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   That Latin Flair
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Page Two

"Doc, I've never done one of these before in the field. Johnny's gutsier,
maybe he oughta be the one t--"

##Johnny isn't here. He's up to his elbows in extrication gear trying to save
the life of our victim number one. Now bone up and save victim number two
and push any personal feelings you may have aside. If you haven't learned to
trust the orders of your attending MD in eight years working as a full fledged
paramedic, you'll never learn it.  I'll walk you through the whole thing, as it
happens, just like I do any first year resident physician. ##

"I'm not a physician."

##No, you're an extension of one. A fully authorized, long arm coming
directly off of........me... So quit stalling.  Listen carefully...
The difference between defibrillation and cardioversion is
that the countershock is synchronized to the QRS complex which
allows the electric current to be delivered after the R wave and
before the period associated with the T wave. There's a toggle
I didn't show you in training on the back of the defibrillator. Switch
it on now.  See the yellow flashing light on your monitor screen?
You've just  engaged the synchronization button. That blinking yellow dot
is a marker that appears only when your victim's heart reaches the R wave
of the heart beat cycle. When you deliver your shock, do it only when that dot
appears. This will insure that counter shock is delivered during the QRS
complex, the most optimum time to regain a normal sinus rhythm.
Now keep your strip on. I wanna see what you get through the whole thing.
Set your charge to 100 watt seconds and gel up. We'll perform the
actual cardioversion once we get your patient prepared properly.
Any questions?##

Roy was speechless.

##Fine. I'll take that as a no. Do your standard first. 100 mg's Lidocaine
IV push and let's see what happens.##

Roy gave Marco the medication as fast as he could, as pure nervous
adrenalin made his fingers fly. "No change, doc. He's still the same."
DeSoto reported shakily.

##Ok, let's abandon that approach. Give him some Propofol 2.5 mg/kg IV
...on my order only.  Now this sedative will be extremely short acting.
Four or five minutes tops after the initial sixty seconds following its delivery into
his blood stream. His breathing will be suppressed, so help it along.
This dose will buffer him from recollecting the pain that'll come from the
countershock but it won't knock him out. We need him awake because he'll
be less apt to vomit during the counter shock : a complication from which he could
die due to aspiration. He'll recover from the propofol momentarily if we're
successful, but his BP will fall below where it is now. Bradycardia might
set in afterwards, too. But don't worry, we'll cross that bridge when we come to
it. Give him another 100 mg's Lidocaine at your next five minute mark.
After we cardiovert, switch over to a Lidocaine dose of 50 mg's every
five because he's still in shock, up to another 100 mg's. I'll allow you
to attempt synchronized cardioversion up to four times. First
the 100 joules, then 200, then 300 and finally 360. If he doesn't catch,
we'll try something else medication wise. Remember, if your clinical
conditions go critical at any stage of the game, go to unsynchronized
shocks like you normally do for v-fib. Ready?... Give him the propofol,
Roy.  His R on T's are greater than 6 per minute now. Roy,..remember all
that I've told you...you .....you................you....##

In a haze, Roy gave Marco the sedative through his gushing, richly flowing I.V.

Then he reached for the defibrillator paddles and held them up for Cap
to gel once Marco stopped tensing and began swallowing mechanically.

Cap gave the lightly sedated Lopez two breaths on ambu, then
he lifted its mask up in the air to get out of the way..

Roy set the paddles down onto the framing positions around
Marco's heart.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
::Mama!  I don't want to die!::  cried Marco, deep inside..

A warm rush of energy lifted him up that was almost a noise
and the horrid thudding in his ears faded away into silence.

Puuffffhhhhhhh....  Air went into his lungs. Effortlessly.

Puuuufffffhhhh..  It was getting easier. He didn't have to work so hard anymore.

Puuuufffffhhhhhhhhhhh..... So Lopez .....gave up and just let it happen.

Marco opened his "eyes" into a bright white light that offered
the purest peace and comfort...and saw.......and ............saw.........

.......  ::Papa?::

Tears filled Marco's eyes at the sight of the man he hadn't seen
since the night he died just two days after his tenth birthday.

Lopez reached out to touch his face lovingly.

JOLT!

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Marco's body arched upwards under Roy's hands, accepting
the gift of change, reacting to the conversion energy and
the sedative with a myoclonus effect. A flood of tears poured
out of both Marco's eyes.

It surprised Cap, who almost didn't offer Lopez another
breath on the bag while it was happening.

"Dr. Brackett..." started Roy in alarm over the phone on his
shoulder.

##It's all right on my end. I think it's working. Pay no mind
to that muscular reaction. Keep maintaining his airway
and breathing. He'll come out of it.##

Immediately,.. an  innocent innocuous unadulterated sinus rhythm
of fifty started knitting itself across the defibrillator's EKG monitor.

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Roy sighed........and smiled the most heartfelt grin Cap had
ever seen on a fireman.

Marco soon after, started breathing well enough, on his own.

Just in time for Gage to see as he trudged by with a
patient loaded stokes headed for a Mayfair.
"Did it work?"

"You have to ask?" remarked Chet. "He's doing absolutely terrific
now. Look......."And Kelly pointed out the regular and clockwork squiggles on
Marco's rhythm strip. "And we got Roy and Doc Brackett to thank for it, too."
Kelly added.

"Don't forget the big man upstairs..  You forgot Him again, Chet,
I'm a professed Lutheran." Roy reminded him.

"Oh, yeah, Him, too.." and Kelly hastily crossed himself.
"Man, I wonder if Marco realizes how close he came to biting the big one..."

Johnny smirked as he walked by. "Guess we'll have to ask him once
he comes to mentally in the ambulance. Nice work, Roy. I couldn't have done
better myself."

"Oh yes you could. Brackett's one hell of a doctor. He'd make Kelly here
raise the dead if it was possible." said Roy, taking another blood
pressure reading on Marco.

"I shudder the thought...." muttered Cap, switching out the ambu bag for
a regular non-rebreather. "Lopez's set. He's at 18 a minute again.
I better go head up the search for the third victim. Kelly.."

"Hmm?"  said Chet.

"Come with me."

"Oh, uh, ok, Cap."

