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After three straight days of high winds and rain it had finally been a nice sunny day. The warm breeze felt good as Daphne Morris and her 12 year old twins, Dawn and Davey cleaned up the limbs and trash that had blown in the yard. They had been working a little over an hour and had just about finished.
“Mom, is there any chance we can have cheese dogs for dinner? Davey said. “Dawn got to pick her favorite yesterday.”
“Sorry Champ, no hot dogs. You and your dad forgot them at the store. How about beef stew and biscuits?”
“Ok, but when you go to the store will you get some?”
“Yes. Take this pile of branches and put them in the brush pile so dad can run them through the chipper. They will make good mulch once it dries out. Be careful.” She went into the house leaving the twins to load up the small gardening cart.
“I want to check the tree house.” Davey said as he pulled the cart to the edge of the yard. “You can unload this since I did all the work pulling the cart.” He started towards the woods that were on the edge of their property.
“You get all muddy and Jo’ll have your hide.” Dawn said. “You know she wants to go to the co-op.” She was the oldest by 5 minutes and never let him forget it. “You’re already in trouble for not cleaning your room.”
“Don’t be such a prig,” Davey said as he started to stomp off.
“Mom told you to stop using that word…Just because you read it in one of those silly books,” she called after him. With a toss of her head, she went back to the house.
Johnny was washing the windows in the squad. They had finished scrubbing the squad down for the second time that shift except for the windows. The rain had stopped but there were still puddles everywhere. Especially in the potholes that seemed to be growing over night. Roy came out with another bucket of clean water. He went over the windows. The grime was so thick it would take more than one going over to get them clean. The potholes around some of the refineries had an oily residue that was hard to clean from the windows.
“Ya know the first run we have soon as we get this done will destroy all our hard work,” Johnny said with a sigh.
“Look at it this way, Junior its good practice for when you get a house.” He was teasing knowing Johnny already did the windows at the apartment. He had told Lee he rather do them than worry about her standing up trying to reach them.
“It’s not funny, Roy. I wouldn’t mind doing the work around our house…Its’ just…well… ya know…she …” He stopped and took a deep breath. Chewing on his lip he thought about what he wanted to say and how he wanted it to sound. “Lee would be there alone when I was on shift…It scares me. Not that I don’t think she can’t take care of herself… not like we don’t have plenty of room. There are extra bedrooms…well one and the girl’s room…Everything is set up for her…” Getting more flustered as he talked.
“You said you were going to keep an open mind. What changed?” Roy could see the worry in his eyes.
“She was standing up dusting the book case and next thing I hear was a crash. I usually dust the higher shelves…she saw a cobweb and didn’t wait on me.”
“Being independent is important to her…Maybe she just needs to slow down.” He smiled remembering how many times he had given the same advice to Johnny. They finished with the squad and went back to the kitchen. Cap was making clam chowder. Lee had sent in a loaf of sour dough bread.
“Smells good Cap, Lee made oyster stew the other night. She said this was good soup weather. The temperature had started to drop as soon as it began to get cloudy. The men had finished eating when the call came in. A boy trapped in a tree house.
“Dawn, go tell your brother dinner is almost ready.” Daphne told her daughter. When the rain started she had decided it was a good day to stay home and bake instead of going to the co-op. She had just assumed Davey was up in the tree house and hadn’t worried until the thunder and lightning had gotten worst. Now that the storm was over, he needed to come home before it got much darker.
“I told him not to get all muddy cuz you wanted to go to the co-op but he just doesn’t listen.” Dawn grumbled as she put on her boots and rain poncho. “He is …”
“Your brother not your child. You need to stop bossing him around so much.” Daphne said laughing. “He goes up in that tree house to read and dream…Just like you go to your special place…Now stop being so prissy…You’ve been acting like those snooty girls on that television show you’ve been watching.”
Dawn didn’t want to tell her mom she was afraid of the woods when it was dark. She hadn’t been until Terri’s older brother had told her and Terri about the stray dogs and the ghost . She knew it was just a story but it still scared her. She frowned as she got near the tree house. Something was wrong. The big pines next to the tree house had fallen over and were leaning against the big oak. The rungs they used as a ladder weren’t all visible, the ones she could see were broken. The oak tree was leaning at a strange angle. She yelled for Davey but got no answer. Turning, quickly she ran back to the house.
“MOM! MOM! DAVEY NEEDS HELP!” She screamed as she came into the yard.
“Slow down and tell me,” Daphne said. “Where is he?” She had run out to meet her daughter soon as she heard the panic screams. She was kneeling in front of Dawn trying to get her to focus.
“The tree house, other trees fell on it and knocked the ladder down…. I could see the flashlight on but he didn’t answer.” Daphne ran to the house and called the fire department.
After supper, dishes were cleaned up everyone just relaxed. Marco and Chet were playing chess, Roy was going a crossword puzzle and Mike was busy with a jigsaw puzzle, Cap was reading. The TV was on but no one was paying much attention to it.
“Where’s Gage? That’s why it’s so quiet in here.” Chet said. “Roy what is your partner up to?”
“How should I know?” Roy answered frowning, as he realized he had not seen Johnny since dinner. In fact he hadn’t said much about anything since they had talked about his not wanting to move. “He doesn’t report his every move to me.” Roy frowned wondering if his young friend was mad at his teasing. He knew Johnny really did worry about Lee falling.
“I think I saw him with a book and a note pad,” Marco said. “He was headed to the dorm.” He made his move.
“Aha, the master strikes again, check.” Chet chortled as he made his move.
“Checkmate.” Marco said as he moved his piece. “You set that up perfect for me, thank you.”
The SCU sounded and soon they were on their way to rescue a boy trapped in a tree house.
“The tree house is down by the creek, follow me….but I’m not sure the engine can go all the way once the path runs out…it’s terribly muddy.”
“We’ll follow as far as we can, “ Cap said trying to reassure her. She led the way. The ground was a quagmire once the graveled lane stopped. The tree house was still about a quarter of the way down the lane.
“You take the squad in as far as you can, we’ll walk in the rest of the way,” Cap said. “Grab the ladders and some ropes.”
The squad did not make it much father than the engine. The rain and wind had died down but it was gloomy and slippery.
“I can see some light up there…Those trees leaning against the oak don’t look like they’re going to be too easy to move.”
“My husband has several chain saws and other tools…Dawn are trying to call him on his CB. He has a jeep…” They made their way carefully. The drug box, trauma box and biophone were heavy, making balance difficult at time.
“Have Mike bring our saw…” Roy told her as he and Johnny went over to the trees.
“I think I can get up the ladder …even with the broken rungs.” Johnny said as he flung a rope over his shoulder. He threw Roy a quick smile as he tightened the chinstrap on his helmet.
Roy watched as Johnny carefully made his way up the slanted pine trees,
They had fallen so their branches were intertwined leaning against the big oak. The bank had been badly eroded by the recent flooding and high winds. The roots of all three trees had been damaged and loosened. The unstable trees swayed as Johnny made his way up the incline formed by the leaning trees. He was half way up to the tree house when his foot slipped. He grabbed on and steadied himself. He had to keep his head down to protect his eyes from the blowing pine braches as the wind picked up.
Roy and the others watched as he made slow progress. Roy held his breath as Johnny slipped then regained his footing. For a minute the memory of his friend swinging into the side of a cliff filled his mind as the wind picked up. He let out a sigh of relief as Johnny made it into the tree house.
Davey was sitting in the corner holding his arm crying softly. Seeing Johnny, he tried to wipe away the tears.
“Hi Davey, I’m Johnny, a paramedic…Me and my friends will get you out of here and take care of that arm.” He went closer moving carefully as there was a definite tilt to the floor.
“I heard my sister calling me but I couldn’t yell loud enough for her to hear.” He sniffled back the tears as Johnny gently checked for other injuries. “Get real dizzy if I try to stand up…”
“Know the feeling…I’ve gotten a few broken bones on this job and even more bumps on the head. Last time I got hurt I cried when they went to put the splint on… that’s your body’s way of releasing tension and pain…Nothing to be ashamed of…Never be afraid to show how you feel.” Johnny kept talking as he felt down the broken arm and wrist. They felt like straightforward breaks.
“Ok, we’ll get them up to you.” He turned to Chet. “We need the stokes and the trauma box up there. Turning to the worried mother, “He said to tell you Davey is doing fine. He probably has a broken arm.” Chet went to get the stokes.
“Thank God, and you and your partner. Davey loves that tree house. It is his refuge from his sister. My husband is a builder and he and Davey designed and built the tree house two years ago. Dawn has a gazebo out by the pond nearer the house. She helped build it.”
“My son would love a tree house like that…especially if it was off limits to his little sister.” He had the biophone set up and was waiting now on the stokes. The would put the trauma box in the stokes and raise it to Johnny.
While Roy had been talking to Mrs. Morris, Johnny had set up a rope to use as a pulley to get the stokes up to him. Cap, Mike and Marco were clearing away some of the brush to get a better idea how stable the oak was. Cap was not happy at what he saw. The pressure from the pines had caused some of the smaller roots to pull up and rushing water was swirling around exposed roots. The fact the wind was picking up made him uneasy.
Marco and Chet had the requested equipment loaded into the stokes and had taken the rope Gage had lowered and attached the basket. Slowly Johnny was pulling it up silently cursing the swaying basket as the wind caught it, tangling the lines in the pine branches.
“Marco, see if you can get that untangled.” Hank ordered. The linesman carefully moved up the slope of the leaning tree trunk. The pine needles stung as the wind whipped the branches back into his face. Keeping his head down he was able to protect his eyes.
Johnny was worried about his friends out in the storm and about Davey. The young boy seemed to be having more trouble staying alert.
“So Davey what do you do while you’re up here?” Johnny had moved back over to where the boy was sitting. John had lowered the tarps that acted like window shades on one side of the tree house to keep some of the cold rain off the boy.
“Read and draw…Sometimes just watch the sky…Clouds m…make shapes…Like to draw them…Make up stories about them.”
“What kind of books does you like reading?” Johnny knew he had to keep him talking and awake if possible.
“Pirate stories and westerns…My …d.ddad likes Louie L’ AMour…He reads them then gives them to me. Before I could read, he uses to read to me a lot. That was our sspecial time. We had our time then he and Dawn had her special time with hhim. She likes horse stories. Did your dad read to you?”
“Yeah when he wasn’t working away from home. Then my mom would read to me.”
