This story has Jim Henson's Muppets in it. They do not belong to me, I just borrowed them again for fun. I tried for their humor, but I'm still no comedian! I just do my best.  :o)   The guys are borrowed, too. This story is strictly for fun! :o)


This is dedicated to Hap and Pam. . .thanks for asking.  :o)


This is a sequel to 'Mystery at Rampart'. You may want to read it first.


   With Friends Like     These. . .

By Audrey W.




John Gage climbed out of bed and headed for his kitchen after a brief stop in the bathroom. Still in his blue boxer shorts and shirtless, he rubbed at his tired eyes and yawned as he entered the room. The paramedic stopped in mid-stride, his mouth hanging open when he looked at the sight that waited for him.




“Morning, John!” came the greeting from a very wide awake Fozzie Bear.


Sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast were an assortment of Muppets. Gage had encountered some previously at Rampart when he’d taken in a victim and when a nurse pig who had taken a liking to him yanked the hapless paramedic into a supply closet. There was also the time he was brought in as a patient, only to have them show up in his room later.


Now most of the familiar faces were in his kitchen, along with a few he hadn’t met before.


“I see you’re still up to your old Trix,” Fozzie continued as he held up a box of the cereal with a cartoon rabbit on the front.


Finally coming out of the shock of the situation, Johnny stepped over and grabbed the Trix away, annoyance evident on his face. “I was gonna toss the rest of that,” he said as he glanced at the way past expired date on a top flap.


He looked at the others sitting on the chairs, two to each. There was Doctor Bob and his nurse Janice; Nurse Piggy with Fozzie Bear, who looked to be on the very edge of the seat; and Gonzo who was sharing a chair with a couple of chickens. In addition to them, there was a red-headed ‘fellow’ that made a high-pitched meep when he spoke who was sitting next to a wild red animal looking thing that kept blurting out, “Eat breakfast, eat breakfast!” in a growly voice as he stuffed some cheerios in his mouth.


 ”I don’t believe this. . .how’d you all get in here anyway?” Johnny asked. I *know* I locked the front door before I went to bed last night. . .


The red-headed Muppet meeped several times as he looked around at the others. They all nodded in agreement as the dumbfounded paramedic stared at the uninvited guests.


“What’d he say?” Johnny wondered.


Doctor Bob cleared his throat, then explained, “He said you’re hard to understand.”


“I’m hard to. . .?  Me? He’s the one who’s--” He let out a frustrated sigh. “Oh never mind.”


Nurse Piggy got off the chair and made her way over to him. “It’s okay, Johnny wohnny. We just thought you’d like a little company for breakfast. . .” she said softly as she batted her long lashes in a flirtatious manner. Her tone suddenly turned more forceful and deep when she eyed Nurse Janice. “Unfortunately a few extras had to come along.”


“Well, however you got in here, you may as well go back out. I’ve gotta get ready for work. I don’t have time to visit.”


“Go to work, go to work,” the red creature called out.


Johnny shot him an irritated glare. “Wha. . .who is that. . .uh. . .”


“That’s Animal’,” Fozzie explained.


“He’s a drummer in our band,” Nurse Janice added.


Band? You mean not only does the Pig moonlight in Space, but you’re all in a band as well?”


Doctor Bob shook his head. “But we all have musical talent. I play the piano. You wanna hear? I can get my--”


Johnny put up his hands to stop him from going on and shook his head. “Uh. . .no. . .no thanks. I’ll. . .uh. . .I’ll take your word for it.”


“That reminds me of a joke,” Fozzie said.


“A joke?” Knowing how bad the bear’s jokes usually were, Gage couldn’t hide the sour expression on his face.


“Sure! Did you hear the one about the dog who couldn’t be trusted?”


Johnny shook his head.


“He was always lying around.”


The others snickered as Johnny again shook his head and turned, heading for the bathroom to get showered. “Always lying around,” he mumbled. “Oh brother.”




Finished with his shower and a towel secured around his waist, Johnny peeked out of the bathroom to see if the any stray Muppets had made their way into the hallway. The paramedic half expected to find Nurses Piggy and Janice waiting outside the door for him.


