Note: Although basic versions of ATM's were around somewhat in a few places in the early 1970's, for story purposes, they weren't.
Disclaimer: Some beginning dialogue was borrowed from the original episode. No copyright infringement was intended.
Understanding – An Alternate Ending
By Audrey W.
This picks up just after Johnny and Roy are told they’ll have to stay as hostages. . .
Johnny picked up the biophone receiver. “Rampart, neither one of us can go with the patient.”
“51, the patient can’t be moved without a paramedic. What’s your problem?”
“Uh, Rampart, we’re being held hostage. Suggest that you. . .uh. . .send another squad and help us with transportation.”
“Wait,” the balding robber said.
Brackett’s reply to Johnny’s request went unheard as the paramedics looked at the robber, hoping he’d changed his mind.
“One of you can go with the patient. He can,” the man said, indicating Roy. He then pointed at Gage. “But you stay.”
Roy and Johnny exchanged worried glances. Neither was happy with the latest development, but at least it solved their problem with transporting the heart patient.
Johnny shrugged at his partner, then contacted Rampart again. “Rampart, Squad 51.”
“Go ahead, 51.”
“Disregard on the other squad. Roy’ll be bringing in the victim.”
“10-4, 51. We’ll be waiting.”
Johnny placed the biophone receiver back in its case. “Okay, let’s get ‘im out of here.”
One ambulance attendant was allowed inside the building to help get the heart patient onto the stretcher and out of the bank. As they headed for the front doors, Roy took a look at his partner. He started to say something, but Gage shook his head, stopping DeSoto with a “See ya later.”
The senior paramedic nodded as he chewed his lower lip. “Yeah, see ya.”
Nothing more was said as Roy followed beside the stretcher. Both men knew their priority was with the patient’s welfare.
Although he had to, Roy didn’t want to leave the scene. As the patient was loaded into the ambulance, he couldn’t help but look over at the bank. Gut feeling told the man he wouldn’t be seeing Johnny alive again. Roy hoped he was wrong.
A policeman trotted over and stopped beside the blonde paramedic.
“How’s your patient doing?”
“He’s stable now. I’d say he should be okay.”
“We’ll do our best to get your partner and the others out safely.”
Roy started to climb up in the ambulance when the officer stopped him.
“Can you tell me one thing?”
“Sure,” DeSoto shrugged. “I’ll try.”
“What’s your take on those guys in there?” The policeman motioned towards the bank. “You think they’re a serious threat or are they mostly just talk?”
“I don’t know. They don’t seem very bright. But if you ask me, a person like that with a gun is kind of scarier than someone who knows exactly what they’re doing and has a well thought out plan.”
“I know what you mean.”
Roy climbed up in the ambulance. As the doors were closed, he stared at the biophone on the floor.
I wish I would’ve left that in the bank with Johnny.
Gage sat still, watching the two bank robbers pace nervously nearby. The blonde man finally sat down across from their new hostage.
“You’re gonna be our ticket out of here.”
“How do you figure that?”
“If we walk out there with you between us and a gun pointing at your head, they aren’t gonna take a chance on you being shot. We’ll be home free.”
“Are you nuts?” Johnny asked as he sat forward. “Man, you aren’t getting out of here that easy.”
“Why not? Are there very many cops out there?”
Johnny gave the man an incredulous look. “What’dya expect? You robbed a bank, man. You’re holding several people as hostages; plus you already wounded a bank guard. Of course there’re a lot of cops out there.”
“It’s gotta work, though. This whole thing can’t be for nothin’.”
“What are you gonna do with them?” Gage asked, pointing at the bank employees that were bound and gagged in another section of the room. He watched as the other robber checked over each hostage.
Well, at least these guys seem to want to be easy on the hostages.
The blonde robber shrugged. “Leave ‘em like that, I guess. The cops can untie them and take the tape off their mouths after we’re gone with you.”
The balding man came out with one of the female bank employees untied and without tape across her mouth.
“She needs to use the bathroom. I’ll be right back with her.” He paused a minute as he studied the handgun his partner held. “Give me your gun, it’ll be easier to hold on her. You take this one.”
Johnny watched as the men swapped weapons.
“Okay, that’s better. We’ll be right back.”
“Yeah. . .yeah,” the blonde robber said as he waved off his partner. He was more preoccupied with what the paramedic had told him about there being so many police outside. He began nervously pacing again.
