This is a text version of the original still airing imaged, music soundtracked story.

Emergency Theater Live, Episode Nineteen

19. Sacred Ground Season Three- Episode 19 Short summary-
Johnny has a mishap at the station that makes him seek a tribal elder. A heavy storm spreads ill for the whole fire department county wide.

****WARNING**** The long summary to come is very story spoiling and will take away plot surprises if you read it now before reading the longer story below it.

Decide now if you want to read this episode's detailed summary before doing so.

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Long Summary-
Johnny Gage suffers a mishap at the station which causes him to seek out a tribal elder for a purification ceremony. Johnny becomes obssessed with atoning for his previously lost spleen which he failed to do a year earlier. Charlie the mechanic's notified of the dent Johnny's falling face made into one of the squad's doors. Gage and Roy attend a tribal prayer session at a curioshop. Johnny learns a frightening premonition from a shaman. Station 51 responds to a child jumper call at the request of two CHiPs officers, Frank Poncherello and John Baker. They all rescue a suicidal young cancer patient in heavy rain from a high rise ledge. Charlie the fire department mechanic coerces Boot the dog into inviting the gang into playing a Twister Game. Station 51 responds to a college house prank of the worst kind. Station 51 is asked to respond to L.A. Headquarters itself for a power outtage check when their radio fails.
They discover Sam Lanier, the dispatcher, collapsed on his communications board. Johnny suffers doubts and desecrates his personal prayer sack at Rampart. The next morning, Johnny dreams a dream sent by his shaman and regains his faith when he learns about a friend's death. Johnny, grieving, delivers an eloquent eulogy at the memorial service.

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The Story Unfolds...

Season Three, Episode Nineteen..

Sacred Ground Debut Launch: March 1st, 2005.

*
From : katalyia Sent : Tuesday, March 1, 2005 10:19 PM Subject : Sacred Ground-opening scene Johnny slowly opened his eyes, wondering what had awakened him. After a few moments, he realized that he was thirsty. Slowly, he sat up and stretched a bit, before swinging his feet over the edge of his bed and standing up. Quietly, he shuffled his way through the dorm, across the apparatus bay, and into the kitchen.

Even though he was still half asleep, he didn't have any trouble finding a glass and getting the necessary drink. Once he was done, he placed the glass in the sink, turned and made his way back to the dorm.

As Johnny was making his way across the bay, his foot bumped against something in the dark. He paused as he tried to make out the slight noise it made. Deciding that he would find out what it was in the morning, and wanting to get back to bed and catch a few more hours of sleep, he started once again to the dorm, unaware that the object he knocked over was directly in his path.

A moment later, Johnny felt the surface under his right foot move and realized he had knocked over the slide board for working under the squad. As his foot went out from underneath him, he turned and tried to grab the railing that ran along the top of the squad. But the fact that he was tired prevented him from reacting quickly and he missed as the momentum threw him into the side of the squad.

Johnny heard the crack that his jaw made as it connected with the edge of the squad and the bang that followed as his head and shoulder met the side as he headed toward the floor. He hit the floor, as his hands went to his jaw and the air was knocked out of him with a whoosh.

*******

Roy jerked awake as he heard what sounded like a bang come from the bay. Looking around he noticed that the others were also awake, trying to figure out what the sound was. Except for Johnny, who was not in his bunk.

Deciding that his partner had probably tripped over something, and that was the source of the noise, he started to lay down.... started to, as the next moment a muffled pain filled scream, echoed through the bay.

Roy bolted out of bed as the light was slapped on by Stanley. Reaching the door mere seconds before his Captain, he saw that Johnny was down, that he had been holding his jaw, and that blood covered the lower portion of his face.

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Photos : None.

From : Cassidy Meyers Sent : Friday, March 4, 2005 10:35 PM Subject : How Sharper Than a Serpent's....

"Oh, L*rd, what now?" Cap exclaimed, rubbing frustrated fingers through his hair when he spied Johnny lying flat on his back just past the hallway leading from the bunkroom into the large vehicle bay. He had just about stepped on one of Johnny's outflung hands.

DeSoto hurried forward, bending low. Gage failed to move at Roy's touch, shout or to a sharp knuckle rub to the chestbone.

Chet's eyebrows rose in concern. "Seriously beaned, man." He leaned forward to crouch down by Johnny's head. "Looks like he wiped out on the mechanic's creeper, Cap. It's no longer leaning against the tool locker by the mop bucket. It's by his foot."

Hank sighed, "Now who managed to bump it down out of the rack and onto its rollers like that?" He kicked it away under the squad in irritation and it clattered metallically on ball bearing wheels as it hit the far wall in a scooting ricochet.

"Probably accidental." Stoker replied. "Maybe Boot horsing around in here again, jarred it free. You know how he likes to go after the damp mop heads hanging in the cleaning closet to dry. Roy, is he breathin' ok for you? Carotid pulse's fine." And he reached for Gage's jawline with two sets of spread fingers to get a cleaner airway on him.

Roy stopped him, "Wait a minute. There's more than just a bit of blood here around his mouth. Let's stabilize his head and roll him over onto his side instead to get him opened up better. Kelly, go get the O2, a C collar, the backboard, and the biphone."

Cap wasn't worried much, yet. "I don't think he's deeply unconscious, guys, he's not snoring any. I'll go call in a still alarm." Hank said, rising.

DeSoto stopped him. "No, Cap, not yet. It'll take all of us to turn him without bending his neck at all until I get this collar on. It'll only take a minute..."

Carefully, moving firm but smoothly, the five men tipped Gage's quiet form onto his side, keeping everything about him in a line while Roy gingerly secured the soft cervical collar and fastened its straps. Johnny's mouth sagged open then and a flow of bright tinged saliva and blood bubbled out from between his lips.

"Is that blood coming from his tongue?" Lopez said, getting a hasty demand valve on full passive flow ready for use.

Roy and the others finished getting Gage strapped securely onto the light oak spineboard. Kelly didn't let go of Johnny's face until Gage's head was fully sand bag blocked and strapped firmly still.

"No,.." said Roy, settling a hand on Gage's stomach to monitor the change in his breathing following a deft bulb suctioning. "His lower lip's not split either. I think just the upper side of his right jaw impacted hard on something. It's just beginning to balloon up a bit here with a bruise right at the cheekbone by his ear."

"Look at your squad door, Roy. That dent's the same size as Johnny's face." Marco said in exasperation, wincing.

"At least that part of the chassis's hollow. " Roy sighed. "Ok, get that O2 going, he's clear enough now, but don't tip him off his side until I'm done checking out his head here."

Marco held the oxygen mask firmly over Johnny's nose and mouth and let the stunned paramedic breathe it in on his own without any thumb triggering, which wasn't needed.

Roy was finishing a set of vital signs, when Gage moaned and coughed weakily, trying to move.

Everyone began talking all at once, urging five different kinds of encouragement, or stern warning, to keep still.

It made Johnny screw up his eyebrows in irritation as he came to. Angrily, he choked on something, startling Lopez, who dropped the mask. Gage spit out a bloody tooth, complete with its double forked yellowing roots.

It rolled like a playing di across the shiny cement and clicked against Kelly's shoe. Chet picked it up. "Well, I'll be darned. It's a whole complete molar!"

"More like a wisdom tooth.." said Roy squinting with expertise. "His upper right one." he sniffed.

Chet cocked his head like a dog twerking to an oddball sound. "He's just as pale as us, man. Is he doing ok?"

Roy glanced down between his backboard supporting arms to get nearer to Gage's ear. "Hey.. Johnny. Talk a little. We got your C spine. Where do you hurt?"

Gage sucked in a catching breath and his eyes fluttered opened. "Whaa.. happhh..nd? I can't moou--bb!" he blinked from around the demand valve's face mask. "Oh..spineborth?"

Roy grinned. "Yeah. You fell. Again.." he rolled his eyes. "I told you that you needed to get some sleep to avoid hitting your trusty ol klutz in the dark button. Now answer the question. What hurts besides your jaw here?"

"Nuffin..."

"What?"

"I saith..nuffin!" Johnny winced. "Owww.." and he closed his right eye. And his tongue probed around a little. "Hey, Roy? I think I losth a toof..!" he said in high alarm.

DeSoto straightened up in sudden, relieved, exasperation. "I think we can set him on his back now, fellas, don't you? He got that one right." he added dryly. Cap, go ahead and call Rampart. He's doing good enough neurologically now to manage without the gravity aid."

Chet was thinking about Johnny's last horrifying self discovery comment. "You sure did you lucky son of a--- Johnny, ....Roy here says you lost one of your wisdom teeth..See? It's right here." Chet said, holding it nearer to Gage's eyes like a fine jeweler would a precious gemstone to a watching buyer.

"Eeooowww. Get thath away frob me or I'm gonna puke on ya!" Johnny yelled half in a mix of horror and genuine anger.

"Why? It's just a tooth..." Chet said reasonably and puzzled.

"It's not just any toof.. It's MY toof! Uoohh no.." And he turned green. "Here I goOOOU.. GAAAAAuhgghhh......." And he fake vomitted, jutting out a gory tongue, just to shock Chet into dropping the thing out of eyesight and fingers reach. He stopped pretend gagging before Chet hit his own personal gross out point. Then he started laughing at how successful he was in getting Chet's face to wash ghostly white.

He let Kelly off the hook."Of all the wayths to thave a little money by avoidin a thit to the dentith, guyths. Oh,, maaannn *Cough*"

"You sure you're all right?" Roy asked him after exchanging a few words and sentences with Dr. Brackett on Johnny's almost completely normal vital signs.

##How's his Babinski's?## came the firm bass voice of Kel.

Roy licked his lips, "Doc, I haven't got that far yet. Hang on a sec." and he quickly covered the jarbles of irate physician with his other palm, deciding quickly that preventing hurt partner from getting irate was a far lesser evil than any mere doctor rage.

"I'mm no-- hurth!" Gage insisted around his fattening cheek. "Jus hath the win knockth out--me." he wiggled in the C collar.

"You weren't even twitching when we all found ya. Stoker, here.." and DeSoto tossed Mike his penlight. "Go check his eyes for any mismatching or misreactions.."

Gage sighed around the 02 mask. "Lope... I don't nee thisth..!" he said plainatively. "I'b fine.."

Roy sighed, too, rubbing his tired face with his free hand. He froze for about a quarter of a minute, meeting Gage's staring eyes that were singularly boring through his own. They didn't even blink or wince once, even when Stoker checked their pupillary responses with the overly bright pure white glowing L.E.D. illumination.

"Perfectly p.e.a.r.l., Roy. I checked twice." said Stoker seriously.

##Transport, 51! If you can't give me all the details now, transport, and we'll definitely be talking about him and how you've managed my transmission later!!##

"I'm.......not......GOING!!" hissed Gage so vehemently that both the pink and the black and blue cheek puffed out in passionate obstinance around the demand valve. "It's Friday, around three am ...and I'm lying on the friggin floor in the middle of Station 51.. in the heart of industrial ... Carson City!" he rattled off, in barely contained apoplexy.

Derisively, DeSoto plugged his phone receiver ear to block out Brackett's booming beratement while he said, "Gage's refusing, doc. One hundred percent. Sorry about that. Disregard this whole patient contact call. Squad 51, out." And he hung up the black phone in seconds.

Click.

A loud silence overtook the vehicle bay.

Hank didn't know whether to fold his arms in a glare or mince his fingertips with worry in front of his suspender-ed T shirt. "Roy... can he--"

"He can. He just did. I can't treat him if he refuses. Any more than I can treat any patient who's awake, conscious and fully aware of his surroundings. Guys, set him free.." he said, getting up from his knee aching squat on the hard chilly cement floor. "And let's save that O2 for somebody who really needs it, huh? Lopez get a ice bag for that face purpling from the freezer. I'm sure he won't argue THAT recommended treatment to death any. I'm going back to bed." he grumbled. "Thanks, Johnny, that was real funny...." he said deadpan sarcastic."Can't say it was one of your best gigs. It stank. Royally."

Roy's sleep dishevelled shadow shuffled sleepily back into the bunk room. His was followed by Boot's and the methodical click of bored claws.

All the rest of the guys watched them go, all wearing the same expressions of sheer dumbstruck muteness, including the strap and block immobilized Gage.

Then, one by one, all the gang got equally in a huff. Grinning secretly in unspoken sudden conspiracy, the four of them swept up Johnny and his long board into their arms... and hung him on the wall off a jacket hook.

Yawning, they turned to go, imitating Roy to the point of actually leaving John in the dark with the flick of the light switch...... for several minutes.

"HeyyyyYY! Ya aren't just gonna leave me here!?" Johnny rattled against the bricks. "I didn't plan anything.. Well, maybe the fake chunk blowing part.... Guys.. I'm getting real uncomfortable!!! If you don't want me going into shock for real, you'd better g--!"

Laughing at his ire, the guys hastily returned and laid him back down on the ground to undo his arms and legs and pull off the collar. Stoker and Marco helped Johnny up with a double grip of their hands, chuckling evilly.

Kelly said, "If you're feeling well enough to call off an ambulance, why don't you go put the gear away like a good little non-patient before you shower up to wash all that blood off."

Then the gang DID leave Gage alone, exiting stage center, full back.

In irritation, Johnny got rid of the last of his throbbing jawline sinus headache with a few snorts from the oxygen tank mask.

Then, in a re-inflamed case of the willies, he started cleaning up all the rescue apparatus, all the while cringing in anticipation of one of his bare heels suddenly crunching down onto his now truly lost, luckless tooth.

To add insult to injury, Boot didn't even leave his warm place curled at the curve of Roy's butt, to help him find it.

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Photo: Hanging upside down from a longboard stretcher.

Photo: Gage looking greasy in a T shirt, and confused.

Photo: Cap and Chet grinning in relief and amusement.

Photo: Brackett in scrubs over the phone, listening closely.

Photo: Johnny, irritated, sucking on O2 in the vehicle bay with Roy laughing about it.

*
From: Roxy Dee
Sent : Wednesday, March 9, 2005 3:46 PM Subject : The Sacred Ground

Gage was the last one to breakfast.

He had spent the better part of a half hour poking and prodding in his mouth using the bathroom mirror in and around the gap his knocked out tooth had left behind. The cheek bruise, he wasn't worried about.
It was the fact that nothing behind remained of his tooth, that did.

He sat, holding the long since warmed ice bag Marco had given him last night over his bruised face self consciously, as he sank down in his chair.

Roy immediately zeroed in on him while he spooned out a hefty portion of hashbrowns onto his plate.

"Headache gone yet? If it's not, you've earned yourself another mandatory vitals check. Cap's orders."
DeSoto said.

"Yeah, it's gone. My face doesn't even hurt anymore."

