Techniques, Tunes and Trouble
Johnny popped two aspirin in his mouth and took a swig of water to wash them down. Looking in the mirror in the locker room, he rubbed at his aching forehead.
Man, I hope this thing goes away. It feels like something’s about to explode in my head.
The dark haired man turned around when he saw Roy’s reflection in the mirror behind him.
Johnny nodded. “Yeah. Just a headache. I think I ended up waiting too long to eat.”
“It’s never bothered you before.”
Gage walked away from the sink to his locker to put away the bottle of aspirin. “I know, but what else could it be? I didn’t hit my head when I fell in the alley. It was the other end that got it there,” he snorted, shaking his head at the memory. “Maybe I’m just tired,” he shrugged. “Or,” he added wryly, “that darn song I’ve had in my head is getting to me.”
Roy snickered. “Well, Melvin and I can do the log book again.”
“I’ll do it. I’m okay.” Johnny pushed open the swinging door and started to the front of the bay where the office was located. Roy watched as his partner peeked in the dayroom to get Meyers, then the two men continued on to go take care of the log book.
Roy had to grin. Johnny acted like he didn’t want Melvin around, but at times he seemed like he could be Meyers’ brother.
Gage stood to the side of Melvin quietly whistling Small World as the trainee wrote the latest calls in the book. Lining up the small scraps of paper with the details scribbled on them, Melvin suddenly wished it was Roy watching him. The less time he and Johnny spent one-on-one the least likely the paramedic would be reminded of anything in the past.
How could I not have figured this would happen one day. . .? I wonder if he’s really got that song out of his head, but he’s still whistling it to let me know he remembers what went down that time at the warehouse. Melvin gave it a second thought. Nah, he’s too straight forward to play games. John would come right out and tell me.
Melvin glanced at Johnny and tried to muster a confident grin. So far Gage didn’t appear to have picked up on his uneasiness.
Once they were done, the two men headed for the dayroom, but were toned out to a ‘difficult breathing’ call.
“Guess it might turn out to be a busy night,” Johnny said as they trotted to the passenger side of the squad.
“Yeah, maybe.” I hope so, Melvin thought. The busier we are, the less you’ll have time to think about other stuff.
As the days passed, Gage finally was able to get the tune Small World out of his head after driving himself and everyone else crazy for a couple more shifts. But he was still prone to headaches, though he hid them well. Only occasionally Roy would catch him popping a couple of aspirin. The younger man assured his partner each time that it was nothing to be concerned about.
Melvin noticed Johnny staring at him more often, an unreadable expression on his face. The dark-haired paramedic still hadn’t said anything to indicate he was onto what happened with Meyers in the past, but the trainee had a feeling that his friend and co-worker was on the verge of the flood gates of his mind opening up.
If only there was a way to keep him from remembering all that, but wouldn’t do him any harm. . .
Suddenly Meyers felt a weight he’d been carrying around for too long lift off his mind when he came up with a solution.
He hadn’t tried it before, but maybe he’d have beginner’s luck. The hard part was
going to be getting Gage to agree to be a guinea pig.
“So how’s Meyers doing with the training?” Dixie asked as she handed supplies to Johnny. The dark-haired paramedic was waiting for his partner to come out of one of the treatment rooms and Melvin to return from the bathroom.
Gage shrugged. “Surprisingly, very good. I thought for sure he’d make a few major mistakes here and there. . .” And bring disaster to my life, he thought to himself. “But he’s been like the model trainee the entire time.”
“You sound disappointed.”
“Not disappointed.” Johnny paused as he wasn’t sure how to explain his feelings to Dixie. He knew he could talk to her about anything and everything, but how could he explain he had an uneasy feeling at times with Melvin? He decided to skip the explanation and go to a new subject.
“I sense there’s more.”
He shook his head. “Nah. Hey listen, I’m gonna run up and see how Troy Fredericks is doing.” A blank look from the nurse had him explaining again. “You know, the guy we brought in this morning who was in the motorcycle accident.”
“Would ya do me a favor and tell the guys where I am?”
“Sure,” she smiled.
“Thanks. See ya!” He started to walk towards the elevator, then turned around. “Oh, and let ‘em know I got the supplies?”
