Melvin's Super Secret Project
(aka: How to Shrink a Paramedic In 12 Steps or Less.)
This story is a sequel to Knee High to a Grasshopper
Rampart Hospital…a facility everyone was familiar with as a patient friendly place… where nothing out of the ordinary would ever occur…or would it?
Johnny pressed the button near the bed and turned off the television. He looked around his room at Rampart and sighed. The paramedic pondered the chain of events that had brought him here the day before.
He’d had an accident with the squad after responding to a call for a child down. The young boy had been mixing chemicals and created one with fumes that overcame him. It was a formula that was supposed to be able to shrink things. The formula had spilled on Johnny during the accident and he had been lost in the outdoors overnight. He recalled the dream he’d had about fighting giant insects and being a half-inch tall.
The door opened as Doctor Brackett walked in.
“Well, Johnny, how’re you feeling?”
“Better…not nearly as tired.”
“Good! You’ve sure gotten plenty of rest,” Brackett grinned. “For the most part, that’s what you needed. You’ll probably be sore for a while though. Some of your bruises are pretty deep. You’re lucky you didn’t break any bones.”
Johnny glanced down at the black and blue marks that were at random on his arms. “That’s okay…at least it’s all up hill from here.”
Brackett eyed the young man, studying him for a reaction. “You remember what happened after your accident yet?”
“Uh…no…no…not really.” Johnny thought back to bits and pieces of his conversation with Roy and Captain Stanley.
“You'd better talk to Brackett about your dream."… “He should at least know that formula got on you.”
The doctor could see Johnny was taking time to consider something. “Johnny? You remembering anything in particular?”
Johnny looked towards the wall. He didn’t know how to tell Brackett the truth.
“Yeah…I…” Johnny stared down at the blanket on the bed. “I had a dream while I was out I guess…or that formula made me hallucinate. I dreamed I was…tiny…I…shrank.” He looked up at the doctor to see his reaction.
Brackett had a smirk on his face. “Shrank?”
“Yeah…it’s silly, anyway,” Johnny quickly added, seeing the expression on the doctor’s face. “Everyone knows people can’t shrink.”
Not wanting to discourage his patient from talking, Doctor Brackett quickly hid his amusement over Johnny’s answer. “Did you breathe in a lot of fumes?”
“No…well, yeah…but it got on me when I wrecked the squad. It was all over my uniform and soaked through to my skin,” Johnny hesitated. “Doc, it didn’t burn me anywhere…did it?”
“No, no…we didn’t see any signs of skin damage anywhere. But I had no idea it actually made contact with your skin,” Kel was holding Johnny’s chart in his hands. “I’m still waiting for the results of the test on the formula. I’ll call down and see if they can be delivered ASAP.”
“You don’t think there’s any long term dangers, do you?”
“I don’t know, Johnny. I hope not.” He hung the chart back on the end of the bed. “Let me go call now. I’ll be right back.”
As the door closed behind the doctor, Johnny pondered the situation. What was in that formula? Why was the dream so vivid…if it was a dream.
Doctor Brackett picked up the phone at the nurses station and dialed the lab. After three rings, the line was picked up.
“Laboratory” The voice on the other end answered.
“Hi, this is Doctor Brackett. Whom am I speaking to?”
“Melvin Myers, chemist extraordinaire,” came a gleeful reply.
Brackett smiled at the man’s reply. “Mister Myers, I recently had a sample of a chemical mixture sent down for analysis. Would you know anything about it?”
“Yes, sir, I just recently finished the test.”
“It’s important I get the results soon. I have a patient who had the mixture spilled on him two days ago and I need to know if there’s a chance of long term effects from the chemicals.” Brackett chewed his lower lip, waiting for a response.
The excitement at the thought of the formula spilling on a person kept Melvin from responding right away. He quickly thought about the past couple of days and what had been the talk of the hospital. The hero fireman had disappeared out in the countryside after having an accident on the way back from a run…a run to the house where the boy who invented the formula lived. Melvin knew that the fireman had to be the patient Brackett was talking about.
Melvin swallowed hard and composed himself, trying to contain his sudden exuberance. “I have the results right here, Doctor. The test showed the chemicals used were no more effective than plain water. Just the fumes they created were strong.”
“You’re sure?” Though Brackett didn’t expect the homemade formula to be able to do anything, he had expected it to be of some significance.
“Yes, sir. I ran it twice and it came up the same way both times.”
C’mon, give it up, Brackett…I’ve got research to do…I’ve got a fireman to track down.
“Okay, thank you.” Kel hung up the phone.
Well, at least Johnny doesn’t have to worry about any lasting side effects from the stuff.
Johnny looked up as the door opened again.
“Good news,” Doctor Brackett began, “the mixture of chemicals was as harmless as water.” He smiled.
“I guess I don’t have to worry, then, huh Doc?”
But something had to explain the shrinking…or the hallucinations regarding it. It was all so real.
“I’d say not. Maybe the dream you had was a combination of the fumes and hitting your head.”
“Yeah…probably it.” But I don’t remember hitting my head in the squad…
Brackett checked Johnny’s vitals, then picked up the chart at the foot of the bed and wrote them down.
“I’d say you can go home tomorrow. Everything looks good.”
Johnny smiled. “Great! No offense, Doc, but I kind of am partial to my own place.”
“I understand. Completely,” Kel laughed.
The young nurse pushed the dinner cart down the hallway. Just a few more meals to deliver and she could take her evening break. As she stopped outside one of the rooms, someone came up behind her. She turned around to see a rather short, skinny guy with black-framed glasses wearing a white uniform standing there, grinning.
“You look awful,” the man commented. “You want me to do that for you?”
“I said, you look awfully tired,” Melvin quickly corrected. The last thing he wanted was an offended nurse. He needed to get on her good side so she would accept his help and he could find out what room the fireman was in. He knew he was on the right floor. An orderly in the hospital had been able to tell him that much.
“Oh…well, it’s been a long afternoon. As soon as I get these last few dinners delivered I get a break.”
He pointed at the trays on the cart. “You want me to do that for you so you can go on your break now?”
“Well…I…I don’t think I should…I may get in trou--”
“Oh come on!” Melvin prodded. “No one will ever know. Just tell me who gets what,” he grinned.
The young nurse smiled. “Okay…but don’t tell anyone I did this. I’m new to the job and I don’t want to get fired. The room numbers and names of the patients are on the trays.” She pointed at one of the labels.
“John Gage…217” Melvin read. He looked at the number on the door. “Well, looky here. That’s this room.”
“Yes, it is…”
“Who’s John Gage?”
The nurse’s features brightened at the thought of the handsome fireman on the other side of the door. “Oh, he’s a paramedic. He was in an accident the other day, but he’s doing much better now. He’ll be going home tomorrow.” Now that she had thought about it, she would much rather give Johnny his dinner than take an early break. “You know…maybe I’ll just deliver his tray and then take a break.”
