . .which I still wanna know how, if you’ll ever tell me. But, I wanna make it a good holiday, too, Roy. So whataya say?”

Roy sighed. “Okay, but I can’t enjoy it too much, or Joanne’ll get upset with me.”

Gage clapped his hands together and grinned. “Great! This’ll be the best Thanksgiving ever. . .”

“Hey, don’t get carried away. I have a wife who won’t appreciate it if it goes too well.”

The dark-haired man was already on his way into the dayroom.


“What are you smiling about?” Chet asked, as Johnny walked into the room.

“Just the best idea I’ve had in a long time.”

“You’re transferring to another station.”

Gage scowled. “Very funny.” His face then brightened. “Roy and I were talkin’ on the way back from Rampart and we decided that since we have to pull duty on Thanksgiving, we should have a big dinner here. . .with all the fixins’.”

“And who’s gonna cook this big dinner?” Mike asked, afraid he might have been voted the ‘lucky’ one in his absence.

“All of us!” Johnny said, beaming.
Roy stood behind him, waiting to see what the response was going to be. “We each bring one thing. . .like a specialty. . .from home. And we just warm it up here and eat it.”

Hey, you know, that could be fun,” Marco said, leaning back in his chair. “Does it all have to be traditional food?”

“Well, it doesn’t have to be,” Gage explained. “But I think it’ll all go better in the stomach if it is. . .if you know what I mean. . .”

“Yeah, turkey dressing and enchiladas just won’t cut it,” Marco said, nodding.

“Okay, so we’re all for it?”

After getting unanimous replies for a go ahead, the men sat down to decide who would bring what. A surprised Hank walked in on his suddenly happy group, and was baffled at first as to what could have turned the moods around. When he found out, the captain was adding his name and the dish he would bring to the list.

Johnny looked around at his shiftmates and smiled. It was going to be a smoother shift and an even better holiday than he imagined. Now if he only knew what
Dixie had said to Roy to get him to lighten up. Maybe by the end of the week, one of them would fill him in.


The guys looked at the list of what everyone was going to contribute to the Thanksgiving meal. Cap was going to bring one each of pumpkin and apple pie; Mike listed carrots and green beans; Marco offered mashed potatoes, and a small container of sweet potatoes with marshmallows and sour cream. The second dish was in Johnny’s honor since he remembered the paramedic said they were his favorite. Unfortunately, the last time Marco had brought them in to the station, they had made Gage ill. . .he hoped this time would make up for that.


Roy volunteered to get the bread and drinks. He couldn’t ask Joanne to help him make anything since she wasn’t thrilled with him working that day. Johnny volunteered to do the turkey.

“You know, Gage, you have to cook the turkey,” Chet threw in.

“Kelly, I know you have to cook it. What do you take me for, an idiot?” Johnny splayed his hand across his chest.

“Well… if the shoe fits,” Chet managed to get out before he got a ‘Kelly’ from Captain Stanley.

“Are you going to stuff it too?” Marco asked “Don’t forget to take the bag with the neck, heart and stuff out of the inside of it.”

“There’s a bag in there?”

“Yeah, there is, Gage. Just not big enough for your head.”

Shut up, Kelly!” Gage said through his teeth. He then quickly challenged, “So you think I can’t make a turkey? Well, I’ll show you I can make a turkey and stuff it.”

“Speaking of stuffing it…”


 “Kelly, this is my last warning or latrine duty for a month,” Hank warned.

Geez, Cap, jus’ tryin’ to have a little fun,” Chet whined.

“Well, have it while making your…” he checked the list to see what Kelly was bringing, “Bean dip? Kelly, erase this and find something else to bring. You can’t bring bean dip.”

“But, Cap, everyone took everything else.”

“Well, how about bringing the gravy? Beats the heck out of bean dip, that’s for sure. Just thinking of that combination’ll make you sick.”

Chet reluctantly erased his bean dip and put down gravy. Johnny smirked from behind his cup of coffee.

“Gage, you want to join him in cleaning the latrine?”

“Uh, no, Cap.” Johnny finished his coffee, went over to the table and picked up the list to make sure everything was on there for their Thanksgiving feast.