When he saw that no one was within view, he quickly tip-toed across the hallway to his bedroom, again looking around before entering. 


If I’m lucky, they’ll be gone from the apartment by the time I get dressed, if they’re not already.


He noted it was very quiet. Maybe they *did* leave. . . .




After getting dressed in a pair of denim jeans and a light brown shirt, Johnny made his way to the kitchen. The Muppets were gone and only one Cheerio remained on the table and a few cereal bowls in the sink as evidence they were ever there. Though he was relieved, at the same time he had to admit he was kind of disappointed.


They *did* liven up the place. It was kinda nice to get up to some company instead of being alone.


Deciding to get breakfast on the way to work, he picked up his keys from the counter and headed for the door. As he closed it behind him, he thought about the uninvited guests again.


I hope they don’t come back and throw a party here while I’m at the station.




Roy glanced over from his locker as Johnny pushed open the door and entered the room.


“What’s the matter with you?”


Gage stepped over to his locker as he answered, “Nothin. Why?”


“You look a little perplexed.”


“I do?”


“Yeah, you do,” Roy said as he fastened the belt on his trousers. He was way ahead of his partner in getting ready for duty, with just his shoes left to put on.


Johnny unbuttoned his brown shirt and took it off. “It’s just been one of those mornings. . . .you know, the kind you aren’t sure if you’re all the way awake or not.”


“Oh. Joanne and the kids don’t let me have those very often. Usually when I’m awake in the morning, I’m wide awake. Or I’m asleep, I guess.”


The younger man pulled out his blue uniform shirt, a puzzled expression on his face. “Now I’m perplexed.”


Roy just shook his head as he finished tying his shoes, then closed his closed his locker. “See you in a few minutes,” he said as he headed for the door.


“Yeah. .  .see ya.” Johnny was still trying to figure out if what Roy had said about mornings and being awake or asleep was pretty much what he’d said as well. Man, those Muppets have me so I can’t even think straight. . .




After morning roll call, the paramedics were cleaning the dayroom; Johnny the counter area and table, and Roy the floor. Gage was trying to forget about his morning visitors by concentrating on his chore, but he found his mind still wandering back to the breakfast bunch.


“Hey, Roy?”




Johnny stopped between the sink and the table, watching as his partner continued to sweep. He wanted to blurt out about the Muppet visitors, but how could he? Roy would think he’d lost his mind. He wasn’t even sure he hadn’t.




DeSoto looked up and smiled. “Still perplexed, huh?”


“Yeah,” he admitted with a frown.


“Let me know if you need to talk about it.”


“I will,” Johnny assured as he continued on with his chore. “I will.”




Before they were done with the dayroom, the paramedics were sent out on a call with Engine 16 for a stuck elevator. As it turned out, a young woman had gotten trapped between floors with her always complaining mother-in-law. After several minutes of being in the enclosed space with the two bickering women, Johnny decided he’d rather be rescuing a certain bear that told bad jokes instead; or even the flirtatious pig that had a ‘thing’ for him.


At least they both have a sense of humor. . .warped as it is.


He glanced at his partner, who was climbing out after the mother-in-law was lifted topside in a stokes. The daughter-in-law had been able to climb out beforehand with a little assistance from both Roy and one of the firemen above.


Johnny couldn’t get over how Roy hadn’t seemed to be bothered by the women’s exchanges in the elevator at all.


If he was, he did a great job of hiding it.




Once everyone was out, the paramedics readied the victims to be transported. Neither was physically injured; the older victim was just complaining of chest pains, though her heart rate displayed as normal on the scope. And the daughter-in-law displayed a slight shortness of breath, but overall appeared to be okay.


With everything set, the women were loaded into an ambulance, each on a stretcher. The eldest was placed between the benches and the other on one, an oxygen mask over her nose and mouth.


Roy knew his partner wasn’t ready for another experience in an enclosed space with the ladies, so he volunteered to ride in with them. 


“You won’t get any argument from me,” Johnny quietly stated just out of earshot of the ladies.