"Then why the long face, Johnny? You're not the one who's going to get the shop bill when Charlie comes to pop out that door panel on the squad this afternoon."
Kelly ribbed, taking a sip of milk. "Man, nothing like taking a midnight header into a solid object.."

Johnny frowned in irritation at Chet's light humor, tossing the spent ice bag into the trash so that it narrowly missed smacking the curly haired fireman on the shoulder.
Kelly dodged it easily without even looking up. Gage waited for a reaction, but didn't even get one. "So,"
Johnny said. "Didja find it before ya mopped the garage out this morning?" he demanded.

Kelly kept on chewing.. "Hhmm. Chewy omelets, Cap.
Glad I got enough teeth to manage it..."

"Chet!" Marco chastised. "Knock it off.. You know how much this is bothering Gage. Quit teasing.."

"All right.. all right.. I'll give. Geesh.. How else can a guy get his fun around here? Yes, I found it. It's in a glass of water by the stove over there..." Kelly pointed with his fork.
"But I already called the dentist's office. They said it's far too late to do anything about saving your tooth. Nothing short of an ambulance ride to the dentist chair would've saved it in time and that trip...you nipped in the butt before anyone could say anything about it last night." Chet admitted honestly. "So, what'cha gonna do with it? Raise it on animal skin scaffolding out in the woods somewhere to dispose of it? I know how much the physical body and its parts mean to your people."

Gage flared. "Chet, you don't know what you're talking about.
I don't have to bury or burn it. I just have t--" he broke off,
getting even more self conscious.

Cap wiped his mouth with a paper napkin while he munched on buttered toast. "To do what, Gage? Now don't clam up. You've got us all curious about it. Might as well 'fess up because you owe me one for not filing a report on that header you took out in the vehicle bay." Hank said no nonsense.

Gage looked properly abashed, even though his eyes rebelled against it.

Cap went on . "Beside that, I let you sleep in to recover some. And.
I'm not subjecting you to any of the usual A.M. chore details. Heck,
Stoker even made you some soft boiled eggs so you could actually eat something this morning."

Johnny accepted the plate pushed in front of him meekly. "Thanks, Mike, Cap. But I really can't talk about it. What I gotta do is something that's.. real personal and private."

Hank stabbed Gage with a piercing glare. "I almost threw it out for being a biohazard in the station."

"What?" Johnny said in shock. "Cap, you know where I'm angling and yet you're trying your d*mnedest to make me talk about it."

"D*mned straight I am. How many times have I told you to turn some lights on in the garage at night when raiding the refrigerator."
Cap countered.

"I wasn't raiding the frig. I was getting a glass of water."

"Moot point. Your accident, was totally preventable." Cap replied.

"So's just about every other one Johnny's been in.." Chet chuckled.

"Hush." Hank huffed at Kelly. Then he simply turned eyes on Gage in firm insistence, to spill the beans.

"I...have to make a personal totem offering to the Spirit World." Gage mumbled.

Chet didn't miss a thing. "A what? You mean you have to burn your tooth up in a bonfire or something while dancing naked under the moon in warpaint?"

Gage just made a face. "No,, Chet. You make it sound as though my people were still living in the dark ages. I just have to make a prayer sack and wear it for a couple of days. No big deal.. Uh, that's if I can wear it under my uniform,
Cap."

"Sure.. Why not.." Hank said throwing up his chin. "No different than Marco wearing his gold crucifix under his t-shirt. But I absolutely prohibit any noxious weeds or other highly offensive olfactory offerings going into the bag. We've a public image to uphold."

"I think I can get Nakoma to make me one that's subtle." Gage said.

Stoker lifted his head from the paper. "Who's Nakoma? Some sort of medicine man?"

Gage started to look uncomfortable. "No.. he's an elder in my family who has the sacred responsibility of burying us when we die."

Kelly laughed. "Ah, I see where this is going. He'll even bury just a tooth?"

"Yes." said Johnny seriously. "That especially. My tribe considers the head to be closest to the Creator Spirit. It's where our soul truly rests while we're alive."

"Well what about the fighting spirit?" Marco asked. "I remember reading somewhere that Seminole warriors believe that aspect lives in the blood and heart."

"It does. But I'm not a warrior. So I don't have to worry about my blood when I lose it. Only..." he broke off.

"Only physical body parts.." Kelly continued where he left off. "I get it.
Radical, Johnny. I never knew you were such a religious fanatic."

Gage sighed while he gingerly slurped down his steaming eggs.
"Very funny. I got an appointment with Nakoma to get my prayer sack today. I gotta go get it before the sun hits noontime or there'll be h*ll to pay with my Aunt."

"She already knows about your tooth?" asked Roy.

"Yeah.. I called her last night after you guys went back to bed.
I had to. It was my duty as her nephew to let her know that a part of me had just died."

"Gage. That's so morbid.." Kelly squirmed.

"Chet. I didn't expect any of you to understand any of this so why don't you just shut up and forget about it. Let Roy and I handle this ourselves."

DeSoto, set his jelly knife down onto his saucer with a clatter.
"What do you mean let me handle it with you?"

"Roy.. you're my oldest friend.. And...whenever there's a sacred ceremony on the Grounds with Chief Elder Nakoma, a non married tribesman always has to have his closest friend in attendance..to...show that he's lived his life honorably by having someone who's already proven themselves to be a ..true soulmate." Johnny blushed. "I mean, what else can we be to each other? We've saved each other's lives a dozen times over."

Roy smiled. "I'll be happy to stand with you, Johnny Gage. Wouldn't have it any other way." he said sipping his coffee. "Just so long as I don't have to run around naked, wearing beads around my neck or anything like that, roasting my skin off in a sweat lodge."

"You won't have to do anything but be there and smoke a pipe briefly...Thanks." Gage said, without looking up.

The rest of the gang continued eating in respectful silence...until Chet piped up. "So, you both gonna have to wear face paint for this tooth memorial ceremony thingamabob going on today?"

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It was ten A.M. and Johnny clutched the saline filled jar holding his tooth in his hand nervously. "Roy, I hope to G*d we don't get another squad run.." he said, pulling off his helmet while he and his partner drove for a resupplying stop at Rampart. "There's only two hours left until my spiritual appointment's deadline."

"Easy way to fix that. We won't eat any food. It seems we never get a run when we're not eating..." Roy joked.

Gage surprisingly didn't laugh. "There is that.." he said seriously.

"You're really worked up about all this, aren't you?" Roy asked.

"Of course I am. All these years since leaving the reservation, I've never even once had to visit Nakoma. When I was a boy, he used to make me nervous..." Johnny said.

"Why? It's no different than say, me, meeting my pastor."

"It's a lot different.. Nakoma just doesn't oversee tribal religion. My aunt says that he can see into you.. Directly. Up close and personal.
And he doesn't even have to know anything about you..." Gage sighed. "I guess I'm afraid that my life so far won't measure up.
I haven't done anything for back home.. since..since I left.." he said, throwing up his hands and pulling off his overcoat.

"A dereliction of duty, huh?"

"You can call it that.." Gage said uncomfortably.

"Well, no matter what happens. I'll be with ya." DeSoto nodded.
"After we've restocked I.V.s we can go to Nakoma's shop, ok.?"

"Ok.." said Johnny nervously..." ok." he said to reassure himself mostly. "Oh,...man.." He fumbled setting his tooth jar into a cup holder and almost dropped it onto the floor. Only a hasty catch saved it.

"Relax.. or do I have to get Dr. Brackett to prescribe you a sedative?"

"I'll be relaxed once I have that prayer amulet sack and things are under way. This whole process will take a week. We gotta fast,
and be outside during certain times and the whole works.." Gage admitted.

"We do?"

"Yeah..."

"Cap isn't gonna like this fasting part.." he scratched his nose as he drove the squad into the hospital's driveway. "And I don't think I'm gonna like it much either. I think we oughta grab some chow in the cafeteria while we're here because we still can."
Roy said evenly.

"No! No.. Roy, you said it yourself. We'll get a run then for sure.."

"I was joking.."

Johnny didn't hear him and immediately flung his squad door open the moment Roy had backed it to a halt near the ER's ambulance doors.

Gage rushed inside, seeking out Dixie McCall..

-
Photos : None.

*
From: "Cory Anda" Date: Tue Mar 15, 2005 5:40 pm Subject: Body Part Paranoia Johnny Gage made his way through busy bustling Rampart with all the skill of a medical worker to the ER's front desk. "Hey Dixie.." he said without preamble.

"Oh, hiya Johnny. How's it going? You fellas made good time from Anaheim for this time of day. Traffic must be real light. I got the supplies you requested right here. Double check me. Two bags of Ringers, six Travenol set-ups. An ET sized 7.0 French. Two epinephrines, at 1/10,000.. Three MS adults, and a box of cardiac electrode pads." she said.

"Missing a peds Narcan dose." Johnny said, fidgetting with a couple of pens like a drummer would a pair of drumsticks on top of Dixie's latest metal patient chart. He didn't look at the relaxed nurse, nor did he beg off for a cup of coffee from her.

That got Dixie's attention faster than a fainter in the waiting room. "Ok, what gives, Johnny Gage? You're jumpier than an addict on heroin this morning."

"Whaa.. say, listen, Dix." Gage said, still rubbernecking down both ends of the hallway. "Are Early and Morton nearby? I gotta talk with them. It's kinda urgent."

"I'm not replying to that question until you actually show signs that at least one of your ears are still working." she said, noticing the deep, dark bruise purpling the right side of Johnny's face.

"Dix.. this is important!" Johnny insisted, leaning in on her.
"I gotta track down my last M.D. surgery notes A.S.A.P. before it's too late to do anything about it."

A puzzled frown knitted itself across Dixie's face. "That might take a while. Your patient records are buried somewhere in the depths of Medical Records, inactively status-ed , because you're currently 100% perfectly healthy."

"That'll change in....an hour. Exactly."

"Are you hexing yourself for some reason or do you just love me so much that you want to get that nasty face bruise looked at right away?"
McCall squinted suspiciously, reaching for it, trying to use humor to curb her own sudden, rising worry about him.

Gage jerked his face away from her long fingernailed grip. "I'm fine. This is nothing."

"No it's not.." offered Roy, finally catching up with his partner."I think that cheek bump is the first case of frontal brain pan concussion in the history of modern medicine..." DeSoto quipped. "Trip and fall last night. Minor." he confided to the head nurse. "Relax, Dix. I already gave him a once over before he pulled a refusal on me."

"Oh. So his fidgetting here, like a five year old in a dentist office, is normal?"

"Yeah, he's got an appointment he doesn't want to go to.."
Roy said, collecting the box of medical supplies from Dixie after signing off on a requisition form.

"With Morton or Joe Early?" Dixie asked, watching Johnny mince uncomfortably. "I noticed the tooth jar in his hand and he's asking where they are right now."

"Neither. He's got a date with a close relative concerning a personal matter. At noon."

"What can be so personal that's got Johnny wound up this bad?"
Dixie wondered while they both watched him get a drink that he didn't need from the hallway drinking alcove. Then she remembered what he had just said to her. "Locating a surgical record...?" she mumbled, answering her own question with an even deeper puzzle.

"Huh?" Roy jerked his head around.

"Johnny was plugging me to drop everything, including today's admitting chartwork to snag the surgical notes from his last visit here when he was under the knife..." Dixie said. "Specifically, Joe and Mike's surgical notes..."

"He was?"

"Uh...huh." Dixie blinked slowly with a confiding nod.

An uneasy light flickered on in Roy's eyes.
"I think you'd better humor him and get them. This may get ugly."
"What'll get ugly?" Dixie demurred.

"I don't think I'm allowed to talk about it."
"Shh. Here he comes again...Keep it down." DeSoto hissed. "Hi Johnny. Cup of coffee?" Roy asked brightly, feigning a cheerful casualness.

Dixie McCall got busy on the phone.

"Nah. No thanks." said Johnny glumly. "I'm not thirsty.. Dix.. any luck in finding them yet?" he said grasping the tooth jar so tightly that his fingers were turning white.

"Careful! " Roy shouted, snatching the jar out of Gage's hand.
"Or you'll shatter it and earn yourself a place in the waiting room."

"What? Oh, sorry.." Johnny said, still searching worriedly for Joe Early and the young African American resident. "Dix?"

"Working on it. Betty says she's calling an orderly right now to run it up personally. A burly one." she joked.

"Oh. ha. ha. My chart's not that big..."

"Oh, yes it is..." said Roy and Dixie together.

Johnny pursed his lips, refusing to be cajoled into a better mood.
"Just so I get that sheet."

Right then.. Dr. Morton left Treatment Room Five, drying his hands with paper towelling. He tossed it away into a medical waste bucket.

"Just the man I wanna see..." Gage muttered and he quickly crossed the few steps between them with Roy and Dixie tagging along behind,
trying to stop him. "Doc.. you gotta help me..!" he began.

Morton took one look at Johnny's face and took Gage under the arm.
"What happened here? Orderly! Get a wheel chair! Stat..."

"No...not for this thing. It's just a bruise." Gage said, feeling up his purpling face and under eye.

"H*lluva bruise if it knocked one of your teeth out. Roy was smart to bring it in with you.." Morton said. "Now sit."

Johnny shrugged and tried to deny the need for himself be wheeled into a nearby empty treatment room. "I don't need to. I need you for ANOTHER reason real bad.."

"Sit down. Shut up. We'll talk about it." Morton commanded darkly.
"Or do I have to call in another musclehead to get you in order?"

The orderly pushing Gage's summoned wheelchair flexed his biceps meaningfully.

Johnny sat.

Embarrassed, Roy and McCall both followed doctor, orderly,
and Johnny into the darkened room. Morton flicked on a light switch with an elbow and immediately started probing Johnny's tender face.
"What'dja stop with your face? A truck fender?"

"Yeah..The squad's." Roy said firmly sarcastic.

"Mind explaining that one to me? How the h*ll did he get under your front tires?" Morton jibbed.

Roy minced in frustrated irritation. "Doc. He's not here to be seen.
He's here to..."

Morton interrupted him, pulling out his penlight. "I'll be the judge of that.
Roy, I'm surprised at you. His pupils are showing that he had a black out about eight hours ago. Why didn't you bring him in as soon as this happened?"
he snapped at the blonde paramedic.

"He didn't want to go. This is all nothing! Really! Just ask Dr. Brackett. He'll vouch for me."

"I'm gonna do that..Right now." Morton withered them both with a trademark glare.
"Johnny, don't move outta that chair.." He made his way over to the phone on the wall and started dialing. "Dix, get a left arm blood pressure reading."

"But.."

"That's an order, Miss McCall!" the young physician resident pointed a sharp not to be denied finger at her before turning back to the operator.

"Right away, Doctor Storm."

Morton ignored the jibe.

Dixie's mouth was still hanging open in confusion. "You both lost me minutes ago at the front desk. Care to clarify?" she said wrapping a BP cuff around Johnny's arm.

