You Can Bet On It
By Audrey W.
Johnny raced into the room, swinging his locker open and jerking his shirttail out of his jeans. He glanced at his watch when he realized everyone else must already be in the dayroom.
7:48. Wow, that was close.
The dark-haired paramedic hurried across the apparatus bay after he was in uniform. When he came to the entrance to the dayroom, he slowed his pace, not wanting to give away just how late he had been.
“Mornin’, guys,” Johnny said, smiling.
“Mornin’, John,” Chet and Marco both said, their eyes still on the newspaper sections in front of them.
Having just poured himself a cup of coffee, Roy turned around to greet his partner.
“What?” Johnny asked, puzzled.
“You have that look,” Roy explained.
“That look that says you have something on your mind that I probably don’t want to know about.”
“Whadaya mean?” Johnny feigned hurt feelings. “I don’t have a look . . .” he turned to the firemen at the table. “Guys, so I have a look when I get an idea?”
Chet, Marco and Mike all nodded, assorted “Yeah’s” sounding.
Johnny glared at the men. “Oh thanks.” He turned his attention back to Roy. “I do not have a look.”
“Do you have an idea going or not?” Roy asked, taking another sip of coffee.
“Well . . . yeah . . .as a matter of fact I do.”
“Hey, anyone interested in roll call this morning?” Captain Stanley called out from the apparatus bay.
The engine crew got up and headed out the door, as Roy set his cup on the counter. Johnny followed behind the older paramedic towards the doorway.
“Just hear me out when roll call is done, Roy. I think you’re gonna like this idea.”
Roy glanced over his shoulder at Johnny and gave a doubtful look. “We’ll see.”
Roy and Johnny were assigned to the dayroom for chores. While Johnny mopped the floor, Roy was wiping down the counter.
Johnny paused in his work and leaned on the mop handle. “So, you want to hear my idea yet?”
“Okay, you’re gonna love this!” Enthusiastic again, Gage resumed mopping. “You know how I like to try different ways to make money on the side.”
His back still to his partner, Roy nodded, as he rolled his eyes. What did I get myself into?
“I decided to try the dog track. At first I didn’t do so good.”
Big surprise there. Roy thought.
“But then I got a system, ya know? I mean, I got a system that works. And I’ve made over a hundred and fifty dollars in two weeks.”
Roy turned around, a shocked expression on his face.
“Did you say a hundred and fifty?”
Johnny grinned. “That I did, Roy. That I did.”
Johnny stood the mop up against a wall in the bucket and hurried over to Roy.
“It’s like this,” he whispered, glancing towards the doorway to make sure no one was coming in. “Before I go to the track, I pick which dogs I’m gonna bet on in each race.”
“So . . .”
“So,” Johnny emphasized, “on the way to the track, if I see any of those numbers,” he wagged his right index finger back and forth, “on license plates, I bet on the ones I picked. If I don’t see ‘em on any plates, I turn around and go home. No betting.”
“You gotta be kidding me.”
“No, and it works!” the younger paramedic boasted. “I’ve won every time!”
“I think I’d feel better betting on the rabbit.”
“Roy, the rabbit doesn’t race,” Johnny explained, annoyance in his voice. “He just leads the dogs around the track.”
“Exactly. And he comes in first every time. And I’d probably win just as much on him as I would using your ‘theory’.”
“But the rabbit’s not even real! You can’t bet on him. . .he doesn’t pay money!”
“That’s my point. With your system, I’d probably come out about the same . . . no money.”
“Roy, it works every time! It’s a proven theory. I’m not going through this willy-nilly,” Johnny said as he wagged his finger again, this time at Roy. “No, sir, it’s worked for me.”
“How many times have you tried it?”
“Well . . . now that’s where you gotta have faith in the system . . .”
“Twice. But that’s beside the point. You see--”
Johnny was interrupted by the tones.