Melvin looked in horror at the young woman. “And let him see you looking like that?”
“I look that bad? I know I’m tired, but--”
“If you like the guy, I’d wait till I was starting out fresh, if I was you.” Melvin paused, before continuing. “Speaking from a guy’s point of view, of course.”
“Of course,” the nurse echoed.
“Now, go take that break and I’ll handle these,” Melvin indicated the dinner trays on the cart.
“Okay,” the nurse was still hesitant, but went along with the deal. “Thank you…uh…I don’t know your name.”
“Just call me Bob.”
Melvin had picked an easy spy name to remember. All he had to do was recall it sounded the same frontward and backward and the name Bob would automatically come to mind.
“Thank you…Bob.” She turned and walked down the hall.
Melvin stood outside Johnny’s room a moment. He rubbed his hands together deviously.
What luck this is…now I can at least see who I need to keep an eye on…I wonder if I can get him to tell me anything? Melvin shrugged. Can’t hurt to try.
Melvin picked up the tray and opened the door with one free hand, resting the tray on his arm.
Johnny smiled as he saw the door open. He thought a cute nurse would be serving him dinner. When the open door revealed a scrawny guy with black-framed glasses and thinning brown hair, Johnny’s smile turned to a frown.
“Hello there!” The man smiled wide. “You’re John Gage, right?”
“Right…” Johnny answered hesitantly.
“Well, have I got a dinner for you!” Melvin added boisterously.
This guy is way too happy.
“Here, let me get you set up.”
Melvin set the dinner tray on the small table stand across the bed and pushed it close to Johnny.
“Uh…I…uh…didn’t you see a nurse out there?” Johnny asked, motioning towards the hallway. He could’ve sworn he had heard a woman’s voice just a few minutes ago.
“Nope. Just me.” Melvin smiled again. “Well, enjoy your dinner!”
He turned to walk away. Johnny watched as the strange man started to leave, then brought his attention to the dinner in front of him. He picked up his fork and began to move the green beans around, as if inspecting them.
Suddenly Melvin turned to face Johnny.
“I heard you had a…uh…small…problem the other day.”
Not expecting any more conversation and especially that, Johnny dropped his fork with a clank.
Both men stared at one another suspiciously, trying to figure each other out. Melvin could see the effect his comment had on Johnny.
Johnny was wondering who this man was and what he had been told.
“What do ya mean?”
“Oh…I’m sorry.” Melvin acted embarrassed. “I just heard you were missing for a day or so…thus a small problem.”
“Oh...” Johnny was still not sure what to think. Who was this guy? “Well, yeah…I was, but I made out okay.”
“How did you do it?”
“I…uh…look…I’m really not in the mood to discuss this with a …with anyone.” Johnny narrowed his eyes. “Who are you again?”
“Bob. Well, hope you get out of here soon, Mr Gage. Enjoy your meal.” Melvin opened the door and walked out to the cart, letting the door close behind him.
So, John Gage, I wonder if you’ll have any side effects…?
Johnny stared at the door ‘Bob’ had gone out of. Where had that goofy guy come from? Johnny shook his head.
“Man, I hope this male nurse thing isn’t a new trend here,” he muttered to himself.
Boredom setting in and a lack of interest in his dinner had Johnny thinking about other things.
I wish I’d at least broken a bone or two so I could see that new nurse in orthopedics again…Amy Carew…Amy…
He thought about the brunette nurse who had turned him down inside of two minutes a few days before.
Then again, if broken bones are what it takes to get her attention, is it worth it? But she was so incredible!
Johnny shoved the table with the full dinner tray away. He lay back against the pillow and closed his eyes. Maybe he’d be lucky and fall asleep until it was time to go home in the morning.
The beetle went into the rock crevice and crawled over to the sleeping paramedic. It began to turn him over with its legs. It then got its pinchers around his waist and lifted Johnny off the ground, carrying him away to its burrow.
Johnny sat straight up in the bed, his heart racing. He looked around to make sure he was still in Rampart.
Oh man…just a dream…I gotta stop this…
He swiped his hand across his forehead and felt the sweat on his brow. Johnny threw back the covers and swung his legs over the side of the bed. Since his IV had been removed earlier in the day, getting up and about was much easier. He looked around and noticed his dinner tray was gone.
Must’ve gotten it while I was asleep…I guess Brackett wanted them to let me get more rest.
Slowly getting to his feet, Johnny made his way over to the bathroom. There he splashed cold water on his face and looked in the mirror.
“What happened after the accident?” He asked himself. “Did I really shrink?”
Morning came and it was time for Johnny to go home. A-shift was on a forty-eight hour break, so Roy was able to give him a ride home. There, Johnny saw that his Land Rover had already been driven back to his apartment. What neither he nor Roy noticed was that they were followed by a blue Buick Skylark. The Skylark parked on the side of the street as Johnny and Roy went up the steps to Johnny’s apartment.
“So, this is where you live, John Gage,” Melvin said to himself, as he watched the men go into the apartment. “Good, not too far from Rampart. Convenient. Very convenient.”
He looked at his watch. It was eleven-thirty. He had thirty more minutes left on his lunch hour. Now that he had the information he needed, Melvin pulled the Skylark away and left to get a burger at a fast food place.
“So, how’s it feel to be home?” Roy asked. He still was feeling a bit awkward about the whole shrinking Johnny issue. Though he tried to deny it to himself, deep down he still believed it. He just wasn’t sure he should tell his partner that.
“Great!” Johnny grinned. “Nothing beats coming home after an ordeal like…” he paused, his smile fading. “Uh…you know…after being stuck outside and all.”
“Yeah…I can imagine. Times we’ve taken the kids camping or I’ve gone on Boy Scout trips with Chris, it’s always been nice to get home to our own place.”
Johnny nodded. He wanted to talk to Roy about the past few days, but he knew the awkwardness was still there. He couldn’t be sure Roy would be able to help him sort things out. He could always find out little by little over the next few shifts.
“Well, I’ll see you at work day after tomorrow,” Johnny said as he sat on his couch.
Roy looked at his partner. “You got a hot date coming over or something?”
“You’re getting rid of me awful quick.”
“Oh…no,” Johnny didn’t smile. “I need to think about some stuff is all.”
Roy walked over to the door and rested his hand on the knob, as he was about to leave.
“If you don’t feel ready to come back work that soon, you know Cap’ll understand.”
“Roy, I need to go to work. I’m ready.”
“Okay,” Roy smiled, opening the door. “See you later, then, partner.”
“Thanks again for the ride home.”
“Sure thing,” Roy shut the door behind him and walked down the steps.
I wish I could be sure Johnny wouldn’t think I was nuts if I told him what I thought happened.
Johnny’s first day back at work was going smoothly. Although Johnny took a bit of ribbing from Chet for wrecking the squad, nothing had been mentioned to any of the men about the strange circumstances surrounding Johnny’s rescue. Neither Roy nor the captain mentioned about Johnny being soaked when they found him and the only water anywhere nearby was just a puddle. Johnny had been too exhausted to know the difference and the other men there were afraid of sounding crazy if they said anything.
