I don’t own them.  Universal and Mark VII  does.  But they stopped using them.  So now we take them out to play from time to time.  Hey, I figure no money, no foul.



By Whisper



Johnny Gage could hardly believe his luck, or lack of it.  Just that morning Dr. Brackett had cleared him to return to work, declaring his back fully functional.  The A shift was on duty today so he would have 2 more days off before his next shift at work.  After calling Captain Stanley to confirm that he would be back, Johnny’s next call had been to Wanda.  They had agreed to meet for dinner after she got off work, then go back to her place and “see what happened.”


Even now he couldn’t help but grin as he thought about what was sure "to happen” back at Wanda’s.  Since his injury, their activities had been somewhat curtailed, but an evening with this particular lady was never boring.  Everyone liked Wanda.  In public she was the very definition of civility and professionalism.  But when they got behind closed doors, well, Johnny was certainly pleased, impressed, and sometimes awed by the things that happened.  However, they were definitely not the types of things you told your mother about.  They weren’t the types of things you told your married partner about.  Heck, they weren’t even the types of things you told Charlie Dwyer about, and Johnny told him most of the things he wouldn’t tell anyone else when it came to women.  Johnny blushed and turned warm just thinking about it. 


But, Brackett had ruled out any strenuous activity after he wrenched his back 3 weeks ago.  So nighttime play with Wanda had been put on hold along with work.  Tonight was supposed to be their return performance.  He was scheduled to pick her up at her apartment at 6:00 PM.    


It was already after 5:30 now and Johnny was stuck in a line of traffic that wasn’t moving.  He didn’t see any flashing lights and hadn’t heard any sirens.  If there was an accident up ahead, that might mean that help was not yet on the scene.  Making a decision, he maneuvered his Rover to the side of the road and took off at a jog up the street to see if anyone needed help.


Half a mile up the road he found the accident. A tanker truck was on its side, apparently having been hit by a delivery truck while in the process of trying to make a turn.  The driver of the delivery truck was nowhere to be seen.  The driver of the tanker was at an awkward angle in the cab,  and he wasn’t moving.  No help had yet arrived. 


Johnny was heading for the cab when he saw a group of boys gathering near the back of the tanker.  He yelled at them to move away, but they paid him no attention.  Unsure of the stability of the truck, he moved quickly in their direction.  But instead of yelling at them again, he decided to enlist their help.


“Hey, you guys, listen.  We don’t know what’s in this rig and we don’t know how stable it is.  Do you think you can help out and make sure all the kids stay away from it?  Can you keep everyone, including yourselves, back off the street until the fire department arrives?”


Johnny was right in his approach.  Rather than getting argumentative, the boys rallied to help and started herding the other kids together and moving them far from the truck.  Johnny headed back toward the cab.  He never noticed the liquid that had been spraying out of the tanker and now covered the bottom of his new jeans.  


When the truck had tipped, it had landed on its left side, leaving the driver’s side door inaccessible.  When Johnny reached the cab, there were 2 other men standing on what was now the top of the rig, trying to open the passenger door.   Johnny joined them.


“Hey.  I’m John Gage.  I’m an off duty fireman paramedic.  Did either of you see this happen?  Do you know if anyone called for help?”


One of the men held out his hand to Johnny.  “Doug Simpson.  This is Bill.  My wife went to call for help.  This guy was turning the corner and the delivery truck came over the hill and hit his rear end.  The tanker must have already been off balance because of the turn on the hill.  I can’t imagine how else it would have gone over.  The driver of the delivery truck took off down the street.  Haven’t seen him since.  This guy hasn’t moved at all.” 


Bill had gotten a crow bar and between the three of them, they managed to open the passenger door.  Johnny could now hear the sirens in the distance.  They would be here any minute.  But he knew that if this guy was still alive, the sooner he got help, the better.  He had Bill and Doug lower him into the cab.  It didn’t take more than a brief minute before he hoisted himself back up and out.


