Quirks, Quacks and Swingers

By Audrey W.




John Gage pushed on the doorbell button for a second time and waited anxiously as his partner Roy DeSoto peered in a front window to see if he could figure out why no one was answering.


The two paramedics had been dispatched to the small one-story home for an unknown type rescue and had just arrived to find no one waiting for them nor any response to their presence at the front door.


“I don’t see anyone,” Roy reported with a shake of his head.


Both knew that could be good news, then again it could be very bad.


Johnny rapped hard on the door with his right hand fisted. “Fire department!”


After a few seconds more of silence, he and Roy exchanged worried glances, the latter having returned to the porch.


Gage tried the knob and was grateful when the door opened freely.


“Hello! Fire department!” he called out again as the two paramedics stepped inside, their biophone, drug box and oxygen canister on wheels in one or the other’s grasps.


They quickly scanned the room for any sign of a victim. When they still didn’t see one, they hurriedly made their way toward another room. Suddenly an elderly man appeared in the next doorway, so suddenly that Johnny nearly ran into him.


The man immediately brought a hand up to his chest with a gasp as he took a startled step backward.


“Good gravy, you scared me!”


Johnny recovered after taking a step back in surprise himself, nearly colliding with Roy. “Sorry, but we’re with the fire department. Did you call for us?”


“Well, yeah, I did. But I didn’t expect you to barge right in!”


“We rang your doorbell and didn’t get a response--”


Before Roy could explain further, the man interrupted with, “Well, hell, of course ya didn’t get a response. I had it disconnected a couple of years ago.”




This time Johnny was cut off with, “We got tired of the traveling salesmen stopping by and neighborhood kids ringing it then running off, snickering all the way home, I’m sure.”


“Well, sir, we knocked and still--”


Roy was again interrupted.


“You gotta give us old timers a chance to get to the door.”


Johnny glanced over his left shoulder at Roy and shrugged. He then faced forward.


“Well, now that we’re in here, what did you call us for?”


“A who. My wife to be exact. She’s this way.”


He motioned with his head for them to follow. Johnny and Roy exchanged a quick glance before complying. His lack of urgency about the situation and the doorbell conversation had them wondering what they were going to hear next.




The man’s wife was seated on a kitchen chair at the table, her hands resting on her lap. She was dressed in a blue checkered dress, with a white ruffle-trimmed apron on over it.


“She burned her finger tips on both hands. She didn’t want to go to the doctor, so I figured we should call the fire department. We’ve heard about you guys comin’ to the patient now.”


“Well, it doesn’t quite work that way,” Roy started to explain while his partner asked the woman if he could take a look at her hands.


Johnny carefully examined the extent of the burns while Roy continued to clarify that they were on call for emergencies, often life threatening, and not meant to replace a visit to the doctor.


“Oh, I see,” the man said when he was done. “Gosh, we certainly got that wrong, didn’t we Bertha?”


“Roy, she’s got first degree burns on two of her fingertips on the right hand, one on her left.”


Roy glanced at the injuries Gage was referring to. There were red patches on the three digits mentioned. He opened the black box they’d brought in to get the ointment they’d need to put on to soothe any pain. “How’d this happen?”


The husband walked over to the kitchen sink, which was apparently full of water. He pulled two oven mitts out and held the soaked padded cloth items over the sink as they dripped. The tips of both were scorched, each with a couple of small holes where the material was compromised.


This is what happened. She accidentally touched the tip of one to the lower element in the oven when she tried to pull the rack out some. . .it caught on fire and she burned the other one when she tried to put it out with it.”


“That’d do it,” Johnny admitted.


“We gottem both out pretty quick, though.”


“We can treat the burns here now,” Roy told them. “But with first degree burns, it’s just the top layer of skin involved and they can be managed at home without the need of a doctor’s care. What you should do after we leave is make sure the wounds stay clean, apply an ointment as you deem necessary. If there’s any sign of infection. . . or swelling of any kind. . .then contact your regular doctor. But I doubt you’ll have to worry about it,” he assured with a smile.


“What ever you young fellows say, right, Bertha?”


“Yes. I certainly don’t want a big fuss over this. Bad enough you called these firemen and they came with a siren. Are the neighbors gathering outside our door now?”


“If they are, at least you don’t hafta worry about ‘em ringing the heck out of your doorbell,” Johnny offered with a slight grin.




After a brief time the paramedics were on their way. A couple of blocks from the home, Johnny furrowed his brow as he watched ahead through the windshield.


“Ya know, there’s somethin’ I just don’t understand.”


“What’s that?”


“If Bertha and Frank could hear our siren as we approached. . .” He shifted his gaze to Roy. “Why wasn’t he at least near the door when we got there in the first place?”


“Maybe he was sitting down in a chair by her while they waited and it took him some effort to get up.”


Johnny nodded slightly as he again looked forward. Roy was probably right.




Johnny and Roy were on their way out of the area of homes when two little girls in still-dry swimsuits came running from a porch of a house off to the right in front of them, waving their arms in the air to get the men’s attention.


