The Letter Home 


 By Peggy J. Bedingfield



Dear Aunt Rose,

      Well, here it is again, another Christmas. I’m truly sorry I can’t be there with you this year. I know you look forward to my visit, but we both knew when I joined the fire department I would have to work holidays sometimes.


      Even so, I have quite a bit of news to tell you! The last week has been interesting. You see, I managed to talk my best friend, and partner, Roy DeSoto (you remember him?) into going to a Renaissance Festival with me. It isn’t a normal festival. This is strictly for Christmas.


      Where are his wife and kids? Well, since we have to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, she took them to see their grandmother (Joanne’s mom). So that left Roy by himself in an empty house, and well, I just couldn’t let that happen …




      Johnny Gage strolled into the station house whistling one of the Christmas songs he had heard on the radio on his way in to work. He entered the locker room and grinned at the two men sitting on the bench in front of their lockers.


      “Morning!” he greeted them.


      “Morning, Gage! Why are you so cheerful?” asked Marco Lopez.


      “I found the most fascinating festival to attend Saturday. I’m going to ask Roy if he wants to go with me since Joanne and the kids aren’t home.”


      “What kind of festival is it?” asked Chet Kelley, also known to the men of Station 51 as the Phantom.


      “It’s a Christmas Renaissance Festival. They’re holding it at the fair grounds. It looks like it would be a lot of fun!” Johnny said as he swung his locker open and grabbed a shirt.


      “What’s a Renaissance Festival?” Chet asked, intrigued in spite of himself.


      “Yeah, I’ve heard of those,” Marco said.


      “It’s where a group of people get together and dress and act like the people of the renaissance,” Johnny explained.


      “Well, that’s real clear,” Chet said sarcastically. He rolled his eyes at Marco. “Do you know what he’s talking about?”


      “Yes, I do, as a matter of fact. My sister is a member of the SCA. She was talking about something like that just last month.” Marco grinned at Chet’s expression.




      Johnny grinned, “The Society for Creative Anachronism.”


      Roy walked in and heard the last part of the conversation. “What are you talking about now? Why does Chet look so confused?” he asked.


      “Chet stays confused, partner!” Johnny said laughing. “Marco and I was explaining about the Renaissance time period.”


      “Oh. Of course,” Roy said and smiled. “I take it you heard about the Renaissance Faire taking place at the fair grounds?”


      “Yeah! I think we should go!” Johnny enthused to his partner.


      “Wait a minute, now!” Chet exclaimed. “You haven’t explained what that Society for Creative what’s- it’s- called, is.”


      “Come on, Chet, I’ll explain it to you,” Marco said, grabbing his partner by the arm and pulling him from the room.


      Johnny and Roy laughed as the two left the locker room. They could hear Chet’s whine from the truck bay.


      “What do ya think, Roy? Let’s go Saturday” Johnny said, excitement ringing in his voice.


      “I can’t, Johnny. I have a list of things to do before Joanne and the kids come home next week.”


      “Awe, come on! One day? Look, I’ll come over tomorrow after we get off and help out with your ‘list’. Then Saturday we can go. Deal?”


      Roy looked at his partner’s excited face and sighed. He knew he would regret it, but he could not say ‘no’ to the eager look on his friend’s face. “Okay, tomorrow we do the list and Saturday we can go to the festival.”


      “Great!” Johnny said and fairly skipped from the locker room, leaving his partner to change in peace.



      “Hey, Johnny, you and Roy gonna go?” Chet called from the day room.


      “Yeah, we’re going Saturday,” Johnny told him.


      Marco’s eyes twinkled. He grinned at Chet’s excited features then winked at Johnny. “He wants to go so he can see some damsels and maidens!”


      “Marco and I are gonna go!” Chet said.


      “The only place I want to see any of you go is to roll call!” Captain Stanley said as he poked his head into the day room.


      The men lined up next to the squad and listened as their Captain made the daily chore assignments and announcements.


      “Chet and Marco, you get hose duty today. Mike, you have the dorms. Johnny, you have the day room and truck bay. Roy, pal, you have latrine duty. Marco’s cooking today. Any questions? Okay, let’s get to work.” Captain Stanley dismissed the men and went to his office.


      The morning proved to be uneventful. All the chores were completed and lunch was cooking when Johnny remembered the brochure he had in his locker.


      “Be right back!” he told Roy, who looked up from the paper he was reading. Johnny rushed back into the room flapping a folded piece of brightly colored paper in his hand. “Look, this has all the information about the faire!” He gave Roy the paper.


      “Let me see!” Chet said, crowding in next to the paramedic.


      Roy unfolded the brochure and flipped to the middle of the pamphlet. “It says it costs fifteen dollars to get in?”


      “Wow! I hope it’s worth it!” Chet said, glancing up at the dark haired paramedic. “Man, that’s an expensive day!”


      “It opens at nine in the morning and closes at seven at night. There’s all sorts of things to do and food to taste!” Johnny enthused. “Look, there’s jousting and some sort of games you can watch. And look at the gals in those dresses!” He pointed at one of the pictures on the glossy page.


      “WOW!” Chet said.


      Marco watched, and grinned at the two men’s reactions. He had been to a Renaissance Festival before and knew what to expect. Some of the costumes were outrageous, while others were very mundane. He could not wait to see Chet’s reaction to the men in tights!


      Johnny and Chet continued to drool over the brochure and comment on the pictures of the women. Suddenly the klaxons sounded. Johnny slapped the colorful pamphlet on the table and charged for the squad.


**Station 51, Car over Bridge Railing…Corner of Highland and Tarrance...Time out 13:34**

      “KMG 365,” Captain Stanley acknowledged.



      Once at the scene the men jumped from the vehicles and surveyed the area. A blue sedan was hanging by the back axle from the bridge. Inside the car was a man and woman. The woman was slumped over the wheel of the car. The man was trying, unsuccessfully, to rouse his companion.


      “Sir!” Captain Stanley called. “Sir, can you hear me?”


      The man turned and saw the firemen standing beside the car. He slowly rolled the window down and carefully leaned out to see the men more clearly.


      “My wife!” he gasped, “My wife! I think she had a heart attack! She was fine one minute then just passed out!”


      “Okay, sir. We’ll have you and your wife out in just a minute. Please, just remain still. If you move around too much the car may pull loose and slide farther down the hill.” Captain Stanley turned to the two waiting paramedics. “Listen, you can’t get to the woman until this car is stable. Get some rope and we’ll tie it off to the engine for the time being. Once it’s stable get them out and over to the side here.” He pointed to a spot beside the squad.