Yup, this is gonna be a feast to remember. Gage grinned at his own cleverness.



Roy pushed his cart through the aisles of the grocery store, his mind focused on the earlier conversations at the station rather than the shopping he was supposed to be doing. He couldn’t help smiling at the memory of Chet’s proposed bean dip as a holiday favorite. Leave it to Kelly. But Roy had to admit; he was getting a little enthused about the Thanksgiving dinner his shiftmates were planning.

The fact that Joanne had calmed down by the time he’d finished his shift a few days ago had greatly improved his mood, and Roy wondered idly if a certain nurse at Rampart had anything to do with that. Either way, he was just relieved that his wife had accepted the situation, and was happily planning a holiday feast at her mother’s place. Roy smiled, again, at the providence that allowed him to miss that particular event.

It was with some surprise that Roy found himself staring at a display of baby food and he hurried on, intent on studying the list in his hand. Joanne had dozens of items to purchase, and Roy had offered to do the shopping since he had his own dinner contributions to buy. Once more fate had smiled on him with relatively easy items, and he almost whistled out loud at the sense of relief he felt. This really was going to be a good Thanksgiving. Even if he couldn’t spend the holiday with Joanne and the kids, they’d planned some special family time for the following day, and Roy was sure he could more than make up for his absence with some quality ‘fun’ time.

“Hey, Roy, look out, man! You almost hit me with your cart!”

DeSoto froze in surprise at the agitated voice.

“Sorry, Chet, I didn’t see you.”

“You can say that again. So, what’s up? Are you shopping for the big day? Don’t want to miss out on the bargains, huh?”

Grinning weakly, Roy glanced around the busy store.

“Yeah, looks like everyone had the same idea. What about you, Chet? Are you buying all the ingredients for that famous gravy recipe you came up with?”

Nahhh . . well, maybe. I can’t decide, Roy. I’ve been looking that recipe over, and I’m not sure if it’s the right one. You know, just between you and me, I never was much good at making gravy. I was thinking that maybe I should buy some, ready made.”

“You mean, like that mix they advertise?”

“Well, no . . I don’t know. I was thinking, maybe I could go to a restaurant and just buy their stuff ready made. Or, hey, Roy, listen to this. You remember the old lady that lives down the hall from me? Mrs. Graves? Well, I could ask her if she’d make me some when she fixes her dinner. I think she has family coming over, and she always makes extra. I bet she’d help me out. What d’ya think?”

Roy shook his head slightly as he considered Chet’s dilemma. He wasn’t surprised at the problem facing his co-worker; in fact, he was still in somewhat of a shock at the idea of Johnny cooking the turkey. Although he’d initially been skeptical of his partner’s hair-brained idea, it had grown on him, and now he was excited at the prospect of enjoying a special meal with his good friends. Yet, could they really pull this off? Each man was adept at handling a stationhouse meal, harboring a certain specialty dish that everyone appreciated. But this. . . this was a much larger undertaking. With a start, Roy realized that Chet was staring at him, expectantly. Throwing a reassuring grin at the man, Roy resumed his journey down the store aisle as he called back over his shoulder,“Hey, Chet, whatever you decide. Just make sure it tastes good!”


On Thanksgiving Day, the men arrived with their contributions for the dinner in hand. Each hurried into the kitchen area to put the food in its appropriate place, then on to the locker room to get ready for the 8:00 roll call.

Chet was the last to arrive at the station. He met into the others as he was headed towards the dayroom.

“How’d it go?” Roy asked, motioning towards the bowl in Chet’s hands.


Did Mrs. Graves make it for you?”

Johnny looked in surprise first at Roy, then at Kelly. “Chet, you cheated?”

“No, I didn’t cheat. Mrs. Graves was too busy getting her own stuff ready for today. But she gave me a recipe and I think it turned out good, if I do say so myself.”

Gage peered through the saran wrap pulled tightly over the top of the bowl. “You made it and it tastes good?”

“Well, I didn’t exactly taste it. But it smells great!”

“Well, go put it in the fridge,” Roy said. “Only nine minutes till roll call.”

“Right,” Chet replied, hurrying on.

