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The road through the park was one of Lee’s favorite drives. She traveled this road two or three times a week. It made the drive between Rampart and WBS calming and relaxing. She knew when it was less traveled and tried to schedule her trips then. The trip to WBS had been very productive. She had been able to finish all the paper work needed to close out the accounts for the month and then had a chance to visit with Ben and make some plans for the house. Johnny had no idea that the extra space added onto the garage was not only going to be his new dark room but there would also be a wood working shop. He thought the extra space was just general storage area. Ben was taking care of ordering all the equipment and some supplies for the shop. That all would be billed to her personal credit card, not the account for the house’s construction and decorating. Everything was moving along so well. If the weather held, they would be able to move into the main house the week before Thanksgiving.
Lee felt something hit the car and she jerked the wheel as it skidded off to the left. She eased off the gas and turned the wheel into the slide just as Jeff had taught her. She had heard a pop and thought she had blown the front passenger tire. Trying to keep calm, she realized she was going off the road and tried to steer between the trees. She felt the jolt as the car hit the tree and the pain exploded in her back. The last thing she remembered was calling out Johnny’s name.
“I don’t see what the big deal is about keeping this house so secret. Roy and Jo have been out there and they have seen the plans. You’re just being bull headed.” Chet had ranted the last time he and Suzi were over to the apartment. Today he had went on and on after finding out Roy had been out to the construction site when they had been off earlier in the week
The SCU sounded…”Station 51, Squad 51 single vehicle accident Baylor Park Road…”
“Lee likes that road. There isn’t a lot of traffic and it’s peaceful.” Johnny said. He was not concerned since he knew Lee was at work.
“I’ve been to the soccer field over by there a few times.” Roy said as they made their way thru the early afternoon traffic. “Lots of trees and some curvy places.” As they rounded a curve, they saw the red Mustang’s back end jutting out of the low ditch, its front against a large tree. It was not until they were closer they saw the license plate. Johnny was out of the squad before it came to a complete stop
“John Stop!” Roy’s voice rang out over the silent road. “Now!”
“What is that twit doing jumping out of a moving squad?” Hank Stanley muttered as he watched his junior paramedic stumble as he ran towards the car, ignoring Roy’s command.
Johnny barely heard Roy over the roaring in his ears. He continued on to the driver’s door.
“Gage, back off, that’s an order.” Hank Stanley was in full authoritarian voice. As strong, as his instinct was to listen to his captain the need check on her was stronger.
Taking a deep breath, he reached up checking the pulse in her neck, seeing the blood on her face from a cut. The pulse was fast but strong. “We need a backboard and a cervical collar.” He called out to whoever were listening. His total attention focused on running his hands over her neck and back as far down as he could reach then her legs and arms. Roy and Johnny got the collar on her then with help from Marco and Chet onto the board. “John, back off now. I am going to get her vitals…”
“Check her hand, it looks swollen…” Johnny said as he felt Cap’s hand on his shoulder.
“Let him do his job. Come over here and sit down.”
“Cap, I need to be here…She’s gonna be scared when she wakes up…I won’t get in the way, just let me stay close. If I can keep her calm maybe she won’t go into muscle spasms.” Against his better judgment, Cap agreed but reminded him to stay back unless Roy asked him to come over.
“Rampart, this is Squad 51. How do you read us?”
“Coming in loud and clear 51.” Joe Early responded.
“Rampart, we have a car crash victim. Be advised the victim is Lee Gage. We have taken spinal precautions. She has a cut on her forehead and possible broken fingers on her left hand. She is unconscious, vitals are…” Johnny listened and sighed. Except for a slight elevation in blood pressure, the numbers sounded good. “She had opened her eyes briefly while we were taking her out of the car.” The fact it was a nice day and she had the top down had made the transfer a little easier.
“51, start and IV D5W and transport as soon as possible. Ask Johnny if she has been taking any pain medication.” Roy relayed the question.
“Just Tylenol usually at night…Don’t think she took any last night,” Johnny answered.
Hearing Johnny’s voice Lee’s eyes opened. “Boyo.” She whispered then closed them again.
“Johnny, come talk to her. She opened her eyes when she heard your voice.” Roy put the phone down and started the IV. Cap and the others had been talking to the deputy sheriff that had pulled up just after they arrived. Just as he finished inserting the IV, the ambulance pulled up.
“Tire.” Her eyes closed and they could see her trying to arch.
“Shush…you’re safe Baby girl. I‘m right here.” Rubbing her hip and left leg as he talked. He concentrated on the knotted muscle just below her knee and at the point where the head of the femur fits into the hip socket. The kneading seemed to release some of the tension as his voice calmed her. “Can you open your eyes for me?”
“You’re really here?” She said as she opened her eyes. “I …was afraid I dreamed you came. It hurts.” She tried to turn her head.
“Don’t move around…You’re on a back board. Where does it hurt?”
“No you need to stay awake. It’s ok, sweetheart, don’t cry.” He kissed her lightly. “We’re gonna take you to Rampart and after they check you out they’ll give you something for the pain.”
“You’re going in the ambulance?”
“Sure, me too,” Roy said as the ambulance attendants came over. “Cap can Chet drive the squad in?”
“Sure thing, Lee you let me know if these two don’t behave.”
“Vince, the keys are in the car…Just let me know where they towed it. Can you let Cisco Alvarez know we’re taking her into Rampart?”
“Sure. I’ll be over to get her statement.”
Johnny held her hand and talked to her but Roy did the support care.
“You two can get into more trouble,” Cisco said as he came into her room.
Johnny was sitting next to the bed, his folded arms cradling his head as he leaned on the bed. “How is she?”
“A slight concussion. Five stitches on her forehead and three broken fingers. There is a crack in the bone below her knuckles on her left hand. They decided it was better to give her something to sedate her since the muscle spasms kept getting worse.”
“Sorry I took so long to get here but Vince Howard called me back. She didn’t wreck because of a tire blowing out. The tires on the passenger side both had bullet holes in them. Her mustang is pretty much history…”
“Someone did this on purpose?” Johnny sat up straighter. “Who? Why?” The first person that came to his mind was Tiffany. He could see her hiring someone to do that out of spite. The publicity and cost from her involvement with CS McFarland had a negative effect on her life style and finances. Then he decided no, she would not have troubled herself to any degree over him.
“Did you bring her purse to the hospital with you?’’ Cisco asked, sounding like a police officer and not Lee’s big brother.
“Never gave it a thought.” Johnny answered. “I just was worrying about the muscle spasms.”
Cisco shook his head. “What about her jewelry?”
“I have her engagement and wedding rings in my pocket…They had to cut them off her hand, it was so swollen. I don’t remember seeing the emerald ring she had on her right hand…it was the three little ovals with the little diamond bits in between., the silver one we got at a Christmas bazaar…and her necklace…They’re gone.”
“No. It’s at the jewelers.”
“I’m gonna check down in ER to make sure they don’t have the other jewelry. You doing ok? Want me to bring you some coffee or something?” Cisco had walked towards the door. “Mijo, she’s gonna be fine. The docs here will take good care of her.”
Cisco had not been gone long when Lee woke up. Soon as she saw Johnny, she started crying after she saw her hand
“My rings…they took them. I fought to keep them…Don’t be mad.”
“I have them, Baby girl, Dr. Early had to cut them off, your hand was so swollen. No one is mad at you.”
After taking to Dixie and Joe Cisco called Ben Oliver. Ben said he would call the accountants to take care of the missing credit cards and checkbook when he went back up Johnny was sitting on the bed, almost holding her. He could see she had been crying.
“Hey, sleepy head. “ Cisco bent down and kissed her softly on the cheek. “You feel up to talking to me?”
“No, I want to sleep." It amazed Johnny that when she woke up after being sedated she was always wide-awake and no problems with being sick to her stomach. “My car?”
“You and Johnny can have fun car shopping.” Cisco smiled at her.
“I didn’t think I hit the tree that hard.” Lee said
“You didn’t. Someone put a bullet in the radiator and one in the engine.” She looked at him then began crying. Cisco gave her a kiss on the forehead and said he would talk to her later.
The two men were waiting in a small seedy bar to get paid. The man who had hired them was supposed to bring them another thousand dollars. They had gotten a little over $200 from her purse. They had sold her credit cards and checkbook to a person they knew for another $100. The ring had gotten them another $250, $100 for the necklace she had been wearing. It would have been nice if they could have gotten the diamond and the wedding ring but she had fought them and just as they were starting to get somewhere they heard a car approaching. Frustrated, Torres had fired into the engine compartment of the car. The hood had popped and was opened.
“Liu you think we’re gonna get stiffed?” Torres asked after they had waited 45 minutes past the agreed upon time.
“We still made out ok…those rings would have been another $500 at least.” Torres said as he finished his beer. “Maybe we should have grabbed that wheelchair too.” They looked up as someone approached the table. They smiled as they recognized the visitor.
“I hear you two did well.” Troy Braxton said as he sat down. “I was waiting to hear from a friend at Rampart how she was doing. Whose idea was it to break her fingers and hand?”
“She wasn’t cooperating…I tried to take her wedding ring and she balled up her fist…I was trying to make her open her hand.”
“Nice touch…It’s gonna cost her insurance company a pretty penny to replace the mustang, all that special equipment. Here’s your money and you maybe hearing from me again. My employer added a bonus.”
“Yes. She never leaves me here alone.” He laid the book he was reading in his lap. “She had another muscle spasm about a half hour ago…not as bad. I talked to Marco’s cousin Ibbie; she’s going to work for us for the next few weeks. Her husband is in the Navy and she just moved back here while he is going to be out of the country for the next 6 months.”
“Sounds good. I’ve already cleared it with the nursing staff for you to stay. Did you get anything to eat?”
“Yeah I went up to her office and made myself a couple of sandwiches and got some chips and a couple of pudding cups…Doc, you’re sure other than the broken fingers and cracked bone in her hand that she is ok?”
