In A Pinch


by Jill Hargan


Author's note: I have no Irish ancestry that I know of. My family roots come from the bigger island... England, Scotland and Wales. My husband's family tree sprouted in Ireland, though, so I hope that counts. :>

John Gage stared out the window of the squad and studied the mass of dark, threatening clouds that hung on the horizon. It had been raining heavily all day, and though it had stopped for a while, the streets were still wet and flooded in some areas. Because of that, they'd been kept busy most of the day with MVA related injuries. Thankfully, most of them had been minor, but they had added an annoyance factor to a day that, for Johnny, had already reached its limit by ten that morning.

As Roy pulled into traffic out of Rampart's parking lot, Johnny rubbed absently at his upper arm. It was sore and he was sure he was going to have several bruises there.

"Something wrong?" Roy asked, his eyes darting quickly between the road ahead and the passenger side of the squad. "You didn't hurt yourself at the accident, did you?"

"Noooo," he replied reluctantly and let his hand drop. He didn't really want to get into this with Roy. There was no way he was going to come off sounding anything but stupid.

"C'mon, tell me what's wrong," Roy persisted in that tone of voice only Roy could use and get away with.

Johnny made a sour face and rubbed his arm again. "It's nothing... it's just... it's..." He turned in his seat to face his partner. "Man, if Kelly pinches my arm one more time, I'm gonna..."

Squad 51 - man down at the Holiday Inn, Del Amo and Western. See the manager at the main banquet room. Time out - 16:39.

Johnny silently thanked the timing and picked up the mic to acknowledge the call. It wasn't like he couldn't handle Chet. His normal practical jokes and setups were something the paramedic had learned to live with. But on St. Patrick's Day, Kelly was nearly impossible.

Putting something in the toilets to make the water green was one thing. Johnny could even live with having everything they'd eaten today be some shade of green, though that color hadn't really gone well with tuna fish and most of the guys had suddenly lost their appetites at lunch. But, damn it, if that little Irishman pinched Johnny's arm one more time because he wasn't wearing green... The paramedic decided that after this run, he would devote quite a bit of time thinking up dire things to do to Chester B. Kelly.

"It up here... just after the light." Johnny pointed ahead of them to the large Holiday Inn sign.

Roy nodded, then turned the squad into the parking lot, pulling up to the curb in front of the lobby.

As they got out and pulled out their equipment, Johnny noticed several very happy people spilling out of the lobby, inebriated grins plastered on their faces, and green derby hats adorning their heads at precarious angles. He glanced up at the sign and saw the marquee proclaiming "Sons of Ireland - St. Patrick's Day Celebration." It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out where their man down would be.

As the automatic doors opened for them, they were immediately swallowed up in an even larger and drunker crowd than the few who'd wandered outside. All around them were happy, smiling faces, the smell of beer and the color green. From the clothes, to the hats, to the very walls, everything was green. As he and Roy made their way through the crowd to the open doors of the banquet room, their blue uniforms stood out in obvious contrast.

"Don't you think somebody oughta put a stop to some of this... OW!" He turned suddenly, trying to see who had pinched him. It was impossible to tell. He gave it up and turned back to his partner. "This is really gettin' outta hand, don't you... Ouch!" He whirled as he felt the pinch again. Once more, all he saw was the mass of party goers.

"Johnny, come on... what's wrong with you?" Roy called from several yards ahead."

The dark haired paramedic blew out an impatient breath and pushed his way through the crowd to catch up with his partner. He felt the pinch at least five more times before they got inside the larger room.

"Oh, firemen, over here," came a frazzled voice.

Johnny spied a man who could only be the hotel manager up near a buffet table. He was waving his arms to get their attention.

Roy plowed his way through the throng, and Johnny did his best to follow in his wake. The noise of the revelers mixed with canned Irish music made it almost impossible to hear anything, so Johnny was pretty sure his partner never heard his exclamation of pain and surprise when he was enthusiastically pinched again.

"Ahh! Ow, stop that." He whirled around, thought he saw a red headed beauty grinning at him, but he couldn't be sure. Not paying attention ahead, he nearly ran into Roy when his partner stopped suddenly. "Sorry," he apologized sheepishly. Now wasn't the time to try and explain.