“Why can’t this ever happen with the twenty-one to twenty-five age group when we drive by?”


Roy rolled his eyes and smirked at his partner’s comment, then brought the squad to a stop near the curb. Johnny rolled his window down to see what the grade-school age kids wanted.


“You gotta help us! You just gotta!” One cried.


The other nodded anxiously. “Pleeeeaase. . .”


It was immediately obvious the girls were sincerely scared and what started out viewed as just a ‘kid’ thing suddenly registered alarm in the paramedics. 


Roy was on his way out of the squad as Johnny opened his door with, “Don’t worry, we’re gonna help. But first you need to calm down an’ tell us what we’re helpin’ ya with.” He closed the door just as Roy came around the front of the truck.


“It’s my little brother!” the first girl cried.


 The men eyed the house.


“Well, where is he?” Gage asked.


“In the pool! He can’t get out!”


The men had the squad compartments open in an instant, grabbed the biophone and oxygen tank, then ran as the girls followed them.


“That gate lead to your yard?” Johnny questioned regarding the closed entrance of a five-foot high redwood fence at the side of the house.




They ran straight toward it.  


“I’m not . . .s’posed to open. . . this,” the sister informed them about the gate after nearly as breathlessly telling them her brother’s name was Duhwayne and he wasn’t very old.


“You’re not,” Roy clarified as he reached over and lifted the black metal latch on it. “We are.”


“I hope Duwayne didn’t drown,” the friend sniffled as the foursome hurried to the in-ground pool in the backyard.


Both Johnny and Roy came to a quick halt and stood baffled as they stared at the little duckling swimming in the large deep pool. There was no sign of a child anywhere in the clear slightly chlorinated water.


“I thought you said your little brother was in the pool and couldn’t get out.”


The girl looked up at Johnny, here eyes still watery from crying. “He is.” She pointed toward the duck. “That’s him. That’s Duhwayne.”


“He’s a duck. . .”


“I know. But mommy says he’s my little brother. She says ‘time to feed your little brother again, he’s quacking’ an ‘watch your little brother why I make lunch’. . .he’s my brother,” she shrugged.


Roy had to grin. He understood perfectly. Though he and Joanne never referred to their pet, a dog, as a sibling to their children, they had friends who did with their own and the youngsters often took it to heart.


He squatted down to be closer to her level. “Where’s your mom now?”


“At the grocery store.”


He looked at their dry suits. “And you can’t get in the pool to get Dwayne out while she’s gone, right?”


“Uh huh,” she nodded, both her and her friend about in tears again. “And I was s’posed to leave him in his box in the house. We jus’ wanted to play with him on the patio, but he got in the pool when we went in the house to get some Kool-Aid.” Sobs started as she went on with, “I’m gonna get grounded. . .”


With that, it must’ve dawned on her friend whose problem it really was. The girl suddenly took off, calling over her shoulder, “I have to go home now!”


That had the ‘sister’ silent for a moment, stunned, then more upset at being alone in her troubles.


“So much for loyal friendship. Look, we’ll get Dwayne out,” Johnny said as he glanced around. He didn’t want to go for a swim chasing after a duck if he didn’t have to. Neither did his partner. Roy pointed to a large net used for cleaning the pool that was up against the house on the patio. Johnny trotted over and grabbed it. Soon he had Dwayne scooped up and on his way into the house.


He rinsed the bird off with clean non-chlorinated water under the kitchen faucet, then handed him to Roy, who had an open towel waiting.


After a few pats with that, he set the bird in his large wooden box that was in the corner of the kitchen, hay type grass lining the bottom of it.


“Shame on you, brother Duhwayne,” the girl scolded, her right index finger pointed at the duckling.


The paramedics returned to the back yard to retrieve their supplies, then headed around front, the gate closed and latched behind them.


When the two reached their squad, they turned to see the girl on the front porch smiling and waving.


“Take good care of your little brother!” Roy called out with a smile.


“I will. . .I will!”




Roy and Johnny climbed into the squad after returning the unneeded equipment to the compartments. As Roy turned the key in the ignition, Johnny commented, “Well, that was just ducky.”


“You wouldn’t be complaining if they’d been twenty-one to twenty-five year olds.”


“Yeah I would.”


“Even in swimsuits?”


“Roy, even I have my standards. Any adult chic that would consider a baby duck swimming in a pool of water an emergency is not for me.”


“So you don’t like the ‘mother hen’ type?”


“Ya know, you aren’t gonna quack me up with lines like that.  Besides, you used the wrong bird.”


The two exchanged grins as Roy drove the squad away from the address.




“Whataya say we stop by Rampart?”


Roy glanced at his partner. “We’re closer to the station.”


“I know, but I’m feeling a need to vent to an outside party.”




Gage grinned. “I can’t think of a better ear for listening, can you?”


Roy had to agree, he couldn’t. Unless she was busy helping with a patient or tied up with other work, she was always there to listen to their problems, any good news they may have or even sometimes give input to ideas they shared with her.