      “Right, Cap!” Roy said. He and the others grabbed ropes and began stabilizing the car. Within minutes of tying off the last rope Roy and Johnny were with the victims. “Are you hurt, sir?”


      “No, I’m fine! My wife, help my wife!” the agitated man said, pushing Roy away.


      “My partner is checking her out now. You need to remain calm and let me make sure you don’t have any injuries,” Roy told him. “What’s your name?”


      “Loy. Loy Greece. My wife is Patsy. We were going to my daughter’s home to visit with our first grandchild,” Mr. Greece explained.


      “Well, Mr. Greece, my name’s Roy and that young man working with your wife is my partner, Johnny Gage. We’ll have you both out in just a minute. Would you like to have your daughter contacted? She could meet you at Rampart Hospital.” Roy had been checking the man’s vitals as he spoke.


      “Yes, please. That is very kind of you,” he said and gave Roy his daughter’s phone number.


      “Cap, this is his daughter’s phone number. Could you ask Vince to give her a call and have her meet them at Rampart?” Roy handed over the slip of paper with the number written down.


      “Sure thing, Roy. How’s it looking?” Captain Stanley said.


      “I think he’s going to be okay, but his wife is still unconscious. We’ll be taking them in to Rampart.” Roy had opened the bio-phone as he spoke with his captain. “Rampart, this is Rescue 51, do you read?”


      “Loud and clear 51, go ahead,” Dr. Brackett’s voice floated from the instrument.


      “Rampart, we have two victims of a MVA. First victim is a male, approximately seventy years old. There is no apparent trauma. B/P is 125/80, respiration’s 18, pulse is 60. Victim two is female, approximately sixty-five years old; unconscious. Stand by for vitals.” Roy looked over to Johnny who was taking the woman’s B/P.


      “B/P is 100/70, pulse is 50, respiration’s 25 and shallow.  She has a large bump on the side of her head. Pupils equal and reactive.” Johnny moved to restrain the woman when she moaned and tried to sit up. “Easy ma’am. We’re going to take good care of you.”


      Roy repeated the vitals and waited for orders to start the IV which he knew would be called for.


      “51, on victim two, start an IV D5W TKO. Put them both on two liters of oxygen and transport,” Brackett ordered.


      “10-4, Rampart,” Roy acknowledged. “You get that, Johnny?”


      “Yeah, got it!” Johnny answered as he continued to try and calm the now alert woman. Suddenly the car jolted as one of the ropes came loose. Johnny reached out and grabbed the car door to keep himself from falling. A yell came from behind the car and Chet flew by.


      “Chet!” Captain Stanley called as the fireman rolled down the hill. “Marco, get a safety harness on! You’ll have to go down and help him up! Take a belt for him as well!”


      Marco ran to the squad and pulled two safety harnesses from the side compartment. He fastened one around his waist and the other to his belt. Mike was tying off another rope for Marco to rappel down to his unmoving friend.


      Captain Stanley stood staring down into the gully where Chet had fallen. He could see his man lying still. “Chet!” he called. Kelley did not move or answer. “Chet, can you hear me?”


      Marco, he might be hurt. When you get to him check him over. I’ll send Roy down in just a minute.”


      “Right, Cap,” Marco said as he glanced down to his fallen comrade. Marco slowly walked down the side of the hill and stopped a few feet from where Chet lay. He undid the rope from the harness and knelt beside his friend. Chet lay, face down, on the edge of a ditch. The drop-off was at least thirty feet down, Marco thought, looking past the unconscious man. He gently ran his hands over legs and arms, looking for any signs of broken bones. Chet’s leg was at an odd angle to his body. Marco sighed. He pulled the HT Captain Stanley had given him from his pocket. “Cap, he’s got a broken leg, and looks like a bad bump on his head. He also has a small cut on his cheek, and probably a black eye.”


      Roy helped load the two victims into the ambulance then joined his captain in time to catch Marco’s preliminary report on Chet’s condition.


      “Do you want us to hold the ambulance?” Roy asked.


      “No, I’ve called for another one. Go ahead and send Johnny on his way.”


      Roy nodded and slapped the ambulance doors. Jack pulled away, leaving the next emergency to the follow up crew.


      “We’ll need the stokes and splint. I’ll know more when I get down there. What happened?” Roy asked as he fastened the safety belt around his waist.


      “When the rope broke the car rocked, knocking Kelley off his feet. He was trying to untangle himself from the line when the ground gave way from beneath him. It happened too fast to really know.” Captain Stanley rubbed his eyes. How would he explain this one in the logbook?


      Roy joined Marco at Chet’s side. He quickly did a recheck before splinting the leg and getting vitals. “Let’s get him into the stokes, Marco. Once we get back up we can do a better examination.”


      Marco did not speak, only nodded his head in understanding. He wrapped his arms around his friend’s chest and helped hoist him into the waiting stokes. Once he was fastened in they gave the signal to raise all three at one time. By the time they were once more on firm ground the second ambulance had arrived. Roy called in to Rampart and received orders for an IV and then to transport. Just before they backed into the ambulance bay Chet regained consciousness.


      “Man! What happened!” he rolled his head to the side. Seeing the ambulance doors opening he moaned, “Oh man, not Rampart!”


      Dixie McCall, head nurse and friend of this group of fire fighters, heard him. “And what’s wrong with Rampart?” she asked, a twinkle in her eyes.


      “Uh, nothing. I just don’t want to be a patient is all. It’s an okay place to visit, just not to stay in!” Chet told her.


      Dr. Brackett walked into the room where Chet had been taken. “Well, I see you’re awake. Let’s take a look at that leg. Dixie, let’s get a complete blood workup…….”  Roy walked from the room.


      “How’s he doing?” Johnny asked.


      “Brackett’s looking him over now. He came too in the ambulance as we were backing in. I think he’ll be fine, but he won’t be going to the Renaissance Festival Saturday,” Roy grinned.


      Johnny shook his head and grinned. “That’s too bad. This is something right up his alley!”


      Roy laughed at his partner. Dixie walked up to the two men and raised her eyebrows at them, asking for an explanation.


      “Roy and I are going to the Christmas Renaissance Festival on Saturday. Chet and Marco were going to go with us, but I guess that’s been put on hold.” Johnny glanced at Roy, who was nodding his head.


      “Yes, well, he gets to stay overnight here. Tomorrow we’ll probably let him go home. But I doubt he’ll feel much like going anywhere for a couple of days.” She smiled and walked away.


      “Hey, Dix,” Johnny called, “He’s going to be alright?”


      Dixie smiled, “Yes. He’ll be fine.”