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From :  Roxy Dee <laterrapincabesa@hotmail.com>
Sent :  Wednesday, December 22, 2004 3:59 PM
Subject :  The Christmas Gift~~


There was a distant, high pitched wailing in his ears.

Frowning, Marco coughed and opened his eyes in
puzzlement. He found himself staring at a double set
of sunlit windows over his toes from where he was
sitting. He was propped upright on something soft and
yielding, under his butt and legs. ::An ambulance cot.:: he
realized. Two I.V. lines were swinging against the side of
his face and bumping his cheek, so he lifted a hand to
push them away. ::I don't understand...where is he?::
he thought muzzily. :: Father was right here..::

"Marco...." said a masculine voice. "Are you with me yet?"
it asked and then Lopez felt a warm grip stop his hand from
touching the I.V. tubing.

Lopez blinked. He knew that voice and tried to speak, but
it came out as a nonsensical liquidy groan. A face leaned
in and blocked out the bright glow from the windows and
tugged on something hissing until it cupped around his nose
and mouth more tightly. ::This's O2. I'm hurt?:: Surprise
registered on Marco's face and he finally formed a question.
And a name finally popped into recall of who was sitting above him
along with half a dozen emotions. ::That's Roy..:: and he shifted
restlessly under the beige blanket, feeling straps snugged
across his body. Anger and fear, coursed through him.
"How'm I ...d-doing?" he gasped.

"Easy. You're still coming out of sedation. Don't be surprised
if you feel agitated inside emotionally. That's normal. Did you
feel me shock you a few minutes ago?" asked Roy.

"Didn't...feel a thing." Marco said, still clearly remembering the
soft lines of his father's face that he had seen in that strange
soothing nether light when he had given up. "Roy..."

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"Yeah.." Roy said, looking up from the blood pressure he
was taking on Marco.

"Did I die?"

DeSoto's eyebrows went up at the question but the smile
he offered Marco on his face, didn't shift a single millimeter.
Roy shook his head. "We never lost a pulse on ya. You went
from VT to NSR instantly without a hitch. Cap only had to help
you breathe a couple of times on the bag when the sedative's
full effect hit ya. There were no complications at all." he grinned.
"That chest pain left yet?"

"It's gone." Marco sighed.

"Figured it was just that rapid heartbeat doing it..Let me listen
to your chest to see if your lungs have cleared up yet."

Marco blinked, nodding. "What have you got me on? I still feel
kinda strange.."

Roy chuckled. "Doc ordered a little MS for ya. You got a little
combative when we were loading you up because you were still
a little out of it. And you're on a Lidocaine drip to keep a normal
rhythm...Ok, take a deep breath.."

Marco did.

"And another one.." said Roy, sliding the drum of his stethoscope
over to his left side along the side of his ribs.

"And again." Roy said, leaning him forward so he could listen
to Marco's back. Then he rocked back onto the caregiver
seat and jotted down a few notes. "Your edema's clearing
nicely."

"What was that from? I wasn't in any smoke...." Lopez coughed.

"Sometimes when your heart races too fast, fluid can build up
in your lungs. That was one reason why we had to slow it down
pretty quick."

"So I'm all right now?" Marco asked, keeping still and
studying the tape holding his arm straight on an I.V. board.

"You're stable." Roy admitted. "Dr. Brackett will give you a
good going over once we reach Rampart to see if there are
gonna be any secondary cardiac side effects from the shock
you took from the power lines. He'll look for signs of internal
damage coming from other areas. Your muscles might have
suffered circulation problems that won't pop up until later. You
remember those spasms that kept coming?"

"How can I forget? They hurt like h*ll. Now I know what Cap
went through when he messed with a power line."

"That's a good sign."

"What, that my pain was so bad?" Lopez grinned faintly.

"No, it's the fact that you remember what happened to you
at the scene that's good." DeSoto replied.

"Oh..." said Marco. "I remember a few other things, too."

Roy shifted in his seat, staying respectfully quiet while
he kept an eye on Marco's live EKG monitor. Not a single
PVC was marching across the screen as it had been doing
by the dozens before his emergency cardioversion. Feeling
confident on the strength of the turn around, Roy closed up
and packed away the defibrillator resting between Marco's
legs and set it onto the rider's bench next to him. Then he
folded his hands together and just listened, meeting Marco's
eyes gently with his own.

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"Do you believe in the afterlife, Roy?" Marco said after
a few seconds.

"I do. You don't grow up going to services once a day and twice
on Sunday without having a pretty strong faith in an idea like
that." Roy grinned.

"I'm Catholic. Maybe not as devoted as you and Joanne
are to the Lutheran faith. Mama and I go to church once a month,
maybe twice if we can afford it, and go cook for the congregation.
In fact, we've  just finished organizing a dinner benefit ....for Christmas
coming up in the next couple of days. But what I'm saying is....
I think I died, Roy. Maybe just for a split second. Because
whereever I was..I saw my father, as clearly as you and I are
seeing each other right now. And he's been dead for twenty five
years. It was so real. I could smell his cologne...I could feel the heat
coming from his cheek when I tried to reach out and touch him,
and it made me cry, Roy."

"Hypoxia does funny things to the mind when a person's in shock.
You had a short time in the squad where you weren't getting
enough oxygen. We had to hold you down to force some
air into ya until your color pinked up again. You didn't die, Marco.
You were conscious the whole time I was with you. This EKG strip
shows that you had a constant heart beat throughout your
treatment. Take a look..."  and he pressed the red gridded white
paper roll into Marco's hands and he helped him scroll through it
to the point where the bigeminy was shocked into a sinus rhythm.
"But it doesn't matter if you were clinically dead or not. That's not important.
If you know you saw your dead father, then you did. Perhaps it was your mind's
way of getting you through a life threatening crisis that was at the time, extremely
unpleasant physically. A self preservation instinct, if you will. But the experience
you had holds the same significant meaning regardless of what brought it on,
Marco. And you're gonna have to figure out what its impact is gonna be and find
out why it happened to you in order to understand it fully through a way that
works best for you."

"What did you feel, Roy?" Lopez said, fingering the place on the EKG
strip where the tracing had gone from a life threat to a normal state.

"I'm afraid I don't understand." DeSoto admitted, leaning on his knees
with his palms.