Dixie nodded, waving him on. She shook her head as she watched him walk down the corridor amongst the other people going about their business. He sure was one of the best paramedics she knew. In fact, it was a toss up between him and Roy. No wonder Meyers is doing well with his training.
After just a few minutes with Fredericks, Johnny heard the door to the room open behind him. He turned to see a nurse coming through the door with a food cart, Melvin and Roy right behind her. Seeing she was having difficulty getting it through the doorway, Meyers stepped forward more and assisted, taking over the cart as the nurse held the door open.
“Thank you,” she said with a grateful smile.
“You’re welcome.” When the trainee looked ahead at Johnny, he saw an expression of total shock on Gage’s face as the paramedic stared at him. Uh oh. What if he remembers when I delivered his food as Bob?
Roy exchanged niceties with the patient while Johnny absently stepped away and towards the doorway, still staring at Melvin.
“I swear this has happened before,” Johnny said, shaking his head. “It was like a dejavu’ when you walked in with that cart. . .”
“I. . . uh. . . . I helped a nurse the same way once. Maybe you saw me then.”
“Maybe, but it sure seems--”
The HT interrupted Gage as the men listened for their next call. Before Johnny could give anymore thought to the situation with Meyers, he found himself trotting to the elevator with the others as they headed for a multi car pile up on the 405.
Later that evening Johnny was lying in bed as another headache had come on. His left arm draped over his eyes, he didn’t see Melvin come in the room.
Gage lifted his arm and squinted at the man standing next to his bed. “Roy send you in here?”
“No. Captain Stanley’s still got him in the office talking to him about some overtime, so Roy doesn’t know you left the dayroom.”
“Well, whataya want?” Johnny put his arm back over his eyes.
“You still getting headaches?”
“Some, but they aren’t--”
“What if I guaranteed I could get rid of them for good?” Melvin interrupted.
Johnny sighed. What was Meyers going to get him into next?
The trainee sat on the edge of his bed across from Gage. “C’mon, John. I swear I can help.”
The dark-haired paramedic lifted his arm off his eyes again. “I don’ know. Somehow I have a bad feeling and I don’t even know what your idea is yet.”
Melvin feigned a hurt look. “Would Batman do anything to Robin if he knew it was going to hurt him?”
“This isn’t a comic and we’re not Batman and Robin.”
“Oh, okay. Shoot. What’ve I got to lose?”
Hopefully some of your memory. “Nothin’. So tomorrow after we get off shift, come by my place and I’ll help you get rid of the headaches.”
This was the part Meyers dreaded. “Uh. . .hypnotism.”
Johnny sat up on his bed. “Hypnotism? Oh no, I’m not--” He stopped when he saw the hurt expression return to his co-worker’s face. Ah, hell. It’s not like he can really do that. I’ll just have to humor him a little then go home and get some rest. “Okay. Okay, I’ll give it a go. But no other tricks, got it?”
Melvin nodded. “You’ve got my word.” He sat back and smiled. “Thanks.”
Gage gave a wry grin. “Yeah, sure.” At least it’ll get him to leave me alone for now.
Johnny was too embarrassed about his allowing Meyers to try to hypnotize him to let any of the others know what was up. When the men got off duty, Roy headed to Station 36 to pull his overtime duty while Joanne and the kids were out of town, and Johnny headed for home, Melvin agreeing he could go home and eat before they tried the treatment. The engine crew of A-Shift left the station for their respective homes.
When Johnny got to Melvin’s apartment later in the morning, he hesitantly stepped inside. He still had a bad feeling about the whole idea. But it was a simple game that he could humor his friend with to keep him happy and no one would ever have to know what he did.
Melvin handed a glass of milk to his guest as he directed him to take a seat in the blue recliner in the livingroom. Johnny eyed the glass warily.
“Whatdya’ do to it?”
“Nothing. It’s just milk. Milk helps relax people, right?”
“Warm milk, but I thought--”
Meyers sighed. “John, you’ve gotta trust me or this is never going to work. Do you trust me?”
“You want the truth?” Johnny could see his honest answer was only going to lead to more hurt feelings. He lied to make it easier. “Sure, I trust ya. I think.” He took the glass of milk and gulped it down. “Okay, let’s get on with it.”
“Well, sit down.” Meyers waited as Gage took a seat. “Now, just relax and keep your eyes on the pocket watch.”
“Pocket watch? Can’t ya be a little more original than that?”
