The Face In The Mirror by Patti Keiper ( Anotherjaneway )
Roy and Joanne were disturbed from their hard won, peaceful|
afternoon nap soon after they had comforted
physically. It was their malamute, Shania, howling a
short series of yaps from the
At first, Joanne thought it was Bernice, escorting the kids
back home early.
then the house began to rock, very slightly.
Joanne cracked an eye, watching the tassels on the
lampshade dance. She buried her head in her pillow.
"Oh, for Pete's sake. Hon.. it's another tremor.."
"What?" Roy mumbled sleepily, he was still groggy but
relaxed from the aftermath of their lovemaking.
He shifted from his back from how he had been slumbering,
to his side, snugging up close to Joanne
once more, wrapping
protective arms around his wife's barely rounded,
ground's shaking. Yeah, I can feel it. Nothing
to worry about. It's just a .....just a... " and he
began to snore. His breathing levelled off once more.
Joanne was instantly comforted by his lack
"Just so you're ok.. And the kids.. That's all I need to
know...." She too, soon,
drifted off to join him in dreams.
Rampart General was alerted through the same|
agency that ran the fire department dispatch
of their emergency paramedic calls.
About the Richter alert, she herself didn't feel
Rampart had backup generators and
backups to those backups in a redundant three
way linkup. And
the main hospital building she
was in was too big to even twitch for a level
two. Needless to say,
she entered the base
station as per protocol, reaffirming city
wide communications with all nine
Dixie picked up the land line confirming full band
to them first, through the fire
department's dispatch manned base.
Then waited to see if any
rescue squad wanted
to check out their equipment afterwards.
There was only one call ; from
in Anaheim. They wanted only a session
on the radio monitor to test their defibrillator's
EKG relay readout.
The head nurse obliged them, getting a perfect
EKG series from 36's
equipment from their location
at their station.
Including a mock defib against their unit's
"36. Your defibrillator's output calibrates green.
You're good to go. All four
leads register fully."
"10-4, Rampart. Squad 36, out."
Shrugging, Dixie McCall left the
and she turned on the red lined radio above her
work station. It was tuned to the state's
official EMS bulletin scanner frequency.
Soon, topographical data began issuing on the
tremor's progress across Los Angeles.
She saw Dr. Morton walking by and he
raised an eyebrow
when he saw the disaster
scanner turned on. "Oh, it's nothing, Dr.
Morton. A minor tremor , topping
only a 2.4 peak
in Anaheim, which lasted, in any one spot, for
only 20 or so seconds. The EMS
room is quiet."
she said jerking her nurse's capped head at its
status board, showing all stations
at their bases.
"Not so much as a peep so far from any
of them.." she meant of the firehouse
rescue squad departments city wide.
"I see. That's the third alert this month."
"I'm feeling lucky, Miss McCall.." he muttered,
changing the subject and he hefted his chart
in her direction, meaning the patient whose
data was contained within it.
"Oh?" she toned,
up a scale, looking for
good news. Dixie caught the name of the chart
Mike was looking at. "Marco
she read aloud, "How's he doing?"
"Swelling's going down. He's still comatose and
the aberrations on his EKG have gone away.
He's off the respirator, breathing on his own." Mike
with a half smile.
Dixie looked up still serious, "Is that good?"
Morton's face fell. "It's
hard to say.. His
pupils are still fixed, showing deep coma, but
it's encouraging to see he's off
That might be a sign that Kel's steroidal
treatments are having a positive effect
and that the Narcan has begun to clear
out all traces of Diazepam from his cerebral
"When will you know more, doctor?" Dixie
"The neurologists say if there's any rallying
to be done
by Marco, he's got to show further improvement by nightfall.
If he doesn't respond to
stimuli appreciably then,
we'll have to start speculating that this toxic
coma of his might be
Dr. Morton walked away after leaving Marco's chart in
the wooden carousel on her
Dixie was left only with immeasurable sadness.
Unconsciously, she looked at her watch.
It was 3 pm..
::Marco Lopez. You've got four and a half hours
to wake up. Or you're never
going to, ever.::
Dixie turned back to her work.
Joanne shook out of a featureless dream, |
jolting awake and she sat up.
Around her, the house
was sunny and silent and
the birdsong outside the window soothed her spirit.
Mrs. DeSoto pulled
back the curtains and saw
that Shania, too was resting, curled in the sun,
by the dog house outside,
oblivious to the jays
bathing in her water bowl.
Grinning at her pet's somnolence, she shifted
bed, and saw Roy's broad back as he slept next to her.
She reached out to caress him once
more to reassure
herself of his physical nearness but changed her
mind. ::It's better he rests.
