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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."
"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.
"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.
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
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?"
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
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
"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
"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.
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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
##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
"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
"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
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
"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!"
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
Emergency Theater Live
Roger Stuart, Sam Iam, Cory Anda, Cassidy Meyers..
**Their sections noted by author´s nick**
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