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Burger Wars

An Emergency Story by






Johnny Gage was eating his hamburger as fast as he could

stuff each humongous mouthful into his mouth. He was being

watched uneasily by the owner of Davey's Hotdog stand.


And Roy, ignoring Johnny completely, was watching the diner

owner in very high, almost laughing but silent amusement.

DeSoto leaned closer to his partner. "You think he's wondering

when you're gonna start choking on that?"


"Huh?" Johnny asked Roy, raining a few bun crumbs and wiping a

smear of ketchup off of his chin with a few fingers. He fidgetted

a bit, trying to figure out where to clean them off until Roy handed him

a napkin from the dispenser sitting on the picnic table in front of them.

Then he looked around and pegged whom Roy was talking about.

"Oh. Him. Hasn't he ever seen a firefighter eat before? Man, that's

rude just staring like that." Gage said with both cheeks

stuffed to capacity. He deliberately pushed another hamburger

into his mouth, making a face at the owner while doing it.


"Maybe he doesn't know that I'm a paramedic and can fix a choking

before it'll even have time to drive away all of his other customers."

Roy reasoned.


"Very funny. I'm only hungry. I don't like people staring at me while I

eat. And I don't think that's why he's staring at me." he raised his voice.

"Whatcha staring at over there? Is there a problem?" he asked loudly

at the owner to be heard over the busy afternoon traffic running by them.


The owner of the diner still looked uncomfortable and uneasy and

he tried three different ways to fold his arms across his chest trying

to look nonchalant. But then his face hardened. "I'm trying to figure

out how many burgers you're gonna stuff down that maw of yours

before you choke on it."


"See?" Roy shrugged at Johnny.


Johnny made a face back at DeSoto and turned to set the diner owner

straight. "Listen, Mac, or whatever your name is." he said swallowing

and gulping down half his soda pop. "My partner and I have been

coming here for nigh on six years now, giving you our business and

hard earned cash. I know better than to draw unwanted attention to

folks coming to your stand."


"Oh, really? You mean that big flashy red truck, loud blue shirts, and

shiny silver badges winking in the sun, aren't bad enough to attract

a little attention?" Mac asked. "I just watched five businessmen walk

right on by just now when I know that they usually stop in to get something."


"Now hold on just a dog goned minute here!" Johnny said holding up a

finger, his ire rising.


Beep! Beep! Beep!  hailed the HT in front of the three.

##Squad 51. Child down. 1450 McKenzie Way. 1450 McKenzie Way.

Cross street Reynolds. Time out. 13:09.##


Roy rose, neatly tossing away his empty paper tray and crumpled

napkins. "Come on, partner. Save the showdown until later. Do you

really want to lose the convenience of having such a cheap

food stand located so close to the station?"


Johnny blinked. Twice.


"Thought so." DeSoto said. "I'll let you finish these on the way

without telling Cap you ate in the squad." he said grabbing up

Johnny's remaining two burgers and his soda into one hand.

He answered L.A. with the other. "Squad 51, 10-4. KMG 365."


He had to drag Johnny away from his deadly earnest glare at Mac.

Only the nature of the call and the urgent wail of the sirens tempered

Johnny into civility as they hurried away.





Gage put on his helmet after taking his food tray from a hand that

Roy had hefted up like a waitron, holding it, while he drove the squad

one handed, deftly, through the heavy lunchtime rush hour. "I was

only trying to prove a point."


"So was he. And I think he would've won that argument. He has you

wrapped around his little finger because of the size of your appetite,

Johnny." Roy smiled as he sped up a little faster.


"Says who?"


"Me. And most likely him, if he were here. Watch yourself Johnny.

Didn't you see the naval "I love mama" tattoo sticking out from

under his sleeve?"


"I was too busy trying to work up an appetite around all that bear

grease of his dripping in his hair.." Gage admitted, eating quickly and

throwing all of his crumbs and stray bits of meat out the squad window.


"He's trying to look dapper and neat for his customers."


"No one greases their hair back anymore, Roy. No one. Not unless

they're sixty years old or something."


"Well, how do you explain Cap then?"


Johnny opened his mouth but nothing came out.

Then he shrugged. "Well... Cap's a different guy. That's all.

Besides, he looks good slicking his hair back."


Roy did a double take in surprise.


"Well, you know what I mean." Gage said, finally finishing his hasty meal.

"Makes me almost wanna do the same thing. I'm getting sick of my hair

always blowing in my face while on a rescue."


"Cut it short then." Roy said with finality and a straight face. "Like

McConnike keeps warning ya to." he said, turning around a corner

automatically, without needing to look at the road.


"I will. I will in time. Don't push me." Gage blubbered. "First things

first. I gotta get through my date later this week without making any

drastic changes in myself before going on it so she won't get mad."


"I don't think any amount of drastic change will make her

think any better of ya." Roy mumbled.


"What?" Gage asked, not hearing Roy over a particularly loud

crescendo of the code three sirens.


"I said we're about to make fantasic time here. Five miles in two

minutes? That's gotta be a squad record." Roy said.


"Must be. Here we are. There!  Over there... There's a mother running

out to meet us." Johnny pointed.


Roy pulled the squad over as quickly as he could along the curb of

the affluent surburban neighborhood home and was surprised to find a

police officer already on scene. Fearing the worst, the two paramedics

dragged out all the medical gear, including the resuscitator and the

defibrillator while the frantic mom gave her very panicky story.


She said.....




From: Cassidy Meyers (R.N., navy)


"Hurry! Please! It's my son! He can't breathe!" Then, in

sheer anger on top of the fear, she stabbed a finger towards

the curb angled squad car and a black uniformed L.A. cop

sitting inside of it, speaking quickly on his radio. "He had

the nerve to say that I was panicking my own kid and...and..and

then his partner just....locked me out of my own house!" yelled

the young mother as she struggled in Johnny's arms, in just that

kind of high panicky state herself.


"Easy, ma'am. Calm down a little. I'm sure there was a very

good reason for what he did." Gage disassembled, pulling

off his helmet. He took advantage of a person's natural

instinct to take whatever's handed to them and shoved it

into the mother's palms. "Here. Hold this while we carry

our medical gear."


The trick, worked like a charm, and Johnny was free to rush

things along.


At the same moment, Vince's partner jogged up

from his squad car and retook possession of the mother's

flailing arms when she threw Johnny's helmet angrily

into the rescue squad to get rid of it. "Sorry, boys."

said Nate.  "I had to call another squad car to

look after the rest of this mother's children. She's beyond

listening as you can see, and yes, I have the whole story. Vince

recognized the child's problem immediately. It's not a choking

in the slightest and she says.." he said throwing a chin down

at the mother.." he's got a history of high fever

along with severe swallowing trouble. Mom said that

he wasn't eating at all or playing with anything in his mouth

when his trouble began.  So far, the kid's still managing to breathe.

Barely. Vince is holding him sitting straight up. And that's

the only thing that keeps him breathing at all. He's calm, only if she's not

within eye or ear shot. The mother's agitation seemed to make

him worse."


"How old?" Roy asked as he hurried in picking up the resuscitator

case and I.V. and drug boxes. Johnny snatched out the EKG monitor

and defibrillator and rushed on ahead to the shut front door.


"Five years or so." replied Nate the officer, grunting as he got a better

hold on mom. "Ma'am. I'll give you another minute to start settling



"He's four and a half! Let me go!!" fought the mother. "You can't

keep me away from my baby like this! I'm his mother, you horrible

men! My husband Alan's a lawyer! He'll have your badges for this!!" and

she let out a heartrending, blood curdling scream that brought looks

of surprise and suspicion on the part of all the onlooking neighbors

gathering on the sidewalk. A few even started to get angry on behalf

of the mom. Nate immediately changed their minds on interfering, with

a warning touch to his gun holster. The mother even tried to bite Nate. He

stopped it, of course, giving the mom every chance to get a hold of some

of her stupider emotions.


