By Audrey W.





“What happened to you?” Chet Kelly questioned when a hobbling John Gage came into the locker room at Station 51.


John’s partner Roy DeSoto was with the younger paramedic. But if he knew anything as to why the other wasn’t walking normally, didn’t show it. Having just arrived for duty and still in their civilian clothes, both headed for their respective lockers to get ready for the start of their shift.


Gage grimaced as he stepped over a bench in front of the locker wall.


“Chet, you wouldn’t believe me if I told ya.”


The mustached fireman grinned. “Now you’ve got me really curious. C’mon. . .spill.”


“I don’ know. The last person I told didn’t show much concern once he found out,” he offered with a quick glare in Roy’s direction.


The older paramedic shrugged. “I told you why. You have to admit, it was a valid point.”


Chet looked at one then the other from where he stood in front of his locker in a section across from the end of theirs.


“This has gotta be good.”


Gage turned and sat down on the edge of his open locker with a sigh, his unbuttoned light blue uniform shirt hanging loosely over his white t-shirt. “Okay. Fine. I’ll tell ya.”


Chet took one step closer, anxious to hear.


“Shadow,” the dark-haired paramedic stated.


Chet’s eyebrows raised n surprise. “Don’t tell me you tripped over your own shadow!”


“No! No, of course not. Well, not exactly. . .not in the way you mean anyway.”


“Are you following this?” The still baffled fireman asked Roy, not really expecting an answer since Roy already knew what happened.  


“My dog Shadow. An’ for pete’s sake, don’t ask if I tripped over Shadow’s shadow next. I was walkin’ through the kitchen an’ somehow my foot got caught on his leg and next thing I know, I’m in a chair looking at an already swollen and bruising little right toe.”


“Oh c’mon. He’s not that big of a dog. You had to’ve done it some other way.”


Gage shook his head. “Nope, it was him. I think my toe got pulled out to the side, ‘cause it feels like more of a base injury.”


Chet gave it a few seconds of thought, then asked, “How’d the dog fair?”


Gage’s mouth dropped open as he looked from one shiftmate to the other, then back and to the other again.


“Man, both of ya? It’s all I could do to get my shoe on this mornin’ and you’re more worried about the dog? I woulda’told ya if anything happened to him. First.”


“Well, he does have a tendency to follow in your footsteps. . .” Chet offered with a playful smile.


“Okay, I’ll give ya that. He does,” he admitted as he stood and grabbed his uniform trousers off a hanger inside his locker. It was true, he and his dog seemed to share common ground when it came to getting sick or hurt. “But still, you could show a little more concern for a guy when he’s wounded. . .sorta.”


Roy and Chet exchanged amused grins, then continued to get ready.




As he waited in line for roll call, Gage thought back to the incident two days earlier that left him gimping.




“Hey, Shadow!” He called out to his dog as the animal greeted him eagerly at his front door just inside his apartment. He’d just gotten off duty and was looking forward to being with his canine buddy for a couple of days. The two would soon be on a hike in the hills just outside of town.


Though Shadow had the company of a neighbor who took care of him while his owner was on duty, no one could take the place of the latter. Thus Shadow was always excited when John came home. 


The black dog trotted along side his owner, his tail wagging wildly as the two headed for the kitchen.


“Ready for some breakfast, Shad? I know I am.”


Gage got Shadow set with his food and re-filled the water bowl. He then went to his bedroom down the short hallway from the livingroom, to get changed into comfortable clothes before having his own breakfast.


Soon dressed in navy blue sweat pants, shirtless and barefooted, he returned to the kitchen. Shadow had finished his food and met him just as he came back into the room.


“Okay, let’s see--”


John’s words were cut off as he felt a sharp pain shoot through his right foot and little toe as it smacked against a resistant surface.


An array of mumbled swear words escaped his lips as he hobbled over to a kitchen chair and sat down. A quick glance revealed an already larger than normal and slightly discolored little toe.




It didn’t take John long to figure out what had happened when he looked behind him. Since Shadow had followed him, it was clear there was no stationary obstacle that had been in his way. It left only one explanation. He’d obviously somehow caught his little toe on one of Shadow’s feet or legs and unfortunately managed to hit it in a manner to likely have fractured it.  The good news was, the dog was fine. But Gage was going to be struggling to where a shoe comfortably for a few days at least.