      Roy and Johnny waved to the nurse as they walked out the double doors to emergency. Once back at the station they told the waiting men that Chet would be out about six weeks. Captain Stanley left to call in a replacement.


      Later that evening Chet called from the hospital. Johnny answered the phone, “Station 51. Fireman Gage speaking. Hey, Chet!” Johnny listened and grinned. He rolled his eyes at the listening men and laughed softly. “Yeah, I think so. No, probably not. I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him yourself. Okay, hold on a minute.” Johnny held the telephone out to Marco. “He wants to ask you a question.”


      Marco snagged the phone and frowned at Johnny. “Hey, amigo! What can I do for you?” He listened and nodded, grunting an answer once in a while. “Well, I don’t really think you’re going to feel like it, but if you want to go…Okay, sure. I’ll pick you up around nine-thirty. Sure. Bye!”


      Marco shook his head and hung up the phone. He laughed and told the men that Chet still wanted to go to the Renaissance Festival.


      “That sounds like it would be fun. How long will the festival be running?” Captain Stanley asked.


      “According to the flyer, from now until New Year’s.” Johnny pulled the pamphlet from his pocket. He gave it to his captain who studied it carefully. Wow, there’s a lot of things to do there. They even rent costumes!”


      “Yeah?” Johnny said, leaning over his superior’s shoulder. “Does it say how much they cost?”


      “No. But it says they have a lot to choose from.”


      “Hey, it might be fun!” Johnny looked up at his partner who was shaking his head.


      “No way! I’m not wearing tights!” Roy walked from the room and headed for the truck bay.  Johnny hurried after him.


      “Come on, it’ll be cool! We would blend in with the other people!”


      “No! I said I’d go, but I will NOT wear any tights!” Roy emphatically exclaimed.


      “Well, fine. Don’t.” Johnny wandered back to the dayroom.



      The day proved to be a busy one for the men of Station 51. The engine would pull in just as the squad would be pulling out. Twice the engine was called out just to have the run canceled as they pulled up to the scene. Captain Stanley was beginning to think the day was scheduled for bad runs when the tones sounded for the fifth time and they were called back to a scene that had been reported as a false run.


      “KMG 365!” Captain Stanley acknowledged. He hung the microphone back on its hook and flew to his side of the engine.


      “I hope they don’t wait until we pull up to cancel this time,” Mike muttered. Captain Stanley sighed; he felt the same way.


      Mike parked the engine behind a black and white police cruiser. Roy pulled the squad in close behind the big rig.  The men watched in fascination as members of the local SWAT team charged back and forth across the yard of the house where they had been called. Suddenly one of the men grabbed his leg and fell to the ground. Hank jumped from the engine and, ducking behind the squad car, ran to the man who appeared to be in charge.


      “What’s going on?” Hank asked.


      “Sniper, inside the house. She claims to have the house rigged up with explosives. If we try to rush her she said she’ll blow the house and this whole block to smithereens!” the Police Captain explained.


      “Well, is there anything we can do?” the Captain asked.


      “Not just yet, Hank. If she does blow the place up, then you’ll have something to do. Right now we’ve got to get my man out of danger!” Hank nodded his understanding and headed back to his men.


      “This is what we have. A woman sniper claims to have the house she’s trapped in rigged to blow. According to Captain Manning, if it blows, half the block may go with it. I want an inch and a half, charged and ready, just in case.


      “Roy, Johnny, be ready for some heavy casualties. Set up a triage area behind the squad.”


      The men went into motion and soon all was ready. Now all they could do was sit and wait.


      “Roy, the SWAT men will be bringing the injured man here. It looks like he took a bullet to the leg.”


      “Right, Cap,” Roy said then turned to his partner, “Johnny, establish contact with Rampart and have them stand by.”


      “Right,” Johnny answered and moved to do as the senior partner ordered when a bullet suddenly ricocheted and landed with a thud in the ground next to his foot. He fell backwards with a cry and bumped his head on the squad’s running board.


      “You okay?” Roy asked, quickly joining his partner.


      “Yeah, the bullet missed. It just scared me.” Johnny rubbed the back of his head. He would probably have a small lump form before too long. Johnny grabbed the bio-phone and contacted the hospital. He waved Roy’s hand away when he felt his partner checking out the back of his head. “I’m fine!” he said in exasperation.


      Roy shook his head and returned to his surveillance of the stand off in progress. He saw several men secrete themselves in bushes close to the house. At a signal that he could not see they turned and began firing into the house. Two other men wearing bulletproof vests ran out and grabbed their wounded comrade. They dragged him to safety behind the black and white cruiser. Roy and Johnny grabbed up their equipment and ran to the wounded officer and began treatment.


      “Rampart, Squad 51. The victim is now accessible for treatment. He has a bullet wound to the left thigh. He is sweating and diaphoretic. Vitals signs are…” Johnny waited for Roy to finish.


      “B/P is 80/40, pulse is 65, respiration’s 27 and shallow.”


      Johnny repeated the vitals to Rampart’s waiting doctor.


      “10-4, 51. Start IV D5W TKO. Is there any sign of head trauma?” Dr. Morton asked.


      “Negative, Rampart,” Johnny answered.


      “Give 5 mg of morphine and transport.”


      “10-4. 5 mg of morphine and transport.” Johnny threw the handset back into the box and reached for the ordered medication. “This’ll help with the pain,” he told the injured man.


      Minutes later a blast shook the ground. All the personnel in the area dodged for safety. Captain Stanley started issuing orders without waiting for confirmation from the Police Captain, who was sitting on the pavement with his hand covering a gash on his forehead.


      “Marco, Chet, get that inch and half over there and start on the front of the house! Roy, you have another patient over here” Captain Stanley knelt in front of the police chief. “You gonna be okay, Steve?”


      “Yeah, it’s just a minor cut. Probably looks worse than it is,” he answered.


      “My men’ll be here in just a minute to check you over. Just sit here and try not to get up.”


      “Sure thing, Hank. Man, that is one crazy woman!”



      “Yup,” Hank agreed, looking over the car at what was left of the house. Suddenly, Hank stiffened and his eyes opened wide in shock. A woman had come running from the burning house. In her hand were two hand grenades. As he watched, she reached up and pulled the key from the explosives. Hank grabbed the Police Captain and hauled him away from the car just as the woman tossed the weapons at them. They were barely behind the engine when the explosives detonated and sent the police cruiser into the air to land on top of the wildly laughing woman.


      Captain Stanley and Captain Manning stood gaping at the spot where the car landed. Flames were shooting from the busted windows and bent frame. Hank quickly called for Marco and Jim Gaymoon, Chet’s replacement, to spray the wreckage.  The flames were quickly doused. The SWAT team slowly approached the now smoldering pile of metal, guns drawn and at the ready.