After a few calls and a few trips to Rampart, Roy and Johnny found themselves standing by Dixie’s desk again after yet another rescue.
“So, you glad to be back in the swing of things, Johnny?” Dixie asked, smiling at the younger paramedic.
“Oh, you bet. I’d much rather be here on the job than as a patient.”
“And we’d much rather have you here on the job than as a patient.”
“Here’s the supplies we need,” Roy said, handing Dixie a piece of paper. He watched as Dixie turned around and started to rummage through the supplies behind the counter.
Johnny looked around casually, his gaze stopping when he saw a familiar face looking back at him. The past couple of times they were at the hospital, the same person had been in the area. The man quickly looked away and busied himself with a cart.
What is up with that Bob guy? Johnny wondered. Am I the only one who notices him?
Johnny glanced at Roy to check the progress of the supplies, then looked back to ‘Bob’. Once again, he caught ‘Bob’ looking at him, then quickly turning his attention to something else. Johnny tapped Roy on the shoulder.
“What is it?” Roy asked.
Johnny pointed towards ‘Bob.’ “See that guy over there?”
Roy looked over the many people in the hallway.
“The one with the black…framed…glass…es,” Johnny trailed off when he saw no sign of the man. “Where’d he go?”
Roy gathered up the supplies. “Thanks Dix.” Turning his attention back to Gage, “I don’t know where your friend went, Johnny, but I know where we better be going.”
“He’s not my friend, Roy,” Johnny answered tightly. “He’s the male nurse I told you about that brought my dinner the other day.”
“Oh, the guy who was too cheerful?”
“Yeah, him. He keeps looking at me.”
“He probably thinks you’re cute,” Roy said, smirking. Dixie couldn’t help but grin at Roy’s reply.
“Ha ha…oh never mind. He’s gone now anyway.”
“Let’s go. Thanks again, Dix,” Roy said as he stepped away from the desk.
Johnny gave one last look to where ‘Bob’ had been and turned to leave. “See ya, Dix.”
After she saw Johnny and Roy go around the corner to the exit doors, Dixie looked around the hallway for the man Johnny had described.
I don’t remember a male nurse named Bob working here. Hmmm…well, he’s probably fairly new.
Melvin was back down in the lab, once again looking at the jar marked Snivlem Repus Terces Tcejorp. So far his guinea pig by fate hadn’t shown any lasting effects from the formula. It had only been a few days, but most likely if anything were going to happen, it would have within the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours after the incident. That’s how it always happened on television, after all. Maybe he was going to have to try something else.
Melvin heard another one of the chemists approaching the lab. He quickly stashed his special jar back in the cabinet behind the other bottles.
“Hey, Melvin…where have you been?”
Melvin turned around to face the older co-worker.
“I…I wasn’t feeling very well. I just went to sit down for a while in a lounge.”
“Okay. But next time, tell someone,” the man lectured. “You’re on the clock, don’t forget.”
“Yes, sir.” Melvin sneered as the man walked back out the door. “Just you wait,” he muttered to himself. “You won’t be bossing Melvin Myers around. With John Gage’s help, I’ll be the most famous guy in the world.”
On the drive back to the station, Johnny couldn’t get ‘Bob’s’ strange behavior out of his head. After giving it more thought he turned in the seat and faced Roy. Sensing Johnny’s stare, Roy sighed.
“Okay, out with it.”
“Out with it…you’re dying to say something, so go on. Get it over with. I know things won’t be the same till you do.”
Johnny glared at his partner. “Oh, I’m not that bad. But okay. I will.” Johnny shifted again in his seat. “That ‘Bob’ guy--”
Roy rolled his eyes and nodded. I knew it.
“Roy, I’m serious! The guy is weird. He acts like he’s watching me, but like he doesn’t want me to know.”
“Johnny, it’s probably your imagination. He’s most likely looking at Dixie or something.” Roy paused, debating if he should say the rest. “It’s not like you don’t have an active imagination. After all, you said it seemed so real when you were fighting bugs.”
Roy regretted his words as soon as he saw the hurt look on Johnny’s face. He knew he, too, had figured that all that stuff may have happened to the younger paramedic, so it wasn’t fair to throw the ‘active imagination’ line in Johnny’s face on his first day back.
“Look, I’m sorry. I just think you’re worrying too much about this guy,” Roy glanced over to see if his words were helping. “ It’s Rampart, Johnny. It’s just your average hospital.”
Johnny turned to face the front of the squad again. “You’re right. I guess I’m just paranoid after the past few days.”
Roy was now backing the squad into the station. “It’s understandable, but be careful what you say. You don’t want Chet harassing you the rest of the shift.”
“Yeah,” Johnny snorted. “You got that right.”
The remainder of the shift proved to be a busy one both for the engine and the squad. When they finally got off duty, all of the guys on A-shift were ready to go to their homes and get some rest.
Johnny climbed into his Land Rover and turned on the ignition.
“So what are your plans for the day?” Roy asked as he stood by the open window of Johnny’s truck.
“Sleep, sleep and more sleep,” Johnny grinned. “Then I think I’ll just sit back and watch some TV. How about you?”
“Sleep and take the kids to the dentist.”
“Sounds like fun.”
“Oh yeah. I love the sound of the drill. Can’t wait,” Roy said sarcastically. “See ya tomorrow morning at work.”
Roy walked off towards his car. With his back turned, he didn’t notice the top of a head showing in the rear of Johnny’s Land Rover.
Johnny drove down the highway towards his apartment building. As he slowed for a turn, he felt a cool metal object press against the back of his head. It felt like the barrel of a gun.
“Just keep driving straight,” a voice said.
“Bob? Is that you?”
Melvin pressed the object harder up against Johnny’s head.
“Never mind who it is…just do what I say.”
Oh this is just great. Johnny sighed. All I want to do is go home and get some sleep, and I’m being abducted by a male nurse. I knew this guy was weird. Now what do I do?
Johnny continued down the highway until ‘Bob’ told him to turn off on a side street. After several miles of driving and making a few more turns, he found himself pulling into an alley that was surrounded by old run-down deserted buildings. Condemned signs hung on the outsides. Johnny stopped the truck on ‘Bob’s’ command and started to turn around in his seat.
“Bob, think about it. I all ready know what you look like.”
He’s not playing with a full deck here.
“Just tell me what you want…I’m tired. I’ve been up all night.” Johnny chanced a glance over his right shoulder, but he could only see part of his abductor. “Just get this over with, will ya?”
The pressure from the object on the back of his head went away. Johnny sighed with relief. Little did Johnny know the ‘barrel of the gun’ had been a deep well socket on a ratchet wrench.
Maybe it worked. I hope so…I feel like I’m at that bank robbery all over again.