“I didn’t think so.” 


Roy climbed up inside and Johnny closed the ambulance doors, giving them two customary slaps to send it on its way.




When they arrived at Rampart, the paramedics headed for separate treatment rooms, each accompanying one of the women. As Johnny started in behind the stretcher with the daughter-in-law, he suddenly stopped, one of the ambulance attendants giving him a brief puzzled glance as he continued in.


The Muppets, Johnny thought. Man, it would be just like the, to give this rescue a crazy ending.


But when he heard Morton’s voice, he relaxed and stepped inside. The dark-haired paramedic was even more relieved to see a familiar human nurse ready to assist the doctor as well.


“Any improvement?” Morton asked.


Johnny shook his head as he helped the nurse swap out the oxygen equipment after he and the attendant lifted the young lady onto the exam table.


“She and her mother-in-law were pretty upset with each other,” he offered. “And they haven’t exactly had the break they probably needed from one another. . .until now,” he added with a reassuring grin to the patient. Johnny then addressed Morton. “You may see some improvement now.”


The doctor nodded. “Got it. Thanks.”


“Sure. You need me anymore?”




“Okay, see ya later.” Gage once again gave a reassuring smile to the young woman, then headed out the door, the attendant having gone out shortly before him.




Gage met up with his partner at Dixie McCalls’s desk, where the senior paramedic was just pouring coffee into a small Styrofoam cup.


“Want some?” Roy offered.


“No. But I could sure use some aspirin about now. Man, those women really got on my nerves.”


“I could tell,” he said with a smile.


“I hope I don’t end up with a mother-in-law like that if and when I get married,” Dixie put in. “From what your partner said, she’s really something.”


Johnny glanced at Roy in surprise. “I didn’t think she fazed you.”


“Oh she fazed me alright. But I’ve kind of learned to tune most of it out after awhile.”


Gage and Nurse McCall each cocked an eyebrow in curiosity.


“It comes from experience. And Joanne’s mother has given me plenty of that on visits.”


Dixie and Johnny looked at one another and shrugged.


“He’s got a point,” she said.


“Yeah, I guess that’s one benefit to being married.”


“One of many,” Roy added as he tossed his partially empty cup in the trash. “You ready to hit the road?”


“Yeah, I guess. The dayroom isn’t gonna clean itself.”


Roy smiled at the remark and waved to Dixie as he stepped away from the base station. ‘See ya later.”


“Bye,” Johnny said as he followed.


Dixie smiled and gave a wave. “Don’t work too hard.”


As the paramedics headed out to the squad, Johnny decided to try Fozzie’s joke out on his partner.


“Hey, did you hear the one about the dog who couldn’t be trusted?”


Roy shook his head. “Do I want to?”


Johnny couldn’t help but grin, figuring maybe he’d get a laugh out of his friend. “He was always lying around.”


Glancing at the younger man, Roy rolled his eyes. “Where’d you hear that one and what made you think of it now?”


“Oh, just from someone I ran into lately. I guess it just came to mind.”


The two split up as they headed for opposite sides of the squad. As they climbed into the cab, Roy shook his head. “I’d tell my friend not to quit his day job if I were you.” He put the key in the ignition and started the motor, then drove away from the Emergency entrance.


Johnny kept quiet. How would he explain that the bad jokes were probably the bear’s day job? Then another thought crossed his mind. If his recently found pals didn’t show up at Rampart, did that mean they were at his apartment while he was gone?


Man, if there was ever a time I wished I was off, now’s it. I hope I’m not evicted before I make it back home.




A clean dayroom and a couple of rescues later, the two paramedics found themselves returning to Rampart. Johnny hurried down the corridor beside the victim on a stretcher, a young man who’d been grazed in the shoulder by a bullet when he tried to chase after another man who had robbed a convenience store he was in. Dixie directed Gage and the accompanying ambulance attendant to a treatment room.


“Take him into Three.” She was about to open the door for them, but was called to her desk by one of her nurses.