"Last year, you were dead for several minutes after you hit that line
and fell off the roof during that house fire. Karen the trainee said that
you had no heartbeat at all when she found you and brought you back
using the defibrillator. Did you see anything like what I saw, during it?"

Roy looked down at the question, studying his shoes, when he got
Lopez's reference. He laced his fingers together thoughtfully in front of
him. "I remember feeling scared for the woman in that bedroom
with me. I wasn't thinking clearly about the fact that the ladder under
my foot wasn't one of ours. It was a stupid mistake. I was surprised
I wasn't written up for it later on after I recovered."

Marco heard the sirens over their heads shut off as they entered
Rampart's back driveway from the boulevard. "Roy..." he insisted,
wanting an answer before it was too late to get one.

DeSoto replied. "Easy, don't get worked up. It'll mess up your blood pressure.
I'll answer your question." And he started to take down Marco's I.Vs.
from the ceiling hook, transferring them to the cot pole. "I saw someone
that day, yes." he whispered. "And ...it was just a little boy. A stranger,
with...with....with red hair, about four years old. And this is the odd part, Marco...
I knew ...without a shred of a doubt, that that little boy standing in front of me...
was going be my future son in two year's time. A second son for me and
Joanne, slated to be born on Christmas Eve.....1977."

Lopez's mouth flopped open. "That's next year.."

"How's that for a mysterious life after death experience....?" Roy
asked seriously. "Count your blessings, Marco. You could've had a
vision like mine." he said quietly. "Joanne and I still don't know
what to make of it."

Lopez crossed himself and said a silent benediction.

Soon, no further talk was possible on the subject because rushing
orderlies pulled open the doors of the Mayfair once it completed its
backing maneuver, to wheel Marco into Dr. Brackett's awaiting
treatment room.

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

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From:  "Champagne Scott" <chameleonkate@hotmail.com>
Date:  Mon Jan 10, 2005  6:31 pm
Subject:  A Matter of Perspective

Captain Stanley collapsed the antennae of his walkie
talkie radio and he put it into his pocket with a sad sigh
of discovery.  

The helicopter pilot had found the third car victim.

He lay face up and battered at the mouth of a culvert
in the shallows one fifth of a mile away from the accident
site.

There was no mistaking the pale china blue rictor
of death and his fatal color. "Kelly! Stoker! Let's give it up!" He shouted
to his two searching firefighters struggling through the river
channel's brush and debris islands with probe poles lofted straight
up over their heads. "He's been spotted by Chopper Ten.
And there's absolutely nothing in the world we can do for him." he
motioned grimly, peeling off his helmet and gloves.

Hank tried not to look at the heavy disappointment that bloomed over
his men's faces.

Cap knelt down near the high edge of the spillway
over the rappelling ropes hanging over the concrete wall.  
"I've been ordered to let L.A.P.D. and the coroner's department
handle his body's recovery. They say they're gonna need the area
around him intact and undisturbed for photos." he told Stoker and
Chet quietly. "They just found a pack of cocaine in the trunk."

"We hear ya, Cap. Where is he?! We don't see him. " Chet yelled back.
"Don't wanna step too close." he frowned, fighting to get out of the thick
bulrushes and rhododendron tangles choking the riverway.

"In the storm drain, pal. To your one o'clock. Up on a small waterfall.
Looks like your way back to me's entirely clear of automobile debris so
don't worry about that." hollered Cap.

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Kelly nodded, finally finding an open space in the wild growth
to push through. He took both Cap's offered grip and the rope and
hauled himself up onto dry land.

Mike Stoker climbed onto the rusting gate covering the water redirect to
catch a glimpse of the dead man for reporting's sake. Then he accepted
Chet and Hank's firm hands for a pull out of the river basin.

"How's Johnny's victim?" Mike asked Cap, scraping the scummy mud off
of his shoes on a twisted rock as he retrieved their climbing ropes into
potable coils.

"Stable. His rig left for Rampart soon after Roy's did. Marco's still doing fine.
He's awake now, and talking..."

Chet started to open his mouth.

Cap stalled his question with a pointed index finger.
"And yes, we'll be taking the engine there. I told L.A. that  we'll be 10-7
for an hour and a half until Lopez's replacement can join up with us at the
station."

Chet grinned, wiping muck off his chin. "Cap, taking the pumper to
the hospital without an official reason to? I'm surprised at you." he chided
teasingly.

Hank's eyes demonstrated being put on the spot and he cleared his
throat subconsciously. "I don't need one. I'm a fire department captain.
My station can be anywhere I put it in our service area. " he gruffed.
"Unofficially, I'm doing it for a short welfare visit for morale's sake to cheer
myself up. Now get moving and drive the squad in. Stoker can finish stowing
the gear. He's a little faster than you."

"Yes, sir."

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

Sleep would claim him, if he let it. Marco had only to close his
eyes and lean back against the softness of the gurney's pillow.

But he couldn't.

He felt Roy's hand on his stomach, taking a count of his respirations
yet again as he drifted.
 
Marco studied the age lines wrinkling on his coworker's forehead as
DeSoto tipped his watch into a better viewing angle but they
blurred into nonsensicality. "..ohh...." he groaned, his arms and
legs jumping underneath the covers.

Biting his lip, Roy held Marco's I.V.s in the other hand so the ambulance
attendants would be free to transfer Lopez onto the treatment bed that
Brackett had already wheel locked into position. "Easy, Marco.
Almost there.." he said with another gentle touch on his patched in
shoulder.

Marco barely heard him.

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

More than anyone else knew; more than he himself knew, so much
had changed within him, in ways that Lopez was only beginning to
understand.

The need for rest weighed heavily across his chest. But Marco knew why he
put it off, why he tried to forestall its inevitable approach.

When he had been between twisted heartbeats, there had been the
smallest possible glimpse, as his heart had passed through chaos back
into shocked order, of an instant that had been both remembrance and eternal
non-time. For just that brief flash of consciousness, he had seen that which
had been shown to him, so long ago in early childhood. Warm, happy
experiences of being snuggled in the firm security of his
father's loving arms as he laughed, while being tickled to death.

Lopez closed his eyes, ignoring Kel Brackett's questions and shaking, willing
himself towards that memory path again.