“Okay…get out of the car slowly, your hands raised,” ‘Bob’ said. “Face away from your car. I have a surprise for you.”
“A surprise?” What in the hell?
Thinking ‘Bob’ really had a gun, Johnny complied. He could hear the rattle of keys as ‘Bob’ grabbed them out of the Rover and the sound of a piece of metal hitting the ground. Suddenly Johnny felt liquid hitting his back. He quickly spun around to see what was going on.
As Johnny turned, the liquid got on the front of his shirt and his denim jeans. ‘Bob’ was shooting him with a squirt gun.
“A Squirt gun? You abducted me with a squirt gun?”
At that instant, Johnny got a whiff of some all too familiar fumes.
Melvin saw the bewildered expression on Johnny’s face.
“I’ll bet you’re wondering where I got that, aren’t you? I had to dilute it with a little water to make enough of it, but it should still work. What’sa matter? Afraid you’re gonna have another…small…problem real soon?” Melvin sneered.
Johnny could tell the fumes were getting stronger as the formula soaked into his skin.
“I’m not Bob. My name’s Melvin Meyers and you’re gonna make me famous, John Gage.”
“Make you--? Look, I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.”
“Ah, but you do! The formula that spilled on you in the accident made you smaller, didn’t it? I know it did because it worked when I tested it in the lab!”
Johnny couldn’t believe this was happening. What had Roy said? That Rampart was an average hospital? Johnny bet he could argue with him on that now.
“Brackett said it was as harmless as water,” Johnny pointed out, feeling the warm sensation from the formula begin on his skin.
“Well, duh, John,” Melvin rolled his eyes. “I’m not gonna tell him the truth! Not when I’m sitting on a gold mine.”
Johnny stared at the crazy short guy in front of him holding the squirt gun.
Why am I standing here arguing with a nut holding a squirt gun? I should be running before it’s too late.
With that thought Johnny turned and ran.
“Hey! You get back here! I have plans for you!” Melvin took off after Johnny. He could see Johnny make a turn between two of the warehouses and disappear from sight.
Johnny was at an advantage with his longer legs. The paramedic could cover much more ground than Melvin could with his short legs. But the exertion from running increased the fumes on Johnny and soon he found himself fumbling as his vision closed in on him. He ducked into the doorway of a building on the right and collapsed on the floor behind some of the assorted wooden boards and plaster chunks that were scattered about. The last thing he heard before he lost consciousness was Melvin calling his name outside the building.
Melvin looked around the alleyway for the fireman. It was a dead end so he had to be close by. He stood between the two buildings deciding which to go in first. It was a fifty/fifty chance he would pick the correct one and find his guinea pig. Melvin thought about flipping a coin, but his pockets were empty. He opted for the ever-successful eenie-meenie-miney-mo approach. His choice became the building on the left. Melvin carefully walked in, searching for Johnny in the dim light.
Johnny groaned as he slowly began to wake up. He peeled his eyes open and lifted his head, looking around in the darkened building.
All he could see was that he was surrounded by various sizes of boards and other assorted debris. He couldn’t see over it to determine exactly where he was, but looking up towards the ceiling he could tell one thing for sure.
Johnny shuddered when he saw a giant roach scamper across the floor nearby and disappear under the rubble on the floor.
Oh man…here I go again. Why me?
Roy sat up in bed and wiped his bleary eyes. He leaned towards the nightstand and looked at the clock. He could hear the kids running in the hallway, Joanne yelling at them from downstairs to settle down.
It’s only eleven-thirty? Roy groaned. Times like this, I envy Johnny…he’s probably still sound asleep right now.
He grabbed his robe at the foot of the bed and made his way to the shower. Feeling the water run over his tired muscles, Roy relaxed to where he was ready to fall asleep on his feet.
Definitely coffee time…and Joanne is driving to the dentist this afternoon.
Melvin came out of the building he had been searching and kicked the ground in disgust. He knew by the amount of physical damage to these buildings inside that it would be tough to find John Gage. Especially if the formula worked on him and he indeed was little now. Melvin looked at the doorway to the other building.
“ I may as well look in there...maybe I’ll have better luck.”
He stepped inside and paused while his eyes adjusted to the dim lighting. With the amount of debris on the ground, it looked like the second floor of the building had come down in pieces over time. Melvin made his way through, peering behind the larger piles of boards and concrete. He could see where the entire main floor had debris of the same kind scattered sporadically from one end to the other. The steps leading to the next floor were gone.
Johnny stayed in his current space while Melvin searched the building. It was tempting to flee while the man was at the opposite end of the building, but Johnny knew there was no way he could make it very far before Melvin came back. Although this time he just shrank to an inch tall, he still could only travel so far so fast. Johnny was curious as to why he didn’t shrink even more, but for now he could only guess that maybe he had built up a bit of resistance to the formula which prevented him from being quite as small as the first time.
Man, what am I gonna do? No one’s gonna miss me till tomorrow…tomorrow…hey! Last time this stuff wore off in twenty-four hours. If I can just hide out…
Melvin interrupted Johnny’s thoughts as he made his way through the fallen boards and cement scattered about the inside of the building, talking to the paramedic.
“Oh, John! Come out, come out where ever you are! I know you can’t be far! Hey, I’ll even split the fortune I make with ya…you won’t be just a fireman anymore…you can go on the Mike Douglas Show with me!”
Johnny rolled his eyes. This guy is even loonier than I thought.
Melvin eyed the piles of rubble on the floor. Sure a man six feet or so tall wouldn’t be able to hide there. But if a man were…say…smaller.
He walked over and began to rummage through the mess.
Johnny’s eyes grew wide as he watched Melvin approach. He ducked under a cluster of wooden pieces, putting himself in complete darkness.
Melvin threw smaller items of debris aside and strained as he lifted the larger chunks of plaster that were on the floor. As he cleared the spaces on the floor, he could see there was no sign of any life underneath the rubble.
“Darn, still no John. What if he’s in the other building after all? Or in the alley?”
He looked over the remaining piles on the floor. With a shrug, he resumed his search.
Johnny slinked back farther as Melvin neared his hiding place. If the man kept at this pace, Johnny knew he would be found in no time. As he took another step backwards, he met into a wall. Johnny turned around and saw a narrow crack in the baseboard. Taking one last glance at the giant man hunting him down, Johnny slipped inside.
Roy opened the bedroom door and stepped out into the hallway just in time for his son to run right into him. Chris pulled back from his dad and tried to continue on chasing after his younger sister.
“Whoa, there, partner,” Roy said, grabbing the boy by the shoulders. “It’s time for you two to knock off the wild antics in the house,” he said firmly.
Chris looked up and swallowed hard. He knew they would be in more trouble now with their mom for waking their dad up so soon.
“S…sorry, Dad.” He hung his head, hoping the sad look might garner him an easy out.
Roy grinned at the young boy. “It’s okay, just find something quieter to do for awhile,” he said, tousling Chris’s blonde locks.