Tomorrow's only going
to be hard on him, too.::
She looked at the time. It was 4:47 pm.
my. I've got to go to Bernice's before
her company comes over. What time were they
her party again? Oh, yes. Five o'clock.
I still have time. ::
Rising carefully, Joanne got
on some clothes,
undergarments followed by a soft plaid shirt.
She had just buttoned her jeans
shifted, complaining that he couldn't hear the
radio, calling in his sleep that he was
A familiar mothering pang made her go into
the living room for his walkie talkie.
to the bedroom and switched it on to a universal
frequency, so he could hear the usual
the fire departments corresponding with each other
and with dispatch as they went
about their day.
She set the radio on the night stand near him but
turned it low enough so
that it wouldn't wake him
if a call went out for his station.
At once, Roy settled down and
He grew still again, sinking back into slumber.
::He's most probably listening
to it right now.:: she
mused. ::That's just fine. The station is his second home.::
kissed him and hurried down the street to collect
the kids from Bernice's.
The lunch dishes had just been piled by Mike who had|
been assigned that detail when a knock on the
door caught all of their attentions.
Puzzled, Cap rose from his chair, leaving the
he had been reading on the table. He went to the kitchen's
side entrance access door
and opened it.
Kelly Brackett stood there in flight fatigues with a folded
bundle under one
of his arms. "Hello Captain.
Thought I'd drop by and start doing some of
that adjudicating I promised
you I'd start doing." and
with that, he barged into the kitchen. He had a field
medical pack with
him, a teaching one.
Grinning, Cap got out of his way. ::Time for Operation
WakeUp.:: he thought
"I thought this was your scheduled day off, doc?" John
"It is. I'm
not really here if anyone asks. Kapeche?"
"Clear as crystal.." Gage said,
getting back to his plate
of food. John had an inkling of what his superior was
planning, but hadn't
quite yet pegged exactly what
it was yet.
Cap ambled back over to his chair. "Coffee's right
doctor. Have you eaten yet?"
"Heavily.." Kel answered, he grabbed the cup Moreno
hastily pro-offered him after he received a less than subtle
cue from Cap to give him one.
Detective Fielder was rolling up his sleeves, his suit coat
over the back of one chair when he noticed
standing next to him, "Oh, hello, Doctor Brackett. Come
to do some paperwork? I was just
going to help out here
some.." and he smiled hugely.
"Don't let me stop you. In fact, I just
might keep you on
the job, Fielder, afterwards.."
The rest of the gang already knew what was
up and gathered
around to watch curiously. Finally, the light dawned on Gage
and he began to chuckle,
The detective felt being ganged upon but to his credit, didn't
let it effect him. He stayed
relaxed and friendly, "Oh? How,
Brackett reached up and pulled off Fielder's expensive
tie and tossed him his folded bundle. "Put these on.. I just
heard from your superiors that
you have to listen and follow
every request I make of you..."
Fielder caught the clothes, dropped
his dish towel on the counter
and opened them to see what they were. It was a tunic
the one Brackett was wearing. "Well, yes. Technically
that's true..within reason." he answered truthfully,
still marred his voice.
Brackett grinned diplomatically back, "Oh, believe me.
I am being
very reasonable, Mr. Fielder. You see, I've just authorized
you to be allowed to participate
on a paramedic ride along for
an entire eight hour working shift. That way, you can see what
front line medical men do up close and personal. Maybe by
the end of the day, you'll see just what
kind of stresses and
pressures that men like Johnny and Gil here, face everyday."
nodded, "If this has something to do with your man
DeSoto... I can't reverse his rescinded license
But he got into the suit without protesting further.
I am only asking you to ride along with us just
as an observer. Captain... That creates a problem.
can only hold three men.."
Captain Stanley didn't even hesitate. "Sheppard, take
rear pumper slot on the engine next call, you're a water man
until situations change it."
"You got it, Cap." Gil said instantly..
Cap held his hands up in a there you go gesture...and
back to his paper. "Problem's solved, Dr. Brackett."
"Oh." Kel said, blinking a few times,
"That was easy.."
Cap muttered from his pages, "Always is when you're captain."
around him laughed until a glare from Hank over
the paper stopped them.
"Need anything else?"
Cap asked Kel cheerfully.
Brackett pursed his lip, thinking but Gage finished his|
eventual thought. "No..no no.. no... We're
Now all we need is a r--"
A two tone call went out over the intercom. ##Station 51.
Citizen reports a smell of gas on the 1800 block of Supulveda
Ave. The gas company has been notified.
On the corner of Mitchell
and Supulveda. Mitchell and Supulveda.. Time out 16 : 49.##
remarked, "Hey I know that area.. It's a warehouse district
on the edge of an apartment complex. The
site's an empty lot
if I remember correctly."