“Yes. She was lucky the angle of the blow to her head was awkward and didn’t do much damage…”
“Ya know, I kind of hope its Cisco that finds those guys…and they resist arrest.” He brushed a stray lock of hair back from her face.
“Yeah, me too.”
“They didn’t have to hit her…and she should have just given them the rings…I can buy her new ones, even better ones now.”
“Would you have handed over your ring?” Dixie asked with a slight smile.
“Yes…maybe…no…probably not very easily. But that’s different,” Johnny replied.
“How? A bullet would have done just as much damage to you as it would to her. John, the biggest diamond in the world would never be as precious to her as the one you slipped on her finger.” Dixie looked at him fondly. “She would have handed every bit of jewelry she had to them willingly except those rings and her locket.”
“Everything looks good. If she has a good night, she can go home tomorrow. She isn’t going to be able to transfer independently for a while. I don’t want her putting a lot of weight on that hand until we know that crack is healed. The fingers were fairly simple breaks.”
Lee opened her eyes at the sound of the voices. “Johnny…go home, get some sleep.”
“Forget it…he’s staying. Even if I made him leave this room he’d camp out in the waiting room or your office.” Kel said. “You two are a good match with those hard heads.”
“We’re a good match in everything.” Lee said watching Johnny’s every move. “Well, almost everything.”
“What aren’t we a match in?” Johnny was sitting on the side of her bed. She closed her eyes and didn’t answer. Johnny gave Dixie and Kel a puzzled look.
“You two behave and the nurses know you’ll call if she needs anything. The best thing for her right now is rest. You get some too.”
The next morning Kathy brought Lee some clothes to wear home around 8:30. Lee had been awake since six o’clock and was anxious to get home.
“I sent him up to talk to Nell and to get me a Dr. Pepper.”
“And so you could cry in peace?”
“I wasn’t crying just have a bad headache and my eyes are watery.”
“Now, if I believe that I would be buying ocean front property in Arizona. So what gives? Is the pain that bad?” The doctor in her coming to the forefront.
“No.” Before she had to say more Johnny came in. “Thanks Boyo.”
“You’re welcome. Hey Kathy, how’s it going?”
“Fine, I’m going to head over to your place and have some breakfast started for you and maybe see about doing anything that I can to help. You need anything from the store?”
“Some lunch meat and eggs and milk,” Lee said. “That was my grocery list for yesterday.” Kathy took the money Johnny gave her and left.
Johnny had told the nurse he would help Lee get dressed. She was sitting in the hospitals wheel chair “Sweetheart?” Johnny squatted down in front of her. “What’s wrong?” She looked so sad and far away. There was a look of deep pain in her eyes.
“You talked about how your aunts always said you were a burden…Now you’re stuck with me. I’m more of a burden than you could have imagined when you proposed. I’m sorry to cause you so much worry and trouble.”
He placed his fingers gently over her lips.
“Hold it, no one, not even you, is going to say anything bad about my baby girl.” He wiped the tears away. “You are the most important part of my life…nothing is going to change that. I never ever want to hear you say anything like that again. I know this has to be scary… I’ve been in the same place, after the monkey virus, after I got hit by a car…hell, even when I had the blood poisoning and vertigo last fall. The times I have been hurt or sick since we got together, you never made me feel like a burden. I promise you I never have ever thought you were one and I never will.”
Roy drove the Rover over to the hospital as soon as he got off. Chet then took him back to the station to get his car. He stayed only long enough to give John the keys since all the guys were beat. The night had been long and busy.
Lee was asleep and Johnny was washing the dishes when the phone rang. He grabbed it quickly before it could wake her. “Hello.”
"Johnny how is she?” Jeff asked “I got your message but wasn’t able to call until now.”
“Sleeping. The pain meds are knocking her out. But sleep is really what she needs right now. Soon as she’s feeling up to it we’ll go see about getting her a new car. She said it could take awhile to get her special controls put in. In a way, I’m glad since she won’t be able to drive until that hand is healed.”
“If you need anything you call that number again and leave a message. Any leads on the men who did this?”
“Don’t let her shut down. She can do that when she is feeling extra stressed or helpless. It can happen fast. Tell her I said I love you, gotta go.”
Lee was awake but had her eyes closed so she didn’t have to talk to Johnny. Feeling so defeated and useless she just wanted to be alone. Finally, she had to open her eyes and ask for help. Johnny had turned the intercom on when he went out to the other room She pressed the intercom. “Can you come help me?”
After she had finished in the bathroom, Johnny pushed her out to the front room and settled her in the recliner. “Anything you want?”
“No thank you.” She closed her eyes
“Cisco is going to be here soon, you feel up to talking to him?"
“No, but it has to be done.”
Johnny noticed the almost robotic tone and the lackluster expression. He remembered Jeff’s warning. “Ok let’s get one thing straight. None of this is your fault. A ring and a car can be replaced, so can credit cards and check books…I’m sorry you got hurt…more than I can tell you. Not because it is going to cause any problem for me or anyone else. I am sorry it’s causing you pain, mentally and physically. I think the day I placed that engagement ring on your finger was the happiest ,proudest day of my life until the day I put the wedding ring to go with it on your hand.. I can replace these rings, if I had to. What I could not replace is you, ever. HOW DO I MAKE YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?” His voice rose but she knew it was not in anger at her. “Baby girl, don’t ever think I would be better off without you. If I needed to take a leave of absence or even quit my job to take care of you I would. Gladly.”
“You say that and I think you really mean it…But you would be so miserable without your job. I would be even more miserable knowing I had taken that from you, too. Give me a little bit of time to get my head on straight. . Knowing you would do that for me and still love me…I can’t explain what it means…Just be patient with me, ok?”
“I think we need to stop trying to protect one and other’s feelings and be honest with each other. We try so hard to protect each other we get all twisted up in knots. We need to be honest about what we think and feel.”
“What I feel right now is lousy. The drummer pounding rhythms in my head is playing a totally different song than the drummer beating on my hand.”
“Do you need a pain pill? Aren’t you one of those people who are always telling me not to let the pain get ahead of me?”
“If I take a pill I’ll be asleep when Cisco gets here. I want to get this over with. Did you call the insurance company?”
“Yes. They called back. They were sending an insurance adjuster over to the police impound. Said there shouldn’t be a problem. I also called the dealership. Soon as you are feeling better, we will go look at cars.”
“I don’t think I want another convertible. If we get a baby I think I need something more family style.”
“When we get our baby…Ok, you need something to drink?”
“No, I’m fine. John Roderick, promise me something.”
“Not until I know what I’m promising.” He had learned the hard way not to give her unspoken promises.
“That you will never stay with me out of pity or guilt…I couldn’t stand to see that in your eyes.”
“That’s an easy promise, Baby Girl, because it’s never gonna happen.”
Johnny got coffee for him and Cisco, a glass of juice for Lee. Cisco settled on the couch, Johnny pulled a chair over next to Lee. He tucked the blanket around her legs and fluffed the pillows she had her hand
“Mijo, you going to work in the morning?” Cisco asked before he began his official visit.
“I’m not sure. Marco’s cousin is coming over but it depends on how she is feeling.”
“I’ll be fine and you are going to go to work and not worry about me. Guess we know now why the adoption agencies all rejected me…I can’t take care of myself, let alone a baby.”
“Lee stop it right now.” Johnny was not going to listen to her put herself down like that. “When the time is right we’ll get our baby.”
“Ok, now that you had your little pity party, let’s get this over with. Tell me what happened.”
“I was driving through Baylor park, everything was quiet and peaceful, I heard 2 pops, hit a tree. The last thing I remembered was calling for Johnny. When I woke up two men were standing there laughing. It was like they wanted me to see them. The Mexican looking one hadn’t shaved for a day or two, his long hair was dirty with a dirty bandana tied around it. The dirty tee shirt had a skull with a lightning bolt thru the eyes…across the front like a Z. Had the same Z bolt on his hand but it didn’t look right…like it was a fake. The other man was Asian. He didn’t say much. The Mexican used bad grammar, and sounded almost fake, his accent was too much like a bad stereotype. He took my ring and necklace. But, I balled my left fist and wouldn’t open it…He hit me across the back of my hand. The other one held my hand while he tried to unbend my fingers. He laughed when he heard the first bone break…But then there was the music…you know when you hear a car with its radio too loud…Then he hit me, with the gun. The other guy grabbed at his arm, said they had to go…”
“That’s probably what saved that hard head of yours.”
Johnny felt sick listening to her describe it as if it had happened to someone else.
“Any more questions?” Johnny asked as he got up.
“Not right now…good remembering little sister.”
“You taught me the Kim game a long time ago. Guess I still play it well.”
“You gonna explain what the Kim games is?”
“Ok, a pain pill for you. You want to stay here or go back to bed?
“Here with you.”
“Ok.” He gave her the pill and watched as she took a little sip of juice. “Drink the whole glass.”
“I’m not thirsty.” However, as he stood frowning at her she drank all the juice.
“What do you think you’re doing?” He stood there watching the various emotions play over her face.
“I am sitting up and I am going to transfer to my chair then go make you some breakfast. It will not be anything great…But I think I can make toast. You set up the coffee pot last night…so you get coffee, juice and toast to go with your cereal. You just have to pour everything…”
“How did you manage to sit up with putting any pressure on your hand?”
“Let me help you transfer at least.” As worried as he was he couldn’t help but be proud of her nerve and determination.
“You can watch but I am doing it myself.” She shifted her weight slightly and leaned forward. Johnny watched as she grabbed the edge of the night stand and pulled herself up to standing. Pivoting slowly she almost made it before her knees buckled and she started to fall. Johnny grabbed her easing her down into the chair. She looked down at her feet not saying anything.
“You almost made it. Let Ibbie help you today and tomorrow we’ll work on it together, Ok?” He watched her eyes as they narrowed but then she nodded yes. “It’s gonna be ok. Now, let’s go have some breakfast.”