Johnny looked at Bill and Doug and shook his head.  “His neck is broken.  He never had a chance.”  Noting the look on Doug’s face, Johnny reached out to balance him as he suddenly bent over and lost the contents of his stomach off the side of the rig.  He wasn’t quick enough to also grab Bill who fell off the rig in a moment of lightheadedness upon hearing Johnny’s announcement.  Making sure Doug was steady on his feet, Johnny climbed off the truck and rushed to Bill’s side. 





Squad 51 arrived on the scene just in time for the paramedics to see a man fall from the truck and another man follow him down.  The engine was pulling up behind them as Charlie Dwyer jumped out of the squad and ran to the man on the ground.  Roy grabbed the oxygen and trauma box before following him.


As Dwyer approached the scene, his attention was focused on the man holding his knee and writhing on the ground.  He barely took note of the other man at his side.  “What happened?” Dwyer asked, kneeling down next to the victim.  He wasn’t prepared to get a full report and it took him a moment to realize that the legs standing next to him belonged to John Gage. 


“He fell from the top of the cab.  It looked like he got dizzy when he found out the driver didn’t make it.  Broken neck.  The other driver took off.  There’s no sign of any other victims unless you include Doug up there who just lost his lunch.  They were up there trying to help.” 


Dwyer didn’t take the time to ask Johnny what he was doing at the scene.  Roy, however, did.


“What are you doing here?  Cap told me that Brackett cleared you this morning, but I didn’t expect to see you chasing ambulances quite so soon.  Were you involved in this?  Are you okay?”


“Yeah, I’m fine.  I just got caught in the traffic jam and ran up here to help since I didn’t see any flashing lights yet.”


“Well, the cavalry is here now.  You can go.  But, if you’re gonna stay, could you let Cap know what’s going on and grab the bio-phone?”


Johnny smiled at his partner’s comments.  Roy knew very well that he had no intention of leaving the scene until it was cleared.  Even with Wanda waiting, it wouldn’t feel right to walk away until everybody was checked out and safely on their way.  Besides, until the police arranged a detour, no one was going anywhere. 


As Johnny grabbed the bio-phone and the splint box, he felt a sudden rush of warmth surge through his body.  It was a little different, but not entirely unpleasant, and he attributed it to his thoughts of Wanda and the activities that awaited him.  He passed the equipment off to Roy, then headed over toward Captain Stanley who stood near the cab of the tanker truck.  Johnny quickly noted that Doug was now okay and was talking to the captain.  Chet and Marco were surveying the scene and setting up a perimeter around the truck.  Mike was in his SCBA and turnout gear, examining the back of the tanker that appeared to be leaking a small amount of a clear liquid.


“How ya feeling, Doug?” Johnny asked as he approached.  It took Captain Stanley a moment to register the fact that the voice he was hearing should not be at this particular accident scene. 


“For cripes sake, Gage.  You’re still on leave.  What are you doing here?”


“Nice to see you too, Cap,” was the young man’s answer. 


“Yeah, well, I’m glad you’re here.  I think.  But what are you doing here?  You been listening to a scanner in your down time?”


“Not likely.  The last thing I want to do when I’m off duty is listen to a scanner.  I happened to be on my way to a date when this accident here inconveniently blocked my way.” 


Johnny’s tone became serious as he told his captain about what had occurred since he arrived on the scene. “Looks like we’ve got a leak, huh?  Any idea what he was hauling?”


Captain Stanley shook his head.  “No sign of a manifest.  Vince is calling in the registration to try and track it down that way.  Until we know what it is, we don’t dare spray it down with water.  We’ve called for a Haz Mat team and a foam truck.  They should be here in ten.  Who’s the guy on the ground?”


“Someone who tried to help.  He, uh, fell off the cab when I told him the driver was dead.  Guess I should have waited till he was on solid ground or hanging onto something.  He got kind of lightheaded and lost his balance.  Looks like he injured his knee when he fell.”