He had seen his father, his mother's beloved, inside of there. In a moment
snatched from those years forever lost to him, in those few seconds, when
Bernardo had still been alive.  Bernardo had turned to Marco, one hand reaching
back to his, smiling as if he were about to say something...

There hadn't been time enough to hear what his words would have been.
The vision of his face had gone as quickly as it had appeared; Marco hadn't
really even been conscious of it, until the jolting shock of the defibrillator  
came shooting through his body..

Only now, when he could allow his thoughts to sort themselves out, had
he remembered completely, what he had seen. What had been granted
to him.

Marco wondered what it meant. Perhaps nothing, an oxygen and blood starved
hallucination, perhaps a gift, a blessing.. Marco smiled ruefully, to appease a
suddenly worried Kel and Roy before they resorted to a pain check. "I'm o.k...I'm
just a little tired. Gimme a sec to get myself together." he whispered.
"And then I'll try to cooperate..." he grunted.

He saw their faces move away into a paramedic/doctor consultation.

It would have been just like Bernardo Lopez to have given him something
like that, something that would enable him to go forward and accomplish
what he had to afterwards.

Falling now, Marco let himself sink. Toward that bright world, the other one,
inside of him, where he could hear the tender words that had been-- and
always were-- about to be spoken to him.

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

"Kel." said Dixie, lifting her head. "Looks like he's going out."

Dr. Brackett moved to Marco's head, peeling a penlight out of one pocket.
He ran its white beam over his pupils lightly before he stepped
closer to examine the extruding EKG strip running out of the monitor.
"Go ahead and get another pressure, Dix, but I think he's ok. His eyes
seem like they're in rapid eye motion, like they do when someone's
in a deep sleep state." he remarked in surprise. "Hmm, that's something
that getting an electrical current overload won't account for."

Roy crossed his arms over his elbows, fidgetting, but he let himself smile.
"It's ok, doc. Marco always falls asleep like this after an injury. Even
for minor ones. He did this the last time he was in here, too."

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"Really.." Brackett chuckled.

"As I recall...Last time was just last year from that accident at the gas station?"
Dixie remembered.

"Uh huh." Roy replied. "Marco never seems to ever pass out at all. He only
does so when things are getting really bad like when his air bottle runs out in a
really hot fire."

"Oh, now I remember Marco's strange tendency. Mike said he snored up a
storm. Morton said he got overly frustrated, until he finally tipped Marco's head
back over the end of the table long enough to finish examining him." Kel
shared about Morton.

Roy just nodded, doing the same action to prevent any problems
after he transferred Lopez's oxygen supply line to the humidified
port in the wall.

"Ok." Kel sighed.. folding up his stethoscope and putting it back into
his lab coat. "His lungs sound almost entirely clear now. Dix, call the lab..
I want a chest X-ray and a full twelve lead cardiac study. Draw blood
enough for a BUN and creatinine, CBC, cardiac electrolyte serum,
blood glucose, and have them get some clotting indexes in case he
needs surgery for that finger reduction later. Also, grab a UA by centesis
after I get done giving him this sedative to calm these tremors down."

"Right away, Kel. His pressure's 100/76." Dix reported before moving to
the phone to order the tests Marco needed.

Kel glanced up. "Roy, you say he wasn't thrown far? I'm not noting
any signs of abdominal tenderness or guarding here." Dr. Brackett said
palpating Marco's stomach carefully.

"That's right. Only about ten feet backwards from the car, onto some
patchy grass and dirt. He was using the K-12 when it happened."

"Hmm, we got lucky there.." he said, moving on to look at the fractured
finger on Marco's hand. "This doesn't look so bad either. The burns on
his hands aren't even blistering."

"How's his neurological status?" said Dixie, returning to the bedside.

"Good to excellent. We got pretty philosophical on the way in."

"About what?" Kel asked.

"Marco thought he had a near death experience, doc. He said
that he saw his dad. Is such a thing possible with his kind of situation?
I mean, his heart rhythm didn't ever stop on us."

"It is. He couldn't have been breathing too well with a tach rate that
fast. Slight hypoxia is all that's needed to cause changes in the brain
enough for someone to feel they've had an out of body experience."

Roy grinned. "Are you saying that you don't believe in all the stories
of people seeing things after they've been dead a short time?"

"That's exactly what I'm saying." Kel said. "I'm too practical, I guess,
to believe in such nonsense."

"Don't knock it until you've been there, doc." Roy said, without looking
away from Kel's skeptical eyes.

"You mean, you had a life after death encounter Roy?" asked Kel,
raising his eyebrows in surprise.

"I did. When I was in his shoes, last year." DeSoto said, gesturing
at Marco's sleeping form.

"I didn't read anything about that on your chart, Roy."

"That's because...." Roy started up loudly..."..that's because.."
he whispered so he wouldn't wake Marco up." I thought I was
nuts at the time."

"Why would you think that? Who did you see in yours?"

"My future son." DeSoto said with tightly clenched lips. "And I'll also
tell you, doc, that my experience wasn't entirely all warm and rosy
like Marco's." Roy had to force himself to get out of Brackett's
light while he completed Marco's care."I felt very uncomfortable
seeing him."

"Oh.. Uh...Sorry about that.  Well...don't worry, Roy. It's over
and done with. Uh...We'll keep up both of Marco's I.Vs. at a rate
sufficient to offset myoglobinuric renal failure. I'm not going to allow
any fasciotomies that might be needed on his arms because of
compartment syndrome developing later on just because
of an unstable B/P that we can easily stabilize now. Here, help me
turn him onto his side for those coming chest plates. Then we can
get his course of meds going before he transfers to the ICU."

"The guys'll wanna see him, doc,.." DeSoto insisted. "..before he goes
upstairs."

"I'll allow that. There'll be time while we wait for the x-rays to develop."

"I guess I'd better collect Johnny and go meet the gang outside before
they get crazy ideas into their heads about trying to pile on in here." said
Roy, excusing himself.

"I'll let you know when we're set." said Brackett. "Tell them Marco's
gonna be fine in a couple of weeks. Especially since he has
no keraunoparalysis."

"I will."