Chris nodded dejectedly and slowly wandered towards his room. Jennifer had peeked out to see what was keeping her brother…once she saw her dad, she quietly slipped in her bedroom and turned her attention to baby dolls.
Roy came into the kitchen where Joanne was putting clean dishes away in the cupboards. She turned around in surprise
“You’re up all ready? Oh, honey, I’m sorry!”
“It’s okay...I’ll be fine once I get moving. I just need some coffee. You better do the driving later, though.”
“Sure…ready for some brunch?”
“Yeah,” Roy said, pulling out a chair.
“Johnny’s land lady called while you were asleep,” Joanne said while she put two pieces of bread in the toaster. “She was wondering if we knew why Johnny wasn’t home yet.”
Roy looked over at his wife in alarm. “He’s not?”
“No. Or he wasn’t at ten-forty…that’s when she called.” Joanne smiled. “I think she’s kind of mothering him after his MIA experience.”
“Maybe he decided to run some errands,” Roy offered, trying to shove the crazy thoughts out of his head again.
What if that stuff had recurring effects on him? Nah…I’m just being paranoid. Maybe he already got his nap in and he decided to go somewhere. Johnny’s got a lot of energy…maybe sleep, sleep and more sleep to him means an hour.
“We can stop by his place on the way to the dentist.”
Joanne nodded in agreement as she placed the plate with toast and eggs on the table in front of her husband.
“Where are you?” Melvin called out as he finished searching through the rubble and came up empty handed. “You may as well give up now…I’m not leaving till I find you!”
Melvin sat on the floor, his elbows resting on his knees and his chin on his hands. He stared at the floorboards as he thought about what to do next.
Johnny peeked out and saw the despondent man sitting on the floor.
Man, poor guy looks like he just lost his best friend.
Johnny’s sympathy for Melvin was short lived.
Of course he does…he’s lost me!
He stepped back farther into his hiding spot, suddenly bumping into something stationary. Not able to see anything in the dark, he quickly turned around and reached out with his hands. It was a nest of some sort…it was large enough he could only reach the edges of the soft surface. Probably a mouse nest, he surmised. Now it was a matter of the lesser of two evils. Did he dare stick around to find out what did live in the wall? But if he ran out, he was certain to run into Melvin. Johnny frowned. There was no easy choice here.
The sound of something scurrying in his direction made Johnny’s decision come sooner than he wanted. He slipped up to the edge of the crack so that he could make a quick get away if he needed to. As he glanced out into the room, he could see Melvin was now gone.
Where did he go? Great! Now I have no idea where he is.
No matter now. The creature that was in the wall was getting closer. Johnny ran out, hoping Melvin had given up and left.
After what felt like forever, Johnny arrived at the doorway leading to the alley. Melvin hadn’t come back yet, so his hopes he was finally alone increased. He peered outside at the other building. Maybe his foe was busy searching through there. Johnny went outside and debated which way he should go next. The chances of finding help were slim to none and he knew there was no sense going back to his truck. No way he could get into it to hide. Besides, it would take him days to get to it. Suddenly a shadow loomed over the tiny paramedic. Looking up, Johnny saw a humongous alley cat standing nearby.
Don’t move…just don’t move a muscle.
What seemed to be a bad situation got even worse, as Melvin stepped out of the building. Johnny slowly edged along the wall, his eyes never leaving the two dangers nearby, till he was behind a discarded tin container near a tipped over trashcan. Taking a deep breath, he eased himself down to a sitting position. Neither the cat, nor Melvin had seen him.
“You about ready to go?” Joanne called out to her husband. “If you want to stop by Johnny’s apartment, we don’t have much time!”
“Yeah,” Roy came out of Chris’s room. “Chris and I were just having a talk about the dentist.” He winked at his wife. They both were aware of their son’s hesitance at going to have his teeth worked on. “He’s ready.”
Joanne pulled the station wagon into the parking lot at Johnny’s apartment complex. As Roy scanned the area, he could see Johnny’s Land Rover was nowhere in sight.
Roy shook his head. “He’s not here, Jo.”
“Well, any ideas where he could be? Did he say anything about having plans?”
“No, but you’re talkin’ Johnny. He could’ve gotten home, had a telephone call from a girlfriend and that would be all it would take to change his plans. Of course, I’m not sure who would’ve called him. His latest fixation was a nurse in Orthopedics who rejected him.” Roy sighed. “I’ll just give him a call later tonight.”
“Okay,” Joanne shrugged. “Guess that’s all we can do. I’ll call his landlady when we get home.” She glanced at her watch. “We better get moving or we’ll be late.”
Two moans were heard from the back seat. The kids had been hoping their visit to the dentist would have been delayed longer.
Melvin saw the cat standing near the overturned trashcan. It never had occurred to him that something else could be nearby that might be a danger to John. He shook his head.
“I sure hope he’s not in your belly, cat.”
The stray cat ran off, disappearing around the corner of the building.
Johnny had heard Melvin’s comment. He was hoping Melvin would start to believe that something had happened to him and thus give up on the search. His hope faded when he heard the man moving the trash that littered the ground with his feet. With the odds against him on remaining hidden, Johnny made his way to the opening of the container he had been behind and crawled inside. It was a bottleneck opening, so Melvin wouldn’t be able to see inside.
As soon as he crawled in, Johnny nearly lost his stomach. The stench of liquor was overwhelming. He no sooner settled his queasy stomach and he found himself free-falling to the bottom of the can.
Melvin picked up the tin flask that had been lying near the door of the other building. He caught a whiff of liquor from inside. He tilted the can to see if any liquor might be left inside. When nothing came out, he tossed the container back to the ground.
Just as he hit the bottom, Johnny felt himself slide forward again, as the bottle was tipped. Before he tumbled all the way out he was flying backwards again. The paramedic was tossed from side to side. His head bashed against a wall of the flask. Johnny barely registered the pain before he lost the battle to stay conscious. The remainder of the trip sent the hapless Gage tumbling like a rag doll. His relaxed body took a battering, but that’s what saved him from serious injury. When he finally settled, Johnny lay within the flask on his left side, his arm twisted beneath him. Blood trickled down his face from his head wound, mixing with the droplets of liquor soaking into his hair.
Another chemist at Rampart rummaged through the cabinet in the lab. Not finding what he was looking for, he was about to give up when he spotted a jar marked Snivlem Repus Terces Tcejorp. He stared at the label a moment until it registered what this was about.
“Melvin,” the chemist shook his head. “That guy has seen way too many spy movies.”
The chemist pulled the jar out of the cabinet and handed it to one of the lab techs beside him.
“You have any idea what this is?”
“No.” The technician shook his head. “No one’s ever shown it to me before.”
“It’s Melvin’s,” the chemist explained.
The men gave each other a knowing look. They both were aware of Melvin and his wild imagination. The guy was a comic-book-hero-want-to-be.