The paramedics pulled up to the entrance of the zoo, where they were called for a woman down. An employee met them at the front gates and escorted them to an electric cart. Riding along through the paths of the zoo, Johnny and Roy watched the various zoo visitors. Once in awhile a child would wave to them and the paramedics would return the courtesy.
Finally the zoo employee brought the cart to a stop at the alligator habitat. Gathering their gear, Johnny and Roy followed their escort down a dirt path to a wooden bridge. The three men squeezed through the lines of people going both directions as they headed for the ‘swamp’. Soon a gazebo type dock surrounded by murky water came into view.
“She’s on the dock. Just passed right out, they said,” the zoo employee explained.
Johnny looked closely at their escort’s name badge. “Ron, do you know how long ago this happened?”
“No,” the man said, shaking his head. “A kid ran quite a distance to get to a park employee to have them call it in. So it’s been awhile, I guess.”
Roy glanced around at the activity of people around the area. “The place sure seems busy for only being nine thirty in the morning. Is it always like this?”
“Not usually. There was a special today, where we opened early and all kids got in free until ten o’clock this morning. So there was a crowd waiting when the gates opened at eight o’clock.”
“That explains it,” the blonde paramedic agreed.
As they stepped onto the dock, Johnny and Roy could see a woman sitting on the floor, a man and another woman kneeling beside her, holding her upright. The two paramedics made their way over, taking charge of the situation. Although the victim claimed to be feeling better, it was determined she would need to go in at least as a precaution. While Roy helped to get the woman onto the stretcher, two little eight-year-old boys tugged on Johnny’s shirt.
“C’mere, Mister!” One of them exclaimed. “You gotta see this?”
“In the water with the gators!”
Gage felt alarmed and hoped the kids didn’t have a friend who had pulled a stupid stunt. As he peered over the railing into the swampy waters below, one of the boys spit into the murky liquid. Right afterwards, an alligator came up and ate the spittle. Johnny screwed up his face in disgust.
“Isn’t it cool?” One of the boys asked.
“Yeah. . .cool,” Gage swallowed hard to keep from losing his own stomach. He walked back over to where their victim was being wheeled out.
Roy glanced up and saw that his partner suddenly looked pale. “You okay?”
“Yeah, but I think it’ll be awhile before I come to the zoo again.”
“Nothin’. Just trust me. Even if I lost every time, I think I’d like the dog track better.”
“No kids allowed.”
Johnny went into the treatment room with the patient, while Roy got a refill of supplies from Dixie. When Johnny came out, Dixie was giving him a wary look.
“What’s up, Dix?” Johnny said, grinning.
Dixie smiled. “Oh nothing. I hear you found a way to make money at the dog track.”
Gage glanced at Roy like he had given away the secret map to a treasure. He then shifted his gaze back to the head nurse. “Uh, yeah, I did.”
“Let me know if it continues to work for you, maybe I’ll have you bet for me.”
“Ahh, Dix, you, too? Roy doesn’t trust me, either.”
“I believe that it worked for you, Johnny,” Dixie explained. “I just wanna see what the percentages are first. You know. . . on hits and misses.” She looked at Roy and winked.
Johnny nodded. “Alright. Okay. I know I’m the only one who sees any sense to my system. But that’s okay,” he said, a pout evident in his voice. “It doesn’t change my outlook on it.”
Dixie stood up and walked around to the other side of the counter. “Look, Johnny, just try it a few more times and see if it’s really all that great before you count on it too much.”
“Oh, I will,” he promised, his voice softening. “In the meantime, I hope my partner doesn’t go around giving the secret away.” Johnny shot a glare at Roy. The older man rolled his eyes and shifted his attention to the people passing by them in the corridor.
Johnny gathered up the supplies Roy had requested earlier. “You ready to go back to the station?”
“Yeah . . .sure. . .”
“Squad 51, what’s your status?” A voice came over the HT.
Roy keyed the mic as he raised the radio to his mouth. “Squad 51, available.”
“Squad 51, stand by for response.” Soon the tones sounded on the HT and the two paramedics were sent on an unknown type rescue.
