*Picture by Norman Rockwell
"Hang in there, Johnny. We're almost to Rampart."
"Mmmm... that's what... that's what you said... an hour ago."
"It wasn't an hour... just seems that way to you."
He could hear the chuckle in Roy's voice, but even his pain rattled senses picked up the concern there as well. He wasn't too worried. That was just Roy. He could find something to worry about over a hang nail, although Johnny knew this time he was suffering from more than a torn nail.
The two story frame house had been fairly well involved when they arrived on the scene, though the flames had seemed contained to the first floor. None of the neighbors could say for sure if the owners were home, so Cap had sent Roy and Johnny in to do a sweep of the second floor. Their efforts had been rewarded and they were coming back down the stairs, Roy leading the way with an elderly man slung over his shoulders, when the ceiling gave way.
Johnny didn't really remember much after that. He recalled having debris rain down on him and hoping Roy had managed to get the victim out. Then things had gotten a little hazy for a while. The next clear image he had was Roy's face bending over him shining his pen light in his eyes and asking him a lot of questions Johnny couldn't really remember the answers to.
He knew he hurt - everywhere. His head was the worst, though his leg was running a close second. He wasn't sure what he'd done to it because every time he tried to sit up so he could take a good look, Roy would push him back down. He gave up after a time, mostly because the constant motion wasn't doing his headache any good. Besides, he really didn't want to throw up, which his stomach threatened to do every time he moved his head.
He must have drifted in and out, for the next time he was really aware, he was in the back of an ambulance, an IV in his arm and Roy sitting on the bench beside him.
They hit a bump and he couldn't keep back a slight yelp. Roy was at his side immediately, checking his vitals again.
"Sure... sure you can't... slip a little MS in there?" Johnny asked as his partner adjusted the IV drip.
Roy shook his head regretfully. "Sorry, Junior. Not with that bump on your head. You'll just have to wait 'til the docs take a look at you."
"What... what about my leg?"
Roy's eyes darted toward the injured limb and Johnny could see him weighing how much to say. He smiled lightly.
"Well, you've got a pretty good sized splinter in there."
"Couldn't ya just... use some tweezers?" He tried to flash a smile, but was pretty sure he failed.
Roy chuckled again and shook his head. "Sorry, buddy. This one's a little outta my league."
Johnny made a face that was only partly facetious. "Guess that means Dixie'll get her hands on me... give me one of her shots."
"Probably," Roy agreed ruefully. They'd both been on the receiving end of many tetanus boosters. "Just remember, it only hurts for a second."
Johnny snorted and closed his eyes against the pain in his head. "I've heard that before."
* * *
"Okay young man, this will only hurt for second."
The elderly doctor had kind blue eyes and a warm smile, but the six year old child on the table only had eyes for the hypo in the man's hand. He shook his mop of dark hair, his chocolate brown eyes wide with fear.
"I don' wan' a shot!" he stated emphatically, scooting down on the paper covered table.
"I know you don't," the man replied understandingly, "but little boys who fall out of trees and get themselves scraped up like you did have to get shots so their cuts won't get infected and make them sick."
The sympathetic explanation did little to change the child's mind. He shook his head again and slid off the table. The open backed gown slipped down over one thin shoulder and he tugged it back in place as he tried to move toward the door of the examining room.
"Don' wanna get no shot!" he repeated.
The doctor didn't look thrilled at the prospect of having to chase his patient down.
"Now, listen here, son..."
The door swung open as a nurse came in. Seeing his chance, the boy ducked out into crowded hall. He ran for all he was worth, not caring one bit that he wasn't wearing anything under the gown. The last thing the doctor saw as he rushed to the door was a little brown rear end disappearing down the corridor.
He heaved a sigh and turned to his nurse.
"Go find Mrs. Gage and have her come here. I think she's in the lounge."
* * *
The world was still fading in and out, but he knew he was at Rampart. The bright light and cold room told him that. He'd talked a little to Doc Brackett, then Joe Early had come in and given him a neuro check. He wasn't sure he'd passed, but he didn't care right now. He still hurt like hell and all he wanted at the moment was for somebody to give him something for the pain and then to leave him alone.
"Hey, tiger, how ya holding up?"
He turned his head slightly and saw a fuzzy white figure standing next to him.
"Dixie? 'Sat you?"
"Who else? Nothing but the best for our favorite customer." Her tone was light and teasing, but she was busy doing something to his arm.
He realized what she was up to and pulled out of her grasp.
"Whoa there, Johnny..." She tried to take his arm again.
"Don' wan' no shot!" he stated emphatically.
"I know you don't," the nurse replied sympathetically, but she still held his arm in a strong grasp. "You know as well as I do it's for your own good. Besides, it only hurts for a second."
Johnny blinked to be sure it was really Dixie standing there. The memory that had flashed was pretty strong. But there she was, smiling as she readied the tetanus booster. He let out an audible moan. He knew he wasn't in any shape to try any escapes today. Besides, he was a little too old to get away with running down the halls of Rampart with his rear hanging out.
The End (no pun intended :>)