Johnny nodded firmly. "Keep her out here until we've checked him

out. Ma'am, can we treat him?" he shouted over her cries.


"Why the h*ll do you think I called for help in the first place?! Idiot!"


"Hey!" Nate told her sharply. "Enough of that. Keep your voice down

or I'll arrest you right now for disobeying a police officer and interfering

with a medical call."


It was the wrong thing to say. That set the mother off the deep end verbally

and she began a litany of trucker talk that would put the most veteran

fireman and police officer to shame.


Gage ignored them both and Roy and he went pelting up the sidewalk,

fully laden, until they reached the porch. They set down their gear and

Johnny reached up to knock to be let in, but then thought better of it,

thinking of the child's explained presentation. For a few seconds,

Roy and he were at a loss on how to get to him, after they tried to push

on the expensive brass handle and the door didn't open.


Just then, the calm, soothing baritone of Vince Howard came through the

open screen. "Push the doorbell like button to the left. It's an electronic

lock. Stay quiet as you can. He does a bit better that way. Ditch your badges.

Mine only scared him.." Then they heard a strange comment. "Got the suitcases

mommy wanted for Mikey and me?"


DeSoto, not yet knowing what the problem was that Vince had spotted, went along.

"Yes, the red, white and black ones. We'll bring them in to you.."


From inside the house, the two paramedics started to make out high pitched

squeals and sounds of very tired attempts to breathe by the little boy.

Roy hit the button and the massive carved door buzzed open a crack.


Gage angled a head, listening to the window as he unpinned his fire badge

and put it into a pocket. "No coughing. This definitely isn't croup, Roy. No

seal's bark at all. Drug related? I'm smelling crack cocaine smoke." he

wondered as he watched Roy take off his helmet to leave on the railing.





"That may be her doing but not his. Not if he's sitting up."

Then the nature of the child's emergency, dawned on Roy the second he

noted the way the boy had arranged himself in Vince's arms. The child

appeared very toxic with flushed skin, leaning forward with his mouth open

and chin extended in an effort to maintain his airway and he was drooling long

unswallowed strings of saliva onto the lush carpeting over his limp, elbow

tripoded knees.


"Epiglottitis.." Johnny said softly to DeSoto, even as he smiled in an

act for the wide eyed, glassy fright barely held at bay by the child. "I'll just set

our luggage behind the couch here, Roy." he said a little louder and very

feigned friendly.


"Okay, Johnny. Then let's meet Mikey here because mommy invited us

in to meet him." he explained to the child.


Vince held very still, holding the boy's forehead and chin in his hands.

"It is what I figured?"


"Classic." DeSoto agreed. "You were definitely right to get mom busy

with the mail outside. Any commotion could have definitely set off

a laryngospasm." then he grinned artificially, keeping just as subdued

and calm as a reader in a library. "Hi there, Mikey. I'm Roy. Can I feel

your skin to see how your fever is before we play with you?" he asked.

"Mommy said you weren't feeling well today.."


The boy's eyes darted everywhere despite his body being totally

drenched and exhausted from his work of breathing. But Mikey didn't

flinch and only blinked when Roy gently looked at his face for the quality

of capillary refill and the extent of cyanosis in the boy's gums through his

gaping mouth. Those tissues were still pink but his tongue was turning

liver purple with every fast exhalation.


::There's the oropharyngeal edema effects compromising his trachea.::

DeSoto thought. "Johnny, almost got our suitcases unpacked over there?"

he asked Gage quietly. "I'm ready to play."


Gage looked up from behind the couch. "Almost. Got some

new toys out that we brought with us." he said for Mikey's benefit. "Here's

the blow up football for Mikey." he said walking over and handing Roy a

disassembled pediatric ambu bag. Mikey allowed it to be placed

in his lap. While he was distracted with that, Johnny placed a laryngoscope,

endotracheal tube, the rest of the ambu's mask portion and a syringed paralytic

agent behind Roy's back, where the boy couldn't see them. He slid them over

until they touched the bottoms of Roy's kneeling feet so that he knew they were

ready in case the child obstructed suddenly at a loud sound they couldn't prevent

fast enough.


"Wow, we sure brought you a nice football, Mikey. Look at that, it's green." Roy

said, pointing to the ambu bag in the child's lap. "I'll let you play with it first."

he said, connecting a running tube of oxygen to it so the flow leaked richly

around them through its open tubed end.


The child watched but didn't try to pick up the ambu. He was too weak physically

to grasp it even though his eyes were fully anxious on the edge of terror. Vince

had to hold the inflatable between the boy's hands for him so the oxygen stream

coming from it could reach the boy's face.


Glancing over, DeSoto saw Johnny choose to pick up the lamp table's

phone and not the squad biophone line in order to raise Rampart for the call

in another clever way to keep their patient calm until they got their treat

and move orders. He was still staying behind the couch, getting the defibrillator

open and a needle cricothyroidotomy setup the proper size, out of the boy's

line of sight.


Gage hailed the base station on landline. "Operator, this is a Los Angeles County

Fire Department Rescue Squad. I'm Fireman John Gage. I need an immediate

patch to Rampart General Hospital's Emergency Department in Torrance

about a sick child ASAP........Yes, I can give you the proper number."

And he did.


Roy, in the mean time, managed to get a wrist pulse and the child's

belt off for breathing ease. He wrote the rate down on a piece of paper.


Vince, started talking. "So how do you like my two friends, Mikey? I told

you they would bring you some toys you haven't seen before."


Mikey didn't smile. But his painful, rasping stridor didn't get any worse.

Then he tried to say something. Roy quickly shushed him with a finger to his

own smiling lips so the child wouldn't cough and obstruct.


Vince bit his lip realizing what he had almost done. "Sorry." he mouthed

silently. He concentrated on seeing through the lacy curtains of the

living room window and noticed that Nate had finally had enough of being

Mr. Nice Guy. The mother was getting handcuffed against the rescue squad

while the newly arrived backup police unit kept the now just curious

neighbors under a careful watch.


Howard's eyes drifted towards the crack pipe that he had found ignited

on a plate across the room. It had snuffed out nicely under the overturned

clear Cheerios bowl that he had dumped out to use to smother it to rid the

air of its taint. The cereal had been dried out and sitting in days old soured milk.

::The boy hasn't eaten obviously. He'll get a meal in a couple of days in intensive

care.:: thought Vince. ::That's if he makes it that long.::


Gage thought of victim counts and he looked up at Vince, waving a few

fingers to get his attention. "Where are Mikey's siblings?" he mouthed.


"In the bedroom. They're sniffly, but not like Mikey. I turned on Seasame Street

for them." Howard replied.


Johnny nodded and got right back to his phone call as Dr. Brackett gave him

his initial instructions. ##Securing an airway is the overriding priority, 51.

Obtaining vital signs or any other diagnostic procedures are to be considered

completely secondary to that primary concern. Physical examination should be

kept at a minimum with careful attention so as not to increase the child's anxiety.

Skip placing your EKG leads. It may cause him to cry and obstruct.  If you can,

leave him in his mother's arms, it'll keep him calm.##


"Uh, that won't be possible, doc. She's currently a crack addict going off the

deep end." Johnny told him when he caught onto Vince's subtle point to the

tabletop and as his eyes alighted onto the pipe. "But he does tolerate Roy and a

police officer so far. Rampart, would you call us a second ambulance for

the mother through dispatch for us?"


Kel Brackett nodded at Dixie and the trim nurse took the note he

scribbled down. ##It's done, 51. Are you able to get ahead of

his oral cyanosis? I know you told me that he's still conscious and attempting

his own ventilations.##




 "Somewhat." Johnny replied, seeing Vince trying to entice Mikey to keep

the "football" nearer to his mouth and nose. "However, his acute stridor

is continuous with intercostal retractions. There is very abundant drooling,

but only moderate perioral cyanosis."