“Dump it,” the one man suggested. “It’s probably useless anyway.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right.” The chemist opened the bottle and poured the contents down the drain of a nearby sink. “Just don’t tell Melvin I did it. I wouldn’t want him sending Spiderman or Batman after me.”
The men snickered at their own humor.
Melvin stood in the alley by Johnny’s Land Rover. He didn’t want to leave without the fireman, but at the same time he didn’t know where else to look. The man had to be somewhere close by. No way he could’ve gotten very far on foot if he had shrunk a lot. Melvin sat on the curb near the vehicle. He would just have to wait and see if John came back to his truck.
Johnny groaned as he opened his eyes. His head was throbbing and it was so dark he couldn’t see a thing.
Where am I? What happened?
He could smell the odor of the bottle.
Whiskey? Was I drinking? I hate whiskey.
As he tried to move, a sharp pain lanced up his left arm.
Johnny forced himself to sit up, using his right arm to hold himself steady. He leaned his back on the surface of whatever he was in. Although it was too dark to see, Johnny closed his eyes in an attempt to ward off the dizziness that made him feel like he was in a spinning top. The formula on his clothes had dried and dissipated, so it had lost its strong vapors. But the blow to his head, along with the lack of sleep the night before, was enough to make Johnny groggy. He succumbed to the unconsciousness beckoning him.
Melvin’s patience was wearing thin. It was evening now and where was John? Surely he would’ve tried to find his truck by now. Unless he couldn’t. What if something had happened to him? Melvin never intended any harm to come to anyone. He just wanted to make it big…to become someone special and well known…to achieve wealth and power that would show everyone he was a somebody. He would give John fifteen more minutes and if the fireman didn’t show up, he would go looking for him again.
Johnny lay motionless in the flask, except for the rise and fall of his chest. He was oblivious to the fact it was nearly sundown, and the chance of anyone discovering his exact whereabouts, especially someone who would help him, like Roy, was next to impossible.
Roy hung up the receiver of the phone. He sat back on the couch, and chewed his lower lip in thought. It was nine o’clock at night and Johnny still wasn’t answering his phone.
I guess I’ll find out tomorrow where the heck you were.
Joanne walked into the living room and saw that her husband was deep in thought. Although she was sure she already knew the answer, she gave the obvious question a try.
“Still no answer?”
Roy looked up at his wife and shook his head. “He’s probably trying to make the evening last as long as he can. You know Johnny…the typical bachelor.” Roy grinned. “He’ll be going on and on about his date tomorrow at work. He better not complain about being tired.”
Joanne sighed. “Well, you’d better go get some sleep. You didn’t get much of a nap today after work, so I’m sure you’re tired.”
“Yeah,” Roy nodded as he stood. “At least I know where my kids are. My partner can take care of himself.”
At least I hope he can…if I could just get this nagging feeling out of my mind. I can’t tell Joanne Johnny may have shrunk from the side affects of a formula a kid made. She’ll think I’m nuts!
Roy headed out of the room, his mind on the past few days. Joanne turned out the light as she followed behind her exhausted husband towards the stairs.
Using a flashlight he had found in Johnny’s Land Rover, Melvin searched other alleyways in the area. He had shone the beam of light over the ground, finding mostly scattered trash and an occasional pair of eyes staring back at him. Unfortunately the eyes were just those of a cat or mouse here and there.
Not having any luck on his outside search, Melvin decided to search other nearby abandoned buildings. He didn’t believe John could’ve made it out of the alley, but a little additional hunting couldn’t hurt.
At one o’clock in the morning Melvin gave up his search. There was no way he would find the fireman now. Not only was the flashlight getting weak, but also his eyes were getting tired. He knew he needed a break, but first there was something he had to do.
Melvin parked the Land Rover outside of a bar. If something had happened to John, he didn’t want to be a prime suspect. He was supposed to become a hero from all of this…a guy kids would look up to. Now with John’s truck at the bar, no one would have any idea what had happened to him. Melvin abandoned the Land Rover and walked a few blocks to the nearest gas station to call for a cab. When he was within three blocks of his apartment building he had the taxicab drop him off.
The first thing Melvin wanted when he stepped into his apartment was a ham sandwich and a drink of orange juice. He had been so involved in searching for John all day, he forgot he hadn’t eaten or drank anything. Of course that meant John had to be hungry and thirsty himself. Melvin grabbed some crackers and put them in a baggie. He then got out his old Batman lunch box thermos and filled it with cool water. As soon as he found the fireman, he would make sure he got plenty of crackers and water. Melvin set the stuff on the coffee table in the living room and sat down on the couch to rest a few minutes. Exhausted, his heavy eyelids slid shut and his head drooped to the side as the chemist fell asleep.
Johnny began to wake up, his eyes slowly opening to slits. He winced at the pain he felt in his body, especially his left arm, as he shifted his position. His head felt like it could explode.
Johnny couldn’t remember where he was or how he had gotten there. All he could tell for sure was that he was inside something.
Inside what? I smell whiskey.
Johnny needed to get out before he lost the battle with nausea. He slowly scooted towards what seemed to be an opening. There was a dim light shining into the flask.
He lost his fight to keep his stomach in tact. Johnny leaned over and began to throw up. Trouble was there wasn’t much to come up. Johnny swiped the back of his right hand across his mouth afterwards. His lips were dry and his throat parched.
After much effort, Johnny got himself out of the container. Exhausted from the physical strain, he collapsed on the ground. Once again he was unconscious and unaware of his predicament.
Melvin woke with a start. He sat up straight, ignoring the cramp in his neck muscles from his awkward sleeping position. Pushing up his black-framed glasses that had slid down the bridge of his nose, he looked around; the chemist realized he was in his apartment.
I’m home? Oh no! John!
How could he be so stupid? He left the fireman by himself for hours. John could be anywhere now. Looking at the clock, Melvin saw it was six-thirty in the morning. That meant he had two and a half hours before he had to be at work. He grabbed his keys and the stuff he had packed for John and ran outside to his car.
Roy rolled over on his side in the bed. Although he was close to a level of waking up, he still was a sleep enough for his subconscious to control his dreams.
Roy was in the captain’s office filling out the logbook. Suddenly the tones went off summoning the paramedics out on a rescue. Roy pulled open the driver’s side door of the squad. Where was Johnny? After he got in and went to turn the key, he was stopped by the sound of a familiar voice, albeit much harder to hear than normal. Roy looked over at the passenger side and saw a tiny one-inch version of his partner going on and on with a typical rant.
“Did you hear what I said, Roy? Are you listening at all? I mean, just imagine what a break through in the medical field this is. Remember that movie where the people went inside that man and had to travel through his body? It was uh…” Johnny waved his tiny arms around trying to come up with the title. Suddenly he snapped his fingers. “Oh! Fantastic Voyage! Yeah, that’s it! Just imagine me at Rampart…all I have to do is shrink a little smaller and who knows! I may be the greatest medical wonder yet! I can see it now…” he moved his left hand along like he was reading a title across a sign, “John Gage…Medical Miracle Miniature Man.”
