Don't own 'em, didn't create 'em. Glad someone did though!
Roy drove the squad quickly up the winding mountain road, sirens blaring. They rounded the curve, only to meet a large delivery truck, swinging wide into their lane as it sped too fast around the bend toward them.
"Watch it," warned Johnny, bracing for a head-on collision. Roy hit the brakes and swerved, but there wasn't enough room on the narrow road to avoid an accident altogether. The truck lost control and sideswiped the squad. The force of the collision smashed them through the guardrail and both vehicles plunged down the mountainside.
"Oh my God," said Stanley, as the engine rounded the curve in time to see the trucks going through the guardrail.
Mike hit the brakes and the big engine slowed. Chet and Marco jumped out before it stopped moving, running to the broken railing.
Stanley picked up the microphone, "L.A. this is engine fifty-one."
"Go ahead fifty-one," replied L.A.
"L.A., squad fifty-one has been involved in a collision with a truck. Both are through the guard rail on Shoals Mountain Road, about 3 miles north of Burnette Road. Respond a squad, an additional engine, and an ambulance to our location," said Stanley.
"Ten-four," responded L.A.
"L.A., this is chopper three, we are available to respond to fifty-one's incident if needed," came a voice over the radio.
"L.A., I copy chopper three, we can use all the help we can get," said Stanley into the microphone. There was nowhere for the helicopter to land but he might be able to use it for reconnaissance or possibly an air ambulance if it could find a place to set down further up the road. "Ten-four," came the reply though
Stanley didn't hear it, he had already dropped the microphone and jumped out of the truck.
Stanley ran to what was left of the railing, looking over the edge. The squad had apparently flipped at least once. It had finally come to rest in an upright position, against some trees, about two hundred yards down the steep hill. The delivery van had missed the sparsely treed area and had flipped almost the entire five hundred yards to the bottom, practically disintegrating. A mixture of sheet metal and squad supplies could be seen strewn throughout the heavy brush that covered the hillside.
Roy opened his eyes. He blinked several times but things remained fuzzy. He struggled to remember, then it came to him…"truck." He tried to move but pain shot through his side and chest. It was nothing compared to his leg though. He gasped, spots dancing before his eyes. "Well, I can't be dead," he reasoned, when the worst of it had subsided -he was in too much pain for heaven, and for some reason he thought hell would be a whole lot warmer. "Besides, only the good die young," the thought came unbidden to his mind. That reminded him. He turned his head, slowly, to see if Johnny was okay. Things were still blurry but he could tell Johnny wasn't in the squad. In fact, the squad appeared to be missing it's passenger door altogether. "Johnny?" he called, and was surprised at the sound of his own voice. It sounded so weak and quiet. He swallowed a couple times and tried again. Pain shot through his side as he called more loudly, "Johnny?"
"Roy?" came a cry.
Roy's heart leaped, "He's alive," he thought.
It came again, "Roy?…..Johnny?"
Then Roy realized that it wasn't Johnny he had heard. It sounded more like Marco. "Where did Marco come from?" he wondered for a moment before he remembered that the engine had responded with them. He heard brush crashing nearby and saw two people appear beside the squad.
Marco leaned in through the passenger side, "Roy?"
"Yeah," replied Roy weakly.
Marco could hardly believe Roy had survived. He took a good look at him. Roy was obviously in a lot of pain, his right pant leg was soaked in blood. Marco wasn't sure, but he thought he could see the gleam of bone through a gash in the trousers.
"Hang in there," he told him. "We'll get you out of here."
Roy nodded weakly in reply.
Chet leaned in, "Do you know what happened to Johnny?"
Roy closed his eyes and shook his head.
"Don't worry, we'll find him," said Marco, with more optimism than he felt.
Stanley and Mike were looking over the guardrail, watching to make sure Marco and Chet's lines didn't tangled when engine one-fifteen arrived. Captain Erickson got out and jogged over to Stanley and Mike.
Erickson looked over the embankment, "Bad?" It was more a statement than a question.
"Real bad," replied Stanley, worriedly.
Chet's voice came over the handytalkie, "Engine fifty-one, this is h.t. fifty-one. Cap, we found Roy. He's alive but in pretty bad shape. No sign of Johnny or the other driver."
"Ten-four," replied Stanley, relieved to know that Roy, at least, had survived.
"Look Hank," said Erickson, knowing how he would feel in Stanley's place, "Why don't you let my guys man the lines?"