‘We have to give mmoom a book report once a mmmonth in the ssummer…Can’t just tell what story bout but why like and don’t like….and …and… why. Sh use teacher.” Johnny noticed the slurring and grammar errors. He could see Marco trying to untangle the lines as he worked to keep his balance at the same time. The wind was making the sway more noticeable as the rain came down in a forceful sheet. The crack of thunder and flash of lightning brought a muffled cry from the young boy as the tree gave a shudder and moved with a huge tremble. Johnny caught his balance but turned his ankle in the process, not enough to be serious just enough to be painful. “We…go…nna fall?” The fear was in Davey’s voice, as we will as in his face.
“Not if my friends and I can help it. We’ll have you safe on the ground soon.” Johnny did his best to reassure the boy. He contacted Roy and gave him an update on Davey’s vitals and condition.
Marco had just about untangled the stokes and the tree branches when a gust of wind caught him and knocked him off balance. There was a splat as he landed in the mud, his shoulder and arm taking much of the force. Chet and Roy made their way over to their friend helping him up. They got him over to the yellow plastic sheeting Roy had set up for Davey. Chet then went back to the tree to try to untangle the stokes and get it up to Johnny. Johnny and Chet worked together to get the stokes up far enough for Johnny to pull it into the tree house.
“Rampart, we have a Code I. He fell approximately 5 feet landing on his left shoulder and arm. No apparent break but definite lost of motion, grip and in severe to moderate pain.” Roy listened as Dr. Brackett gave him his orders for treating Marco.
“51, do you have an estimate on when you will be transporting the original patient?”
“No, there is a complication getting him out of the tree. “
“Out of the tree, 51?” Roy could imagine the look on Brackett’s face and the raised eyebrows at that statement.
“Patient was in his tree house when the incident occurred. The tree house was damaged when two other trees fell on it. John says the boy is having a harder time staying awake, slurring of his words is more pronounced.”
Kel could hear the frustration in Roy’s voice. “Keep us updated 51.”
Johnny slowly got Davey into the stokes and all strapped in. The boy was drifting in and out.
“Johnnny…my pict…ave…pl…” The eyes closed but Johnny understood the request.
“Sure Davey,” he told the unhearing child. After reworking the lines to his satisfaction, Johnny called to Chet. “Ok let’s get this down nice and slow.” Chet and Mike and Cap began pulling on the rope as it lifted the stokes from the floor and Johnny guided it over the low railing that went around the tree house’s porch. Thankful the design had provided a higher than usual support to anchor the rope around it made lowering the stokes a little easier to handle.
“Gage get out of there now…” Cap yelled into the HT as he saw the oak lean over more with each assault on the roots by the rushing rising creek’s water.
“Coming down soon as I gather up the equipment.” Johnny answered. He made his way over to the trunk and got the sketchbook, slipping it under his coat.
Roy had gotten another set of vitals on Davey and they began the trek to the waiting ambulance.
He made his way down from the tree. He slipped a few times on the wet rungs but made it down safely. He had just reached the ground when a rush of water came sweeping down the creek bed and the oak tree fell over as the bank under it gave way.
“That was a little close for comfort.” Johnny said as he watched the water tear the tree house apart. “Glad we got out of there in time.”
“Hey, Gage, what you got under your coat?” Chet asked seeing the bulge.
“Pirate treasure.” Johnny said a wide grim spreading across his face.
Johnny drove over to Rampart happy with the way the day had ended. Davey’s family was in the waiting room when he went in. He gave them the packet and told them the tree house was gone.
“We’ll build another one…it can be replaced, Davey can‘t…Thanks.” The grateful parents thanked Roy when he came out of the treatment room with Dr. Brackett.
“A broken wrist and arm, a moderate concussion…I would like to keep him over night as a precaution.” The paramedics excused themselves and headed back to the station.
Lee looked over at her husband as he slept in his recliner. She smiled at the peaceful look on his face. Lying on the sofa, she wasn’t really thinking of anything enjoying that lovely almost asleep but still kind of awake feeling. The stereo had a mixture of her and his favorite music playing. This is the life she wanted, relaxed, cozy no drama. Maybe tonight over a quiet dinner she and Johnny could talk seriously about the future. The next thing she knew it was an hour later.
“Are you awake?” Johnny asked her softly.
“Not sure?” She struggled to sit up but was having trouble because of the way she was laying.
Johnny got up, went over to her, and offered his hand for her to pull up on. “You looked happy…what were you dreaming about?”
“You…me …” She closed her eyes trying to recapture the picture from her dream. What did the song from the Disney movie say? A dream is a wish your heart makes. “We were on the island under the waterfall…”
“Before or after you lost the top of your suit?” He smiled at the wicked giggle and look she gave him. “That was one of my favorite…”
Lee would have never admitted it to Johnny but she was perfectly happy that they had no place to go or nothing they had to do and none of the 51 crew called. Roy and Jo were having company over the week end so they were getting the house ready for a visit from Jo’s parents and sister and brother - law as well as some aunts, uncles and cousins. Her aunt and uncle from back East were coming for a visit and it had been decided the DeSoto home was the most centrally located place for the gathering. Jo’s mother had made it clear it was a family only gathering and the Gages were not family. Lee was having trouble admitting even to herself she was glad not to be around Jen and Chris. She was hoping that this was just a temporary or it could become a real problem.
The next morning Lee left for work the same time Johnny did. She had sent in a basket of rolls and muffins. This was penitence for being glad she had not seen any of the crew on their days off.
“Station 51, Captain Stanley speaking.” Cap said as he put down the sheath of papers he had been reading.
“Hank, is Johnny around?”
“No they had another run…They haven’t been back here since before lunch…This makes 4 in a row I think.”
“Would you have him call me…I’ll try to catch him when they come in…Would you tell Em I won’t be able to make it the auxiliary meeting. I have to go out of town on business…There wasn’t any answer when I called your house.”
“Will do. You take care.” Cap said making a note to call Em.
“You too. Bye”
Lee called down to the ER nurses’ station. Dixie answered. “If Johnny has time would you have him run up to my office? I need to talk with him about work.”
“Will do, those guys are about due for a break…”
Lee did some more filing then started typing up some notes from WBSF she had with her, hoping Johnny and Roy would come in before she left.
Johnny and Roy had finished helping in the treatment room and were bushed as well as hungry. They had given Betty a list of supplies they needed.
“What do you say we go on up and see what there is in the fridge? I think today may have been delivery day.” Johnny said as they gathered the supplies.
“That is the best idea I have heard all day,” Roy answered with a sigh.
“Johnny wait up.” Dixie said as she came out of a treatment room. “Lee wanted to see you. Said it was about work. That was around 5.”
“She’s probably gone by now but we’re headed up there to eat.” Roy had called them available from Rampart.
“What are you still doing here?” Johnny asked with a frown.
“Well hello, it’s good to see you too.” Lee answered back with a shrug. “Hi Roy.”
Johnny went over and bent down giving her a quick kiss. “You look worried. Is something wrong? Dix said you needed to see me”
“Tom Clark called and I have to be in Sacramento tomorrow. Maybe just for the day or maybe two or three. Said there was a meeting I had to be at…Don’t be mad.”
“Never. We knew that sometimes there would be meetings. Just like you know sometimes I have to do extra shifts.” Roy had gone over and was fixing himself a plate. “Save some of that ham for me.” Johnny said. “You want me to fix you a plate?”
“Go ahead and get yours.” Lee finished the sentence she was working on then wheeled herself over to the counter. (When she stayed upstairs past 5 she transferred into her chair while there was still someone in the office across the hall.) She smiled when she saw Johnny had a plate waiting for her.
“Junior, since you’re going to have all this free time tomorrow you can come help with the honey do list.” Roy said as he finished his sandwich. “Be good practice for when you have a house to take care of.”
“That sounds like a good idea. Then every so often you can ask Roy to come help you then we can have a barbecue on our awesome patio.”
“We do that now without the yard work.” Johnny reminded the two with a grin.
“Bet if you came over Jo would take pity on you and invite you to stay for dinner.” Roy said teasing his young partner.
“Ok. What time?”
“Around one…That way we can get an nap in if we need it.” they talked a few minutes more then the guys went back to the station, taking some cupcakes with them. Lee promised to call Johnny when she got home so he wouldn’t worry about her.
Johnny was over at the DeSoto house by one as promised. He had talked to Lee just before Hector took her to the airport at 7:45. Marco and Chet had asked Johnny if he wanted to go out to breakfast but he had declined saying he had a few things to do before going to Roy’s.
Roy was on the deck having a glass of ice tea when Johnny got there. “Help yourself to some tea or soda.”
“I’m fine. Where is every one?” Johnny said as he sat down.
“Jo is shopping and the kids are at school. Lee get off ok?”
“Yeah, if I’m on shift when she gets home Hector’ll pick her up. She really wasn’t happy about this trip.”
“Any idea why she had to go up there?”
“None that she told me. She doesn’t say a lot about her work except at the advisory meetings. So what are we doing?”
“Jo wants the shed painted and I want it cleaned out and reorganized. I can’t find half the things I know are in there. Got some storage tubs on sale last week…”
“Ok, let’s get started. How about if I help you take everything out of the shed and I start the painting while you organize?’
By 5:30 the painting was done, including the trim around the windows and door. Roy had not only gotten everything organized but had cleaned out and down sized by four boxes! Jo had been so impressed with his downsizing skills she had declared the attic was the next big project. Jo had made lasagna knowing it was one of Johnny’s favorite meals. She was talking about cleaning the attic as they finished their apple pie.
“Maybe you should do the garage next, that way you might be able to put some of the stuff out there for easier access.” Johnny suggested with a grin. He knew Roy had been talking about building some more storage shelves out there for ages.
“Thanks Junior…and you are volunteering to help on that project, too?”
“Yeah, I guess I am. That’s what friends and family do…help each other.”
“Even pretend family like you and Aunt Lee?” Jenny asked looking at her uncle. “Grandma told Aunt Lee that you were pretend family and Mom didn’t want you here when we had real family coming to visit.”
“Aunt Lee told you not to tell anyone what Grandma said…That she didn’t want to make anyone feel bad.” Chris said afraid Jen would tell the rest of the conversation. “You are such a tattletale sometimes.”
“Am not…” Jen whined. “You’re the one who made Aunt Lee cry…Not me.”
“No I didn’t it was what Grandma said…Honest, Dad.”
“Both of you may be excused up to your rooms.” Roy said firmly.
Johnny pushed the half eaten piece of pie back from him and stood up. “Guess I need to be getting back to the apartment in case she calls. Thanks for dinner, Jo.”
“Sweetheart, please…” Jo wasn’t sure what to say. The look on Johnny’s face asked her not to say anything.
“I’ll walk you to the car, Junior.” Roy wanted to talk with his brother without the kids around.