He took a left at the next intersection and headed toward Rampart General.


Johnny grabbed the mic off the dash and reported in their destination to LA Dispatch.




Just as they came around the corner and into the corridor where the base station was located, Dixie stepped around to the back side of the desk there and set down a patient’s chart with a huff. 


The paramedics exchanged glances when she looked at them with an obviously forced smile.


“Looks like we may not be the only ones venting,” Roy commented.


Johnny gave a slight nod in agreement as they approached the head nurse. With a wide crooked grin, partly in hopes of cheering her up, the dark-haired paramedic greeted, “Hi, Dix!”


“Well, hello yourself. What brings you guys by?” she asked looking from Roy to Johnny. “You need supplies?”


“No, actually we just came by to see you,” Roy explained.


“Oh, well, your timing couldn’t have been better,” she offered wryly as she looked down at the file.


Johnny eyed it as well. “Problems?”


He really hoped not. Because if that was the case, doorbells that were disconnected and a duck named Dwayne would be sidelined till later. And he really wanted to talk about both.


“Oh I don’t know. . .if you call a new young doctor who thinks he knows more than anyone else who’s been in this field for years a problem, then I suppose so.”


Both medics nodded while Roy acknowledged, “I’d say that’s a problem.”


“Kel’s in his office now trying to straighten a few things out. In the meantime, I’ve got a patient who was recently released that needs to come back in for further tests and soon. He’s not going to be happy when he finds out this all should’ve been done before he ever left.”


“Have Doctor Know-it-all tell ‘um,” Johnny suggested.


“I wish I could. But right now the less he does, the better off we are. He came in from San Francisco with a record that appeared to be good. But turns out, Doctor Brenner needs to be followed up on regularly.”


“I take it he won’t be here long?”


She looked at Roy. “Not if he doesn’t change his attitude.”


Johnny glanced down the corridor, toward Doctor Brackett’s office. “So he’s in there now. . .that’s the straightening the doc’s doin’?”


After she shook her head ‘yes’, he recalled back when he was new to the paramedic program and carried a bit of an attitude with Brackett himself. He and Roy had been called to the office as well. Even though the doctor had softened at the end of his lecture, it was a very intense mood in the room throughout.


Johnny shifted his gaze in the direction of the office again.


“If the guy has any sense at all, he’ll listen,” he said with a nod.




After a brief more time with Dixie, the paramedics were on their way back to the station. Roy glanced at his partner as he pulled into the street from the hospital lot.


“I guess Dwayne the duck was a blessing in disguise after all.”


Johnny cracked a grin and laughed slightly. “Yeah. Who knew that our story would be just what Dixie needed for a smile?”


They hadn’t told her about the disconnected doorbell. That didn’t matter anymore, frustrating or not. It was nothing compared to the issue at the hospital. But the little duckling seemed to be just what ‘the doctor ordered’, so to speak.




Roy and Johnny climbed out of the squad and sniffed the air.


“Whatever we’re havin’ for lunch smells great,” Gage said as he came around the front end of the truck.


“I thought I was hungry. Now I know I am.”


The younger paramedic grinned at the comment as the two headed toward the source of the aroma. They no sooner stepped into the room when the klaxons sounded. Both listened, along with members of the engine crew who were seated at the table in the kitchen area, to hear what kind of a run it would be.


“Squad 51, possible drug overdose, 321 North Hill Street, three twenty one North Hill Street, time out 13:40.”


“We’ll keep it warm for ya!” Chet Kelly called out as the paramedics hurried back to the squad. Captain Stanley quickly followed behind them, acknowledged the call at the podium in the apparatus bay, then handed Roy a slip of paper with all the information on it.  Immediately afterward, they were once again on their way.




Dixie McCall peeked inside Brackett’s office after the subject of his lecture had left.


“Well? How’d it go, Kel?”


“He’s one of the most stubborn people I’ve ever met. But we’ll see. I told him one more problem like we’ve had and he’s going to be searching for a new place to practice medicine. Also, good luck getting my recommendation if it comes to that.”


“Mr. Barnes is on his way in.”


“Great.” He pushed back his chair and stood. As he came around it he added, “Are we all set up?”


“One, Three and Four are all clear right now. You can use any of those unless something changes.”


She opened the door more as he approached. He grabbed the door edge and pulled it open further as she let go. The doctor then walked down the corroder with her, both hoping the new doctor problem was behind them.




Gage and DeSoto hurried into a one-story home, directly behind a young lady who was leading them to her roommate.


“I’m not sure what she’s on, but it’s like she’s in a trance or somethin’.”


As they passed through the livingroom, Johnny did a double take and felt as if his heart skipped a beat when he thought he saw three shirted, headless, armless torsos on the couch. That brief second look revealed that it was pillows lined up on it, each with a t-shirt covering it.


The paramedic breathed a sigh of relief and continued on with the others. It was just another confirmation they never knew what they would see while on a rescue.




“Nooo, get away from me! Get away!” The twenty-three year old woman screamed when she saw the two blue-shirted medics come toward her in the bedroom. Eyes open wide and filled with terror, she scooted along a wall near the bed, away from them.