"We all know that area, Carlos." Cap said, "That's
the edge of
the Streger factory wing. Remember them guys? There's a
track worn in their frontage
road from our squad pulling in
every week to hand out pipeline violations."
"Oh, that's why
they're so familiar." Moreno groaned.
The guys got up and moved out. John shouted when Fielder
just stood there.. "Let's go. Let's go. That's us..Get the lead
out, Fielder..I gotta fit you for
a helmet for you to wear..too."
And he shoved the man to hurry him along.
his pack with him.
Cap acknowledged their response, "Station 51, KMG 365."
And then he got
on his overcoat.
There was some initial elbow jostling as the bigger Fielder
the squad with the smaller Brackett in
the middle with Johnny taking the wheel but they made
time and still pulled out ahead of the engine.
Station 51 activated lights and sirens which
cleared the busy
boulevard of traffic and both rescue vehicles
turned left to head north into
the suburb district of
West Lake Village.
They stopped about 800 yards from the corner they|
were given and halted their vehicles.
stepped out of the cab of the engine and ordered.
"Everyone put masks and air on until we find
problem. I don't want to put anyone at risk
until we know more.."
"Right." they said.
Gil got his apparatus on quickly then jogged
over to the squad with a gas spigot wrench.
He tapped Johnny, who had geared up just as
quickly, on the shoulder. "Do you want me to help
get this on?" He pointed to the detective
turning straps over, trying to see how
the harness went
Gage nodded, and handed his spare tank to Gil
to give to Fielder. Awkwardly, the tall
man put on the strange equipment with the fireman's help.
Brackett, already trained
and equipped, was ready to go.
He stood by Cap as Stanley coordinated plans for a search.
Moreno, head east to that substation. See if
you can find anything. Odegard, Sheppard, head north.
Doctor Brackett, hang back with me. Johnny, take Fielder.
He'll be an extra nose here, pal. Tell him
what to expect
"Got it, Cap.."
Gil said, "What about me?"
"You're with us. We'll head south. I see yellow gas line
flags over there down in that ditch.. O.K.
move out people
and keep in contact via radio at all times. Check in every
five minutes. Move out."
The men split up into their four groups and headed into
four different directions.
minutes walking distance from the trucks, the stench
of the nitrous oxide indicator grew stronger.
It was Johnny who found the leak. It was coming from a fresh
crack in the earth. Luckily, a nearby
valve was downpipe from
it, sticking up in the open field. He had spotted it easily.
day breeze was blowing the deadly gas downwind, away from
the nearby apartment houses to flow harmless
over the LA riverbed.
Breathing heavily inside his mask, he brought his radio to
"Cap! We found it. Looks like the earthquake disrupted
this line. There's a new erosion crevasse intersecting
over here. I have found the shutoff valve.. But I'm seeing clear
signs of further
substrate instability.. Over.."
He gestured to Fielder to hand him the pipe wrench.
the radio in his hand replied. "Got that, Gage.
We've just been notified that the gas company is turning
off service for the whole area in less than a minute."
Gasping through his regulator mask, Johnny
emergency valve until the hiss of gas ended. Then he
pulled Fielder back with him
to the road.
Back in clear air, Johnny removed his hazard helmet
and pulled off his face mask.
Fielder joined him doing the same thing.
"Wheow, That was close.. Another five minutes and|
that whole neighborhood would've gone up into smoke.."
"How so? It seemed to be such a small leak."
the detective said, eyeballing his unfamiliar breathing
Gage watched the indicator on the valve station sink
to zero as Cap's promised gas
happened before his eyes.
Johnny's expression grew very serious. "Fielder, that's
gas. It hangs together on the ground like fog and is very
violatile. Even a leak that small
can spread for hundreds
of yards until it encounters someone's open window well.
After that it's
just a matter of time before the gas bank
encounters a pilot light in the basement. Then, " And he
gestured a huge explosion..
Fielder paled. "How often does this kind of leak occur?"
sighed wearily, "During every earthquake man, during
every single, solitary one of them.. This part
of town lies in a
fault line.. My station's been handing out pipeline violations
to this land
owner for years. Nothing gets fixed. He's rich
enough from those warehouses to keep up paying all
The detective thought on it. "You think the city would
have planned ahead and
not put in those warehouses
over there so near the fault. Even I can see it along
"Tell me about it.. What you see before you is a good
example of your typical inane
land developer's ignorance
at work." Gage said sweeping a glove over the landscape
factories and the riverbed and the field they
had just escaped.
He stood a moment wiping the
sweat from his eyes before
sighing. "All right, looks like the gas has dissipated. Let's
Fielder, unknowingly, stepped back into the field near
the crevasse.. heading
towards where the unseen rescue
trucks were parked.
