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 Too Close To Home
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Page Two

Several teams of firefighters appeared in a ring around
the riot. They spouted jets of cold ice water onto the
crowds below. Whole gang clusters tumbled about like
nine pins.

Vince's voice floated around the stadium PA system.
"People! Listen up! "  Marco's voice followed his words
a second after with a translation in Spanish..
"You're all under arrest! Put down your weapons
and surrender to the police officer nearest you. Comply
instantly, or get another free bath, compliments of the L.A.
county fire department.."

Knives, chains and broken bottles dropped to the turf.
Droves of cops herded the worst offenders via handcuffs
to paddywagons peppering the infield.

Johnny and Roy finished assessing the dazed rookie and began
to gather up their gear. "Well outside of a few scrapes and
contusions.. You're in pretty fair shape.." Roy said.

Johnny added, "You should schedule an appointment with your
family physician just to be on the safe side if you begin to
feel shaky again, all right?"

The cop was sheepish. "Thanks, guys.. I'm sorry if I caused
so much trouble." he said, wincing as Roy put a dressing onto
a minor cut on his temple.

He stood as soon as Roy finished, offering his hand to John
and Roy. They shook it, "Don't worry about it. Take it easy
now, you hear?"

The young kid waved, heading down towards the field to
help in the round up. "Right.."

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Suddenly, a large woman broke away from her officer right
behind the firemen. She lunged at another nearby rival who
was also handcuffed and being led away. The force of the
blow bowled the man over the rail of the tiers. Restrained,
he failed to counterbalance and save himself from
falling. He landed thirty feet down onto the astroturf below.

The woman was furious.."You gringo!! Come back here!!"
she screeched at the fallen man. Four cops led the struggling
Cuban away as Johnny and Roy pelted down the steps to the
field. Mike Stoker was right behind them.

Johnny smelled blood but felt for a carotid. He looked up into the
grandstand. "Cap! Get a backboard and some sandbags!. He's
going to need a C-Collar!"

Marco yelled down to him. "I'll get the O2!"

Roy made sure the man had an open airway by pulling up his jaw
carefully without moving anything else, neck or spine.
Mike took over the hold.

Johnny began to check for fractures at the man's head and worked
his way down quickly.

The cop, who had been apprehending the gang member, frowned,
"You mean he's still alive?" He didn't bother to conceal his racial
distain at all.

"I'll just bet that spoiled your day..!" Johnny spat with open sarcasm.
Gage tried to get the leather coat off to expose a chest wound
but the cuffs interfered. "Would you mind?? " he prompted to the
hate filled cop.  

The officer stiffened up "No way! This guy's the ring leader!"

Beneath the paramedics hands, the man heaved, choking on blood.
His ragged breathing cut off abruptly. Johnny placed a hand on his

"Roy? He quit breathing..."
Johnny frantically set up a suction tube and turned it on,
passing it over to his partner.

DeSoto took it, but soon, shook his head. He couldn't see
anything in the way inside the man's mouth as he probed
with the hissing tube, even with Mike helping him expose
the area to light. "He must be obstructed deeper down,

"I got it..."
Gage straddled the leader's legs but couldn't get a firm
positioning to  start a Heimlich attempt, because of the
cuffed and hobble chained limbs in his way over the man's
stomach. Johnny looked up angrily at  the cop who just
watched him struggle. "Get over here! What's  the matter
with you?! These damned chains are in my way..!
Do you want him to die?"

The gang leader's skin started to purple with hypoxia.

"He's not going anywhere, man!!" Roy shouted at
the obstinent cop.

Running footsteps approached. "Release him!! Do it , officer!"
It was Vince..

The other cop hesitated.


He didn't move.

Vince ripped the keys away from the officer's belt and
freed the  choking man's cuffs being careful not to jar
him around.

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Johnny was able to clear the man's airway seconds
after he was able to reach his abdomen. He forced
out the obstruction with a few well placed thrusts
and felt the blocked off lungs finally give way into
a release of air moments later.