“Nawh, it’s ok…Don’t be too hard on them. Do me a favor. Don’t say anything to Lee about this…If she wants to tell us she will.”
Lee sat through the meeting not sure, why it was so important she be there. After they went over the last three budget items Tom Clark looked at Lee. “I am sure why you are wondering why you had to be here. This has all been pretty routine until now.”
“I was wondering. There is nothing we have gone over that wasn’t already covered except the staffing changes at the new offices. And that is your department not mine.”
“Would you consider moving to Sacramento to head up a new project?”
“We would be willing to work with you on the hours you work and the Fire Chief up here is excited about the possibility of John transferring to his department. His and Roy’s reputations have preceded him.”
“There’s no way I would even consider asking Johnny to move. If you want my resignation from my job you can have it effective Monday…There are a few things I would like to finish up.”
“We don’t want your resignation…you do a great job…We just wanted to offer you this new job…some might see it as a promotion.”
“I don’t want a promotion…If anything I would cut down on my hours if Johnny and I have a baby.”
“I can understand that…Marcie is thinking we need to have another one.” Will say with a smile. “How is the work coming on the registration and scoring form revisions?”
“The forms are done waiting for the others to approve the changes. They need to be approved as soon as possible because I am resigning from the committee.”
“Why? They really need your help…Think it over carefully. Is there a problem we can help with? Do you need an assistant? …If the registration doesn’t go smoothly it can ruin the whole event. Think it over and hopefully reconsider.”
“Let me talk to Johnny and Hank Stanley about the problems. I’ll let you know by next week.”
“Good. Would you like me to call and see when the next available flight to LA is? I think there may be one tonight.”
“I would love that, if it’s not until in the morning can you recommend a good hotel? One that is wheelchair friendly?”
Lee called Johnny to tell him she had been able to get a flight and would be landing in L. A. At 11:30.
The plane had landed on time and by midnight; they were on the way to the apartment.
“Do you want to stop somewhere and get something to eat or just go home?” Johnny asked as they were driving to the apartment.
“Do you want to mess with getting this chair in and out of the car again tonight?”
“I think you need to just go home and get onto something comfortable and out of that chair…”
“You must be hungry if you suggested getting something to eat…”
“Now I know you need to get home…You only use that tone when you’re tired and hurting.”
“Do we have any ice cream? I want a strawberry shake.” Lee said feeling guilty about the tone she had been using. Even though she had gotten a hotel room for a couple of hours she was tired and her back and legs did hurt. However, that was no excuse for snapping at him.
“I’m not sure…But we can go thru the drive in…want a burger and some fries?” Johnny noticed the change in her tone. “What did you have for dinner?”
“A chef salad and some garlic bread. Did Jo make you lasagna?” Lee asked leaning against the seat her eyes closed.
“Yeah with apple pie for dessert. But I can always eat, you know that.”
“What I know is I am so lucky to have you in my life and I don’t think I tell you often enough how much all the little things you do mean to me.” Lee told him softly. “Never think I take you for granted, I don’t. I thank God for you and our family every day.”
“I know Baby girl…You show me every day”
After a quick stop at the fast food place near their apartment they went home, not talking just listening to the radio. Once upstairs Lee went in and changed into a night gown then went back out to the kitchen.
“I guess I was hungrier than I thought. This burger really tastes good. But it could be the company…”
“So what was so important that you had to be up there?” Johnny asked as she finished her burger and fries.
“Staffing problems with the San Francisco office. They thought if I walked the new guy thru the program it might help. Then Tom and Will went over the budget for the project and explained to the other two staff coordinators if they couldn’t control their budgets they would find someone who could. They offered me a new position, head of a whole department…My title would be same as theirs.”
“Did you accept?”
“Of course not. One, I would never do that without talking to you first. Second, I like my job most of the time. Third, I have no intention of moving to Sacramento. They had even talked with the Chief up there about you transferring. The Chief was excited about having you in his department. Told them they could keep the new job and the old if they wanted.”
“If you didn’t work there what would you do?” Johnny wasn’t surprised she had turned the offer down without even asking him about moving.
“Spend more time at WBS probably. Told the guys if anything I would probably want less hours if we have a baby….not that is gonna happen.” A deep breath and a long sigh before continuing. “It’s too late and I am too tired to go into that. I do need to talk to you and Hank about something. Maybe we can have them over for dinner or dessert tonight…If not I’ll call and set up a meeting with him at the station since it is official business.” She looked a t the clock. “Honey, would you get me a glass of water and a pain pill from the top shelf.”
Johnny had called Hank and it was decided Lee would come in first thing next shift to talk to him since he and Emily had plans for that day. She and Johnny had talked about her concerns. In away Johnny was glad she was doing the meeting next shift, since Lee seemed extra tired but she insisted it was just from the pain pill. She very rarely took them relying on over the counter pain relievers instead. She and Johnny left for the station at the same time. She followed Johnny into the parking lot. Chet and Mike were also pulling in. Johnny waited for her to park then got out and went around helping her out of her car. He gave her a kiss then pushed her into the building talking to her softly.
Chet watched but didn’t say anything. He thought it strange that she had came to work with Johnny. C shift was sitting around the kitchen table as was Roy and Marco. Mike joined them after getting a cup of coffee.
“Hey, did you bring us something for breakfast?” Murphy asked when he saw Lee.
“Sorry, didn’t get anything baked yesterday.” Chet came in from the locker room. Lee looked over at him and nodded but didn’t say anything. There wasn’t really anything she wanted to say to him.
“No Kelly, its Special Project Manager for the State Legislature coming to see the Captain on official business day.” Hank’s displeasure with his lineman was obvious in his voice and his body language. “Lee, if you would like to wait in the office, we will be with you soon as roll call is over.
“Capt. Hookrader, if you would like to be included in this meeting, you are more than welcome to stay.” Lee said sounding very confident and professional as she gave the C shift captain a warm smile.
“No, I am sure Capt. Stanley will share any information he thinks is necessary, Mrs. Gage. May I offer an apology to you on behave of my shift. You are under no obligation to provide breakfast treats for us. Your kindness in doing so is not something we should take for granted or should you be made to feel it’s a requirement.”
“Thank you, Captain. I love baking, sending in what Johnny calls my care packages is something I enjoy. I have a poster that was given to me by a dear friend that says ‘Friends are the flowers in the garden of life.’ All of you here at Station 51 are part of my garden.”
“That’s a nice thought…but thinks some are more weed like than others.” Evan O’Rourke said with a grin.
“Some weeds have beautiful flowers once you get past the thorns.” Lee fired back at him, eyes wide looking very innocent.
“Yeah but some just plain stink.” Denny Blake said as the guys from C shift filed out.
Johnny pushed Lee into the office then went out to roll call. Nothing was said about him being the last one in. Chore assignments were made, announcements read and the promise of several safety drills after lunch was made. Roy and Johnny went to do morning calibrations and begin the morning check of supplies.
“Now, what can I do for you?” Hank said as he sat down. Leaning back with his hands behind his head, he gave the frowning woman a smile.
“As you know, there will be a skills challenge in June. Its going to involve about 15 to 20 stations both in the county and several neighboring counties. L.A. County is co- hosting it with the state. Will Fargo and Tom Clark wanted me to design and coordinate the registration procedure and set up the judging format and maybe help in setting up some of the heats. I am thinking it may be better if I didn‘t have any more to do with the challenge now that the forms are pretty much completed. Will and Tom suggested I talk it over with you and Johnny before I resign from the committee.”
“From the memos we’ve received it sounds like its going to be a major event since they are planning on 100 or more fireman and paramedics to compete. I understand you wanting to talk it over with John but why me?”
“Because I don’t want to cause trouble for you or the other shifts here at 51. There are some people who claim that because of my job and state connections A shift gets special treatment. Even though Johnny and I took precautions there was some backlash over the rating you got from the survey. Tom and Will have talked with Chief McConnikee and with Bob Houser. They both think I should be on the committee. However, there is those who want to make trouble. Not everyone is happy with the plans for the event. They want to keep it strictly a challenge and ran by the chiefs. They seem to think if they can make trouble things will be done their way. I don’t want to be the reason this station is caught up in the pettiness.”
“What does John say?”
“Just what you would expect. It’s my choice and he has confidence in me that I will do a good job. There is going to be a series of trials and timed tests to decide who takes part in the events. I am 100% sure Station 51; A shift will be one of the teams representing L.A. County. Some stations and departments might use mixed teams but McConnikee is in favor of keeping crews together. To be honest after this morning I am not sure I should have even considered doing anything more with the project.” She sounded discouraged.
“I think you should do what you are comfortable with on this. Anyone who knows you and John will know you aren’t going to give this shift or station any undue advantage. If anything, you would be harder on us. Those who don’t know or cause trouble will just make themselves look petty.”
“About this morning… If I do have any influence with you,” she said giggling, “ignore Chet. I know in my heart he and Johnny are friends and he is a good guy…but then I get defensive and want to slap him into next week when he says something so stupid like this morning. If you want to think about what we’ve said and talk to the other captains… You are somewhat special to me, ya know. But that fact will have no bearing on anything I do for the skill games… I will not let our being family have a negative impact on your taking part in the games.”
“I see no conflict of interest with you being on the committee. The other captains trust your judgment the same as I do.”
“Thank you, Capt. Stanley. I will call Sacramento and your headquarters with my decision later on today. Thank you for your time.”
“No problem, Mrs. Gage. I appreciate your concern for our station and this shift.” They both laughed at the formality of it all.
Johnny was doing his assigned work but was as jumpy as a cat. Chet had the good sense to stay out of his way. After finishing, the dorm Johnny went out to help Mike and Marco hang hoses. Roy had finished in the day room and was also helping with the hoses. Cap pushed her out to the bay. Johnny smiled when he saw that because he knew how picky she was about who touched her chair or pushed her.
“Just wanted to tell you good bye. Have a safe day, all of you. Like Cap I hate the paper work when one of you gets hurt…” She hoped Johnny did not see her cringe at seeing him move around up that high. It was a running joke about her not liking high places. But, the truth is told she was scared of them.
“Wouldn’t want to cause you any more paper work, now would we?” Johnny teased back. “Love you…talk to you later.”
Roy smiled at the exchange remembering when Johnny couldn’t say those words because he had no idea what they meant. “Thanks for loaning me your husband the other day. We got a lot done. How come he is so good at telling me I don’t need to save stuff when he is becoming a pack rat?”
“I am not…” The very indignant paramedic said. “I just said I needed more space for my camera stuff and the photo albums.”
“Well, when we build our house you’ll just have to have a larger dark room and studio, won’t you?” She blew him a kiss and Cap took her out to the car. John sighed knowing this idea of a house wasn’t going to go away any time soon.