Ibbie came at seven. Lee and Johnny had met her at several Lopez family gatherings. Ibbie understood that Lee was going to need help with most basic activities.
“You have any problem, call me. I’ll call you when I can just because I’ll miss you not because I don’t trust you, understand?”
“We’ll be fine. You remember not to worry about me but keep your mind on your work.”
“Johnny, I will take good care of your lady…Can you imagine what Marco’s mother would say if I didn’t? She would have my head.”
“That’s ok. Cisco thinks Maria is gonna have mine for not calling her. And I told him not to either.”
“Did anyone tell Aunt Louisa that? She writes Maria every week.”
“I maybe busted.” Johnny laughed and kissed Lee lightly. “Behave yourself today.”
“I will. Love ya Boyo…stay safe, all of you.”
Ibbie went in, changed the bed, and laid out a clean gown for Lee.
The morning went well as John did his chores and they did some routine drills. After he finished his chores, he went to help Marco and Chet hang hose. The previous shift had been busy so there was a backlog of hose to work with. The three working together had soon caught up. The smell of Mike’s sloppy joes cooking made them hungry. They had just finished when he called them into lunch.
Johnny fixed his plate and was happily eating and listening to the conversation. Marco and Chet were comparing the merits of two TV detectives. Roy and Mike listened shaking their heads at the two. Cap was just listening and watching his crew inter act. He noticed John had been quiet all morning and now was concentrating on eating not joining in on the conversation.
“Everything ok John?”
“Yeah, just enjoying the food and the company.” He gave the Cap a quick smile. “Lee was going to call Emily today to thank her for the flowers. She was going to do it yesterday but she slept a lot. She wanted to do it herself not have me do it.”
“It’s not gonna be easy her only having one hand for a few weeks.” Hank said not wanting to pry.
“Marco’s cousin Ibbie is staying with her while I’m at work.”
“Are you gonna get any rest that way?” Hank asked concerned for his friend.
“Sure…She doesn’t need a lot of help…my biggest problem is gonna be not offering too much. She has a pretty independent spirit, I don’t want to do anything to hurt that. She was trying to figure out how she was going to get to work in a few days. We have to get her another travel chair…the one in the car is trashed.”
The SCU sounded and they were off. The small auto repair shop was in flames when they reached it. Cap quickly had Marco and Chet laying hose while the paramedics put on their protective equipment. According to the information given them there were 3 maybe 4 people inside the building in the office at the back.
“Roy, John, make it fast.” Cap was worried about all the paint and paint thinners, etc stored in the building. The guy over there said he was pretty sure there were 2 or 3 guys back in the office. Get in, grab them, and get out. This place is a time bomb.” Hank had called for additional help. There was no chance of saving this building but they had to try to contain and preserve the other buildings close by.
As they made their way to the back office the smoke grew thicker and blacker. Once they were in the office, they looked around confused. There were three dummies in the chairs, scattered around the office were smudge pots pouring out black smoke. Roy signaled that they were heading out, Johnny followed. There was a sound or a feeling, Johnny never really knew what alerted him. Johnny lunged at Roy knocking him forward and to the right. The lunge carried him forward ,as he fell he felt something hit his shoulder as the explosion rocked the building.
“Mrs. Gage, is there anything special you would like me to fix for lunch or dinner.” Ibbie asked as she came into the living room.
“Please, call me Lee and come sit down. Johnny hired you to help me with whatever I needed. You were not hired as a house cleaner. I appreciate your running the sweeper and dusting. John Roderick gets a little over protective of me but I am not a china doll that is gonna break. The next time you come wear jeans and a sweat shirt or whatever you are comfortable in…If you want to sit out here and watch TV or read that is fine. There is a TV in your room if you prefer staying back there, it’s your choice. Help yourself to anything in the fridge or cupboards. If there is a kind if soda you like but isn’t up here I am sure it’s down in the store room. We appreciate you coming to help me and I hope we can be friends.”
“I appreciate your friendship…I was a little nervous about taking this job.”
“Because I have heard so much about you and Johnny from my aunt and cousin. I was afraid if I didn’t please you, it would reflect badly on them.”
“Nothing anyone could ever do would make Mama Lopez less dear to us or Marco less of a special friend to Johnny and me. You know what really sounds good is pizza. The number is on the pad by the phone, you like everything on it?” They had just ordered the pizza when Jo called and said she wanted to come over. The pizza and Jo got there about the same time. By the time, they were done eating all three were laughing and having a nice visit. Ibbie gathered up the lunch dishes and left Lee and Jo to go over the grant applications. They approved some and others they just shook their heads in disbelief. After they finished there was still some time until Jo had to be home for the kids. Ibbie, taught them to play Mexican train dominos.
“Would you get that please?” Lee asked Jo when the phone rang.
“Jo? I thought I called Lee’s number.” Jo recognized Hank’s voice and shivered. “I just called your number a minute ago.”
“You did, I’m here visiting.” Lee was watching her and saw the stricken expression on her face. “What’s wrong?”
“The guys are on the way from Rampart. It was just precautionary. They were a little banged up. They are both gonna be going home.”
“If you could that would help.”
“Let me call and make arrangements for my neighbor to have the kids come over to her house.”
Lee was listening and biting her lip trying not to panic. Jo hung up.
“They are fine just a little banged up…I’ll bring Johnny home and see about getting the Rover home tomorrow.”
“Thank you. Hank didn’t say how it happened?”
“No, just that went as a precaution to Rampart and they were being sent home.”
An hour later Lee was watching Johnny sleep in his recliner as she sat at the dining room table doing some paper work. Other than moving slowly, he seemed fine. Ibbie was in the kitchen fixing dinner. Ibbie took a glass of soda over to Lee.
“Thanks. Would you be able to stay, at least part of the day tomorrow?”
“Of course. I can stay as long as you need me. I just need some time to run home and get some clothes. The more I work the more I will be able to save to buy a house when Jerry gets out of the Navy at the end of this cruise when he retires with 20 years. He is a master mechanic. He loves working on big machines…especially airplanes.”
“If he is looking for a job when he is out let me know I have some friends who can always use good plane mechanics.”
“Is there anything special you would like for dinner tomorrow? I can go to the market when I go to get clothing.”
‘Not that I can think of …but if I do I can call Keelsons, they deliver. We have an arrangement with them and some other favorite places.”
“Marco said you have many friends because you are such a good friend to others.”
“I try…to Johnny it comes naturally.”
“I heard that…and it comes to you as naturally as breathing.” Johnny said not opening his eyes. “You never give yourself enough credit.”
“Is there anything you would like?” Ibbie asked him.
“Something to drink.” Johnny said. “Something smells good. What’s for dinner?”
“Beef stew and biscuits and Cole slaw. I made that so there would be some left for tomorrow. It needs to cook awhile longer. While its simmering I could run to my aunt’s and get clothes for several days.”
“El Toro Restaurant.”
“This’ Cisco Alvarez. I need to talk with Don Alexander.”
“Don Alexander is not here if you leave a number I will have him call you.”
“You be sure you do that…Tell him it’s about Little Sister.” He gave the phone number and hung up.
In less than 10 minutes, The Jefe was on the line.
“I was surprised you called. My manager said it concerned our young friend. Her generosity to the children’s center is well known and I was very pleased to hear the center just received many books from her foundation.”
“Did you also hear she was involved in a car wreck that wasn’t an accident? Someone shot her tires then proceeded to break her fingers trying to steal her wedding rings. She gave them her purse and other ring without a fight. They hit her with a gun… luckily not hard enough to damage that hard head.”
“It pains me to hear she has been hurt. That one you call Little Sister has a heart as pure as our mothers…and a temper to match. How can I be of help to you in this?”
“The man who hit her wore a Z lightning bolt tee shirt. He made a point of her seeing his hand with the Z bolt on it…”
“None of the Z bolts would harm her. They know she is under my protection…just as your family is.”
“Ask around and let me know of anyone who tries to sell a gold chain with a charm shaped like a rose or an emerald ring with 3 little oval shaped stones and some small diamonds…Her checkbook and credit cards were taken and used before they were cancelled, Her husband was so busy with her he never thought about her purse. His squad was called to the wreck. You remember her husband and his friends? They risked their lives to save your grandson from that fire at your daughter’s home…”
“I will have some of my associates look into the matter…But I know of no one in my employ who would harm your Little Sister or her family.”
“While I do not agree with much that you do, I have always thought of you as a man of honor.” With that, Cisco hung up.
“Good morning all.” Johnny said as he opened his locker. He would never admit it but he was relieved not to ever have to worry about water bombs any more.
“You sound chipper.” Chet said. “Lee feeling better?”
“Yeah she is. Marco, her and Ibbie are getting along really well. Ibbie is gonna teach her how to make some sort of seafood dish. Roy came in just as Johnny finished changing.
“Pally, how’s the ankle?” Johnny said seeing the ace bandage under Roy’s sock. “Any problems?”
“Nawh. Doc just said to keep it wrapped another day or two. How’s the shoulder?”
“Good. Lee would hardly let me help her transfer at all. Ibbie stayed some extra time.”
“Yeah Jo really liked her.”
“Roll call in five minutes.” Mike said sticking his head into the locker room.
Hank quickly went through the chore assignments and plans for the day. “Roy, John after roll call I need to talk to you in the office.”
“Gage what did you do now to get Roy in hot water? You’ve been here twenty minutes and already causing trouble?”
“Chet, shut up will ya?” Johnny and Roy went out to do the morning calibrations then into the office before they went to hang hose.
“You needed to see us Cap?” Roy asked as Johnny stood back looking uncomfortable. Chet’s comment bothered him more than he wanted to admit.
“Shut the door please and have a seat.” Cap said. The serious look on his face was starting to make both the paramedics uneasy.