Roy's suction tube did the rest of the work, removing
teeth and blood from the man's torn mouth and throat.

Marco arrived, running, with the O2 apparatus, handing
off a demand valve mask to Stoker.

The man began to gasp once again. He drew in Mike's
forced oxygen through the respirator well without much
assisted positive pressure from Stoker. His face and
hands began to pink up again. Roy and Johnny sighed
in relief. The crisis was over.

"That was too close, Vince.. He almost killed this man!"
Roy exclaimed, pointing a finger at the prejudiced cop.
But that was all he had time to say before the task at hand
drew him to work quickly to preserve his patient's life.

Vince whirled into the face of the obstinent cop.
"I'll deal with you later lieutenant!"

The lieutenant's jaw tightened. He said nothing. He turned
and walked away.

Vince turned his back on him. "Need help?" he asked the two
medics, his voice toned quietly as he kneeled beside them.

"Yeah.." Roy said, "Could you support his head? Mike can't do
that ventilating him. We've got to roll him onto the backboard."


He did so, and soon, the Station 51 crew had the unconscious
man safely immobilized. Cap set up the biophone while Roy examined
the man's pupils. Johnny got a set of vitals and phoned it in to Rampart.
##Rampart, this is Squad 51, do you read?##


At the substation, a red light began to flash. Dixie set aside her chart
and entered the glass enclosed ready room. She acknowledged the
call, hitting a toggle switch. "Unit calling in, please repeat.."

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##Rampart, this is Squad 51. We have a male, approximately twenty
four to twenty five years of age. He took a fall from the second tier
of a stadium box. I'd say he fell about twenty eight feet onto the
astroturf field. He's unconscious. He has multiple fractures of both
arms and five ribs along his left side. Both limbs are profusing well.
He had an airway obstruction. Now breathing on his own.
Victim has been immobilized, C and lumbar spine, and is on 15 liters of O2.
Vitals are: BP 68 over 42, respirations striderous and
irregular at ten, assisted. Pulse is thready and weak at 140. Stand by for
pupils..##  He pointed at Roy who began to relay him the information.

"Standing by, 51." Dix replied.

Dr.Brackett walked in. "What do we have?"

"51's got a heavy trauma case. A man who fell about thirty feet onto
an astroturf field at the Stadium. It doesn't sound good."

Brackett skimmed over Dixie's notes intently while Johnny filled him in.

##Rampart.. The pupils are responsive but the right one is slightly
dilated. There's also evidence of bleeding from both ears. Also, I
have noticed a soft spongy region on his lateral left side. There
is a wound but it is non penetrating. Rampart.. ventilating him
is proving somewhat difficult due to mouth injuries. We've already
suctioned around 400 cc's bright red blood and dental debris. Request
permission to insert an esophageal airway.##

"Go ahead on the airway, 51. I suspect a tension hemo-pneumothorax
due to that flail chest on the left side. What kind of breath sounds
do you note?" Brackett asked.

Roy listened to the man's breathing carefully with a stethoscope while
Johnny intubated the man. Roy picked up the phone and watched as
Mike connected the demand valve to the airway in the man's
throat. The bleeding there was slowing somewhat. Marco was getting
little if anything into the suction reservoir now.
##Rampart, the esophageal airway's in place. I hear bronchial rhonchi
on the right side. Absent breath sounds on the left.##

"10-4 , 51. Start two large bore IVs, both 1000 cc Normal Saline and
run wide open. Run in 500 cc's then continue TKO. Apply a five pound
weight to the victim's left side and reevaluate breath sounds."

##10-4. Two large bore IV's 1000cc NS, One to 500 cc, then TKO.
Applying an immobilizing sandbag now.## DeSoto reaffirmed.

Marco got a sandbag from the stokes and taped it right over the broken
section of ribs on the man's chest. Roy checked out his lungs once more
once it had been secured and smiled. He picked up the phone.
##Rampart, breath sounds are now present on the left side. Victim's
color is improving.##

Brackett sighed visibly. Dixie echoed.