Johnny was reading the newspaper as Lee was in the kitchen baking something that smelled really good. She heard Johnny talking but didn’t pay a lot of attention. She was just enjoying his days off without them having any commitments. They had talked about maybe going to a movie after dinner. Soon it would be warm enough to open the pool. She was looking forward to that. He was frowning when he came into the kitchen.
“Problem?” She asked as he stood there looking like he couldn’t decide to laugh or frown.
“That was HQ…seems Brice stepped in a gopher hole and has a badly sprinted ankle and knee. They need me to replace him over at 36.”
“By the time you’re ready to leave the cobbler should be done… you change…You can share it with the guys but I’m taking a dish of it out for me. Don’t look so sad, Boyo. Like you told me the other day, stuff happens when you have jobs.” They went into the bedroom and she checked his duffle bag as changed into his uniform. “You make sure you tell the guys I said stay safe. And don’t let Bob eat more than his share of the cobbler.” Satisfied he had everything he needed in the duffle bag plus an extra uniform, she went out to the kitchen. She got the insulated carrier from the drawer. Johnny slipped the hot pan into the carrier for her.
“Love you, Boyo, you take care and stay safe.” He bent down and kissed her lightly.
“I’ll call you later tonight.”
Lee watched from the balcony as he drove off. It felt different watching him leave knowing that Roy wouldn’t be there to watch his back. There had been times when Roy had been on vacation or had taken days off when Johnny had worked with others and even a few timers he had been off injured. But this time it was different. He wasn’t working out of his own station or his own squad. The firefighters backing him up were good men but they weren’t his family.
Roy was putting the table cloths on the tables that he had rented along with a dozen folding chairs. Hopefully the weather would cooperate and they could use the deck as well as the inside for the family dinner. The last count his mother-in-law had given Jo was 18. The majority of which were 65 or older so he wasn’t expecting them to stay late into the night.
“Penny for your thoughts.” Jo said as she came out onto the porch. She placed the pretty spring flower arrangement on the table. She had taken several of the pottery pieces Roy had done to Nana to have filled with cut flowers and ivy to use as center pieces and on the main buffet table.
“Just thinking how nice the lawn is looking. That stuff Hector told me about sure did the trick…” He winced thinking about his partner
“Have you talked to Johnny about what was said the other day?” Jo laid a hand on his arm. “I’m going to talk to my mom about her attitude after this party is over.”
“No. He would only feel guilty about causing problems. He was worried the kids would be in trouble when he left the other night. I figure when he is ready to talk about it he will. It’s ironic he told me the same thing about Lee. He seemed ok with everything last shift. Told me about Lee’s trip to Sacramento and what she needed to see Cap about. I thought Chet was dead meat the tone of voice Cap used the other morning. He doesn’t pull rank very often…”
“That’s why you all react the way you do when he does. He leads by example and good judgment, he doesn’t have to pull rank to make you all respect him.” She looked worried for a minute. “You don’t think Lee would ever consider moving somewhere else?”
“Not as long as Johnny is happy here in L.A. Said she turned down the job offer without a second thought. She wants a house over on that 5 acres of land they own near Jim and Kathy.”
“She wants us to build a house over there too. I think if she had her way Mike and Melissa and Cap and Em would have houses over there…Maybe even Chet and Marco.”
“Does she have any idea what land over in that area costs now?” Roy said.
“She said she could give each of us a half acre and still have land she could buy from WBS cheap if they wanted more…and that the cost of building would be very reasonable.”
“That girl is unbelievable at times.”
“No she is a firm believer in family and love and sharing, just like her husband.” Jo said smiling. “Who learned what family and love was about from his big brother.”
Before they could continue the conversation, Jenny came out to the deck. “Grandma is on the phone. She said it was important.” Jo sighed and went back in.
“I wish Aunt Lee and Uncle Johnny was coming instead of a bunch a people I don’t know. Mom said there probably won’t be very many kids here.” Jenny looked at him, her eyes sad. “Mom said Aunt Lee wasn’t mad at us but I am still sorry she cried when Chris laughed at what Grandma said.”
“What exactly did your grandmother say?”
“That Aunt Lee was a poor excuse for a wife. We laughed because we know Aunt Lee has lots of money…More than a million dollars even.”
“How do you know that?”
“Aunt Kathy told Mom that even her millions of dollars in the bank couldn’t buy a baby and that is what Aunt Lee wants most in this world. And that Uncle Johnny would be mad if he knew Aunt Lee wanted to have one so bad she would even go to bed for nine months. A person can’t go to bed for that long can they?”
“No…they can’t. Did your mom and Kathy know you were listening to them? Just where were you and Stacy?”
“They were in the kitchen and we were in the hallway playing with our dolls. You and Uncle Johnny were helping Uncle Jim with Chris and Jimmy’s bikes and Aunt Lee was on the deck watching you I think Mom and Aunt Kathy thought we were outside with Aunt Lee.”
“So how did your brother find out Lee has money?” Roy was finding this conversation most enlightening.
“Stacy and I asked him and Jimmy about it when you all were in the house.
“So what did they say?”
“ Jimmy knew Lee had lots of money because she paid for his house and gave his mom and dad lots of money to put in the bank so that when he wanted to go to college and med school it would be all paid for. Jimmy said Aunt Lee and Uncle Johnny gave me and Chris lots of money too. And that she gave the nice people where Uncle Johnny grew up lots of money but not the mean ones. And that the mean ones hurt Aunt Lee and that is why Cisco had to go save you and ….”
“Enough…Jennifer Lynne, I don’t want you to ever tell anyone what you just told me. Especially your grandparents….From now on when you have questions you come to me not Stacy or your brother…Me or Mom, understood.”
Johnny pulled into the parking lot at 36 trying to remember the last time he had worked out of that station. Gathering up his duffle bag and the casserole carrier he went into station.
“Gage, you don’t trust us to feed you?” Peter Lupus asked as Johnny sat the carrier on the kitchen table.
“Tell me that is one of Lee’s cakes,” Josh Orhach said as he sat down his coffee cup.
“Guys, give John a chance to put his stuff away.” The captain said as he came out of his office to greet his replacement paramedic. “Bob took Brice home since the squad was stood down. He should be back in the next 10 minutes.”
“Thanks Cap. No, it’s not a cake , its apple raisin cobbler…that just came out of the oven. She said to tell you all to stay safe.”
“My cousin up in Sacramento said the rumor mill is churning up there. That you and Lee are moving up there. That Lee is going to be in charge of some new department and that you’ll be senior paramedic at a new station.”
“Lee was offered a job up there but turned it down. We like it just fine where we are“
“Ok pay up Orhach. That’s $10 you owe me.” Lupus sad. “Told you Gage wouldn’t break up the famous DeSoto-Gage partnership. There are gonna be a few disappointed people. They are already sending in requests to transfer to 51.”
The SCU came on sending Engine 36 to MVA on the freeway. Squad 51 in place if Squad 36...”
“John I have a feeling soon as you call in available we’ll be seeing you there.”
“Where do you need us?”
“Start checking out the fender benders.” Johnny had checked on several people all with minor bumps and bruises. Belliveau was doing the same when they heard the screech of tires, the clang of metal meeting metal. Running towards the sound Johnny saw a pickup truck that had rear-ended a delivery van. It wasn’t until he was almost on top of the accident he saw motor cycle lying on its side. He stopped short when he recognized the helmet lying on the road. Quickly going back into paramedic mode, he looked to see where the rider was. Going around to the drivers’ side of the car he let out a breath. Cisco was sitting on the side of the road holding his arm tightly to his chest.
“Hey, Mijo thought this was your day off.”
“Thought you wore your helmet?” Johnny was at the driver’s side door of the delivery van. The driver had a bloody nose from hitting the steering wheel and probably a moderate to mild concussion. Johnny was doing a quick check for any apparent injury to the neck and upper back. The driver let out a yelp when Johnny ran his hand down the right side of his rib cage. The experience fingers didn’t feel any movement.
“You hurt any place besides your ribs?” The left side didn’t seem to be as tender.
Belliveau was dealing with the driver in the pickup and yelled for Johnny to come help. “Sit still…we’ll have you out of here in a few minutes.”
“What ya got, Bob?” Johnny asked as he moved into place.
“He was conscious then complained about his chest hurting and passed out. Working quickly and smoothly the man was soon out of the truck and on the ground. “We need the biophone and the data scope over here,” Johnny yelled to a nearby firefighter.
They got the man out on the ground and as Bob got the biophone set up Johnny got the vitals. “We need the O2...”
“Rampart, this is Squad 36, how do you read?”
“Loud and Clear 36 go ahead.” Dr. Joe Early said.
“Rampart we have a male approximate age 55. He lost consciousness approximately 5 minutes ago. His vitals are…We are sending a strip lead two. He is on 6 liters O2.” Soon the strips were sent orders given for an IV. They then sent the information on to Rampart concerning the other driver and Cisco.
“Gage, you go with them, I’ll meet you at Rampart.”
On the way into Rampart Cisco watched as Johnny attended to the other two men. Once they got to the hospital and into treatment rooms John did what he could to help the swamped ER staff. Johnny saw Cisco sitting in the hallway as he and Bob were getting ready to leave.
“Hey, Mijo, come over here.” Cisco ordered. Johnny grinned at the confused look on Belliveau’s face
“Just to set the record straight I had my helmet on when I laid the bike down. I didn’t get hit by a vehicle it was a piece of pipe that was thrown from the pickup.”
“Figured it was something like that. So how is the shoulder?”
“Doc popped it back in. Hell, this shoulder has been dislocated so many times I can knock it back in place ramming it into a door jam. Done it a few times when there wasn’t any of you fancy paramedics around. Soon as dad gets here, I’m heading home then out to the soccer game. Cami said Jen had a family party so wouldn’t be at the game.”
“See ya later, take care. Tell Hector I said hi.” They called in available then headed back to the station.
Johnny’s replacement at 36 came in early so he would have time to get over to 51. On the way over he began to wonder if he had another uniform at the station…He couldn’t remember if he had changed uniforms twice or three times last shift. He had taken an extra one with him to 36 but had ended up wearing that after being thrown up on by a drunk.
He pulled into his usual parking space and did a quick check of vehicles. Everyone was there and with a little luck and no practical jokes, he would be on time. It was a pleasant surprise to find three uniforms still in the cleaner’s bag in the locker. He was changed and headed into roll call by 8:07. Cap gave him a nod as he slipped into line and Dwyer stepped out.
“Glad you made it. How was 36?”