Roy left the treatment room to go stand by the ambulance entrance
to meet the rest of the gang. A quick status check to L.A. showed
them as already en route to Rampart Hospital.

He flagged down Johnny as soon as he reappeared from his
treatment room and moments later, DeSoto was
telling him the good news about Marco.

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

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**************************************************************************
From:  "Cory Anda" <andacory@hotmail.com>
Date:  Mon Jan 17, 2005  7:33 pm
Subject:  The Gift of Life..


"Guys...Set the kettle down over there on
the back stove. Yeah, that's right. Then Marissa can
get the soup going and still have the front burners
free for saute'ing." suggested Marco from his comfortable
chair in the center of the spacious room at Father Murphy's
Catholic Charities Soup Kitchen. "We are gonna be cooking
for a hundred people before sundown, and not just
for a few dozen or so."

Johnny mumbled around the fake smile he wore for
show for the hovering chattering church women who were
volunteering for the charity's dinner. "Roy,..are you
regretting helping out as much as I am right now?" he said
as he and Roy grunted under the heavy weight of the
enormous soup kettle that they were maneuvering between
them.

Roy, chided his partner, flashing a one hundred percent
genuine grin. "Where's that holiday spirit Johnny? I know
it's in there somewhere. You know we were the only ones able
to help Marco out like this on such short notice. The rest
of the guys are still pulling a shift at the station. He's still
under exertion restrictions, remember?"

Johnny's face locked down even tighter on his glued in
smile. "For a tiny jolt taken from a power pole? Roy, your
defibrillating counter shock mixed up more of his brain
and cardiac cells than that ever could of done."

"Shh, do you want him to find out that meeting his father
in the afterlife was actually an artifact from the paddles?
That'd doom any faith he has in the church and then some."
DeSoto reasoned, keeping his voice down to a quiet
friendly sounding whisper. "Just pipe down and let's get
this done. They're opening the doors to the streets in an
hour and we'd better be ready with things on time."

"Ok, ok. Just...just let me get better leverage down here.
Ugh.. Tip it back.. I got it on the bunsen coil. Right in the
middle." Gage strained. Then he said a little louder, "How's
this, Marco?"

"Perfect, amigo. Gracias." he said amid a chorus of gratitude
from all the women.

Soon the massive metal cauldron was surrounded by the bright
colorful aprons of the shelter volunteers descending in mass,
as they began dumping pounds of chicken, noodles, vegetables and
boullion into the pot. Rapidly, the gas line fire was poofed into
life underneath it.

Marco Lopez looked up from the hot chocolate one of the
church ladies had given him to go along with the afghan
now wrapping around his shoulders. "Thanks guys. the
neighborhood women and I really appreciate you coming out
tonight.." he said sipping from his steaming mug. "Here,
take a break. Looks like I got a whole pot to myself.." he
said shoving the cocoa tray and mug stack closer to Roy
and Johnny with a slippered foot. He plunked down his own
mug and Marco reached over to begin peeling potatoes at top
speed with a paring knife.

"Ah,, easy with that..." Gage said, pulling the blade out of
Marco's hand. "You're gonna cut yourself rushing like that.
Here, I'll do it.."

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"Thanks, Johnny.." and Lopez rose from his chair painfully to
move over to the floor bound soup pot to do some light stirring
with its three foot long steel cast ladle while the ladies around
him filled it with delectables.

Roy grinned. "He's not on Valium you know." he said sotto voce
to Gage. "Just some Tylenol 3 for his muscle aches."

"Oh, hush. He's was napping five minutes ago. He might still be
groggy enough to get a little clumsy."

"Yes, mother Gage.." teased DeSoto, taking up a second peeler
to help Johnny add to the pile going into the soup pot. "Your
paramedic side's showing itself again."

"So's yours. You kept him from doing any lifting at all today."

"Then we're in the same boat now, aren't we?...Relax, Johnny,
in an hour, we'll be eating a truly well cooked meal with
all the street folks and their families and we'll forget all about
our sore backs."

"Do me a favor and keep reminding me of that, ok? Right now
my back's talking something fierce, all over that supposed
angelic little voice of mine that's trying to praise me for doing all
of this on our only day off." Gage said, stretching out a
kink or two.

"Consider it done."

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

Darkness was falling softly over Los Angeles County when Father
Murphy finally threw open the doors of his charity to the line
slowly straggling in from the avenue. He laughed heartily in his
Santa's suit for all the kids shyly coming in with their guardians
to share the rare seven course feast.

Marissa, a red haired bubbly helper, threw off her apron just in
time to fan out coloring books and crayons for the youngest comers
along with a wrapped present or two for each, containing toys that
would survive their lives spent on the move and on the streets.
"Here you go, loves. Come on in where it's warm. Dinner's almost
ready." she said.

And soon, the tiny brick hall was filled with people sitting down in
front of the many plates and silverware lined up along the
simple folding tables setting in rows before the kitchen's
open counter.

Roy and Johnny and Marco were just about to duck out of the
way of the volunteers running by with steaming foil pans full
of food when Father Murphy dragged all three of them to the front
of the room before a tiny rainbow lit white Christmas tree.
"Folks, please. Can I have your attention for just a bit before
the nightly prayer?"  The Santa garbed padre held them firmly
in place with a friendly arm over their shoulders.

Ski capped heads looked up everywhere and all three firemen
immediately flushed at being an unexpected center of attention.

"Now for this year's Christmas feast, we've been blessed with
the presence of some of Marco Lopez's closest firefighter friends,
who've been helping us tirelessly all morning and through
most of the day. Everybody, a big warm welcome for Roy
DeSoto and John Gage, from Station 51 located in the suburb
of Carson. This is their first year volunteering with us and I'd like
to say, I couldn't have asked for a more dedicated pair of workers
than they. It's been said no one works harder than a firefighter
and I've been overwhelmingly ...moved.. to find that this wonderful
sentiment, is an absolute G*d given truth. Roy and Johnny
everybody.."

Marco Lopez, with tears of gratitude in his eyes, starting clapping
first for them with warm nods of appreciation, which only increased
his coworkers' embarrassment at the memory of their earlier
grumbling.