##Ok. Do not attempt direct visualization of the epiglottis by depressing

the tongue, at all, Johnny, unless he blacks out or he'll tighten up fast.

We'll assume that you've pegged the correct diagnosis until it's ruled out.

This situation's far too volatile for us to add paramedic/doctor frills.

Perform a nasotracheal intubation under controlled conditions, if necessary,

with the patient seated absolutely upright during the procedure to avoid him

sealing off until it's in place. Only attempt orotracheal intubation or a needle

crich in a complete obstructive emergent situation. I've assembled the

necessary personnel on my end, including an anesthesiologist on standby

and an endoscopist in the event of a difficult intubation. Expect a frank

respiratory failure at any time, Johnny. Keep him warm, oxygenated,..

and get in here as soon as possible. We'll worry about the I.V. after we've

guaranteed his airway. Transport non code R and cushion him from all jars

or bumps. Let me know about the mother as soon as you get her lined up

in the second ambulance.##


"Uh, doc. One more thing. The police say there's a few more kids who

are sick here, but not as bad. Want them to ship with me?" Gage asked.

"Or will that be too much of an exposure risk for the boy from

his infectious condition and their potential ability to startle him?"


##Put them with the mother. Hopefully they'll calm her down enough for

all of them to tolerate a transport. I'll check them out after the boy's stabilized.

Is the mother still combative?##


"Verbally. But she's now restrained." Johnny replied when Vince crossed his

wrists together in a gesture to let him know the lay of things with her. "I suspect

our ETA is..... as soon as we get everything and everyone packaged up and

we get over to you. We're about four miles out."


##Bring the boy in first. No delays. Have Roy bring in the mother and siblings

at his own pace as needed. We'll be standing by.##


Johnny and Roy soon reversed their luggage ruse and an afghan soon

snuggled around the boy in Vince's arms. He was hugging the ambu

"football" tightly in his fright, but it was near his face. Roy helped

the boy keep his chin up with a soft firm grip, as the two men slowly walked

outside the house into the sunlight. Soon, Mikey was seated safely in

a quiet Mayfair with Johnny and Vince. Roy gave the mother a quick

once over where she was handcuffed to a stretcher and soon, he

recruited the remaining cruiser officers to round up the other kids to

go along with them.


"How's Mikey? Don't you take him away from me! The State tried that once,

but I won him back, fair and square.." she challenged. "You just wait,

we'll all be back together before the sun goes down." she told Roy.


"I highly doubt that, ma'am. You see, we found some incriminating evidence

in the house, and signs of child neglect in some rotten food that you left

sitting out." DeSoto told her as an officer sat down on the treatment bench next to

him. The female officer smiled and held up the crack pipe evidence bag

she had gathered.

The frantic, agitated mother, for all of her earlier noise, fell completely

silent for the rest of the trip to the hospital.




Dixie met Johnny at the outer doors of Emergency. "Treatment One."

she told him, as Johnny and Vince walked in with the completely head

covered and blanketed boy in their arms. The filled ambu bag and

drape were being used to make an incubator around him.


Just as they rounded the corner by the x-ray machine, the boy's stridor

ceased abruptly.


Gage and Vince, began to run with their burden.


Dr. Brackett saw them coming and he said......




From: Sam Iam (911 operator)


"In here!" Kel motioned for them, holding the door.

"How long ago?" he asked about the change with

the child's lack of effective breathing effort.


Johnny set the small limp boy down on the almost perpendicularly

head raised bed in the brightly lit treatment room that contained

an anesthetist and he tipped back his tiny head gingerly.

"Just now, as we were coming around the corner."


"Help him on that ambu. Long slow ventilations, Johnny.

We'll be set in a moment. Let us know about his responsiveness

level while you're doing it." Dr. Brackett told him as Dixie and

another nurse quickly set up a tray of specialized intubation

equipment for both him and the anesthetist that they had called

to come to Emergency. He nodded to Vince, smiling his thanks,

when the police officer switched the boy's oxygen tubing

from the squad's portable D tank, to a flowing port on the wall.

"Vince, that's right. Set him at fifteen liters. Johnny? Are they working?"


Gage sighed, feeling how the bag sent very careful breaths into the boy

as Dixie cut open the child's shirt so he could see chest movements.

"They're going in well enough, doc. Mikey!..Mikey.. Open your eyes!"

he shouted. "Can you do that for me? Mommy's right outside waiting

for ya!" He tested the boy with a pinch to the back of

his upper arm behind the elbow. The child pulled away a bit in

a normal reflex. Gage shared what he had found with the doctors.

"He feels pain somewhat. He's not responding to verbal.

And...he's offering no more attempts to breathe on his own here.

He's too tired."


Dr. Brackett spoke up.

"Fair enough. Keep maintaining him easy. Everyone, maneuver for

a single portable endolateral neck x-ray, before we even try to directly

visualize for epiglottitis. If he's positive for it on the film, Bob," Kel told

the anesthetist, "..go ahead and anesthetize with your inhalation anesthetic

and take a look at the supralaryngeal area using a bronchoscope. My guess

is that he'll tolerate us going in nasotracheally with a tube for an intubation

before he laryngospasms. His fever's not that bad yet. Dixie, after

he's been airway secured, start an intravenous line of normal saline and

draw blood for a complete culture for Hemophilus influenzae type b and a CBC..

Also get an antibiotic going once you find out from his chart what his

tolerances are. Ceftriaxone, 75-100 mg/kg via his IV every 12-24 hours."


"Right, Kel." answered the frosty haired nurse crispy. She got busy with

her own tray set up to await the moment when the boy was guaranteed

a good airway.




The x-ray didn't take long. Five lead aprons protected those who had to

stay in the room to aid the critically threatened child. Soon, Bob and

Kel gathered around the image under flourescent light. "And there it is,

Bob. The classic "thumb sign" from Mikey's swollen aryepiglottic folds

and arytenoid cartilages showing a partial marked upper airway obstruction.

I'll just bet you're gonna see cherry red supraglottic structures, including the

epiglottis in a minute, after you tube him."


"No bet." Bob moved immediately to the bed to secure Mikey with an uncuffed

endotracheal tube after a squirt of Hurricane spray once Johnny had hyperventilated

him on oxygen. Kel nodded for the one orderly in the room to start the boy on

mechanical ventilation to free up Gage so he could return to available service.


Kel got a few cultures of the epiglottis and throat from Mikey around the tube

using a laryngoscope and he gave them to a nurse to run down to the lab for

immediate gram negative staining for the illness organism he knew with almost

one hundred percent certainty, that might be making the child sick.


"Let's move him to intensive care, people. Stat." Brackett ordered.



Joe Early had gotten off the phone with Dr. Brackett. He moved

to the bed that contained Mikey's mother where he had just given

her another vitals check from the quick injection he had given her.


The mother's handcuffs were off, but Vince and his partner stayed in

attendance during the whole conversation to assure Joe's safety while

she burned off the crack's influence. Joe stayed a few feet away

from her while he shared his knowlege. "Your son is out of immediate

danger, Mrs. Brown. However, epiglottitis is often a multi-event illness.

During the bacteremic phase of the disease, other foci of

infection are possible. To give him some rest, his artificial ventilation will

be continued and we'll directly visualize his epiglottis on a daily basis

until the edema resolves, generally within 24-48 hours. Systemic antibiotics

will be given to him for approximately 2 weeks to be sure the infection's

completely gone from his bloodstream."


"My boy's on a ventilator?" asked the mother meekily, still bleary eyed

from her smoked drug use. The tension in her manner was growing.


"Yes, but... Peri, being breath supported like that isn't hurting him.

Respiratory isolation for the first 24 hours of antibiotic treatment, is necessary,

so he can recover from whole body exhaustion. His CBC was remarkable for

a leukocytosis with a marked left shift and the rapid latex particle agglutination

we got from his blood serum was positive for H. influenzae or, HIB."


"Is... that a bad germ?" asked Peri Brown, hugging her other two children

nearer to her as they sat on the gurney next to her.