“Nice but not home.” John answered with a grin. “They suggested I might like to transfer over there. But think it is Lee’s baking not me they really want.” Everyone but Chet chuckled at that. Johnny noticed the lineman was unusually quiet. Cap continued the announcements and assigned chores. As they were dismissed, Cap ordered Kelly into the office. From the tone, Johnny knew it wasn’t going to be a friendly chat. From the looks on the faces of the others, they knew what the problem was. The remaining crew went out to the kitchen.
“I suppose you want to know what that is all about.” Roy said as he sat his coffee cup down.
“Yeah, I do…”
“You saw the uniforms in your locker? Cisco brought them over since Lee was worried if you had any here.”
“So what do my uniforms have to do with Chet being in trouble?” Johnny was totally confused.
“Someone from the other shift told him to just take them back and put them in your locker. They all know Cisco and even if it is against the rules
“Because it was Cisco…And he got zapped?” Not sure if he was angry or thought, it was funny.
“That’s not the worst part,” Mike said. “There was some glitter and smelly stuff mixed in with the water… Cisco was due in court at 10:00 so he had on one of his good suits. He was supposed to meet the DA at 9.”
Chet stood at attention when he went into the office. He knew he had gone too far this time with the water bomb. As Cap just sat there rereading the paper he had filled out Chet replayed the whole mess again in his head.
“Lt. Alvarez does have the option of filing his own complaint with the department. I am going to wait and talk with him before I file this. Don‘t have to mention the fact there is to be no more water bombs in this station, do I?” Hank was feeling a little guilty. He should have put an end to this but until now; it had seemed like harmless fun.
“What do you have to say for yourself?”
“I used poor judgment in setting up that water bomb, sir. I am sorry that Cisco was the victim of my poor judgment.”
“Let’s just wait and see what Lt. Alvarez wants done, You will be responsible for cleaning and replacing his clothing as necessary, correct?”
“Go get to work. And count yourself lucky that Lt. Alvarez had the presence of mind not to punch you into a bloody mess as he threatened. That tie he had on was a gift from his children and was his favorite. Dismissed.”
No one was in the kitchen except Marco who was mopping. He looked at his friend and shook his head. They had all told Chet the pranks were getting mean again but he had just ignored them or laughed it off. Chet got a glass of water, drunk it and headed to the latrine without a word to anyone. It was a somber mood all morning. The others felt sorry for the trouble Chet was in yet at the same time they realized it was his own fault.
“Now, just take it easy. How would you feel if you saw your wife tumbling down those steps? I think you would be just as concerned about her and just as insistent she get checked out. It’s hard seeing someone you love fall even when they tell you it’s ok it’s still worrisome.” Johnny told the older man as he secured the IV for transport.
“You’re right, young man. Hillary, forgive me for being such a grump?” He looked over to his wife of 53 years.
“Of course, dear, if you forgive me for fussing.” She held onto the hand the man offered her.
“Ma’am you can ride in the front of the ambulance if you would like.” Roy informed her as the attendants took the gurney out to the ambulance.
“No, my granddaughter is in her way over…We’ll follow you.”
“Johnny, why don’t I ride in and you follow? We can pick up supplies while we are at Rampart.”
As they were on the way to the hospital the old man was telling Roy about some of the adventures he and his wife had experienced as his work for a mining company had taken them all over the world.
“Your partner he made a lot of sense back there. Sounded like he was talking form experience.”
“Yeah he was. His wife took a fall not long ago and it scared him. She gets too independent once in awhile.”
“Like carrying a heavy box down from the attic?
“Something like that.”
“Independent ladies keep life interesting for their men.”
“Yep they do.” Roy smiled in agreement thinking of Jo.
On the way back to the station after picking up supplies Johnny was quietly watching out the window. Roy was not sure if he was mulling over the run or the incident with Chet.
“You want a talk about it?” Roy asked hoping to stop Johnny from getting into a funk over whatever was bothering him.
“Chet could be in big trouble over this. I… mean yeah …I would have been. .. pretty mad if I had got hit with that or if all my clean stuff had…But man, for it to go downtown to the chiefs. That could be a big deal…maybe even get him suspended or put on probation. He has a good record with the department.”
“You think Cisco would do that?”
“He isn’t Chet’s biggest fan. Because of Lee and some of the dumb stuff he says to her…the way she reacts to Chet, it’s almost as if she is afraid of him. However, I don’t think Cisco really would want to cause trouble with Chet downtown.
“You go to talk to Lee about it? See what she can find out? Or maybe talk to Maria and Hector?”
“Maybe the best thing is for me just to stay out of it. If Cisco asks me how I feel about it or wants my opinion he’ll ask. Me butting in may just make it worst. I learned that lesson a while back, remember?’
“Yeah but I also remember times when you made lots of sense about feelings and forgiveness.”
“Is that why you didn’t suggest grabbing something to eat at the hospital because you didn’t want to tell Lee what was bothering you?”
“Partly and partly because she has a meeting with some of the chiefs about the skill games today. Don’t want to make things harder for her.”
“Did you guys eat?” Hank asked as John and Roy got out of the squad. None of the others was in the bay area.
“No. Is there anything left?” Johnny asked with a grin.
“Yeah, ah, John could I talk to you before you go in?”
“Sure Cap.” Johnny lost the grin and looked down at his feet. He was not going to enjoy this conversation. Roy went on into the kitchen.
“Look, I think I made a mistake not stopping the water bombs all together. However, it seemed harmless and he was not doing it as often. It’s up to you and Cisco if the report and complaint goes down to HQ. You also have the option of filing a complaint on whoever told Cisco he could get in your locker. We have never had locks on but it is an option.”
“I can’t say what Cisco is gonna do…but I’m not filing a complaint against anyone… That just seems like tattling…it wasn’t me that got hurt by the water bomb…”
“John, you aren’t responsible for Chet’s being in trouble…It was his own bad choices. He is going to pay for cleaning Cisco’s suit and if the tie was ruined, he will replace it. There will be no more water bombs and the matter will be closed unless Cisco sends a complaint down to HQ. Is that acceptable to you?”
“Yeah, I think that’s fair. Did Chet tell Cisco he was sorry? A nice apology might help.”
“Yeah, he gave him a verbal one and is writing him a letter. Do you think a letter might help after what he said to Lee?”
“No, I have the feeling she is happier not dealing with him and some others right now. Something is bothering her and its making being hurt by people’s comments real easy.
“Go on in and get something to eat before we start drills.”
“Data and Statistical Analysis.”
“Is Mrs. Gage available?”
“This is Mrs. Gage.”
“This is Lori in Dr.Westmore’s office. Dr. Westmore was wondering if you could come now for your appointment. Something has come up and it would really be better for her to see you today.”
“Yeah I’ll need someone to help me since Johnny is at work but other than that no problem.”
“We can arrange for that, Thanks.”
The nurse had helped Lee change then help get her on the exam table. Dr. Westmore came in after they had done the usual pre exam vitals and med list, etc.
“Thanks for changing at the last minute.” The pleasant and reassuring doctor said. “Any problems I need to know about?”
“No…actually I have felt really good and there hasn’t even been a lot of that tingling feeling.”
“Good, maybe that means there isn’t any new scar tissue. Is Johnny going to be upset we did this without him here?”
“No, he trusts me to tell him everything.”
The exam proceeded without any problems or what the doctor would consider undo pain.
“If the lab reports are good we will schedule another exam in 6 months. I know Johnny was not in favor of the idea but I think you will be fine. Any questions?”
“Do you still think a baby is totally impossible?” The same question as always but with a little more hope of a different answer. “What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over the same way and expecting different results?”
“Yes but on your part I think it’s more wishful thinking. Lee, even without the growth of new scar tissue there is too much damage. The laser can only remove so much scar tissue before it starts to damage the healthy tissue. And even if by some miracle you did conceive you would never carry the baby to term…not even on almost total bed rest…The tissue in that area is too thin and fragile. I thought you and Johnny were ready to consider adoption.”
“We have been turned down by 2 agencies and the one that did accept us…after I did some research they are just barely legal, I’m not sure how they manage to stay in business…they are one step above baby sellers. A lawyer friend is looking into the possibility of a private adoption. Whatever we did it would be totally legal and in the open. I saw too many of the shady kind when I was working for Bailey and Spencer as a secretary/receptionist/switchboard operator.”
“Oh?” Dr. Bailey had forgotten about Lee working there.
“Jeff worked with the state in closing down an agency and then trying to figure out who had illegally obtained babies. Most of the parents hadn’t known the child they were raising had been bought like a puppy or in one case kidnapped. He was surprised that the majority of the girls had given up their babies not for the money but so the baby could have a better life. The girl whose baby had been kidnapped didn’t take him back. He was a happy three year old and she felt it would have been cruel to him to take him away from the only family he knew. She had a drug problem and worked the streets…she was 19 when Jeff contacted her.”
“So now we are waiting on answers from the application we sent into other agencies. The one thing I know we will never do is foster. We would never be able to get to the mindset that after a week or a month or a year they would be taking the child away from us.”
“No, neither one could handle that…but you will be great adoptive parents. You can always use me as a reference…”
“You know, I think everyone on our reference list is involved with medicine or law enforcement or the fire department. I think the only exceptions are Maria and Hector and Ben Oliver.”
“I am sure it is a very impressive list.”
“I just hope the list is more impressive than this wheelchair is negative in the eyes of the application readers.”
“Hey, Baby Girl. He called as he went down the hallway. He was surprised she was not in the kitchen, then concerned when she wasn’t in the bedroom or the bathroom.
“Maria, is Lee down there? Is she ok?” He called down using the intercom on her nightstand.
“Calm down …she had a small problem but we took care of it. I just wanted to keep an eye on her and it was easier if she came down here since I have the baby. Hector brought her down before he left. Come on down and I’ll fix you some breakfast.”
Johnny took a deep breath and waited for Lee to say something as he stood looking at her. She smiled up at him looking embarrassed.
“Morning, Boyo. Had a little problem this morning.”
“So I CAN SEE. You gonna tell me what happened?” He squatted down in front of her as she laid on the couch with her foot propped up on some pillows and an ice bag on it. Without waiting for her to answer, he removed the ice and began probing her foot.
“OUCH! That hurt….easy there…” Her foot was a lovely shade of black and blue with a little purple tinge. It was puffy looking.
“I wanted to make you some pancakes this morning and there wasn’t any flour in the canister. So I went to the pantry and when I reached for the bag of flour I knocked off a can of crushed pineapple that was on the shelf because I had left it there when the phone rang the other day…and it hit my foot at this crazy angle.” Her eyes were still red from where she had been crying. “It hurt really badly.”