"He's gonna kill me..." Gage mumbled, reclaiming the jar that Roy held, into a tight protective cradle of laced fingers.

"Oh, come on.. Morton's not that bad.." Dixie breathed. "Well,..maybe that bedside manner of his is. He's never been a good listener." she sighed. "However I AM, so spill it Johnny. The whole sordid tale.."

Gage swallowed. "I need my spleen back.."

Dixie nearly dropped the stethoscope in her hands. "What kind of crazy comment is that? And I thought I'd heard everything."

"Look, do you think it's still in Pathology Store from this spring or not? I know how you guys like to save organs for teaching all your medical students. Plleeaaasse say that it might still be down there."

"Johnny. Calm down.." Dixie she said, patting his arm, trying to get a BP around his wild gesturing. "It might be. Though I can't be sure that you even signed the right forms for that then. You were pretty out of it the night that car hit you."

"I remember signing a donor form when I first signed up for the fire department!" Johnny yelled, his voice getting louder.

That made Morton, in close discussion with Kel Brackett, look up.
"Is he getting combative? I'll be right there...."

Roy and Dixie both denied that observation vehemently.
"No..no no no no no no.. He's fine. Just mad. Emotionally mad.
Uh, he's just...fine doc. Heh. Look I'll prove it. His pressure's 140 over 96, doctor.."

"Hmph." And Morton turned back to the phone, getting the rest of the details about Johnny's accident and jotting the notes down in his pocket notepad.

Johnny was still plenty worked up, biting his fingernail.
"I gotta fix everything.. Make it right before I go over there." he mumbled.

"Just what the heck are you talking about?" Roy asked. "I thought you were angling being hurt to get a new nursing student in here to fuss over you so you could cheer up a little. I wouldn't put a stunt like that past you."

Johnny grabbed Roy's collar and hauled his face down to his level. "I gotta get my spleen back or prove that Joe and Morton cut out my spleen knowingly in writing or they'll be h*ll to pay. He's gonna know, Roy!"

Now Roy was looking at his partner askance, the same way the doctor and nurse were. "Are you feeling ok? Maybe I missed something on you last night."

"I'm fine. Roy. I just need either of those two things within...within..."
he looked at his wrist watch. "ohmyg*d forty minutes, or I'm dead meat.." Johnny panicked, fussing in the wheelchair. His activity earned another sharp glance from the rapidly talking young doctor across the room.

Dixie frowned, setting a gentle hand on his heaving chest.
"Who's out to get you?"

"Nakoma. And very soon after that, my aunt'll be."

A light bulb went off inside Roy's head and he buried his head in his hand against the wall. "Oh no. Not the burial rites thing..."

"Yes, the burial rites thing. Roy, the more I think about it, the more trouble I think I'm in. No one has ever not atoned for a body loss before in my family. And now I know I have. I allowed a splenectomy done on me."

"You were in life threatening shock, Johnny. You had no choice.
It was either that or...." Roy began.

"I know that. Dixie knows that. And so does Morton here. He and Joe are the ones who cut it out of me..." Gage said with exasperation.
Then he froze still in discovery.. "Say.. maybe Morton can come along with us today and confess what he did to me. Or..do I need Joe Early too? As his co-murderer?"

Roy's face twisted in searching, very unwelcome, disbelief. He couldn't quite fathom what his ears were telling him.
Dixie was a little faster absorbing details.
"Won't that chart entry be enough? Joe nor Mike can't leave the ER right now. Kel'll more than have a fit." Dixie insisted. "Take it easy, Johnny...I think I can put a rush on it.."

Johnny clamped down on Dixie's arm in a vice grip. "That might not be fast enough, guys!" he agonized."Nakoma's traditional to the last. He might not even know how to READ a chart entry let alone accept one from the outside world."

"Johnny.. this is the 1970's. Everyone reads. Especially curio shop owners in this day and age, or their taxes would never get done." Roy said no nonsense.
Johnny froze, considering. And then he relaxed a whole nine yards.
"Oh, yeah. You're probably right. I must be snowballing..."

"You are.." said Dixie and Roy in one breath.

"Enough to freak out Dr. Morton here. And that's not easy to do.."
McCall quipped.

"Oh. I am? Gee, I guess I'd better let him off the hook, huh?" Johnny said mildly. "Hey doc.." he called out.. "Doc..."

Morton barely looked at him.

Johnny horsewhistled sharply between his front teeth.

"What?! I said I'll be right with you, Gage." said Morton in irritation from his phone conversation. "Malcolm? Watch him. Closely.."
he snapped to the orderly. "I'm almost done."

Gage poked Malcolm the orderly in the stomach. "You can't touch me. That would be assault and battery. Hey doc, guess what? I'm refusing again... Bye.." and then he, Dixie and Roy hurried out of the room as fast as the wheelchair could move.

Morton was left behind, helplessly tied to a highly re-annoyed Kel Brackett who had overheard Gage's parting shot over the phone line.

-
Photo: Johnny Morton and Roy talking at the base station desk.

Photo: Johnny in a helmet chatting with Dixie.

*
From: Katherine Bird .uk Date: Tue Mar 15, 2005 6:35 pm Subject: Elder Encounter Johnny Gage didn't trust himself to not fidget. "Roy, did ya remember to bring my chart log?"

"Right here. Relax, junior." Roy sighed as they left the street where they had parked the squad curbside. He held up the surgical notes that Dixie had copied for his partner up in the air as he ambled up to the door of Nakoma's curio and trading shop. He tried to peer inside around the ornate gold lettering and tribal designs stenciled on the door's glass. "Hasn't he opened yet?"

"Not to the public. This morning is reserved all for me..." Gage said nervously. "Oh, man. I'm wound up worse than what I was for my first day morgue clinical for paramedic's class.."

"That's good." Roy said. "Then you won't say anything you might regret. You have a tendency to clam up when you're really flustered.
Just think, now your foot won't be able to get wedged so tightly in your mouth once we're standing in front of him. Ready?"

"No.."

"Open your eyes, Johnny. I'm reaching for the door knob right about....."

A sharp tone on both their belted HTs, came to life. ## L.A., Squad 51.##

Johnny jumped and was shaky enough to not be able to reach his radio's release clip fast enough to reply.

Roy answered the hail. "Squad 51.."

##Squad 51. Message from the L.A. Shop Office. Standby for communications patch.##

"Standing by..." said Roy, with a puzzled look.

"Oh, no.." groaned Johnny.

"What?"

"That's Charlie I'll bet. He's probably itching to get at the squad to pop out your door."

"The sooner the better. "

"I don't know who's gonna be worse.. Charlie the mechanic or Nakoma here.."

Roy was a friend enough to not laugh. "I promise I won't tell him exactly how it happened or who was actually responsible for the dent.."

Gage completely missed it. "Roy, Charlie'll never yell at Boot. He loves that dog more than his own mother. Didn't you know that Boot camped out at the Engine Shop for a whole two months and got so good at anticipating Charlie's fire department repair routine, that he started being able to hand out the tools Charlie needed to work with before Charlie realized that he was even thinking about using em.."

##Squad 51, I have your patch to 602.##

"Copy 602.." Roy told L.A.

## Hey slackers! Where the h*ll are ya?## came Charlie's irate New York sounding taxi driver's voice. ## I got my truck idling in the back yard waiting for ya..##

"Grab some lunch with the fellas, Charlie. It's Cap's chowder today.." he dangled. "We'll be around in..." Roy looked to Johnny for a time estimate.

Gage silently mouthed.."One hour."

"...an hour." DeSoto said over his talkie. "See Stoker for the damage photos.
They're on Cap's desk so you can guess how much time you're gonna need in order to--"

##Already saw em, fireboy. Just get your butts back at the station with my poor abused squad in an hour, five, or there'll be Hades to pay. Don't think there won't be any because I'm a smidgeon away from accruing overtime that I don't need! And do me a favor that I won't regret...## boomed Charlie.

"What's that, Mr. 602?" Roy said with an amused expression on his face.

##Be sure to wash the blood off Lil Red's paint job before it cakes on any worse in the sun before ya get here. Next time, slow down enough to nail the d*mned squirrel with your front bumper, not with the door with any speedin' up trying to get away from it.##

"Squirrel?"

" * squeak..squeak..* " Roy teased Gage, covering the speaker. "Well, well well. Will wonders never cease? Looks like Chet managed to turn your dramatic escapade last night into something mundane enough to chill that temper of Charlie's. Good for him. I think you owe him one, Johnny."

Gage was too nervous eyeing up the curio shop's dark animal taxidermied and artifact filled windows to pay any attention to Roy.
##602, Squad 51. Did you two bozos copy my last transmission or not?!##

"Squad 51 to 602. 10-4. Squad 51, out...." DeSoto replied. "Our ETA is confirmed at an hour, five."

## It'd better be. ## snapped a barely mullified Charlie. In the background,
Roy could hear dishes being served up onto a table and sounds of bubbling.
In spite of itself, DeSoto's stomach growled. :: I'm missing chowder! :
Then the open line cut out and Sam Lanier's voice came back onto the frequency.
## 602 signals automated termination at his location. Do you affirm?##

"We do, L.A... Squad 51's now 10-8 at the 1100 block of Lerner and Oseola."

##10-4, Squad 51. Noting your change on the grid. L.A. out. * Spap.* ##

Gage startled at the severed line click from Headquarters. Then he squared his shoulders and said, "Let's get this over with..."

His hand reached down and turned the intricately Seminole pictogram carved door handle.

The two paramedics made their way into the shop. A low growl met their ears. Turning, Roy and Johnny came face to face with what looked like a wolf lying in the doorway leading to the back of the trading post's counter.

Unbidden, Johnny's left palm came up into the air in a respectful benediction before his own forehead. "Ko-wah-yah- lot to chen pah n empom. Numpagalaale laknalon."

The hybrid dog's hackles slowly fell and it sank back down onto its belly, and licked its lips in resumed boredom.

Roy unfroze.. "What was that all about?"

Johnny shrugged a shiver of incomprehension. "I dunno.. It just came to me without my even thinking about it.
Seemed right to say that somehow.." he said, licking suddenly dry lips.

"Not quite right, Ya-laahe Kowechobe. You just told Nageela that flowers are yellow and that three horses are eating hay in your gift mother's tongue."
said a voice, stepping out of the shadows. It was a shorter older Seminole man dressing in colorful beads, silverwork, ribboned pants and an airy mauve speckled shirt opened at the chest. "You should be ashamed of yourself to let your native language slip so badly.
It dishonors all your ancestors."

Johnny paled to almost Roy's skin tone. "Nakoma! I meant no offense. I'm feeling a little off balance here. Look, can we go outside for some air? I-I..I was working a house fire this morning and haven't yet cleared out my lungs good enough yet to think straight."

"So you now fight Ee-te Yo-ga-h , Orange Panther? She said as much.
That, at least, is a step in the right direction. Fire is an enemy not many men are brave enough to face. But that is no excuse to shun your aunt's desire to impart some wisdom about your heritage through Speaking."

"I'm sorry, Nakoma. I haven't had much time to keep up my lessons with Kehayke."
Johnny said like an eight year old school boy in front of a chastising school teacher. "I could honor my pledge to gain knowledge if only Snow Hawk wasn't so stubborn about moving into my ranch house so I could take better care of her..."

The wizened old tribal elder simply held up a gentle hand to silence him.
"She is a piece of the West Wind, Johnny Roderick Gage. And I now see that the same wind is in you, too. No one can tame such as that easily. Not even one whose birth embraces it. This speaks much to me of your life,
Panther." Nakoma studied Roy closely with a wrinkled, piercing gaze that sank deep. "So, your closest companion is Miccosukee, Johnny. Honorable that you've chosen him of the Other People whose homeland now dances with our own. Nakoma bids you welcome, Roy DeSoto..."

Roy blinked in surprise when his name was spoken out loud without an introduction.

"I read your name tag, son.." said Nakoma with a toothy grin. "And I see you carry the spirit proofs I'll be needing." he said, indicating both the tooth jar and the folder containing Johnny's patient notes in Roy's hands.

"Uh, yes sir.." sputtered Roy, rubbing his nose in embarrassment.

"Come. Nageela will show you the way into my Sun Circle.. uh, my personal garden. I've already set aside some refreshment.." he said with a slight angle of his whitening head. "After we've eaten and are filled from the pool's waters, we can begin your purification rites. I have Young Opa Henle, helping me today. He is a most promising initiate."

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

It was forty minutes later, Johnny was almost completely untensed after the simple meal of palm hearts and fried corn cakes. The sun felt warm on his back as he listened to Opa and Nakoma say the sacred chant of Atonement for his behalf. He hadn't even coughed when the ceremonial pipe of herbs passed between the four of them.
::Guess all this fresh air's finally doing something for me.:: he thought.

He closed his eyes for a few seconds, fending off a slight drowse.
A steamy puff of summer wind made him open them...

And he came face to face with a slabbering, roaring maw of a six hundred pound grizzly bear.

"YahhhhHH!" he shouted, flinging himself backwards off of the coarse,
brightly colored woven prayer mat.

Nakoma, Opa and Roy fell to laughing as the tame bear began snuffling Johnny's outflung hands, begging for any shred of leftovers.

"Where did that bear come from?!" Gage gasped.

"From under that tree, Panther." said Opa, the young indian man.
"She was lying under it the whole time to keep herself cool. You mean to tell me that you never saw her there? Miccosukee did, right away.."

Roy chuckled. "You'll have to forgive my partner. He.. injured himself yesterday enough to addle his brains. Always takes a day or two for Johnny to sort himself out."

Nakoma patted the affectionate giant bear's dusty coat fondly.
"Yes, I saw the battle marks on his face that showed how his tooth was taken from him." he gestured with a ceremonial ribbon dressed hawk's feather. "And Coo-Wah Shoke here knows she might get some food from one who's still slow from his wounds.." he said.

Gage laughed. "Big Pig? Is that what you call her?"

"Yes, for that is her nature. How she gets with food and her love of wallowing in the mud. The city says I can have her as long as she never goes into the shop and stays behind my gated fences. Are you still frightened of her my boy?" Nakoma asked.

"A little. Let's just say bears and I haven't ever gotten along. Lions and tigers don't like me much either.." Johnny said, uneasily.

Clucking his lips, Nakoma sent Coo-Wah Shoke away from the food fire on the tiny willow tree ringed shore of the garden's pool. "Go for a while. This one needs my healing without his fear of animals rising, my old friend. He'll be all right.." the old man told the bear.

Roy and Johnny looked at Nakoma thoughtfully until the elder explained. "She worries about those who're heart sick and is drawn to them. I'm afraid you were enough to break her sleep,
Panther. Tell me of your old transgression that effected you here.."
he said, motioning to the general area of where a spleen would be located. "You will not be judged by me for that is not my place in the World.." said Nakoma. "I see that part of you has been missing for a half circling of the sun."