"Thanks Joe," replied Stanley, gratefully. He and Mike ran to the engine to get their safety belts.
Erickson called to one of his men, "I need two more lines over the edge."
"Right Cap," came the reply.
As Stanley and Mike prepared for their decent, Stanley said, "We're going to need more people."
"I'll call it in," said Erickson, pulling out his handytalkie.
"Thanks," said Stanley. He and Mike began to repel toward the squad.
"Marco," said Stanley.
Marco looked up and saw Stanley and Mike sliding down behind him.
"How's he doing?" asked Stanley.
Marco shook his head.
"All right, why don't you and Mike join Chet, I'll stay with him," suggested Stanley. He could hear Chet calling Johnny's name over and over while he searched.
"All right, Cap," said Marco. He and Mike began working their way across the brush-covered hillside.
Stanley slid into the squad, trying not to rock it too much.
Roy groaned, even the slightest movement was painful.
"Hang in there pal," said Stanley, "A squad's on it's way."
"Engine fifty-one this is engine one-fifteen," came a phantom voice.
Stanley pulled out his handytalkie, "Go ahead one-fifteen."
"L.A. suggests all units on our incident switch to channel two."
Stanley flipped the switch. After a moment one-fifteen continued, "Engine eighteen has arrived at scene. Squad ten's e.t.a. is eight minutes."
"Ten-four," replied Stanley and looked up the hill. He could see three more people repelling down into the thick brush to help in the search. All we need now is for someone to get snakebitten, he thought to himself, then turned his attention back to Roy.
"Engine fifty-one, Rampart Emergency requests information on your injured paramedic," came L.A.'s voice from the handytalkie, "We will relay."
Stanley was surprised, then remembered that Rampart had a scanner. They probably knew all about the accident. "Ten-four, L.A.," he replied. He leaned over to check Roy.
He spoke to L.A., but knew Rampart was listening too. "The victim is Roy DeSoto. He has a compound fracture of his right leg with considerable blood loss. He is conscious…groggy but coherent. His pulse is weak and rapid. Respiration is thirty and shallow. His skin is cold and clammy." He waited for L.A. to relay Rampart's response.
"Engine fifty-one, Rampart requests a blood pressure reading on your victim."
Stanley leaned out of the squad looking at it. All the side compartments were hanging open or doorless, and were empty. "Negative L.A., we do not have the necessary medical equipment at this time," he replied. He heard sirens, then Erickson's voice over the radio, "L.A., engine one-fifteen, squad ten has arrived."
"Ten-four, engine one-fifteen" replied L.A.
"Squad's here, Roy," he said.
"Good," replied Roy, eyes still closed.
It was only a minute or two before Charlie and Dwyer came crashing through the brush, carrying a stokes between them. They started unpacking the paramedic gear lashed to it.
"Why don't you let me in there, Cap?" said Charlie.
Stanley carefully slid out of the squad, trying not to let it rock. "Watch his leg," he warned Charlie, as they exchanged places.
Dwyer finished unloading the equipment. "You need me?" he asked Charlie.
"No, go ahead and see about the truck, the Cap can give me a hand," replied his partner.
Dwyer reattached his safety belt to the line and continued down the hill, making his way toward what was left of the delivery truck.
"Hey Roy, don't you know squads can't fly?" asked Charlie, faking a cheerful attitude to hide his concern.
"Charlie…Thank god it's you and not Brice," replied Roy weakly, in an attempt at humor.
Charlie pulled out his flashlight and proceeded to check Roy's pupils, while at the same time saying, "Not to worry, Brice isn't within a hundred miles of here. He's on vacation this week."
"Must be my lucky day," replied Roy, as Charlie put the blood pressure cuff on his arm and took a reading.
"Much too low," thought Charlie. "You and I obviously have different definitions of the word 'luck'," he replied in joking tone while he pulled a pair of scissors out of his belt. He proceeded to cut Roy's pant leg, being careful not to touch the leg itself. Roy gasped in pain as Charlie peeled back the fabric.
"Is it still there," asked Roy faintly.
"Yeah, you're still in one piece," Charlie reassured him. The broken bone was sticking through the skin, it looked bad and there was no room in the battered squad to take a pedal pulse. "Where else do you hurt Roy?"
"Everywhere," replied Roy. After a pause he continued more helpfully, "My left side and my chest."
Charlie reached over and probed Roy's side. Roy stifled a cry of pain as Charlie hit a particularly sore spot.