Roy pulled the squad over to the side of the road at the street address of the call and stopped. There was no sign of a victim anywhere, and just a large patch of vacant land.
“Well, where is anyone?” Johnny wondered.
Roy shrugged as he reached for the radio mic. “LA, this is Squad 51. Can you repeat the address on that last call?”
After several seconds of silence, dispatch replied, “Disregard, 51. We just received notification it was a false alarm.”
Johnny shook his head as Roy placed the mic back on its clip.
“False alarm?” The younger man questioned. “More like no alarm.”
DeSoto nodded in agreement. “It was probably a prank call. But it might’ve been a false alarm and they gave an incorrect address by mistake.”
“Yeah, but if I had to place a bet. . .”
Roy put the squad into drive and pulled out into the street. “I think you’re better off betting on the dogs.”
“Hey, speaking of, you gonna give my system a try?”
The senior paramedic shook his head. “I don’t think so. I had enough fun with bets on racing when I tried the horses that one time.”
Gage shifted his position in his seat, partially facing Roy. “That’s because you didn’t do it right, Roy. You changed your theory to someone else’s at the last minute.”
“Yeah. To yours, if I remember right.”
“This is totally different,” Johnny said, excitement in his voice. “I’m telling’ ya, this one really works! Besides, I never told you to switch to my theory of going by the horse’s background and training to decide which one to bet on . . .you did that on your own.”
“So you expect me to pick out the dogs I think’ll win, and then look for those numbers on license plates while I drive to the track.”
“Yeah!” Gage was over enthused, as he thought he had finally convinced his partner to play along.
“And if I don’t see ‘em, I’m supposed to turn around. . .even if I’m actually at the track by then. . .and go back home, no betting.”
“Right! I knew you’d get it, Roy!” The younger man slumped back slightly in his seat, a smug expression on his face. “Never a doubt in my mind.”
“How about if I pick out the dogs, give the numbers to you and you look for the numbers on plates?”
Gage frowned in disappointment and shook his head. “It has to be the picker doing the looking.”
“How do you know?” Roy asked, exasperated. “You’ve only done it twice yourself!”
“Because. . .because. . .” He sighed. “Well, because that’s just the way it is, Roy.”
DeSoto gave his partner a wary glance as they approached the station. He didn’t relish the idea of committing to another crazy endeavor with Johnny. If he did do it, Joanne may want to have him committed.
“So, whataya say?” Gage asked as he and Roy climbed out of the squad.
“I say I’m hungry. Let’s see what Mike fixed for lunch, it smells great!”
Johnny opened his mouth to respond, then opted to follow behind, momentarily dropping the subject of the dog races.
Johnny and Chet were clearing the dishes from lunch off the table when the klaxons sounded.
“Squad 51, difficult breathing, 814 North Clairmont Street, eight one four North Clairmont Street, time out 12:35.”
Gage quickly placed the three dishes he had in his hands on top of the three Chet was holding in his.
“Hey!” The stocky fireman protested.
Johnny shrugged. “Sorry, gotta run.” He quickly followed his partner out of the room.
Roy set the drug box down on the porch and knocked on the front door of the house, while Johnny stood beside him, the oxygen and biophone in his hands. When they had arrived at the scene, no one came out of the house to direct them to a victim. After a minute of waiting, the door opened and a little girl who looked to be ten years old stood looking at the two men.
“Are you the cops?” She asked.
“No, we’re the paramedics. . .with fire department,” Roy explained.
“Are ya here to put out Daddy’s fire on the grill?”
“No. Look, is there someone having trouble breathing here?”
“Yes, my mom is, but it happens a lot. She said this time she was callin’ the cops ‘cause Dad’s tryin’ ta kill ‘er.”
The two men exchanged unsure glances.
“Uh. . .can you take us to her, sweetheart?” Johnny asked.
“Yeah, sure. . .”