Johnny snorted. “Some cook. What kind of cook doesn’t taste his own stuff?”

“Did you taste your turkey?”

“Now, that’s different and you know it,” Gage said, following behind his partner. “Totally different.”




After two rough calls in the morning, things seemed to be simmering down. The crew of 51’s A-shift worked together to get their meal warmed up and ready to eat in the early afternoon.

With the table set and various dishes placed about, they finally sat down to enjoy their efforts. Everything was very organized as each item was passed from one man to the next. Chet watched as his homemade gravy went around the group, Hank and Marco just putting it on their mashed potatoes and the others putting some on their turkey meat as well.

Conversation was light as the crew enjoyed no interruptions to the meal. Football was playing on the television set in the background. Once the meal was over with, clean up went as smoothly as preparation had. Marco, Mike and Captain Stanley cleared the table; Roy, Johnny and Chet took care of the dishes in the sink.

As the last dish was being washed, the klaxons went off, sending the station to a motor vehicle accident. Chet tossed the towel that was in his hands onto the counter and Johnny dropped the dish in his hands back into the sink full of soapy water. Roy quickly set a small stack of clean, dry plates in a cupboard, and hurried out behind the others.


It was a multi-car pile-up, with one car precariously balanced on the edge of a bridge. The paramedics got out of the squad and went to the compartments to grab equipment, while Hank Stanley began giving his engine crew directions.

As Johnny turned away from the squad, equipment in hand, he felt a twinge in his stomach. The paramedic looked around, and seeing that everyone else was still in motion and hadn’t noticed his pause, he continued over towards the wrecked vehicles with Roy.




"What've we got, Cap?" Roy asked when the paramedics stopped near the damaged car.

"According to witnesses, this driver seemed to be in a bit of a hurry and passed several cars. He cut off the driver of the black sedan and hit the guardrail with enough momentum to flip his car on end and it came down right there. The others involved have non-life threatening injuries. The police are waiting for Squad 36 to arrive and are already helping with some of the minor wounds."

Hank Stanley turned to watch Mike Stoker and Marco Lopez finish tying off the suspended car. They had tied several sturdy ropes to the vehicle and the other ends to Engine 51. It took a while longer to stabilize the car, despite it being tied off. They used all the cribbing on the engine and had to make do with other pieces of debris to fill out the rest. Chet Kelly was hosing the area around the vehicles involved to wash away any leaking fuel.

Not being fond of heights, DeSoto decided against looking over the edge of the bridge that the stuck vehicle rested on. He instead volunteered to check on the other victims while the other firemen finished shoring up the car. They did not want to let gravity continue to take it to its unintended destination.


Once Roy established that the remaining victims were in good hands, he returned to stand with the captain and Gage. Stoker turned and gave Hank a thumbs-up to indicate the car was finally secured.

Johnny shook his head and surveyed the damage to the older green vehicle. Being a two-door was going to make it a little more challenging to get to any victim in the rearseat. He hoped there wasn’t anyone back there.

"Alright, Gage, go on in. But be careful. It's tied off but I want you in and out as quickly as possible. Understood?" Stanley said firmly as he looked pointedly at his junior paramedic.

"Yes, Sir," Gage replied.

Roy set up the biophone and established contact with Rampart General while his partner put on his turnout coat and gloves. As a precaution, the captain insisted they fasten a line around Gage’s waist. Johnny thought it was a little much, but wisely kept his mouth shut.

Roy walked over to the car with Johnny, prepared to take down information and vitals to relay to the hospital. Johnny managed to get the driver's door open with some difficulty. The driver of the green two-door had sustained a head injury and multiple lacerations. He also had trauma to the chest, which was making it difficult for him to breathe.

The passenger appeared to have a head injury, lacerations and a possible broken arm or collarbone. Fortunately they had both been wearing their seatbelts which seemed to have prevented their injuries from being worse.

Squad 36 arrived at the scene and relieved the law enforcement officers of the other victims. Most of them would be released at the scene with the stipulation that they should see their family physician or go to the Emergency Room if they started feeling bad. Only the driver of the black sedan and the two trapped victims in the green car would need to be transported to the hospital via ambulance. 