Soon, shrill cheers and applause from all the volunteers and diners
alike, nearly brought the hall down. Roy and Johnny found that they
couldn't escape fast enough into the sanctuary in back of
the kitchen to recover their inner dignity.

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Marissa, the street child activity coordinator winked at them as she
handed them two full plates, "Welcome to the family, boys. Here,
eat up and refill your plates as often as you like. Nobody goes
hungry on Christmas Eve."

"Wow,..." said Johnny.. "I...we., I mean, Roy and I ..sure
appreciate this, Marissa. Thanks."

"My pleasure.. Excuse me fellas, but my place is with the kids.
I'm nanny to them all whenever they come to Father Murphy's
so their real parents can relax and take a break for a while.
And now, this is time for yours. Don't worry about doing any dishes
at all. We've hired out some of the city's crime serving teens for
that task. It'll be part of their community service obligations
debt to the police and Ju-vee Hall to help us out tonight."

Johnny and Roy nodded their thanks and they settled in
to the folding chairs Marco managed to petal in around
the warm soup pot. It was almost surreal to have
a three foot high cauldron of food steaming fragrantly in
front of them and they revelled in it. "Thanks, Marissa.
Glad we could be here." said Roy. "This is a wonderful
charity you're offering up to all these street folks." he said
shyly. "I've driven by this hall everyday on my way to work  
and I never even knew this place existed. We're....
very touched by your intense sense of dedication and
commitment, ma'am."

"Ah,, it's G*d's work, not mine, that I do, Mr. DeSoto.
I'm just a messenger and caregiver to the youngest ones
and I, just simply, try be there whenever I can. It's folk like you
and your coworkers who are the real life savers. I just keep
people on track going about the business of wanting to live that
life day to day, in truly bad times." Marissa said thoughtfully.
"If you would excuse me now?.. Little Stevie's flagging me
down."

All three of the Station 51 gang rose marginally from their chairs
as the cheerful young woman departed for the main dining
area and the children.

Soon, well fed and content, the three off duty firefighters
joined all the volunteers in handing out presents to
those who didn't have any yet from Father Murphy's red
velvet Santa's bag.

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

In the kitchen, two scruffy teenaged boys ate from the serving
platters greedily.

"Is he watching?" said the first to the second.

The dark haired teenaged parolee casually eyed the police officer
standing in the main hall against a wall. The officer was laughing
along with the others as presents were opened and displayed.

"No, man. He's feeling the Christmas spirit too much to notice us."

"Cool.. Then we can have a little fun." said the first, taller teen.

The second eyed his juvenile hall roommate distrustfully. "What
kind of fun?"

"The walking on fire kind. I betcha you can't do what I can do..Let's
see what kind of cajones you have, Punto."

"Hey, who are you calling Punto, Gordohead? I can do anything you
can do."

"All right..." and the oldest reached into his jeans pocket around
his sink apron and pulled out a dime. Lightly, he tossed it into
the deep french fryer that was full of boiling liquid lard. "Get it, and it's
yours. A symbol that earns my protection for you from the others
who are beating you up every night in the exercise cell."

Familiar with gang initiation and pledging, the second reached
for a scoop wire spoon for the task.

The first boy grabbed the second boy's wrist. "Not with that..
With your bare hand."

The second teen's eyes got real big. "Are you plain loco? I'll
get seriously roasted!"

"No you won't. You see, I'm sharper than your average jefe, caballero.
Use this on your skin first. Watch me, and then it's your turn."
said the light eyed leader boy.

He reached up onto a spice shelf over the cooker and pulled down
a jar of vasoline. He liberally spread it thickly over his arm
and fingers, until he was wearing a glove of goo. Then, lightning
fast, he plunged his hand into the hot bubbling vat of grease.

The leader's companion gasped, but the boy's hand came up
rapidly, with the dime, dripping but unharmed. The silver coin
plunked with a flip toss onto the countertop, following a string of
mirthless laughter. The leader had enjoyed horrifying his audience.
"Your turn, amigo. Nothing to it."

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"You're pure loco, man. I'm not doing it!" gaped the younger
of the two toughies.

"Does this feel burned to you?" said the oldest, gripping the younger's
hair in his greasy hand. "I'm offering you a one time only...offer for my
personal kind of protection against your enemies. You know you'll die
without it, despite of a fuzz being your shadow. This is your last
chance and I suggest you take it,.."  he spat into his ear. "..friend..."

"Ok.. ok. ok.." bubbled the second teen, in fear, and he pulled
his head free from the leader's grip just before the police officer's
eyes glanced once in their direction in a bored presence check
and away again.

He reached for the jar of vasoline with a shaky hand.

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

A blood curdling scream from the back kitchen sent the adults into
a scrambling flurry for the kitchen annex.

Johnny, Roy and Marco were just in time to see a young teen aged
boy dropping a steam scalded dime limply from his fingers
right after he violently pulled his arm out of the french fryer.

A plume of grease arched onto the floor and splashed the simmering
soup kettle's burner and the amber liquid immediately
caught on fire and crawled rapidly along the floor tiles, igniting an
even bigger puddle pooled there in front of the grinning
older teenager.

"Somebody get a fire extinguisher!" yelled Johnny.
"Marco, call the fire department!"

Roy tackled and then flung a towel over the screaming boy's arm
to snuff out the grease burning there that hadn't yet reached
any skin.  Then he pulled him away from the flaming part
of the floor to the water sink where he quickly flooded the
teen's fingers with a stream from the cold tap.

"What a stupid monkey!" celebrated the leader teen. "You
forgot to let go of the dime and it burned ya anyway!" he
laughed at his younger companion.

Johnny heard a commotion from the hall and accepted the fire extinguisher
that Father Murphy tossed him, quickly ripping free its nozzle tie.
He was about to use it when he saw what kind of extinguisher it was.
"Roy, this is a water can.. We can't use this at all.." and he threw it
away in disgust, dancing away from the flames. "We gotta get everyone
outta here. If that soup ring's gas line flares...."

"I'm on it." and DeSoto rush guided his stunned, only finger
seared teenager out of the room on Marco's heels.

Johnny threw away the useless extinguisher and  
whirled to push the laughing teen ahead of him into the police
shaparone's arms; ultimately to the front exit of the dining hall.