The paramedics followed behind the girl, wondering what they were getting into. She led them into the kitchen, where a lady was sitting in a chair at the table. The woman was indeed having a hard time breathing normally.
Johnny set down the equipment and started to get the oxygen ready, as Roy placed the drug box on the floor and knelt beside the victim.
“Ma’am, how long have you been like this?”
“A. . .bout. . .te. . .ten . . . minutes,” the woman replied, breathlessly.
Gage handed Roy the oxygen mask to place over the woman’s nose and mouth, as he set up the biophone to contact Rampart.
“Do you know what caused the attack?” The younger man asked.
“Al. . .aller. . .gy. . .”
“An allergy?” DeSoto waited for the woman to nod, then continued. “Do you know what it is you’re having an allergic reaction to?”
The woman again nodded, and pointed to the back door leading from the kitchen to the patio. The little girl stepped forward and explained when she saw the two men look puzzled.
“Daddy was cookin’ lunch on the grill. He was suppose’ ta use regular seasoning, but grabbed red pepper instead. Mommy’s ‘lergic to it. And it burned my mouth!”
“Where’s your dad now?” Johnny wondered.
“He had ta run out to the grill. He almost set fire to the stuff still cookin’. But he heard your sirens and told me to let ya in.”
Just then the rattled man came running into the room through the back doorway. “Is she gonna be all right?” To his wife, he immediately apologized. “Honey, I’m sorry! But what were the odds I was gonna grab the stuff you’re allergic to?” When his wife’s eyes narrowed at him, the man stepped over near the stove and gathered up the various bottles of seasonings. “Look, Margaret, I’m throwin’ ‘em all away. From now on, bland meat!”
Johnny got on the horn to Rampart, while Roy continued treating the woman. Once they had the victim stabilized and breathing easier, she was loaded into the ambulance. Roy climbed up inside as his partner stood ready to close the doors.
“You know, if I had a nickel for every time someone asked ‘what were the odds. . .’”
The senior paramedic nodded his head. “You wouldn’t be reading license plates on the way to the dog track.”
“Ha, ha.” Gage frowned and closed, the doors, giving them two slaps. As the ambulance pulled away, he trotted over to the squad. Johnny waved to the man and daughter, who were getting ready to leave in their station wagon, and then followed behind the ambulance on the route it had taken.
Later in the shift, Gage was back at work trying to convince Roy to give his system at the dog track a shot. Finally the older partner agreed. A then very excited Johnny couldn’t wait for them to finish the shift so his friend could try it on their day off.
The following shift, Johnny pulled into the parking lot of the station, hoping he would meet into his partner there. Unfortunately, Roy’s car was already parked in its spot and there was no sign of the man.
“Oh well,” Gage mumbled. “I guess it won’t hurt to ask him how he did with the dogs if the other guys are around.”
The dark-haired paramedic carefully peeked into the locker room, making sure no one noticed him ease the door open a crack. Everyone, including Roy, seemed to be in a good mood.
Johnny slowly let the door close, then burst through, like he’d just arrived on the scene.
“Good mornin’, good mornin’!”
After receiving greetings of sorts in return, he slapped his left hand onto DeSoto’s right shoulder. “So? Did you give it a go?”
Roy smiled. “Well, I won money.”
The younger man’s grin broadened. Taking his hand off his partner’s shoulder, he opened his locker, then started pulling his brown shirttail up out of his jeans. “See? What’d I tell ya?”
“Well, I kind of chalked it up to beginner’s luck.”
“Beginner’s luck? Roy! Admit you tried it and it worked!” Johnny turned to face the other three men from A-shift who were staring at the paramedics in puzzlement. “Tell ‘im. If it works, it works. Right?”
Chet nodded, reluctantly. “Yeah, that’s right, Roy.” He looked at Mike and Marco beside him. “Right, guys?”
The two hesitantly agreed, confusion evident on their faces.
“Okay, now that we’ve got that settled,” Kelly began, “you mind telling us what in the heck we’re talking about here?”