      “What are they gonna shoot?” Marco asked no one in general.


      The all clear was given and the house fire was quickly brought under control.



      Back at the station the men continued to talk about the call. They marveled that one person could cause so much trouble.


      “She must have been totally out of her mind,” Johnny said as he and Roy pulled back into the truck bay. He jumped from the truck and headed for the day room. Roy followed close on Johnny’s heel. Johnny held out a cup of coffee to his partner. “You know what I think?” he did not wait for an answer. “I think she whacked out on acid and thought she was saving the world!”


      “From what?” Marco asked.


      Roy walked away shaking his head. Where Johnny came up with his theories he would never know.


      “Who knows? Maybe she’s one of those type who thinks we are being invaded by aliens and was trying to scare them off!”


      “You and your far out theories. I think you and Chet have been watching too much Star Trek, or Lost in Space!” Marco left the room.


      “Lost in Space hasn’t been on in years!” Johnny said to his departing back.


      “Whatever!” Marco’s voice drifted back from the truck bay.



      The remainder of the shift was busy with small alarms. The men were kept hopping, just enough to make the day pass swiftly. By nine o’clock they were all ready to call it a day and headed for the dorms to settle in for the night.


      The next morning dawned bright and clear. The temperature was a mild sixty-one degrees. Johnny and Roy called their good-byes and headed for Roy’s home. Once there they quickly fixed breakfast then headed out with list in hand to do the assigned chores.


      “I feel like I’m a kid again doing the stuff my brother never wanted to do!” Johnny said, laughing. Roy was looking over the different types of laundry soap, trying to remember which one his wife used. Finally deciding, he placed the large box in the buggy and walked further down the isle. He stopped and checked the list again. He scratched his head trying to decipher what next item was the on the list. After about an hour they were standing in line ready to check out.


      The woman at the counter began ringing up his purchases. When she came to the laundry soap she stopped. She looked at the box, than at Roy.


      “Your wife usually buys a different kind of soap,” she told him.


      “Huh?” Roy said, looking confused. “I thought soap was soap?”


      She shook her head, “Nope, here let me get the right kind for you.” She called for a bagger and sent him after the needed box of detergent. When he returned she quickly rang it up and totaled out her register.


      “That’ll be $34. 89.”


      “Wow!” Johnny said, looking at all the sacks.


      Roy gave him a sideways look then pushed the cart out the door. Johnny ran to catch up with his friend. “I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much at the grocery store!”


      “You aren’t buying for a wife and two kids, either, Junior,” Roy told him as he loaded the Rover with the groceries.


      “Oh, well, yeah. That’s true.” Johnny jumped in and started the vehicle then waited for his partner to join him.


      “Where to next?” Johnny asked.


      “Home to unload, then off to the hardware store, Vet’s office, dry cleaner’s and library,” Roy recited.


      “Library?” Johnny said.


      “Yeah, Jennifer has an over due book.”


      Johnny laughed and pulled from the parking lot. By the time all the things on the list had been checked, most of the day was gone.


      “Let’s go get a pizza for dinner,” Johnny suggested. “Then I gotta get home to get some sleep for tomorrow!”


      “Sounds good to me,” Roy agreed.



      That night Johnny dreamed of being a Knight in shining armor saving damsels in distress. Then he dreamed of a fire-breathing dragon chasing him over the hills of Camelot and catching him just before he entered the gates to safety. With a roar the dragon sent a deafening line of fire at him. Johnny scrambled for safety, and rolled off his bed, tangled in his sheets. With a jolt he awoke and laughed at himself. He glanced at the clock. It was only three a.m. He straightened the sheets and climbed back into bed. The rest of the night was spent in dreamless slumber.



            Saturday morning dawned bright, crisp and clear. Johnny dashed out the door of his apartment and headed for his Rover. He quickly drove to Roy’s house and honked for his friend to join him. Roy strolled out of the house, taking his time. He grinned at the sight of his best friend bouncing in his seat.


      “Come on! We’ll miss the opening ceremonies!” Johnny called to his slowly moving partner.


      “It’ll still be there when we get there!” Roy said, laughing.


      “Marco called and said Chet wouldn’t be there. Seems he spiked a fever late yesterday and they kept him one more night. But Marco said he and his sister would be there,” Johnny said as he pulled from the driveway.


      They pulled into the faire ground’s parking lot. Johnny whistled at the sight of all the cars and other vehicles already there.


      “WOW! This must be some shin-ding!” he said. He parked next to a small compact car with two women in it.


      The two women left their car and began straightening their dresses. Johnny’s eyes bugged when he saw the low cut bodices. One of the women looked up at him and smiled. Johnny gave his sideways grin and waved at her. She blew him a kiss and winked before turning and walking away.


      “Oh man!” Johnny exclaimed. “Did you see that dress?”


      “Close your mouth, Junior, you’re drooling,” Roy said with a grin.


      “I am not drooling!” Johnny said indignantly.


      “I see Marco and Teresa waiting by the gates.” Roy started walking away, not waiting to see if Johnny was following.


      “Morning, Marco, Teresa!” Roy called as he neared the two waiting at the entrance to the grounds. Johnny trotted up and eyed Marco’s outfit.


      “Wow, I didn’t know you had a costume!”


      “I’ve had it for several years. Teresa and I come to the faire at least a couple of times a year. This is the first Christmas one I’ve been to, though.” Marco strutted in front of the two paramedics.


      Roy and Johnny laughed. “You look like a peacock in that outfit!” Johnny told him.


      “I have picked out a costume for you two. You’ll like them,” Teresa told them.


      “I’m not putting on a costume of any kind,” Roy stated.


      “Yes you will,” Teresa teased him. She laced her arm around his and guided him to a booth just inside the gates. Twenty minutes later Johnny and Roy left the booth decked out in Renaissance holiday finery.


      “I feel naked in this outfit,” Roy said as he tried to pull down the back of his tunic.


      “You look great!” Teresa told him. She linked her arm through both his and Johnny’s. “Marco, you coming?” Teresa looked over her shoulder at her brother.


      Marco rolled his eyes and joined the little group. He grinned at Roy’s discomfort, and Johnny strutting like a cock robin.


      “Look at some of these costumes!” Johnny said, watching a couple stroll by, barely dressed. “What’s that got to do with this time period?”