“Just keep your eyes on it. Don’t take them off.”
Johnny sighed. “Okay. . .” he said, doubt in his voice.
Meyers continued to hold the small pocket watch on a chain several inches from Gage’s face and swung it slowly back and forth.
“Look, Melvin, I apprecia--”
“Shhhh. . .remember, just relax and don’t say anything.”
Johnny frowned, but did as he was told. This is ridiculous.
With both men not saying a word, a soft ticking could be heard in the room. It was from a wind-up clock Meyers had bought for the occasion. In books he’d read on the subject, it was mentioned that the steady tick of a clock could have a tranquil effect on a subject. He noticed as minutes passed, Johnny’s eyelids were getting lower.
Good thing I put a little dose of tranquilizer in the milk to take the edge off. Now to do the talking.
Very softly, Meyers said, “Relax. . .feel all your tension slip away with each tick of the clock. Relaaaaax. . .” He smiled as soon his subject appeared to be unconscious. Here we go. “John, can you hear me?”
“Mmmm. . .”
“I’ll take that as a yes. Listen, carefully. You’re going to forget all that’s gone on with you, ‘Bob’ and Melvin in the past. The first time you hear a telephone ring, all those memories will be gone for good. Got that?” He looked at Johnny, hoping for a response. When none came, he tried a new approach. “If you understand what I said, open your eyes.”
Johnny tried to open his eyes. His lids felt so heavy. But wasn’t someone talking to him?
Meyers wanted the experiment to work so bad, he immediately pressed harder when Johnny didn’t open his eyes. “John, listen to me. The first time after this that you hear a phone ring, you’ll forget everything. Do you understand? Open your eyes if you understand that you’ll forget everything the first time you hear a telephone ring.”
Gage was finally able to open his eyes to slits. He stared ahead, not comprehending what he was seeing or what was going on. But the sign was enough for Melvin.
“Great! Now, when I count to five and snap my fingers, you’re going to wake up and not remember a thing about this.” He paused then started counting. When he got to five, he snapped his fingers. Johnny didn’t wake up, but remained asleep in the chair. After multiple tries, Meyers gave up.
“Okay, sleep it off. Guess I shouldn’t have used a sedative.”
He went about his business while Johnny slept in the chair, his head tilted back, mouth open slightly.
When Johnny woke up a couple of hours later, he was thrown off by his surroundings. Where am I? He started to get up out of the chair when Melvin came into the room.
“Ah, you’re awake!”
“Wha. . .?” Memories came flooding back. “Oh yeah. . .told you it wouldn’t work,” Johnny said, yawning. “I fell asleep instead, huh?”
Great. He *did* forget what just went on. “That’s right. Oh well. . .we tried.”
Gage got unsteadily to his feet. He felt like he’d been drugged. Guess that’s from sleeping too long. . .or was it the milk afterall? “You sure you didn’t drug me?”
“Yes, I’m sure! I swear! No tricks, remember?”
“Yeah. . .as long as you remembered.” He wiped at his eyes, then fumbled for the keys in his pocket. “Well, I’m gonna go. I feel like I could sleep another few hours and I sure don’t wanna do it in that chair.”
“Okay, just be careful driving home.”
Meyers watched out a window as Johnny got into his Land Rover and drove away. Now all I gotta do is call him later, he hears the phone ring, and my worries are gone. I hope.
Johnny stepped into his own apartment and tossed the keys on an end table. He’d stopped to get a cup of coffee at a fast food place on the way home and was too buzzed to sleep right away again. After turning on the TV, he plopped down on the couch.
I wonder what Beth is up to today? He picked up the telephone receiver to call the nurse he’d recently gone out with, but couldn’t get a dial tone. Great. Oh well. Maybe I’ll just go over there later. Putting his feet up on the couch, he lay down and passed the time watching a few game shows.
Melvin dialed Johnny’s phone number and waited for the ring. When he was met with a woman’s recorded voice saying the line was out of order, he hung up the receiver in frustration. He’d have to keep trying and hope for the best.
Unfortunately for Melvin, Johnny’s phone line didn’t get repaired until the paramedic had already left for work the following morning. The trainee let the telephone ring as long as he could, but when he glanced at the clock he saw it was time for him to head out.
I’ll bet John’s already on his way there.