Speaking of lightheaded, Johnny realized he was having some trouble himself as he turned to speak to Doug.  He decided to ignore it.  “How about you, man?” he asked, “you feeling any better?”


Doug nodded.  “Yeah, I guess you must get used to that type of thing eventually, huh?”


Johnny shook his head.  “Nope.  Haven’t gotten used to it yet.  But I have learned to hold down my lunch.”  The words were no sooner out of his mouth than he realized that he was at immediate risk of proving himself wrong.  He felt another rush of heat pass through his body.  This time it was accompanied by a wave of dizziness and nausea.  He closed his eyes to try to make it go away.


Johnny must have looked about the same as he felt because suddenly both Doug and Captain Stanley reached out and grabbed his arms.   “Hey, pal.  What’s going on?  Are you okay?”


The off duty paramedic could barely hear his captain through the ringing that was suddenly happening in his ears.  He tried to open his eyes, but decided that was a bad mistake when everything around him started spinning.  Suddenly his stomach lurched, and he quickly turned away from the two men holding him up, hoping he missed them as his stomach rebelled with a violent heave.  He heard Cap call for Roy as he felt himself being lowered to the ground.




The initial shock having worn off, Bill was doing well.  Rampart agreed he could follow up with his own doctor.  Roy and Charlie had just finished wrapping his knee and helping him into his wife’s car when they heard Captain Stanley call to them.  Looking up, Roy saw Cap holding onto Johnny.  He and Charlie were at Johnny’s side before the other men had finished lowering him to the ground.


Roy spoke to his friend as he took his wrist to count out his pulse.  “What’s going on, Johnny?  What happened?”


Johnny was still feeling flushed, but the dizziness and nausea had dissipated some when he sat down.  He was keenly aware of the fact that he was suddenly having trouble making sense of the things that were happening around him.  “I don’t know, man.  I was fine, then suddenly the world started spinning.  Must be the sun.  I’m real warm.  Just give me a minute and I’ll be okay.” 


Charlie was setting up the bio-phone near Johnny’s feet when he noticed something strange.  “Hey, Roy.  Do you smell that?  It smells kind of thick and sweet.”  As he was speaking, he noticed that the lower part of Johnny’s jeans were wet.  He resisted the urge to reach out and touch them.  “Hey, Johnny, man.  Were you anywhere near the back of that tanker before we got here?”


Johnny nodded.  “Yeah, there were a bunch of kids.  They, um, were hanging around.”  Johnny felt like he was in a quickly thickening fog.  “I, um, I told them to, um, move back.”


Dwyer moved quickly, not taking the time to discuss it separately with Roy.  He’d catch on quick enough. 


“Cap, we’ve got possible contamination here.  Johnny’s jeans are partially saturated with a sweet smelling liquid.  He was near the leak in the truck earlier.  He said there were a bunch of kids back there as well.  We need to find those kids.”


Charlie was putting on rubber gloves as he spoke.  Roy followed suit.  Captain Stanley immediately went into action and ordered Chet and Marco to find the kids who were near the back of the truck.  He confirmed that the Haz Mat team was only minutes away then moved into the crowd to try and identify anyone else who may have been exposed.


Charlie and Roy helped Johnny move further away from the scene.  In the distance Johnny saw Vince say something to Cap.  Cap then pointed over toward him and Vince came running their way. 


Roy,” Vince called as soon as he was close enough to be heard.  “We got the company.  The load is liquid Phenol.”


Johnny may not have been thinking straight, but he understood that.  He grabbed for Roy.  Roy, there were 4 boys….  About 12 years old….  On bikes….  You gotta find them.”  Johnny was finding it harder to focus and things were starting to spin again.


Roy kept his voice calm and controlled to counter Johnny’s concern.  “Okay.  Vince, Chet, and Marco will find them.  Right now we have to get these jeans off of you and get you washed off.  Can you help?”