      “Remember, Johnny, the Renaissance was a time of fire breathing dragons, fairy folk, elves and other fantasy type creatures. Don’t be surprised at some of the costumes you’ll see.” Marco jumped as a young woman walked by and pinched him on the butt. His face turned beet red. “And some are quite fresh out here, too.” Johnny and Roy looked at Marco’s red face.


      “Problem, Marco?” Teresa asked, all innocence and sweetness.


      “Ummm, no. Eh hem, excuse me for a minute.” Marco trotted off after the young woman. He caught up with her and had a conversation that none of them could hear. They saw her glance toward there group and smile. Marco moved to shield her from his friends, then he rejoined the group. He had a smug look on his face.


      “What was that about?” Roy asked, suspicious.


      “Not a thing,” Marco replied and grinned. He winked at his sister, who raised her eyebrow at him.


      The group continued to stroll through the park. Several times Teresa made them stop while she shopped for Christmas gifts. Johnny found several items he liked and purchased. 


      A woman dressed in rags approached the group. She stopped and stared at Johnny. Suddenly she grinned and threw herself at his feet. She shrieked and groveled, getting his feet and legs covered in dirt. Johnny backed away, but she grabbed hold and was dragged along. Johnny’s face was turning fiery red with embarrassment.


      “Uh, guys. Help!” Johnny tried to free himself. The woman wailed and shrieked. Suddenly she let go and jumped up. Grabbing Johnny by the shoulders she planted a wet sloppy kiss on his lips and ran off.


      “Yuck! Gross!” Johnny said, wiping his face. He looked around and saw his friends laughing hysterically. “Yeah, right! Laugh all you want! Revenge will be sweet!”


      The group stopped to watch a sword fight.  The two performers would start to duel, then stop for a wise crack. Several times they would crack themselves up telling dumb jokes.


      At one point in the show they involved the audience. One of the men walked out and stopped in front of a woman. He turned and addressed his partner on stage, “Here is a woman I will let clean and cook and serve me to her heart’s content!”


      His partner immediately claimed insult for the woman and offered his sword to the man sitting next to her. The crowd laughed. The first man returned to the stage and the fight was on. With many comical moves and witty sayings, the audience was kept laughing. At the end of the show the two ‘Spaniards’ passed the hat while at the same time thanking the people for watching.


      “Wow, that was great!” Johnny enthused. “What else is there to see?” He unfolded the program he had been given at the gate and read off a list of other shows to be seen. “Hey, a mud show!” He continued reading. “Look another sword fighting show with flames throwers!”


      “When does it start?” Marco asked.


      Johnny consulted the paper then checked his watch, “Not for another hour.”


      “Let’s go see the Chess Match,” Roy said, as he, too looked over the listing of shows.


      “Chess? Here?” Johnny said in disbelief.


      Marco and Teresa smiled knowingly. “Come on, Johnny,” Teresa said as she placed her hand on his arm, “You’ll like the Chess Match. It’s not at all what you’re thinking.”


      “Oh, yeah?” he asked, skeptically.


      “Promise,” Teresa told him.


      The three found seats along the edge of the large field marked off with chalk squares. A crowd had started to form. Johnny was glad Teresa had found them good seats. He stared around him at all the different costumes. He saw a man dressed as a centaur, complete with the back half of a horse. The legs, he saw, were on wheels.


      Suddenly a trumpet sounded and the Royal Procession entered the glen. Men and women threw themselves on the ground in front of the King and Queen of the faire. The queen was regal and beautiful, Johnny and Marco agreed. The King was noble, and fat, Roy said in an aside, causing the group to laugh. The Queen heard the laughter and looked their way. She caught sight of Marco and Johnny. Leaning over to a young woman she whispered in her ear. The woman curtsied and headed for the men. Marco stood up as she approached. He motioned for Johnny and Roy to do the same.


      “Her Majesty requests the honor of your presence on the playing field,” she told them in a softly lilting voice. “Please follow me to your places.”


      Johnny looked at Marco, who was grinning like a monkey. He quickly followed the departing woman. She motioned to a square and told Johnny, “This is where ye shall stand.” She then led Marco across the field and pointed to another square. “Here is your spot, my Lord!” She batted her eyes at Marco.


      “Thank you, my lady,” he said and bent to kiss her hand.


      The Queen stood watching the interchange and smiled as her lady – in – waiting blushed prettily.  Then with a flourish she waved her hands for attention. The crowd grew silent. Johnny noticed that others from the crowd had also been led to the field. He glanced at Roy and Teresa. She gave him a ‘thumbs up’ and smiled. Johnny grinned back at her, then returned his attention to the other participants.


      The opponent marched his players to the ‘board’ and placed them around the squares. An argument took place between the Queen and the Bishop. They made a wager as to who would win the match and what the prize would be for the winner. Once this was settled, the game commenced.


      Johnny stood waiting. The Queen made the first move. The Bishop countered. The Queen called another move. “Knight takes pawn!”


      Someone grabbed Johnny by the arm and led him from the field. “Kneel here and watch,” said a young man in brightly colored garments.


      The Knight and Pawn squared off. The Pawn crouched and charged. The Knight laughed and nimbly stepped aside. He swiped the Pawn on the seat of his pants and turned to face the red faced young man. From the sidelines came cheers and jeers. The Queen called loudly from her perch on a raised dais, “Oh, good move, Sir Knight!”


      The Knight bowed to the Queen. Seeing the distraction, the Pawn quickly charged and knocked the Knight to the ground. The Knight rolled and bounded to his feet as the young Pawn charged once more. Tiring of the sport, the Knight put his foot out and tripped the hapless young man. He placed his sword tip at the Pawn’s throat and called, “YIELD!”


      The Pawn looked toward the Bishop, who reluctantly nodded his consent. “I yield!” the Pawn cried.


      The Knight stepped back to let the young man leave the playing field. Cheers from the Queen’s section filled the air. Johnny became caught up in the moment and joined the cheering. Marco, he saw, was also cheering. Roy and Teresa cheered from the sidelines.


      The game played out with each side combating the other for places on the board. As each side challenged the other, the rest of the players would leave the field and watch from the safety of the borders. In the end, the Queen won the match. The Bishop walked to the center of the board and lay his scepter on the ground in defeat. “Until next time, your Majesty!” he challenged.


      The Queen graciously accepted the Bishop’s scepter and curtsied to him, “Until the next time, my Lord Bishop.”


      The players in the game thanked Marco and Johnny for their participation. The Queen walked over and gave each man a kiss on the cheek and a rose for their willing participation in the game. Marco bowed. He motioned Johnny to do the same. Once the Queen and her entourage had left the field, Marco and Johnny joined Roy and Teresa.


      “Well, Johnny, what did you think?” Teresa asked as they walked away from the giant chessboard.