“So much for being in a trance,” Johnny mumbled.


Roy didn’t respond, which wasn’t expected by the other anyway. Instead, he spoke to the girl in a soothing tone.


“It’s okay, Debbie, we’re just here to help you.” He slowly reached out with his right hand.


Apparently she saw more than was there because she screamed again as she surprisingly jumped to her feet and darted forward. Johnny had a dejavu’ of another run they’d been on where someone’s roommate was tripping when he reached for this one as well and found himself going down. Only before he had spun around and tripped on his own. This time he found himself caught off guard by her strength when she gave him a rough shove. The back of his lower legs suddenly slammed against the bed, the paramedic tumbled sideways over a corner of the mattress and landed with a thud on his left side on the gold colored shag carpeted floor.


He immediately scrambled to his feet to help his partner subdue the girl, whose arms were flailing as she fought back. A policeman had arrived on scene and rushed in at the sound of commotion. Two ambulance attendants came in behind him.


Soon Debbie was on her way to Rampart in an ambulance, restrained by straps, although her more docile behavior had returned as the men struggled with her. Still, the paramedics had been instructed to give her something to assure she’d remain calmer in transit. Roy rode in with her while Johnny followed behind in the squad. He’d assured his partner that the earlier fall to the floor had done no damage.


The ‘pillow torsos’ he’d seen lined up on the couch when they first went in, however, would stay with him awhile. Maybe eventually he’d see them as ‘far-out’, but for now they were just creepy.




“You sure you’re okay?” Roy asked when he met up with his partner at Rampart’s base station. Gage was rubbing his left elbow.


“Yeah. . .yeah, I’m okay. It’s just a little sore from landin’ on it. See?” He asked as he flexed his arm in demonstration. “Full motion, no pain.”


“Okay, I believe you.”




Knowing he wouldn’t get any farther on the subject anyway, Roy changed it.


“I wonder if things are any better since Brackett’s lecture.”


“Oh, you mean with the new doctor?”




Roy glanced around, but Dixie wasn’t anywhere to be seen to ask. She hadn’t been in the treatment room with Doctor Early and Debbie either. Chances were she was busy in another room with another patient. Same with Kel. 


“I guess we’ll need to ask later.”


They summoned another nurse to refill the supplies they’d just used, then headed back to the station again.




While on the way back, Johnny thought about the day so far.


“Disconnected doorbells, ducks in pools, t-shirts for pillow covers. . .Roy, I ask you, can this day get any stranger?”


“Well, if you hadn’t just said anything, I would’ve figured ‘no’. But since you had to ask, it probably will now.”


Johnny rolled his eyes at the comment as he watched out the front of the truck. He hoped Roy was wrong.




“What’s up?” Gage wondered with a slight grin as he and Roy entered the dayroom. The engine crew, minus Captain Stanley, was busy at the table with a game of cards.


“Your lunch is in the oven, it’s been on low to keep it warm,” Marco informed them.


Roy gave a smile. “Thanks.”


Chet Kelly added, “And the other dishes from lunch are waiting for you in the sink. It’s your turn to wash since we cooked.”


The younger paramedic looked over his shoulder at his partner.  “Well, that’s certainly normal for around here,” he commented dryly.


The engine crew members looked to Roy for an explanation.


“Don’t ask.”




“Somethin’ definitely needs to change around here,” Johnny commented as he dried another dish Roy had washed. The two had eaten their late lunch while they watched the others play a few rounds of poker, then proceeded on with their chore. He stopped in mid rub as he looked thoughtfully at the three engine crew members, then Roy. “Why should we be cleanin’ up the majority of the mess when the ones who made lunch created it?”


“I don’t hear you complaining when you’re the one who made the mess,” Chet pointed out.


Gage frowned while Roy admitted, “He’s right, you know.”


“Yeah, I know. I don’t like that he is, but I do know.”


“You’d stand a better chance of winning a hand of poker than going up against Cap about his rules regarding meals.”


“Marco’s right, too.”


“I know, I know,” Johnny assured with an irritated tone as he set the dry plate down on the counter and accepted another washed one from Roy.




About a half an hour after the dishes were done and put away, Dispatch sent the station out for a rescue involving a motor vehicle accident. Mike Stoker followed behind the squad in the engine as they headed for the scene several blocks away.







John put his right hand up beside his face to conceal the bewildered expression he wore after receiving a briefing from the officer at the scene of the two-car collision. Neither vehicle was totaled, but the occupants of both would need to be checked out by the paramedics.


“Tell me I’m dreamin’,” Gage mumbled.


Roy kept his eyes averted to the ground as he gave the only answer he could.


“Sorry, but you’re as awake as I am.”


“Oh man. . .”


“More like ‘oh no’, isn’t it?”


“Man, Roy. . .this is no time for jokes.”


“Who’s joking?”


“Well, which one are you gonna take?”