Once the driver of the green vehicle was immobilized and removed from the car, Roy carried out the orders from Rampart. Paramedic Ryan Collins from 36’s rode in the ambulance to Rampart with both injured drivers. Roy remained at the scene to help Johnny with the passenger still stuck in the green car.

Gage was now inside the vehicle, moving as carefully as he could. The passenger was confused and alarmed, and lashed out at the dark-haired paramedic. The sudden movements on the far side of the car caused it to shift precariously on the edge of the bridge. Creaking and groaning could be heard as some of the makeshift cribbing collapsed under the strain.

The crew of Engine 51 all moved in the direction of the car, fearing that if it shifted too much it might plunge over the edge. A wave of dizziness washed over Johnny as the car lurched. He broke out in a sweat, swallowed hard, and hoped it was only the sudden movement causing him to feel strange.

"Gage! What's going on in there?" shouted a worried Hank Stanley.

"He's fighting me! It's the head injury. I need to get him out fast!" And me too, he thought.

All of A-shift pitched in to stabilize the car and get the passenger out. Captain Stanley was very relieved when Gage finally half crawled, half fell out of the car. The ropes were released and the car tumbled into the dry river basin below. At that very moment, he was glad his captain had insisted on the precautionary rope.

The victim was treated at the scene and readied for transport. Climbing in the back of the ambulance, Johnny felt another wave of dizziness, but it passed quickly. Roy didn’t notice anything unusual with his partner. He closed the doors, giving them two slaps. The senior paramedic them gathered the equipment still on the ground and took it to the squad.

Captain Stanley was directing the tow truck operators and talking the incident over with Vince. The officer had just arrived on the scene and was helping with the aftermath.


Lopez stopped his help with the clean up and sat on one of the engine's running boards.

"What's up, Marco?" Mike asked.

"I don’t know. It's weird, but all of a sudden I've got cramps."

"Maybe you ate too much earlier?"

Marco shrugged. "Maybe." He took a deep breath and got up to finish helping Chet with the reel line.


"Well, I feel fine,” Chet assured, having heard his crewmember’s complaint. “My stomach just flipped a little when that car almost took Gage with it, but that’s it."

Marco nodded and kept rolling the hose. Glancing over at the engine he saw Mike stop and briefly close his eyes. "You okay, Mike?"

"I feel a little off but I'm okay. Maybe it's all the adrenaline leaving."

Stanley walked over to his men. "Everything done?"

Almost, Cap," replied Chet.



Roy started the engine of the squad and headed for the hospital. He was anxious to meet up with his partner and get back to the station, as he was suddenly feeling very tired. Probably ate too much. Then his stomach gurgled at him and he felt the beginnings of a cramp. This isn't good, he thought.




The victim remained quiet on the way to Rampart General, and appeared to be drowsier by the minute. Johnny kept a steady stream of chatter to keep him from lapsing into unconsciousness. He was glad they didn't have to travel a real long distance.


By the time the ambulance pulled up at the hospital, Johnny was diaphoretic and his stomach was cramping badly. Dixie gave him a concerned look when she asked how the patient was doing.

"Fine, Dix. He's been fine.” He forced a lopsided grin. “Tried to go out on me but I talked him out--  Suddenly Gage stopped and bolted for the men's room, leaving a very confused and worried nurse behind.

"What's with, Johnny?" Brackett asked outside the treatment room.

"I don't know, Kel. He looked a little green."


The doctor glanced towards the men’s room before going into the treatment room with the patient. There wasn’t anything he could do for Gage at the moment. If he got a chance, he’d question him when the paramedic came out. Once inside the treatment room, the patient was transferred to the exam table and the doctor began his in depth assessment of the young man in front of him.




Several minutes later, Johnny exited the men’s room, his right hand pressed flat against his still-roiling stomach. He slowly made his way down the hall toward the Nurses’ Station, all the while hoping not to decorate the floor with an unwanted gift from his stomach. After what seemed like an eternity, Gage reached his destination. He tightly gripped the edges of the desk as a dizzy spell swept over him again. Dixie found him still hanging on for dear life five minutes later.