"Only if you're vulnerable, like Mikey was. Epiglottitis caused by HIB has a

unique distribution in that it typically occurs among children aged 2-7 years."


"You mean my other children...might get sick like little Mikey?" she gasped.


The nurse near Peri, touched her arm to calm her. Peri took her hand gratefully.

"Control measures for invasive H. influenzae type b are very important since

asymptomatic carriage in the sinuses of household contacts is quite high.

We can stop this illness from spreading in them and in you if you let us."


Joe wore his best white jacket smile. "Chemoprophylaxis with rifampin given

once daily for 4 days eradicates H. influenzae in approximately 95% of carriers. We

can do nasopharyngeal cultures on all of you before any treatment. But,

chemoprophylaxis should be instituted as soon as possible after diagnosis of H.

influenzae type b is made. It's unfortunate, that this happened to Mikey. But one day,

I believe a vaccine to prevent H. influenzae disease may be developed. But until then,

complications associated with epiglottitis including otitis media, adenitis, meningitis,

pericarditis, and pneumonia, are bound to occur in your other children." Joe admitted,

"..unless we treat everyone with antibiotic therapy now."


"Treat him. And us." she said quickly, growing scared.


Peri began to look frantic, fast, so Joe tempered his lecture by adding more.

"The mortality risk for Mikey now is only about one percent because we have

him airway secured and ventilation supported. And the risk for the rest of you,

now that we know what's going on, is negligible. So relax. Everything's ok."


The oldest boy, Mikey's brother, clinging to his mother to avoid sight of the

policeman he knew was arresting his mother, spoke up. "You mean my brother

really has quinsy?"


Joe knelt down by the boy with a look of amazement. "Quinsy? My, I haven't

heard that term in a long, long time. Hello there." he said, taking the young boy's

hand in a handshake. "Yes, Mikey has quinsy, but he's going to be just fine,

young man. How did you ever come up with that idea for your brother's

breathing illness?"


"I learned it in school. My teacher said that President George Washington

died of it when he got real old and she said that he had sounded like a

squeaky rabbit when he was in trouble. Like Mikey did before the ambulance

people came."


"That was very perceptive of you." said Joe, tickled. He raised significant eyebrows

for Vince and Nate to note that the children had been exposed to regular school

as a point in Peri, the mother's favor. "Only today, we call what your brother

has, as a peritonsillar abscess, or epiglottitis..instead of quinsy."


The child withdrew his hand shyly, still in awe of seeing a real white

coated doctor.


Peri began to tear up. "C-can I see my boy, before.... before the social

workers come for my kids, doctor?"


"Sure. I'll have a nurse show you the way up to intensive care to sign his

admittance papers. Don't worry, Mrs. Brown. Mikey's going to be over

this in less than two days, I promise you." Dr. Early said. "The danger

to his life, is past."


"I trust you, doctor. I-It's just that, I don't know if I can trust myself anymore. These

policemen say that I haven't fed my kids in days because of...." she broke off,

rubbing her nose when it started running from her withdrawal symptoms."..my

smoking habits.." she cried.


She took the kleenix the nurse gave her and used it.


"We can help you with your crack addiction, too. The narcan I gave you

only has a temporary effect holding the drug at bay. It's not too late to make

a change, Peri. I can link you up with counselors and doctors

who can help you break the habit eventually. Would you like that?"

Joe asked.


Peri Brown nodded and started crying. "Oh, please. Yes.."


"Ok. Let's go see Mikey and afterwards, I'll get you admitted. While

the police get what information they need out of you, I'll also have

Dixie McCall, my head nurse, take your children down to the cafeteria

to get some food."


"I can help with that." volunteered Roy eagerly. "I'm..pretty good with kids."




"Thank you, doctor. Mr. DeSoto. I never meant for my life to get so screwed up.."

Mikey's mother sobbed. "It just sort of happened that way before I even realized

how bad it was going for my kids. " Peri gave them tearful hugs when Dixie

suddenly appeared. "Go with the nice nurse and fireman, Davey, Suzy.

They'll take real good care of you for a while. Mind everything they say.

I'm going to a hospital room upstairs after I see how Mikey's doing so I can

be treated, too, for smoking the pipe daddy left behind."


The two older children went quietly out the door without a fuss.


::Hunger's a good behavior modifier.:: thought Joe sadly. But then his

thoughts brightened. ::There's hope for this family yet. I'll make sure Vince

and Nate know how much this mother tried despite appearances. She

shared a lot with me after she came to.::




From: Patti Keiper (NREMT-B)


The sun made a grand appearance just as the still light brown mud

caked and dripping squad squealed up alongside the curb that somebody

had painted in festive colors that complemented Johnny's favorite chili

dog stand.


Roy hadn't even turned off the ignition when the agitated Mac made a hasty

appearance to ward them away from his flaking, pastel painted picnic tables.


"Oh, no. You're not sitting on my seats, guys. Not like that. Not in a million years.

I don't have to accept business from any customer who isn't one hundred

percent publicly presentable. So get away from here before you get

mud all over the place."





Gage smacked Mac against his chest with an expressive hand.

"Oh why not? We're following your sign's instructions to the letter. See? We've

got shoes. And...we've got shirts. So give us some service. We're hungry



And with that, both paramedics firmly sat down at the nearest picnic table

and pulled out a set of laminated menus from behind the ketchup squeeze

bottle and the tiny chrome paper napkin holder.


Mac wiped the sweat off of his brow around the foldout paper hat he wore

on his head to appease the health department and licked his lips nervously,

as several of his regular businessmen customers started giving the

two filthy firemen looks of consternation and disgust. "I'm fresh out.

I got my eldest boy making a grocery run for more hot dog buns.."


"Fresh out, huh? Then what'didya call those hanging right there off your

roof overhang? Hallucinations?" Gage pointed.


A cluster of still freshly sealed bun bags hanging like cotton candy at

a carnival, swayed in the bright sunlight, glinting a little.


Mac went ballastic. "Listen guys, let me be a little forward here. You're

very bad for business. I mean, you pay good and tip well and all. But you're

still bad for business. The plain clothes cops that normally keep kids from

stealing the pickles outta my dill barrel disappear everytime you show up

because you're so conspicuous and draw too much attention to them while

they're undercover working on my case."


Even Roy had to gape at that fact. "You hired a couple of detectives to

try and bust school aged pick pockets?"


"Well, yeah." said Mac defensively. "Do you know how much it costs to

get a pickle barrel delivered these days?  Eighteen dollars a barrel!"


A businessman that the hotdog stand owner hadn't seen arrive at

the ordering window, bellowed. "Hey, Mac. Are you gonna chew the fat

with those sparkies my whole lunch hour? I want to get my order in before

my hair turns gray!"


A couple of young mothers with babies in strollers, who were going to

stop for some food from the stand changed their mind when they heard

the loud business executive's very audible complaint. They left

quickly with more than a little nervousness.


Mac immediately poured more sweat and his agitation grew by tenfold. "Ah,

sorry, Ben. I'm coming. I'll be right there." Then he spied the departing

moms. "Ladies! Ladies. Do come back. It was just the tiniest of misunderstandings."


But they didn't return.


Mac's anger, barely suppressed, grew and he gasped with barely contained

rage as he made his regular's order as fast as he could make it.


The change from a dollar bill he normally got to keep, was taken away

and Ben stormed off in a huff of affront.


Mac's glower sharpened and he began to breathe even faster.


Gage and Roy, oblivious to the ruckus they were creating, were deep

in their plans for an opulent supper off their menus.


Johnny's hand snapped the air over the top of one of them. "Mac?

Uh, say Mac. Looks like you're through there. Can we order now?

My partner's famished and so am I, finally. Nothing like a good rescue

to build up an appetite."


"What makes you think I'm gonna do anything for--?!" Suddenly,

Mac doubled over the counter, grabbing his chest and he started

panting for air rapidly.