Johnny had finished starting the IV's and handed them up to a pair
of waiting hands.

"10-4, 51. Uh..Draw a red top for a type and cross. Continue to
assist ventilating and transport as soon as possible. Keep your
patient's head elevated for that possible skull fracture and splint
any additional dislocation breaks you find."
Kelly said. "Give me another set of vitals and send me a strip
once you're en route."

"Ten four, Rampart..Our ETA's twenty minutes.." Roy concluded.

Vince watched all of this in amazement. "That trick with the
sandbag.." he said to Cap. "How did that help him? I mean,
who'd put a weight on someone's chest with broken ribs
and all?"

Marco stood after helping load up the gang member onto the
ambulance attendant's gurney and covering him up.
"The guy couldn't breathe well because
most of the ribs on that side were caved in. Every time he
breathed out, that area would push in and vice versa when he
inhaled. His lung couldn't fill easier because of the lack of
pressure inside. The sandbag splints the flail section even
with the rest of his ribcage, so that lung can expand normally

"Huh." Vince reflected, "I learned something new today.."

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Ambulance attendants bundled the man, Mike with respirator,
backboard and all into their rig which they had backed
into the infield. They secured the stretcher straps while
Johnny took over for Mike and maintained the O2 vents
with an Ambu bag while they switched tanks to the
ambulance's oxygen supply. Mike exited the ambulance.
Roy set the bi-phone and the drug box and defibrillator next
to Johnny afterwards and closed the doors. The second attendant
remained inside.
Finally, he handed off the squad's O2 apparatus back to Cap.
who hustled Marco to run it on ahead to put it away for Roy's
follow along trip behind the ambulance.

"Think he'll make it?" Vince asked Roy.

"He'll have a tough time in surgery with all of those fractures.
But, hey,, he's a gang leader. You can't be weak willed to do
that. I think he'll make it.."  Roy slapped on the back doors,
sending the ambulance off to speed its way to Rampart through
the main gate leading to the outer streets.

Vince watched it diminish. Cap ambled up next to him..
"Yishhh.. What a mess.."

Vince agreed, "You're telling me.. That odd officer boy's gonna
face attempted murder one, right behind that gang's woman."
he promised. He drew out his handcuffs to go get
the cop who hated too much.

Cap drew out his walkie talkie and nodded  sadly.
"L.A., this is engine 51. All units out hour.."

##10 -4, 51.## ( Spap.)


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The emergency reception desk was quiet for the middle of the day.
Johnny and Roy had cleaned up and they cradled their supplies while
nursing coffee cups. Dixie McCall refilled all of their mugs to the
very brim.

"Whoa!" Johnnie said, almost upsetting his loaded box, holding up
a hand, "Sounds like you're having just as trying day as we are."
he laughed, his mouth crooking up on one side.

Roy smiled tightly, "We had a rookie lieutenant who wouldn't
uncuff our choking victim. He almost coded right there on us."

"Really..?" Dix said, horrified. "How so?"

"Johnny here couldn't get good access to clear the obstruction
because of all the man's  hobbling body chains. That officer
actually left him to turn blue rather than help us."

Dix sighed deeply. "Sounds heavy. Are they going to press charges?"

"Oh, yeah,," Gage said, "And I'm first to their witness stand by choice,
believe me. It's scum like that I can't stand. And he's an officer
in the force for Pete's sake. He made our gang leader victim seem
like a saint by comparison."

She nodded appreciatively, "Yeah.. it seems like we BOTH
had troubles with authority figures this morning."

Johnny blinked, "Authori-- ?  Who'd you tangle with?"

"A doctor..."

"Brackett?" John snorted.

" no.. Nothing like what you're thinking, or with him."
She thrust her jaw out with thoughtful amusement. "Maybe you
fellas should see for yourselves.."