The paramedic nodded and backed into the door to open it, guiding in the stretcher as he did so. The patient looked up at the scenery passing overhead as he was wheeled into the room.


“We almost there?” he asked.


Johnny smiled. Twenty-year-old Gary Smith wasn’t hurt very bad and had been anxious to get the whole ordeal of a trip to the hospital over with. He’d voiced more than once how much he disliked them.  “Yeah, and don’t worry. I’m sure they’ll have you fixed up and out of here in no time.”


“Can’t be soon enough.”


A knowing nod and the paramedic turned to address the doctor as they wheeled the stretcher over toward the exam table. But all he could do for the moment was stop and stare with his mouth hanging open.


“Hey, if you’re a pair of medics, how come your partner doesn’t ever come in with you?” Doctor Bob wondered.


Johnny closed his mouth with a groan. He glanced down at Gary, who couldn’t see the medical crew from his angle. “If you thought you didn’t like hospitals before, you’ll never come back to one after this.”


“Huh? Wha. . .?”


Johnny looked at the attendant, who was shifting his gaze anywhere but at the dog and his two assistants. “If I don’t see them, then they aren’t there,” he explained. “I can just walk out of here totally clueless.”


“Well, don’t just stand there. Bring the patient over here.”


Johnny jumped back into action, realizing that, yes, they did still have a victim they were bringing in and Gary did need to see a doctor.


But he deserves better than this. . .man, the kid tried to be a hero.


The paramedic then glanced at the exit, wondering why Dixie had sent them in this room.


Does she actually know now?


As they guided the stretcher over to the exam table, Gary’s eyes widened. “Wait! You’re turning me over to a . . .a . . .dog? And a . . .pig? And a. . .Hippie girl?”


The men carefully transferred the young man onto the exam table, as the ambulance attendant responded to the questions.


“I don’t see any of that,” he said, looking down at the floor. “Nope, no dogs, pigs or hippie girls in here if you ask me.” He quickly turned and headed out of the room, never taking so much as a glance over his shoulder.


Johnny sighed as he watched his helper leave. Thanks a lot.


“Hey, what kind of place is this anyway?” Gary asked as he started to sit up.


Johnny gently put his hand on the man’s chest to keep him on his back. “It just gets to be a zoo around here at times,” he stated. Then he snickered at his own choice of words until he caught the angry look on Nurse Piggy’s face.


“Now, what’ve we got here?” Doctor Bob asked.


“Uh. . .he got grazed by a bullet during a robbery. It’s his left shoulder, where the bandage is,” Johnny explained.


Gary closed his eyes as the dog began to examine him. “Good heavens!” the doctor exclaimed. “This man is still armed!”


Armed?” Gage asked with a screwed up expression on his face. “He can’t be. He didn’t have a weapon!”


“No, but he has two arms,” the dog snickered. His two nurses joined in.


“Oh for pete’s sake.”


“Oh for my sake,” Gary pleaded. “Please, can somebody just knock me out till its over?”


Nurse Piggy sidled up to Johnny. “You know, we have to quit meeting like this.”


“You mean you popping in on me at all different places?”


“No, I mean like this, in an emergency room.”


The paramedic rolled his eyes. “I hate to leave ya, Gary, but I guess I’d better get going.”


“No, you can’t leave me with this quack.”


“Well, that’s just ducky,” Doctor Bob said. “Now he’s seeing things.”


“I think he meant you,” Johnny explained.


“I may be a dog, but I’m no bird dog.”


“Uh. . .excuse me,” Gary said, looking from Doctor Bob to Johnny. “But I just want to get out of this place as quick as possible. . .”


“I don’t blame ya,” the paramedic sympathized. “I can’t wait to get out of here myself.”


Doctor Bob turned to Nurse Piggy. “Ready on the local anesthetic?”




Nurse Janice watched as her co-worker prepared a shot. “Instead of a pig in a poke, he’s getting a poke from a pig.”


Once again Johnny groaned while the medical crew snickered.


“Just be glad you don’t need any lab work done or to use the food service,” Gage commented to Gary.




“Believe me, you don’t wanna know.”