"Sorry," said Charlie. He took out a stethoscope and listened to Roy's chest a minute.
"I'll be right back," said Charlie as he started to slide out of the squad. Then he paused and said, "Don't go anywhere okay?" He was rewarded by a weak smile.
Charlie slid out of the truck returning Stanley's questioning glance with a grim look. He opened the biophone case, installed the antenna and picked up the receiver, "Rampart, this is squad ten."
"Go ahead squad ten," was Rampart's instant reply. Charlie could picture them waiting, ready to pounce on the base unit. He gave them Roy's vital signs, then added, "Victim has apparent broken ribs on his left side with no breath sounds on left side. Victim also has a compound fracture of the right tibia."
"Ten-four, squad ten…"
Charlie grabbed the pencil and began writing instructions.
"…immobilize the leg and transport on a backboard as soon as possible."
"Ten-four, Rampart," replied Charlie, and started to put down the receiver but was interrupted by another transmission…
"Squad ten, any word on Gage yet?"
Charlie knew exactly how they felt. "Sorry Rampart, negative," he replied quickly, before he replaced the receiver. He looked up briefly at the hillside. There were six firemen making a patterned search of the area. It was slow work, the brush was thick and tall. They could miss someone lying only a few feet away. Charlie turned his attention back to his patient, reaching for the I.V. kit and splint Stanley handed him. "I'm going to need your help when we move him," Charlie warned, taking the supplies and sliding back into the squad.
"Okay, Roy, Rampart wants an I.V.," he said, taking Roy's arm and pumping up the blood pressure cuff. "Here we go," he warned Roy as he inserted the needle, but Roy didn't so much as flinch. Charlie proceeded to tape the I.V. tubes to Roy's arm. "Now," he said, not looking forward to his next task, "We're going to have to immobilize that leg."
"Great," whispered Roy, sarcastically.
Charlie was as gentle as possible, but Roy passed out from the pain. Somewhat relieved, he worked quickly to finish splinting the leg before Roy regained consciousness. He and Stanley got Roy on the backboard and out of the mangled squad.
Roy regained consciousness briefly while they were strapping him into the stokes. "Johnny?" he asked weakly.
"Nothing yet," replied Stanley.
"Hang on Roy, the worst is over," said Charlie encouragingly, but Roy was already out again.
Stanley pulled out his handytalkie, "Engine one-fifteen, this is engine fifty-one, we're ready to come up."
"Ten-four, fifty-one" came Erickson's reply.
The men at the top of the embankment began hauling up the stokes and it's crew, Stanley on one side and Charlie on the other, steadying it as much as possible as they made their ascent. As they neared the lip, several helping hands were offered. Charlie and Stanley each took one and were pulled up and over the edge. The ambulance attendants lifted the stokes onto a gurney and loaded Roy into the ambulance. They would only have to drive a mile to the waiting helicopter.
Charlie turned to Stanley.
"Go on," said Stanley, "I know he's in good hands."
"I'll take good care of him," promised Charlie. He picked up his equipment and jogged over to the ambulance, getting in the back.
As the ambulance drove away, Stanley turned his attention back to the firemen. The search was moving further and further from the squad. Marco was ahead of the rest. "What's the latest?" he asked Erickson.
"Dwyer found the driver of the deliver truck still strapped into what was left of it. D.O.A.," he replied.
"AAAAAH!" came a shout.
Both men turned to see Marco, arms flailing, vanish into the brush.
Dwyer, who happened to be closest, worked his was over to where Marco had disappeared. He slowed as he approached the spot. Marco was nowhere to be seen. "Marco?" he called.
"Down here," yelled a voice, not five feet from where Dwyer was standing.
He made his way along cautiously. He could see Marco now. The fireman had fallen into a three-foot-deep gorge caused by water runoff down the mountainside. The bottom of the ravine was covered thickly in eroded sand. It was almost completely hidden by the brush.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Twisted my ankle," replied Marco.
By this time several other searchers had arrived. Dwyer slid down into the trench so he could examine Marco.
"Looks like a bad sprain," he said. "Let's get you topside."
The searchers pulled them out of the ravine.
"You know," said Chet, as Marco leaned on Dwyer, balancing on one foot. "You completely vanished."
"Tell me about it," said Marco, gritting his teeth against the pain of his rapidly swelling ankle. Then he caught on to Chet's train of though, "Oh, I see!"
"Let's go men," said Chet. The searchers poured into the gap. They split up, half going up the hill, half going down.