That was when it dawned on Johnny that he’d just made the mistake of the week; maybe of the whole entire month. He figured it could even be debated to be the mistake of the year. Because given a choice, Roy picked the mother with two crying kids and left his partner with a middle-aged man wearing nothing but a dish towel across his lap . . . period.


Dryin’ dishes’ll never be the same, Gage thought to himself.  





While Roy headed for his charges, Johnny tried to mask the awkwardness he felt with his as he approached the damaged two-door blue Camero. With the driver’s side door open, it was tough not to stare, thus he looked just about anywhere but there as he made his way over.


He glanced at Roy, who was smiling to reassure the scared little children as he began his assessment of the three occupants.


Johnny then forced a friendly lopsided grin at his patient. “Mr. Truman, I’m John Gage and I’m here to take care of ya. Officer Howard tells me that you’re feeling some pain. Can you tell me exactly where?”


Just as the last word left his mouth, Johnny realized that he may have just made the second mistake of the week. . .or month. Because when the man started to move slightly to show him, Gage noticed the towel moved as well. Quick thinking had his hand on Truman’s shoulder as he urgently called out, “Don’t move!”


The dark-haired paramedic lightened up a bit at the confused expression on the other’s face.


“You could be hurt somewhere that might be made worse by your motion. So it’s better if you just tell me . . .at least for now.”


“Oh. . .right. You know, that policeman told me the same thing.”


Johnny quickly glanced over his shoulder at Vince Howard, then returned his attention to the victim. 


“Okay, good deal. So now that we got that straight, can you tell me where ya hurt?”


The man nodded. “My neck kinda hurts. . .but just a little. My right ankle is killing me.”


“Anywhere else?”




“All right, lemme check you out here.”


He gently palpated the man’s neck, then with one wish to himself he’d taken the lady and her children, pulled back and moved to the other injury mentioned. He made sure not to look to his right while leaning in to examine the ankle.


“Cap said to see if you need any help,” Chet offered from behind Johnny. Gage couldn’t see his expression, but if he had, he’d have seen that the fireman didn’t want to be up close and personal with the toweled man either.  “He’s with Roy and Marco’s helping with traffic.”


Chet still couldn’t get over how the captain had assigned himself to assist Roy so fast. He was still calling out direction to his men as he was on his way to that car. Obviously sometimes it really paid off to be the senior officer, and this was certainly one of those times.


“Could you get me a c-collar and a splint? He’s complaining of possible neck pain and I think his right ankle may be fractured. I also need the bp cuff. Oh and a blanket. . .”




Any blanket.”


“Got it.”


Chet took off with a prayer of thanks that Gage was on the same page as him. Cover the guy up!


“You know, my mother always told me I’d better be sure I have a clean cover on me in case of an accident. I guess she was right.”


Gage snickered slightly at Truman’s comment that was usually heard in reference to underwear and accidents. “You’ve been doin’ this awhile I take it.”


“For years in my own home. Just the past six otherwise.”


“Can I ask you somethin’?”




“Vince. . uh. . .Officer Howard. . .told me you said you were on your way to a nudist colony north of Carson.”


“I sure was. Go there as often as I can.”


“Do you always drive up there like this? With just a towel I mean.”


“Not always. Sometimes I use a newspaper. Gives me something to read later.”


The paramedic had to smile and shrug slightly at that. He had to give the guy credit for being practical. He turned to accept the supplies from Chet.




Not long after the victims of the accident were taken to Rampart, Dixie found herself in a bargaining conversation with one of the patients. Lying on the exam table, an opened-backed hospital gown on and a sheet covering his lower half, Mr. Truman pleaded his case.


“Please, Miss McCall. I’ll even pay ya twenty dollars.”


She folded her arms across her chest. “Mr. Truman--”


Kel Brackett came back into the room with the man’s x-rays just in time to hear their patient say, “But I’m sure you’d agree this would be much better for me to wear in the car than a towel. I’ll bet those firemen would agree.”


She glanced over at the doctor. “He wants to keep the hospital gown for travel attire.”


The corner of Brackett’s mouth twitched as he grinned slightly. “I think we could afford to give up one.”


Dixie returned her gaze to the patient, “Congratulations, you’re now the proud owner of something the majority of people despise wearing.”


Mr. Truman couldn’t hide his happiness at the new addition. He certainly didn’t despise the clothing article that often exposed more than most cared to share with others. The victory even lessened his concern about the confirmed hairline fracture of his ankle and sprained wrist.




Johnny and Roy had stayed at Rampart to have a cup of coffee in the doctors’ lounge. They’d planned on leaving a little sooner, but with an opportunity to talk to the new young doctor everyone was so annoyed with, the two had decided to make themselves available from Rampart awhile longer.


The conversation was fairly normal, except for the arrogance that shown through when Brenner talked about how he was one of the best in the business at his previous place of employment. The best Johnny could sum him up in his mind was if Eddie Haskell from the ‘Leave it to Beaver’ TV show had become a doctor.


Yep, that pretty much fits. . .


After about twenty minutes of discussion, the doctor got to his feet from his seat at the table.