“The insurance company that holds the policy on the automotive shop sent in their own investigator. He said there was no reason for the explosion as that area held no chemicals. On further investigation, he found what was left of a small triggering device. The explosion was triggered in the office area. The owner of the shop has a spotless record so they are putting this down to an unknown bomber. You two were lucky you weren’t in that office when it went off.”
“We would have been if that one shelving unit hadn’t blocked our way. We had to stop and move it to get to the door.” Roy said with a shake of his head. “What about the guy that worked there? That told us there were people in the office?”
“The owner has no idea to who that was. The shop isn’t open on Sunday. There shouldn’t have been anyone there.” Hank looked at the two. “Headquarters got a note in the mail. It was sent before the fire…Said it wasn’t easy to keep people safe when the smoke was so thick and black. That even good captains make mistakes. Just be careful ok.”
The paramedics left the office neither one saying much to do their chores.
The SCU sounded just as they were finishing lunch. The call was for a MVA. Once they reached there, they found six cars and a truck. The engine crew began pulling battery cables and washing down the street. Johnny went over to the nearest car, a station wagon. The driver, an older man, was sitting there looking out at the car he had hit.
“55 years I’ve been driving and I never had a ticket….Now this…”
John was taking his pulse as the man spoke. “Sir, calm down now. You need to slow your breathing down…I’ll be back to check on you…”
Johnny went over to the light blue sedan. A woman and child were in the car. The child was securely fastened in a car seat crying. The woman was wearing her seat belt and shoulder strap. She was rubbing her wrist.
“My son…is he ok? I can’t undo my seat belt. Please take care of Denny.”
“Can you tell me your name?” Johnny asked.
“We’ll take good care of you both, Cindy. He looks fine, just a little scared. Let’s see about you.” Johnny tried to undo the belt but it was jammed. The front of the car was pushed in from hitting the car in front of it. Johnny used his knife to cut away the belt and began his exam talking softly to her. There was no apparent neck or back injuries but just to be sure, he had Chet got a backboard and helped him get her out. Johnny splinted the wrist, then got the two year old out of the car, seat and all. Once he had him out, he did his exam. Ok, little guy, let’s get you looked at, your mama is worried about you.”
“How is he? Denny, sweetie, mommy is right here.”
“Other than a wet diaper he is fine…Now you relax until we can get you in an ambulance.” Johnny went over to where Mike was on the biophone. “Here is the vitals and information on blue sedan’s occupants and the station wagon.
Roy was checking on the driver of a small red sports car. The car had spun around after being hit by a van. The driver had a cut on his forehead and was being argumentative.
“Your vitals are good; your pupils are equal and reactive. I’ve got they bleeding under control…just sit quiet and we’ll have you out of here in few minutes.
“I’m JJ Weston and I demand you get me to a hospital now. I’m a very important man and I need treatment now.”
“Mr. Weston, you’ll have to wait your turn just like everyone else.”
“I’ll have your job for this my lawyer will see to it…” Roy walked away to the next car. Marco and Chet had helped do initial assessments so Roy had been working his way down the line.
The truck driver was standing beside his truck talking with the CHP officer.
“The first car stopped suddenly and it set off a chain reaction. I tried to stop but I skidded right into the van. I wasn’t going the speed limit because a had seen a herd of deer criss crossing the road about a mile back and one or two more in the field there. Think that what caused the first driver to stop.” He rubbed his head. “I drive this road a lot and see them all the time…Th…”
The man stiffened and fell forward. Grossman caught him and yelled for help just as Roy started over to him.
“Johnny, I need you.”
The two paramedics got the vitals and had Mike move over closer to them. “Marco, we need the O2 and the data scope.’’
“Rampart we have a male approximately 45 years old, he just collapsed while talking with a police officer. Vitals are…have him on 6 liters O2 and are sending you a strip.”
After several tense moments they got the driver stabilized and while Roy waited with him Johnny checked out the last driver. She was crying as she stood looking at a small deer she had hit.
“I almost missed him but he turned back.” She said as Johnny came closer. The guy behind me didn’t even slow down…”
After talking with her and checking her pulse and respiration Johnny guided her over to a quiet place to sit. “You rest just a minute and someone will be over to talk with you.” Another ambulance and an CHP cruiser had joined the group while Roy and John had been talking. Soon the ambulances were loaded and Chet was following them in the squad. Roy was in the ambulance with the truck driver and one JJ Weston. Weston was ranting about the way he was denied treatment. He was ranting about suing the fire department and the CHP and about how he was missing an important meeting. Roy was glad once they got to the hospital he could get out and not have to bite his tongue any longer.
When they got back to the station they cleaned up the squad then went in to get some coffee. The pot was empty so Roy fixed a fresh one. The engine had been called out to a trash fire while they were at Rampart.
“Ya know, that fire at the auto shop the other day…We should have known something was wrong when we saw those smudge pots. There has to be a reason…”
“Someone with a grudge against the shop owner? Or the fire department or the world. Who knows?”
“Yeah. I don’t think I’m gonna tell Lee about this. She is uptight about her accident. I’m glad her and Ibbbie get along so well. Makes it easier on all of us.”
“Jo said she is really excited about the house being ready by Thanksgiving.”
“Yeah, she is gonna be disappointed if it isn’t. Even if the other buildings aren’t ready I hope the main house is. It’s worked out well, most of the rain we’ve had this month has been early evening or late at night. They have six weeks to get it ready. Everything that we absolutely do not need is packed up and in storage.
The engine returned and the crew was happy to find a fresh pot of coffee waiting.
Lt. Crocket and Chief McConnikee spent time together in the office with Hank while the others cleaned the fridge and Johnny and Roy made a run to Keelson’s. Mark Keelson and his son Stevie were stocking shelves.
“Hey guys, how’s it going?”
“Not too good, some joker trashed the station. We need to replace almost everything we had in the fridge and most of what was in the cupboard. We have a list here…” Soon with Stevie’s help they had everything on the list plus some extras. .
“Wish I could give you guys a discount.” Mark said looking at the total.
“Don’t worry about it.” Johnny handed him his credit card. “I rather be here shopping than cleaning up the mess back there.”
They went back to the station and carried in the bags. After they had them all carried in and placed on the table Johnny went into the office.
“Here’s the money back.” Johnny said handing the envelope back to cap. “Let’s just call it even.” When Cap started to say something Johnny just shrugged.
“What’s going through that head of yours?” Cap looked at his junior paramedic. “Something.”
“Look, you know and I know I can afford this. I also know none of this funny stuff happens to any of the other shifts. All this has started since the tires were shot on the mustang. I just have the feeling it has connected all somehow. Nothing I can put my finger on, just a feeling.”
“I’ve come to trust your feelings about some things….If that feeling gets too strong, let someone know. Don’t try to be some kind of hero.”
Marco was filling the canisters with the flour, sugar and cornmeal. He had already put the coffee in its canister in the fridge. The shelves were stocked with the basic items including hot chocolate mix and marshmallows. There was a fresh pot of coffee brewing and water on to make tea. “Hey John, thanks for the spices and herbs…Gonna grill some streaks and fix a salsa to go over the baked potatoes. Roy said to mark the other steaks for B and C shift.”
As they were eating Chet decided to continue his quest to find out about the new house. “So, Gage, when you get this house finished you gonna have some kind of housewarming?”
“That’s up to Lee.”
“So when do we get to see this house?”
“When she is ready to let people see it. And if she catches you snooping out there, you’ll never get invited. They have cameras out there to keep people away from the equipment they leave there. There is security lights and sensors…I think her uncle is testing some new stuff out there for the company he works for. They are into that high tech stuff.”
“Awh you can’t fool me…you’re bluffing.” Chet said with a smirk.
“If you don’t believe him ask Cisco.” Roy said. “He helped John put up the no trespassing signs.” DeSoto smiled at the slight paling of Chet’s face. It was an open secret that Cisco did not like Chet in the least. Cisco tolerated the Irish firefighter because of his respect and fondness for John and because Lee would be upset if he did anything to make Johnny unhappy.
“Think we’ve been stood up.” Torres complained as he finished his third beer. This is getting too strange, all this cloak and dagger stuff.”
“Hey, you’re the one that said this was gonna be easy money.” Liu was more than a little drunk and stoned. “Think I’m gonna go to China town up in San Francisco for awhile.”
Just as they were about to leave Troy Braxton come over to their table. He smiled at the two disgruntled men.
Heard you weren’t happy with our arrangement.” He sat down. “What’s the problem?
“The problem is we got a crazy cop after us and a Jefe who is out for our heads.” Torres said. “You didn’t mention that this hit was gonna be taken personal by the cops and the bad guys.”
“She does seem to live a charmed life. Hear her husband is gonna be doing some over time at 88 soon…and that they are making really good progress on the new house they are building. Be a shame if something happened to that nice new building, wouldn’t it? Or to that upstanding young paramedic…But then, It could mean a really nice payday for you two. If you aren’t chickens.”
“Just what do you want done?” Torres asked. The idea of a nice payday was too enticing.
“Just a little disruption. Seems Mrs. Gage wants to have the station Thanksgiving dinner at their new place. And minor injuries are always happening to paramedics…Nothing too drastic…and the crew of the perfect station…maybe they need to have a run of bad luck too…Heard that someone messed up their neat little station…That shining example of virtue Hank Stanley had to re do and refile some of that paper work he loves so much.
“What do you have against that station? That paramedic’s wife…what was the big deal about taking her wedding rings if you were just gonna let us have them?”
“You just do what you’re told…you’re getting paid enough.”
“Not enough to get on the wrong side of Cisco Alvarez or the Z Bolt Jefe.” Lui said. “That man is crazy.”
Laughing, Troy Braxton raised an eyebrow, “Which one?”
She was in the hallway coming from the extra bedroom. The apartment door was open since Roy and Johnny had been taking boxes down to the basement storage area. She could not see them but could hear them clearly.