Roy handed Nakoma the medical records Dixie had managed to scrounge up. "I don't know if we have time for you to read all of these doctor notes. Johnny was hit by a car and had to have emergency surgery to save his life. I was there when it happened."

"We will have time. The Creator will send those who might need your medical healing and fire fighting to the others in your House. It always happens that way." said Opa with certainty, briefly touching the broad cast monitoring HT that Roy had set on a rock by their blanket.

Gage blinked and so did Roy. "We did eat without getting a rescue call.
Think it'll last?" he joked to the young man.

"Until we are done here. Yes." said Opa with fervor.

"Wish I had your confidence.." Johnny murmured, as Opa took away his grass woven food plate and pottery fired water cup.

A cloud passed over the sun, and its shadow chilled the air,
making the pleasant sweat on Johnny's face turn uncomfortable.

Nakoma's eyes opened and he fixed Johnny with a sad stare.
"I am is little I can do to restore your Spirit's balance, Johnny. It is because the circles that you move within have been disrupted for too long."

"Disrupted? How?" said Johnny, his old apprehensions about keeping the tribal appointment coming back in a flood.

"Your body takes on its hurts and pains often. Does it not?"

"Well, yeah, but.. I've always sort of had a klutz gene."

"Not always. It is only since then. When you did not see me when the first Loss of Body happened. It does not matter that it was the Miccosukee doctors who took your body's spleen without your knowledge then. What does matter, is that you did not atone for its loss, until now." Nakoma said. "I can erase that old transgression now. But the harm that comes often to your Great Circle, will stay near for a time."

Gage felt uneasy. "I'm sorry.. I didn't think that my surgery was a critical matter for the tribe to have to worry about."

"There is always a serious cost for delay when the spirit/body is concerned. You as a city healer, as a paramedic, should know that. But, what's done is now done and I cannot lessen the imbalance. I'm afraid I can see that you will suffer more in that which surrounds you, before your spirit circles come into balance again." said Nakoma. "For every neglect, comes a price," said the old tribal elder,.." In blood or in its ties.."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The warm sun had fled, and a dreary, inadequate rain fell on Station 51.
All the gang only half heard a complaining Charlie the mechanic banging away on the squad door, finishing up its restoration work out in the vehicle bay. Johnny Gage thought that sipping a mug of Cap's chowder would cheer him. It didn't. So he started talking instead. "Roy, what do you think he meant by that?"

"Do you mean Nakoma's doom and gloom statement that he shared with us before we left him or Charlie's last oath in Italian?" Roy grinned.

"I'm talking about Nakoma.." said Johnny quietly.

The smile on Roy's face died. "I don't know. I'm not good at understanding mystical stuff....and about what happened earlier today.. I understand, even less. Maybe he was just trying to scare you into spending more time with your Aunt to learn your native language like she wants you to."

"Roy, Nakoma's a respected elder. He wouldn't stoop to such pettiness to get anybody back in line. "Johnny said. "A man doesn't become a Spirit Elder by being manipulative. There's only one born in every generation, and that is earned with years and years of dedication and study. Nakoma's the free-est spirit I've ever encountered."

"I've heard of one freer.." smiled Roy, looking up at Johnny.

"What?"

"Nothing. I wouldn't worry much about what Nakoma said. No one is subject to manifest destiny. We all have free will. I sincerely believe the choices we make in our lives are always made free and clear from anyone's influence, except perhaps,
sometimes, our own."

"You really think so?"

"Yeah."

Johnny didn't say anything and just toyed with the steaming soup with his spoon.

"You look hungry again," Roy said gently. " Eat your soup before we get called out on a---"

The tones went off.. and the call that followed them began to transmit over the speakers as the whole gang piled out of the kitchen.

Charlie the mechanic grabbed Boot's collar and got both himself and the shaggy station mutt, out of the way of traffic.

## Station 51...... ##

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Photo: Johnny and Roy talking by the squad.

Photo: A spleen diagram.

Photo: Nakoma the elder and Opa assistant, grinning.

Photo: The elder by a camp fire with Opa, nightfall.

Photo: Johnny and Roy answering a call squadbound.

Photo: A trading post curio shop.

Photo: Close up of the squad's radio.

*
From : Champagne Scott Sent : Sunday, March 20, 2005 5:48 PM Subject : Boot the Dog's Sixth Sense

##...., Truck 9. Possible suicide attempt. 18 West McGinty. Cross street Lawrence. 18 West McGinty. Cross street Lawrence. Police on scene advise no lights or sirens. They specify a boy is involved. Timeout, 1437.## said Sam Lanier quietly. There was a slight hesitation in the L.A. dispatcher's usually calm voice that that showed uncharacteristic emotion or something else, that all the humans simply missed in their haste to gear up and get belted in.

Before the echo of Sam's voice died away, Boot suddenly whined, rising to his feet. He began to bark deep authority filled woofs to hasten the gang into faster action like he did only for a located victim whenever he was at a rescue site. But this time, he was looking up the wall where the giant city map frame hung, intently focused on the speaker grill.

Mike Stoker gaped as he slipped into his overcoat. "Why is he doing that?" he asked Chet and Cap and Marco piling into the Ward around him. "Crazy mutt. There's nothing up there, not even a flying moth to go after."

Cap shrugged. "Boot's a veteran fire dog but he's getting older. Maybe he's just in anticipation for us to hurry it up a little. This is a kid call and he's smart enough to know what the word "boy" means without any encouragement from anybody."

"Probably." said Mike, and then he was all concentration on checking out the boulevard through the opening door ahead for approaching traffic.

Chet and Marco continued to stare in puzzlement at the stiff legged, on-the-point barking Boot as the engine pulled out after the rushing squad. But then there was no more time to wonder when an update from the police department came over the radio. ## Seven Mary Three, Station 51. The child's guardian is on scene and accessible.##

"Engine 51, Seven Mary Three, 10-4." replied Captain Stanley as he tightened the strap of his helmet more firmly against the rainy wind pushing through the engine's open window.

The outer door rumbled shut, muting the busy traffic sounds, and relative quiet returned to the station bay.

Charlie the mechanic tried to pet Boot's back, but the shaggy, tan and red dog shied away from him quickly, only to resume his staring pose and urgent barking fit. "Hey, boy. What's the matter? You hungry? Come on, I'll feed ya a can of Rival. Don't worry about the boys, they'll be back. Firemen return to the coop even faster than carrier pigeons do, ol' fella. Just give it em couple of hours for this one. I'll just bet that kid's got himself up in a high place somewhere while he's working through being a runaway or something. You know how parents can get sometimes. He's probably just scared witless."

Boot ignored him and continued to stare and bark oddly at the grill, until an unbidden stomach growl brought the juices flowing into his mouth at the word 'Rival'. He cut his barks off reluctantly.

"Huh." smiled Charlie. "Thought so. Your chow'll be under the payphones in a second. Then I'm gonna go read the sports pages. Just let me wash up a bit." mumbled the greasy palmed Charlie as he ambled towards the kitchen, whistling an aimless tune.

Boot finally padded after the blue shirted grizzle haired mechanic. He offered one last whine of concern to the rain gray light in the air as it dimmed in the garage.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Photo: A rainy river bridge from a car driver's perspective.

Photo: Boot, barking frantically.

Photo: The engine and squad traveling down the expressway.

*
From : patti keiper Sent : Monday, March 21, 2005 10:49 AM Subject : [EmergencyTheaterLive] Miracle from the Sky..

Hank radioed Squad 51 when they were a half mile away from the high rise ivory brick office building where their incident was taking place, to begin dark and silence mode. The complex was located in the clover leaf of the busy expressway and already,
cars were honking and slowing down to gawk at the sight of the crowd milling about and pointing upwards towards a floor much higher than the speedway ramp. "DeSoto, Gage. Pull up out of sight in the park on the east side of the building. Take off your helmets when you go meet with PD. We don't know yet if this young man gets agitated at seeing uniforms or not. Err to the side of caution.
E 51'll station down the block with Ladder 9 until you give the word."

##10-4, Cap.## replied Johnny using the radio mike from the dashboard. The falling rain was easing into a fine chilly mist that muted details of the top stories of the building.

A new transmission cut in. ## Station 51, this is Seven Mary Four from the sixth floor. I'm moving the mother in close enough on the boy's level to begin a talk using a megaphone. We can only see him through a plate glass window that extends out the whole dimensions of this room. Suite 615. He's located in a recessed corner under the horizontal flag pole on the south side. Stay your personnel until we get a good feel about this.##

Captain Stanley quickly scooped up the engine's mic.
"Seven Mary Four, Engine 51. 10-4. Truck 9, hold your position until further notice but go ahead and enable the Eddison to vertical on your side of the building. I want to give that boy an option of climbing down by himself if necessary once my men are up there. Looks like CHiP PD will give us an order to move in."

## Truck 9, Engine 51. We copy that. You'll have your access route in five minutes.##

Cap nodded in satisfaction and waved over Kelly and Marco.
"Guys, go get belts and ropes. But keep under tree cover.
The fog layer between us and that boy could thin to clear at any time and we don't yet know how far the boy can see from his perspective. Lopez, hand me the binoculars from the brush bag. I'm going around into the crowd to see what I can see."

"Ok, Cap."

Meanwhile, Roy and Johnny had shed their helmets and donned their non descript navy shirt jackets. They pushed their way through the spectators to the front rotating doors and hurried wasted no time using their fire keys to take over one of the public elevators. They quickly established a patch to the two CHiPs up with the mother. Speaker mode allowed them to overhear what the mother was saying while they rode up to the sixth floor.

##Baby, daddy and I aren't mad at you. We just want you to come back home. Please, move away from the edge, you're frightening me..##

##Good!## came an angry shivering boy's voice full of rage.
##I'm sick and tired of all the doctors poking and prodding me all the time. I'm sick of all the needles! I'm sick of all the tests that I know won't make me live longer. You said it yourself, ma. My brain tumor's cancer and I read in my chart that it's gonna kill me before Christmas. So why wait? I don't want those terrible pains to come back again.## screamed the distraught boy.
## So, I'm gonna jump before that happens..## he sobbed, almost hoarse and shaking with cold under the falling light rain.

##Eric. You're scared. You can't possibly understand everything that was written in there. I can't, and I'm a librarian. But I know enough. You won't feel anymore headaches. Doctor Early says that he can operate and turn off those parts of your brain that will try to do that when the tumor gets big. Did you read his notes about it? He said he'd perform a craniotomy with Doctor Alfans to-##

The tone of the boy's voice through Roy and Johnny's HT as the elevator rose agonizingly slow, grew quieter. "Enough mom!
I want to die now and get it over with. I hate what's in my head.
It's eating me away bit by bit...*sob* I'm starting to feel like I'm no longer me anymore." he whimpered, sagging down the dripping brick outside and he started crying violently with a bowed head bent over his knees.

Eric's mother fell into a tortured silence and her muffled crying was the first thing the two paramedics heard in person when they entered the suite office, cautiously avoiding windows.

A CHiP named Frank Poncherello motioned them to a marble pillar out of the boy's direct range of sight. Roy and Johnny ducked behind a desktop and scrambled over to the policeman's position.
Johnny asked him, whispering. "Is there a removable pane of glass around here anywhere?"

Ponch shook his head as he guardly watched Kelly and Lopez enter the room as stealthily as Gage and DeSoto had with the rappelling gear. "Nah. He picked the CEO suite to fall apart in on purpose. This is his dad's office. He knew there wouldn't be an easy way for potential rescuers to reach him from here."

Roy asked, "Where's Eric's dad now?" as he looked around for another man in the room who wasn't PD, trying to keep out of sight.

A blonde CHiP name tagged Jon Baker replied. "In Houston. He flew out on an emergency flight for a trip this morning. Guess he forgot to tell his wife and son where he was headed to."

"Nice time to forget.." said Johnny. "Sound's like that kid has borderline altered himself into a crisis at finding out the bad news just at a time when he needs his dad most. Brain cancer's a serious load." Then he checked himself. "No offense, ma'am.." he addressed Eric's mother.
"I'm Johnny Gage of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. My partner,
Roy DeSoto and I, are paramedics."

"Oh no. Not paramedics... Eric will know you for who you are in seconds.
He had a seizure two months ago that began this awful nightmare and two men like you came to treat him." her face twisted. "Please.. don't let my son see you... I beg you..." she pleaded, nearly hysterical.

Roy hung onto her shoulders.. "Shhh. Easy.. Keep your voice low and try to calm down a bit. Your son needs you and the four of us are here to help you help Eric, too, ok? Please. Sit down right over here and get your thoughts worked out. We won't have to look at your son directly.
These two officers have already filled us in on exactly where he is and how he's positioned on the ledge. So far, he's hugging the wall because of the high height out there."

Johnny nodded, adding further encouragement. "He won't jump, maam. Not if we don't agitate him. Depressed children his age have a hard time overcoming the survival instinct left over from early childhood long enough to actually kill themselves. I know it sounds bad right now, but he's only asking for help in the best way he can work it out right now.."

"Oh, g*d.." the mother sobbed, her knees gave way and Roy and Johnny gripped her arms long enough to guide her down to sit on the cushions of the office chair. "I can't take this right now. This is all surreal.."

Gage immediately bent on curbing her denial, before shock could set in and cause her to topple in a psychogenic faint. They needed the mother's voice of reason. "Now, Mrs. Benoit..." he said, reading the name plate sitting on the desk next to them. "Quit snowballing the situation here. You gotta pull yourself together. Your son's wet, but he's not in any deadly danger. That ledge is over eight feet wide. It's not as narrow as you might think. My partner and I are very familiar with the buildings on this block. We use them for climbing and rescue practice with other fire stations all the time."

"You....do..?" she whispered.

"Yes. Here, drink this. Officer Poncherello got some coffee for you. Take a few sips and then we'll begin talking to your son again, all right?"
Gage encouraged her. "He's scared but I know he'll listen carefully to whatever you'll say next. Why wouldn't he? You're the only mother he's got.." Johnny smiled at her. He dabbed away the worst of her tears with a deftly snatched kleenix from a box near them. "And besides that, it's freezing out there..." said Johnny teasingly, chattering his teeth as an unfeigned chill washed through him.

Mrs. Benoit, briefly smiled bravely at the four men. "I'll hold out a blanket for him.." she sniffed before another wave of crying gripped her. Officer Jon Baker slipped a second one for her around her shoulders and refilled the coffee cup that had splashed mostly empty, because her hands were trembling so strongly.

A crash from outside startled them all.

Jon Baker rushed to hug a wall and parted the rich venetian blinds to peer outside.
Benoit remained frozen in a horrid fear. "It's ok.. That was only some lightning. Eric's still nestled behind the gargoyle, hanging onto its lower feet as tight as he can. There's no way he's gonna let go. Roy, Johnny. I think that thunder petrified him. He's gripping the stone so hard, his fingernails are bleeding..."