"Come on," Dwyer said to Marco and proceeded to help him climb the embankment, "Let's take care of that ankle."
Stanley and Erickson reached out to give them a hand over the edge. "You okay Marco?" asked Stanley.
"Yeah Cap," replied Marco as Dwyer helped him limp over and sit on the engine's bumper.
"Sit back and put your foot up," said Dwyer.
Marco obeyed as Dwyer carefully removed the shoe and prodded the ankle. Marco let out a yelp.
"Sorry," said Dwyer. "I don't think it's more than a bad sprain, but you should have it x-rayed."
"Now?" asked Marco. He didn't want to leave until they found Johnny.
Dwyer answered, looking at Stanley, "I guess it can wait awhile, besides I wouldn't want to tie up the ambulance in case…" he left the thought unspoken. Grabbing a hank of rope, he gently slid it under Marco's injured foot. "Keep it elevated."
"Okay," promised Marco.
"GOT HIM!" came an excited yell.
Stanley and Dwyer raced to the edge. "IS HE ALIVE?" yelled Stanley, cupping his hands around his mouth so the wind and distance wouldn't take his voice away.
Joanne avoided the strewn toys like an old pro, wiping her dishpan hands on her apron, as she walked through the livingroom to answer the doorbell. She opened the door. "Mark, what a pleasant surprise!" exclaimed Joanne, smiling. Then it hit her like a ton of bricks, "Mark wouldn't come over without calling unless…,"she thought, almost afraid to finish the sentence, even to herself. One look at his face confirmed her fears.
"Dead?" she whispered. She felt sick.
"Thank god," she thought, "he's alive, that's all that matters." She realized that Mark had asked her a question. "What?"
"Are the kids in school?" he asked.
"Uh, Yes," she replied. "Where did they take him?"
"Rampart," he replied. "I'll drive you."
"Thank you," she said, turning to grab her purse and lock the door behind her.
They walked to his car and got in without saying anything.
"You okay?" he asked before starting the engine.
Joanne nodded her head, not trusting herself to speak.
He started the car and they pulled away from the curb.
"Was he badly burned?" she asked finally, knowing the recovery from such an injury could take a long time, assuming he didn't die from infection first.
"No, it was a traffic accident," he replied, correcting her assumption. "I'm sorry I don't have any more details than that," he added. It wasn't totally true, but the doctors would be able to tell Joanne Roy's condition without guessing.
Roy opened his eyes and looked around confused. "I'm in a helicopter?" He struggled to make sense of it.
Charlie turned from adjusting the second I.V. and noticed Roy was awake, "How are you feeling?"
Roy remembered, "Did they find Johnny yet?"
"I'm sorry, I don't know," said Charlie, pumping up the blood pressure cuff to get another reading and was relieved to see that it was better than the last one. He felt the helicopter drop in altitude. "Here we are," he said. "They'll fix you up Roy."
Brackett, the orderlies, and a gurney were all waiting to meet the helicopter.
"Any news, Doc?" Charlie asked, knowing they had a scanner.
"They found him. He's alive," replied Brackett, lifting up the blanket to take a quick peek at Roy's leg. He grimaced and gently replaced the blanket.
"Did you hear that, Roy," asked Charlie.
"Yeah," said Roy. His voice was barely above a whisper but he was smiling.
"Enough talk," said Brackett, waving the orderlies to take the gurney inside.
They wheeled him into an exam room. Early and Dixie were already waiting. Charlie helped the orderlies transfer the backboard out of the stokes and onto the exam table. He hung the I.V. bags and stepped out of the way. Dixie started cutting off Roy's shirt.
Dwyer slid down into the gully again with gear in hand. Chet was already there waiting for him. Dwyer felt Johnny's neck for a pulse. It was weak, but it was there. He smiled in reassurance at Chet. Dwyer felt Johnny's arms and legs, searching for breaks. There didn't appear to be any. He was amazed. "The brush and the sand must have cushioned the fall," he thought. Dwyer knew Johnny could still have internal or spinal injuries plus there was a nasty-looking abrasion on his forehead. He took out his penlight. Johnny's pupils didn't respond properly to the light. "Not a good sign," but he kept the thought to himself.
"John," he said, while putting the blood pressure cuff on Johnny's arm. "Johnny Gage," he said more firmly and loudly. Johnny groaned and opened his eyes. "Hey there," said Dwyer, relieved. "Welcome back to the land of the living."
"What's going on?" asked Johnny, "It's too dark, I can't see you."