Gage sighed. “Okay, I may as well tell you. My system for winning at the dog track.”
“Oh,” Chet said knowingly. “I see. Kind of like the one you talked Roy into using with the horses when we all lost?”
“That wasn’t my fault. I never told him to do that.”
“He’s right,” Roy said in his partner’s defense. “That was my own doing.”
“So, what’s your system, Johnny?” Mike wondered.
After Gage explained his idea, he was met with three stares of disbelief.
“Ahh, c’mon, guys. Roy and I have both won using it. It’s a tried and proven theory.”
The men filed out into the apparatus by for roll call, still not giving an answer of approval to Johnny.
The engine crew, except for Captain Stanley, questioned Roy and Johnny on the dog track issue throughout the day. The three men were reluctant to use the dark-haired paramedic’s crazy idea, but the slim chance that it may pay off had them wondering among themselves if they should give it a try. After all, what did they have to lose? Of course, Chet was the first to remind the others that they had money to lose. But if they didn’t spend too much, or they put all their money together, it wouldn’t be quite as bad if they lost it. Hank Stanley came up on his crew discussing the subject in the dayroom while Johnny and Roy were out on a run.
“So do you guys want to do this or not?” Marco asked. “Maybe we can win even without Johnny’s help.”
Hank cleared his throat, making his presence known. “Am I allowed to be in on this? Win what without John’s help?”
“Oh, Gage has a theory he claims works at betting on the greyhounds at the track,” Kelly explained. “But we aren’t sure we want to give it a try.”
The captain held out his arms. “Well, lay it on me. Maybe I can help you decide.”
Chet and Marco each explained a part of the idea. When they had finished, Stanley stood looking at his men in disbelief. “And you have to think about this?” The captain shook his head. “On second thought, leave me out of it. Good luck. I think I’ll stick to an occasional game of poker, myself.”
Mike, Marco and Chet silently watched as Hank left the room. When he was sure Stanley would be out of earshot, Kelly looked at the other two men.
“Let’s do it.”
“You sure you want to?” Mike asked. “I mean Cap--”
“I know, I know,” Chet replied. “Just something about us thinking as conservative as Cap scares me.”
Johnny and Roy approached Dixie’s desk after each had come out of the treatment room that he'd gone into with a victim from a bumper car accident at an amusement park. The head nurse looked up from her work on the latest schedule for the other nurses.
“Oh, hi, guys!’
The two men smiled. “Hi, Dix!” Roy said, as his partner’s attention shifted to a pretty nurse that walked by.
“I haven’t seen you two much today. I guess that’s good, considering what usually brings you here.”
“Yeah, it’s been a slow day,” DeSoto commented. “But in this line of work, that’s not a bad thing.”
Johnny returned his attention to the conversation at hand. “We need a few supplies, Dix. Here’s the list.” He set a small piece of paper on the desk.
Dixie McCall stood up and stepped over to the supply cabinets. As she gathered up a few of the items listed, she glanced over her shoulder. “So, any more luck at the track, Johnny?”
“Not for me. I didn’t have a chance to go yesterday. But Roy, here,” he added, patting his partner on the back and grinning, “gave it a try and won!”
Surprised the more conservative man would go for such a thing, the nurse turned around and stared at Roy. “You did?”
“Yeah, but I told him I attribute it to beginner’s luck.”
“Ahh,” Dixie said as she nodded in understanding. “I see. Well, I guess the main thing is, you didn’t lose your money, huh?”
Johnny snorted. “Call it what you want. But face it, Roy. . .you wouldn’t have bet at all, if I hadn’t of told you about my system for winning. . .so in one way or another, it worked.” He grinned in satisfaction of having made his point.
Miss McCall raised her right eyebrow, as she glanced at the blonde paramedic. “He’s got ya there.”
Roy nodded. “Yeah, scary isn’t it?”