“Hector wanted to take her to the ER but she wouldn’t go. She called us to help her fix an ice pack…”
“Why didn’t you call me?” He leaned in and kissed her before she could answer. “Don’t cry.” He could tell from her expression they were tears more of frustration than pain. “I’ll pull the Rover up to the door and we’ll go get this X rayed.”
“NO…that’s why I didn’t call you…I knew you’d say that and make a big fuss. I don’t want them laughing at me…”
“Leona Elizabeth, no one is going to laugh.”
“I…I wanted to make you a nice breakfast and we were gonna go to the mall and get Stacy’s birthday present…We don’t have time to go to the ER.”
“Yes we do. Now while I bring the car up to the door, will you fix another ice pack? And I’m going to get one of the cushions from the storage shed so we can fix some support for that foot after I do a splint on it. Be right back.”
He went upstairs and got his first aid kit she had she gotten him as a birthday present the first year they were married. It had some splints in it since she had it customized for him. (They had given Roy one like it.) He splinted her foot and then set up the cushion to his satisfaction in the Rover. After lifting her in he sat the chair back into the entry way.
“Why did you do that? We are gonna need it.” She was pouting and trying not to let him know how bad it hurt.
“We’ll use one of theirs…I want that foot elevated.”
They talked some about Stacy’s upcoming birthday’s party. This year she wanted a bowling party with her friends from school and soccer as well as Aunt Lee and Uncle Johnny. The bowling alley would provide pizza. Snacks and punch and there would be cup cakes form O’Sheas’ of course.
“Then on her actual birthday we will have dinner at O’Sheas’ just the 10 of us. You and Roy are off that day or we would have done it another time.” Lee knew she was chattering just to keep him from asking the question she knew was coming.
“You know, you could have waited on me to get the flour for you. Or you could buy pancake mix and wouldn’t have to be lifting those heavy bags off the shelf.”
“Five pounds isn’t that heavy and I thought you liked my pancakes and waffles.”
“I do but I like you more,” he answered with a laugh. “Honey, you don’t have to prove anything to me. I know what a good cook and housekeeper you are…what a good wife.”
“Well, I feel like a pretty stupid one right now.”
“Let me tell you…”Johnny began telling her about various calls he and Roy had been on. Lee started laughing and by the time they were at the ER she was convinced she wasn’t the worst klutz ever. Parking the Rover in her parking space, he went inside. He got a chair and went back out. Before putting her in the chair, he set the footrest up and put a cushion on it. Lifting her easily he got her settled and replaced the ice pack. Giving her a kiss, he took her inside. The girl at the desk handed him the clipboard to be filed out.
“Johnny? What are you doing here today?” Kelly Brackett was very surprised to see Johnny and a little concerned when he realized he was filling out forms.
“Lee hurt her foot…I made her come get an X-Ray. Any chance you or Joe could look at her instead of Dr. Morton?”
“Cisco is right that girl does hold a grudge.” Kel said with a laugh.
“Sometimes.” Johnny frowned knowing he still had to tell her about the locker incident.
A half hour later Lee and Johnny were called to the desk and sent into a treatment room to wait for Dr. Early.
“So how did this happen?” Joe asked as he tenderly undid the splint and began examining the swollen foot. “Real tender right there?”
“Yesssssss,” she hissed as he pushed on her foot. “The stupid can come down on an angle…”
“I would hazard a guess you have one maybe two broken toes and maybe a cracked bone…at the very least you have a severe deep bone bruise. Johnny call for a portable x-ray…You know there isn’t anything we can do for broken toes…but I think I want you to do the hard ankle support …I’d say that foot and ankle are going to be tender for awhile.”
The X-ray tech came in and Johnny and Joe went out. Joe looked at his young friend, “She is fine, honest. It is going to be painful but not serious. She said a can fell on it?”
“She was getting something out of the pantry and knocked a can off the shelf. It was on a shelf she can reach but the flour had gotten pushed back to where she had to stand up to reach it….Said it was like a comedy of errors.”
“She didn’t fall, just went over on her ankle, right?”
“Yeah, said she managed to grab the lip of the shelf.”
An hour later, they were back at the apartment. Lee was in the recliner, her foot propped up on an ice pack. Johnny had brought her in a dish of fruit and a soda. He had fixed himself a sandwich and had a plate of chips and a dish of slaw and was sitting on the couch eating.
“After you eat you need to get a nap.” Lee could see how tired he was. The circles under his eyes always gave him away. “A shift and a half is a lot…”
“Yeah glad we don’t do the 48 hour shifts on a regular basis any more. I will sleep out here in case you need anything. You want the television or the radio on?” He had already moved the phone over by her.
“Oh no you don’t. You’ll sleep in the bed like a normal person.”
“I would worry that you’ll call me and I didn’t hear ya. I really will sleep better out here.” He finished his sandwich. “Thanks for sending the clean uniforms over. I was down to my last one.”
“I’m glad we got the extra ones….Ok, what’s bothering you besides my being a klutz?”
“When Cisco brought the uniforms someone let him go back and put them in my locker.”
“Don’t tell me, he got hit with a water bomb?” Lee smiled then frowned. “He had on his new suit.”
“Yep, and the tie the kids gave him…worst it was a glitter stink bomb.” Johnny looked down at the floor. “Chet can be in big trouble if this goes down to HQ. Maybe even more than usual…”
“I can’t tell Cisco not to file that report…I wouldn’t be right for me to interfere.”
“I know and who ever let Cisco go back to my locker is in trouble too. That is strictly against the department’s policy. Hookrader is dealing with that. I just wanted you to know what happened so when you hear about it you aren’t blindsided.”
“I appreciate that …maybe this will get it into Chet’s thick head it’s time for the pranks to stop.”
“Nawh, I figure he will just change tactics. So, you are ok with him. Not gonna ban him from here?”
“No but he might want to steer clear of Cisco and the Alvarez’s for awhile. Especially if that tie is ruined. The kids worked hard for their grandpa earning the money for that gift.”
Johnny nodded and silently thanked God that she was ok with Chet’s latest screw up and that she was going to be fine after her latest mishap. Seeing her settled he was soon asleep.
“Hey, how are you? Cami told Stacy you got hurt. Why didn’t you call me?” Kathy challenged her friend.
“I‘m ok just a deep bone bruise and 2 broken toes, some strained muscles…Nothing too serious.”
“But painful. Why didn’t you call someone? I could have came over and fixed dinner or …” Kathy said frustrated with her friend. “I know you’ve been avoiding Jo and the kids but didn’t think it included me. I have no idea why you’re acting this way.”
“I’m not avoiding you. You’re working part time, you had two soccer practices to get kids to last night and a husband who likes to spend time with you Johnny fixed dinner and he is making breakfast right now.”
“Well tell him that Jo and I are bringing dinner over tonight for all of us. Unless you don’t want us.”
“There isn’t any need for that. There is plenty of food here…I have a roast that needs to be cooked.”
“Good now I don’t have to go to the store. I’ll be over in a bit. Unless we are not wanted?” Kathy wasn’t going to let it drop.
“Of course you are wanted. Any idea what you want to have with the roast?” Lee had decided it wasn’t something she wanted to argue about with Johnny listening.
“Pork or beef?” Kath said glad she had won.
“Ok see you in awhile. Bye.”
“Bye.” She hung up the phone. “We are having company tonight. Kathy and Jo are bringing dinner and staying to eat tonight.” Between it being a school night and the fact the guys had to work tomorrow she knew it wouldn’t be a late night.
“Johnny, do me a favor?” Lee said as she thought about the last few days. They had finished breakfast and he was cleaning the kitchen.
“What do you need?” He came into the front room.
“What know?” He said puzzled as helped her sit up straighter. “You know so many things bout as lot of things.” He sat down on the couch.
“I knew that you loving me would be the best thing in my life and the thing that scares me most. I knew then and I know now that it is what I want. You ready to talk about what has been bothering you?”
“Besides being a klutz? Nothing.”
“Then why the deer in the head light look when I mention Jo or the kids? Or having the guys over for dinner and cards?”
“I guess I just like it being the 2 of us.” She wouldn’t look at him. “I think we are just fine the 2 of us. Maybe we can go on a trip soon…”
“You giving up on the idea we all go to Hawaii? That’s something you have wanted for a long time.”
“I wanted our family to go…not a pretend family. Right now that’s what they feel like,” she said. “It’s me, not them, I’m sure since I over react to everything.”
“Ok, I know where the pretend family crap is coming from.” Johnny was getting angry. “Let me guess, Chester B…Maybe it would serve him right if I did send a formal complaint down to HQ.”
“NO don’t do that…it won’t help it’ll only make it worse.” She let out a long deep breath. “I think things are just catching up with me, you being so sick. The whole process and trip to Lame Deer, the adoption agencies refusing to take our applications. Now, waiting on the ones we haven’t heard from yet…Jo’s mom and your aunts…Chet’s little digs and now this…plus the visit with Dr. Westmore…It’s all coming down on me like the ceilings in some of the buildings you all work in. The pressure and fear just hides and builds then when the time is right, it crashes down on you. Just like Roy and the guys, I depend on you to be there to save me. You always are …never doubt that.”
“I thought you said the visit with Dr. Westmore went well.”
“It did. I just had it in my mind she would say everything was looking good and we could have a baby. She said everything was looking much better but having a baby isn’t gonna happen…But it’s hard, no matter how I try to give up that hope.” She was fighting back the tears.
“I know it’s hard for you…but you know I would never want you to risk your life… I know it is hard for you when you want things from a shelf or see a cobweb. But, together we can make it. It’s funny me who never shared anything with anyone before you all came into my life, telling you not to be afraid to share your feelings.” He went over and kissed her. “It’s settled…we will keep trying to adopt…Jo’s mom and Chet are like flies, annoying but they can’t hurt us…My biological family consists only of Rosemary, the others are in the fly category. When either one of us gets sick or hurt we know the other is there for us and so is our family. They are real family…our family of the heart. Understood?”
“Yes, sir.” She smiled. “Why does it take us so long to talk things out? Why can’t we do it before it becomes a major issue?”
“I don’t know but I do think we are getting better at it. By the time we celebrate our 25th anniversary we should have it down pat.” He kissed her again.
Kathy came about a half hour later. She was surprised to see Lee in a much better mood than when they had talked on the phone. She looked at Johnny who just gave her one of his crooked grins. She put the meat and vegetables in the oven to slow roast and checked if there was anything else she needed to get or bring from her house. Jo was bringing dessert. There was salad makings and the good garlic cheese bread that Lee had made and frozen. Kathy took two loaves of that from the freezer. Johnny excused himself and went down to his dark room when Kathy went in to visit with Lee before going home.