Everything went normally that morning at the station. Chet tossed a few barbs at Johnny while they pulled hose rack duty together, and the dark-haired paramedic threw a few back. Roy kept his partner’s mood in check later, and Captain Stanley was seen shaking his head at times when Gage and Kelly were getting into it.
Meyers found his attention more on the telephone, wondering if it was going to ring and hoping his hypnosis trick would work.
After returning from a rescue call, Johnny sat in the dayroom on the couch and massaged his temples as another headache came on. He’d finally had his fill and planned on seeing Brackett or Early about the problem the next time he was at Rampart. But for now he just wanted to lie down. Getting up from his seat, he walked out of the room. He was relieved that Chet, Marco and Mike were too busy with a Chess game to notice. And he was glad Melvin and Roy were in with the captain at the moment.
I knew hypnosis wouldn’t work. Man, that’s the last time I let Meyers talk *me* into anything.
Gage stopped in the latrine to pop a couple of aspirin, then headed for the dorm. He lay down on his bed and put his left arm over his eyes. Johnny was just starting to feel better when the telephone in the dorm rang.
Suddenly an incredible sharp pain shot through his head and he felt like he was falling. He grabbed on to the edges of the bed to stop the sensation. After a few seconds, the feeling was gone and Johnny released his grip. He sat up and rubbed at his eyes, then looked around the room.
Where am I? He slowly got to his feet and steadied himself on one of the brick wall dividers as a wave of dizziness hit. “Oh wow. I wonder. . .” Johnny stood still, looking around again and hoping for anything to be familiar. But there was another problem he had. I . . .I don’t know who I am. . .
Johnny walked out into the apparatus bay, and stood behind the trucks, a puzzled expression on his face. In his confused state he didn’t think about having a wallet in his back pocket. At the moment the paramedic only knew he woke up in a strange room, and except for a name tag on his blue shirt that said ‘Gage’, he was completely lost.
He watched apprehensively as a man with dark curly hair and a mustache approached from around the end of the smallest of the two red trucks parked in the room.
“Hey, Gage, Cap wants us in the dayroom for a lecture on chemical fires.”
Johnny took one step back, increasing the distance between himself and Chet. He eyed the fireman with caution.
“Who. . .who are you?”
“Yeah, right. Like I’m buying that. C’mon, Cap’s wonderin’ where you are.”
Ignoring Chet’s words, Gage glanced out of the open rear bay doors at the parking area. “Do I drive?”
“Do you drive?” Chet shrugged. “Well, yeah, unless you mean the squad,” he replied motioning towards the truck. “Roy usually--”
“Are any of those cars mine?” Johnny interrupted.
“Gage . . .” Chet noticed the paramedic staring at him, waiting for an answer. This is weird. Maybe he wants to freak me out. I’ll show him. . .I’ll play along like nothing’s wrong. “The white one. The Land Rover.”
Johnny pulled a set of keys out of his pocket. “These must be mine then.” He started towards the back lot.
“Hey wait! Where are you goin’?”
“Home, I think!”
“You can’t--” Play along, Kelly, play along. “Okay, see ya when you get back!”
Chet walked out into the lot and watched as Johnny got into the Land Rover, starting the engine. He’ll stop this game any time now.
As Gage backed the vehicle out of its parking spot, Chet waited for the paramedic to end the charade. But once the Rover was out of the area and no longer in sight, the fireman realized something was amiss.
He did it! He left! “Cap, Roy!” Chet hollered as he sprinted towards the dayroom.
Johnny pulled onto the street and drove past the station, his full attention on the road ahead. He had no idea where he was going, but hoped he’d find his way home, where ever ‘home’ was.
Chet was beside himself with worry.
If only I'd taken that stuff Johnny was saying as serious. But how was I supposed to know he wasn’t kidding around? If he wasn’t the type to try to get even, this never would’ve happened. Dammit, Gage.
As he raced into the dayroom, all eyes fell upon the wide-eyed panicked fireman.
“Cap! Roy! Johnny’s gone!”
Hank Stanley looked baffled. “Gone?”
Chet nodded. “He was in the bay lookin’ kinda lost. He asked who I was and if he drove and which car was his. . .then he just left!”
The captain and others stared in disbelief. This had to be a prank of the phantom.
“Chet, this isn’t funny,” Roy said.