“…she tries really hard but I don’t think Lee is ever gonna be able to do it…She tries but…it’s never gonna work…but I can’t tell her that without making her think I was disappointed in her.”
“Are you?” Roy asked smiling.
“Nope, I love her for all the things she can do…”Johnny laughed. “But her getting in and out of the Rover independently is just not working. There are so few things she can’t do…even after the doctors or therapist said she couldn’t. That is why I am so sure she is gonna be a great mother. If the jerks give her a chance.”
“Someone will. And, junior, you’ll be a great dad.”
“I had great dads to learn from…You and Cap…and my dad. Then you add Lee’s dads into the mix…Jeff, Hector as well as her dad And look at the great mom’s she had…and then you add Jo and Kathy and Em into the mix…She has been learning from the best…”
“Baby girl, what’s wrong?” Johnny’s sleepy voice interrupted her rememberance. “Why are you laying like that?” He had turned over so he was facing her. “Tell me.”
“Just thinking how lucky I am to have you in my life, to have you believe in me.” He pulled her over to him.
“That works both ways, Baby girl.”
“Nice you could join us Chester B.” Hank said. Looking at his linesman Hank regretted his slightly sarcastic tone. “Are you ok Pal? Concern showed in Hank’s voice as well as on his face.
“Cap there is some sick people out there. My mom gets a call my brother has been shot and she needs to get to Rampart. I get a call that my mom has been taken to Harbor General with a possible stroke and Denny gets a call that I’m at Blair General and had been caught in a building collapse. None of us can get a hold of the others and we all assumed the the calls were real…I thought Denny was on his way to Harbor General…It’s really sick.”
“But everyone is ok?”
“Yeah Mom was a little shook and her blood pressure was really high but Dr. Early took care of her. The police are gonna try to find out who it was…If it’s someone playing tricks on people in general or firemen or police in particular.”
The rest of the day was quiet and they were able to get some additional drill time in lunch. After lunch the squad was sent to do some fire safety inspections. Johnny noticed that two of the O’Shea establishments were on the list.
“Cap, can I talk to you in your office?” Johnny asked.
“Sure John.” Hank could see Johnny was worried about something. They went into the office. “Have a seat.” Johnny sat down looking uncomfortable. “What’s the problem?”
“Cap, I don’t think I can do the inspections at Johnny Pat’s Place or the O’Shea Bakery and Deli. Legally I mean.”
“Because they are part of Mick and Sean’s company…O”Shea Family Eateries….WBS owns three of their building and doing in house financing. Lee and I own a 10% interest in the company. Mick and Sean insisted on it when she wanted to loan them money. She helped with the negotiating for the buildings and financing. She had it checked out with the department’s legal department since we don’t pay for what we buy at the restaurant or deli unless its something huge. Lee pays for the luncheons and food she has for her office…But I don’t think it would be ok for me to do inspections on a business I had an interest in and don’t want to put the department in any iffy legal positions.”
“Thanks for telling me …I’ll check with HQ if they want to give them to one of the other stations.”
He went back out to where Roy was waiting. “Everything ok?”
“Yeah…We aren’t doing the O’Shea inspections. Cap’ll take care of getting them reassigned.”
The inspections were almost finished when the squad received a call to a MVA. Johnny’s heart sunk when he saw a horse van that had been hit . There were several horses standing in the median eating grass. Two men dressed in jeans and flannel shirts were standing near them.
The two cars and horse van were in the left hand lane and Vince was directing traffic around them. The drivers of the two cars were fine except for a minor bruises and being shaken up. The driver of the horse van had a small cut on his check. The biggest worry was the teenage boy in the horse trailer. The horse in the trailer would not let anyone near the boy.
“We can call and try to get a tranquilizer gun…”
“What’s the horse’s name?” Johnny asked coming up behind the others.
“Gallant Wind. Most of us call him GW…a good horse. I’d hate to see anything happen to him.”
“Yeah me too….Look, Cap, let me try something…” Johnny was taking off his jacket. “You got anything up front that would have a familiar smell to him? Something that belongs to one of the wranglers he likes?”
“Jake’s hat…Him and Jake are buddies.”
“Good give me the hat…the rest of you stay back.”
“Junior, what’s going on in that head of yours?”
“Just something my grandfather taught me a long time ago…I need something to use as a blindfold…”
The driver came back with the hat and a sweaty old towel. “That towel smells like Jake and GW. Jake used it to wipe GW down after we got him in the van. GW, he doesn’t like this van, the trailer he usually rides in was in for repairs.”
Johnny slipped off his shoes and socks and his uniform shirt. Before putting on Jakes hat he rubbed the towel on his arms and chest, then put the hat on.
“You stand back and let me try this. GW’s tack in with him?”
Johnny made his way carefully to the back of the trailer. A quick glance showed him the boy was breathing and was ok except for a small cut on his arm. Talking softly he moved towards the horse.
“I hope he knows what he is doing.” The driver said. “That horse is about crazy with fear.”
“I wouldn’t worry. He worked herding sheep from the time he was five. By the time he was 12 he was a top horse hand.”
“Where?” Realization slowly dawning on the driver/rancher
“Lame Deer, Montana.”
Johnny was talking to the horse in a quiet singsong voice. The horse watched an unfamiliar person who smelled like his friend. The quiet voice was calming and soft in a singsong rhythm.
The horse stopped pawing the air and seemed to turn its head toward the sound. The smell of blood and fear wasn’t on this man but the smell of his friend Jake…
“Come on, you’ll be fine…, come on…” Johnny still used the sing song cadence but switched to English so his friend would know what he needed. “Roy, get the boy out…Its the smell of his blood making ole GW a little up tight…got him blind folded so we should be fine…” Roy and Chet did a grab and run on the young boy then Johnny led the horse outside.
“Good boy…yeah you’re fine…” He had a bridle on him. Before anyone, could react he was on the horses back galloping down the median. He only went a short distance before he turned back at a walk. He turned to one of the wranglers. “Give him some oats and water, let him rest a few minutes before you put him back in there.”
“Young man, that was some of the finest horse talk I have heard since I left Montana. “ The driver said extending his hand. “GW’s stud fees are gonna guarantee my ranch survives over another bad winter.”
“He’s a mighty fine horse. “Just a little confused by all the noise and smells.” He patted the now calm horse’s neck. “He’s a real beauty.”
“I hear you’re from Lame Deer… I know a few people around there. Heard about a LA fireman and his wife that shook things up there awhile back. Got the best of the local bully boys.”
“Yeah, well, they messed with the wrong person.” He was uneasy. No one except Roy knew the whole story about the trip to Lame Deer. He wanted to keep it that way He left the man standing there with the horse to go help Roy with the injured boy. Roy rode into the hospital with the boy and the driver of one of the cars who had a cut on his forehead, neither were hurt seriously.
Another few minutes and they had everything cleared up. A tow truck had came for the two cars, another horse van had been found to come pick up the horses.
On the way back to the station from Rampart, Johnny was extra quiet. Roy knew when he was ready to talk he would.
“Gage residence.” Lee answered on the second ring.
“Hi…how’s your day going?”
“Fine…better now that I’m talking to you. You sound tired.”
“I’m fine. We got back from a run and since it was quiet, so thought I’d call you. You getting a lot done today?”
“Yep, Ben sent over a big stack of applications…a lot of holiday type requests. Jo is coming over and we’ll work on them together. She is bringing the kids so we will probably order in pizza. You sound tired, anything wrong?”
“No was just thinking about you…Maybe tomorrow we can go out to the house and check on it…Does Ben still think we’ll be able to move in before Thanksgiving?”
“Yeah the outside and the guest house and garage won’t be done but they have scheduled the final inspection for the house on Thursday. Once that is done we can start moving. They talked a few minutes longer then Johnny set the table. Roy had the potatoes in the oven and was making a salad. He would heat up the peas and carrots when the engine got back and put the ham slices on to heat then also.
“Everything ok?” Roy asked trying not to pry but worried about Johnny’s mood.
“Yeah. That guy with the horses he knew about Lame Deer….I just want to keep that in the past. I don’t want them to know about Uncle George or how the aunts were…or how much time I went away…I don’t want Chet to have more to tease me about or worse yet, for the guys to all pity me. It’s funny but all day I’ve had this feeling something bad was gonna happen.”
The engine returned soon and while the crew cleaned up Roy put the finishing touches on dinner. Johnny was quiet during the meal but no one except Roy noticed as Chet and Marco were arguing football.
“Yes, I’m trying to reach Mrs. John Gage.”
“This is Mrs. Gage.”
“I’m sorry to have to call you but your husband was injured at work and is on his way to Rampart General. They will need you to sign admitting papers.”
“I’ll be there as soon as possible.” She hung up and took a deep breath. She dialed the cab company and requested a cab reminding them she was in a wheelchair. (She had used this company several times in the past.) She then called the police station.
“Lt. Alvarez, please.” She knew he was working the night shift this week.
“Just a minute.” The desk clerk rang the office. Dan Kessler was filing some papers but stopped and went over to answer Cisco’s phone.
“Dan, it’s Lee. Is Cisco there?”
“I’ll track him down, he’s around here somewhere. I can have him call you when he comes back in.”
“Tell him I’m on my way to Rampart, Johnny’s hurt. I’ve got to go down and wait for the cab.” She hung up not waiting for him to say anything else. Dan buzzed the captain’s office.
“Is Cisco there?”
“He was…think he went down to records, said he would be back here in a few minutes.”
“Tell him Lee called…Johnny ‘s on his way to Rampart…she called a cab and is on her way there.”
The SCU’s went off and the engine and squad left the station to a reported car off a canyon road about 20 minutes from them. When they reached the area, they saw the broken guardrail. There was no visible movement around the car but there was a body laying near it.
“Roy, you and John go on down. We’ll give you as much light as we can…Give Marco the keys so he can turn the squad around…”
Soon the two paramedics were making their way down the hillside. The dark uneven ground made it difficult to proceed very fast but they knew slow and safe was the way they had to go. When they reached the bottom they were surprised to see two dummies laying by the car. The name tags were crudely printed Gage and DeSoto. Roy keyed the HT.