"They are?" Gage said, rising up from his crouch in quick discovery. He dashed over to Baker and hugged the wall enough to see the sign for himself. "Roy.. looks like he's catatonic.. maybe even pre seizure stage."

"We gotta get out there..." DeSoto qualmed.

Kelly burst into the room, keeping low. "No problem. The office next door has a window washer's access pane and it's open. That's how Eric climbed outside. One of his shoes is lying on the carpeting underneath it."

"Let's go..." Roy said. "Mr. Poncherello..." DeSoto said, reading Frank's nametag. "Stay with Mrs. Benoit. Stretch her out on the floor on her side if she passes out on you, ok. We'll have O2 up here in a jiffy.."

Ponch nodded.

DeSoto lifted his HT to his mouth as he and Johnny followed Kelly and Marco to the open window and were belted up. "Cap.. have someone bring up all the medical gear. We just got our big break and we're taking it."

Jon Baker barked into his own radio link to the engine. "Captain. The ladder's a sure thing real soon. Send it on up.."

##10-4..##

Chet frowned. "Catatonia? How long will that last?"

"That depends on how far along Eric's tumor's progressed. Could be for minutes... or for just a few seconds. It's ok to hurry.." Roy replied calmly, but impatiently.

Marco whipped his hands away from the lifebelts now around the two paramedics' waists. "Done.."

"Go, man. We already got ya anchored!" Kelly turned to Jon Baker.
"Officer Baker? Come wrap Roy and Johnny's ropes around ya,
Lopez and I will take the weight if they fall but you'll be great as our secondary brake. Put your belt gloves back on." he said, pulling on his own fire ones.

Roy and Johnny both got confident ready nods from the two engine firemen so they inched their way out onto the concrete ledge that was one cornerstone pillar away from Eric's dripping perch.

Gage was the second one to step outside. He was immediately soaked to the skin from the driving rain but he never hesitated. Roy looked back through the access window. "Kelly! Is the boy's rope attached to a third belt yet? We'll try to get that around him first before we do anything else.."

"Yeah, anticipated ya!..." Chet shouted back. "Here!" and his tan gloves lifted out to Roy, a neatly coiled line and a life belt already cinched down to a small, child sized diameter.

DeSoto peeked around the corner of the end column, but Eric still hadn't moved or blinked. Slowly, Roy pulled out his bandage scissors from his hip holster and he crept one glove around the edge of the pillar blindly, until he felt soft flesh, giving way. He quickly withdrew them but there was no reaction at all to his nudge. "Eric?" he whispered carefully over the mist.

There was no reply or any sound of voluntary movement that showed the boy had even heard him.

"Is he zoned?" Gage whispered.

"Yeah..." Roy nodded.

The two paramedics flew into business, hollering for a pair of rig stretchers over their HTs once Eric's safety rope was securely snubbed off.

The boy did not resist them and continued to stare straight ahead, emotionally reacting to nothing. He stayed rigid necked and limb stiff, the whole way back through the office window on Roy's shoulder.

---------------------------------------------------------------

It took only seven minutes for the four firemen to get both Mrs. Benoit and the boy into the waiting ambulance. Hank Stanley gave the departing rig a couple of hand slaps to the back to send it and Roy on its way.

Hank turned to Johnny and the others, and said.....

-
Photo: Suicide kid on ledge.

Photo: CHiPs on scene.

Photo: Cap Roy Johnny talk at fire in day turnout.

Photo: Chet high up, watching.

Photo: Stoker Johnny Roy doing ropes prep highup.

Photo: Roy Gage with witness, pointing.

Photo: Gage speaking with a heartsick, seated mom.

*
From: "lafddispatcher" lafddispatchery... Date: Mon Mar 21, 2005 11:01 am Subject: Gift From Heaven...

"..I think we owe the Big Man upstairs a whole lotta thanks,
don't you?"

"Heck, yeah..." said Gage. "I'll never complain about a rainy rescue day, ever again..."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Photos: None.

From : Jeff Seltun Sent : Sunday, March 27, 2005 3:19 PM Subject : [EmergencyTheaterLive] In for a Mile..

Cap was dozing in the black vinyl rec room arm chair.

Just about everyone else, was either nodding off on the couch or onto their dinner plates while the droning effect of the late afternoon rain on the roof of the vehicle bay, lulled them into sleeping drowsiness.

Only Charlie the mechanic seemed invigorated by the continuing dreary weather. He had both bay doors wide open to further dry the paint on the squad from his repair job and he had Boot as a very eager audience, for company.

"What's the matter, boy? Are the guys too inanimate for you?
Heh. Firemen are like that." Charlie told the shaggy dog.

Boot intently wagged his tail energetically from where he sat with a screwdriver in his mouth. Every time the older mechanic made eye contact, he wagged it ferociously.

"One minute, they're like you'd expect them. Running right for you, doing the work they're hired for. But then, after only a little atmospheric effect from mother nature, they slip into hibernation mode and drop whereever they are. I know, fella, it's boring.
Seems like every firehouse I come to is like that when it starts to rain." Charlie explained rubbing red paint dotted fingers to scratch an itch on his nose. "One of these days, I'm gonna make a short call to Headquarters, suggesting that an afternoon communications check would be a good idea. Right around mid shift. That way you mascots'll benefit and have firemen to play with who're actually awake and functioning at least part of the day." he chuckled.

Boot whined in agreement.

"Say, didn't I see some dog toys in the mop cupboard in a box with your name on it?" Charlie addressed Boot.

Boot angled his head quizzically, still drooling around the screwdriver he dutifully held in his jaws.

"Yeah, I know I did. Hang on a minute and I'll go get it out for ya. Maybe it'll have something in there for you to do besides getting crumbs of companionship second hand from me. It's not like I can pet any part of you right now. I'm all gooey."

Charlie opened the wooden cupboard on the squad side of the garage with a carefully clean rag, and almost fell over the mechanic's dolly, the same one that had injured Gage the night before. "Geesh! Doesn't anybody use the wall cradle I made for this thing that's in the closet?! This is gonna kill somebody some day... Stupid firemen.." he grumbled.

Boot barked in concert, giving the offending apparatus a firm bite as he helped Charlie lift it up into where it ought to be.

Charlie reached down and pulled out Boot's toy box. Inside was a few dusty rawhide bones, a tennis ball or two, an old CPR baby full of bite marks and some rope shreds, well frayed and chewed.
Charlie lifted out the obsolete training baby. "Is this your retriever toy? So that's how they get you to go find people who're lost.
I've always wondered how you do that."

But then, to the left of Boot's box, Charlie spotted one marked,
'For Tour Kids'. Inside, there were a few interactive games. One box, Boot instantly glommed onto, sniffing eagerly and whining.
"Oh ho!.. So you're a dyed to the wool Twister fan. I think this one should belong in your box, Boot." he laughed. Charlie lifted out the game, and blew the dust off its cover. "Say, I got an idea. If ya bark over this game loudly enough in the kitchen, I'll bet you'll get some signs of life outta those lazy lugs in a jiffy."

"Bark! " said Boot.

Charlie chuckled. "Here, boy." he said, handing out the Twister game's box. "I'll trade you. Now go get the blood moving in your buddies while I finish up out here.. And if they ask, it wasn't my idea...." he whispered to the station mutt, taking the Phillips tool from between his teeth and substituting the Twister box.

Boot lifted his head high, counterbalancing the tangle limbs game in his teeth and he eagerly padded away into the kitchen at a puppy like gallop.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SMACK!! went the game on the tile floor right in the middle of the cluster of the snoozing gang.

All six of them jolted from their rainfall induced naps with satisfying alacrity at the noise. Boot barked, hastening their progress to wakefulness.

He set a paw on the Twister game pointedly.

Chet mumbled sleepily, rubbing his eyes. "Geez, Boot. If ya wanted to play you could've got only one of us awake, a little more gently than.. hey.. what's this?"

Gage coughed, picking up his head from the kitchen table. "Looks like the board game we use when the school kids come here on tours."
he yawned.

"Really? I didn't even know we had this.." Chet said, pulling it away from Boot and opening it up. "I remember this game. I used to worm my way into victory against my sisters all the time." he said, unrolling the floor playing mat. "Smells like our old game used to, too. Like an attic.."

"Bark!" Boot insisted, nosing the color spinner until it moved around its circled panel.

Captain Stanley blearily rose, messy haired, to the stove to pour out six mugs of fortifying coffee for all of them. "Sorry, Boot, there's no tours scheduled today. It's Saturday, pal. Not a kid in sight."

"Bark!" Boot yapped again, pulling on a corner of the game mat Chet had unfolded in his lap pointedly.

"Hey, Boot! Knock it off! You're gonna rip it.." Marco said.
"Then where would we be for the kids?"

"Bark!" Boot parked himself in the middle of the Twister mat and started a staring match at each of the gang's eyes in turn as they looked at him in amusement.

Stoker scratched his stubbly chin. "I wonder where he found that?"

Roy snorted, "The same place he found the dolly that KO'd Johnny last night. The mop cupboard."

"Bark!" boomed Boot.

Chet narrowed his eyes. "Hey guys, I think Boot's issuing a challenge or two here. There was definitely a note of insult embedded in that last bark."

Gage scoffed. "Oh, come off it, Chet. You're hearing things. Boot's the nicest dog in the world. He wouldn't--"

"Bark! Bark! Woof!" Boot said, looking right at Johnny.

Gage nearly spit out the mouthful of coffee he was swallowing and he spun around, not believing what his ears were telling him. His jaw dropped open.

"See?" Chet gestured at Boot. "That was pretty colorful language for a dog, wouldn't you agree?"

"Yeah..." Gage said incredulously, wanting to doubt his ears, but finding that he couldn't.

Captain Stanley grinned. "If he wants to play, then we'll play with him.
Nobody's gonna get any sleep around here with him making that kind of racket."

"Woof!"

"...and I don't think he'll shut up until we play how he wants to play.."
Cap continued.

Marco made a face. "Come on, Cap. You've got to be kidding.. Us playing Twister?"

"Why not?" shrugged Cap. "Consider it a modified fitness exercise.
Come on. I'll join in, too. The faster we humor Boot, the faster we can get back to napping..." Hank said. "Get the drift?"

"Ok. Fine." Kelly said. "But let's liven up the pot a little for the winner.
Let's say, the winner doesn't have to patrol the yard after Boot's bathroom breaks for....an entire week."

"No, make it longer.." said Stoker.

"How about for an entire month?" Roy suggested.

"You're on.." Kelly said.

"Wait a minute, wait a minute.. What's in it for Boot?" Marco asked.
"This game was his idea..."

The gang fell quiet, their faces falling out of their grins in a hard moment of consideration.

"Bark!" Boot said, looking at the silver SCU tones speaker grill on the wall.

"Oh,.. now that's worth playing for.." Cap understood. "He wants to play for a ride along. Ok, pal. I'm dealing you in..." he said to Boot,
picking up his paw and shaking it. "Let's play..."

Mike Stoker smiled. "If this works out, maybe we can use Boot's game to wager away chores for the future.."

"Don't tempt me.." Hank grinned. "I'm beginning to warm to the idea.."

Gage frowned. "Awww, Cap. I'm still stiff and sore from my fall. I can't do this now.." he complained.

"Are you telling your captain that you're too hurt to work today?"
Hank glowered. "I can always arrange that talk with the Chief about the little field trip you took in the garage last night.."

"Playing's fine, Cap..." Johnny said, shooting out of his chair. "There's always Tylenol available afterwards.."

"Thought so. Now, who's gonna spin first?" Hank asked.

"Bark!" Boot said.

"Ok.. Boot's got it. Everybody on your border marks. Watch for it.." Captain Stanley ordered, kicking off his shoes.

Roy immediately gaped. "Cap.. that's not fair."

"What's not fair..?" Hank asked, cracking a few joints as he stretched out the sleepy creaks from his bones.

"You. You're wearing white socks today..." Gage continued.

Cap's face immediately washed self conscious but just as quickly, turned all captain. "I was...running late today. I grabbed the only clean pair handy. My wife was too busy getting dinner on the table last night to remember the laundry."

The rest of the gang frowned, unappeased.

"Ok, ok. The next time you guys forget black socks, I promise not to yell. But I'll only excuse ONE time.." Cap punctuated.

The rest of the gang settled into serious competitive play poses,
waiting for Boot's nosed spin.

"Blue!" Chet shouted aloud.

Six socked feet shot out,.. and the game was on.

Out in the garage, Charlie the mechanic smiled as he worked on polishing the squad's chrome around the new fender he had rebuilt. The noises of tusseling, wrestling firefighters mingled with the sounds of Boot's happy barks. "Maybe I should go into business as a pet psychologist as a side job. I'm getting pretty good at it if I do say so myself." he grinned broadly.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Photo: Charlie the fire mechanic, working under a hood.

Photo: Boot, with a screwdriver in his mouth.

Photo: Johnny Gage, sleeping elbow propped on the table.

Photo: Cap, frowning at his coffee cup.

Photo: The gang and Boot, playing a Twister game.

*
From : Cassidy Meyers and Patti Keiper Sent : Tuesday, March 29, 2005 12:34 AM Subject : The Fall of an Icon..

The guys were hard at play when the Motorola Quicktones for a medical rescue sounded from the station control unit grille.

The guys froze in place as the first three notes filled the air.

Cap sighed. "It's not us..." he said, from underneath Roy's waist on the Twister board. He meant to win and he tried to concentrate on not falling onto his butt and into the same disqualified status that Marco and Johnny had already fallen onto. Boot was still hopping gamely on his hind legs on the proper colors shown by the spinner. ::It's astonishing that he knows how to play.:: thought Cap as the speakers played out the SCU's for the call that wasn't gonna be theirs.

As soon as the familiar voice came on, giving the address, Boot startled in unexpected alarm and fell over onto his back in his haste to rush underneath the speaker to begin the same barking vigil that he had done for 51's earlier child suicide call.

"You threw your game, you crazy mutt! Why'dja do that? You were winning.." Chet moaned as he picked up the spinner and spun out yet another color for the rest, still arms and legs tangled on the Twister game's playing mat. "Yellow!" he said.

He tried to pet Boot's back with a free hand, but the dog would have none of it, barking mightily up at the ceiling again once he had dodged the Irish fireman's grope. Chet gave up trying to calm Boot down and said, "Hey, Cap. He's doing it again.."

"Doing what?" Hank grunted from his very difficult body pretzel he was currently preserving while the others moved onto yellow touches around him with either fingers or toes, or a chin, in Mike Stoker's case.

"Fussing over another rescue.." Kelly frowned.

"He is? Why? Did 18's draw a kid call like ours?" Gage asked.