“Tell me about it! Look, we’ve gotta call the cops or somethin’.”
“You really aren’t kidding, are you?” Hank set a piece of chalk that was in his right hand down on the blackboard tray and hurried out towards the rear lot to see for himself.
“No, I’m not,” Chet said following behind.
Melvin kept silent, not sure what to say or do. It wasn’t supposed to erase his whole memory. What if something happens to him now? What if he doesn’t get it back? What’ve I done? He slowly got up from his chair to follow behind the others as they trotted into the apparatus bay. Watching Roy’s retreating back, he had another thought. What’ll Roy do if he finds out?
Roy stood opened mouthed as he looked at the empty parking space that once had his partner’s Land Rover in it. Before the blond paramedic could even speak, Hank was already giving orders.
“Chet, be sure you’ve got every detail of what happened with John fresh in your mind and in order.” He started for his office near the front of the station. “I’m gonna call the police and see if they can track down our wayward paramedic.” He shook his head, mumbling, “Why me? Why does this stuff always happen on my shift?”
The men pulled their chairs around the table in the dayroom and sat, wondering where their missing comrade was.
“I should’ve had Johnny talk to Brackett or Early when he started getting headaches more than usual,” Roy commented, frowning. Dammit, Johnny, where’d you go?
Marco shook his head. “It’s not your fault, Roy. He always played them down.”
“Besides,” Mike added, “you don’t know that has anything to do with this.”
Roy rubbed at his chin. “Yeah, but it sure adds up. I mean, what else could it be?”
Melvin kept his silence, hoping that if his hypnosis worked, there would be a way to reverse it now.
Johnny drove down near warehouses he, Roy and Melvin had been to several weeks before. The dark-haired paramedic didn’t know why he headed to that location and had no recollection of the rescue with the others. But it was like a natural draw to the place. As he approached the alley in his Land Rover, he saw flames shooting out from some of the broken windows on the lower floor. Plumes of smoke were rising up into the sky. But what really caught his eye was a teen running down the alley towards him. Johnny put his truck in park across the street from the alley opening and hurried to meet the kid.
“Mr., ya gotta help ‘em!”
Johnny grabbed the kid by the shoulders, trying to get him to explain. “Who’s them?”
“My friends, man! Brett accidentally dropped a lit match down in some old floor boards and the place just went up in flames! He and Kevin are still in there. . .ya gotta get ‘em out!”
“Look, you’re a fireman, aren’t ya?”
Johnny looked down at his uniform. “Yeah, I guess I am.”
The teen looked baffled at the answer, but shrugged it off. “Don’t you guys get paid to go in burning buildings and get people out?”
Johnny nodded. He didn’t know how he was going to do it, but he had to get the two boys out. “You stay here.”
“No problem, man. I’m not stupid.”
The dark-haired paramedic let the last comment go unacknowledged. He had a huge task at hand and had no idea how to go about it.
The black smoke and orange flames were consuming the area downstairs at an alarming rate. Johnny knew he didn’t stand much of a chance if he didn’t work fast. By luck he found one youth when he nearly stepped on him at the bottom of some haggard steps. He picked up the barely conscious teen and put him over his shoulder. Stepping over the various debris scattered about, he carried him out to the alleyway and placed him on the ground. The teen coughed and wiped at his watery eyes.
The other boy was quickly beside the victim and Johnny.
“Stay with your friend, I’ll look for the other one.”
“Which one is this?”
“Brett. Kevin’s still inside. He was upstairs.”
Great. Johnny looked up at the broken windows on the second floor. Black smoke was finding its way out of some them as well, though not as thick. Here goes nothin’, he thought as he ran inside.
The crew of Station 51 was in shock. No one knew what to do to keep busy. They just hoped to get a call from the police soon, telling them Gage had been found and was okay.
“How could Johnny forget who he was?” Marco wondered. “He was fine earlier.”
“Beats me,” Chet said, shaking his head. “But he didn’t have a clue.”
Roy chewed his lower lip and looked at Melvin. The Trainee noticed and felt himself squirm a bit. Should he fess up? Would Roy and the others figure it out anyway?
Just as he was about to spill it all, the klaxons went off, sending the station, along with two other engine companies, to a warehouse fire at the familiar address.
“Hey, isn’t that where the bum was beat up awhile back?” Meyers asked Roy as they pulled into the street.