“Johnny, what’s wrong? You don’t look so good.”

Unable to coherently answer, the paramedic groaned as the edges of his vision grayed slightly.

“Whoa, Johnny. C’mon, let’s get you into a treatment room.”

The head nurse took his arm and began to guide him across the hall. Before they made it halfway, they were nearly run over by Johnny’s partner as he sprinted for the men’s room.

Briefly taking note of this development, Dixie managed to get Johnny into Treatment Room Two and settled onto an exam table. She watched as he immediately curled into a ball of misery, arms wrapped around his middle. Moving to the phone, Dixie paged Dr. Early to the room. The sound of retching pulled her gaze back to the dark-haired young man who was now leaning over the side of the table. Returning to the paramedic’s side, she began to assess his vitals.



Joe Early entered the room moments later and was surprised to see who was lying on the exam table.

“What have we got, Dix?”

“I found him at the Nurses’ Station barely holding himself up. He’s vomited once here, but I suspect he threw up in the men’s room a few minutes ago. Kel and I saw him make a run for it, and he was definitely a little green. Here are his vitals.”

As she finished speaking, Mike Morton entered the room.

“You need any help in here?”

Dixie shook her head. “Not yet, Mike. But, I saw Roy running for the restroom, and he had the same green tinge as his partner here. It might be wise to find him and bring him in here. A gurney might be a good idea.”

“Okay, Dix. I’ll be back.”

Dr. Early began his assessment of the patient.

“Johnny, can you tell me where it hurts?”

A low moan was his only answer.


B-bad cramps.” Gage gasped and began to swallow rapidly.

Recognizing the signs, Dixie quickly positioned a basin under his chin. When he finished, she wet a cloth and wiped his sweaty face.

The treatment room door opened a second time admitting a returning Mike Morton with the other sick paramedic in tow. Roy, too, had his arms wrapped around his middle, quite obviously in acute discomfort.

While Dr. Morton and Dixie began their examination of Roy, Early once again tried to question Gage.

“Johnny, can you tell me how long you’ve been feeling sick?”

C-c-cramps, dizziness—a couple of h-h-ours ago. Throwing up s-s-started right after I brought in the MVA.” The string of words exhausted him, and he wearily closed his eyes with another groan.

“Mike?” Joe glanced over toward where Roy lay on the gurney.

“Same symptoms over here, Joe. Though they started a little later than Gage’s. And they seem slightly less severe.”

Just then, a young nurse poked her head in the door.

“Miss McCall? We need you out here. It’s important.”

Dixie quickly left the room.

“Yes, Kristina? What is it?”

“Well, you see, I-I was coming back from a break and a – a – fire truck just pulled up to the Emergency entrance, and the firemen on board look like they’re really sick.”

Dixie frowned in concern.

“All right, Kristina. Let’s grab a couple of orderlies and go help them inside. Only a single treatment room is currently open, so we’ll have to triple up. One of them can go in Treatment Two with the Johnny and Roy. The other three can go into Treatment Room One.”

The head nurse quickly recruited two orderlies and the four headed out to the parking lot. As Kristina had said, all four remaining firemen from Station 51 were sick. Dixie found them doubled over and leaning against the bright red engine for support.

“All right, gentlemen, let’s get you all inside.”

Soon the two adjacent treatment rooms were filled with six very miserable firemen.




Chet sat miserably in a wheelchair in the room with Johnny and Roy. Holding an emesis basin under his chin, the curly haired firemen waited as another bout of nausea hit.  Captain Stanley, Mike and Marco were faring no better in the other room.

Doctor Brackett came into Treatment Room Two to check on the paramedics and Chet, obviously very concerned and very confused.

"OK, gentlemen, we need to figure out what could have caused this. What did you have to eat today?" the doctor questioned as he glanced from one man to another.

Roy answered, "Just a Thanksgiving feast, Doc. The usual. Turkey, potatoes, other vegetables, gravy and dessert."

I'm assuming the turkey was properly cooked and the gravy was refrigerated until you needed to heat it?” he pressed on for the cause of their discomfort.