Roy sat in disbelief and stared at the tiny paramedic. Suddenly Chet was by the passenger side window. He held up Johnny’s helmet and before Roy could say anything, Chet tossed it in the open window of the squad.
There was nothing Roy could do…the helmet was about to land right where Johnny was sitting. “No!”
Roy opened his eyes and scanned the room, his heart pounding wildly.
I’m still at home…good…it was just a dream.
Roy came down to the kitchen and put on the percolator to make some coffee. He glanced at the telephone on the wall and debated whether or not he should try calling Johnny.
Nah. I’ll see him at work in an hour or so anyway.
He grabbed a donut out of a small pastry box and sat down at the table. Still thinking about the dream, Roy tried to shove the notion of a shrunken Johnny out of his mind. He knew he better savor his quiet time alone because once he got to work and Johnny got going about his big date, there would be no peace and quiet for a good part of the shift.
Johnny began to regain consciousness. Lying on his right side he opened his eyes.
Where…where am I?
From his view all he could see was the side of a building across from him. As his eyes traveled up, his mouth opened in shock at the massive height of the building. The wall blurred as the head injury was still affecting his vision. Johnny’s entire body ached, but his left arm and head were hurting the most.
Did I wreck the squad again?
Johnny carefully rolled onto his back. He squeezed his eyes shut in pain. Panting, he opened them again and brought his head up off the ground. His surroundings cleared and blurred with the throbbing of his head. During one of the clear views, Johnny could’ve sworn he saw a giant tin flask below his feet.
What in the…?
He rested his head back down. Johnny had no idea how he had gotten to wherever he was. He realized he wasn’t in uniform, so he knew he couldn’t have been on duty.
The sound of paper rustling and a tin can scooting along the asphalt brought Johnny out of his thoughts. He lifted his head slightly again to investigate. There he saw it. The beady eyes, long tail, and the long teeth. The image went in and out of focus but there was no doubt it was the biggest mouse Johnny had ever seen. Heck, it was as big as a buffalo.
Johnny tried to move away as the mouse came closer, but the pain that shot up his left arm stopped him. Gritting his teeth, he tried again. Ignoring the pain that he felt this time, Johnny edged himself back, using his right arm for leverage, until he finally passed out, leaving the paramedic vulnerable to the danger nearby.
Melvin came around the corner, crackers and water in hand. As he came to where the garbage was strewn about, he froze in place. There he saw the mouse, and not far from it was a tiny man lying sprawled on his back.
His eyes wide and his mouth open, Melvin couldn’t bring himself to move except to drop the supplies he was carrying.
I was right! It really did work!
The mouse was now near Johnny, its whiskers moving as it sniffed the unconscious man. Not wanting anything to happen to his experiment, Melvin took a couple of quick steps over and put his hand near the mouse, scaring it away. He then squatted down next to Johnny to get a closer look. He had shrunk to the size of one inch, clothes and all. Melvin was stunned. Although he knew the his tests proved the formula the kid made was a real deal, to have a whole person in front of him that it worked on was far out.
Melvin noticed the blood on the side of John’s face. It looked like it came from a cut on his head somewhere up near his hairline. His left arm look swollen and bruised. The tiny fireman showed no sign of awareness.
The chemist held his right hand down like a scoop and carefully slid John onto it, using his left thumb and index finger to grasp John’s shirt and gently pull him up. Johnny lolled his head side-to-side and groaned. His eyes opened for a few seconds as he looked up at the face above him.
I’m on Land of the Giants?
Johnny’s eyes closed again.
“I’ve got to get you to a doctor. But how am I gonna explain this?” Melvin wondered. “It’s too soon to show everyone.” He thought about his options. Looking at the battered man in his hand again, he knew he didn’t have a choice. Melvin sighed. “Let’s go,” he said as he stood and walked towards where his car was parked. He suddenly stopped as he remembered something. Melvin turned and came back to pick up his Batman thermos.
Roy arrived at work at seven-thirty. He could see that Johnny’s Land Rover wasn’t there yet, but that wasn’t unusual. Once in awhile Johnny seemed to like to push the envelope and run in the building at five minutes to eight. When five minutes to eight arrived and still no Johnny, Roy began to worry.
“Hey, where’s Gage?” Chet asked from his place on the couch where he was reading the morning paper. “Shouldn’t he be here by now?”
Roy stood leaning against the counter, a cup of coffee in his hand. “Yeah. I think I better talk to Cap if he doesn’t show up in a few minutes.”
“Talk to Cap if who doesn’t show up?” Captain Stanley asked as he walked into the dayroom. “Don’t tell me John isn’t here.”
“Not yet, Cap,” Roy answered. “I haven’t been able to reach him since we got off yesterday morning.”
Roy could see by the captain’s reaction that he was probably thinking the same thing Roy was. But neither man dared admit it.
“I think so.”
“No, I mean not again,” Hank said. “You know…you don’t think he…” the captain held up his thumb and index finger, a small gap between them.
“I mean I think so,” Roy emphasized. “I hope not.”
The others watched the exchange with curious expressions.
“C-shift should be back with the engine and squad soon, so I’m gonna have to have roll call in a few minutes. John better show up…in his full glory.”
Melvin drove along the highway, his eyes on the road, and his mind on the miracle in the back seat.
How am I going to explain this to the docs? I wish he hadn’t gotten hurt. Maybe it isn’t as bad as it looks…maybe I can stick him in my pocket and smuggle him down to the lab. Nah, I better not. No telling what happened to him. He could have internal injuries. Darn it!
A cough from the backseat interrupted Melvin’s train of thought. He glanced over his right shoulder, and did a double take.
Melvin almost drove off the highway when he saw a full-size John lying down in the backseat.
“Holy cow, when that stuff wears off, it wears off quick! Next time I think I’ll try injecting it.”
That was it! Why hadn’t he thought of that before? Melvin mentally kicked himself as he drove into the emergency area of Rampart.
I better get the formula and leave once I get him taken care of. He tells anyone what I did, and I’ll be in jail.
Roll call came and went and still no sign of Johnny. It was nine o’clock and Dwyer was stuck at the station covering until the missing paramedic could be located. At nine-fifteen Captain Stanley got a call from Rampart. The news that his other half of A-Shift’s paramedic team was in the emergency room didn’t make him happy, but he was relieved to know John’s whereabouts nonetheless. After he placed the receiver of the phone back in the cradle, he walked into the dayroom to deliver the good and bad news.
“Well, I heard from Nurse McCall at Rampart.” He paused when he saw five sets of eyes focus on him intently.
Roy had a feeling he all ready knew what was coming next. “Is Johnny okay?”
“Yeah. Seems as though he ran into some trouble sometime yesterday or last night. She says right now he doesn’t remember anything. But someone brought him in this morning with a severe concussion, and a broken left arm. Also his already bruised ribs are twice a colorful as they were before.”