Dwyer and Chet exchanged startled glances. It was only late morning and the sun was shining brightly.
Dwyer waved his hand in front of Johnny's unseeing eyes.
"Do you remember what happened," he asked.
"What happened?" asked Johnny, confused.
"Can you tell me what today is," asked Dwyer, ignoring John's question.
"Tu…Tuesday?" answered Johnny, uncertainly.
Chet looked at Dwyer but Dwyer didn't return his gaze. It was Friday.
"Can you tell me when your birthday is?" asked Dwyer but Johnny didn't answer the question. He continued, "Johnny, can you tell me how old you are." Johnny tried to sit up, but Dwyer put a restrictive hand on his shoulder. "Don't move," he told Johnny who just struggled harder in panic. "Keep him still," he told Chet and Mike. "He could hurt himself, " said Dwyer, knowing there was still a good chance Johnny had other injuries and that moving around might make them worse. He saw Chet grab Johnny's other shoulder and Mike grab his feet. "Talk to him Chet, he knows you," suggested Dwyer desperately.
"Johnny…Johnny, it's Chet," said Chet, not knowing what else to say.
"Chet?" asked Johnny, he quit struggling but they could feel that he was still tensed.
"Yeah, your ole buddy Chet, remember?" he said in a soothing voice.
"Lemme go… Roy?" asked Johnny fretfully, but he didn't struggle against them.
"Roy's not here right now," said Chet.
"What's wrong?" asked Johnny, confused.
"You were in an accident, Pal. You bumped your head, that's all," said Chet, trying to get away with the least amount of information possible. He felt Johnny start to relax a little.
"Accident?" he asked.
"A car accident," replied Chet, still avoiding the details.
"Roy?" asked Johnny again.
Chet glanced at Dwyer for permission, Dwyer nodded his head.
"Roy was hurt too, but he's already at the hospital," said Chet tensing, in case the information upset the injured paramedic, but Johnny remained quiet.
"Hospital?" questioned Johnny.
"Rampart… you remember Rampart don't you, Johnny?" said Chet, trying to keep up a steady stream of conversation-but Johnny had lost consciousness.
Dwyer contacted Rampart with Johnny's vital signs. After Rampart acknowledged with instructions, Dwyer asked about Roy. Early's reply came over the radio, "He's still with us, we'll know more when we see the x-rays."
"Ten-four," responded Dwyer, quickly putting down the handset when he saw Johnny was coming around again. He nodded at Chet who took the hint.
"Johnny, you still with us?" asked Chet.
"Yeah," replied Johnny, "what's wrong?"
"You're fine. You were just in a little traffic accident, that's all," repeated Chet.
"Johnny, we need to put you on a backboard now okay?" said Dwyer, not sure how Johnny was going to react.
"Okay," said Johnny in a docile tone.
He seemed calmer and more cooperative to Dwyer. "Let us do all the work, okay?" he told Johnny, giving Chet a meaningful glance. Chet prepared himself in case Johnny decided to struggle. But they got the backboard under him with no trouble. "We're going to tighten the belts now okay," said Dwyer, not wanting John to feel trapped.
"Yeah," replied Johnny.
Dwyer tightened the belts on the backboard.
"Chet?" asked Johnny.
"Yeah, pal, right here," replied Chet.
"Am I blind?" he asked.
"You bumped your head, that's all, you're going to be fine," said Chet, not knowing but hoping it wasn't a lie.
"Let's get him out of here," said Dwyer, grabbing the end of the stokes.
Joanne walked hurriedly into Rampart. Before she could ask the admitting nurse about Roy, she heard Dixie calling to her from down the hall. She met the nurse halfway.
"He's doing okay right now," said Dixie without waiting for Joanne to ask. "He's going to need surgery though."
"Can I see him?" she asked.
Dixie looked down the hall toward the exam room and saw the x-ray technicians leaving with their equipment. "Just for a minute," she said, walking Joanne toward the exam room. She pushed open the door and motioned for Joanne to enter, then let the door close, leaving them alone.
"Roy?" said Joanne softly. "He's so pale and still," she worried. Even dressed in a gown and covered with a sheet, she could tell that there was something terribly wrong with his right leg. "Roy?" she said again, a little louder.
Roy opened his eyes and looked up at her, "Joanne?"
"Yes," she was at a loss for words. "How do you feel?" she asked lamely as tears began pouring down her cheeks.
"Don't cry honey, I'll be okay," said Roy. He hated to see her cry.