Gage gave his partner an annoyed look, then cracked a smile. “Very funny.” When he saw the supplies he requested were all in a small box on the desk, he picked them up, tucking them into the crook of his right arm. “Ready to hit the road?”
After goodbyes, Dixie smiled as she watched the two men walk down the corridor, then turned her attention back to the task of figuring out the nurses’ schedule.
The evening went by fast for the men of Station 51. In the middle of their dinner, the klaxons had gone off, sending them on a run to a house fire. The structure was well engulfed in flames by the time they arrived on the scene, and it had taken a good amount of time to get the flames out. Luckily no one had been hurt in the blaze.
Once back at the station, Chet, Marco and Mike considered telling Gage that they were going to go to the dog track on their day off, but decided they probably wouldn’t get any sleep later if they did. Johnny would be too hyped up about his theory again. Instead, the men of A-shift pulled the chairs from around the table in the dayroom and gathered in front of the television set to watch Columbo.
Later in the night, the tones sounded, waking the crewmen. The run was for an unknown type rescue, and both the engine and squad were called out.
When they arrived on the scene, the firemen were met by one of two police officers who had also been summoned.
“What’ve we got?” Hank Stanley asked, as his men stood nearby waiting for word on what was going on.
“Two men were in a fight,” Officer Tidwell explained. “One man is in the house down there on the corner.” He pointed towards a yellow house at the end of the block. “My partner’s with him and he looks pretty beat up. The other man is in the house behind us. I told him there’d be someone in to see him. Looks like he took a pretty good hit in the head. We called for an ambulance, but received word that it got in an accident on the way, so there’s been a delay while they dispatch a new one.”
Upon hearing the descriptions of the victims, Johnny and Roy were already getting their equipment out of the squad. Captain Stanley gave directives to his crew.
“Chet and Marco, go to the house on the corner with Roy. Give him a hand with what ever he needs.” The two men nodded, as Hank turned to Mike. “You and I can help John out with his guy here.”
Roy took the HT with him, so that he could relay information to his partner to give to Rampart. Knowing DeSoto had the more seriously injured victim to take care of, Gage took out the supplies he figured he’d need for a head wound, and let Chet and Marco take the drug and trauma boxes with them. As Roy and the other two firemen men headed for the corner of the street, Tidwell told spectators that had gathered around to return to their homes.
Mike followed into the other home behind Johnny. When they entered, they could see a large man laid out on the floor of the livingroom. Gage knelt beside the victim, eyeing the deep gash on the man’s right temple. Blood flowed freely from the open wound.
“Mike, hand me one of those pressure bandages and some gauze,” the dark haired paramedic requested as he checked he injured man’s pupils. Mike did as requested, handing the items to Johnny. “Thanks.”
“Anything I can do?” Hank asked, as he squatted down near his men.
“Can you get on the horn to Rampart while I get his vitals?”
“Sure, pal.” The captain set up the biophone, while the police officer that had briefed them earlier looked on. Suddenly the sound of a commotion from outside in front of the house got all the men’s attention. The officer and captain ran out the front door to see what was going on. In the meantime, Roy was calling his partner on the extra HT Gage had with him.
“HT 51. Johnny, do you read me okay?”
The dark-haired man picked up his Handie Talkie. “10-4, Roy. Read ya loud and clear. What’ve ya got?”
“HT 51, the victim here has a probable fractured left radius, possible fractured ribs, difficulty breathing on the right side, and a large lump on the left side of his head.”
Gage continued to listen as Roy read off the victim’s vital signs. Once he had all the information written down, the younger paramedic handed the paper to Mike to relay the information to Rampart.
Johnny in turn relayed the requested treatment to Roy. He gave an annoyed glance at the open front door as the noise from an apparent growing crowd increased.
“I wonder if they need help?” Mike thought out loud.
“Go ahead and check if you want,” Gage offered. “I’ve got everything under control here. If you see the ambulance, send them in here with a stretcher. He’s about ready to transport.”
“Okay.” Mike stood up and hurried out towards the sound of the crowd.