"Merry Christmas, Mister Cop and Fireman. " mocked the leader
teen. "Hey, Father! How's that for a holy light?" he chuckled,
maniacally pleased, throwing a hand back at the spreading grease fire.
"I kinda like it better than that paltry excuse of a Christmas tree
in the dining room."

Father Murphy's face barely contained a puzzled incomprehension
before an urgent panic to evacuate the street folk diners took it
over.

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

Marissa stood by the doors, holding them open as panicking people
fled the smoke filling charity hall. As men, women and children ran by,
she made sure she silently head counted.

Father Murphy had already lined up the first group along the far side
curb, checking on how bad some might have been effected by the
thick smoke. He had torn off his Santa's hat and beard and was
running from person to person, who was sitting or lying on the
pavement, or coughing violently.

"Is that all of them?" Marco shouted to Marissa over the screams.

"Oh, my G*d..Meghan and Stevie are still inside. They were at
the head table!" and Marissa struggled to get past Marco to go
back inside to look for them.

"No.. get out of here. Johnny and Roy are checking for any
stragglers."

"But.."

"Just go, Marissa. We know what we're doing!"

She back away, reluctantly and was gone.

Right then, Johnny and Roy shoved the officer and the two
juvenile delinquents out the main glass doors and into Marco's arms,
exiting, too, from the black smoked cloud still regurgitating from
the kitchen with a vengeance. "Did you manage to get to
a phone, Marco? Here, grab him. He's getting all worked
up emotionally."

"Yeah. I got through.*cough*  I got him. Is that everyone?"

"We think so. Getting too hard to see anything."

Distracted, Marco and the two paramedics bore the grease
singed boy away from the hall and suddenly to the ground
when the overwhelmed boy fainted from psychogenic shock.

When no one was looking, Marissa ran back into the kitchen,
full of fear for the mother and child still missing on
her own initiative.

Using her damp apron as a mask over her face in a
desperate attempt at helping out best as she could,
she disappeared into the murk, unwitnessed.

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

Roy and Johnny's heads snapped up from the teenager
lying on the road when a soot covered mother, carrying
a kicking little boy in holiday green in her arms,
staggered against the glass of the door.

"Marco..make sure he wakes up..." said Roy, pointing down
to the silent shivering teenager still cradling his fingers.

Gage and Johnny pulled open the superheated door and
dragged out the gasping mother and writhing child, both
pulling them away from danger. Fire was now becoming just
visible on the roofing tiles, glowing over the rusty bricks.

Sound of sirens covered those of the hungry flames
eating the interior.

Johnny tried to snatch the child out of the woman's hands.
"Let go of him! Let me take a look at him!" He said peeling off
her fingers one by one, trying to reach his head and
neck. "He's having trouble breathing!"

The mother coughed violently. "He..'s....might be
choking! He was eating potatoes when the scream
and smoke startled him! I tried...* cough* to do what
I ....." Her voice cut off as smoke inhalation strangled
her into speechless silence. Her own breathing trouble
loosened her grip and the purpling boy tumbled into
Johnny's arms.

Father Murphy ran over and drew Meghan's panicky attention
to his kindly face while Roy and Johnny worked swiftly on
the little boy.

Scooping Stevie in front of him, Johnny began firm
thrusts with closed fists repeatedly on the boy's abdomen,
trying to dislodge whatever food was blocking the boy's airway,
dangling him in front of his own legs in a back to stomach
hug.

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Nothing worked.

A squeal of tires rousted DeSoto's attention from the boy
when he recognized the sound of rescue squad doors slamming.
"Over here! Foreign body obstruction. We need the peds kit!"

Engine 51 had come along with Squad 18.

"Roy's he's out...." panted Johnny. "I'm not getting it.
Catch his head. Catch his head. Get him down."

DeSoto helped his partner straighten the now unconscious
boy onto his back and he quickly got to the boy's head,
looking to see if he could spot anything in the glare of the
engine's headlights in the boy's mouth. "Nothing yet."

Johnny continued to apply sharp heimlich maneuvers,
even as he pulled up the boy's shirt for clearer access.

"Magills! Small! And suction!" Roy shouted to the
paramedics rushing to their side. He got the gear box
he needed.

Snatching up the long scissor like snubbed instrument,
Roy threaded its gripping shaft down Stevie's throat after
nodding to Johnny to stop his clearing attempts for a moment.

He pulled out a chicken bone.

Gage pressed down on the boy's ribcage and air hissed out
sharply. "That was it. Pulse?"

Roy felt for one even as one of Squad 18's medics
grabbed an oxygenated child's ambu bag and oral airway
and started using them to get effective breaths into the boy.
DeSoto shook his head. "No carotid."

Gage began one handed chest compressions, while the
second medic began to hail Rampart on the biophone.

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Captain Stanley ran up to Marco by the teenager. "Who
else is there besides this teen boy and the child and mother?"
he said laying down an O2 apparatus for Marco to use
on the young man.

"Maybe a few minor SI's on the curbside, Cap. I think
we got everyone out." Lopez said. "Careful in there.
Grease fire and an active floor gas line from a soup
cooker! We didn't have time to get the main breaker shut
off.."

"Ok, pal. Hang tight. I've another two alarms on the way.
Including L.A. City. We're on the edge of their jurisdiction
out here." he said eyeing the brick church like building that
housed the burning soup kitchen. Hank then called for
the gas company to shut off service to the entire city block
over the engine's radio microphone.

Right then, Father Murphy looked up from where Meghan
was sobbing and reaching for Stevie. "Captain.. I...I- I.. don't
see Marissa.. She...she'd never abandon a child in trouble.
In fact she'd be the last one to leave them.."

"Are you saying that there might still be someone inside of
there?" Cap clarified.

"Yes!" said the padre.

"Chet, Moreno...gear up! There's possibly one more victim inside
the building. Keep in mind that there's still a flowing gas line some
where near a soup set up and a grease fire along the floor. Be
extra careful searching around in there! You have two minutes."
Cap ordered. "Then we pull out and wait for backup. This one's
going vertical by the looks of it. Stoker! Back her up a hundred
feet. This building's got a false front!"

"Right, Cap." said the engineer.