"Yeah, Doc, everything was prepared right. Made the gravy myself, although I didn't taste it before I brought it to the station," Chet chimed in.

Johnny threw him a murderous glare in between throwing up.

"That’s right. You didn’t taste it before hand,” Gage said, his right arm across his cramping abdomen. “For all we know, you could have poisoned us with it."

"Don't get your panties in a wad Gage. There was nothing in there. . . that could have made us sick. Remember, I got the recipe from my neighbor and she's made it a hundred times.” He paused as he took a few deep breaths, praying he wouldn’t get sick again. “She gave me. . .  a few of the ingredients I needed. All I had to get were the mushrooms," Chet managed to get out before he began to feel like he was going to lose the battle with his stomach. He looked at the mess already in his emesis basin. If this keeps up, I’m gonna need another bowl.

Doctor Brackett turned his attention to Chet. "What kind of mushrooms did you get,?" He winced as he heard Roy heaving again.

"I. . .I didn't. . .” The fireman swallowed rapidly a few times, trying to keep his stomach intact. He could feel the queasiness become more intense as his stomach cramped. “. . . have time. . . to go the store. My neighbor. . . had these really nice looking mushrooms. . . growing in her yard by the garden. Ooooh. . .” Chet lost his battle with the nausea, although not much was left to come up. Wiping at his mouth, he continued. “I grabbed. . .grabbed some of them. Washed them off and added them to the gravy."

"OK, let me check this and see if that's what caused you all to get sick. Did you have any gravy left over?" Brackett asked.

"Yeah, there was some left and. . .and I. . . I put it in the fridge," Chet offered, clutching at his still achy belly.

"I'll have someone go over there and bring it here. We'll test it and see what kind of mushrooms you used," Doctor Brackett said.

On his way out of the treatment room, he saw Officer Vince Howard.

"Hey, Vince, you got a minute?"

"Sure, Doc. Just on my way out. What do you need?" the policeman questioned.

"I need someone to run over to 51's and get the rest of some gravy they ate. Seems Chet Kelly used some kind of mushrooms that were growing in his neighbor’s yard. And if my hunch is correct, made the guys sick," Brackett surmised. “Can you do it?”

"Sure, Doc, no problem. I'll be back as soon as I can," Vince stated.

"Kel?" Dixie asked as she headed out of the Treatment Room One. “Can I assume you figured it out?”


"I think Chet might have used a garden variety of mushroom for his gravy. It's a poisonous one that can cause a person to get violently ill, but that should be it for symptoms.” He grinned despite the seriousness of the situation. “The good news is, it doesn’t appear to be life threatening. You know, only 51 could have something like this happen. Or should I say, only Chet!" Brackett picked up the receiver of the phone at the base station and called down to the lab, filling them in on what would soon be coming their way.


The mushroom gravy was brought back to the hospital by Vince and tested. Brackett's hunch was right. It was a poisonous mushroom called Karbolni Kukmak that Chet used. Going by the description, he was surprised Chet didn't smell the carbolic acid that would have developed when he was cooking them.



Kel Brackett stepped into a room where the ill men from Station 51 had been taken. He managed to get a large enough room that would hold all six beds. "OK, guys, you're all going to live. The lab confirmed the mushrooms Chet used were poisonous but not deadly. You should be OK in a day or two." Brackett looked from one to the other as they lay in bed. By the expressions on their faces, he wasn’t sure having them all in the same room was a wise idea.

"Kelly, you Twit,” Hank said, hoping he’d get the words out before getting sick at his stomach again. “Do you realize you managed to take down a whole station with some mushrooms?" Captain Stanley fumed at him as he once again lost the battle with his stomach and threw up. He could just about guarantee that McConnikee would get wind of this.  He looked at Doctor Brackett and the others. "I should’ve let him bring his bean dip. It woulda been safer."  The whole station, he thought miserably. Why me? Why does this always happen to me?

"Sorry, Cap", Kelly managed to get out before he heaved into a new emesis basin.




The six firemen were glad to see nightfall come. They all hoped that by the time morning arrived the worst of their symptoms would be overwith.


Johnny lay in his bed, staring at the ceiling. With not much to think about, he remembered Roy hadn’t yet told him how Dixie talked him into going along with the now infamous dinner.