“Well, I’d better get upstairs. Rounds, you know.”


Before either paramedic could respond, he added, “Speaking of round, have either one of you ever ridden a unicycle?”


Gage and DeSoto glanced at each other, then looked to him as both shook their heads ‘no’.


“You should,” he said as he opened the door. With that, he left, the door closing behind him.


Johnny kept his gaze on the shut door before eyeing his partner, his brow furrowed in puzzlement.


Unicycle? The guy gonna tell us he headlined a circus next?”


“He just wants to drum up more business,” Roy stated, then took a sip of coffee.


Johnny nodded slightly with a snorted brief laugh. 




The paramedics were on their way out when they saw Dixie at her desk near the base station once again. The two sauntered up to check on the status of the victims they’d brought in.


“Maggy Wilson and her two little girls are doing okay. She’ll need to stay here a day or so for observation, but her husband will be taking the girls home later. Mr. Truman is getting a cast put on . . .he did fracture that ankle. So far his neck is about the same, just a bit sore. But that could change with time, as you know. So we’re sending him home soon with a collar and the agreement he’s to come back if it gets worse.  His ride’s upstairs with him now. Luckily she brought clothes.” She then smiled as she offered, “By the way, you might be seeing less of him on the street.”


“Don’t tell me he’s givin’ up driving.” 


He never struck Johnny as being the type to give up on anything.


Dixie shook her head. “Nope. But it seems he’s traded in his towel for a hospital gown. For travel purposes, anyway.”


“How’d you manage that?” Roy wondered.


She shrugged. “He came up with it all on his own.”


“I sure hope it doesn’t become a fad,” Gage stated wryly. “I’m not exactly ready ta see backsides everywhere we go.”


Roy snickered quietly. “C’mon, let’s go.”


“See ya, Dix.”




She briefly watched their backsides as they headed down the corridor.




On their way back to the station, Johnny and Roy were dispatched out for yet another rescue. They listened to the call information over the radio.


“That’s just two blocks over from here,” Roy stated when he heard the address.


Johnny picked up the mic and acknowledged, “Squad 51, 10-4.”


“A dog bite victim at a pet store, huh?” He commented with a glance at Roy as he returned the mic. “Imagine that.”


“I think we know of one dog who won’t be getting a home today.”




The pet store was located on a street with multiple small businesses on it. Parking availability was sparse since most consisted of parallel spots alongside the sidewalk. To avoid being an obstacle in the street, Roy pulled the squad roughly into an open space a few spots away from the address of the incident. A police car was in the prime spot in front of the store, obviously on scene due to the nature of the call. The officer had to be already inside the business since he wasn’t in his vehicle.


A couple of middle-aged women walking by with shopping bags in their hands glanced over as Johnny grabbed the biophone and trauma box, and Roy the drug box after they'd scrambled from their truck.


Two construction workers taking a break remained on a free-standing raised platform that was the distance of a few parking spaces down behind the paramedics' squad. The men were there to add a trim to the front of the two story building. In a golf stance, one practiced his swing using a hammer as the club. Neither expected the head of the hammer to come free from the handle and stood open mouthed in shock when it did, sailing through the air.




With the equipment in hand, the paramedics stepped away from their truck.


“I hope--”


Gage’s words were cut short when he felt a stunning impact on the top left edge of his head. The hammer piece had lost some of its momentum in flight and it was just a glancing blow, but the hit was enough to cause an explosion of white stars in his vision. The biophone and trauma box he’d been holding dropped to the ground and he jerked his left hand up to his head.




Roy shot a gaze to the boxes as they hit the sidewalk, then to the hammer head that had landed nearby.


Before it could even register what happened, he heard an older woman cry out, “He got hit in the head, I saw it!” 


Roy immediately turned his attention to his partner. He appeared dazed, his left palm partially bloodied when he slowly pulled his hand away from his head.






The construction worker stared in disbelief at what was now just a wooden handle in his right hand. He then looked at the innocent bystander he’d accidentally wounded.


That hapless bystander happened to be a fireman.


“Louie, I hit him!”


The man’s co-worker couldn’t believe it either. He’d never seen an incident of such uncanny timing before in his life.


Recovering somewhat from the shock, the two scrambled down the ladder attached to one side of the platform.




Roy quickly set the drug box down, then reached for Johnny to help him over to the squad back bumper, where he eased him to a seated position. 


In his still stuporous condition, Gage didn’t resist. Roy could see more blood on the side of the younger man’s head and it was already trickling down within his hair. It was no surprise since head injuries tended to bleed a lot.


He took a hurried step away and was right back with the trauma box. Once open, Roy grabbed a sterile pressure bandage. In seconds he had the sealed paper casing torn off and the patch on the wound. He then wrapped the injured man’s head with sterile gauze to hold the bandage in place. When he was done and the end was tucked underneath to secure, the hair on the top of Johnny’s head was still visible, as was the same below the wrap.


All the while Gage squinted, then would close his eyes tight with a grimace.


Roy kept talking to him throughout in an effort to assess his condition besides the obvious gash.