Kelly nodded at his orders and the pair of firemen swiftly geared
up into SCBA bottles and masks. With a charged inch and a half,
they knocked out the front window glass and entered the dining
hall following a covering fan of protective water.

Gage and Roy traded tasks, back and forth, on the boy's CPR while
they let Squad 18 handle the child's main care treatment, working
quietly through all his resuscitation medications after they'd received
terse medical orders from Dr. Joe Early. They paused only for three
quarters of a minute in their efforts when Cap had them all evacuate
the front sidewalk for the opposite one to get them out of a potential
debris zone.

##Squad 18. Defibrillate. 100 watt seconds. As many times
as it takes. Don't wait for an ET intubation. Sounds like you've got
more than enough hands helping out.## the doc said as he heard
an off duty Roy and Johnny confirming and reaffirming verbally how
they were coordinating efforts on the child.

"10-4, Rampart. Stand by for an EKG if we're successful."
reported Squad 18's head paramedic.

"Roy..still getting a pulse with my compressions?"
Gage asked in the background.

"Yeah. They're going good. His airway's still clear. No
food matter down here at all. Ok, Marv. We're standing off
for ya." Roy replied, raising the ambu off Stevie for the
countershocking with the low powered paddles. Johnny
lifted his palm away from Stevie's sternum, making sure
that Meghan wasn't touching her son with his other one,
for the first shock to come.

"Oh!" cried Meghan, gripping her oxygen cannula'd face in
her hands in worried despair at the sight of her boy jumping
convulsively.

Father Murphy hugged her tightly.
"The Lord's working through these men, Meghan. If they're
granted, Stevie will be returned to us very soon. I've seen
these kind men working before."

On the second shock, Stevie gasped and his hands twitched
on the cool gritty sidewalk and Roy's smile announced the
presence of a very viable heartbeat under the grip he had
on the boy's neck.

Meghan immediately began sobbing in relief and Father
Murphy bent his head in a prayer of thanksgiving.

Roy swiftly patched the almost suffocated boy into
the heart monitor and Johnny helped Marv spike an I.V. for
the child's continuing maintenance meds.

Then they stood up, "You good here now, guys?"
asked Gage.

The two medics nodded. "Yeah. Thanks, fellas. See you
later at the station." answered Marv.
"Stan, why don't you check on the teenager over
there. The fireman with him's indicating that he's awake
and fully conscious now." replied Squad 18's head medic.

Marv's partner left to start the teenager's care.

"Ok.." and Gage and DeSoto rose to stand by Cap,
who was studying the building, intently eyeing the
hose feeding into the shattered window frame.

Marco had already joined Hank, too. And he was biting
his lip.

Lopez said, "Roy, Johnny.. Carlos Moreno
and Chet have gone in after Marissa."

"What?!" Gage said, whirling around. "I didn't
see her go back inside...I thought I saw her out here
with you, Marco."

"You did. She was out here at first. Father Murphy
gave Cap a run down on her personality type about not
ever leaving behind any kids. So everyone's assuming
she went back in to look for Meghan and Stevie here.
And for you two. " Lopez said, filling Roy and Johnny in.

"That crazy, stupid girl. She's gonna get herself killed. That
fire's hotter than anything..!" Gage fretted. "Cap, do
you mind if Roy and I throw on a spare set of coats and
tanks at all to be your second team in stand by?"

"Can't harm anything. I'll add you to the board. Gear up
but hang back for now. Put on trousered boots over those
jeans! Lopez can help me keep watch."

"Thanks, Cap." Gage replied for both Roy and himself.

An ominous rumble made Cap's head snap up.
He brought his walkie talkie to his lips. "Kelly, Moreno.
Out. The upper story's about to go!" he ordered.

There was no reply. Cap immediately frowned.
"Can't be that noisy in there. It's all one room, right?"

"That's right.." said Roy, buckling up his turnout.

"Kelly! Moreno! Respond HT!" Hank tried again.

A small roof explosion flattened Marco, Cap, Roy and Johnny
against the engine in a tangle of protective crouches. He was
about to send in Roy and Johnny when the false front
of the building finally gave way under the heat of the fire
and came tumbling down onto the front sidewalk in
a pile of sparking black bricks.

Roy was about to go rushing inside when he saw
Chet Kelly, helmetless and gloveless, carrying Marissa
in his arms towards the open air. Her white kitchen
clothes were in shreds.

Image of gangcarrywomanout.jpg Image of wallcollapse.jpg

Hank and Stoker both rushed forward to help their
dazed coworker walk over the fallen building
debris with his unconscious burden.

Roy reached for her head and chest for signs of life.

Kelly wasn't feeling his reddened and blistered palms
one iota, even as the others were wincing for him.
"Roy, she's alive. Breathing, too."

Where's Moreno?" barked Cap.

"He ducked out the back way. He was too far from
the front door. I was closer." Chet mumbled, stumbling
slightly, licking a contused lip."Father Murphy.. I got her
out.."

"That you did, son. Now sit down and let me bundle you
up until your paramedic friend's ready to see you."
the father replied.

"Johnny! Tank up and go check out Kelly's story. Meet
up with Moreno. Radio me immediately the first second
you find him." Cap called out behind him. "Then clear
the h*ll out of there until the other alarms get on scene."

"I'm gone.." said Gage.

And soon, he was.

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

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Image of firelinefusebar.gif

**********************************************************
From:  Katherine Bird <kathbird01@y...>
Date:  Tue Jan 25, 2005  10:21 pm
Subject:  That Molten Snare...


Johnny Gage darted quickly around the burning brick city building.
He kept one eye on the roofline, making sure that nothing that
had a wall was gonna fall on top of him. He sang out over the
HT frequency as he went. "HT 51 to 51-Moreno. What's your
10-20? Over..." he shouted over the roar of the fire jutting
from the lower windows. His voice sounded muted through
his air mask.

Water fog from the overhead ladder nozzle from Pumper Eight
broke out into a steaming bouquet over his head, and followed
his progress. Gratefully, Johnny tucked his radio under a flap
of his jacket and continued broadcasting and sweeping a
flashlight from side to side in front of him to attract Moreno's
attention.

A smudge slightly less dark than the rest of the fire lit
surroundings separated itself from between two cars,
shedding brick fragments.

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