Johnny kept his eyes on the anxious man, while trying to watch for the young woman being brought back from the bathroom. These men appeared to mean well, despite the fact they were holding up a bank. To Gage, they seemed very inexperienced at the task. He just hoped the other robber wouldn’t try anything with the bank employee after she was through in the bathroom.
Having arrived at Rampart, Roy followed alongside the stretcher carrying the heart patient as it was wheeled down the corridor and whisked into a treatment room. As soon as the man was in Brackett’s care, DeSoto excused himself and headed for the base station. A very solemn Dixie looked up from her desk.
“Hi. You okay?”
“Yeah, Dix, I am. I just hope Johnny is. I can’t believe he’s a hostage in the bank now.” Roy chewed his lower lip.
“I know. Maybe it’ll be over with soon. If the building’s surrounded, the people robbing the place have to know it’s useless.”
“I wish I could feel confident they would. It’s hard to tell with these guys. And if they were to get desperate. . .” he trailed off.
Dixie didn’t like where the paramedic’s thoughts were going. He needed some assurance. . . something to lighten his grim outlook.
“Maybe Johnny’ll talk their ears off,” the nurse offered, forcing a smile. “He throws some of his logic at them and I’m sure they’ll be ready to give up.”
“Yeah. . .or shoot ‘im.”
No more was said as Dixie realized Roy’s current outlook wasn’t going to change and the paramedic began to wonder how he was going to get back to the bank.
Johnny was relieved when he saw the balding man bringing the girl back into the room, unharmed. Suddenly, without warning, the young woman started to run. When he saw the man begin to run after her and aim his gun, Gage leapt up out of his chair and ran after the girl.
As he shoved her to the floor, a shot could be heard. The two landed on the hard surface of the tile and Johnny quickly pulled away. A burning pain had seared through the tissue of his upper right arm. Johnny closed his eyes and grit his teeth.
The dark-haired paramedic opened his eyes to see the bank employee roughly pulled to her feet by her left arm.
“Hey. . .be. . .be careful. . .with her,” he panted, trying to breath through the pain as he spoke. “Are you okay?” Johnny asked the young woman.
She nodded as tears streamed down her cheeks. “I’m sorry. I just got scared.”
“It’s okay.” Gage bit his lower lip, as he once again tried to get through the burning sensation in his arm.
The balding robber took the bank employee back with the others and tied her up again, placing a new strip of tape across her closed mouth.
Johnny slowly sat up. He could see blood running down his arm and soaking through on his shirtsleeve. It also was on his left hand from where he’d placed it over the wound.
“Ah, damn it.”
The barrel of a gun came into view and was pointed directly at his face. Gage looked up to see the blonde robber staring at him.
“Put. . .put the gun away. I’m not. . .gonna do anything, man.”
“Look what you made us do already! You shouldn’t have moved.”
“You guys are too jumpy. . . to be doing this. Jumpy and guns. . .not a good. . .combination.”
“Get back in the chair,” the man ordered.
Johnny shook his head. This situation had to end soon.
“Help me up.”
Crap it hurts like hell.
The paramedic winced as the man roughly grabbed his left arm and helped him to his feet. Johnny found his way to the chair and sat, leaning his head back. At the sound of footsteps going away, he turned his head to the side and watched the blonde robber walk over to his partner. Gage was sure someone would end up dead if the nervous men didn’t give up soon. They were just too edgy.
It was only after he had been sitting a few minutes that Johnny realized a telephone inside the bank was ringing. He wondered why the other two men hadn’t answered it. More than likely it was the police wondering what the gunshot was about.
The paramedic considered answering the phone himself, but knew it would be a stupid move with two armed robbers nearby. After all, they had already shot him by accident and shot the security guard that was taken into Rampart earlier in the day; no telling what getting up to answer a phone would cause them to do.
Finally the ringing stopped and a voice being amplified from outside could be heard.
“Attention in the bank. We want to know if the hostages are still okay after the latest gunfire we heard. Could you please pick up the phone when we call again so we can talk to you.”
Both robbers looked towards the front of the building where the voice came from. The phone started to ring again and the blonde man walked over to it. Frustration was setting in and the man was agitated. He picked up the receiver and waited a few seconds before speaking.
“Yeah. . .
“It went off accidentally.
“No, everyone’s just fine,” the man lied.
He slammed the receiver down in its cradle and looked over at Johnny. The dark haired man had broken out in a sweat and was holding his left hand on his upper right arm, his eyes closed.
Gage felt something kick his right foot. Opening his eyes, he saw the blonde robber standing in front of him. Johnny grimaced as he sat up straighter.
