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.
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 .
It was already after 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.
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.
“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
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
“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
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,
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,
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
“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.
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.
Johnny may not have been
thinking straight, but he understood that.
He grabbed for
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,
“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
“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, 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 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!!
All of this made no sense to
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.”
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.”
“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?”
“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
Johnny covered his eyes in
horror, not wanting to see the faces of the men around him.
“Wanda?” he asked.
“Wanda,” was Johnny’s only response.
Chet began spraying down
Johnny’s legs while
As they prepared to load
Johnny into the ambulance,
“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.
“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,
“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
Johnny groaned. “I am NEVER going to live this down, am I?”
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.
“What did you do with them?”
“What did I do with what?”
The attendant was now opening
the ambulance doors.
“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.
“YOU WHAT??????????” was the
No, Johnny. This is one you are never going to live down,
· 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,
Thanks Jill, Jane L,
and Audrey for your help, suggestions, and punctuation. (No really!
I do know the difference between cavalry and
*Click on the bikini briefs to send Whisper feedback