Roy and Johnny's heads shot up at the sound and they dropped

their menus, making a beeline for the small door at the side of

the small stand. "Mac? Are you all right?!" Roy asked loudly

as they hurried over.


Gage went to Mac and held up his shoulders. "Mac? What's the

problem? Is it your chest?" he said, leaning the owner against

the window frame while he felt for a wrist pulse. Johnny saw

that his breathing was very labored. "Now don't fall over

onto the grill here. Roy's coming in to get you and help you

outta there asap. Easy.."






 "I can see that." said Johnny. "Just hold on. Now put your arm

over Roy's shoulder and come out with him. Let him do all the

work. He can hold your weight and then some."


"Ahh, why can't ...I ......breathe?" panicked Mac.


Gage let go of Mac and met them at the tiny door. The two

paramedics sat the pale, sweating hot dog man down

at a basket and garbage strewn picnic table.


Johnny looked up at a transfixed secretary at the same table

who had stopped chewing her lunch at the sight. "Ma'am. Do

me a favor and go to that squad over there. Reach in

for a radio lying on the seat. I need my walkie talkie to get

some fast help for this man. Can you do that?"


"Uh, sure." she said, wiping her mouth free of mustard self

consciously. She slowly rose to go get it, yanking off the napkin

that she had tucked in around her neck.


She clattered away on stiletto heels.


Roy and Johnny both crouched over Mac, loosening his

clothing and apron from around his waist and neck. One

of them took his paper hat off, too.


"Mac,.." asked DeSoto. "Do you have any history of heart

trouble? Are you feeling any kind of chest pain right now?"


"Heart trouble?!" startled Mac, still gasping in huge lungfuls.

"Is that what's wrong with me? Oh, no...*choke* I'm gonna die..."


Gage placed both hands on Mac's shoulders. "Now, Mac. Mac.

Listen to me. We don't know anything yet. That's what

we're trying to learn about by taking a look at ya.

Just take it easy and try to calm down a little. Getting excited's

only gonna make you feel a lot worse when you don't have to."


Mac nodded in resignation, and he began trembling. Especially

when he saw that both paramedics were opening up his shirt in

preparation for an EKG reading.


"Tell us about what kinds of things you're feeling right now."

Gage commanded. "Roy, how about some oxygen?"

he asked softly, thinking about possible symptoms.


"Yep. I'll get the biophone, too, among other things." he

hinted about a defibrillator and the drug box.




Mac totally missed the interplay. "My... mouth's...all numb.

And.. my fingers and toes are tingling.." he admitted, while

Johnny took his pulse again at the wrist.


Gage looked up in discovery at that. Then he began smiling,

but just to himself, very slightly, and his natural paramedic's guard

completely lowered to the ground. "Feels like you're suffocating, huh?

Like you're not getting enough air?"


"And how. Please. H- Help me. I'll do anyth-- anything you ask.

Just.. don't let me die. I love my life.." pleaded the breathless Mac.

"I'm a real healthy man. I don't smoke. I don't drink. My blood pressure's

always been good. So's my cholesterol according to my family doctor.

I don't even get colds like other folks do." he muttered, panting.

"In fact, I don't remember the last time I had even so much as a sniffle."


Gage took a respiration count, and his smile suddenly got bigger.

But he quickly suppressed it when Mac looked up at him in distress

as he was examined.


Roy returned, setting down their medical equipment just as the

bystander came back with their plastic coated, muddy walkie talkie.

"Thanks. " he told her as he took it from her hand.


The woman retreated, wiping the slimy mud off her hand with

an ample clump of napkins.


Roy crouched down and got out an oxygen mask from the resuscitator.

A clear, plastic one on full flow. He started to string it out from the regulator

to put on Mac's face, when Johnny's hand stopped his from doing it.

DeSoto's face frowned in puzzlement until Johnny starting speaking.

"Mac, I think I know what your problem is. I think you're

suffering from acute hypocapnia syndrome. Roy, do you concur?"

he asked his partner. Then he winked at DeSoto. On the side that

Mac couldn't see. ::Go along with this.:: it said.


Roy blinked. Three times. "Uh,...whaa.. ahhhhh...yeah?" he guessed.

Then he set aside the HT he had snatched up, back onto the table.

Without saying anything, he studied and soon found what Johnny

had found on Mac. But there was one tiny little question still floating

on the tip of his tongue. "Johnny, why are you doing th---?"


Mac was beside himself. "I need oxygen,..guys. Help me!" he begged

in genuine panic.

Gage played their sudden ace to the hilt. "Ok, just relax. And let me

get this on you here. Roy's gonna get a blood pressure off ya."


Johnny turned the flow on the regulator to twenty five liters a minute,

the top aperature, and then he put the mask onto Mac.


Roy's eyes got real big and he bit his lip and he began hiding a smile

when he finally put two and two together about what his crazy partner was

up to.  Narrowing his eyes, he took that BP. But he also put a steadying

grip on Mac for the dizziness he knew was going to strike from an

overabundance of 02 into Mac's system. "I've got.....132/86."


Johnny did, too, on his other side.


It didn't take long. Mac soon swayed in his seat, feeling faint.

"Oh,. This is it.. I'm......dying. Oh, mama. I'm sorry. I wanted to tell

you how much I really love you. But I didn't know I was gonna kick

the big one today..." he mumbled.


Gage leaned into his ear. "Mac. Mac... Can you still hear me?

Is it true you'll do anything if we save your life?"




"Yes... yes! I don't wanna die.. Not yet... I'm sorry if I made you feel

unwelcome. I just wanted to stop losing busin---* gasp!*" And his

eyes got real big in the precursors of a blackout.


"Anything at all?" Gage plugged, holding the oxygen mask and Mac's



"....anything..." whispered the terrified hot dog stand owner.


"How about a whole year's worth of free chili dogs for both me and my

partner and the rest of our gang, always delivered...with a smile?"

Gage said, dropping the clincher.


Mac nodded yes, and promptly passed out into their arms.


DeSoto and Gage were ready for that and caught him. They lowered

him to the paper and french fry strewn pavement and they placed Mac

onto his back. Johnny left the oxygen mask on Mac's face and his other

hand deftly shut off the flow of gas to it. Moisture from condensation

began to steam solidly around the fainted man's nose and mouth.


Roy couldn't hold himself back anymore while he tipped back Mac's

head so he could breathe a little better with a patent airway. "Johnny,

that was pure evil and completely dirty handed."


"So.... A little humility's good for the soul. Especially a meesly money

grubbing hot dog stand owner's. We didn't do this to him. He brought it

on all by himself...by being so..." he broke off, searching for the right

words to explain what he meant....."so..prejudiced against guys like us

and what we do for our daily living.  A little hyperventilation faint has

never hurt anybody, and you know it. After all, anyone in one is about

as far away from incurring ischemic brain damage, as one can possibly

get." Then he nudged Roy's shoulder."Just look at what this one eensy weeny

little blackout will get us, Roy. Think about it!  Finally, firemen will have some

place to eat for free like every cop does everywhere else, just because

of the nature of the job he holds. Now, that.. is delivering sheer poetic

justice for once, wouldn't you agree?"


"At the expense of someone else's pain and suffering?" Roy challenged.

But he was starting to grin the precursors of 'I-like-it.' even while

he chided his second half firmly.


Johnny was unphased by the berating. "Sure, partner. This didn't hurt

Mac one iota. We're still doing our jobs like he asked us to do, Roy.

We're still helping him out by the fire department book. This other tactic,

it's....well,.....call it a little free attitude adjustment if you will."


"I don't think Mac's the one who actually needs it." Roy mumbled.


Johnny looked up from the pulse he was monitoring on Mac. "Huh?"


"Nothing. You better make sure that Mac here doesn't have something

truly wrong with him to cover our butts."


"WAYYy... ahead of you." said, Gage, flipping open the EKG monitor. He

stuck on the pads with a flourish and wired Mac in. He flipped on

the machine to audible and turned up the volume to the loudest

gain so that it would start to work on waking Mac up.