When he got outside, Stoker saw eleven angry people arguing and shoving at Tidwell and Captain Stanley. He noticed an ambulance was stopping in front of the house where Roy remained inside with his victim. Another police unit was coming down the street, sirens blaring. The car came to a stop and two officers jumped out, running over to the unruly group. Mike trotted over to help get a handle on things.
“What’s the problem, Cap?” The engineer asked.
The two firemen stepped back, allowing the police to take over.
“These are relatives and friends of the other injured man. They want to get in to get revenge on John’s patient.” Hank glanced at the house. “How’s he doing, by the way?”
“The guy’s about ready to be transported. I just have to get the ambulance attendants to bring in a stretcher.”
“Okay, let’s go see if we can lend Roy a quick hand and get this show on the road.”
As the two men headed for the yellow house, and the police dealt with punches thrown by the angry crowd, no one noticed a young woman step away from the commotion. She quickly ran towards the back yard of the nearby house.
Johnny had heard the additional sirens and wondered where the ambulance attendants were.
Odds are, they went to Roy’s victim first.
He glanced at his watch, then to the man on the floor. The victim was starting to come around after having been out cold for the duration they’d been on scene. The man let out a low moan, as he raised his left hand to his head.
“Easy, there,” Gage said, grasping the hand and bringing it back down. “Just relax, you’ll be okay.”
A sudden movement in the doorway between the kitchen and livingroom caught the dark-haired paramedic’s attention. As he looked up from his victim, he saw a young woman charging at them with a kitchen steak knife poised. Seeing her target was going to be the defenseless man on the floor, Johnny stood up and immediately stepped over to stop the attack. As he reached out and grabbed the woman’s right wrist, she fought back, trying to slice at the paramedic.
“Let me at ‘im! He hurt my brother bad! I hate the bastard!”
“Look,” Johnny said firmly, still trying to keep the knife at bay. “This isn’t helping anyone!”
“Get away!” The young woman shoved with her wrist, then angled the knife enough to cut Johnny’s forearm. Reflex caused him to let go a moment and that was all she needed. But instead of plunging the knife into the man on the floor, she stabbed the paramedic in the upper right arm, just missing his chest as he moved.
Mike and Captain Stanley had heard the woman’s yells, and ran inside in time to see the knife go into their co-worker, then the woman quickly pull it back out.
“We need help in here!” Hank yelled to the cops, then immediately followed Mike over to the bleeding man.
“Dammit.” Johnny said, gritting his teeth. He stared at the blood covering his shirtsleeve. “Ahhh.”
The woman tried to run, but Tidwell caught her before she could escape from the interior of the house. As he walked the lady out, he looked at Gage who was now sitting on the floor. He could tell by the amount of blood on the paramedic’s shirt that she had gotten him pretty good.
Mike grabbed an extra pressure bandage Johnny had brought in and placed it on the bleeding man’s arm, securing it in place with gauze. Hank was already on the biophone, talking to Doctor Brackett. He couldn’t believe it had happened and gave Gage an apologetic look. Despite being in considerable pain, Johnny managed a slight grin and sighed.
“It’s okay, Cap. I’d of never bet on this happening. No reason you should’ve.”
His patient in the ambulance waiting to transport, Roy trotted in, stunned at the news he’d been given.
“How. . .?” DeSoto asked.
“You won’t believe it, Roy,” Johnny said, his voice etched with pain. “Man, it hurts!”
The older paramedic checked over his partner, as Marco ushered in the ambulance attendants. Soon, the three injured men were on their way to Rampart.
Roy and Marco waited in the corridor outside of Treatment Room 4, where Brackett was examining Johnny’s wound. The dark-haired paramedic had lost quite a bit of blood, even though the cut to his arm wasn’t a large one. The thin blade of the steak knife had gone in deep.
After several minutes, Brackett stepped out and updated the men.