“Cap, it’s an old junker with dummies named Gage and DeSoto…we’re coming up.”
They were almost to the top when Roy’s foot caught on a root. He twisted one way but his foot went another. It didn’t take Johnny long to get it freed. Once they were up top, Roy took his shoe off and let Johnny examine it, even though he was sure, it was fine.
Cap came over to them after talking to dispatch. He was frowning.
They headed back to the station. They were surprised to see a sheriff’s car sitting there waiting on them.
“Ah, John, can I see you in the office? You too, Roy.”
“What’s the problem?” Roy asked. “ There a problem with one of the runs?”
“No. The sheriff’s department got a complaint about a loud party and someone shooting off guns…John it was at your place on Calvert Road…There isn’t a window out there that isn’t broken.”
“Does Lee know?” Johnny closed his eyes. “She was so excited about moving out there.”
“There wasn’t an answer when we called her. I thought you might know where she went.” Sam did not like the way this was playing out. From the panic-stricken look on Johnny’s face, he knew the answer.
“She wasn’t planning on going anywhere. She still doesn’t have a car.”
“Maybe friends came over at the last minute and they went out to get something to eat.” Sam said trying to be reassuring.
“No. This late she wouldn’t go out…unless it was an emergency.” Johnny was pacing. “If someone called her about the house she would have called me or Cisco…”
Sam called into his dispatcher then made another call. Johnny sat there not saying a word. Roy went out and got him a cup of coffee and one for Sam. The three crew men sat quietly waiting to hear what was happening.
Cisco pulled into the parking lot of Rampart and was surprised to see the empty parking spot. He parked and went into the relatively quiet ER. Betty was at the desk where he usually saw Dixie sitting.
“Can you tell me how seriously John Gage was hurt?” Cisco asked. “Have they brought him in yet?”
“I’m sorry…I can’t give out information on patients…” Confused since she had not heard anything about Johnny getting hurt.
“I received a message from Lee that she was on her way here and that Johnny was hurt. She is family.” Wondering if Johnny had been taken to another closer hospital.
“I haven’t seen Lee or had had any word on Johnny getting hurt. There haven’t been any calls from any squad in the last hour and a half.” Betty shivered at the anger she saw on his face.
“My little sister called the police station and said she was on her way here. Now you are telling me you did not call her. Who is in charge here?”
“Dr. Brackett is in treatment room 3...” Cisco took a deep breath. He realized he had frightened her. “Sorry didn’t mean to growl at you. It’s just that Lee should have been here by now unless the message I got was messed up. I’ve been looking out for her since she was 7 years old, it’s a hard habit to break.”
“I can understand that…she and Johnny are a special couple.” Kel came out of the treatment room and spotted Cisco. “Well. Lt. Alvarez, what brings you here tonight?”
“I got a call they were bringing Johnny in and Lee wanted me to meet her here. But neither have made it here.”
The phone rang. “Emergency, Mrs. Matthews.”
“Betty, this is Roy DeSoto. Lee isn’t there by any chance, is she?”
“No, but Lt. Alvarez is here looking for her and Johnny.” Betty answered. “Do you want to talk to him?” She handed the phone to Cisco. “It’s Roy DeSoto.”
“Roy, where are you? What’s going on?” Cisco demanded.
“We’re here at the station. Someone shot out the windows at the new house. Any idea where Lee is?” Roy asked.
“No I got a message to meet her here at Rampart,” Cisco sounded angry.
“You don’t think she would go out to the house?” Roy was getting more concerned with each question and answer.
“I’ll go check…Tell John to stay there…I’ll call you soon as I get out there.” Cisco slammed the phone down.
Lee was down stairs waiting on the cab. She checked her purse to make sure she had some money and her keys…It seemed as if it was taking forever for the cab to get there. Finally it pulled up and the cabbie got out and helped her into the back seat. She waited as he put the chair in the trunk. He got back in. “Rampart General correct?”
“Yes, the Emergency Room entrance.” She closed her eyes and said a prayer for Johnny and all the crew. It seemed as if they were taking a long way around to the hospital. Even in the dark she could tell they were going the wrong way.
“Excuse me, but this isn’t right” Lee said trying not to show how scared she was.
“You trying to tell me how to do my job? You one of those know it all’s who think they are better than everyone else?” The driver sounded slightly drunk.
“I drive to Rampart several times a week; I know how to get there.”
“Too bad you aren’t driving now.” Lee sat back and closed her eyes. She knew the worst thing she could do was panic. Roy and the guys would be with Johnny so he wasn’t alone. She said a prayer for him and the doctors and nurses. She hoped it was Kel or Joe not Mike Morton on duty. To be fair, Mike was a good doctor but his attitude with Johnny was difficult for her to forgive. Would Johnny forgive her for leaving him? She wasn‘t afraid to die but she was afraid of how it could hurt him. Please Roy, you and Jo have to take care of him if something bad happens tonight. Maybe she would get lucky and the cabbie was just drunk and not mean… The cab stopped and she heard the driver get out.
“Since you’re so smart, find your own way to the hospital…I’ll just collect my fare…” He opened the door and took her purse and took the money out of her wallet. There was only about $45.00. “Too bad you don’t have any rings on tonight…” He slammed the door shut and started to walk away. “Your friends are going to get tired of you causing all this trouble…See how you like it when they all turn their backs on you.” He made a big show of putting the keys in his pocket before walking away. Even if she could manage to get out of the backseat her wheelchair was locked in the trunk.
Cisco called the cab company to see if Lee had been picked up. He knew she always used the same one since it was wheelchair friendly. He was told that she had called and a cab had left to pick her up 25 minutes ago. The dispatcher tried to raise the cab but received no answer. The dispatcher said they would keep trying and also alert other cabs to be on the lookout for the her cab. Cisco drove out to the house but saw no one except the repair crew from WBS. They were trying to board up or cover all the openings in case of rain. The foreman stopped Cisco.
“You have any idea who would do something like this? Lee and Johnny are good people. They have been more than nice to us guys working out here…Lee sends out food to us and makes sure we have plenty of water and those cold days, she sent out gallons of hot coffee…No one that works for WBS is treated anything but fair…This time of year some of the crew is usually laid off or has their hours cut…We‘re working overtime and they hired guys from other crews that didn’t have no work…”
“Yeah I know, my dad and brother run Alvarez Landscaping…Lee’s family helped my dad start his business…She’s pretty special to us…”
“Well, when you find her tell her we’ll get her house fixed just as quick as we can. “
“I will, she’ll appreciate that.”
“Yeah I know…That’s why I had no trouble getting guys out here this time of night. Did you get the film out of that camera they put in the tree? It looks like a bird house.”
“No but I will. Thanks. You wouldn’t happen to know who put that camera up there would you?”
“The guy that put it up said her uncle sent it…trying out a new toy.”
Cap knew he should call lights out but he also knew it was useless. They had made another pot of coffee and were sitting around just waiting. Chet was flipping through a magazine, Mike had been on the same hand of solitaire for 10 minutes. Marco was sitting over at the table with the jigsaw puzzle but hadn’t put a piece in place since he sat down. Cap had been the phone to headquarters filling them in on the latest false alarm and Lee‘s disappearance. Roy and Johnny were outside by the back wall.
“Why would anyone want to hurt her? Is it because she married me?”
“John, you don’t know anything has happened…It could all be some big mistake.”
“Like her tires getting shot out and her fingers broken…Now the house getting vandalized…I keep telling her it isn’t her fault we keep getting turned down…They have to look at my being a half breed and with Aspergers and just laugh at the nerve of me even trying…but she won’t even listen to me say anything negative…It’s my fault she felt like a failure. Maybe she just decided she could not take it anymore. I had to shot my mouth off about wanting kids and having a family…God, please, let her be alright…” Johnny sunk down on the ground. “She is my life. Even if she left because she didn’t want to be married any more…let her be ok…”
“John, she would never leave you any more than you’d leave her…that’s just the panic talking.”
The time was moving so slowly. A little after midnight, Johnny and Roy went inside. Cap had finally told the others to go to bed.
“Roy, go to bed. Please.” Johnny begged him. “Just let me sit here.”
“And have Lee have my head? No, I will be fine on the sofa here. I can make you some hot chocolate if you’re thirsty.”
“Naw, I couldn’t keep it down… She drinks that stuff by the gallon…with lots of marshmallows or whipped cream. She likes it with peppermint in it sometimes…You think she is warm wherever she is? Her back and legs hurt more than she wants to admit in the cold and damp.”
“I don’t know Junior, we can just hope.”
Cisco was back at the police station and in the lab. He had called Jeff to get the information he needed to open the camera without damaging the film. It had not been easy to tell Jeff all that had gone on the last few hours.
“If you need help call…If they have hurt her …”
“I hope they have sense enough to just play silly games. Most of what has gone on since they wrecked her car has been petty and annoying. The windows at the house will take a few days to replace. Roy is keeping a close eye on Johnny. We already have off duty police and firemen volunteering to look for her.”
“Let me know soon as you hear anything.”
Lee was glad she had grabbed her cape before going out to wait and that she hadn’t taken the time to change out of her sweats. She wrapped the cape around her legs tucking it under her as well as she could. She had thought about trying to get into the front seat and blowing the horn or using the radio. Then she realized the cabbie had pulled the mic off the unit. If in the morning she could tell if there was any traffic or places nearby she would try for the horn. There was no use running the battery down if no one was around to hear or try to move around in the dark. She concentrated on thinking about the good things happening in their lives right now. The house was going to be done by Thanksgiving and they would be moved in ready to celebrate the holidays. Jeff was coming for Christmas and maybe Matt. They were going to invite Johnny’s aunt also. Johnny…she worked hard at not crying at the thought of him. Would he wonder why she didn’t come or was he hurt so bad he wouldn’t know? The others would wonder and be looking for her. Cisco would be looking for her not that he had any idea where to start. She trusted Roy to watch out for Johnny. As she sat there, her mind wondered back to the last time Johnny had been at Rampart. It was when the infection from his ear spread to his whole system.