Roy appeased the last of his concern for Mac's well being by

studying the rhythm flowing across the screen.


It was entirely unadulterated NSR.


DeSoto grunted. "You got lucky. You weren't wrong this time."


"I'm never wrong."


"Uh huh..." Roy grinned. "Now that you've had your fun? What's next?"


"This..." Gage said, scooping up the paddles just as Mac groaned

and awoke as his blood's carbon dioxide levels normalized. He placed

them onto Mac's bare chest and held them there after he made sure

the machine was completely, uncharged.


Roy bit his lip, fighting to keep a straight face while Gage completed

a scheme worthy of the best Chet Kelly could ever possibly dream up.


He looked away and pretended to fiddle with the now turned off oxygen

supply so he wouldn't spoil it.


"Mac! Mac!" Johnny shouted as he held the paddles down firmly onto

the man's chest. "Can you hear me now?!"




Mac opened his eyes blearily and startled when he saw what Johnny

was doing. "Ackhh!" he shouted, shoving them off his chest. "Get those

things off of me!  I'm fine now." He also pulled the non flowing oxygen

mask off of his face and started to struggle to his feet, peeling off

the EKG pads eagerly. His face was a mask of sheer embarrassment

but now, a little gratitude, mixed in.


"Are you sure?" Gage asked, throwing the paddles back into

their case. He genteely helped Mac return to sitting on the

picnic table bench.


Mac winced for each tacky sticker he yanked off his chest

that pulled out some chest hair.






"Ouch! Yes, d*mn it!"


Roy's back started jiggling as he tried to keep his uncontrollable

giggles completely hidden. He decided to occupy himself

by putting away all the rescue gear.


Gage started to button the buttons up Mac's shirt again, one

by one."You're a very lucky man, Mac, that we decided to have

dinner with you. We almost didn't come here because

we wanted to shower off so bad."


"Oh, yeah?" grinned Mac sheepishly. He was a completely

different man now. "I wanna thank ya fellas. You saved my

life. Do you have an address where I can pay the bill?"


Johnny held up his hand in negation and he smiled craftily.

"What bill, Mac? We didn't transport you to the hospital

in the ambulance. No ride? No bill. That's how it works with

all of us paramedic types. "


Mac beamed up at Gage with tears in his eyes. "Gratitude

works, too. And I still remember my promise to you both..

I mean, about feeding ya lunches for a year."


Gage demurred. "Aw, Mac. You don't have to do that."


"Yes, I do. A deal's a deal. From a grateful businessman

to a fireman, even if he is a little muddy around the edges."


And then Mac stuck out his hand.


Roy stayed in the truck, containing near guffaws. Just barely.


"Ok, I can't argue with you. I promise we won't come everyday,

all right?" Johnny told him, taking the palm offered to him in a

returning grasp.


"Ok." said Mac, feeling like he had a whole new lease on life.

He got up and started to clean up his stand and surrounding

picnic tables, with new energy.




Johnny got into the squad and closed the door behind himself

with complete and utter satisfaction. "There ends the war, of all wars.

I do believe Johnny Gage has declared a truce on that particular

hot dog stand."


Roy grinned as his tone belied the further beratement he

wanted to deliver. "I still think that little stunt was evil."


"You won't be saying that later on when the whole station's filling

up on those wonderful chili dogs every week." Johnny said, lacing

contended fingers behind his head.



Roy started up the ignition but then paused as he jerked the squad out

of park. "Does this mean that Mac now has to feed every shift? Or just



Johnny's satisfied smirk fell into one of instant dismay.




From:   "andacory"  (Emergency fan)


The gang was bored.....again.


There had been no calls for six hours since the big mudslide.


And it was looking more and more likely that Roy was going

to have to go home for the weekend to spend it with his

wife and kids ....and with Sylvia, Roy's mother in law.


Gage was currently bragging about how they had pulled the

wool over Mac's eyes to the others, but only Chet Kelly

seemed to enjoy the tale thoroughly.


"Just feel lucky that Mac didn't press charges of malfeasance,

Johnny." Cap said sharply. "He could've you know. There's

a state law that says anyone who suffers unconsciousness has

to be evaluated by a physician if at all possible on a paramedic



"That's only If, Cap. If...they give you permission. Mac directly refused.

All right, ok.. not verbally mind you,.. but he sure pulled off those

patches and that oxygen mask fast enough." he chuckled.


Kelly gave him a high five in admiration for carrying off such a

gem stunt. Then he said. "I'm gonna go shower fellas."


"Again?" Cap groaned.


"Yeah, why not? I'm still spitting out sand here from between

my teeth.." Kelly exclaimed back. "Excuse me while I go freshen

up. Geesh.. What a grouch.."


"He's only hungry." Johnny explained to Chet's retreating back.

"I think Cap's kinda crazy for not going down to the dog stand for

a free weiner."


"I'm not going to go there to eat because it's not right, Gage. Not

after you pulled off that kind of thing."


Gage just grinned and spun a quarter into a spin on the table

some more, absently humming to himself while he downed milk

from a carton.


"I wouldn't celebrate so hard, Johnny. It's always easy to get

into trouble when you start to criticize and judge people while treating

them with less than the respect you normally would, just because

they're a little different than you. So don't begin to view them in

such a shallow light, Johnny. You'll only regret it in the long run."

Roy said gently.


"Says who? Chet seems none the worse for wear for his pranks.

Watch." and he held up two fingers to his mouth so he could deliver

a sharp piercing whistle. It was so loud, an echo of it returned to them

from out of the vehicle bay. "Hey Kelly! Get back in here. I wanna

talk to ya for a minute."


DeSoto just sighed and buried his nose into the stock pages.


Kelly jogged back into the kitchen and barely managed to hide

the tools that he had been using to wire up another water can in

one of the toilet stalls for Gage to find, into his back pocket.

"What now, Gage? I'm a little busy. I wanna get clean.."


"I'm through, Chet. No more wars. Concluding the one between

Mac and I, got me to wondering.... about whether or not the two of

us, should do the same.."


Chet immediately squinted and angled his head suspiciously.

"Roy, did he crack his head working on any of those slide victims

earlier today?"


"Nope." DeSoto replied, still reading. "He's injury free, Chet."

he yawned. "Today.." he glared back from over a newspage.


"And I'll stay that way. I promise, guys. And that includes not

getting any more bruises from unexpected flying water bombs.

Chet.." he shot back at Kelly. "So this, I vow. It's over. No rubber

chickens, no more short sheeting the bed. No dresses on CPR

manikins, or touchy mousetraps....nothing...ever.....again." Gage

told Chet mildly with conviction. "Starting......now."


"Well, what about this Phantom thing of ours?" Chet asked, shifting

uncomfortably onto his other foot. "I mean, things were just getting



"Didn't you get soaked enough in all that rain earlier on?" Johnny

frowned at him.


"Well, yeah. That's different. One's water from a cloud, the other's

water from a c---"


Johnny halted the very words out of Chet's lips when he held up his

right hand in a native american benediction over the middle of his

forehead. "I swear on the grave of my forefathers to never play another

prank on Chet Kelly, ever again."


The genuine solemnity of his voice gave chills to the rest of the gang

and they all stopped whatever leisure activity they had been partaking

in at that particular moment.


Chet just slowly turned around and left the room, affording Johnny

a sidelong glance back at him every once in a while.


"It's a start.." Roy said without looking up from his reading.



A few seconds later, Kelly peeked back through the door to

look at Johnny suspiciously, who was still holding his prayer

summoning hand up in the way of his people with his eyes closed.

He spoke again. "You're staying one hundred percent dry from

now on, Chet, so you mark my words. Hear it again from me.

It's overrrrrrrr.."




The face in the door disappeared.


Peace reigned once more over the warm kitchen....until....


##Station 51. Possible suicide attempt. 6101 Sharon Road.