“Hey, Roy?”  came his weak voice.




What’d. . .what’d Dix say to you. . .the other day?”


Whata you mean?”


“You know. . .you had a change of heart on the dinner idea. How come?”


Roy sighed. He gave his answer thought. Would it make Johnny feel worse if he brought up the family issue and how Dixie had reminded him not everyone had family on holidays? After all, she was mostly referring to Johnny in this case. Or would the younger man feel bad to know they discussed how Roy being unhappy would make him unhappy and neither wanted to deal with the result of that. Some people would  be put off by a remark like that. But this was Johnny. . .Roy made up his mind.


“Dix reminded me that if I kept sulking, you would get cranky and then. . .well. . .you know. . .”




DeSoto waited for a rant, or anything, to give him an idea how his partner took what he said. Both paramedics ignored the snort that came from Chet’s bed.


Dixie’s a smart woman.”


“Yes, she is,” Roy agreed.




“Night.” The senior paramedic waited for another response. When none came, he chalked a lot of it up to how sick his partner was feeling. But also that Johnny probably knew enough about himself to agree with the head nurse.




The following morning, Doctor Brackett stopped in to check on the men from A-shift. When he opened the door he saw five men sitting propped up in bed, disinterestedly watching the morning news on the television that was mounted up on the wall. Chet still was lying under the covers in his bed.

“Well, I see you all made it through the night,” he said, grinning. He stepped over to the foot of Roy’s bed, which was closest to the door, and flipped open the chart. “How does everyone feel?”

Doc, I’d feel a lot better if I was home in my own bed,” Johnny moaned, his voice indicating he still was weak. “Any chance we’ll get out of here soon?”

Kel Brackett took in the pale appearance of the ill men. “Not until we’re sure you can keep anything down, Johnny. Maybe later in the day, but right now, you all still need those IV’s to keep yourselves hydrated.”

“I can hold down fluid, see?” Gage said as he took a swig of water. When nothing happened afterwards, the paramedic felt relieved that it had stayed down.

The doctor was on his third chart when he looked over at the still unmoving Chet. “Don’t tell me you guys really killed him?” he teased.

The crewmen glanced over at their unusually quiet co-worker.

“Not yet,” Hank replied. He was still feeling pretty weak, himself, and had to admit he didn’t have the energy to do much of anything. “Not that it hasn’t. . . been tempting,” he added with sarcasm in his voice.

Roy smiled. “Chet’s got latrine duty till someone makes a bigger mistake than he did.”

Kel laughed lightly. “I’d say you guys don’t need to worry about cleaning bathrooms for a long time to come.”

Everyone’s attention drew to Johnny as he started to turn greenish and leaned over on his bed, lifting an emesis basin from a chair to his lap. He emptied what little contents was in his stomach, which was just the water.

“So much for holding anything down,” Mike commented, frowning.

The sound of the paramedic getting sick got to Chet and the fireman was soon hanging his head over a basin, also heaving. Like with Johnny, there wasn’t anything left to come up.

“On second thought,” Brackett commented, “I’d say plan on tomorrow sometime for going home.”

The men all leaned back into their pillows disappointed.


Later in the day Chet, Marco and Johnny flipped through magazines while the others watched a game show on TV. No one had gotten sick since the visit with Brackett, but no one felt brave enough to try any food or drink just yet. Their stomachs were queasy at the thought.

Chet suddenly sat up straight, the first hint of excitement in his voice since the holiday dinner. “Guys, I don’t believe this!”

“What is it?” Captain Stanley asked.

Johnny nodded. “Yeah, if you’re gonna bring it up, say more than that.”

They all waited for Chet to explain what he was talking about. The stocky fireman folded back the magazine so that the page he was on was exposed. He held it up and pointed at the picture that was background to some words in a column format.

“It’s a recipe for Mushroom Bisque. You guys want to do a dinner for Christmas?”

Suddenly Chet found himself with five pillows flying at him, full speed. As they landed on his bed, bumping against one another, he looked over at his roommates.

“I take that as a no?”


"Yes!" came five firm responses at once.



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