Realization, then panic cut through Johnny’s fog but got stuck somewhere before reaching rational thought.  He wasn’t feeling well, that was for sure.  But his distorted thoughts could focus only on his vision of what would happen if he lost his jeans.  That could not happen.


“They’re only exposed on the bottom, right, Roy?  Cut them off above the knee.  My legs are okay.  They just tingle a little below the knee.  Above the knee is fine.  Just cut the jeans at the knees, okay?”


“Johnny, the tingling is from the Phenol.  You know that, pal.  The liquid may have only sprayed the bottom of your jeans, but it probably spread through the cotton.”


Johnny was adamant.  “No way.  These are brand new.  I can at least save them as cutoffs.  Cut them above the knee, Roy.  You don’t have to take them off.” 


“Johnny, you’re not thinking straight here.  The jeans, shoes and socks have to go.  You know that.  Come on.  All the spectators are out of sight.  Let’s just get these off of you, get you sprayed down, and get you to Rampart.”


Dwyer tried to help.  “Johnny, man, you have to calm down.  Your BP is too high and your pulse is racing.  The Phenol will do that to ya, man, but you’re not helping matters.  Why don’t you just lie back and let Roy and me take care of this, okay?”


“No!  No way!  You can have my shoes and socks and you can cut the jeans, but they stay on.  It’s not necessary.  There is NO chemical exposure above the knee.”


Charlie got on the phone with Rampart while Roy removed Johnny’s shoes and socks and continued to try to reason with him. 


“Rampart, we have a code I at an MVA with a tanker truck carrying liquid Phenol.  We have an off duty paramedic with dermal exposure to the chemical where it sprayed on the lower portion of his jeans.  There is no indication of other exposure, although he may have also had some minimal inhalation exposure.  The denim is NOT totally saturated and it looks like the jeans provided pretty good protection, but not complete.  The victim’s vitals are pulse 120, BP 176/120, respiration 18.  Pupils are equal and reactive.  The victim has vomited once and remains nauseous.  He is dizzy and has ringing in his ears. He is experiencing tingling but no burning in his lower legs.  He appears mildly confused and agitated. There are no other injuries or trauma.  Rampart the victim is Johnny Gage.”


“51, have you flushed the exposure site?” Brackett asked. Charlie was pleased that it was Brackett who responded.  Maybe he could get Johnny’s attention by throwing a little fear into him.


“Uh, that’s negative, Rampart.  The victim is refusing to allow his pants to be removed.” 


“He’s what?”


“He’s refusing to allow us to remove his pants.  His thinking may be distorted.”


“I’d say so.  51, tell him it’s a direct order from me, and get those pants off of him now.  I want that exposure site flushed immediately.”


Charlie turned to Roy and Johnny.  “You hear that, Johnny?  Direct order from the Doc himself.  The pants go now.”


On some level Johnny knew this was a battle that he was going to lose.  In fact, he knew that it was a battle he needed to lose.  But there was just no way he was losing his jeans.  It was not an acceptable solution.  Not here.  Not under these circumstances!! 


He grabbed Roy’s shirt and pulled him close.  Roy, if you are now or ever have been my friend, you will not do this!  Do you hear me?  Cut the jeans, man.  What’s the big deal?  Cut them in the middle of the thigh if you have to.  No way the stuff traveled that far up the material or my legs.”


All of this made no sense to Roy.  He tried one last time.  “Johnny, you heard Brackett.  I can get Cap over here to add his voice if you want.  The jeans have to go.  Look, I’ll buy you a new pair, okay?”


Johnny pushed himself up to a sitting position and fought off the wave of dizziness that came over him.  “I’m refusing treatment.  Give me the paper to sign.  I’m refusing.  I have that right.”


Roy looked around for Cap, but he was nowhere in sight.  He tried again.  “Johnny, you can’t refuse treatment.  Not only is it stupid, but you could lose your job.  You ignore Brackett’s orders, even as the patient, and more than your health is gonna be on the line.”


