In the Span of a Few Days
(A missing scene to 'Inventions')
By Audrey W.
This takes up after Johnny is taken to Rampart General Hospital following his air regulator being broken and hand burned at a chemical fire.
Roy walked down the hallway to room 232. He opened the door and peeked inside. The senior paramedic opened the door the remainder of the way and stepped inside with a smile when he got a welcoming wave to come in.
John Gage was sitting in bed, the head of it up for him to lean back against. Although he wasn’t seriously injured at a chemical fire they’d been sent to, he was being kept overnight for observation since he had breathed in excessive fumes after the air regulator on his air mask broke in a fall. The worst he’d suffered was the loss of his voice for the time being and a right hand that was burned by steaming chemical vapor. His hand was wrapped in white cloth dressing due to that. He also had a nasal canula in place.
Roy hadn’t seen him since he’d first been brought in by ambulance and was in a treatment room in the ER. Now, three hours later, DeSoto had time to stop by after a rescue with his temporary partner to see how Johnny was doing.
“Well, you look a whole lot better than the stokes did,” Roy remarked as he moved a chair near the doorway closer to the bed.
Johnny rolled his eyes. Then with his favorite green pen in his left hand, he slowly and carefully printed something on a notepad he’d been given earlier. It was his only way of being able to communicate effectively. When he was done, he tore off the 6x9 inch paper and handed it to Roy.
Sorry about the stokes.
Roy looked up at him. “Hey, it’s okay. We could always use a new one anyway.” He then eyed the note again. “You could use some practice with the left handed writing though.” The letters looked more like something a first grader would manage to write.
Johnny wrote more on the next sheet of paper and handed it to Roy as well, after tearing it free.
Roy grinned. He then grew more serious as he asked “So how are you doing?”
Johnny shrugged. He once again printed some words on a paper. Soon Roy was reading them.
Shoulder kinda hurts from the fall. You know the rest.
Before Roy could say anything more, Johnny handed him another note.
“He’s in stable condition. Looks like he’s going to be okay for now. But long term, no one knows. Brackett says he could be prone to Cancer or some other issues later in life since he breathed in so much of the fumes.”
Johnny frowned. That wasn’t what he’d hoped to hear. He’d already worked through the self-imposed questions regarding his mishaps during the rescue:
Had his fall and struggle to get back on the pipes taken enough time to make a difference for the worse? After his regulator had broken and he waited below on another level while Roy tried to figure out how he was going to get the victim down, did he cause a further critical delay?
The dark-haired paramedic had come to the conclusion over and over that, no, none of it was enough to alter the outcome. Not with the amount of time the victim had been exposed even before they arrived on scene.
His hand injury didn’t even affect any part of the rescue. Johnny ignored his own pain and continued on. He really didn’t have a choice. Even when he’d needed to make his way across an extended line to safety, he used his hand as if it weren’t injured.
Johnny handed another brief note to Roy.
It was something he hadn’t been able to ask up until now.
“I’m fine. I came away from the whole thing unscathed. . .except for the damaged stokes, of course,” Roy added with a slight smile.
In a natural reaction, Gage mouthed ‘Good’, then scowled when no sound came out, a reminder he had no voice.
Johnny started to write again, but Roy put up a hand as he remarked, “Don’t worry about it.”
Just then the door opened and Roy’s temporary partner appeared.
“We’ve got a run. MVA.”
Roy was up out of the chair and on his way with a quick, “I’ll see you later” to Johnny.
Gage gave a semi-wave and watched as the two paramedics disappeared behind the closing door.
He leaned back against his pillow, his gaze on the tablet.
He was going to be without a voice for a couple of days. His right hand was going to be bandaged at least equally as long.
Well, I may as well get started. . .
One by one he wrote out the letters of the alphabet, each one in pairs as he practiced his left-handed printing. He wasn’t enjoying the process, but at least it might help keep his mind off what he was missing from what would have been the remainder of his shift alongside Roy.
After he was halfway through his self-imposed task, Johnny found himself straying as he sketched a picture of a canvas spanner sleeve. It was far from perfect since it was with his left hand as well. But he had to admit as he eyed what he’d drawn. ..
Not bad. Not bad at all.
Which brought on more pondering.
Man, we shoulda’ done it. We coulda’ entered the contest with *this*.
He continued to look at the drawing, wondering what if. . .could the $250 prize have been theirs. . .
Once he was back on duty a few days later, Johnny found out that he was right in his thoughts on the canvas spanner sleeve when another fire fighter won first place in the innovation contest with that very idea.
He found himself in an inward debate with himself over which was more frustrating – to be temporarily without full use of his voice and forced to be left-handed for a couple of days or to have his idea win, only for someone else.
The canvas spanner sleeve came in first place for a second time.
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