“Yeah. Well, at least there shouldn’t be a lot of victims.” He glanced at the trainee in Johnny’s seat. “Don’t do anything without my say so.”
“Okay. No problem.” Melvin faced forward, wishing he’d just let everything follow its own course.
Johnny found the other teen on the second floor near the top of the stairs. But by the time he picked the boy up to carry him out, the fire was at the bottom of the stairs, cutting off the only escape route.
“Dammit,” Johnny said, coughing. He had to get himself and his charge out of the building fast. The teen was unconscious and not breathing very well. By the time he got to another room in the upstairs, Johnny knew he was about to pass out from the smoke inhalation. Coughing even harder and more frequently, he laid the teen down on the floor near a window and waved to the other kid below.
“Find. . .find something. . .to. . .climb up. . .climb down on.”
“Okay!” The youth looked around, but couldn’t find anything. He held out his arms in a shrug.
Johnny nodded, then grabbed the empty window pane that was in place, bracing himself as he coughed violently. Feeling light headed, he slid down against the wall and crawled over to the unconscious boy near him. The victim wasn’t breathing. Johnny automatically started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation having no idea how he knew what he was doing.
Roy’s eyes grew wide when he saw the Land Rover parked near the entrance to the alley. He quickly pulled off to the side of the street just in front of it and jumped out as Mike Stoker drove the engine partway into the alley. Roy and Melvin dragged the hoses out and hooked them to a nearby fire hydrant. Engine 18 was getting the fire from the other end of the building. The flames and smoke were coming out of most of the downstairs openings of the warehouse now. One of the windows upstairs had orange flames shooting out, the others smoke only.
DeSoto ran up to Captain Stanley.
“Roy, is that--”
The blond paramedic nodded. “It’s Johnny’s. He’s gotta be here.”
The two men looked at the flaming building. “Good God, I hope he didn’t try to play hero,” Hank said.
Marco and Chet trained a hose on the building. Melvin approached Roy and the captain with the other two kids.
“They said a fireman went in to get their friend out. He’s upstairs in that room,” Meyers pointed to a broken window near the center of the warehouse. “He waved for help, but they couldn’t do anything. He disappeared inside awhile ago.”
“Johnny. . .” Roy hurried for his turnout coat and SCBA gear while Hank and Melvin got a ladder. Once it was up against the building, Roy climbed up and peered into the window. He could barely make out his friend’s shape leaning over a body. Quickly climbing in, he reached for Gage’s arm.
Johnny looked up, and coughed. He motioned towards the teen. “I. ..I got . . .him. ..breathin’”
“C’mon, let’s get you two out of here,” came Roy’s muffled voice behind his mask.
DeSoto could tell his partner was in bad shape. He quickly took off the SCBA gear and set the air tank down on the floor, placing the mask in Gage’s hands. “Breathe into that. It’ll give you clean air.”
Johnny nodded and did as he was told. Roy lifted the boy and hurried for the window. Johnny pulled the air mask down as he stayed sitting on the floor, coughing. Feeling too weak to move, he let the air mask drop into his lap and doubled over as he started to pass out.
Roy handed the unconscious teen to Meyers, who was now at the window. “Get him on 6 liters of O2. Call Rampart and let them know he was being given mouth-to-mouth when I got to him.”
Melvin nodded and hurried down the ladder with the youth over his shoulder while Roy turned back for his partner. DeSoto was dismayed to see Gage didn’t have the air mask over his face. He appeared to be unconscious.
“Johnny!” Roy hurried over as he heard a crash in the room to the right. It sounded as if parts of the floor had fallen in. “C’mon. We haven’t got much time.” The senior paramedic coughed as he took in some smoke as well.
Gage opened his eyes to slits and tried to get to his feet, but was too weakened from the smoke. Roy helped him up and provided support under the left shoulder as he practically drug Johnny to the window. Knowing the younger man couldn’t make the climb down the ladder, he got him on his shoulder in a fireman’s carry and got onto the ladder. When he made his way to the bottom, a fireman from Engine 116 was ready to relieve Roy of his burden, but the paramedic wouldn’t let go.
“I’ve got ‘im.” DeSoto hurried over to where Melvin was talking on the biophone to Brackett. He lay Johnny down on the yellow blanket that was out and started oxygen on him. Suddenly there was a loud crash as more of the building collapsed inside. Roy knew his SCBA was history, but at least he got what really mattered. Johnny was alive and breathing in pure oxygen. He would be okay.