Johnny had been sleeping most of the day. She had managed to get him awake enough to take his antibiotics and to drink some of the fortified orange juice. Kel had been worried about him becoming dehydrated since he was sleeping so much and his temperature had spiked again over night. The sleeping was a side effect of the pain meds. When he was awake he had complained about the pressure building in his ear again. Lee had called Kel but he was not available. Mike Morton had suggested a warm compress. It was time for the next round of antibiotics so Lee went into the bedroom. The only light was a small lamp on the dresser as he had complained the light hurt his eyes. Lee put her hand on his forehead and was alarmed at the heat radiating off him. “Johnny… “His only response had been a low groan. He turned his head away from her when she attempted to wipe his forehead with a cool cloth. The pain that went through his head when I he turned it was unbearable and he screamed as he tried to push her hands away from him. The movement only increased the pain and the waves of nausea he had been feeling. Lee saw the bloody pillowcase when he moved his head. She pressed the intercom and Hector answered right away. “Johnny needs a squad…and I need you up here.” Maria had called the squad while Hector came up. He had gotten Johnny on his side and held the pan while he threw up. Lee did not remember much of the trip to the hospital. What she did remember was waiting in Kel’s office. With Hector holding her and telling her it would be ok…singing the song to her that he had sung to her when she had nightmares when she was 8... He always could make her feel safe. She missed him and Maria so much but was happy they were able to be with their son and his family.
Johnny made another pot of coffee while waiting for morning to get there, and then went over to the couch. He moved Henry over then sat down. Henry placed his head in Johnny’s lap and let Johnny rub his ears. “Ya know, Henry, when we find her, I‘m going to lock her in the house whenever I leave it. Or have her uncle get me one of those special ankle bracelets that keeps track of people” Henry made a soft snoring noise. “Glad someone is getting some sleep. Hope she is…You know she is up to something…I think it’s part of a Christmas surprise for me. She was on the phone the other day and stopped talking soon as I walked in the room. I still haven’t any idea what I’m gonna get her for her birthday or Christmas.” He took a deep breath. “She has to be alright…” He took a drink of the now lukewarm coffee. “Did you know she wants a dog?” She said that was one of the advantages of our new house, we could have all the animals we wanted. She even checked on the zoning for horses. I use to think I wanted a horse…now I don’t want anything except to hear her laugh and call me Boyo.”
Johnny heard a noise and looked up to see Mike standing there listening. “I didn’t mean to eaves drop.” Stoker said as he sat down.
“That’s great. Lee’ll be planning a shower for her.” He stood up. “She’ll start a savings account for the new baby…just like the one she started for Mikey.”
“You started one for your baby yet?”
“No, she isn’t making too many plans anymore.” The sadness in his eyes was more intense. “She blames herself…said we shouldn’t have gotten married. That she asked too much of me…I finally convinced her we were gonna be fine if it was just the two of us…”
“They’ll find her and it’ll be ok…”
A shift was up before the morning tones. No one had gotten much sleep. They all jumped when the phone rang.
“Station 51, Captain Stanley, speaking.” Hank answered
“Hank, its Cisco. A patrol unit just found the missing cab driver. He was hit over the head and left tied up in a shelter in Baylor Park. Said he stopped to help two men push a truck out of the way. It was blocking the road. The cab was on it’s way to pick up Lee. Dispatch had given him the fare since he was near Lee and Johnny’s place and had driven Lee several times lately.”
“But still no word on her?”
“None. There is a APB out on the cab…The information has been shared with CHP, the county sheriff’s department and all local law enforcement agencies. Deputy Chief Gilmore is a good friend of Jeff’s and he has made this a priority.”
“Look, my guys all want to help, just tell us where you want us.”
“Tell your guys to go get some sleep and if we don’t hear anything by noon I’ll call you.
“At this point I don’t know.
The sound of a dog barking woke Lee up but she couldn’t see any one. She looked at her watch, it was a little after seven. She moved carefully not wanting to set her back or hip into a muscle spasm. She was cold, hungry and had to go to the bathroom. She rolled the window down to see if she could hear anything. She thought about Johnny and the tears started.
“Stop that,” she said aloud. “Crying isn’t going to help anything. It’s fairly warm in here, it’s dry…Nothing can get to you…and sooner or later someone will find you. The cab company will be looking for their cab. Bet Cisco called Jeff…but she wasn’t sure if he was in DC or London. Stop being a big baby and think.” She laughed. “As if talking to myself was going to help matters.” She listened but didn’t hear a lot of traffic sounds, but did hear birds. She noticed a small building nearby. It looked like some sort of storage shed. Maybe there would be something in it that someone would need soon. She wondered how Johnny was. She took a deep breath and slowly counted to ten. Getting into a panic was the worst thing she could do. She had to stay calm, not let the muscles in her hip and back get all knotted. If she did some of the easier exercises to limber up then she could maybe get out of the back seat and into the front. Then if she saw anyone she could blow the horn loud and long…
Roy called Jo after the kids had left. She answered on the second ring.
“I was waiting for you to call…Have you heard anything?” She asked after the brief greetings. “I told the kids you had to help Johnny with something this morning.”
“The police are out looking for the cab and the cab company has people looking for any sign of their missing cab. If they don’t hear anything by noon, the guys are going to start searching. They’re going to be looking in parks and out of the way lots…They think the same people who have been doing the false alarms and making the prank calls are doing this.”
“You sound tired…did you get some sleep?”
“Not much…Johnny wants to go out to the house and check on the damage. He thinks that whoever has her is the same ones that shot the windows and her tires out then took her ring and necklace. He thinks if she hadn’t fought them they wouldn’t have hurt her.”
“What do you think?”
“He may be right. All the other garbage that has been happening at the station and the harassment no one has gotten hurt except her. He thinks she is just stranded somewhere waiting on him to find her.”
“Knowing her, she probably is. Give him my love.”
They drove out to the house neither saying much on the way. Roy was driving the rover. They had put extra blankets, Johnny’s first aid kit he used on camping trips and some bottled water in the rover before leaving the house.
They pulled into the yet to be paved drive way and looked at all the men working. The supervisor came over to the van. He frowned when he saw Roy in the driver’s seat but smiled when he heard Johnny’s voice.
“Jerry, this is Roy DeSoto, my partner and best friend.” He looked at the destruction. “Anything damaged bedsides the windows?”
“A few stray bullet holes but nothing major. When the guys heard about the windows then that she was missing…some of them came out to help with the repairs. They did it because they care not because they expect to be paid. They told that policeman that was here earlier we would help any way we can.”
“Thanks…That means a lot. You make sure everyone that is here has their time turned into payroll. Was it Cisco that was here?”
“Yeah…I’ve met his dad and brother…They’re good people. You let us know if there is anything…” He stopped not sure what else to say.
“Thanks…We better get out of your way…so do you think it will be ready for us to move in before Thanksgiving?”
“Yeah it will…We’ll make sure it is.”
“She’ll appreciate that.” Johnny looked around and went back to the rover.
“Yes, the changes in sitting area in the master bedroom and the extra space added to the garage. It will need running water as it is to be my husband’s dark room. Then additional room for storage. Ben and you can work out the details.” It was the first time she had ever known so early what she was giving Johnny for Christmas There would be a second garage build later to house his motorcycles and the garden tractor and whatever other tools and guy stuff he wanted. That would be built after the pool house….this house was going to be everything they had ever dreamed of. It was more than Johnny had ever dreamed of but that is what made it so important to her to give him a home that was his not one someone else had had first.
Hank waited until 12:05 then called Cisco. He had asked Em to wake him up at 11:30 if he fell asleep. It had been an uneasy night for all at the station. The only call had been a minor trash fire and there had been no calls for the squad. Dan answered the phone. Cisco had left a message for Hank. Hank then called the others and they made arrangements to meet at the station then go over to Baylor park and start searching the wooded area there. When they met at the station Chet was surprised Johnny and Roy weren’t there.
“Cap, any idea where Gage and Roy are?” Chet asked looking concerned. “Gage doing ok?”
“They were going out to the house then Johnny wanted to to try some places. He’s running on caffeine and adrenalin right now.”
“Do they have any idea who or why? Lee and John are always helping someone…why would anyone want to hurt them?” Marco asked.
“Why would anyone want to to harass the station like they have done in the last few weeks? The false alarms, the trashing the place, calls to your and Chet’s family about fake injuries? Mike’s truck got egged and someone let the air out of Roy and Johnny’s tires while we were on a run.” Hank went over the list in his head. “None of it makes sense.”
“But the worst seems to be aimed at Gage…Lee getting hurt , the house and her disappearing.” Marco said with a shake of his head.
“Maybe it’s Lee they are really targeting. What better way to hurt her than to hurt John?” Mike said quietly. The others looked at him nodding in agreement. That did make some sense. “Maybe the other stuff was just to confuse us.”
“Or we just got caught in their fallout for their mess.” Chet grumbled. His mom was still having trouble sleeping after the fake calls they received.
“Kelly, I don’t want to hear you ever tell John this is his fault, or even hint it.” Cap said sternly.
A few more minutes of talking then they went to the area they had been assigned.
Roy and Johnny had just left the area where her car had been wrecked when they got a call from Cisco on Johnny’s CB.
“Mijo, someone called the station. Said if you went to the scene of your most odious escapade you might find something you lost. Any idea what they mean?”
“Odious? What the hell…” Johnny was frustrated and this was making his head spin. “That means rotten…stinking…”
“Nauseating… The pumping station.” Roy said. “Didn’t you tell me you were nauseated when you were there? The smell …when you got to the hospital was still pretty obnoxious…”
Johnny gave Cisco the approximate address and they headed out that way.