He patted his canine pal on the head with a sigh as he eyed the swollen right digit.


Man, this is so *wrong*.




John was brought out of his thoughts by the captain clearing his throat.


“Can I start the briefing?” He asked the inattentive paramedic.


“Huh?” He glanced at the others in line with him staring at him.


“You sure you didn’t hit your head, too?” Chet teased from three spaces down.


“You looked like you were a million miles away in thought,” Captain Stanley explained. “Now that I have your attention, should I begin?”


“Oh. . .sure, Cap.” He gave a lopsided grin and a slight laugh.


But Hank Stanley had another question for one of his crew members first.


“Chet, what do you mean by ‘too’?” His gaze shifted from the firefighter to the youngest crew member as he scanned the other men between them as well. “Is there something you guys aren’t telling me?”


John said ‘no’ at the same time Chet and Roy indicated there was.


The captain eyed him expectantly.


“Okay. . okay. It’s not a big deal.  I just kinda broke my little toe on Shadow’s leg.”


“Your dog?”


He nodded. “My dog.”


“Is he okay?


John’s shoulders sagged with a sigh.




John Gage hobbled down the corridor at Rampart General Hospital’s ER, in search of his partner Roy DeSoto. The blond paramedic had driven their rescue squad in from the scene of a mishap, while John rode in with a victim in an ambulance. As a result, the dark-haired paramedic had gotten there first since Roy stayed behind a few minutes with their captain.


It was the first rescue of their shift and still in the earlier hours of the morning, just after 9:30.  Gage was hopeful Roy would agree to grabbing a cup of coffee and donut in the cafeteria before they returned to their station.


As he neared the desk by the base station, he saw Roy come around the corner from the entrance. At the same time he heard a familiar voice from behind.


“What’d you do?”


He spun around to see Dixie McCall standing with her gaze on his right foot. Now here was someone he could count on for a little sympathy and compassion. He was sure of it.


After a brief snorted laugh, he offered, “You aren’t gonna believe this.”


Roy joined them as Dixie walked around to the other side of the desk, where she plopped a stack of papers down on it. “Try me,” she said dryly.


He hesitated with Roy nearby, but then offered, “I. . . uh. . .I fractured my little toe.”


“Ouch! What’d you do, hit it on a table leg? Or a chair?”


John tried to hide the satisfied grin that was forming. He’d been right. Dixie was going to come through.


“Guess again,” Roy put in. “Think of the most unlikely cause and you may get it right.”


Dixie looked to John, who was now in turn eyeing Roy in annoyance.


“Well, I guess a UFO would be a huge a stretch,” she kidded to keep the mood light.


It worked.  


“Yeah,” Gage agreed with a snicker. “Actually it was Shadow. My dog Shadow.  Somehow I managed to catch it on his leg just the right. . .or wrong. . .way and there it was.”


“Is he okay?”


John folded his arms across his chest and once again found himself sighing before explaining that, yes, Shadow was unharmed.


The paramedics were about to leave when Doctor Brackett approached after coming out of the treatment room their patient was taken to.




Both men turned to face him.


“How’s he doing, Doc?” Gage wondered.


He briefly glanced over his shoulder. “Good. He’s going to be moved up to a room for observation soon. If all goes well, I’ll probably release him tomorrow morning.”


“That’s great,” Roy put in.


The doctor smiled, then turned a little more serious as he addressed John.


“I noticed you were limping when you brought Mister Fallsworth in. Is it something I need to take a look at?”


He shook his head. “Just my little toe. I already taped it to the one beside it a couple of days ago.”


“Oh. Well, what happened?”


John eyed the others. He then returned his attention to Brackett.


“Let’s just say the dog is fine, I will be and leave it at that.”


He was happy when the doctor agreed, though Brackett remained somewhat puzzled. Dixie could explain it to him later.


As John and Roy walked away, the latter questioned, “So why didn’t you let Brackett take a look at your foot? You finally got what you’ve been looking for all morning; a sympathetic ear.”


Gage shook his head. “It’s only my little toe, Roy. Sheesh.  It’s not that bigga deal. I’m just glad that all things considered, Shadow and I didn’t end up at the vet’s office.”


Roy paused a few seconds as his partner continued on. He had just one thought on his mind.






This was inspired by my own encounter with my dog. Never would have thought it could be done, but reality proved otherwise. :o)  My dog was fine, too. :o)




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