In the meantime, the construction worker could be heard apologizing as he and his partner approached.


“I’m sorry! I‘ve done that a hundred times and nothing like this has ever happened! I hadn't even used that hammer yet today!”


“When's the last time you inspected your tools? Roy wondered.


The man and his partner were silent, which was answer enough.


“Man. . .wha. . .what happened?” Gage questioned. Hammer was the only word that stuck in his mind from the conversation.


Roy glanced at the offending piece, then eyed his partner as he checked his pupils for reaction with a penlight. “You won’t believe it.”


Gage tried to shove the offending light away, but Roy stayed with it. He made the mental note that the light bothered his partner.


Just bear with me.


“Man. . .I feel. . .like I got. . .slammed.”


“Try hammered.”


Roy flicked off the penlight and returned it to his shirt pocket. He didn’t offer anymore of an explanation on exactly what happened for the moment. Right now he had a more pressing issue on his hands. He needed to provide more care for his wounded partner, but he also had a dog bite victim still waiting for care in the pet shop.  Technically the original call was supposed to take priority, but it wasn’t like he could just walk away from Gage.


Of course, the other victim could likely come out to him. It was a thought that crossed Roy's mind. But asking someone who was hurt in any way to come to them wasn't the usual practice, thus he didn't  want to assume it was the answer.


Roy turned to the construction worker. “You want to be of help?”


“Yeah,” he nodded. “Sure, just tell me what I have to do.”


But DeSoto had to delay any more on the exchange when Johnny nearly lost his balance, wobbling in his seated position. Roy immediately reached out to steady him by the shoulders.


Help me get him to the ground, he told the worker. But the man wasn't going to get off with just that.




“Try to stay with me, Johnny,” Roy directed after he and the other had carefully laid Gage down on the sidewalk.


“Yeah. . .yeah, I am. . .man, I am. 'm dizzy.”


Roy instructed the construction worker to go to the pet shop to let the officer inside know there’d be a delay on a paramedic and why. Also that he was going to request another squad be sent to the scene, as well as an ambulance.  


“Ask him if the victim inside can wait. Then come let me know.”


“Got it.”


The construction worker and his partner both ran toward the store, not thinking about the trouble the one could be in for what happened outside. The swinger figured being of so much help would make his case better anyway.


With that much taken care of,  Roy used the radio in the squad to contact Dispatch for a second squad and an ambulance at their location. Right afterward, he set up the biophone to contact the hospital.


“Man. . .” Johnny started to try to sit up, but beside him again, Roy gently forced him back down by the shoulders.


“Just lay still.”


He then continued with the biophone.


“Rampart, this is Squad 51.”


“Go ahead, 51,” came Brackett’s response.


“Rampart, we have a Code I at this location.” He glanced at the hammer head again, then his still woozy partner as he explained what he knew.


“Stand by for vitals, Rampart.”




Johnny winced as he slowly opened his eyes to slits again. He had a throbbing pain in his head and he just wanted it stopped. However, he had enough of his senses to know that wouldn’t happen until after a doctor saw him at Rampart.


He groaned and put a hand up to the bandaging. “Man. . .head hurts.”


“Take it easy,” Roy told him after reporting the vitals and latest development to the doctor.


In the meantime, his messenger pair had returned. The police officer would need to talk to Roy later about the incident outside, but for now he’d stay with the dog bite victim until the newly requested paramedics arrived. That was exactly what DeSoto had hoped for.




Roy felt more at ease once they were on their way to Rampart in the ambulance. Before they left, the paramedics from Squad 14 had found out that the pet shop victim wasn't hurt bad, rather a mother just wanted it documented whatever way she could that her young son had been bitten in the event she and her husband decided to sue the business. Since the boy didn't need to ride in an ambulance after being treated, one  of 14's medics would drive their squad to Rampart, the other Squad 51. Everything was under control.




Johnny was wheeled down the corridor at Rampart’s ER and into Treatment Room Three. Dixie waited by the open door, then followed the others in, letting it close.  


Roy and the ambulance attendants transferred Gage to the exam table. Dixie then worked to gather an update on his vital signs while Brackett pulled out a penlight to see if his pupils were still slightly sluggish.


Johnny didn’t like the bright light in his eyes again. It must’ve been obvious by the comment he got.


“I’m almost done, Johnny” Brackett assured with a warm smile and a twitch of the corner of his mouth. He then put the penlight away with “That's better.” An examination of the wound itself was next on his agenda. Once the gash was visible, he directed Dixie to let X-ray know they were ready for the portable unit they’d placed on standby. He wanted to make sure there wasn’t a fracture of the skull.


The police officer peeked in to see if he could talk to Roy. The paramedic gave one more concerned glance at his partner before complying.




Once it was clear the whole thing had been an accident, the police officer was on his way. No assault charges would be filed, but under a workplace state safety law, the construction company would be required to inspect all of their tools and replace any showing wear or face a safety violation fine in addition to the one they would from the hammer incident.


Roy waited outside the treatment room with Dixie and Brackett while the x-ray technician did his work.


