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Choices and Challenges

Part 1

An Emergency Story by


Links to Parts 1. 2. 3.




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.


Davey’s tree house had been a present for his tenth birthday.   Dawn had gotten a gazebo as her gift.    He thought the tree house way cooler.

It  was  high  enough to be  fun   but  not  so  high  his  mom  freaked  out.  It   over looked the riverbed.  With  all  this  rain  the  river  was  running  high and their  parents  had  forbidden  them  from  going  near it.   He  went up into the  tree house  and  settled  down  with  his flashlight  and  a good  book.    He never noticed the wind picking up or the rain until the thunder and lightning shook the tree house.  He looked at his watch and knew he was in trouble.  He had been up there for over an hour.   As he stood up the tree house began to list to the right and he was thrown to the floor.  Instinctively he had put his hands out in front of him as he fell.   He felt the bones in his left wrist and arm snap as his weight came down on the outstretched hands.  He  tried to stand  but the  pain  made him dizzy and  he fell again,  this  time hitting his head on  the  corner of the old trunk he kept his books in.  


“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   squad and engine turned down the lane and saw a car waiting, Mrs.  Morris got out when she the engine and squad came to a stop.  


“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.
He keyed the HT.  “Roy, I need to splint his arm and we’ll need a stokes to get him down.  He has a bump and cut on his head but is alert and pupils are reactive and equal.  Tell his mom he’s doing fine.”


“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.

Lee hung up the phone and frowned.  She really did not want to go to Sacramento but there did not seem to be a choice.  She talked with Nel then called Jo before calling Johnny.


“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. 
“So did someone forget to tell the rest of us it was Bring Your Wife to work day?”  Chet said with sarcastic tone.


“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 Baby girl.   You take care.”


“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.”



“If you hear an adult conversation that you know is private let the adults know you can hear it, ok?”




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.”






The engine had been gone about five minutes when the Belliveau pulled into the parking lot.  Soon as he called in available, they were off to the MVA.

It was a six car pileup initially but the rubber necker’s and those not paying attention had compounded the problem.  The paramedics from 51 and crews from engine 51 and 36 had gotten the most seriously injured from the original accident away out of the vehicles and were  starting treatment.  John went up to the 36’s captain.


“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.
“No  that jerk in the pickup slammed on his breaks and a bunch of  trash  came flying out…Tried to miss it…jerked the wheel.”


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
“Bob, I don’t think you’ve met Lee’s big brother, Lt. Cisco Alvarez.  I’m pulling some overtime at 36.  Belliveau here has the distinct pleasure as being partners with Brice.” 


“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.

Johnny got a glass of milk and waited for someone to tell him what had happen.


“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.
 He had  seen the  packet of  stinky glitter at the  gag  shop   when he had  went in for  some  more  water balloons .  It was new and on sale and it seemed like a good idea.  Gage had told him his water bombs were boring.   Cap  had said  no  more  honey  or  flour  bombs…It  had  been  easy to get  everything  set  up.   He had almost unwrapped the locker when he had heard John had pulled some over time at 36.  You  didn’t  prank  someone   when they had  done  an  extra  shift …there  were  rules  to  follow…it  was all in fun  nothing  mean.   Unless your pigeon did not have a sense of humor.   But  the  bottom  line  was he had  left the  bomb in  place and  Cisco  Alvarez  had  gotten  zapped.   A civilian… Worst yet a  policeman  who  had to be in court…A  policeman  who  probably had a  very  expensive  suit on….


“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.

The  roar of  Cisco’s,  ‘When I  get my hands on  that  stupid  little  S O B’  had echoed  all  over the station.   Hookrader would deal with whoever on his crew sent Cisco back to the locker room.  


“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?”


“Yes sir.”


“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.
  Just as Mike  began  fixing  lunch  the SCU  toned in,  “Squad  51   man  injured in a  fall...  time  out…”  They   rapidly made their way to the squad and headed towards the address given them by dispatch.  It was not a serious fall and they soon had the man’s wife calmed down also.   The man was embarrassed by all the fuss and snapped at his wife who started to cry at his hurtful words and tone.


“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.”


“Thanks Pally.


“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.”


Lee finished up the forms with the requested changes and sent them over to HQ.  She then finished up what little she needed to do for her own office.  Nel was able to do so much of it now Lee had very little to do with the everyday running of the office.  She reviewed the information from the other two offices and was happy to see the reports were done correctly.   Will was right, the sloppy work stopped when Lee stopped fixing it for them.  The  minutes for the next  advisory  meeting  were  done as was the  agenda  for the  upcoming  meeting.

She was debating between going home and working there on some of the WBSF applications she had with her  when  the phone rang.


“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?”


“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.


The next morning Johnny was fixing breakfast as Lee sat in the recliner her foot on a pile of pillows.  She answered the phone on the second ring.




“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.
“Do you ever regret that you didn’t accept my no?”


“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.


“Not the KNOW,  knows but the N O kind.  When I said no when you first asked me to marry you.  Did you really think about what it would be like?”


“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.


Kelly Farrow was miserable.  She ached all over especially her side.  Her  first pregnancy  had  been  perfect,  very little  morning  sickness as  long as she avoided the smell of  coffee brewing,  no  aches or pains, an  easy  delivery.  This one was very different.  She had  been  sick  almost  every  day,  her  back   was achy,  she  couldn’t  find a comfortable  way  to  sit  or  lay.  However, despite all of that she was thrilled that they were having another child.  She knew Val  was  hoping  for a  son  this  time  but  would   be happy  as long as the  baby  was healthy. She  was so 

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. 

She felt the burning pain in her side but ignored it.  She  was  convinced  this  baby  was a boy  who  would  be a  champion  field  goal kicker.  She carried the basket over to Tina’s room and began putting things away.  Val and Rocky,  his  best  friend  since  they were in Korea  back in the  early 60’s,  had  moved all of Tina’s  things  into her  big  girl  room.  The  men  were  coming  next  week to  repaint the  nursery…Tina woke  up  as  Kelly  shut the dresser drawer.  Checking her watch Kelly was surprised it had gotten so late.   Carefully  bending  over she  went to  lift  her 18  month old  daughter  out of the  crib.   A  stabbing   pain  went  through  her  body,  making it  hard to  catch  her  breath.  It felt as if something inside had torn.  In a  panic  as she  let Tina  back  down  into the  crib as she  thought  of the  baby.  She felt the pain and bit her lip.  It was too soon…7 more weeks…she wasn’t suppose to feel these contractions yet.  The panic rose as she felt another pain then the warm wetness.   Somehow she managed to   make her way to their bedroom.  She dialed 911.


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…” 
Johnny was keeping   a close tab on their patient’s blood pressure.  It was a little low.   He established the IV Dr. Brackett had ordered. 


“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. 
Then they had a sword fight using the shaving cream as the swords…”    Roy said smiling at the memory of the two mothers.  “The lady that lived there just laughed it off, said the shaving cream worked better than furniture polish.”


“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. 


“What’s  that?” 


“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. 
“Something  good I  hope.”   He  bent  down and  kissed her 


“Always…rough  day?”


“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



Links to Parts 1. 2. 3.

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