Johnny looked curiously at Roy, Melvin and Hank Stanley. The faces seemed familiar. . .he saw the squad and the lights flashing in the distance, the engine nearby. . .Marco and Chet spraying the hose, a ladder truck shooting water onto the building from above. . .but he decided he’d figure it out later. Right now he was exhausted. Closing his eyes, the dark-haired paramedic finally passed out.
Riding in the ambulance, Johnny opened his eyes as he woke up again. He had been having the strangest things run through his mind. He was smaller than a mouse and being chased by one, Melvin was pursuing him with a squirt gun, he was falling off of a giant tennis shoe, and then he was riding on the passenger side of a truck cab with sirens wailing in the background, a familiar person beside him.
“Welcome back,” DeSoto commented with a smile.
Johnny lifted the oxygen mask off his face. “Oh man, my head,” he said in a raspy whisper as he coughed again. “Thanks. . .for the. . .help.”
Roy grabbed the mask out of his hand and put it back in place. Some things never change. “Don’t try to talk. Just nod or shake your head. Do you know who you are?”
A nod. He lifted the mask anyway. “What kind of . . . question is. . . that?”
Roy rolled his eyes as he put the mask back. “Nevermind. This isn’t gonna work. We’ll let Brackett do the asking.” But I’d sure like to know what exactly happened inside that head of yours.
Johnny nodded, then pulled off the mask. “Just one more thing. . .the kids. . .they’re. . .?” He put the oxygen mask in place before Roy could.
DeSoto smiled and nodded. “They’re in a different ambulance. Melvin was okayed to ride in with them.”
“Good,” Johnny said, his voice muffled this time by the mask.
Brackett and Early looked at the results of a CT scan that they had done on Johnny. There was no sign of anything that would cause headaches or a memory lapse. Brackett chewed his lower lip as he came into the exam room where Johnny was waiting.
“You said you’ve been having these headaches for a few weeks?”
Gage hesitated, knowing the doctor would not like the answer he was about to hear. “Yeah.,” he answered, his voice still raspy. “I didn’t think anything of ‘em till they started getting stronger.” He thought about Meyers’ offer to hypnotize him to get rid of them. . .no need to add embarrassment to the chewing out he was going to get. That little tid bit would remain a secret forever if he had anything to say about it. “Sorry, Doc, I just didn’t think there was anything serious goin’ on. I mean, I had a song stuck in my head that was drivin’ me nuts, so that could’ve been part of it. . .” He glanced at the doctor. “Don’t ask. It’ll only start it up again.”
Kel smiled and nodded in understanding.
“Then,” Johnny continued, “I was starting to remember some stuff out of nowhere, but. . .”
“The giant mouse and shoe?”
So much for not getting embarrassed, Johnny thought as he felt his face heat up. “Uuuuuh. . .that and the name ‘Bob’, whatever meaning that had to it. . .just stuff,” he shrugged. Melvin was mysteriously in the odd memories, but mentioning that could lead to Meyers’ eventually talking about the attempt at hypnosis and that could lead to. .. Johnny shuddered. Nope, there was no need to add more details.
“Well, I’m gonna keep you here for a couple of days for observation. If you don’t get anymore by then, we’ll release you. But with the agreement you’ll let someone. . .preferably a doctor here. . .know if you do get anymore.”
“Sure,” was Gage’s hoarse reply. He wouldn’t have expected anything less.
Melvin had rehearsed over and over in his head how he was going to explain all the stuff that went down between him and John to Captain Stanley, Roy and most likely Brackett. . .not to mention someone at headquarters. Pacing in the apparatus bay as they waited for the final report on Johnny, he was startled when DeSoto came out from the dayroom to see him. The expression on Roy’s face was one of relief.
“Dixie just called.”
“Johnny’s gonna be fine. Brackett and Early both looked at the results of the CT scan and there wasn’t anything there. They’ll keep him a couple of days for observation, but there shouldn’t be anymore problems.”
“They. . .uh. . .didn’t mention anything else. . .like what he told them about?”