With that Johnny bid a quick good bye, giving one last sympathetic look to Gary before turning around and heading for the exit. As the door closed behind him he could hear the mysterious voice from his first encounter say, ‘And so ends another episode of. . .’




When he stepped out into the corridor, the dark-haired paramedic wasn’t surprised to see that just like the other times he’d met into the Muppets, everyone outside of the room was carrying on as normal; including Dixie and his partner near the base station.


She *has* to know about Doctor Bob and his nurses, or else why did she send us in there?


He strolled up to the desk, the HT hanging on his left wrist and his hands in his pockets.


“How’s Gary doing?” Roy asked.


The younger man shrugged. “If he survives the jokes, he ought to pull through,” he said sarcastically.


Roy looked puzzled, prompting his partner to try to explain.


“He’s with --” he cut himself off when a critical patient was brought in by the paramedics from Station 36 and Dixie excused herself to follow them into Treatment Room Four.



Gage glanced over his shoulder at the door to Treatment Room Three. Well, so much for getting an answer from Dix.


Roy picked up their refilled supplies and, deciding he was probably better off not having Johnny elaborate anymore on the current subject, carried on. “You ready to go?”


“Yeah. . .yeah, sure.” He followed behind, glancing over his shoulder at Treatment Room Three one more time before letting out a sigh of defeat. With his attention returned toward the exit, he didn’t see Nurse Janice peer out the door at him, ogling his backside. 




When the shift ended the following morning, Johnny was more than anxious to get home. He wanted to see Doctor Bob and the others again to get an explanation on why they always showed up for him. He’d had more time to think on asking Dixie about them and decided not to until he found out from the Muppets if the nurse knew about their appearances. It could save him an unnecessary trip to a psychiatrist. It hadn’t helped that Gary Smith had left the hospital so fast, most of the staff never even found out who he even was other than by a name in the system.


“I’d run too,” Johnny mumbled to himself.


When he arrived at his destination, he quickly parked the Land Rover, then headed to his apartment. He opened the door and went straight to the kitchen. But much to his disappointment, he was alone.


The paramedic sighed as he pulled out a chair and sat down, his right elbow resting on the table.


Man, I can’t believe I was hoping they’d be here. I *must* be losing my mind. . .




Later in the day Johnny ran a few errands, including taking two sets of uniforms he’d worn for the recent two duties to the dry cleaners. At the same time, he picked up two cleaned and pressed uniforms he’d dropped off a few days before. Having returned home, he carried the clean clothes on hangers and covered in plastic bags slung over his left shoulder, the hangers hooked on his index and middle finger. His keys in his right hand, he trotted up the steps to his apartment.


After opening the door and going inside, the paramedic continued on to his bedroom and then closet. He hung the uniforms with his other clothes, then made his way back to the kitchen. Johnny had to admit, he was disappointed there still was no sign of the Muppets anywhere.


“Figures, when I’d be ready for ‘em, they don’t show up. I guess as long as they aren’t gonna, I’ll just make a call or two and see if anyone wants to go to a movie tonight.” he mumbled as he grabbed a small black book from the counter. In it were several previous date’s names and phone numbers.


Johnny was making his way to the telephone on an end table in the livingroom near his couch when the paramedic suddenly tripped over something on the floor. Caught totally off guard, he found himself falling, the little book flying from his hand as he reached out in hopes of breaking his fall. The trip to the floor felt like he was in slow motion, seeming like he’d almost stopped himself in mid-fall. But that wasn’t the case as he landed with a thud on his hands and knees on the carpeted floor, his head just missing the edge of the end table where the phone was located.


Johnny stayed in that position a moment as he glanced behind him at the cause of his peril.


A *brick*?


There was a single red brick on the floor of the livingroom that somehow he’d missed seeing before.


Why is there a brick in my apartment?


”There it is!” came the gravely voice of Gonzo.


Johnny quickly shifted his position to sitting and watched as the little blue guy came over to the brick.  He looked over in amusement at the paramedic. “What’re you doing on the floor?”


“Never mind that. What’s a brick doing in my apartment?”