“Is it bad?”
The paramedic stared at the man in disbelief. “I got shot. . .in the arm!” He paused a minute trying to calm his voice. “It hurts like hell, man. . .and the bullet’s still. . .in there. I’d say that’s . . .bad.”
When the man didn’t move, Johnny continued. “I could use something. . . to put on it. . . to slow down the bleeding.”
“I’ll see if I can find anything.”
“Thanks.” Gage couldn’t get over the way the men were. It was like they only half knew what they were doing. But that meant they probably weren’t beyond reasoning with at this point. And he had to admit, as much as they tried to play tough, the men showed time and time again that they cared about their hostages. That they hadn’t really intended to hurt anyone.
Roy climbed out of the ambulance and made his way to the cops at the robbery scene. He had been relieved to be able to get a ride with another ambulance that was being dispatched to the bank as a standby in case it was needed. Although he hoped the latter wasn’t the case.
As he approached the officer in charge of the standoff, DeSoto saw renewed concern in the man’s face.
“Did something happen? Is everyone inside okay?”
“There was a gunshot fired inside. We talked to the robbers by telephone and they assured us the hostages are still okay. But we’ve got another paramedic unit on the way in the event they’re needed before this thing is over.”
“I hope they aren’t.”
The officer nodded in agreement. “I know what you mean. If these guys would only face the fact there’s no escape, this thing could be over with now and no one would get hurt.”
Roy frowned. He knew all too well how these kind of situations could end up. But on another thought, Johnny was trained to handle touchy situations. Maybe that training would come in handy now.
“My partner--” Roy stopped in mid-sentence as the front door to the bank opened and people who were once hostages, filed out. Placing their hands on their heads, the group quickly walked over to the safety of the police.
DeSoto watched for Gage, but he didn’t appear before the door was closed again. As he stared at the front of the building, trying to will the door open again, the senior paramedic could hear the various hostages talking about the fireman that had been shot.
A roaring in Roy’s ears drowned out the rest of the conversations going on, as his mind raced through possible scenarios. Johnny had been shot. Now he wondered how bad. Roy hurried over to where the former hostages were giving details to the police.
“Where was the fireman shot?” DeSoto asked. “Is he okay?”
One of the men who had come out looked at Roy and shrugged. “I don’t know if he’s okay or not. He was shot in the arm, but was just sitting in a chair watching as we walked past. There was a lot of blood on his shirtsleeve. He kind of smiled at us, though. Maybe it’s not as bad as it looked.”
“Did he say anything?”
The man shook his head. “Not to us. But he did talk the robbers into letting us go.”
Roy wasn’t surprised at what he heard. He would’ve done the same thing. The sound of a siren brought his attention to the street behind them. Squad 110 was coming to a stop across the street. Roy met the paramedics at their truck as they were getting out.
“What’s up, DeSoto?” Martin asked. “We were called on a standby status.”
“Johnny and I came here to treat a heart patient inside the bank during a holdup. When it came time to transport the guy, the robbers made one of us stay in his place. They picked Johnny. Now he’s been shot.”
“Do you know how serious it is?”
Roy shook his head. “Not exactly. The other hostages that were just released said he was shot in the arm and there was a lot of blood on his sleeve. But that’s all I know.” Roy looked back at the bank. “He talked the guys into releasing the other hostages.”
One of the policemen came over to the three paramedics. “We’re probably gonna need you guys shortly. Looks like we’ll be using tear gas.”
Roy couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “You can’t be serious.”
The cop eyed the blonde paramedic. “Since we have all but one of the hostages out, there won’t be as many people affected, and we can end this thing now.” He sighed, as he knew what DeSoto was thinking. “It’s not like it’s gonna do any permanent damage to your man. And since we know he’s injured, the time line in bringing the standoff to a close changed. You want him out of there now, don’t you?”
“Yeah, but not like that. Don’t use tear gas yet.” DeSoto couldn’t stand the thought of his partner being gassed in addition to being shot. All he had done was go in to take care of a heart patient. It shouldn’t have ended up this way. “Can you try talking to them again? Just see if they’ll let him come out or me go in to treat him?”
“Oh no,” the cop answered. “No one else goes in, period. But we’ll give them one last chance to give up first.” When he saw Roy relax, he added, “but if we don’t get results soon, we’re going to have to use the tear gas.”
Roy nodded and watched the front of the building again.
C’mon. Give it up.