      “That was great! Is there other games to play like that?”


      “No, that’s the best one here. But there are other shows that get the audience involved. The jousting is next, or do you want to watch Merlyn the Magician instead?” she asked checking out the guide.


      “I don’t know. What about you, Roy?” Johnny looked at his silent friend.


      “I don’t care. So far it’s all been pretty good.”


      “Jousting, then,” Johnny said.         


      “After the joust let’s get something to eat,” Marco said as he rubbed his grumbling stomach.


      “Yeah, good idea!” Johnny quickly agreed.


      The group wondered to the jousting field. Several men and boys were walking around the area setting up obstacles and lances. Brightly colored ribbons waved from the banners of the field. One Knight was exercising his horse in a small round pen just behind the grandstands. The horse reared and danced around. The Knight sat quietly as the horse balked at the hidden command, then finally obeyed and pivoted around, keeping one hind foot planted in place.


      “Come on, let’s get a good spot.” Marco urged the group toward the viewing area.


      The sudden thundering of hooves was heard from the open area where the joust was to take place. One Knight was racing up and down the field while balancing a lance on his thigh.


      The crowd hollered its appreciation of the display, “Hoozah!”


      “Wow!” Roy said with awe. “How does he stay on that horse with all that armor, and stuff?”


      “Practice, Roy. Lots of practice,” Johnny said.


      Trumpets announced the arrival of the Royal Court. All the players turned and bowed, or curtsied as the Royal Procession passed by. The Queen spotted Johnny and blew him a kiss. He gave her his famous crooked grin, then bowed.


      With grand pomp and circumstance, the jousting began. Two Knights, one Red the other Green, faced off. The Squire dropped the flag and the horses thundered down the field towards each other. Cheering came from the stands. Lance met shield. The Red Knight’s lance shattered. The Green Knight wavered in his saddle, but quickly recovered. The two faced off again. The Squire again dropped the flag and thundering hooves filled the air. The Red Knight struck the shield of the Green Knight, knocking him from his saddle. The crowd cheered, and booed.


      The Green Knight stood and waved his sword at the approaching Red Knight. The Knight’s steed walked slowly forward. He stopped and stood quietly as the Red Knight dismounted and faced the Green Knight. As if on hidden cue, the Red swung his sword high and the Green dodged. As he danced under the attacking sword, he swung his high and a loud clang was heard as metal connected with metal.


      Sparks flew from the swords as the two combatants fought. The Red Knight fell to his knees. He swung his sword up just in time to keep the Green from making contact with his helmeted head. The crowd let out their breath in relief. With renewed strength, the Red Knight rose and attacked the obviously tiring Green. Minutes later, the battle was over. The Red Knight approached the grandstands, victorious. The Green Knight was helped from the battlefield.


      “Hoozah!” the crowd shouted as their chosen favorite walked the victory lane to the throne where the King and Queen sat, waiting.


      “Well done, Sir Knight!” the Queen’s voice floated over the assembled group of people. “As your prize, you may carry my token into combat yet again when we gather this afternoon for another round in this tourney!” The crowd cheered.


      The Knight bowed and accepted the Queen’s token. “Your Majesty, I accept with pride this, your token, to carry into mortal combat this eve!” The Knight was then escorted from the grounds amidst the cries of “Hoozah!”


      “We’ll have to come back later for the final joust of the day,” Teresa told the men.


      “When’s that?” Roy asked.


      “About six o’clock. After that everyone starts to close up because it is getting dark by then.”


      “Great! Let’s go eat, I’m starved!” Johnny headed for the food court.


      “Does he ever think of anything but food?” Teresa asked Marco and Roy.


      “Yeah,” Marco answered, “Women.”


      Teresa playfully smacked her brother on the shoulder and followed Johnny. He was paying for a large Tom Thumb turkey leg as she walked up.


      “These smell great!” he told her.


      The other three chose from the many stalls available; then all three sat at one of the many covered tables scattered around the faire grounds. A strolling group of singers stopped and entertained the small group with Christmas carols, followed by some less traditional songs that made the men blush when they understood the words. Teresa laughed at the uncomfortable men. She was enjoying their discomfort, as well as their company.


      Suddenly a buxomous young woman joined the group at their table. She sat next to Johnny and leaned into him. Her bosom was protruding over her corset. Johnny’s eyes bugged as she leaned further towards him. He shifted sideways, almost knocking Roy from the bench.


      “Why, my Lord!” she spoke, “hast thou nothing to say to one who would willingly serve you?”


      Johnny blushed to the roots of his hair. He looked desperately to Marco for help, but the fireman was looking everywhere but at his friend. His shoulders were shaking in a suspicious manner.


      “My Lord, is something wrong?” the woman asked again.


      “Uh, no! Ah…” Johnny stumbled for words as the woman leaned closer. “Uh, excuse me! I need some napkins!” Johnny fled from the woman. She grinned and winked, then trailed after him.


      Marco guffawed at his friend’s embarrassed demeanor. He was wiping tears from his eyes as Johnny returned to the table, minus the winsome wench.


      “Marco! Did you put her up to that?” Johnny asked, still upset at the incident.


      “No! I promise, I had nothing to do with it!” Marco held on to his sides as he began laughing again.


      Roy had gone for drinks and returned to the table. “Anyone want a beer?” he asked, looking at the two men. He glanced at Teresa and winked.


      She raised her eyebrows at the paramedic and placed her hand over her mouth to hide the smile that was forming. Johnny caught the motion and turned his eyes on his partner.


      “You sent her over here!” he accused.


      “Sent who, where?” Roy asked, all innocence. He sat on the bench and placed a glass of ale in front of his partner.


      “Roy! How could you!” Johnny asked, indignant.


      “Well, you were eyeballing her, so I just made a suggestion to her and she was, umm, quite willing.”


      “I don’t believe you! You’re a married man!”


      “I may be married, Junior, but I’m NOT dead!” Roy laughed. Marco and Teresa joined in.


      “Come on, guys. We’ll miss Merlyn’s Act. He’s pretty good. Then we can do some more Christmas shopping.” Teresa left the table. The three men hurried after her.


      The rest of the afternoon passed pleasantly. Johnny and Teresa separated from Roy and Marco to buy gifts for each other. Later they split up again to do shopping for their other friends and family members.


      “Hey, it’s almost time for the last joust!” Marco told Johnny. “We need to hurry and meet up with Teresa and Roy. I want a better seat this time!” They hurried to the jousting area.


      Teresa was waving at them from the stands. Marco and Johnny climbed up to sit with the other two. Each person had bags that needed to be shifted to make room for him or her to sit.