"I don't know yet. Sam's not done assigning it out.." Chet shrugged.
He paused with the game's spinner, as the run filled out verbally.

##Squad 18, difficulty breathing. 1710 North Barren Street. 1710 North Barren Street. Cross street An-Annex Way. Time out : 18:10. *Spap.*##

Gage's eyes widened, "Was that a sound skip?" the paramedic wondered. "Hey, Cap. I think the rain's effecting the P.A. system."

"Never mind the P.A. system.. I'm worried about my muscular system!"
strained Cap. "Chet, start spinning or I--"

"Green!" Kelly gulped, giving the grille and the still vaguely whining Boot a glance or two as he complied.

The new switch did everybody in and the whole contorted firegang fell over in a balled heap, wiping out any hope of having a winner in the game.

Cap lay where he had fallen.. "Oww.. I may never move again.."

Roy, still leg trapped beneath his lanky captain, grinned. "You may have to if we get a run just like they d---"

The tones pealed out. This time, the three notes spelled out their signal.
And then two more, a complete station call. Chet and Marco helped the others to their feet and all the firemen hastened into their shoes as they rushed for the garage.

Charlie was already holding out the squad's keys.
"Aren't you lucky I planned ahead and used fast drying automobile paint.."
he said to Roy, handing the sweaty paramedic, his helmet as DeSoto climbed into the open driver's door.

Roy smiled, "Looks beautiful..!" he said warmly. "Isn't that right, Johnny?
You can't even tell where our hairy collision hit anymore." he teased.

"Don't you mean furry collision?" Charlie blinked.

Gage did his best trying to sink into the passenger seat. "OOoo, Roy,
quit it. He'll figure it o--"

## Station 51. Unknown type rescue. 4100 Upton Lane. On the college campus. 4100 Upton Lane. Cross--ss S-Street University Boulevard.
Time out : 18:13. *Spap.*

Hank answered using the radio mic from the Ward. "L.A., 10-4. Station 51 is responding, KMG 365."

Johnny dug a finger into his ear after he put his helmet and belt on.
"Ugh..H." he shuddered. "Hey Charlie.. can you check out the station radio feed lines? They still sound like they're shorting out.."

Charlie grabbed a Boot who was once again growing wild, barking and jumping up the county wide wall map in his haste and want to climb upwards. "I'm a mechanic, not a gaffer!"

"Yeah? Well, all right, all right.." shouted Gage over the sound of the pouring rain out front and the start of the sirens Roy had flicked on.
"How about getting inside Boot's head a little and finding out why he's going crazy.."

"He's probably mad because you're ditching the game I suggested to him.." Charlie grinned, jogging alongside the squad Roy was pulling forward.

"What?"

"Never mind.." Charlie chuckled. "Just go! I'll see what I can do.."

Station 51 roared out of the dry, lighted vehicle bay and into a driving full dusk rainstorm.

Charlie watched them disappear into traffic and out of sight.

Thinking of Boot's current state, he slammed down the autoshut garage door button early and then he turned to deal with the things Gage had mentioned. "Ok, there, fella. You squirming because of an ultra high squeal on the communications band? Maybe I oughta go climb the station's roof to go check it out.."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Gage squinted in the rain, fully aware that Roy and he were a visual vanguard for the engine, following closely behind. In his hands, he had a road map. "SoCal campus.. Yep. This is it. 4100 is not administrative services, nor the library."

"It's gotta be a college house..." DeSoto decided, turning on the wind shield wipers to their maximum setting in an attempt to see through the dark and the deluge of the long duration summer rainstorm.

"Ok, turn left here.." indicated Johnny. "This leads to Fraternity Row.
And that, bisects Upton."

Roy leaned on the hooter so a whoop of siren split the air to get people's attention. Following suit, the Ward blasted its air horn a few times.

Lights came up porches and one such porch suddenly disgorged a young man who was wet and dripping. What made him stand out was that he immediately ran out towards Station 51 in the street,
without caring to stay dry.

"There!.. At Pi Kappa Alpha.." Gage pointed.

"I see him..." Roy pulled over to the curb quickly and soon,
the engine did, too.

Cap hurried out into the rain after letting L.A. know that they had arrived on scene. He snatched his walkie talkie and tucked it protectively in a plastic bag from his turnout's pocket.

Hank rushed to the college aged student's side and shouted over the rain pelting onto his fire helmet. "What's the problem?
A fire?"

"N--no sir.. This way. Hurry!" and before Cap could stop him,
the light blue clad young man ran back over the slippery lawn towards the front door in between the greek columns of the frat house and inside.

"Wait a minute!" Cap shouted. But the young man was already gone.
He sighed. "Roy! Johnny! Guess we bring ALL the medical gear in.
I didn't get any details at all from him! The only thing I learned is that we aren't dealing with a fire call."

"Right, Cap.." Roy shouted.

"Kelly, you go grab the adult male sized spine board...."

Chet hurried to get it, flipping up his coat collar against the heavy rainfall that was all but drowning the grass.

"And some flashlights! It'll be full dark any minute!" roared Hank after the glimmery shadow Chet made against the rain glittery red flashing light sprayed engine.

Marco flung open the compartments Gage and DeSoto hadn't already gotten to and snatched up the defibrillator and the heavy white trauma dressing case.

"Let's go..." Cap said, motioning them all forward at a run. He lifted up his encapsulated radio. "L.A., we're going inside. Stand by.."

##S-Standing by...##

In their haste, no one realized the vocal distortion was still there over the wire.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The gang ran into the house, laden with gear and immediately came face to face with a slew of college kids, partying, with alcohol. Amused glances and laughs at the sight of the fire department in their midst made everyone from the fire station, but Cap, feel vaguely defensive.

"Where's the fire guys?" said one drunk young lady.
"Did you come to the wrong address?" she giggled.

Pushing her gently aside, Cap sought out the young man who had first appeared on the porch. It was easy finding him since a wet trail of footprints showed dark on the tan shag carpeting in front of them. "Excuse me.. pardon me.." he said, moving around the kids.."This is an emergency... please.. Move out of the way.."
he complained.

Slowly, the crowd thinned, but the loud disco party music, continued.

Grasping the radio tightly to his ear, Cap kept tabs on the updates coming from L.A.

##L.A. Squad 18, What's your ETA to your incident?##

##Squad 18, L.A. Our estimated time of arrival is ten minutes. We've encountered flooded streets and have taken an alternate route#
said the paramedic's voice over Cap's HT.

::Terrific. I wouldn't doubt that the whole city will bog down at some point or another tonight..:: Cap sighed.

Soon, he spotted his quarry over the boogeying bodies jiving to Shadow Dancing by the BeeGees. "Hey! Mister!
Slow down.. We're coming!"

Hank firmly pointed out to Gage and Roy, the bead covered kitchen doorway. It was the brightest room in the whole house.

The gang shoved their way through. Beyond, a deck door was already reopened into the night with a fresh trail of soggy footprints evident on the rust colored tiles of the floor.

Another set of muddy ones traced up an exterior white painted staircase to a second floor, while the first set lead to the yard. "He's over here!" said a rain noise covered voice.
"Please! You gotta hurry! He's dying!"

Cap froze at the forking intersection of the two sets of footprints, aiming his flashlight down and peering into the dark, even as the violent downpour was slowly erasing them. "Split up. Three and three. HT when you find something! Marco, Stoker,..With me upstairs.. The rest of you, check out the yard. I can't tell where our witness's voice is coming from, so we better check out both ways pronto.." he ordered, water dripping from his helmet rim. "Each take an oxygen tank!"

The firemen split up according to plan.

Gage looked back briefly as he ran after Chet and Roy and he could just make out Cap and the others entering an upper story bedroom through the white door at the top of the outer stair in the beginnings of a medical victim search. "Ok..I've heard of panicking witnesses, but this is a little ridiculous. Roy, where is he?"

Before his partner could answer, there was another shout.
"Hurry.. We're by the pool! We can't find Derrick! We think he fell in!"

Gage and DeSoto and Kelly ran for all they were worth. As they did so, they peeled off their overcoats, trading the medical gear between hands as they pelted towards the night lit pool garden just ahead as they shed their excess weight.

Johnny's teeth began to chatter violently the instant the cool night deluge soaked down to his skin. Kelly and Roy were gear laden arrows ahead of him. The two men set down the squad's equipment hastily and began a leaning search of the pool, trying to see around the raindrop craters pocking the night dark water.

DeSoto improvised and pulled out his flashlight, aiming its bright spear of illumination deep into the pool. "Can't you turn the lights on out here?"

"No..." said the young man before them. "The storm's cut off the power out here! That's why we all went inside. Derrick said he'd follow us in a half an hour ago. But no one's seen him since. He was pretty drunk. And I'm scared. I called you when I thought I heard a loud splash. I thought instantly that Derrick probably fell in.." quavered the water dripping staggering student.

Roy saw that the young man wasn't too sober himself.

Gage spoke into his HT, using his helmet as an umbrella for his radio. "Cap! By the pool downslope- south. Possible ETOH and drowning! We're still searching! Look for the pool lights!"

##On our way!## Hank instantly replied, barely audible in the fury of the storm.

Roy suddenly shouted. "I think I see him. In the deep end!"

Johnny peeled off shoes and ditched his radio under his helmet onto a patio table and he dove into the frigid under lit pool water.

Roy and Chet could barely see Gage swimming under the rain torn surface. The side lights flickered eerily as Gage swam past them.

Then a reflection of another submerged flashlight lit up a man shaped form in clothing colors sitting head up and vertical off the bottom.

Chet grimaced. "Fatality..man.. Oh, geesh." But his hands worked fast to set up the resuscitator mask to the demand valve off the upright oxygen tank. "Are we too late?"

Roy didn't answer, and immediately sank both arms into the water to intercept the drowned student Gage would push into his hands. "Grab my belt, Chet. I'll haul him out to ya!"

Stiff cold hands appeared in between Roy's gloves and soon, Kelly and Roy were leaning away from the pool's edge in a desperate pull backwards to free Derrick from underneath the water.

Roy and Chet had the limp form out onto the poolside lawn and quickly log rolled onto a back when Gage suddenly shouted angrily up at them. "G*d d*mn it! It's all a prank!
I should've figured. It's H*ll Week this week. These guys pulled a fast one on us, and good.."

"What?!" Chet and Roy scrambled apart from their rope pull tumbled positions and to their hands and knees to crawl up their victim's torso towards his face.

"It's a dummy!" Johnny said, exiting the water powerfully.

Chet and Roy looked down.

Black plastic eyes met their own. And teeth that had never smiled, winked back in the wavering flashlight's glow.

The panicky witness suddenly burst out into amused laughter and a multitude of other tipsy students came out of the surrounding bushes to point fingers and laugh at the joke that they had successfully pulled on the firefighters.

It was into this scene that Cap and the others arrived but Gage slammed an irritated hand into Hank's jacketted shoulder as he grabbed up shoes, radio and hat. "There's nothing here,
Cap. The sh*the*ds dumped a manikin into the pool for us to find.."

"They did what?!"

"Forget it!" Roy's eyes steamed under his helmet. "We're still closer to that trouble breathing call than Squad 18 is. Let's go answer it."

"Awww NUTS!" Cap roared into the raging sky. "I'm gonna prosecute this prank call to the max! Chet take pictures and rush your butt to the engine! Now!" Hank said, dragging the O2 apparatus by a handle violently. It clattered almost more loudly than the lightning and thunder beginning around them.

Kelly melted into the rain to get the evidence.

Gage radio'ed out. "L.A., Station 51. We're now available and can respond to Squad 18's call. ETA three minutes!"

Gasping, the six firemen trucked around the huge fraternity house,
slipping occasionally on the wet grass as they hurried back to their flashing trucks still stabbing the night with their red fiery glow.

A clear channel met their ears. They could hear phones ringing in the background. But the L.A. voice didn't return hail them.

Johnny repeated his callout. "L.A. Station 51. Do you copy?
We're taking 18's incident!"

Still no reply.

Breathing hard, the exhausted angry gang piled into the engine and squad after throwing all the equipment back into their stows.

Roy and Johnny tossed their soggy fire fighting jackets back into the squad's sunken roof space in between the yellow air bottles and climbed inside wearily.

DeSoto threw the squad in drive and reengaged her siren.

The engine was only seconds slower to accomplish the same.

Roy hefted the CB mic. "Maybe the rain got into your HT.. L.A.
This is Squad 51. Do you read? What's the exact house address of Squad 18's dyspnea case?"

Again, only silent but strangely clear air met the question.

Then a new voice crackled into the frequency.. ##Break. Break. Break! Squad 51. Battalion Seven in Roving Unit Delta Nine. I'm now assuming ultimate command of all emergency communications traffic. Rampart Hospital has just reported a complete failure of all base to paramedic radio sends from L.A. in Blue One. We're assuming the main repeater tower in that service area has been fully lightning compromised or knocked down by a mud slide. I've routed Squad 45 to cover 18's call. I want your station to 10-19 immediately to Headquarters.
Switch your radio frequency to Carson 154.0700 TAC 21; BLUE 1 and turn your HTs to South County & Catalina Island channel 470.5625. Respond immediately to the COMMAND & CONTROL DIVISION at 1320 N. Eastern Avenue and check it out. Do you copy?##

Roy gasped. " We're ordered Code 3 to L.A. Headquarters?" He gave a shudder of horror.

"Yeah. I know what you mean." Johnny whispered, shivering from the cold water soaking his uniform.

Hank Stanley's firm voice shot out of the squad's speakers, making Roy and Johnny jump. ##Station 51. Battalion Seven. 10-4. Our estimated ETA is....six minutes!##

DeSoto, scared out of his mind, punched the gas as hard as he could in order to just get there before nothing left remained of his strength and will to do the job.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Truck to truck, Hank's tight voice was calming to his men, ##Roy? Johnny.
Spell out the headcount at L.A. ##

Gage took the mic from Roy and just let him drive, white knuckled,
through the torrid storm flashing around them. "Cap,..There are two towers: One is the primary, and one is on hot standby. There are ten call taker positions, and 9 radio operator positions for a t-total of nineteen personnel.. For electrical and fire risks, the main primary tower runs through one supervisor console and one spare radio console used for training. That power line threads through, I think, fourteen mountaintop UHF repeater sites simultaneously and then it dumps directly into Carson city residents'
power supply."

##Copy. Let's hope the building's intact..Stoker has our ETA in less than one. If there's no smell of smoke, go for an immediate in.##

"We got it, Cap.." Roy said dryly, finally finding his voice once more.
::Oh, my G*d. What's happened there?::

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

L.A.'s immaculate, earthquake defended, elevated building was intact, but completely dark.

Roy rushed inside the main occupied office suites and started counting people. One supervisor even abandoned his attempts at restoring his radio station to demand questions of Roy about the rainstorm outside and the possible damage taken by the EMS communications grid.