She wiped away the tears and struggled to regain her composure. "I'm okay, if you're okay," she said firmly.
Dixie walked in, "I'm sorry, we need to take him to surgery now."
Joanne leaned down and gave him a kiss. "I love you," she said, then added, "The kids and I need you."
"I know," said Roy softly, "I love you too."
She stood back to let the orderlies pass. Dixie put her arm around her shoulder and lead her out of the exam room and into the hallway. They stepped aside as a gurney was rushed by into another exam room. With a stab of guilt, Joanne realized it was Johnny. She hadn't even thought about him-if Roy was in an accident, so was Johnny.
"I've got to go," said Dixie, "Are you going to be all right?"
Dixie entered Johnny's room and Joanne went to the waiting room and sat down to wait and worry.
Joanne looked up to see Captain Stanley and the rest of fifty-one's crew. Marco was standing on one foot between Chet and Mike, an arm around each of their shoulders.
"Roy's still in surgery. I don't know about Johnny," she replied.
Dixie walked up, pushing a wheelchair. She pointed to Marco, then to the chair. Chet and Mike helped ease him down into it.
"Any news Dix?" asked Stanley hopefully, though he knew Dixie would have told them already if there had been.
"Not yet. I'll let you know as soon as I hear anything," she replied sympathetically.
She turned the chair around and pushed Marco down the hall and into an exam room.
Marco was lying on a table, his foot resting on top of several pillows, when Early walked in with his x-rays. "Well, it's not broken, but it is a bad sprain," he said.
"Any news, Doc?" asked Marco.
"None yet I'm afraid," said Early, handing him a set of crutches and helping him off the table. "You should go home and get some rest. Keep that foot elevated." He handed a prescription to Marco, "For pain if you need it."
"Thanks, Doc," said Marco, taking the prescription and stuffing it into his pocket. He balanced awkwardly on the crutches a moment, trying to get a feel for them.
Early studied him a moment. Realizing that Marco wasn't going to go home he said, "They're in the breakroom."
"Thanks," said Marco, and headed out the door.
He managed the door to the breakroom awkwardly, he'd forgotten what a hassle crutches were. Everyone looked up as he entered the room, then looked away disappointed. Marco realized that they were hoping for some news. Chet pushed out a chair from under the table for him with his foot. Marco sat gratefully.
The door opened again. This time it was Brackett-and he was smiling. Joanne stood. He walked over to her, "He's going to make it," he said. "They repaired his punctured lung. Luckily his other internal injuries were minor."
She took a deep breath, relieved. "And his leg?" she asked, steeling herself. He was alive and that was all that really mattered, they could handle anything else together.
"He's going to need some therapy, but it looks good too."
She smiled. "When can I see him?" she asked.
"As soon as we move him out of recovery, about twenty minutes," replied Brackett.
"And Johnny?" she asked. After all, he was practically family.
"That hard head of his paid off for a change," said Brackett. "He has a severe concussion, but he's more coherent now. We'll have to run some more tests to be sure, but it looks like his blindness is temporary."
Sitting on the edge of Roy's bed in the hopital room he and Johnny shared, Lt Crockett was balancing a cup of coffee on one knee and a report folder on the other.
"The autopsy showed the man had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit to drive," said Crockett, turning to Johnny who was picking at his lunch tray, "You sure you don't remember what happened?"
"No, sorry," said Johnny, putting down his fork in disgust. "I don't remember anything after breakfast that morning."
"It's not important," said Crockett, not wanting to upset Johnny, "Just trying to be thorough. Looks like you're totally in the clear, Roy."
"Thanks," said Roy. He knew he hadn't been at fault but he was glad to hear the police say so too.
The door opened and Stanley peeked in.
"Anyone up for a little company?" he asked.
"Sure," answered Johnny and Roy.
A-shift poured through the door, Marco still on crutches. There were cheerful greetings all around.
"We brought you guys a little something," said Stanley, handing each of them a box.
Roy and Johnny looked at each other in surprise, then tore into the boxes. Johnny pulled out a tee-shirt, it was imprinted with the words "Hardest head in the West."
"Gee thanks," he said sarcastically though deep down he was pleased they cared enough to tease him.
"Don't mention it buddy," replied Chet, goading him.
"What does yours say?" Johnny asked Roy, ignoring Chet's needling.
Roy tried not to laugh because it hurt his side but he couldn't help it. He held the shirt so Johnny could see. It said…
Squads can't fly!