Johnny knew that was true, but his mind had become obsessed with one goal, that of keeping his dignity and that meant keeping his jeans.  “I’m not on duty.  I’m no different from your average citizen.  I’m refusing treatment.”


Roy didn’t know what to do.  Charlie got on the line again with Rampart.


“Rampart, this is Squad 51.”


“Go ahead, 51.  Have you flushed the skin yet?”


“That’s negative, Doc.  He’s refusing to remove the jeans and is now refusing all treatment.”


“Okay, this is ridiculous.”  Brackett was not going to allow this to continue.  “We know this isn’t a rational response.  It’s got to be a reaction to the Phenol.  Consider him incompetent.  Give him 10 mg’s diazepam IM then hold him down and hog tie him if you have to, but get those damn jeans off of him now!  I want those legs being flushed within the next 3 minutes.  Do I make myself clear?”


“Understood, Rampart.” 


Roy had heard.  It appeared that Johnny had not.  Dwyer got the diazepam ready while Roy tried once more to reason with his partner.


“Johnny, what’s the problem here?  You know as well as I do that we have to flush your skin.  The longer we wait, the more of a problem it’s going to be.  You can’t mess around with Phenol.  Right now, you’ll likely be okay but if we wait much longer…”


“Look, give me the scissors.  I’ll cut them myself.  Then everyone will be happy.  Okay?’  Johnny felt Charlie at his arm and looked, expecting to see the BP cuff again.  Instead, he saw the needle go into his arm and felt a sharp pain as the liquid was forced into the muscle.


“What the hell are you doing?  What was that?”


The fog around him got a little thicker as he felt Roy push him back to the ground and hold him while Charlie unhooked the jeans and started to pull them down.  Chet stood by with the hose.  Johnny took one look at Chet and started to fight for all he was worth.  Roy took a backhand to the face and Charlie took a foot in the chest before the diazepam made it impossible for Johnny to fight any more.  Besides, it was too late.  The jeans were gone. 


Johnny covered his eyes in horror, not wanting to see the faces of the men around him.  Roy suddenly understood everything and tried desperately, but could not help but choke on a laugh.  Chet’s mouth hung open.  He managed somehow to hold his tongue, but his mind moved instantly to the future benefit of this situation.  Charlie Dwyer just grinned and moved within earshot of Johnny.


“Wanda?” he asked.


“Wanda,” was Johnny’s only response.


Chet began spraying down Johnny’s legs while Roy started the IV that Rampart had ordered.  As soon as Chet had sprayed Johnny’s legs off for a few minutes, per protocol, Charlie washed his legs with a soapy mixture then Chet sprayed them for another 15 minutes.  Johnny said nothing. 


As they prepared to load Johnny into the ambulance, Roy realized that the kindest thing he could do for his friend would be to remove the cause of his discomfort and cover him with a sheet before they reached the hospital.  But then he felt the swelling where Johnny had caught his cheek with his backhand, and he saw Dwyer rubbing his chest.  Roy, instead, just covered his partner with a sheet and blanket to keep him warm after his cold dousing.  He then put his silent friend into the ambulance and climbed in, leaving Charlie and the rest of the crew to deal with the kids they had started to round up.




Roy had hoped that the tranquilizer might make Johnny sleep in the ambulance.  But he had no such luck.  Removing the toxin from his skin had helped, and Johnny was tired, but was once again thinking more rationally.  Five minutes into the ride to Rampart, Johnny broke the silence.


“Man, I don’t believe you.”


“Yeah, well I don’t believe you either.”


“I don’t believe you drugged me.”


“I don’t believe you refused treatment just so we wouldn’t see your briefs.”


“Yeah, well you didn’t need to force my jeans off in front of Chet!  Of all people!!!!  I’ll never live this down.”


“Well if you’d told me what the problem was instead of acting like an idiot, I could have sent Chet off to do something else and had Mike hose you down.  How exactly was I supposed to know?”