Roy ignored him. "Is everybody ok?" He didn't wait for an answer.
"I assume because you're all working that there isn't a fire going on anywhere..?"

Two feminine heads shook in the negative. "What's the matter, 51?
Why are you here? We think we've figured out what the problem is.
Main power's out but the backup generator's working just fine. So far, I've isolated that your controller's station three's console is still reading as open but it's either incapable of or not responding to any incoming transmissions..."

Roy hissed irritatedly at her, pushing up his helmet as he spun around in the emergency battery lit room. "Eighteen.. I'm only seeing eighteen... Who's missing?"

"What?" said the gray balding haired retired firefighter supervisor trying to stay in contact with all of Los Angeles's Battalion Chiefs via short wave radio. "We've only fourteen repeater towers in operation this month.." he said, mistaking the count for towers and not people.

DeSoto, threw up his hands and ignored him and the others, and he left,
beginning a room to room search for trouble. "Johnny,.. no fire." he said into the newly adjusted frequency on HT. "Power's on backup. One person's missing from what I can tell."

##Any ideas on where that person is?## Gage shouted into his talkie.

"Working on it.." gasped Roy, opening doors and casing each room carefully with his flashlight, including the floor and each room's break or bathroom areas.

Then he saw a sign in the dark. Controller Room Three.

DeSoto kicked down the door, and startled.

The radio console that filled most of the room was alighted with normal functioning, but it was hideously sprayed with blood from a man in a tan communications uniform still seated in a chair and sprawled on top of it.

Roy let out a small cry. "I found him. Unconscious with non-specific head bleeding! Controller Room Three! Stand by for his status!" he wheezed with effort into his HT.

##Hang on, Roy. We've got all the gear coming!## Hank encouraged DeSoto.

Pulling off his fire gloves, Roy rocked the man's head and neck backwards in a spine protective line along his jacket sleeve to reveal the face of a very familiar dark skinned man in his late thirties who had gushing blood oozing out of eyes, nose, ears and mouth.

DeSoto's world reeled.

::Oh, no.:: "Sam...Sam Lanier? Can you hear me?" ::It's a burst aneurysm..Cerebral..:: said a tiny paramedic voice in Roy's head.

Unbidden, his fingers felt for a pulse at Sam's gory neck even as he bent over his bloody nose and mouth to listen for breathing. Sam's red obscured,
half lidded eyes gaped up at Roy, one grossly dilated and huge. But the other, immediately shrank under Roy's trembling flashlight beam.

"Guys get in here! On the double! I've got no carotid with positive pupillary reaction." DeSoto yelled into his radio.

His stationmates' quick replies went unheard by Roy. The numb, still rain dripping paramedic carefully stretched out Sam's small frame onto the floor and started aggressive resuscitation efforts. ::Oh, m*ther of G*d. Is this what Boot sensed coming?:: He sobbed as he worked. "Oh, Sam.. I'm so sorry.. We didn't know you were having a stroke. No one paid close enough attention." he whispered as hot tears of grief ran down his muddy face.
::That wasn't an electronic distortion over the speakers during those calls, it was a stutter, a glaringly obvious pre-warning sign!:: his mind roared at him. Roy barely registered the fact that the retired fire supervisor turned chief dispatcher, took over Sam's chest compressions after he rushed into the room, once the older man received a set of shocking words from Cap over another frequency.

Mud mingled with blood as Roy tried to breathe life back into Sam Lanier, the owner of the voice from L.A.H.Q. that he had heard every single day of his working career.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Photo: Boot in a close shot by the engine's wheel.

Photo: Charlie and Roy working inside the squad's engine.

Photo: The squad with an open door in the pouring rain.

Photo: An opulent fraternity house at night.

Photo: A manikin submersed in a pool.

Photo: Battalion Seven talking into an HT at night.

Photo: L.A. Headquarters building sign.

Photo: Sam Lanier, the dispatcher, at his work station in L.A. H.Q.

Photo: Roy, bent down low with a grim expression, treating someone.

*
From : Roxy Dee Sent : Wednesday, March 30, 2005 3:06 PM Subject : Will of the Creator.. Captain Stanley was led at a run to the room from which Roy had radioed, by people from the front offices.

Johnny Gage was in front of him and he ducked into the dimly emergency battery lit room to swiftly kneel by his partner. He flipped open the defibrillator. "What do you got? Post effect from convulsions? He's awfully banged up." he asked, seeing all the blood. But then Gage caught the shocked expression on Roy's face and did a double take while the gelled paddles in his hands charged up.

DeSoto's voice was very small as he nodded while stringing up a rapid oxygen line from the demand valve regulator.

"These wounds aren't crime inflicted, they're from a stroke. He's full of intracranial petechiae. Scleral,..oral. He's probably suffering from a bad hemorrhagic attack." he said filling Sam's quiet chest with fast sets of mechanical breaths. "Guys, it's Sam." he said.

"Who?!" sputtered Cap. "...no..." he said with some pain when he saw that it was true.

The gang startled uncomfortably as their nameless victim suddenly turned into a dying friend, making them move faster physically, but each felt slower by the second inside,
mentally. Heart pain bit all of them deep and caught them fully aware of sudden and utter misery.

All six from Station 51 unbalanced.

An unwelcome chill flooded Johnny and what Nakoma had predicted returned full force. :: "For every neglect, comes a price," the old tribal elder had said,.." In blood or in its ties..":: The memory made ice fill Johnny's veins with a nightmarish wash of horror and he felt his world recede into unreality.

"How long has he been down?" Cap asked his senior paramedic trying to regain a grip on himself.

"I can't tell. His right eye shrank down a minute ago but now both are blown." Roy reported, his voice cracking.
Sam's blood still stained one of his cheeks from doing mouth to mouth.

Cap took over ventilations for Johnny to free him up while Stoker took over Sam's CPR. Kelly was silent while he dried Sam's skin of cold shocky wetness and applied EKG leads.
"I got these, Johnny. I'll stick em on.."

Mike Stoker coughed harshly from reaction and that earned him a scathing reply from Hank."Stoker! Even it out so I've got a good pulse with compressions!" he said a little too sharply.

"Ok..." Stoker replied instantly, the tone of his voice strangled with emotion.

Cap bit his lip. His look apologized immediately to Mike and it was too quickly accepted.

Roy and Johnny never even heard the exchange.

"I'm reading course V-fib. I got 400 watts!" Gage reported loudly in the pools of flashlights now directed down around them from a disbelieving Marco and others. His rain spattered face lit up in the orange glow of the shock button. "I'm hittin' him!"

"Clear!" shouted Roy.

Sam's body convulsed with a shock. His limbs lifted oddly on the right side and none did on the left despite the energy delivery.

"Nothing..." said Gage listening with a stethoscope. He grabbed a held out biophone receiver from Chet. "Rampart this is Squad 51. Do you read?..Come on..docs, answer me now.." He hit the charge button a second time while Roy got out an endotrach tube and a laryngoscope. He left the unpeeled airway lying across Sam's collarbones in preparation for the order.

Hank pulled off his helmet in between vents from the mask quickly, to see better in the darkness. He looked up at Sam's stunned co-workers. "Did anybody hear him complain about being sick today? Headaches? Nausea.."

The retired fire supe shook his head. "No. Not at all. At lunch we were joking about how hungry he was. He had two steaks on his plate. Oh, Sam.." the older man said. He knew full well how bad the situation was. "Do you think an aneurysm gave way?"

The paramedics didn't answer him. Legally, they couldn't.

The fire supe swallowed and didn't interfere with them again.

"1,.....2.....3.....400!" said Chet in a firm readout to Roy.

"Clear!" DeSoto answered.

Again, Sam was defibrillated. This time, the monitor settled into an ominous, wavery unresponsive flatline, despite the best CPR delivery possible.

Gage got a returning hail. ##Go ahead, 51.## came Early's quiet reply.

Johnny handed the phone over to Roy when his voice faltered in emotion on the first word.

Cap's eyes flashed to Gage some immediate sympathy.

DeSoto's face grew emotionless to match his voice. "Rampart, 39 year old male. Down from cardiac arrest caused by a cerebral blow out. We've defibrillated times two. No recapture. Showing a fine asystole despite CPR and 100% O2. Noting a marked lack of reflexive neurological signs during countershocks on the left side of his body. Pupils fixed and dilated but I found his right eye responsive three minutes ago."

##10-4, 51. Attempt an IV of lactated Ringer's. Intubate with an endotrachael tube and administer two milligrams 1/10,000 epinephrine by ET. Then defibrillate again. Send me a strip.##

Roy complied. "ET. 2 mg's epinephrine through a pulmonary route and countershock. Stand by."

The powerful stimulant was added a minute later. DeSoto suffered a pang. The airway had gone in picture perfect without the spasming complications that should have been there as leftovers from Sam's recent grand mals. He glanced at Johnny. "It's in. Too easily." he said,
letting Johnny know Sam's absent deep neuro responses.

"Got my line, too." Johnny said, hitting the charger on the defib unit almost too hard. "1....2..." he counted off, his voice audibly trembling.
"...3....400 watt seconds. Go, Roy..."

"Everybody clear!" said Roy, and they were. Sam's body lifted up at the shock even less this time with muscular reaction, hardly any at all. All the gang's eyes widened into sharp denial when the flatline returned from its vertical dance upwards only to fall back to a new dead even level.

Stoker and Cap started in once again on their aggressive CPR.

##I see it, 51. Administer 1.5 mg/kg Lidocaine intravenously, 51. Repeat every 3-5 minutes until a total of 3 mg/kg has been given. Also Bretylium 5 mg/kg IV.# said Joe, reading the monitor. ## Counter shock one more time. If we don't get a rhythm, give another 2 mgs epinephrine by ET and follow it with a 20 mg normal saline fluid bolus. Give one amp sodium bicarb IV...##

Cap anticipated. "Marco, Kelly, go get a stokes. We're not waiting for the ambulance guys to worm their way through the building in all this dark. Move it quick."

"Faster than that, Cap..." Chet said, leaving the second oxygen tank from the engine already cracked with a suction tube attached and laid out.
"Marco." he tossed to Lopez a spare lit flashlight.

##10-4, Rampart. 2 mgs epi endotracheally with a bolus flush normal saline.
One amp bicarb IV. Stand by for our fourth countershock..## said Roy.

Kelly and Marco got mercifully out of earshot before they heard a repeat of hollow sound as Sam's unreactive body was once again injected forcibly with electricity. They didn't want to know the outcome they knew to be fast arriving. Death was visiting through the storm and it was going to take one of their own despite all of Roy and Johnny's desperate medical fighting. They were grateful for the rain. It was good for hiding their sharp tears of rising private grief.

The cluster of dispatchers hastened out of the way when Chet and Marco returned and that broke them out of their gaping paralysis. The fire supe began snapping orders. "Ok, everybody. Back at your stations! Give the boys all possible room to work. Don't worry, Sam's being handled. But Battalion Seven needs us to resume service to 51's area yesterday.. Steve, Daphne.. work on clearing the west tower of lightning interference in Blue 1. Burn the breakers if you have to! Bob, Scott, go kick the generators a few times to see why the secondary network hasn't fired up yet to full power.
Move!"

Cap shook his head sadly. ::They don't know it yet. Sam's gone. And I don't think I'll be the one who tells them. It wouldn't be right.:: Gently, he cleared Sam's lax face free of blood with his storm wet gloves while he offered him a parody of life through the ventilator. ::I'm sorry Sam. We did the best we could.::

Right then, the lights came on and full power returned to L.A. Headquarters.
Battalion Seven's voice rang out over 51's multiple HTs. ##Nice work folks, L.A. H.Q.'s southwestern communications network is back on normal service. All Battalion units, return to your bases. I'm reading all channels green and clear..##

But then Cap heard one thing that tore his heart. "Sue, take over Sam's console until we get a replacement called in. Make sure the paramedic calls he was dealing with have been handled." said the dispatcher manager from the other room.

================================================================== Roy and Johnny made pests of themselves outside Sam's treatment room while the crack neurologist surgical team worked. Finally, they were gently, verbally, pushed out of the room's doorway.

Stoker nearly dragged himself out of the room, his T-shirt wringing with sweat and rain water. His uniform shirt was tied off around his waist in an effort to cool himself off.

"Are they still working him?" Gage asked Mike.

Stoker nodded yes and wandered off in the direction of the engine.

Outside, the storm was giving way to a bright dawn and peeks of pink and lavendar from the sunrise were smoothly dissolving the black clouds at the horizon.

"Mike..what can you tell me?" Gage asked Stoker. Mike lifted a weary hand and let it fall in dismissal as he walked away. He refused to answer. "Mike!" Gage called out again. Loudly.

Roy stopped him. "Let him go. He was in there for almost an hour and a half, working on Sam with the others. Let him go."

Dixie was the next to open the door of Sam Lanier's emergency surgical suite.
She immediately fetched up against Roy and Johnny trying once again to see into the room. "Now, boys.. go on to the waiting room. No, wait a minute. Scratch that. Roy, go wash up first. You've still got bl-- uh,.. you're still not presentable enough to be seen by...visitors." she said softly, correcting herself.

They ignored her. "Dix, what's happening to him?" Gage said. "We've got to know.
Don't you know who that is?"

"Of course I know.." she hissed. "Who wouldn't know Sam?.. He's been in the business longer than I have." She immediately amended her sharp tone. "Sorry. This is going hard on all of us,..too." and she sighed quietly.

She noticed Johnny's shivering and set a warm hand on his to comfort him. A passing nurse offered two sets of blankets to the paramedics to wrap themselves in at just a glance at the blood on their uniforms. Dixie nodded her thanks to Sharon and spoke. "He's on full life support with an internal pacemaker in place." she said without cutting corners.

Johnny sucked in his breath, turning away to hide his tearful reaction.

Roy shot a look of concern at his partner but he continued to worriedly listen to Dixie.

McCall hurried her words as if she could smooth away the bad news.
"They've started Mannitol to stave off his increasing intracranial pressure. His EEG is still showing activity.."

"Yeah, but how much?" Roy asked softly.

Dixie lowered her eyes. "Not enough. I'm sorry."

Johnny bit his lip, wiping silent tears away angrily with a sleeve. He leaned against the wall, studying the posters on it without looking at them. "And now you're going to tell us that there's always hope, right?"

Dixie and Roy stayed still, both physically frozen in the face of Johnny's self immolating pain.

"Right?!" Gage asked again, this time meeting their eyes squarely. His brown ones were flooded with fresh liquid grief.

Dixie gripped Johnny's hand even tighter. "I wouldn't say anything that wasn't absolutely G*d's given truth, Johnny Gage."