"See what?" Roy wondered.

Dixie merely crooked a finger, motioning for them to follow her

"Treatment room three?" John exclaimed.

Dixie nodded, "Uh huh. Though you'd better leave your coffee
cups out here, or he's bound to tear your throats out getting to

"Oh?" Roy toned, up a scale. They placed their boxes on the floor
and coffee cups in a drinking fountain alcove. "I wonder who?"

"SHhh!" Dix turned, a finger to her lips. "You'll wake him."

They all peered inside.

The room was slightly darkened and a familiar form snored on
the table. One foot was in an exterior fixation frame, all wrapped
up in fresh, wet dressings.

"Morton!" Johnny gasped, grinning from ear to ear.

Dix nodded knowingly, "Right from surgery.."

Two orderlies arose in their chairs in the back of the room
looking sleepy and concerned. Dix waved them back
reassuring them. "It's just us, guys.. Checking in on Mr.
Congeniality.. Has he stirred yet?"

Two heads jerked side to side.

"Oh. See ya.." she burbled, and closed the door.

Roy and Johnny berated her with questions as they retrieved
coffee and supplies..

"Hold on guys. First things first. Mike had a little accident
this morning on the way to work. Slipped on a banana peel."

"What?" Johnny laughed.

Dix held up supplicating hands, "It's true, Johnny. Knocked
himself cold. Anyhow, did he raise holy heck around here.
Drove half my nurses batty. Brackett was nearly out of
his skull, too, with him. That ankle had to be set in surgery.
Morton said, "Surgery? O.k. Just so long as it's set and put in a
cast and I'm out of here, tonight!! I work in a hospital,.. I don't
need to be here when I'm hurt, too." She gave a high laugh.
"Oh! The ego of the man." She was laughing so hard she didn't
hear Roy's next question. "And what's that?" she said to
him, breathless, sipping her coffee.

"Why is he down here?" Roy said, "After recovering in PAR,
shouldn't he have gone to one of the floors?"

Johnny added another one, "And why were those two guerillas
in the treatment room with him?"

Dix broke down again, almost falling off her stool with mirth.
"Oh! *gasp* His ankle was broken in four places.. He needed
pins and that fixator to keep the bones straight for healing.
Just picture what his reaction will be when he finds out that
he has to stay here for twelve days.."

Roy and Johnny looked at her uncomprehendingly.

"Brackett figures that that room is the most shielded place
in the whole house. Those two monkeys in there are going
to sit on him when he flies to pieces over the news. Don't
want to undo all that nice surgery, now do we?"

Dix laughed hysterically, streaming tears, all the way down
the hallway to her next destination.

Johnny and Roy exchanged confused expressions. Johnny emitted
a small courtesy laugh. "Heh." His forehead furrowed.

Roy piped up, a grin growing, "You mean his temperment
has gotten that far out of hand with his under rank staff?
Dix was practically crying with glee over his predicament.
I mean, I knew Dr. Morton was a little short in the bed side
manner department.. but,.. how do you explain that?"
He pointed to the door behind which slumbered the object
of their discussion.

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Johnny shrugged, "I'd hate to see him when he was awake,
that's for d*mned sure."

Roy looked at him strangely.

"You know.. With him dismantling that ankle thing and all."
Johnny elaborated.

Roy reflected, then they both spoke what just popped in
their minds aloud.

"We'll send him a card."
"We'll send him a card."


Dr. Joe Early had joined the two paramedics in the cafeteria.
"You mean to tell me that you all bought this filly, sight
unseen, based only on pure conjecture?"

Johnny sputtered, expecting a tirade after his answer,
"Well, I.."

Roy grinned evilly, "Johnny did. I didn't." And he forked a
bite of his salad, chewing enthusiastically, letting his
partner sink or swim.

"Good for you! Want some more coffee?"