“What if this is just another way to confuse us? What if whoever did this was afraid we were getting too close? Cisco said if it was an ordinary kidnapping we should have gotten ransom note within the first couple of hours…”
“Let’s worry about that after we check out that pumping station. From the message they left, it’s the most logical place to look. You said yourself you thought her fingers getting broke were an accident…that they panicked when she fought them.”
“Yeah…but what if she fought them again?” Johnny said softly. “She wouldn’t risk it would she?”
“I honestly don’t know.” Roy answered honestly.
They reached the pumping station before Cisco. At first they saw nothing but as they pulled up closer they saw the cab parked under a tree.
The two quickly were out of the rover opening the back door of the cab.
“Baby girl…” Johnny said softly as he gently touched her neck. He felt the pulse and said a silent prayer of thanks. Her eyes opened and she smiled before closing them. Roy went to get the blankets and first aid kit.. “Lee, open your eyes.”
“No, I won’t, silly girl.” He kissed her lightly on her forehead. “We are here with you…me and Roy and Cisco.” Cisco had radioed for an ambulance and squad. Roy came back, Johnny nodded his thanks as he began to get her vitals. She watched his every move but didn’t say anything.
“How is she?” Cisco said as he hovered.
“Other than being dehydrated and cold, I’d say she was doing good.” Roy answered as Johnny was busy gently massaging her hip. “Her vitals are good except for her BP being a little low.”
“Lee, honey, talk to me.” Johnny said in a gentle but firm voice.
“It really is you? I’m not dreaming?” She asked still confused. “You were hurt…how are you here?”
“They lied to you…I’m here and you’re gonna be fine.” She started to cry and he kissed her. “It’s ok. You’ll be at Rampart soon and they’ll take good care of you.” He looked at Roy the concern on his face intensified.
“Promise not to laugh?” She asked closing her eyes.
“I promised that a long time ago, remember?”
“I think I wet myself when my leg was cramping…Don’t want them to know.”
“It’s ok no one will know. You just rest a few minutes.”
Dwyer and his partner pulled into the space next to the rover. Roy met them telling them they needed the cervical collar and back board. When they got over to the cab Johnny was taking her blood pressure again.
“Her blood pressure is low, seriously dehydrated…Every time she moves I can see the muscles in her hip and legs cramping. When she was crying there weren’t any tears.” He gave them the numbers for her vitals. Ready to move her soon as we get the collar on and the board in place. You want me to do it?”
“Yeah, I think she’ll handle it better with you doing it.”
Roy was on the biophone. “Rampart, this is squad 51, how do you read?”
“Loud and clear 51.”
“Rampart we have a female patient 23 , she is suffering from severe dehydration and muscle spasms. Be advised the patient is Lee Gage.” He gave the vitals. “She is almost ready to transport. John is helping them get her on a back board. She panics when he is out of her sight.”
“I would guess the feeling is mutual at this point. Start an IV DW5TKO and get her in here.”
“They are getting her on the gurney now. Cisco and I will be following the ambulance in. Dwyer is riding in the ambulance with them.”
“Good. Tell them to keep an eye on her blood pressure and keep her calm as possible.”
“Roy, you call Jeff soon as we get to the hospital. You still have that card he gave you?” Cisco asked as he watched them load her into the ambulance.
“Yeah. I have two others to call. Jo and Kathy both will be on their way to the hospital.”
“Treatment room 3.” Dixie quickly told the attendants. She followed after telling Betty to watch the desk.
Johnny was taking the collar off her. Kel was standing back letting him take the lead in getting her calmed down. “You’ll feel better soon…Doc here is gonna take real good care of you.”
“You won’t leave me?” Lee said grabbing his arm. The movement sent a wave of pain down and across her lower back.
“I don’t think I could ,make him leave without a few big orderlies to carry him out….Now calm down.” Kel said coming up next to her. “Dix, get her blood pressure please. Johnny, you want to help me and Dwyer to get her off this board. What’s the best way?”
“Doc you get her under the shoulders, Charlie, under her knees and ankles, I’ll get her lower back…On 3...1...2..3.”
She worked hard not to cry out as they moved her. She tasted the blood as she bit down on the inside of her lower lip.
“Leona Elizabeth stop that.” Johnny could tell from the expression on her face she was biting herself. “It’s ok to yell…”
“No it isn’t…not lady like…Dr. Ryan told me he would give me another shot if I yelled again…don’t like him?”
“Who is Dr. Ryan?” Johnny asked confused. He knew all her doctors.
“He is the one she threw the bedpan at.” Dixie said. “That was what 7 or 8 years ago?”
“She’s been confused a few times since we found her…When she was crying, there weren’t any tears.” Johnny said as he gently stroked her forehead., “We all know she gets teary eyed at commercials with puppies and little kids.”
“I think as the IV’s bring her fluid levels up she’ll be fine. Why don’t we have a nurse get her into a gown and we’ll get her up to a room.”
“No…” Lee said surprising them all. “I am not staying here, I’m going home.” She turned to look at Johnny and Dixie. “You can’t make me.”
“Shush, don’t get yourself all upset…The muscle relaxer is just starting to work…”
“I was so scared for you…they said you were hurt…was afraid you thought I wasn’t coming…I was afraid if …if I died you would blame yourself…So scared for you…” She closed her eyes again. “Don’t laugh at me…”
“No one is gonna laugh at you…I bet Dixie can find you a set of scrubs and Doc’ll let me help get you cleaned up.”
“That would be fine as long as you stay calm and give the meds a chance to work. Now I think we have some anxious people I need to go talk to.” Kel and Dixie left them.
“I promised you no one is going to laugh at you when I am around…They will laugh with you not at you, understand.”
“Did I dream it that you were mad at me? Because it was my fault all this was happening to Station 51?”
“Why would you even think I’d say something like that?” Johnny questioned. “None of this is your fault.”
“But he said it was…He said all my friends would turn their backs to me because I caused too much trouble. You would be so disappointed in me if I caused you to lose friends…”
“Shush, you know none of our friends are like that. Hell, Baby girl, look at all the trouble I have caused them over the years. He was just messing with your mind. Do you have any idea how many of our friends were out looking for you today? How many prayers were said for both of us? Soon as Dix comes back in we’ll get you cleaned up and I bet after you get done with the IV’s we can talk Doc into letting you go home. Besides anyone who turned against you wouldn’t be a friend of mine.”
Dixie came in with a set of scrubs and a student nurse followed with warm water and wash cloths , towels and soap. Dixie thanked her and sent her out of the room. Lee stayed quiet as Dixie and Johnny cleaned her up. If Dixie noticed the damp sweats and panties that Johnny quickly put into the plastic bag she never let Lee know. Dixie wisely let Johnny do most of the work, helping only as needed.
When they were finished, Lee smiled at her good friend. “Thank you it feels so good to be warm and clean. I was starting to think I’d never feel that way again.”
“Tiger here did most of it, I was just his helper when we had to turn you. There are some people waiting to see you. Feel like some company?”
“Sure she does. Think before we let them in we can let her sit in a wheelchair?”
“I’ll check with Kel but I think he’ll probably say yes.”
“John Roderick, you won’t make me stay here, will you?” She asked soon as Dixie left the room. “I just want to go home.”
“If that is what Doc says is best for you…then I want you to stay. But I will be here with you every minute.” He kissed her. “You know, I don’t think you have ever called me John…it’s either John Roderick or Johnny.”
“Don’t change the subject. Is there is any way we can go home soon?”
Dixie and Kel came back in, Dixie pushing a wheelchair. Lee looked at Kel and smiled and batted her eyelashes. “Does this mean I can go home?”
“It means I am going to let Johnny take you up to your office until the IV is finished. Then you come back down here and we’ll see how you’re doing. Any problems he’ll bring you down here, understood?”
“Yes.” Lee answered softly. “I feel a lot better now.” She got a stricken look. “My new travel chair. He locked it in the trunk of the cab.”
“We’ll get it in a day or two…you won’t be needing it because someone will be with you If you have to go any place and they can put your chair in the trunk or back seat.” Dixie and Kel helped Johnny move her into the wheelchair and he covered her with the blanket tucking it in tightly around her. Dixie began pushing her towards the elevator as Johnny and Kel walked behind her talking.
“I think once that IV is done the best thing for her is to go home. I’ll send another IV you can use if her blood pressure starts dropping. The more liquids you can get her to drink the better. The muscle relaxers and your being with her have stopped the worst of the muscle spasms.”
“She doesn’t know about them shooting up the new house. I’m gonna wait awhile before I tell her.”
“I think that’s a good idea. She’s strong but between her car getting wrecked and this…That’s a lot of stress.”
“She has been really looking forward to moving into that house before Thanksgiving. I don’t want her to be afraid out there alone.”
“She would be more worried about you being afraid for her.” Kel said as they joined Lee and Dixie at the elevators. “You go on up, I’ve got some work down here.”
“Kel, thank you. I’m sorry I caused so much trouble.” She looked up at him. “Please forgive me.”
“You and that hose jockey of yours keep life interesting. Besides, none of this is your fault.”
“Well. Little sister, you lead us on a merry chase. Glad to see you back where you belong.” Cisco said as he moved over to give her a kiss on the cheek.
“Glad to be back and sorry for all the trouble I caused you.” Everyone could hear the sadness and fear in her voice.
“Young lady, stop the BS right now. None of this is your fault.” Captain Hank Stanley said in full authoritative voice. “I don’t want you to be wasting time worrying about such silliness.”
“The last thing he said to me was you would all be mad at me because all the trouble at 51 was my fault. I think they said it before at the wreck but I can’t remember if it was real or I dreamed it.”
“They said? You saw this cabbie before?”
“He was the Oriental guy who was there when my car wrecked. I realized that after he left me in the cab.”
To be continued in part 2
Posted to Site 1/1/2014
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