6101 Sharon Road. Cross street Benedict. Time out 17:55##


The gang dropped everything and ran for the trucks.




The rain, had returned, with strength. It was so dark and the way

ahead so obscured, that Johnny had to remark on it. "I sure hope

you know where you're going, Roy, because I sure don't."


"I do. Sharon Road's a street one of my daughter's best friends

lives on. In fact, the house we're going to just may be a neighbor

friend of hers. We'll be there in four minutes."


"What do you think we got?"


"Someone who's very unhappy.." DeSoto said. "Suiciders

always seem to be that way when they start trying to kill themselves."




From : "Roger Stuart" EMT/FF    


Soon, the engine and squad pulled up at the house. Stanley

was relieved that the cops had preceded them, assuring scene



The gang entered the house on the invite of a crying mother.

"It's Michael.. Please, he's on the couch..." she sobbed. "He's

taken his grandmother's heart medication.."


Johnny motioned for Stoker to place the resuscitator by the

young teenager's head while he knelt beside him. "Michael,

Michael! Can you hear me?" he said, feeling for a wrist pulse

with his own arm draped also over the boy's stomach. "He's

breathing.." he told the others. "Normal so far."


Then Johnny moved to further test Michael's awareness level.

He rubbed a knuckle into his breastbone. The boy groaned

and purposefully shoved away Gage's hand, but his eyes

never opened.


"Huh..." Gage thought. ::That groan is a very good sign for

someone in such serious trouble..:: He bent to take a

blood pressure while Captain Stanley got an oxygen mask

set and flowing for him to grab later on, if necessary.


Michael's mother was sobbing to the police officer in the room

with them. "I can't understand why my son would ever do such a

thing. He's a good boy. Please...*sob* Is he going to survive this?"


"Ma'am, we're going to do everything in our power to make sure

he does that. Ok?" Johnny told her. "Why don't you sit down in this

chair over here. I promise we'll tell you absolutely everything

that we're doing for Michael as we're doing it. Marco, can you

come guide her over there?"


"Yep." and Lopez did.




Roy stood quietly by, while his partner worked, since the teenager's

status was nowhere near a crisis point yet. He took a closer

look at the lamp stand near the boy's head.


The first thing he noticed, was that the grandmother's

prescription bottle, laying on the table, was turned onto its side

in plain sight amid recently used kleenix tissues and a T.V. guide,

with the cap screwed on crooked.


::Well, that explains things.:: Roy thought to himself.


He glanced at the boy's closed eyelids and saw both eyeballs

moving randomly under the lids.


::He's a very aware supposed unconscious. I'll just bet

this pill bottle arrangement is a purposeful sign of a staged

suicide attempt.::


DeSoto counted the pills and about eight were missing from the

number count on the bottle. The prescription had just been filled two

days before and the drug on the bottle was labelled "Furosemide",

better known as "Lasix".


Roy then knew with little doubt that Michael was faking it. :: I can't think

of a worse way of dying than p*ssing yourself to death on water pills!::


So, DeSoto leaned over the kid and palpated his lower abdomen. Sure

enough, his bladder was as tight as a drum. He knew that Johnny was buying

into the dramatic tension oozing from the mother, thinking the worst, and

that had caused him to go deep into paramedic mode. ::He's thinking more

about the ALS equipment than the findings.:: Roy thought. ::I think I better

set him straight before he does any unnecessary biophone calling.::


Within ear shot of his partner, Roy whispered to the kid.

"What you took are water pills. If I press right here any harder, you're

going to pee in your pants."


That caught Johnny's full attention.


Roy went on, still keeping his voice down as Gage opened

the teenager's eyes to check them with his penlight. "Michael, we

have to assume that you are critical and know that my partner and I

will do whatever it takes to save your life, unless you can tell us



Now Johnny realized that his patient needed to drain his bladder in

the worst way and Roy couldn't resist the temptation to make a

faker tell the truth, so he continued and said to Michael a few more

things. "That means we will have to stick needles in your veins, shove

tubes up your nose, down your throat, to pump your stomach with

charcoal. We will also have to shove a hose up your ..well, you know,

before your bladder ruptures." Then DeSoto mildly applied pressure

on his bladder and said. "We don't have to do all that if you can snap

out of it and tell us how many pills you took."


Michael opened his eyes a crack and started weeping. "Four.."

he said, and he held up four shaky fingers as well.


Roy smiled gently. "Since you took those pills, you need to

go to the hospital to get treated for at least dehydration and an

electrolyte imbalance."


Johnny, was now fully onto the situation, once he realized that

Roy had solved the mystery for him with just a scene check.

"So how about we load you into the ambulance and I'll give you

a urinal."


The kid abruptly nodded his head affirmatively.


It took every ounce of energy for Roy and Johnny to keep their

faces straight. Gage looked at Cap who asked. "Load and go?"


Roy nodded. "Yep, he's a Code 2 transport."


With that comment, the gang started putting away all the squad



Roy handed his notepad to the cop, winked at him, and asked.

"Can you take mom to the other room and get his information while

we load him up?"


When his mom left the room, Michael opened his eyes for the first time,

looked at the two paramedics and whispered, "Please hurry."


Gage and DeSoto loaded him up. And Roy volunteered to be the

one to ride in with the boy. He jumped in as Cap said, "You're writing

this report." and he closed the door from the outside.


Soon, Roy was alone with Michael.


Things quieted then in the driver's cab, as the ambulance began

to move.


Finally, DeSoto was able to say.. "Ok, the coast is clear." Michael

sprang to life, unable to drop his drawers fast enough under the

blanket to relieve himself.


As the Cadillac driver took off, he tapped the siren a few times for

no other reason than to give the Michael's mom one more step of a

truly adolescent, unfolding drama.


Once they turned the corner and had gone out of her sight, the driver

turned off the lights and Roy and the teenager were driven

casually the rest of the way to Rampart.


Along the way, Michael sighed, feeling much more relieved after

voiding more than a liter of fluid. The slightly built teenager

laid his head back down onto the pillow and said, "You're

awesome. I thought you were gonna bust me for being a fake."


Then, he started crying as he told Roy the story of his plight.


DeSoto shared with him. "Sometimes, while growing up, I thought

I had clueless parents, too. I know how life, as a teenager,

can actually be pretty miserable a lot of the time. And I know that

your parents probably remained ignorant of your feelings until

today, until you tried something like this."


Michael looked away from Roy with a resurgence of sadness.


Roy told him. "It's not so bad, Michael. You've probably succeeded at

re-connecting with your mom. But trying a suicide trick next time

will most likely turn into a real suicide because you won't ever know

what you're doing. I could very well be thumping on your chest right now."


Roy couldn't count how many times Michael apologized to him



DeSoto said. "Be sure to explain the things you told me just now

to the psychiatric people who are going to evaluate you at

the hospital."


"Why are those kinds of doctors gonna be there? I'm not sick."


"They won't be seeing you for that, Michael, they'll be there

because you need to be assessed for being suicidal." Roy



"They're going to think I'm nuts." he said.







 "Yes, they will. Are you ready for that?"


"I'm gonna have to be." said the boy, with tears glistening in

his eyes.



Later that night, Johnny and Roy returned to Rampart with a

new patient from another medical call. DeSoto told Johnny

that he wanted to stop by Michael's room.


Michael's mom was there and they were hashing out their



When Michael saw Roy, the first thing he said was, "They

hosed me." and he pointed to his urinary bag, obviously

angry about it.


Roy laughed good naturedly. "At least, some good looking nurse

did it here instead of one of us doing it on your living room couch

right in front of your mother."


Michael dropped his head, and sheepishly said. "Point made."


Dixie entered the treatment room with an intravenous tray and

the teenager promply offered her his arm. He certainly had

no complaints of having an IV after his first encounter with a Foley



The boy was admitted for two days to monitor his electrolytes and for

a psych evaluation.




The next morning, Roy got a phone call at the station from Michael.