Johnny groaned as he adjusted his position in the chair. His arm was hurting even more if it was possible. He opened his eyes and searched the room for the two robbers. They were both huddled at one of the desks in a corner. The dark-haired man thought of trying to slip out while they were preoccupied. Since he was the only hostage left, he wouldn’t be putting anyone else in danger.
Gage was relieved when he’d finally convinced the robbers to release the other hostages. Although he’d hoped they would let him go, too, and maybe even give themselves up at the same time, he at least had gotten half a victory. The only thing he hadn’t understood was why they kept his injury from being known to the police outside and why they didn’t try to get him help like they did for the heart patient. When asked, the blonde robber stated simply that they wanted him around because they trusted him.
Johnny turned his head and looked in the direction of the lobby. Freedom was so close, yet at the same time so far away.
The sound of an amplified voice from outside caught the three men’s attention.
“You in the bank. We have the other hostages out here and want to thank you for their release. But we know the fireman still inside has been injured. There are paramedics out here waiting to treat him. We WILL NOT send anyone else in. If you don’t give up and let the other hostage go, we’ll be forced to use other means of getting you out. You have ten minutes.”
At the mention of the other paramedics, Gage thought about his partner. He wondered if Roy was still at Rampart with the heart patient.
The balding man walked over to Johnny. “What are they talking about? What other means would they use?”
Johnny shrugged, mentally kicking himself afterwards when intense pain shot up his arm into his shoulder.
“They wouldn’t do anything with you still in here, would they?”
“Why not? Man, I’m already. . .injured. What’ve they got. . . to lose?”
“We could kill you.”
Johnny squinted up at the man. “They know you won’t.”
“You didn’t let. . .the heart patient die,” he explained, pain etched in his voice. “You got help.”
The robber stared at the sweaty paramedic. He knew the man was right. They could’ve let the heart victim go until he died. But both men had agreed there would be no killing anyone in the holdup. As his partner walked over to see what was up with Gage now, the balding man turned to face him.
Shortly after the policeman had given the last ultimatum to the men inside the bank, the front door of the building opened. All eyes focused on the bank as the two robbers, Johnny between them and being supported by the blonde man, slowly came outside. The robbers had left their weapons inside, which allowed the policemen to converge on them. Roy ran from where he had been helping to check over the welfare of the other hostages and grabbed Johnny just as he sat hard on the cement sidewalk.
“Johnny? You okay?” DeSoto noticed a bloody piece of cloth wrapped around his partner’s upper right arm. “Is it just your arm that’s injured?”
“Yeah. It hurts like. . . hell, man. The bullet’s . . .still in . . .it.”
The other two paramedics had their equipment and were over to Gage and DeSoto in an instant. As an officer and a few reporters approached the paramedics, Roy waved them off.
“You guys can question him later at Rampart General. Right now, he needs medical care first.”
When the officer and others backed up and dispersed elsewhere, Roy turned his attention to the scene in front of him where Martin and Daniels were getting his partner ready to transport. When it was time to head for Rampart, he helped to lift the stretcher with Johnny on it into the ambulance. Daniels motioned for Roy to get in.
“I’ll take your squad to Rampart. You look like you need a few words with Gage.”
DeSoto smiled. “Thanks.”
As Roy climbed up beside him, Gage talked while the pain medication he was given began to make him drowsy.
“You know, Roy. . .I hope someday someone invents something that puts an end to going into banks for handling money. A thing where we can do everything away from the bank.”
“We have drive-up windows.”
The doors were closed and the ambulance took off for Rampart. The conversation between the two paramedics continued.
“No, I mean something else,” Johnny groggily explained. “You know.”
“No, I don’t.”
“You know, Roy, like a machine - it's like a teller, only it's a machine, and you can walk up to it without going in the bank and get your money out of it."
“How are you going to get money out of your account by using a machine?”
“I don't know. I haven't figured that part out yet,” Gage slurred.
Roy figured the medication was talking now, more so than Johnny. “Well, I guess that’ll give you something to think about while you’re laid up.”
The dark-haired man yawned, then quietly answered, “The last thing I want to do is think about banks, Roy.”
“Yeah, but someone will beat you to the invention and make a fortune.”
“That’s okay. If I made a fortune,” Johnny replied, his voice even lower in volume, “it would just mean more banking I’d have to do. . .anyway.”
Roy shook his head. Someday he’d figure his partner out. But until then, he would remain secure in the knowledge that not understanding the younger man meant he hadn’t rubbed off on him. . .yet.
Thanks for the beta read, Kenda! And thanks to Jane for the encouragement! :o)