Gonzo glanced at the rectangle piece , then back at Johnny. “Brick wrestling.”


Brick wrestling?” Gage couldn’t help but grin at the thought of the skinny-armed character trying to move something as heavy as a brick.


“Sure! It’s a hobby of mine. You wanna see?”


The paramedic put up one hand. “No. . .no, that’s okay. I’ll. . .uh. . .I’ll pass.”


Gonzo shrugged. “Okay, but it really impresses the chicks.”


“Don’t you mean the chick –ens?”


There was no reply as the little blue character went to pick up the brick, but it wouldn’t budge. Once again Johnny had to smile. He was getting a glimpse of brick wrestling after all.


“Here, let me get it,” he offered.


Gonzo got up off the brick and stood back, breathing hard from the earlier effort.


“Where’s everyone else?” Johnny asked, picking up the object.


“Getting ready for tomorrow.”


“What’s tomorrow?”


“The day after today.”


Gage rolled his eyes. “I know that. I meant, what’re they getting ready for?”


Knowing he’d be on duty again, he wasn’t so sure he wanted them showing up at Rampart again.


“The show!”


“They aren’t gonna be doing the bit with Doctor Bob and his nurses again, are they?”


Once again, Gonzo shrugged, his interest elsewhere. “Can I have my brick?”


“Huh?” Johnny eyed the item in his hand. “Oh sure. . .sure. Where’re you gonna take it?”


“To practice.”


“Where at?”


Gonzo just shook his head as he worked hard to drag the brick away, grunting. “Humans. . .”


Johnny watched as he disappeared through the kitchen doorway. He stayed in place a moment before getting to his feet and following behind. But when he got into the kitchen, it was already Gonzo-less and brick-less. 


How do they do that?” he wondered.




With the remainder of the afternoon being Muppet free, Johnny carried out his plan to contact one of his previous dates for an evening out. As long as he didn’t have to bring her back to his place later, he could feel secure that everything would be okay.


The two enjoyed a casual dinner and a movie before parting company at her place when Johnny dropped her off at the door.


The paramedic returned to a quiet apartment and turned in by eleven o’clock, knowing he had to be up at six-thirty the next morning for work.




Gage opened his eyes to slits and sniffed as he slowly came to awareness. “Mmmmm.” Smells good. . .  


Suddenly it registered in his brain that he was home, alone and not in the kitchen. What the. . .? Bacon! Someone’s cooking bacon. . .and eggs. . .in *my* apartment! he thought as he sat up and threw the covers back, swinging his legs over the side of the bed in the process. It was then that another thing occurred to him. The room was still dark.


After rubbing at his eyes and running a hand through his hair, he reached for the back-lit alarm clock on the night stand. “Four-thirty? They’ve gotta be kiddin!” He got to his feet and quickly headed for the kitchen in a huff.




“Alright, what’s the. . .?”  Johnny stopped in mid-sentence when all eyes fell on him. Man, I can’t get mad at these guys. . .er. . .uh. . .animals. . .what ever. . .


He was looking at the same crowd who had been there two mornings before, except for Gonzo and the chickens.


“Hey, you guys didn’t cook. . .you know. . .Gonzo’s. . .uh. . . girlfriends. . .” he wondered, a sick expression on his face.


Doctor Bob shook his head. “He hangs out with some hot chicks, but not this hot,” he said with a snicker.


“I didn’t think any of you would eat. . .” Johnny glanced at Nurse Piggy.  “. . .some of your own.”


“We’re not. You’re forgetting; we’re not edible.”


Johnny cracked a tired grin. “I guess you’ve got a point there.” Once again he glanced around the kitchen. “I don’t suppose any of you made coffee. . .” the look of confusion gave him the answer. “Never mind. I’ll do it.” I’m sure gonna need it, getting up this early.


He headed for the coffee pot near the stove, accidentally startling Beaker in the process. The red-headed Muppet had been sprinkling seasoning on his eggs and meeped as his hands went up, the salt flying out over the back of his left shoulder.


Fozzie had been carrying his plate to the table when he got in the line of fire. “Help! I’ve been a-salted!”