Roy just gave him a look, then set the biophone and defibrillator down on a table. Johnny stepped up beside him with the oxygen and the drug box.,

A man sat on a straight backed chair, a towel held to his head, obviously bleeding.

"What happened?" Roy asked the distraught manager as he picked up the man's wrist and began taking his pulse. Johnny pulled out the BP cuff and began to wrap it around the man's arm.

"This crowd," the manager answered, still waving his arms. "It's way more people than we were expecting. They just got out of hand with all the singing and dancing, and..."

"What happened to this man?" Roy asked, his hand on the man's arm to try and help him get to the point.

"That's what I'm trying to tell you. They were having a drinking contest, and this man... this man was already drunk. Well, he got up on the table and tried to do a jig. That's when he fell off and hit his head. He said he wasn't hurt, but he was bleeding and I thought... well, that's when I called you."

While the man talked, Roy had gently lifted the towel to inspect the gash on the victim's forehead.

"It doesn't look too bad," the older paramedic informed Johnny. "But he could use some stitches."

Johnny nodded and picked up the biophone.

"Rampart, this is County 51, how do you read?"

"Go ahead 51," Brackett's filtered voice sounded muted in the noisy room.

"Rampart, we have a male, approximately 40. He's been drinking heavily and fell from a banquet table, striking his head. He's got a gash on his left temple. We've applied compresses and bleeding is... OW!"

Johnny jumped at the sudden pinch, knocking into the biophone with his knee, pulling the connection loose.

"What's that matter?" Roy asked, his eyes narrowed in concern.

"Nothin'. Nothin'," Johnny answered as he hastily reconnected to the hospital. "Uh, Rampart, this is 51, do you read?"

"We read, 51. Was there a problem at your end?"

"Uh... just some, uh, equipment trouble. It's, uh, fine now."

"10-4, 51. Transport your patient as soon as you have an ambulance."

"10-4, Rampart." He cut the transmission, knowing his face was probably beet red with embarrassment. Hopefully nobody at Rampart would ask any questions about what happened. He didn't think he'd be so lucky with Roy.

In a few moments, the ambulance attendants showed up with a gurney and they had the man ready to transport. As they made to follow the attendants, Johnny let his gaze take in the mass of partiers and hesitated. He didn't relish running the gauntlet again.

"What's wrong with you?" Roy asked, sounding impatient now. "You've been acting weird since we got here."

"Nothin', I told you," Johnny answered irritably, wondering why Roy didn't seem to be affected by the drunken pinchers. He picked up his share of the equipment. It was his turn to ride in with the patient anyway. Taking a deep breath, he started forward.

As they left the ER, Johnny's feet began to drag a bit. He wasn't looking forward to the ride home. He helped Roy stow the equipment, then shut the compartment doors, waiting until he heard Roy shut the driver's side door before he climbed slowly into the passenger side.

He stopped partway in when he saw a yellow blanket folded a couple of times and sitting on the seat. He glanced up at Roy and saw a sympathetic smile on his partner's face.

"I walked out behind you, remember? I kinda figured you'd need a cushion."

Johnny didn't know whether to thank Roy or be mad, but chose practicality instead. He settled his rear gently on the blanket and closed the door to the squad without saying a word. Fortunately, Roy was a good friend and a naturally kind person. He didn't say anything else about it either.

As they neared the station, Roy reached into his pocket and handed Johnny a piece of paper. When the younger paramedic opened it, he saw a large shamrock sticker.

"Where'd you get this?"

"Dixie had a few at her desk. Guess her nurses were wearing them on their uniforms."

Johnny snorted. "Kinda late for this, isn't it?"

Roy chuckled. "I dunno. You've still gotta face Chet... at least til we hit the sack."

Johnny rolled his eyes. "After what I've just gone through, Chet's gonna be a piece of cake." Nevertheless, he peeled the sticker off its back and slapped it on his pocket. It never hurt to be safe where the phantom was concerned.

The End


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Saint Patrick's Day Stories     Stories By Jill H.