“No, other than a few strange things like a giant mouse and shoe. . .” Roy thought back to when he and Hank had found Johnny soaked beside a mud puddle, and when he’d looked through the dirt out of a vacuum cleaner bag thinking his missing partner was inside. The senior paramedic shook his head. Nah, it’s impossible. . .I was just desperate then. . .Still, that hint of doubt remained.
Melvin smiled. If only Roy knew the tremendous relief that was behind the smile and why. I’m free. . . John didn’t give it all away.
Both men walked into the captain’s office to help Gage’s fill-in with the log book, one glad for Johnny, the other happier for himself.
Before long, things were back to normal at Station 51. Melvin Meyers completed his training on the paramedic program and was recommended for certification by Johnny and Roy. Gage hated to admit it to himself, but his first instincts had been wrong. Melvin turned out to be very competent on the job.
Neither Meyers nor Gage mentioned the hypnosis bit to anyone. Melvin didn’t know for sure that it had actually worked or it may have become his next fixation for the ever elusive fame he desired. He knew the suggestion he tried to give John could very well be buried in the recesses of the paramedic’s mind. Would it ever surface? Only time would tell.
Johnny kept the secret just to avoid what he knew would lead to relentless teasing by Chet. Thinking Meyers really tried to tackle the headache problem, and having no idea what was actually planted in his mind, Gage figured there was no harm in keeping the experiment to himself. And the paramedic’s headaches didn’t return, except for the occasional one like the average person got.
Kel Brackett and Joe Early attributed the headaches to being caused by some buried emotions, most likely from when Johnny and Meyers were kidnapped and nearly killed. Early explained that a stressful event could cause a reaction later without the victim being aware of it.
As to why Johnny got his memory back so soon? The doctor had a theory for that as well. The familiar setting at the warehouse, a common situation for him at the fire, and all his colleagues being nearby brought to surface what he’d lost.
Now on duty without their trainee, Johnny and Roy walked across the apparatus bay to grab a cup of coffee in the dayroom before roll call.
“You won’t believe who Meyers got hooked up with,” Johnny snorted.
“Ha ha! Very funny. No, seriously, try to guess.”
“I can’t,” Roy said, shaking his head. “Just tell me.”
Roy stopped walking, his partner following suit. “Sunburn Carla?”
“You gotta be kiddin’ me.”
Gage shook his head. “Nope, I’m not. ‘Course she’s in Rampart right now.”
“Working or ‘visiting’?”
“Whattaya’ think. . .she was using furniture polish on her kitchen cabinets and the. . .uh. . .over spray got on the floor and she happened to be in stocking feet. . .”
Roy winced. “Say no more.”
“Now there’s a chick who needs to be dating a paramedic just to keep her in one piece.”
DeSoto shook his head. “Well, who’d of thought. You know, with us being assigned to train Melvin, and he and Carla ending up together. . .it just goes to show ya. . .it really is a small world after all.”
Johnny rolled his eyes. “Oh, pleee-ease, don’t bring that up.”
The two started towards the dayroom again as Gage found himself whistling the tune Small World.
Roy watched as Johnny stopped and groaned. “Oh man, not again. How am I ever gonna get it out of my head?” He sighed. “Well, I guess it could be worse.”
“Sure! I could really be small and running from a mouse or tumbling off a tennis shoe.”
DeSoto rolled his eyes as he shook his head and continued on. “I had to ask.” I’m not even going to give his comments another thought. . .I’ve told myself before. . .a person cannot shrink to that size. It’s impossible.
Just as Johnny entered the dayroom behind his partner, he felt a quick jab of pain shoot through his head. The younger man was about to say something to Roy, but the ache was gone as fast as it had come. The idea of saying anything to Roy about it faded just as quickly.
He already thinks I'm nuts, I'm not gonna give him any more ammunition.
With that thought, he ambled over to the sink, whistling the annoying tune as he poured himself a cup of coffee, ready to start a shift without Melvin Meyers around to add to his ‘small’ problem.
Thanks, Jill H., for the beta read and help coming up with a way to word part of the ending! :o) My thanks to Kenda who helped me to create the *Melvin Meyers* character to begin with, back when there was only one story written. Also, thanks to Linda2 and Whisper for the basic story ideas for this chapter. . .and to Becca for some medical help. Blame any errors on me. :o) Also, the reference to the song ‘Small World’ as annoying is not meant to criticize the music. It’s all in fun. :o)
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