Johnny just groaned at the comment while the others snickered. On second thought, maybe I *don’t* wanna be more awake after all.


Unfortunately, he'd forgotten about his question of why they only seemed to show up places when he was around.




After he pulled into the lot behind the station and parked his Land Rover, Johnny sat thinking back on breakfast. No one would ever believe he’d had a bacon and egg breakfast with a dog, a pig, a hippie girl, a bear, a skinny-headed guy that meeped, and a red monster that kept saying every phrase twice.


The paramedic sighed. And to think it all started one innocent day in the ER at Rampart. . . *Why* didn’t I let *Roy* take that victim in. . .Man, what if they show up at Rampart today? They still never said they *wouldn’t*. . .’course they didn’t exactly say they would. . . I guess I’ll hafta try to get Roy to go in on all the follow-ups. They won’t pop up as long as *he’s* the one with the victims.


With that solution decided, Johnny climbed out of his vehicle and headed inside.




Roy approached his partner from across the apparatus bay as Johnny entered from the rear lot.


“Hey, good morning!”


“Mornin’,” the younger man said, continuing on toward the locker room.


“Well, at least you don’t look as perplexed,” Roy commented in reaction to the lack of conversation.


“That’s because I’m not.”


“I take it you’re off to a better start today.”


“So far.” Gage pushed open the swinging door and headed for his locker. Roy decided to let his partner get changed without him tagging along. It was obvious to him that Johnny wasn’t in his usual light mood.




After roll call, the two paramedics inventoried the supplies in the squad. As he looked over the drug box, Johnny glanced up at Roy.


“Hey, would you mind going in with any victims today?”


Roy looked over from where he was going through the trauma box. “No. Not at all.” He hesitated before asking, “Are you okay?”


“Yeah. . .yeah, I’m fine,” Gage said as he continued to check out the contents of the box in front of him. “I’m just. . .I don’t know,” he sighed. “I’m just not quite myself today.”


“I noticed. But you don’t feel sick?”


“Nope, not sick.” He kept an even expression on his face, but inside he was grinning. It had paid off to act a little mopey. Roy wouldn’t even think to question why he wasn’t going in with the victims and there would be no worries about the odd medical crew showing up at Rampart and throwing him for a loop.


“Okay, but say something if you do start to feel ill.”


“Oh I will. I will.” Finished with inventorying the drug box, he closed it and stood to return it to the squad compartment. Now if I can *just* remember not to stand near the supply closet.




A few hours into the shift, the paramedics were going on their second rescue pf the day. The call was for a man down at an auto repair shop.


When they arrived at the scene, the manager showed them to the garage area where a couple of vehicles were up on lifts; a mechanic or two were busy working underneath each one. 


“Dale’s in here,” the man said, gesturing toward a break room. “He was going to walk under another car that was up on the riser and didn’t realize Joe was lowering it down. He turned to say something to one of the others and ‘whap’,” he explained with a clap of his hands. “Walked right into it and knocked himself right out; dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes.”


“How long was he out?” Roy asked as Johnny went on inside the room.


“About a minute or so.”


“Was he able to get up and walk unassisted?”


The manager shook his head. “He had one of us on each side.”




While Roy was outside the break room getting some of the information they’d need, Johnny approached the victim sitting in a hard orange plastic chair.


“How’re ya feeling?” he asked as he set down the biophone and drug box.


Dale looked up at him, a woozy expression on his face. “I. . .I’m okay. How’re you guys doing?”


The dark-haired paramedic gave a brief smile. “Uh. . . ‘we’re’ fine.” He held up two fingers. “How many fingers do you see?”




Gage nodded. “That’s what I thought.”


“How’s he doing?” Roy asked as he stepped into the room. Johnny was checking Dales pupils with his penlight.


“He’s seeing double. . .pupils are unequal. That’s quite a lump  on your head,” he remarked to Dale.




After contacting Rampart and getting the victim ready for transport, the paramedics helped place him in the ambulance.


“You seem to be feeling more like yourself. You want to go in with him?” Roy wondered.