##Hey, Mr. DeSoto. My parents want to invite you home sometime

so we can talk together over dinner.##


"I'm sorry, Michael. But I don't think that's a very good idea. You see,

here at the fire department, we're not allowed to get personally involved

with the patients we treat, but I appreciate the offer and I'm glad to

see that you and your mother are beginning to work out some of

those problems we discussed in the ambulance."


##You know something, Roy?## said Michael.


"What?" the paramedic smiled.


##I'm joining the paramedic program at the fire academy and it's

all because you directly inspired me to better myself.##


"Now that's a scary thought. I wish I had that same effect on both of

my kids."


##See you later?##


"No, but feel free to call here anytime, when you think you might be

having some of those old troubles plaguing you again and I'll promise

we'll talk more. Ok.?"


##I will. Thanks for saving my life, Mr. DeSoto. And please,

thank your partner, too, for not embarrassing me in front of

my mother when he realized I was actually awake.##


"Sure. Take care of yourself, Michael. Goodbye."


Roy hung up the phone and allowed a small smile to touch his lips.




 Johnny, who was still up with Roy for the late show, mulled over Michael's

case. "You know, that boy had me completely fooled with his true medical

status. I had no idea he created the whole incident for us to find himself."


Roy didn't rub it in.

"I've found a good many suicide attempts, with teenagers overdosing

on pills, are usually staged because they're having a personal crisis.

They, almost ninety nine percent of the time, have absolutely no intention

of killing themselves, Johnny." Roy told him. "They create this kind of scene

just because they are going through something emotional that they think

they can't handle any more, and this is the easiest way for them to cry

out for help while trying to resolve it.


"Don't beat yourself up for not seeing through his ruse, Johnny. I'm just a

little more experienced than you are about these kinds of kids, probably

because I see milder versions of tantrums in my own kids so often. I think

I spotted the gist of things so fast because all the classic signs for a

pill stunt were there for his call."




From: Patti Keiper


Roy and Johnny couldn't believe the changes that had

sprouted around their favorite hot dog spot during the

past seven days.


New, trendy rice paper lamps and genuine car lot,

triangle-plastic-flag banner strings, framed themselves over

absolutely pristine, brand new, white wicker metal patio tables.


Gone were the decrepid, peeling picnic tables of yore. All of the

new shiny furniture, was sprawled underneath vinyl palm tree

themed umbrellas, and accented occasionally with vases of real

birds of paradise blooms.


Every day, when they could, between calls, Roy

and Johnny, and sometimes even Chet Kelly made the sojourn

to Davey's stand for the free handouts that had been

contrived craftily by Gage's possibly very questionable

medical deceptions.


"Well,.." Gage sighed expansively to DeSoto as he

leaned back in one of Mac's newly redesigned

and poshly cushioned seats. "I guess there's something

to be said for the positive life changes that can come about

whenever someone believes that they've truly had a life after

death experience. I mean, just look at this old place of Mac's.

It's ...it's simply...incredible, Roy! Don't you think so, too?"


"Yeah, but I also ...still feel kinda bad about how we egged

Mac on, just to con him out of some free food like this."


"Oh, Roy, there's no harm done. In fact, I'll just bet that ol

Mac's making more cash now in a single day than he ever

did in an entire month! The cost of feeding us has got

to be the merest drop in the bucket on expenses for him."


"Shh, he's coming back with our order." Roy cautioned,

trying to smile in spite of his still contradictory feelings about

the whole affair.


"Just the one dog today, fellas?" Mac beamed.





"Yeah, we're splitting it up. We're not very hungry this

afternoon." Johnny chuckled. "It's been a very slow day

at the station, Mac." he said, sipping a straw noisily on a Dr.

Pepper thermos advertising the new look for Mac's stand.

"We saved only....what?" he said, turning to Roy, who was

trying to duck behind the new ice cream dessert menu..

"Just...two lives today, Roy? Is that right?"


"Yeah. A trucker wrapped around a viaduct pylon and an alcoholic

street bum who was suffering a cerebral vascular accident." DeSoto

replied reluctantly.


"Wow, my two very own personal heroes have pulled a couple of

miracles yet again. Very impressive, fellas. Do you know how

proud I am that I can call you my very dearest of friends these days?

Here, let me tuck that in all nice and neat for you, Mr. Gage."


"Oh, that's very nice of you, Mac. Thank you." Gage

smiled, allowing his now expensively poiffed, after shave splashed

patron, to fuss over the unfolded napkin hanging from his collar.


Mac smiled and cooed, "Anytime, Mr. Gage."


But then Mac did a most peculiar thing...


He set knot cording fists on either side of his

neatly ironed, aproned hips as his usually good natured manner

decayed into something truly frightening. A full, very p*ssed

off naval sargeant's bark exploded from his frothy lips.

"Enjoy that delicious chili dog, boy, 'cause that's the last one

you'll ever get to share with your pal here!"


"Uh, wha-- what do you mean.. Mac. Uh,...exactly?"

Gage stuttered, and then he completely obstructed on

beef link. 


Roy thumped him in between the shoulder blades to

rescue him quickly back into the world of the still

conscious and breathing.


Mac clarified, in a dangerous voice carried softly enough,

so that his regular and brand new crowd of business

executives, wouldn't overhear him. "You twos was faking

things on me the other day. In fact, I've known just what kind

of nasty trick you two clowns actually pulled on me last week,

all week long." he said knowingly in an unintentional verbal



Roy immediately spat the very savory hot dog out of

his mouth and into a napkin and he managed

to mumble.. "Y-you knew?"




"Yeah, I knew. Only I didn't find out about what you

two did, or more like what you didn't do to me, until

later on that day, when I was taking my usual nightly

bubble bath."


"Oh, uh...yeah?" Gage muttered lamely, a flush rising

high and deep into his face.


"Yeah." Mac punctuated firmly.


"How'dya find out?" Johnny asked him in a cowed squeak.

"Did a hospital staffer point out how common is it to black out

on pure oxygen while you're in the midst of hyperventilating?"


"No. I found out about your little stunt, because I didn't find

none of them red defibberatin' circles burned into my everloving

hide... Nor did I find any sign of slimy spots anywhere on me,

which I've since learned from kindly coroners, that are supposedly

left over from that jolting jelly stuff you fire guys always use

when you're electra-jumpstarting fresh, dead folks."


Roy and Johnny both gulped uncomfortably.


Mac's good natured grin sharpened into something

entirely hard. "My grandma always used to say, 'If someone

steals a dollar from you behind your back. Turn around and

give them your entire wallet, too, with a full smile. For it'll

make that thief's later shame and guilt burn that much brighter

about carrying out the crime in the first place.' I fed ya for nothing

all this time, just to make the revenge pot a little sweeter for the

savoring. You know, my grandmother was a very wise woman,

don't you think?


"So enjoy the burn, you pathetic pair of cocky paramedics.

Especially you, Mr. Gage. Because after that last delectable

bite passes those pearly white, native son molars of yours,

this establishment is swearing off giving ANY service

to anyone who's of the firefighting persuasion, FOREVER!"

he roared.


And with that, Mac strode purposely back to his neat as a pin,

freshly painted, now very popular, trailer stand.


"Oh, boy.." Roy said, placing his stunned chin on his two

thoroughly miserable sets of palms and elbows. "Did

we deserve that one." he murmured with a long, painful sigh.

Then he added. "Still feel terrifically great about this wonderful

day we're having?"


"I've got only one thing to say about being permanently

banned from Davey's hot dog stand." Johnny swallowed,

suddenly feeling his hot dog meal sit like a heavy rock in the

pit of his stomach.


"Oh," Roy conmiserated. "And what's that?"


"Doggone it." he whimpered.











This is an exerpt from The Shallow Light

Episode 26

Emergency Theater Live



Guest Writers;

Roger Stuart, Sam Iam, Cory Anda, Cassidy Meyers..

**Their sections noted by author´s nick**



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