Johnny blinked. He stopped cringing. "Ah..yeah.. Sure...
thanks..." He leaned forward, watching the doctor
pour some into his mug. "You mean buying a share
of this horse was a ...was.. a  smart idea?"

"Of course," Doctor Early breathed grandly, "We all
should have an opportunity to hang ourselves financially
at least once in our lives. It helps to build character."
And he bit into the hamburger.

Roy snorted, choking on his milk, partly in a laugh.

Johnny shot him a withering look.

"Sorry." Roy offered, but he couldn't quite fight back
a smile.

Johnny stared and Roy dropped the grin only until Johnny
looked back at his food and changed the subject,
"Thanks, partner..for your vote of confidence...."
he said under his breath.  "Say ah, doc.. heh. How's
that gang member we brought in?"

Dr. Early wiped his mouth with a napkin, "Much better
from what I hear. The neurothoracic surgeons are optimistic
on a completely normal recovery. They found no spinal
damage anywhere.

"Good, that's good.. but I wonder if that cop still gets it."
he mumbled.

"What?" Joe asked.

"Oh Nothing.. just a pighead we ran into at that rescue.. heh."
Johnny sighed.

"Well, it's been real, doc. We have to go available.
Johnny?" Roy said.

They both rose, grabbing their walkie talkies.

"See ya fellas! And stay away from any more Chet Kelly scams.
He's a sure drain on your wallet.." Joe called after them.

Johnny mouthed sarcasm silently parroting Joe's parting words.

Roy designated their status as available on his radio.

Dispatch replied, ##10 -4, 51.##

They started down the hall. They heard a disturbance in a room
to his left so he investigated. "Hey.. someone's fallen or something
in there."

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Roy tried to stop him in vain, "Johnny.. No... That's where Mort--"

But it was too late and the door was already open.
Johnny did an abrupt about face when he saw who it was but he
wasn't fast enough.

"Hey, Johnny Gage.. Come here....." a sleepy voice rasped.
A clammy hand gripped his wrist and Gage's foot hit the
bedpan that had most likely been the noise he had heard when it
had fallen earlier. Johnny steeled himself mentally.

Then he turned and faced the music. His instinct for self
preservation lost out. ::All right. I'll go out joking..::
"Ah, Morton my man, what happened to your ankle? Slip
on a banana peel?"

Roy kicked his partner sharply on the shin without wiping the idiot's
grin he had on his face. Johnny's smile tightened but he did not give
in to the pain he felt. He looked confused.

Morton only chortled, "Hghf!"

Roy stooped to picked up the empty bedpan at his feet to set it back
on the foot of Morton's bed.

Morton blinked, "I took a free tour of my front steps via the Los
Angeles Times. Thanks, Roy.."

Johnny shifted off his throbbing leg to the other foot. "I thought the
paramedics run sheet said you slipped on a  Banan--"

Roy erupted into a huge fit of coughing jags. "Sorry, post nasal
drip again. D*mn fires. Always screws up your sinuses..." *Sniff*

It dawned on Gage, finally.... He mentally retraced steps. He spoke
cautiously realizing the risk of Dixie's feared Morton reaction was
a hairsbreadth of being triggered.
"Ah.. it seems like everyone is falling and getting hurt today."

Roy felt an odd shiver of premonition at his partner's comment
and he didn't know why.

Morton roused again, "What'ya boys, in for?"

Johnny spoke while Roy fought chills.
"Oh, there was a riot between two rival gangs at the stadium this
morning. One gal pushed another guy over the side up on
the second tier. He must've fallen sixty feet!"

"Thirty.." Roy added, sotto voce'.

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"Ah,, thirty feet.. but ah,..they say he's doing all right. ..That he'll
be ok.."

"Hmphhf." came Morton's reply.

Roy and Johnny began to wonder when the powder keg would go off.

"oh oh..." Morton trickled.

The door swathed bright light and the nursing supervisor flicked on
the overhead light, heedless of making the three men squint
painfully. She pushed in her TPR cart. "Good afternoon, Mr. Morton.
Time for your temperature and vitals again..." she purred.