Johnny didn’t have an answer for that one so he said nothing.  Roy spoke next.


“Johnny, didn’t your mother ever warn you about accidents and underwear?”


“Yeah, well they’re clean and they aren’t torn.”


“Where in the world did you get them?  And what were you thinking when you put them on?”


“They were a ‘Glad you’re all better’ gift from Wanda, and I certainly WASN’T thinking that you all were going to see them.  I’m not on duty you know.  I wore them for her, not Chet.”


“Wanda???  Little, quiet, demure Wanda?”


“Yeah, well you don’t know her the way I do.”


“Obviously!  Wow, I never would have guessed.  I mean, how do you even buy something like that?  Do you go into a store and ask, ‘Excuse me, but do you have any black satin bikini briefs with big bright red lips on the front?’”


Johnny blushed as he pictured them.  “I think she got them from a catalog.”  Suddenly realizing something, he asked Roy, “What time is it?”


Roy looked at his watch.  “It’s just after 6:30.”


“Oh man, I’m late.  She’s gonna be wondering where I am.”


“Well, I could call her for you once we get to the hospital.  I’m sure we could find something interesting to talk about.”


“Don’t you dare!!  I’ll get Dixie or someone else to call her, thank you very much!  Wow, I hope she isn’t too mad.”


Roy couldn’t resist.  “Well, I wouldn’t worry too much.  I’m sure she’ll be willing to kiss and make up.”


Johnny groaned.  “I am NEVER going to live this down, am I?”


“Probably not.”




By the time the ambulance was pulling into Rampart, Johnny was having more and more trouble fighting off the effects of the diazepam.  His blood pressure had started to drop and he was no longer feeling totally connected to his body. 


“Hey, Roy?”  Johnny asked his partner, as the ambulance was backing up to the ER entrance.




“What did you do with them?”


“What did I do with what?”


“The briefs, Roy.  Did you throw them away?  You didn’t leave them where Chet could get them, did you?”


The attendant was now opening the ambulance doors.  Roy smiled.  “I didn’t do anything with them.”


“You left them at the scene????”


“No, I left them on you.”


“Oh, okay.  Thanks,” Johnny said, as they were pulling him out of the ambulance.  Mike Morton helped the attendant with the gurney.  Roy purposely hung back a little, waiting for the implication of what he had said to sink in.  It did, just as Johnny saw Brackett and Dixie at the door of the treatment room.


“YOU WHAT??????????” was the last thing Roy heard as he saw Johnny disappear into treatment room 3. 


No, Johnny.  This is one you are never going to live down, Roy thought as he took a deep breath and went through the door.






·        Johnny’s jeans protected him from the most serious effects of the chemical exposure, and he was released from Rampart 24 hours later.  His last ditch struggle, however, aggravated his prior injury, postponing all “celebration activities” with Wanda another 2 weeks.


·        All of the boys were located and determined to be free from contamination.  Basking in the temporary authority bestowed upon them by Johnny, two of the boys joined the school crossing guard team and one went on to be a hall monitor.


·        After being “admired” by Brackett, Early, Morton, Dixie, Carol, Betty, 7 other nurses, and Dr. Jose Estrada (who was paged to the ER for the occasion), Johnny’s briefs went mysteriously missing from his personal belongings in the ER.  They showed up again 2 months later on a resuscitation dummy during a department CPR re-certification class being taught by Johnny and attended by Chief McConnike.  Though the Phantom tried to take credit, Charlie Dwyer was the strongest suspect.


·        During a dinner party at Wanda’s apartment, Roy happened to find THE catalog.  Joanne got an extra special surprise for her birthday that month, (although Roy insisted that they stay in for the evening).


Thanks Jill, Jane L, and Audrey for your help, suggestions, and punctuation.  (No really!  I do know the difference between cavalry and Calvary, it was my computer that got confused.  Honest.)  And thanks Audrey for letting me play in your little field of dreams. 




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