“So anything you can think of we need for tonight?” Kathy asked.
“No. I appreciate you doing this. I was planning to fix that roast tonight. I could have done it with some help from the Boyo.”
“Well, it’s nice to let your friends help. You are always the first in line when we need help.”
“I guess I just fought so hard to be independent after the wreck I forget how to ask for help. I think the talk Johnny and I had today put some of the old demons back to rest…hopefully for good this time. I owe you and the Desoto’s an apology…”
“For what? You didn’t do anything…other than remove yourself from an uncomfortable situation. If you had thrown a temper tantrum or yelled and screamed… that would be different. I was there for some of your tantrums remember. You waited till you could talk to us …You know, you do have a right to your privacy.”
“But does that excuse my bad temper and being rude to the people I care about the most? NO. Sometimes I just feel like such a failure.”
“Considering some of your tantrums I think I rather have you be rude and ignore me.” Kathy laughing as she said this. “Give the people who care a chance to show they care.”
“Thanks for the advice. Think we should let the Boyo know it’s safe for him to come back up?”
“Yeah. Ok, I’ll be back about 5 or so and Jim will be here around 6, so will Jo and Roy and the kids. Its gonna be ok, understand? Anything you need before I leave?”
“A soda would be nice….I’ll call Johnny and let him know it’s safe to come up when he is ready. Poor Boyo he was looking forward to a nice peaceful time off…He did an extra half shift when one of the guys at 36 got hurt, a minor injury” A little after 5 everyone was there except Jim. Chris and Jen had been reminded not to repeat anything their grandmother had said. Kathy had also reminded her two of the same thing. Johnny, Roy and the kids went downstairs while Jo and Kathy cooked and got everything set up. The girls got out the coloring and drawing things the boys set up a video game. Johnny and Roy just sat back and talked.
“So was she ok with you not reporting Chet to HQ?”
“Yeah said it would just make matters worse. Wish I knew why she is so afraid of him and what he says. I use to think it just her not wanting to cause problems but the look she gets sometimes is more like fear.” Johnny said. “The doctor said she can go 6 months between checkups now. Best report she has had in awhile. However, she did tell her again there won’t be any babies. And I think now she is ready to accept that.”
“And you?” Roy’s gentle concern touched Johnny as it always did.
“I’d marry her again in a heartbeat…We’ll be just fine.”
“Somehow I never doubted that.” The intercom came on saying dinner would be served in 10 minutes.
The kids had convinced the adults it was warm enough to eat on the balcony if the girls wore their sweaters and the boys put on sweat shirts. The adults had time for some conversation. It was pleasant and stayed off touchy subjects.
“The Boyo here has some crazy idea he is going to call off tomorrow because he needs to be here with me. But since I am going to work so is he.”
“Is that a good idea?” Roy asked concerned.
“Yes. I’m not driving, Hector is taking me and picking me up. I’m probably only going to work part of the day and then come home and elevate my foot like a good patient. I know when I’m in a bad mood it makes it hard for Johnny and everyone around me. I’m trying hard to change the way I handle anger and disappointment. I guess what I’m trying to say I’m sorry if I took my bad mood out on you all. And I really am trying to change.”
“Don’t change too much, we kind of like you just the way you are.” Jo said. “It’s human to get hurt when people say mean or insensitive things.”
“Yeah and this time there wasn’t any screaming or throwing things…Just remember you need to tell us what you’re thinking and why. Sometimes you get hurt and we have no idea why.”
“The whole last few months just seemed to pile up and was crushing me. The rejection letters I think were the final straws. Johnny getting hurt on that Cliffside, the mess with his cousins, then the blood poison and the trip to Lame Deer, it was like all the oxygen was gone.”
“You felt like you were drowning. Just remember there are many people to throw you a lifeline. Waiting to help back up your main support.” It was only then the others noticed that Johnny had reached over and had a tight grip on her hand. He gave Lee a smile and a wink.
After they left Lee and Johnny talked some more and she felt that the several issues had been set to rest and she sighed in relief. She had been so afraid this time she had made a mess of everything so bad it could never be straightened out. It wasn’t long after everyone left that Lee and Johnny went into the bedroom. After getting settled Lee began watching TV but Johnny had no problem going to sleep quickly.
glad the previous owners of the house had installed the laundry on the second floor near the bedrooms. Once she came upstairs after breakfast she did not go down again until lunch time. Val had even had a small dorm type fridge put up in the laundry room so if Tina wanted juice or Kelly wanted a soda it was handy. Kelly finished folding the load of toddler clothes and picked up the basket.
The SCU tones broke the relative calmness of the station. “Squad 51 illness…time out…”
The squad pulled up to the house just as the neighbor’s car came down the street. Seeing the squad in front of Kelly and Val’s house Marcie pulled into the driveway as the paramedic were knocking on the door.
“Do you live here?” Roy asked the woman who hurriedly got out of the station wagon.
“No my friends do, Val and Kelly Farrow…There is a key under the planter.” They had been knocking with no answer. “Kelly is expecting…She hasn’t been feeling well…” Johnny had the key and Roy opened the door. The sound of a small child crying filled the house.
“Something must be terribly wrong. Kelly would never let Tina cry like that.” Marcie went upstairs the paramedics following. “The room at the end of the hall is Kelly’s room.” Marcie went into Tina.
“I’m going to go get the OB kit.” Roy said after looking onto the room.
“Ma’am, my name is Johnny and I’m a paramedic.”
“My little girl…”
“Relax, your friend is with her…She’ being taken care of…Let’s get you taken care of now, ok?”
“This shouldn’t be happening…7 more weeks…” She arched as another pain came.
“Just relax…babies have a mind of their own sometimes.” He sat up the biophone. Who is your doctor?”
“Helena Westmore. Please don’t let anything happen to my baby…If it’s a choice…” Roy had returned.
“Now calm down, we aren’t gonna let anything happen to either one of you. Dr. Westmore would have my hide.” Roy came into the room. “Rampart this is LA County 51.”
“Go ahead 51,” Dixie responded as Kel came over to the base.
“Rampart our patient is experiencing severe pain and her water has broken. She is 26 and this is her second child…Her due date is approximately June 1. Her vitals are…”
“Roy, go ask the lady to put some blankets and pillows in the dryer…we’re gonna need to keep this baby warm. I don’t think we are gonna have time to get her to Rampart.”
They carefully repositioned her. Roy nodded at Johnny’s look. It was his turn to deliver the baby. Soon he was in position and while Roy monitored her vitals and kept in contact with Rampart. Dr. Brackett had a nurse call up to Dr. Westmore’s office there at the hospital just in case she was available. Johnny frowned as he held the stethoscope against the patient’s stomach. There was something that didn’t sound right to him. After another visual check, he looked up and smiled. “Ok, the next contraction I want you to push…As long and as hard as you can.” Kelly pushed and just when she thought she didn’t have another ounce of strength it was over. It seemed like an eternity until she heard the small cry and the paramedic’s joyful, “It’s a boy”. The dresser drawer was waiting and Roy went to collect the items to make the little one a warm safe bed to transport in. As Roy came back into the room, he heard the underlying concern in his partner’s voice.
“Rampart, we have another baby coming…“ Roy quickly got the first infant settled and returned to helping his partner. Another set of vitals they were relayed to the waiting doctors. “The mother’s BP is drooping….Breeched. Kelly could hear the words but nothing made sense…she just felt so tired and disconnected. “Another IV…cords ….Push push hard…” A hand pressing … the pressure…the sudden end of the pain…silences.
“The second infant is responding to CPR…He is breathing on his own…Ambulance is here and we are ready to transport.” The disjointed conversations were still impossible for Kelly to follow. The dark haired paramedic came into her line of view. “Your babies are small but they are breathing on their own…We’re gonna get you to Rampart…You did good.”
“Thank you…thank you both.” The oxygen mask went back in place and she felt herself being lifted. She didn’t feel as cold as before and let herself drift off to sleep.
Once they reached Rampart Dr. Westmore and Dr. Brackett worked in tandem to stop the mother’s hemorrhaging as the neonatologist team worked on the twin boys. Johnny and Roy called in available and went back to the station. Johnny didn’t have much to say on the way back and Roy didn’t push the issue.
They had been back about a half hour when dinner was ready. Mike had made a pot of vegetable soup and there was a variety of lunch meat for sandwiches. Cap noticed that Johnny had been extra quiet since they got back.
“So did you have a chance to see Lee before you came back?” Cap asked as he passed the crackers to Roy.
“No didn’t even call up there. I think she was only planning to stay a few hours.”
“Well you know if she needs anything you can have her call Emily.”
“Thanks but we’re fine.” Johnny looked over at a very quiet Chet. “Lee thinks you should give Cisco some space but she figures whatever the problem is, its between you two.”
“Tell her I said thanks. I wrote him a letter saying I was sorry and that I would pay for any damages.” Chet looked at his friends and did not see the disapproval and anger he had been expecting. A sense of relief washed over him. They had accepted his remorse and had forgiven him.
“You still go up to the lake since she hurt her foot?” Mike asked as he passed the lunchmeat platter to Johnny.
“Probably. She gets upset if she thinks my worrying gets in the way of our plans.”
Roy noticed while he was now talking Johnny had barely touched his food. That worried Roy since usually Johnny was a major eating machine. After dinner, Johnny seemed to disappear. After checking the obvious places, Roy went out back. Johnny did not retreat to his thinking wall often but Roy had a hunch.
“Here this will warm you up. Still a little chilly for being out here in the evening.” He handed Johnny a mug of coffee. “Want to talk about it?”
“Not a lot to say. That run today just hit a little close to home. Lee still wants to have a baby and we talked it over and she finally is accepting that it isn’t gonna happen, I think. What if she did get pregnant and something like that run happened to her? We almost lost her when she had that problem last spring…After we got Mrs. Farrow to the hospital and the doctors were working on her it hit me. A year ago today was when Kel operated on Lee. When I thought that second baby wasn’t gonna take that first breath…Guess this is what Lee would call one of fate’s ironic jokes…I can help other men become father’s but I’ll never hold my son in my arms. I can’t even start to explain what knowing that feels like. I got angry at her for even asking Dr. Westmore if she could try to have a baby but I couldn’t let her know that. I can’t tell my wife how much I want a child without destroying her. I tell her it’ll be ok and we can adopt then hold her when she cries when we get another rejection notice. They have the same OB-GYN…did you notice that?” He took a drink of the coffee. “The letters…they never say exactly why we are rejected but they usually mention her physical limitations. But I always wonder how much is my fault . Being a ha… Between being mixed heritage and the Asperger’s you can’t help wondering.” His voice lowered and broke in frustration.