      “Looks like we bought out the entire faire!” Teresa told the men.



      Trumpets began to blare, announcing the arrival of the Royal Party to the jousting fields once more. The King and Queen passed the stands, followed closely by their courtiers. With a wild flourish and fan fair, the Royal Party was settled. Announcements were made, bets placed and the jousting began.


      Halfway through the tournament one of the horses reared, throwing his rider. The Knight landed on the ground with a loud ‘clang’ then did not move. The crowd grew silent as they waited to see what would happen next. Men ran onto the field. They quickly removed the Knight’s helmet. Blood was seen running from the man’s nose and ear.


      “I think he has a serious head injury!” they heard one of the men say.


      Johnny and Roy cleared the fence separating the jousting field from the stands. They ran over to the downed man and knelt beside him.


      “We’re LA Paramedics. I’m Roy DeSoto and this is my partner, Johnny Gage.” Roy introduced themselves.


      “Wow! I’m glad to see you!” the young man said. “We have a doctor on call, but it’ll take him a few minutes to get here!”


      “Do you have any first aid equipment?” Johnny asked, as he and Roy began removing as much of the armor as possible.


      “Yes. I’ll get it!” he ran off, calling for help as he went.


      A few seconds later he had returned with a large medical supply box. In it was a stethoscope and B/P cuff.  Roy grabbed it and began taking the man’s vitals.


      Another youth ran up with another case in hand. Johnny was surprised to see it was a bio-phone. “What hospital are you using for emergencies?” he asked.


      “Rampart General, it’s the closest one available,” he answered.


      Johnny nodded and opened the channel, “Rampart, this Johnny Gage. Do you read?”


      At Rampart, Dixie’s head popped up in surprise. She walked to the emergency base station and answered, “This is Rampart, go ahead. Did you say, Johnny Gage?”


      “10-4, Rampart. We are at the Christmas Renaissance Festival. We have a male victim, approximately…” he looked to the young man who had brought the box.


      “Twenty-six,” he said


      “Twenty-six years old. He has fallen from a horse. He has severe head trauma. Bleeding is evident from the nose and ears. He is unconscious. Vitals are….” he looked to Roy.


      “B/P 80/40, respiration’s 26 and shallow, pulse is 65.” Johnny repeated the vitals.


      “Do you have any medications available at your location?” Dr. Brackett asked.


      “10-4, Rampart. We have full trauma medical supply available,” Johnny answered.


      “Okay, start an IV D5W TKO. Also start victim on O2, six liters. Take another set of vitals in three minutes.”


      “10-4, Rampart!” Johnny acknowledged.


      Marco stood by with his sister ready, to offer whatever assistance was needed.


      “Marco, can you hold this bag for me?” Roy asked. Marco took the bag as Roy prepared the IV. Johnny took the small bottle of oxygen the first young man brought and put the mask over the unconscious man’s face. A young black man ran up to them as Roy started the IV drip.


      “Roy, Johnny!” he said in surprise. The two paramedics looked up. Dr. Morton was kneeling beside the injured man.


      “Dr. Morton?” Roy said, stunned at the man before him.


      “What’s his B/P?” Morton asked, ignoring the looks the three firemen were giving him.


      “B/P is coming up. It’s now 100/60. Pulse is slowing somewhat,” Roy told the doctor.


      “Rampart, we now have a doctor on scene,” Johnny said into the bio-phone.


      “10-4. We’ll keep the line open,” Dr. Brackett said.


      “One of you guys going to ride in with him?” Dr. Morton asked.


      “I can,” Roy said, then looked down at his costume, “but they’ll not be very happy about me leaving with their costume!”


      “Don’t worry about it, sir,” said the young man who had brought the drug box. “You can return it later, or call and let us know where to pick it up. Your friends can pick up your street clothes before they leave.”


      “Okay, thanks,” Roy said, not sure if he really wanted to be seen at the hospital dressed in renaissance clothes.


      Suddenly a loud scream was heard from the stable area. Several people ran from the building housing the equines used by the performers in the joust. A large black stallion ran from the building. He stopped and reared, then charged at the crowd closest to the stables. The people scrambled to safety as the angered horse climbed the bleachers. He slipped and fell back to the ground where several handlers grabbed the dragging lead rope. The horse reared again, striking out. One man fell to the ground and rolled to safety. Another was struck by the animal’s hoof. He fell and lay still. Two men slowly approached the injured handler. They picked him up and moved him to safety, all the while watching the agitated animal.


      The horse looked wildly around. He spotted the paramedics and others gathered around the injured Knight. He stomped his hoof, looking at the people who had frozen in place.


      “Don’t move a muscle,” Johnny whispered to those around him. He slowly rose to his feet. The horse locked its gaze on him. Johnny held out his hand and started speaking softly to the horse. He tried to inject a soothing tone in his voice to calm the angry beast. The horse stomped the ground and snorted. He tossed his head. His silvery main flowed in the bright winter sunlight. Bells jingled from his headstall. Johnny continued to approach slowly. The horse backed into the stable. His rump bumped the side of the building, causing him to jump forward slightly. Johnny froze, but continued to talk softly to the large animal.


      “That horse must weigh two thousand pounds!” someone whispered. Suddenly a flash went off, startling the horse. He lowered his head and charged Johnny.


      Johnny tried to jump out of the way, but one of the horse’s hooves caught him in the side, knocking him to the ground. He tried to roll away, but the angry animal followed, pawing. Johnny felt a hoof strike him on the side of the head. A bright burst of light followed the sudden pain. He curled into a ball and lay still. He felt the horse strike again, this time hitting him in the side. Johnny heard the sound of a gunshot, then all went silent.


      “Johnny!” he heard someone call, but was unable to answer due to the pain in his head and side.


      “Johnny! Uncurl! Let me see where the horse struck you!” Roy was trying to unfurl his partner from the tight ball he had curled into. Pain laced his head and side. He moaned as hands forced him to lay flat.


      “Come on, Johnny, let me see!” Dr. Morton was trying to palpate Johnny’s stomach to see if he had been hurt there. Johnny moaned again then lay still. “He’s gone out on us!”


      Roy grabbed the drug box and went to his friend’s side. “We’ve got to get the other two victims loaded into the ambulance, Doc. Do you want me to stay, or go with them?”


      “Stay here with me. Let Mike and Chance go in with them. They are the resident paramedics this weekend!” Dr. Morton said, waving at two men who were loading the injured Knight and Horse Trainer into the waiting ambulance.


      Roy nodded, relieved. He trotted over and gave them the first man’s vitals, then ran back to join Dr. Morton.