“Wow,” Chet looked at the floor, shaking his head. “Twice in less than two weeks? That has to be some kind of record for Gage.”
Marco elbowed him in the ribs. “Shhh. This is serious, Chet. Poor Johnny is going to be laid up in the hospital again.”
“Yeah, poor guy…with all those cute nurses. Man, do I feel sorry for him,” Chet shot back sarcastically.
Roy gave Chet an annoyed glance, and then turned his attention back to the captain. “Did she say who brought him in?”
“A chemist who works at Rampart. Guess he found John lost and wandering down the street somewhere near a bar.”
Captain Stanley and Roy exchanged relieved expressions. It looked like what they feared had happened, hadn’t.
Melvin was looked frantically through the cabinet in the lab. He read label after label on the bottles inside of it and none read Snivlem Repus Terces Tcejorp.
Where did it go? I’m sure I put it in here before I left yesterday.
A lab technician walked into the room, shaking his head when he saw Melvin with his head in the cabinet.
“Lose something there, Myers?”
Melvin looked suspiciously at the man. “What…what do you mean?”
“Edwards found one of your samples in your secret code.” He grinned. “It probably did wonders for the drain.”
“Yep. What was it, anyway?”
“Only the greatest invention in the history of man! I just shrank a whole person with that formula!”
“Say what?” the technician screwed up his face. “Myers, you’ve watched too many cartoons and super hero shows. No one can do that.”
“I did! I really did it!”
“Okay…say ya did. Where is this shrunken person?”
Melvin knew he couldn’t say anything. If he did, then the fact he’d kidnapped John Gage would be out in the open. In that event he’d be in jail instead of being rich and famous.
“He…he got away.”
“Well, you’ve wasted enough of my time. If you find your little person, let me know.” The technician snickered, shaking his head as he walked out the door.
Melvin hung his head in defeat. So much for fame…fortune…and The Mike Douglas Show.
A thought crossed his mind, and his expression brightened. He could always try to make a new batch of the stuff himself. It might take years of work, but it would be worth it. Melvin looked around the lab one last time before he grabbed his belongings and headed for the doorway.
I’ll be back…just you wait and see. I’ll be back with an experiment all of you can only dream about.
He turned off the light and closed the door.
After a few days in the hospital, Johnny was feeling much better. He was sore and still couldn’t remember anything that happened after he left work, but it was good to have a few days of rest again.
The door opened, revealing a familiar face.
“Hey, Roy! How’s it going?”
Roy glanced at the bandage that was on Johnny’s forehead near his hairline. “Fine for me. How about you? Any better?”
“Yeah. Just sore and I wish I didn’t have this cast on.” He moved his left arm slightly.
“You remember anything from that day yet?”
“No, but Brackett said with two serious concussions within a week it wasn’t unusual to have a partial memory loss. And it may come back when I’m least expecting it.”
“Hmm…so no idea what your Land Rover was doing at that bar? Or why you reeked of whiskey?”
“Nope. I’ve never been to that bar. And I can’t stand whiskey.”
Roy looked at the floor, thinking. There were a lot of missing pieces to this puzzle, but as long as his partner was safe and sound, no sense in worrying about it now. It would only drive him crazy trying to get answers to something no one had any answers to.
Roy looked at Johnny’s cast and smiled. “Since you broke your arm, did you get a chance to try for that new nurse in orthopedics again?”
“Oh…yeah, I did,” Johnny said, frowning. “She came in here to visit me just awhile ago as a matter of fact.”
“You asked her out and she turned you down again, right?”
“No. She asked me out and I turned her down.”
Roy gave Johnny a bewildered look. “I don’t get it. I thought you wanted to go out with her. I thought you said she was incredible.”
“She was…for about thirty minutes. By the time forty minutes went by I couldn’t wait for her to leave.”
“Roy, she’s weird. She said she’d read my palm later for me…let me know what my future is.”
“I don’t even remember all of the past, Roy. I sure as heck don’t want to know my future.”
“I don’t know. Maybe that’s just what you need. It could keep you out of trouble.”
Johnny shot Roy a glare. “Very funny.”
Roy shook his head. “I’ll never figure you out, you know that?”
Johnny opened his mouth to protest, but Roy held up his hand, stopping him.
“Don’t explain anything to me. I told you before, I’ll be scared if I start to understand you.”
“Hey, skip the insults, huh?”
Roy grinned. “Well, I better get back downstairs. Wheeler’s probably waiting impatiently in the squad.”
Johnny nodded. “See ya later.”
Roy turned to leave then looked back at Johnny.
“Aren’t you worried about that male nurse showing up again? What was his name? Bob?”
“Yeah. Bob. And don’t even mention him. So far I’ve had all the regular nurses. Don’t jinx me.”
Roy chuckled as he opened the door. Between the nurse in orthopedics and the overly happy male nurse floating around Rampart, his partner better hope he got released soon.
Eight weeks went by and Johnny was back on the job and into his old routine. He never did recall what had happened that one day he had gotten off of work and his Land Rover ended up parked in front of a bar, while Johnny himself ended up at Rampart with a broken arm and a concussion. . Perhaps it would take some incident similar to what had occurred that day to jog his memory. He wanted to meet the chemist who found him and brought him to Rampart, but the guy quit his job and disappeared before Johnny had a chance to see him.
Now it was Saturday evening and the guys were gathered around the television in the dayroom watching one of Chet’s favorite movies, Night of the Colossal Carrot Eaters. It was the first time it was being shown on network TV and Chet had convinced everyone it was good.
“When are they going to show the giant rabbits, Chet?” Marco asked. “At the very end of the movie?”
“Just keep watching. They’ll be on soon.”
“We’ll probably get toned out right before the rabbits appear,” Mike said.
“Shhh…just keep watching the movie.”
Before long the giant rabbits that were obviously superimposed into the scenes in the movie came on. Chet sat mesmerized by the action on the screen. The others were staring at Chet, wondering how he could have talked them all into watching this movie.
Johnny stayed focused on the rabbits on the screen as he experienced a dejavu’ he couldn’t put his finger on. There was something…what was it? All he kept picturing was a giant mouse.
“Man, just think if we had to run a rescue to save someone from giant killer rabbits…wouldn’t it be far out?” Chet asked no one in particular.
Johnny stood up and walked towards the doorway. “I’d be far out of there, Chet. I’ve had enough giant things lately to last me a life time.”
Chet exchanged a bewildered look with the other men of A-shift.
“What did he mean by that?”
Marco shrugged. “Haven’t you learned yet? With Johnny some things are better left unknown, Chet.”
As Marco, Chet, and Mike returned their attention to the television set, Hank and Roy exchanged glances. They were both wondering just what it was Johnny was remembering, but as Marco had just stated, with John Gage some things were best left unknown, be they big things…or small. Very, very small.