“Yeah you can’t help wondering if their narrow minds are keeping some kids from having a great mom and dad. Come on; let us go in before us both catch colds. That wind is making my eyes water,” Roy said, pulling his jacket closer. Johnny had wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, trying not to be obvious and hoping no one noticed the redness.
“Hey, Johnny, there is a dish of apple cobbler left if you’re hungry.” Mike called to them as they were rinsing out their coffee cups. The others were watching a western on TV.
“Thanks Mike, maybe later.”
Two days later Lee had a meeting that could not be rescheduled with members of the Skill challenge committee. While she was in the meeting, Johnny had wondered up to the critical nursery. Standing out in the hallway looking through the glass at the tiny infants hooked up to the machines and in the specialized incubators tore at his heart. One of the nurses recognized Johnny and came out to talk with him.
“What brings you up here? I thought you hung out at the playroom?” Karen asked with a smile. “I hear all about you from my niece Cindy that works down there.”
“I was just checking on the babies I delivered the other day…They were so tiny…the bigger of the two was only four pounds three ounces…The smaller one was three pounds and 14 ounces…the little guy had me scared there for a few minutes.”
“Heard some of the doctors talking, they were very impressed with your makeshift incubator especially how you had the pillow and blankets put in the dryer.”
“It was just luck we had time to do that. Just was doing our job.”
Neither one had noticed the tall, handsome, dark haired man who had came up behind them. He had heard their conversation as he came down the hallway.
“It wasn’t luck it was an answer to my wife’s prayers. She told me how you and your partner took care of her and our sons.” He extended his hand to Johnny. “Thank you for the lives of my sons and my wife. I would have lost all three of them if not for you and your partner.”
“How is your wife?” Johnny asked after Karen excused herself and went back inside the unit.
“Doing much better…They had to do surgery …She won’t be able to have any more children…but she will be fine. Dr. Westmore said if she hadn’t received such quick and skillful care during the birth she would have bled out before the ambulance could have gotten her here. Kelly told Dr. Westmore what you said. Dr. Westmore laughed and knew exactly who delivered the boys. Told us you and your partner were the best.”
Laughing while turning slightly red, “I think Dr. Westmore has been brain washed by my very bias wife.”
“Kelly and I believe she is correct. “
“How is your little girl doing? She sure is a cutie.” Changing the subject quick as he could.
“She is being spoiled by her Uncle Rocky and Aunt Sue…Rocky’s been my best friend for almost 15 years…More like a brother than a friend.”
“Know that feeling. My wife is in a meeting right now but I think I’m going to bring her up to see your boys when it’s over. Hope you don’t mind?”
“Not at all…They’re doing great…Christopher Sean is doing good, Andrew James lost 3 ounces but he is getting stronger each day. They said Kelly might get to hold them by the end of the week. Tina is already calling them Kit and Dru. Is your wife a nurse?”
“That’s great. No she is a statistical analysis …does lot of stuff with computers I don’t understand. She should be about done with her meeting so I better get down there. She’s taking me out to lunch…then we are going birthday present shopping for our 7 year old niece. Should be an interesting day.”
Val laughed. “I have been on shopping trips like that…Let me guess you are the official sounding board and package carrier.”
“Yeah that pretty much sums it up.”
The construction on the new bridge was going very well. Even at this out of the way spot the deliveries had been handled well. There had been some concern about the steepness of the access road but the strict rules about speed and delivery weights had been put in place by Ben Oliver and Gerald Barton. The CEO and the head engineer were determined to prove that this project could be completed on time and within it’s budget without sacrificing quality and safety. The truck carrying a load of rebar wire and bars, pallets of concrete mix was making its way to the access road. The driver concerned with the amount of material being loaded, reminded the loading crew at the supply yard of the weight restrictions for this particular job. The supply supervisor had snapped at the driver saying he knew his job. Shrugging it off, the driver headed out to the WBS construction site.
Johnny and Roy came back from their last run just in time for lunch. Marco had made a huge chef salad and had defrosted and baked some of the dinner rolls Lee had sent in.
“I mean can you believe it? This five-old crawls up into the chimney. The mother can hear him crying but can’t finds him…His 7 year old brother and cousin had went outside to play never thinking to tell the mothers the five year old was stuck.”
“Where were the mothers when the kid went into the fireplace?” Chet asked shaking his head in disbelief.
“Why did the kid get into the fireplace in the first place?” Marco added his question.
“The mothers were upstairs cleaning the bedrooms and bathroom. Guess one of the kids had drawn pictures in the bathroom with shaving cream. There was a full length mirror on the door and the kids were using the shaving cream to see what they would look like with beards.
“And her sister just shrugged it off too. Said the cousins were just like their fathers. What one didn’t think of the other one would? They were pretty cool after they knew the four year old was safe.”
“Yeah two sisters had married cousins. The oldest sister had set her sister up on a blind date with her boy friend’s cousin. They ended up having a double wedding.” Johnny added between bites. “Man, this salad is great…”
“So, why did the little kid try to climb up in the chimney?” Chet asked again.
“The two older boys told him sometimes Santa forgot and left a toy stuck up in the chimney …He got twisted around and once we helped him get free he was ready to go up there again. Said he saw a package up there.”
“Did the older boys say why they left him in the chimney? “ Cap asked.
“Said it was nice not having him tag along with them. They figured he’d work himself out. Said their moms liked them to problem solve on their own.”
“Sounds like something my nephews would do,” Cap said laughing. “They were the adventurous type.”
They finished their meal and had everything cleaned up when the SCU toned then out to a vehicle accident at a construction site. Roy noticed the concern on Johnny’s face.
“Lee and I were talking about that bridge last night.” Johnny answered chewing on his lower lip.
“How do you know it’s a bridge? Dispatch just said a construction site, not what kind.”
“Because WBS is building it.” He was looking at the street signs so Roy could not see the worry and sadness in his eyes but could hear it in his voice. “We were talking about their safety record after seeing a report on another construction accident. Ben is really strict on safety…He teases Lee that it wouldn’t look good if the owner’s husband got hurt at one of their jobs.”
“Yeah he has a point, I guess.” Roy said.
They reached the site and stopped at the top of the access road. “Cap, I think we need to go down first. Lee told me last night there was a strict weight limit for this road …Some of the delivery trucks has had trouble with this grade.” Johnny had gotten out of the squad and walked over to the engine.
Cap looked at the road then over at Mike. “What do you think?” Trusting his engineer’s judgment completely.
“I think if we can avoid going down there we should. Doesn’t look as if there is any immediate fire danger.”
Driving down the road, Roy was glad his partner had made the suggestion. It was a steep narrow road with a curve about half way down.
“How did they get the big equipment down here?”
“Very carefully. The biggest pieces they floated in on barges with some tugs…They just barely had enough water in the channel to do it….if the water is too low when its time to take them out they may just drive them down river until they can find a good place to come back up on the road. They were trying to keep the damage to the river and surrounding area to a minimum.” Conversation stopped as Roy made his way around the curve and down to the bottom.
Reaching the bottom, they saw a heavily loaded truck against the trailer they used as an office.. The truck had rammed into the trailer’s door. . The load had shifted and the pallets of concrete mix looked liked a tower built by a preschooler, which rested on the top of the truck cab and the trailer roof.
“How did this happen?” Roy asked. He and Johnny sat down the trauma box, the biophone and the drug box. “Was anyone in the office?”
“ No, thank God. The truck lost its brakes…It was way overloaded. The driver did his best to control it, you could see him fighting it. . He turned it trying to get it in the channel so he was away from any of the men… As they were talking, Johnny had carefully made his way to the driver’s door. The door was bent, the shifted load pressing the top of the cab over the top of the door. . The driver was slumped over the steering wheel. Johnny could see blood on his face and hear him moaning.
“Ok, let’s get this driver out. “ Johnny climbed up on there crimped and crumpled running board. Seeing a pile of tarps he asked for one to be brought over. Wrapping it around his arm he cleared the broken glass from the driver’s window. Reaching in he could just reach the man’s neck, feeling for thee carotid pulse. The front of the truck was deep into the trailer, it’s bent door frame obstructing part of the driver side window.
“Roy, his pulse is weak and thready...There is blood from a cut on his forehead and his nose. That’s about all we’ll know until we get him out of here.
The firemen went about their task with their usual care and precision. Using the jaws instead of the K-12 seemed the best option. After what seemed like an eternity to the waiting construction workers they were able to get the victim out and safely away from the truck.
Johnny sat up the IV he expected the doctors to be ordering as Roy contacted Rampart. They had given Dr. Joe Early the vitals and were beginning their care when a loud crash startled them. The lopsided tower of pallets and rebar came down on the trailer and truck. They had just finished splinting the drivers left leg when the ambulance pulled in followed by a CHP patrol car. The CHP officer , Bonnie Clark, had been up top directing traffic. When she heard the crash she had came down to se if they needed any help. Roy went into Rampart with the victim and Johnny was gathering up the equipment. Cap and the guys had ridden up top with Bonnie when she followed the ambulance out.
The foreman was looking at the totally demolished trailer. “My bosses aren’t going to be happy about this at all.”
“I can guarantee something that will make them very happy, especially the major stock holder.” Johnny said with a teasing grin.
“No one from WBS or the fire department got hurt.”
“Yeah the trailer can be replaced…With some work even most of the paper work.”
Johnny drove to Rampart thinking how the day could have ended a lot different. When he got to Rampart after checking with Roy and Dixie he went up to her office.
“Hi…I was just thinking about you.” Lee said cheerfully as he came into the office.
“We just had a call out at the bridge, the one we were talking about last night. None of the WBS people were hurt but the office trailer is totaled. Look, I know I have been a pain in …well, what I’m trying to say I ‘m sorry.”
“For what?” Lee had no idea what he was talking about.
“Make an appointment and we’ll go see about designing our dream house. I’ve gotta get back to work…love you and stay off that foot, remember.”
“Love you too…and you remember to stay safe. See you in the morning.”
After she left Lee called Ben to find out what had happen at the construction site. They talked awhile and Lee asked him to recommend a good designer so she could make an appointment with them. As she was hanging up the phone Hector came into the office.
“You ready to go home?”
Yeah…You off work already?” It seemed early for him but now that Eddie was working full time he was cutting his hours. If he wasn’t there then the men had to go to Eddie with their questions, problems and concerns.
“Yes. Thought I would work on our pool today, get it ready to open.”
“Good choice.” She said as he pushed her towards the door.
“Life is made up of choices and challenges, one has a direct effect on the other….In the big things we do and even more in the ordinary everyday things.” Hector said with a wise smile.
To Be Continued
Posted to Site 08/03/13
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