“Well, he’s going to be fine. No severe tissue damage overall. Johnny’s arm is going to be sore and I don’t want him doing anything strenuous until the stitches come out.”
“So, is he gonna have to stay here?” Roy wondered.
“Just overnight. I want to make sure no infection starts in the wound. The police brought in the weapon used and it was definitely a dirty one. It had hardened meat residue on it.”
“Okay, thanks, Doc,” the blonde man said.
“Yeah, thank you,” Marco added.
Roy glanced at the door to the treatment room. Kel noticed and nodded. “Go ahead, he’s already wanting company.”
The two firemen went into the room and promised their friend they’d be back in the morning to see him.
When the crew of A-shift arrived at the hospital the next morning, they went up to see their shiftmate. Roy carried Johnny’s brown shirt and jeans that he’d worn into work the day the stabbing occurred. The four men walked into room 205, happy to see Gage was all smiles himself.
“Hi, guys,” Johnny said, sounding a bit groggy from pain medication. “Good to see ya.”
“Well, you sound better,” Roy said, as he hung the clothing up in a closet. “We hear you may be going home later today.”
“I hope so. My arm hurts like hell when I’m not drugged up, but I’d rather deal with it in the comfort of my own apartment.” Johnny glanced at the door behind the men. “Where’s Cap?”
“Oh, he had to go to headquarters to talk to the chief,” Mike explained. “He wanted Cap to go over the whole incident, and how it came about. . . in detail. . .in person.”
Gage snorted. “Bet he loved that.”
“Listen, call me if you get released,” Roy told the younger man. “I can drive you to the station to get your Land Rover, or I can give you a lift to your place until you feel up to driving. . .you know. . .when you’re not on as much pain killer.”
“Okay, I will.”
Whether it was out of sympathy or just to strike up conversation, Marco brought up the subject of the dog track and the fact he, Chet and Mike were going to go. And they were going to use Johnny’s system with the license plates.
Gage grinned. “Oh, forget that for now. I have a better way to win money. . .it’s a sure deal.”
Roy looked at his partner in disbelief. Had Johnny really given up his idea after all that obsessing?
Why does he always do this to me?
“What?” Chet asked.
“Here. One of the nurses brought me this to read.” Gage held out a newspaper that was opened to the entertainment section and folded over. He laid it on the tray near the bed and pointed to a picture with his left hand. “See this? There’s a contest a week from tomorrow. It’s to see who can get the most people in a telephone booth.”
The others just stared at the paper, not saying a word.
Johnny continued. “I figure we get a hold of all the guys at every station. . .at least half are bound to be game for it. And the winners of the contest get fifty dollars a piece.”
“Here we go again,” Mike said. The others nodded their heads in agreement. The dark-haired paramedic was already on a new kick and would soon suck them into it. Knowing it was inevitable, the men decided to get it over with and listen to the crazy idea now.
As he listened to his partner lay out a plan, Roy shook his head. He couldn’t hold back the question on his mind any longer. “You mean after all that talk about the dog track and license plates, you’re gonna forget it? Just like that?”
“Well, I’ve been thinkin’ about what you said. And you’re right. It’s got nothing to do with the license plates. It’s all a coincidence, Roy.”
Roy didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know how to tell the younger man he’d actually started to believe in the system. His blank expression wasn’t lost on the other men in the room.
“Hey, guys,” Chet said to Mike and Marco, “I’ll give you two to one odds that Roy’s gonna knock Gage’s block off one of these days for getting him all hyped on an idea, then dropping it and moving onto somethin’ new. Whatta you guys think?”
Before the two men could reply, Roy glanced at the three of them and declared, “Now that’s something you can bet on, Chet.”
Johnny just rattled on, oblivious to the comments, detailing his latest way they all could make a few extra bucks. And in the end, he even quoted his co-workers odds on how well his idea would work.
Thanks for the encouragement, Jane! And thanks to Kenda for the beta read! Once again, she helped me get the last few lines for the ending. :o) Any errors, medical or otherwise, are mine.