      “Did they have to shoot the horse?” Roy asked.


      “It was the fastest way to get him away from your partner, Roy. There will be an inquiry as to why the horse went berserk.” Morton rapidly checked Johnny’s pupils. “He’s got a bad head wound. His pupils are reactive, but the left is sluggish. Let’s get an IV started with Ringer’s. Also, get a collar and put on him. I don’t think his neck is hurt, but I don’t want to take any chances.”


      Roy followed the doctor’s orders wordlessly. Marco and Teresa had joined them as they treated Johnny.


      “Roy, we’ll meet you at Rampart, okay? We’re going to go ahead and leave so we’ll be there when you arrive.” Marco was watching Dr. Morton’s frantic ministrations to the unconscious paramedic.


      “Great, Marco! Listen, call Cap and tell him what happened. He can call the others.” Roy did not wait for Marco to answer as he and Dr. Morton loaded Johnny into the second ambulance. Bystanders watched in horror as the body of the large horse was removed from the field.


      Dr. Brackett met them at the doors of Emergency. His eyes opened wide in shock at the sight of three men in Renaissance dress coming from a modern day ambulance. He would ask about it later, he decided.


      Johnny was taken to treatment room two where the portable x-ray machine was waiting. Brackett ordered a full skull series, as well as a full blood work up. He rolled his eyes at the outfit Johnny was wearing, but did not comment. Dixie had no such compunction.


      “What sort of outfit is this?” she asked Roy, once outside the treatment room.


      “It’s a Renaissance costume. We were at the Christmas Renaissance Faire.”


      “You have got to be kidding?” Dixie said in surprise. “How did you get talked into going?”


      “Actually, we were enjoying ourselves until this happened. And the costume is pretty comfortable, once you get used to it,” Roy explained, a little miffed at the head nurse’s attitude.


      Dr. Morton walked up to the desk and stood behind Roy. He heard the exchange between paramedic and nurse. Dr. Morton stepped around the paramedic and stood with arms folded across his chest. His eyes dared the head nurse to comment about his choice of clothing for the day.


      “Mike? You too?” she said in surprise.


      “You have something to say?” he challenged, a twinkle lighting his eyes.


      “Umm, no, I guess not!” she said as she caught a glimpse of two people approaching the desk.


      Marco and Teresa stopped and watched the exchange warily before approaching the growing group around the desk.


      “How is he?” Marco asked. “I called Cap. He’ll be here in about ten minutes.”


      “Dr. Brackett is with him now,” Roy told his friend.


      “Sheesh, I can’t believe they shot that horse! That was one expensive bullet they used!” Marco exclaimed.


      “What do you mean?” Roy asked as Dr. Morton walked away. He watched the doctor enter the treatment room.


      “Marco means that the horse was not cheep. More than likely they put down a twenty or thirty thousand dollar horse,” Teresa said sadly.


      Roy and Dixie looked at the brother and sister. “You have got to be kidding!” Dixie said at last.


      “No,” Marco told her.


      Dr. Brackett and Dr. Morton joined the small group. Roy and Marco looked expectantly at them.


      “That hard head of his has saved him again. He has a concussion and some bruised ribs, but that’s about it. From what Mike tells me, it could have been a lot worse!” Brackett looked at the two firemen for confirmation.


      “Yeah, it was pretty bad!” Marco exclaimed. “When that horse reared and came down, I could hear the thump! I just knew Johnny was dead!”


      “Well, when he rolled into a ball, that’s what kept his injuries from being too severe,” Dr. Morton explained. “I’ve got to be getting back to the faire grounds. Roy, if you want to change I can take both costumes back with me.”


      “Great!” Roy said and headed for the men’s locker room. A few minutes later he returned with the costume folded neatly. “Here comes Cap.”


      Captain Stanley stopped and stared at Marco and Dr. Morton. “What kind of get-up is that?” he asked, trying hard not to laugh.


      “It’s a Renaissance costume,” Dr. Morton said with a frown. “Now, if you comedians will excuse me, I have to be getting back!” He stalked away.


      “You know, Marco,” Dixie said, eyeballing the fireman, “you don’t look half bad dressed like that.”


      “Ahh,” Marco said and blushed, “We have to get home and get changed! Tell Johnny I’ll come by later and see him.” Marco grabbed his sister by the hand and rushed out the door.


      “How long will Johnny be out, Doc?” Stanley asked.


      “Well, probably not more than one shift. His ribs are bruised and he has a concussion. It could have been a lot worse. Apparently he knew to tuck and roll when the horse knocked him down the first time.”


      “Doc, how’re the other men? The Knight we sent in, and the horse handler?” Roy asked.


      “They’re going to be okay, too. The Knight has a severe head wound, but he’ll recover. He might need some rehab, but it shouldn’t be much. The helmet he had on gave some pretty good protection. The other man just had the wind knocked out of him, and a couple of small cuts.”


      “That’s great. When can I see Johnny?”


      “We’re moving him to a room right now. Give them about five minutes and I’ll send someone to get you,” Dr. Brackett told them.


      Johnny was rolled by the group and into the elevator. He smiled at his friends and grinned at Dixie. He motioned to Roy to come closer to the gurney.


      “How’re the two men we sent in?” he asked.


      “Brackett said they’ll be fine.”


      “Great! Listen, did I hear them shoot the horse?”


      Roy looked down at the gurney. He pulled a string from the sheet covering his friend.


      “Roy?” Johnny persisted.


      “Yeah, they shot the horse.”


      “Oh, man. It wasn’t his fault! Someone set off a flash and spooked him! Man!”


      Roy shook his head in amazement. Trust Johnny not to blame the animal. The elevator opened and Johnny was wheeled in. “I’ll be up in a few minutes.”


      “Sure thing, Pally. Hey, bring me something to write on, will ya? I’m gonna write to Aunt Rose. I want to be the one to tell her about this accident.”


      “Will do, Junior.” Roy smiled, glad to see his partner looking better.



      That evening Johnny sat in his hospital room chewing on his pen. He had already started the letter and was trying to figure out how to end it. Finally he wrote:


      . .. I am sitting in this hospital bed writing to you because I didn’t want anyone else to tell you about my accident. I think it’s better to hear about it from me than a third party. J  I’m doing fine. The doctor said I will have no permanent damage and that I can go back to work by Christmas day. Poor Chet, though, will be out for at least six weeks.


      Well, I guess that’s about it for now.  I love you, and miss you. I’ll see you the day after Christmas. I found you the best Christmas present in the world at the faire!









Stories By Peggy J Bedingfield      Christmas stories