Morton covered his head with his covers. "Spare me,, Pleassseee..."

Johnny and Roy were shocked. Gage pointed at Morton, doubting the
fear he heard there at first. Roy just shrugged, but then he joined
Johnny pointing in pantomime to Morton and then looping a finger around
his ear in the "crazy" gesture.

The nurse understood. "Oh, that's right. You two haven't heard the
rest of Dix's counterplan yet for Mike here. " She smiled sweetly,
"Double sedative.. Enjoy it while it lasts."

Johnny's face lit up.

"Come on, doc.." she added a bit louder over his whimpers. "You want
to get well don'tcha? Now let Guinine take your tempy. Come onnn."

Johnny said, more emboldened, so he chimed in.. "Yeah Mike. Why don't you be
a good boy and let the nice nurse take your temperature. She might
decide to go the other route if you don't cooperate.."

The blankets whipped off. "Gage! I'm warning you! One more cr--"
His threat was cut off by the glass rod shoved into his mouth.

"Thanks fellas." Nurse Guinine peeped. "You know the old saying,,
Doctors make the worst patients."

"Glad to have obliged." Johnny grinned, waving fingers at the
muffled, miffed Morton.

Morton mumbled something unintelligable, shaking a sleepy fist.

"Bye, patient!" Roy teased.

The door closed on the sight and Roy and Johnny laughed uncontrollably.
They were squad bound when they could both think enough to speak
without setting each other off again.

"Did you see his face?" Johnny guffawed, "I tell you, Morton couldn't have
looked any more trapped in a million years.!"

Roy wiped streaming eyes and spoke around his sore stomach. "Ugh..
I haven't been that uptight about anyone's personality fallout in a lonnngg
while. And when Morton didn't do anything about your banana jabs...
Oh!, that was too much..."

Johnny coughed, "You know he was like that because of the medication
Brackett and Dixie pumped him full of.. Those orderlies probably went
offshift for the day so they extended his sedation period out a little
longer than normal.. Oh,, what a move!  I thought I was busted."

"Yeah.. It reminds me of the time when.." Roy said..

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Squad 51 with Engine 51. Man down. A half mile north of Rock Creek Canyon
Rd. A half mile north of Rock Creek Canyon Rd. Time out. 15:48##

A wisp of the dread Roy felt earlier in Morton's room returned and seeped
into the cab. It formed an idea in Roy's head. "Hey, isn't that Majorie Kelly's
place?" he asked.

Johnny put on his helmet. "I think so. " He thumbed the mike, "Squad 51,

##10-4, Squad 51.##

The engine's reply crackled over the P.A. "Squad 51, this is engine 51.
Did I hear that right? That's Chet's family address. He's supposed to
be there today, isn't he?"

Johnny picked up the mike while Roy drove a little faster. "Yes, Cap.
He is." he replied after a bit.

"Right. We'll be there in fifteen."

"Us, five minutes before that, Cap.."
Roy flipped on their sirens and they both secured their chin helmet straps.

Johnny  said. "Chet old pal. What didja do this time?"

Roy glanced over at him, startled. He gripped the wheel more tightly.

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The squad pulled up at the fork of two unnamed roads and the spicy canyon
dust cleared before the two L.A. County paramedics.
"D*mn!" Johnny swore.. "Which way?!"

"I'll try dispatch.." Roy fingered the radio derisively. "L.A., this is squad 51. Do
you copy?"

##Go ahead, 51.##

"Could you 10-9 the address of our current response destination?"

##A half mile north of Rock Creek Canyon Rd.##

Johnny shook his head in frustration, hanging his head out of his window trying
to find a road sign or anything at all.

Roy spoke again, "L.A., could you clarify? We're on the only road into the
canyon at a Y junction. I don't see road signs of any kind.. Over.."