“No. . .no, you can. I’ll. . .uh. . . take the squad,” he said motioning toward the truck with his head.


Roy nodded and climbed up inside the ambulance. “See you at Rampart.”


“Yep.” Johnny closed the doors and gave them two slaps indicating they were secure. He watched as the vehicle pulled away.


“Will Dale be okay?” the manager wondered.


He nodded yes as he turned in the direction of the squad. “He should be fine. You can call Rampart General later and they probably can give you an update.” Gage gave a wave and continued on his way.




Roy arrived at Rampart while his partner was still in transit. The dark-blond paramedic trotted alongside the stretcher, going into Treatment Room Three at Nurse Betty’s direction, one of the ambulance attendants with him.


Dale groaned as the scenery passed by overhead.




Johnny whistled as he made his way down the corridor at Rampart to the base station. He felt sure that he had out-smarted the Muppets by having Roy go in with the victims instead of him doing it.


He stepped behind the desk and poured himself a cup of coffee as busy hospital personnel passed by in both directions.


Man, it’s awfully crowded in here.


After a few minutes he saw Roy step out of Treatment Room Three and motion toward the mens’ room down the hall. Gage nodded knowingly and leaned against the desk enjoying his coffee.




Roy had just finished using a urinal and stepped over to one of the sinks when he looked in the mirror and saw one of the stall doors open. Much to his surprise, a short light-brown ‘bear’ wearing a hat walked out. The paramedic turned his head sharply in disbelief. The bear was sauntering over to the sinks. When it got beside Roy it looked up at him and opened its mouth. “Hi.”


“Uh. . .hi,” Roy said hesitantly, still not sure he could believe his eyes. It’s gotta be a costume. . .but how does anyone *see* out of that thing? Without realizing it, he leaned forward, searching for any sign of holes in the eyes.


“What’re you looking at?” the bear wondered.


Catching himself, DeSoto quickly straightened up and faced the sink. “Nothing,” he said as he sudsed up his hands and rubbed them together under the water. He was just ready to make an escape from the odd character.


The bear watched him a moment. “You know that reminds me of a joke.”




“Did you ever hear the one about the singing dishwasher?”


Roy eyed the comedian wanna-be warily. “Uh. . .no, can’t say that I have.” He looked over his shoulder, suddenly wishing someone. . .anyone . . .would walk in.


“He had a hit song called ‘Soap Gets in My Eyes’.”


Oh brother. His jokes are as bad as Johnny’s . . I’ll get his mind on something else. . .


“Aren’t you going to wash your han -- er, paws?”


“What for?”


“Well, you came out of. . .” he trailed off . I can’t believe I’m playing along with this. . .


“Oh that. No, I was just stalling.”


Roy gave the bear a blank stare a few seconds, then rolled his eyes as he grabbed a paper towel, drying his hands as he headed for the door. That was enough for me. . .must be from some show in town. . .with bad humor. . . He tossed the used towel in the trashcan and left the room.




Johnny was waiting outside the bathroom, leaning against the wall, when Roy emerged. He pushed off, standing up straight.


“Ready to head back?”


“Yeah, more than ready. This place is like a circus today.”


Johnny agreed, thinking Roy was referring to the crowded corridor. Just as they reached the corner to head for the exit, he glanced over his shoulder and saw Fozzie Bear come out of the mens’ room. The younger man quickly looked at his partner’s retreating back, wondering if he and Fozzie had met up.


Nah, can’t be. Roy would say something. . .wouldn’t he? But for now he didn’t want to ask in case he hadn't. The only sure thing was that his strategy hadn’t worked. Evidently no matter what he did, the Muppets were going to surface here and there anyway. *How* do they do it?


The senior paramedic noticed the expression on Gage’s face as they stepped outside. “You’ve got that perplexed appearance going again.”


“Somethin’ tells me it’s gonna be my new natural look, Roy.” Yep, I’ve just got a feelin’. . .



Thanks to Jill Hargan for the partial beta read during her busy schedule. It's much appreciated, Jill! :o)


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