"Well my Creator certainly isn't giving me mine." he snarled.
Then his hand fished inside of his shirt for Nakoma's prayer sack. He ripped it off violently and tossed its sodden soft deer skin's weight to the tiled floor at his feet. It ruptured and a rumpled hawk feather gushed out in a spreading pool of herbal stained water. "My tribal elder said that I would either pay in blood or lose a blood tie soon for past sins so Dixie, don't offer me your sympathy. I don't deserve it.
There's none that I'll accept in this world or from any other one for that matter. I just lost a close friend today and it's entirely ..my ...fault."

Johnny Gage left Roy and Dixie staring at the broken prayer sack he had left abandoned and bleeding on the tiles.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Photo: Cap in helmet, grimacing in emotional pain.

Photo: Johnny, Roy and Cap working in a medical huddle in dim surroundings.

Photo: A grim Chet carrying a stokes stretcher and yellow blanket.

Photo: Stoker and others performing stokes CPR.

Photo: Johnny and Roy working a code in a Mayfair.

Photo: Gage gelling up the defib paddles.

Photo: Johnny holding O2 at Rampart, getting mad at Roy and Dix.

Photo: A native american prayer sack and feather amulet.

*
From : Cory Anda Sent : Wednesday, March 30, 2005 10:47 PM To : Subject : The Spirit Circles

The phone call came at noon, right when the gang had roused from restless sleep that was filled with dreams of overwhelming sadness of the night before. Everyone was present at the kitchen table, sipping coffee, except Johnny Gage.

"I understand, Mrs. Lanier. I-I'll let them know, right away. Thank you for calling.. I-if there's anything that the boys and I can do... Yes, Shara, we'll all be there come Monday morning for him. And we'll bring the engine." Cap said quietly into the receiver. He hung up the phone.

Marco, Mike, Roy and Chet all looked at him with close unwilling attention but they knew even before Hank said it that Sam Lanier had died on the surgical table.

"The docs did everything they could, she told me. But the damage was just too extensive. They found a large intact aneurysm in between the two hemispheres of Sam's brain with a smaller one burst right at his brain stem. That's the one that knocked his heart and..and.. killed him." Hank reported to his silent men.

"A berry aneurysm.." Roy said, nodding. "Sam didn't stand a chance against one of those. He probably never felt anything when it happened. That kind of stroke kills you pretty quick after making you black out."

"Shara said that the docs told her that his having those aneurysms was virtually undetectable. Sam would have had no prior symptoms beyond a few tiny ones."

"Like his stuttering over the radio..." Roy sighed sadly.

"And very little if any pain.." Cap agreed. "She said that his condition was most likely congenital. Sam's mother died from a stroke like this one."

Stoker lifted his cup to drink his coffee but it never got to his lips. "When's the funeral gonna be, Cap?"

"The chiefs have set it for Monday at sunrise with full departmental honors and Shara wants us to be Sam's honor guards for the precession at the front. Battalion Seven is commissioning a horse drawn fire engine to be the vehicle to bear Sam's casket to the cemetery. He....said it was only right for a man who's earned a medal of valor."

"Sam died while on duty. He ought to get one.." Chet sniffed, he looked up after blowing his nose and wiping his eyes. "Where's Johnny? Shouldn't he be up dated like the rest of us?"

"I thought he was still sleeping in the bunk room..." said Marco.

"Nah, he got up with the rest of us a half hour ago." Hank replied. "I saw him in the bathroom, washing up."

"Then where is he?" Kelly wondered.

"Bark!" said Boot, standing in the kitchen doorway. He pointedly looked towards the vehicle garage and back again.

Cap sighed. "He's probably in the backyard trying to warm up in the sun. Guess we'd better let him know the outcome."

"We'll come with you, Cap.." said Stoker, getting out of his chair.

The rest of the guys went with Hank.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Boot led the way to where Johnny was.

They found him sitting upright against the brick wall opposite the garage doors on an intricate blanket of woven yarn, with a second one draped over his uniformed shoulders, sound asleep against the small maple tree. The sun on his face made Gage look worn and tired.

"Oops, I forgot. I promised him that I'd come out here with him for this thanksgiving bit every day at noon and at sundown." said Roy, joining his sleeping partner, sitting cross legged on the blanket. He took up the lit pipe resting on a seat of rocks and held it up into the sun to spread a plume of its smoke to the wind before returning it to its cradle. Then he placed a hand totem of leather bound and beaded feathers into his lap and he began holding it in a reverent manner in between his hands. It looked strange to the others to see Roy doing that but somehow, it felt right and proper.

"You gonna wake him up so we can tell him?" Chet whispered.

"Nah. It's not like he can get sunburned..." said Roy. "I'm just supposed to stay here with him for a while. I'll tell him when he wakes up. He's pretty wiped out as it is. That rain got him pretty cold last night."

"All right. Guys, let's give them a little peace to do what it is they gotta do with all this." Cap said, indicating the pipe, and the prayer blanket. "Guess this is a private thing."

"I'll make him eat." promised DeSoto. "Keep a pair of plates warming in the oven for us." he said, yawning in the sunlight.

Hank nodded and the others left for the rec room to talk quietly while they prepared lunch.

Soon, DeSoto and Gage and Boot were all alone in the quiet yard, cocooned in the bright sunlight that was beating down on them.

Boot circled once on the edge of the ornately woven blanket, facing the sun, and soon slept.

Roy drowsed, too, almost unbiddingly. Soon, his head fell onto his chest and he began to snore.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- A piercing whine brought Johnny sharply to as something plunked heavily into the hands he had folded up in his lap. "Nageela? What are you doing here?" he said, burying fingers deep into the wolf dog's thick sun warmed coat. Johnny looked down and saw that the prayer sack he had abandoned at the hospital was strangely intact with fresh feathers and repacked with pungent spices.

A brush of wind and a voice got Johnny's attention and he shaded his eyes as he squinted into the sun towards it to figure out what it was saying.

The leaves on the tree behind him, weren't moving.

Nageela whined again, studying Johnny's face intently and she sat back down on her haunches. The brightness of her eyes made Johnny blink. ::I'm dreaming.:: he thought. ::I must have fallen asleep in the yard.::

"..So, Ya-laahe Kowechobe. We meet again...." said Nakoma, joining Gage by sitting on the Indian blanket and crossing his legs in front of him. "Nageela is returning that which rightfully belongs to you.." he said, sweeping a wand of hawk feathers out to the prayer bag Johnny clutched in his hands. "Put that back around your neck, Panther, so it can do its work absolving you of--"

"I don't deserve to be absolved, Nakoma. What you said...what you said came true last night. I lost a very good friend on a rescue..." he said, his eyes filling with tears.

"I don't understand you..." frowned Nakoma. Johnny sighed. Sometimes the older elder wasn't very good with modern ways of talking.

"I watched his spirit...just leave under my hands as I tried to save him. He died...."

Nakoma's eyes flashed and he smiled warmly, showing white teeth. "Ah, I see now." said the old elder, reaching down and taking a smoke from the lit pipe. He returned it to the rocks, resting it near a familiar man's uniformed ankles.

Johnny startled when he realized that Roy was sound asleep next to him, sitting up beside him, almost invisible in the plume of smoke rising from the pipe.

"The west wind brought the storm that took your Speaker, Johnny. His leaving wasn't your doing at all. The Creator meant for him to go. It was his time.. You know the bravest warriors are the first to return to the Great Spirit. Even those who are only Miccosukee."

"But why, Nakoma? Did I cause his death by not honoring my life properly for you?" Johnny cried out in grief.

"I am not responsible for Sam's death, Panther. And neither are you. No one can say what circles one's spirit may travel in, until it does. Sam was not the blood nor the blood tie you think he represents. You have it all wrong. I was referring to your aunt and your sense of tradition." said the earthy clothed elder. He reached over and retied the buckskin prayer sack around Johnny's neck. "Your blood is your tribe, and she, your tie to it. If you turn away from what she holds dear, that is a death, too. Don't mourn Sam, but let him go. Honor him for who he was and honor yourself the way you are doing it right now! For that is the circle you must travel in order for you to find yourself. Roy has decided to be here with us. Let him help you as well. Boot will be good for your healing, too. For a dog is the Guardian of the Spirit. Pay attention to them both and remember to not be afraid of your own spirit. It is just circling as it must. Panther, in the next days, face to the east, and go on that path, for that is the way that will lead you eventually to the truth that you are seeking."

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

An angry car horn from the freeway jolted Johnny Gage awake. A soft weight plunked down into both of his hands and smooth beadwork caressed his hands as it tumbled down and into his grip. Whatever it was, was also wet, having come from a panting, tooth filled doggy mouth.

"Boot? Where did you get this?" said Johnny, sinking his fingers into the station dog's warm, thick coat. "Who gave you my prayer sack?"

"I'm afraid I did." yawned Roy, coming awake next to him. "Sorry it got wet. Boot got a hold of it and wouldn't let any of us near it. Guess he just wanted to be the one to give it back to you. And before you yell at me for tampering with it, Dixie and I decided that we couldn't bear up against your aunt once you got back home from working the weekend without that prayer sack around your neck. So we monkeyed with it on our own. I..don't know if we fixed it up right. The seams came apart at the sides there. That was easy enough to sew up with a suture kit. And Dixie found new feathers to put inside of it.."

"Oh, yeah?.." Johnny said, "What kind?"

"Pigeon.."

"Pigeon?" laughed Johnny.

Roy blushed, "Yeah, well it was the best we could do at the time. The nurses knew where to find some since all the pediatric kids on the fourth floor like to leave food on the ledges outside Rampart's playroom windows for all the birds." he broke off as Johnny started shaking his head in disbelief. "Did we do something wrong?"

Gage redraped the Indian blanket around himself and just smiled. "No, in fact, I think you did things just right. I never did understand the symbolism behind the hawk in my tribe's terms. Now, the pigeon,..I think I understand very well. Now that bird's self sufficient, colorful..."

"..messy.." added Roy.

"Just a little. But they're smart, too. They always like to stick close together with the others. You know, Roy. Maybe they're supposed to be my personal totem after all. They kinda suit me." he said, retying the delicate beaded and tasselled bag around his throat. He tucked it underneath his shirt.

"But I thought your name was Panther. Or something like that." DeSoto said, putting on his shoulder blanket so that they could have the tea Johnny would make in a few minutes in the proper manner.

"It is.. Orange Panther. But that isn't my animal totem, that's a proper name. The name of the clan family my ancestors are from, in Florida. Nakoma said that a man's animal totem always reveals herself when the time's right."

"When the time's right..." echoed Roy, his face growing full and sad. "Johnny, I'm afraid I have some very bad news to share with you.."

"I already know, Roy. Nakoma's already told me.."

Roy unconsciously looked around the yard. "He did?"

"Yeah. Sam died an hour ago, right when it finally stopped raining. It was just as the sun was coming back out. I...think I felt him go..." Gage sighed, fingering the lump his prayer sack made under his uniform.

"How do you feel? Are you still a little chilled?" Roy asked, feeling Johnny's wrist for its temperature even as he smiled gently.

"I'm better. I'm not cold anymore. Not at all."

"That's good. We were all worried about you when you stormed out of Rampart like that to sit behind the squad full out under all that rain."

"So when's the funeral? There's a few things I'd like to say for him."

"It's Monday.."

"I'll be ready... Isn't that right, Boot?" Gage said, affectionately petting the mascot's sides from where he lay happily panting on the Indian blanket.

Boot looked up and licked Johnny's nose.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Photo: Johnny and Roy smiling, outside the station.

Photo: A Seminole Indian man, staring at you in a ceremonial shirt.

Photo: Chief Houts addressing the gang in dress uniform with a commendation.

Photo: A rose draped black casket at a cemetery.

Photo: A white fire horse pulling a water pump engine.

*
From : Dr. Jeff Seltun
Sent: Thursday, March 31st, 2005 11:06 pm Subject: The East Wind...

They had come. As many as could be spared on a busy summer's day. There were so many firefighters arriving,
that a larger vehicle bay at L.A.'s shops was utilized for the memorial service. And all work ceased on the fleet of Wards to honor a man fallen, in the best way known. By remembering.

Johnny Gage wiped his hands uneasily on his suit coat before taking Chief Houts place at the microphone. He barely saw Sam's picture on a framed stand with the medal of valor hanging off one edge. He tried to focus on Roy's face, but he lost it in the crowd, so instead, he chose Shara Lanier to speak to for somehow, that made it easier.

" I have the hard memory, of being one of the last firemen, who saw Sam Lanier while he was still here doing what he loved and wished with all his heart to do, and that was to be a Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatcher. His last call was to my station, my squad. Someone in a storm needed us so Sam's voice was our guide. Things went as they sometimes do, and we were soon free to answer another call for help. But when we reached out once more for direction, Sam's voice had been silenced. My friend and partner felt the same sense of ...something gone terribly wrong. And so we went to where he was, only to find that it was far too late to make a difference when we needed to most.

A tribal elder, one with whom I have ties at times, told me that nothing is more valuable than blood and the bonds your family and friends give you while you go throughout your life. Well, Sam taught me the book about just that sort of life's lesson every day of my working life. And I will ...dearly....miss him.

Nakoma, my elder, said to speak openly of the heart so that I may heal myself of the pain my work sometimes brings. So let me speak now, to honor my friend, Sam.

Oh Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in those I serve, and whose breath gives life to all the world, Hear my heart.
Let me walk in safety, so that I may be strong for others. May my eyes see how to save them, and nuture their life. Make my hands do the things you have taught me, and may my ears be sharp to hear you calling me on their behalf.
I am small and weak. I need your strength and wisdom. Make me wise, so that I may learn the lessons you have hidden in every trial that I may face. I seek strength, not to be superior to my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy - myself. Oh Great Spirit, hear me. Make me ready, so when life fades to a last sunset, my spirit will come to you, and him, without shame.

I stood and I watched as a firebrother guided me,
as I always knew he would.
Then I heard that his home was in danger, so I ran to him.
He didn't die because he was old,
And he didn't die because he was in a wreck,
He died doing what he felt was right.

I watch a wife trying to hold back her tears,
Her beloved lived only 39 years,
Her husband had died 50 miles away,
and what is there left for me to say?
Yesterday, I got down on my knees and I said a prayer,
That he was the bravest soul I knew and I let him know that I cared.

For in a past day, I stood and watched as a little boy cried to me,
He didn't understand why his life was passing on,
Why he'd never again play with his mother on the lawn.
Looking at the little boy's tears I knew,
That a firebrother used his voice, so that I'd be there.
Fighting for that child, until I had saved him and little did I know that one day, I'd come, ...for him and fight the same life's battle. But ..I...we...lost..

Rest in honor and face the East Wind, Sam.
I'll be watching for you when it comes time for me to leave the west, .." Johnny's face broke flooding with tears and at long last, filled with a self understanding smile..."..and come home.."

::Thank you, Nakoma, for showing me my life.::

FIN

-
Photo: None.

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