The other paramedics had given Roy the key to Squad 51, so he’d gotten permission from Captain Stanley to remain at Rampart until Gage’s replacement was on his way to the station.




Luckily nothing more serious than a concussion resulted from the injury, though that alone could cause a few problems as time progressed. Thus Johnny would need to stay at Rampart for observation. After the stitches were in to mend the gash, he was transferred to a room where he’d be until later the next day or longer if complications developed.


“Given the object, if it had been more of a direct and forceful blow, it could have depressed the skull,” Brackett reminded Roy. “We’d be looking at a very serious situation in that case. He’s fortunate it happened like it did.”


He wasn’t telling Roy anything the paramedic didn’t already know and think about.  


Maybe the way it turned out was just another quirky turn in their day. Whatever brought on the luck, Roy was just glad it did. He’d take the outcome with gratitude. 




The next morning, Roy stopped by with Chet to see how Gage was fairing and if he’d gotten any rest through the night. Having changed into civilian clothing at the station before leaving, the two were dressed comfortably in blue jeans and short-sleeved button down casual shirts.


When he opened the door to the room, Roy had to grin at his partner’s attire. It was far from what one would call comfortable; the infamous open-backed hospital gown. Not so funny was the gauze bandage that covered the area where he'd been shaved to allow for them to close the gash with four stitches.


“I hear that’s the latest fad,” Roy said lightly as he and Chet entered.  


Johnny screwed up his face in puzzlement. “Huh?”


Chet didn’t get it either and looked at Roy in question.


“The gown.”


Johnny looked down, careful to move his bandaged head slowly. The dizziness had diminished greatly, but there was no sense in pushing it.


“Oh.” He cracked a slight lopsided grin as he returned his attention to his visitors. “Oh yeah. . .yeah. So I hear.”


“What’re you guys talkin’ about?” Chet wondered.  


They went on to explain the inside joke, which just got a headshake from their shiftmate and friend.  


“But I’ll sure take that covering a nudist over a towel.”


“Or a newspaper,” Johnny added.




After a short time together, the door opened and the threesome were joined by Doctor Brenner. He was making rounds and though Johnny’s hourly check wasn't on his schedule, he'd decided he was going to do it regardless. Whoever came behind him could just double check his work, which he knew they were doing anyway.


He wrote down the latest information on Gage’s chart as he went down the list. When he was done, he hung the clipboard with the chart back on the end of the bed.  “You passed with flying colors.” On the way to the door, he added, “Looks like we both may be out of here soon.”


“You’re leaving? For good?”


Johnny noticed Roy looking at him. Both wondered if Brackett had finally had enough of the guy's attitude.


“That’s right. This place just isn’t for me. I can do better. So I’ll be gone a week from today,” he shrugged.


The three firemen watched silently as he left, neither sure what to say.


“He can do better?” Johnny finally asked. “What’s that supposed. . . to mean? This is a damn good hospital.”


“And it’ll be just fine without him,” Roy assured.


“How ‘bout fillin’ me in on that one, too.”


Roy complied with Chet's request.


Later they'd all find out that though Brenner had gotten Johnny's check right, going against direction once again like he had would get him out of Rampart sooner than was expected.




“There, how’s that?” Johnny asked as he stepped back from the leather couch in the dayroom, hands on his hips. It was his first shift back since the hammer head incident and in his brief extended time off, he’d devised a plan for fixing up what he deemed a ‘boring’ décor at the station.


Roy stood with his arms folded across his chest. “I’m not sure the guys are gonna like it.”


“Not like it? C’mon, Roy. Ya gotta admit, they’re pretty far-out.”


He nodded. “Far out fits.”  


“Good lord, what are those?”


Both men turned to see Captain Stanley just inside the doorway, his coffee cup in hand, a sour expression on his face.


“Pillows with covers,” Johnny offered. “You know, to liven up the place.”


“Liven up? It looks more like you killed three people.”


Roy smirked as the captain came closer. The t-shirt covered pillows Gage had brought in were going over about as well as he’d expected. He didn’t get how Johnny saw them as an improvement. To him they just looked kind of creepy.


“I saw the idea on a rescue, Cap. Pretty far-out, huh?”


“Far out. Now there’s an idea. I want those things far out of here. Now,” he added when nobody moved, thankfully including the three ‘torso’ looking things.


Johnny gathered up his three pillows and headed for the door, his arms full. He couldn’t really blame the captain. He recalled how he hadn’t liked the things the first time he saw them either. But the idea had grown on him, just like he’d thought it might. Maybe someday they’d be a hit at the station. He’d just have to wait for better timing. Perhaps on another quirky kind of day.





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This was inspired by the picture, of course. The nudist was inspired by a neighbor my in-laws used to have, however in habit of driving around with a towel on his lap only. <G> My sister makes pillow covers from old t-shirts (she sews hers), but when I came home and slipped on my own here, I forgot to tuck in the sleeves and thus another idea was born.  :o)  Any medical errors are mine, of course.  :o)



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