The dispatcher toggled some keys at his terminal and pulled up an
aerial photograph of the canyon. ##51, which canyon rim are you
located upon?##

Johnny leaned out the window again, noting the angle of the sun.
"West side."

"The west side rim, L.A., over.." Roy told dispatch.

##Proceed down the right hand fork for 1/8 of a mile, 51. Aerial
shows five buildings in that direction.##

Johnny called out nervously, "Let's go.!!"

Roy spun gravel. They went. "10-4, L.A. We copy. Moving down
right hand fork.."

##51, Will advise Engine 51 of your 10-20.##

"Squad 51 , out." Roy finished. Hanging up the radio phone.

The narrow road opened out into a wide tree filled mesa. A barn
in great disrepair stood in a meadow at the right. There was no sign
of an off road.
"Here?" Roy wondered.

Johnny looked about. A glint caught his eye, unusual for a remote
Californian canyon. New car painted metal. "There! on the left.
about 400 yards down. It could be a parked car."

There was an automobile, half concealed in the tall grass, a creme
colored station wagon.. Chet's. A little ways beyond, a paved driveway
wound itself into a hillside. Roy sped up. It was a good two minutes before
they saw the house.

Johnny whistled through his teeth, "This is some spread!"

"Yeah." Roy breathed. He pulled up. There was a sign over the road.
It said :   KELLY-K  RANCH
"This has got to be it." Johnny was sure now and his fear returned as
they got out of the squad and assembled their gear.

They ran to the front side of the house. "Where is everybody?" Johnny

"Don't know.." Roy said.

"You think that with a ranch this big, they would have sent people out
to fetch us.."

They went swiftly to the main entrance.
They both knocked loudly "L.A. County Fire Department!"

A heavy oaken door swung open.

A woman who could only be Chet's sister spoke up. "Oh thank god!"
she sobbed. "I thought you'd never get here."

"Marjorie Kelly?" Roy began.

"Yes. Please, this way.. It's my brother. .."

A sick emotion hit both Roy and Johnny as their unspoken dread
was realized and given a name.

Majorie said. "We warned him! But he just wouldn't listen!"

"Easy Ms. Kelly. Just tell us what happened.." Johnny said.

"A new filly came today, Chet,... he figured he could handle her.
She tossed him!"  She wrung her hands, overwrought.

"Where is he?" Roy asked.

"In back!!" Marjorie indicated the sixth path to the right. She ran
down the flowered, richly trellised way. "Hurry!!"

The three wound down the yard to a wooded area. They rounded
another tight curve between some hedges.. to  
a riding corral next to a huge red barn. Near a perimeter fence,
a demolished bird coop was strewn about.
Marj called out, "They're here, Max!"

And older man peered over some of the broken boards but he
did not stand up. Roy and Johnny headed in that direction.
"Agh. guys.. I can't stop all this bleeding.."

Chet was on his back sprawled six feet away from the outer fences
inside the horse corral. His head lay awkwardly on top of  a jumble
of splintered boards. His eyes were closed and he was almost
completely covered in tangled shed.

Johnny and Roy vaulted the outer fence and handed over
their equipment to the roof of the demolished coop, looking for
a way to Chet. There was too much wood blocking
the way.

The gear couldn't follow them in there.
So Gage and DeSoto left all of it, just outside the ring of debris.

"Chet?! Can you hear me?" Johnny flung away some tangled chicken
wire, fighting to get gear and himself near Kelly.
Chet moved a little, not opening his eyes.  Gage clambered over
the last of the debris. DeSoto beat him there.

Roy put on a smile he did not feel. "Hey, Chet.. How are you doing?"
He got a grip on Chet's coratid artery, studying his face.

Chet stirred and coughed. "Eh, Roy? What took you so long?
Where've you been?"

"Oh,.. joy riding.." Johnny said, clearing more debris away so he
could get closer to where Chet was lying. There was a lot
of blood on the ground. It seemed to be coming from
below Chet's waist. "...and you?"

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 Too Close To Home
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