"Fielder! No!! That ground's unstable!!"
But the fragile ground gave way under the big man made
even heavier by the forty five pound breathing
strapped to his back.
He plummeted into a fast yawning hole.
and by some miracle, caught him. He grabbed his
arm at the elbow, "Hang onto me! Hang onto me.."
Fielder gasped, yelling.."Ahh!"
"Give me your other hand, Fielder. Your other hand! Ughhh!!
I got ya..!!" He tried not to watch the earth sink and disappear
underneath the detective's dangling
feet. "Don't look down.
Just hang on! I got ya.."
Gage could hear the ground still caving in underneath him|
beneath the ribbon of road. Slowly, over
long seconds, he hauled the detective out of the
growing sinkhole and crevasse using
the straps from the
air bottle and finally, using his pants belt, dragging Fielder
onto the solid
concrete road beyond the gaping edge.
Both men collapsed on their sides, gasping for
while they got their wind back.
Then they helped each other to their feet.
at Fielder carefully, "You ok?
I just about tore your arm off grabbing ya.."
his left arm, "Good thing I
work out with weights every morning. Or
I would've been missing that
arm.." he leaned
over unsteadily but grinning.
Gage said, "Here, we won't be needing these
anymore. The gas is off.." And he helped the shaken
detective out of his air bottle equipment.
The radio, by an odd stroke of luck, hadn't
been swallowed in the cave in. It still lay on
frontage road. Johnny scooped it up again.
A cloud of dust rose into the air from the crater where
field had been. "There's no way Cap's going to miss seeing
that. He's going to come running.
Man, that's a big cloud
of debris... I wonder what's happening down there...."
No sooner than
the words escaped his mouth, than the
spidering crevasse grew, sinking in a new crack
towards the row of houses and the trees
lining the yards there.
onto his talkie, "Cap! Cap! Looks like we got us a full
fledged sinkhole in progress. Fifty yards
growing.. It's headed for those homes over there!"
"We're checking it out, pal.
Do the same!!" he ordered.
Gage pulled off his apparatus and started running down
safe place he could, the concrete road, trying to follow
where the rumbling crevasse was heading..
Fielder kept up.
Then he saw a large Eucalyptus tree containing|
a treehouse. He briefly saw a head in its window
up in horror before the whole tree toppled over
from its roots losing purchase in the loosening ground.
Gage heard a male scream just before the rumbling ended.
It cut short just as the massive splintering
to earth. Silence reigned, the sinkhole was finished
eating. For the moment.
took a risk and leaped over the crevasse into the effected
backyard. He turned right back shouting
at Fielder, "Go back
to the squad. Get the guys and the medical gear!! Right
Grab the white, red and black boxes..
We've got a man trapped in here! Go!!"
over the rise pelting away strongly.
Johnny pulled out his radio as he fought his way through
the jumble of branches. He made sure his helmet stayed
on his head, feeling vulnerable among the
limbs jutting all around him. He got to a heavily
shaded section and saw a nailed
crumpled. The treehouse!
"Hey! Can you hear me?!! "
Only the wind filled
the backyard and birdsong.
"Hey!!" Johnny yelled even louder. He couldn't see
Then a moan. To his left.
Gage scrambled over a thick fork of the tree and
into the shattered house. His victim
was a teen aged boy, wearing a blue football
Johnny got onto his radio.. "Squad 51 to engine|
51. I have a casualty." He looked around at the
houses for an identifying landmark
or house number, none were apparent from his
He reached for the boy's neck
for a carotid. It was there, but fading fast.
Nor were there
any cars or people about in
the neighborhood. ::Everyone's still at work.::he
lot of good it'll do me now.
I need someone to tell me where we are...::
"Go ahead, Johnny!"
Gil answered back on the
Gage got an idea.. "Hang on for a 10 -20.."
crouching nearer the teen's head.
He set the radio on a branch and leaned down.
you hear me?" The boy moaned and
opened his eyes. "Listen.." Johnny said, holding
his face carefully
to keep the boy from moving
around. "Help's on the way.. but I need to know
what your house address
The young man began to sag in shock.
John dug a pen cap into the top of one of the
fingernails to rouse him further. "Listen to me..
What's your address?? Hey..we're going
to need help
getting you out of here."
The teenager gasped at the inflicted pain and didn't
open his eyes. But Johnny thought he had been
understood. He moved near the boy's mouth to listen
as he began to move his lips. "Sev-- nn, ni.."
The effort wore out the injured teen, he fell
silent, just trying to draw breath..
"All right.. All right.." Gage said, keeping a hand
the young man's chest. "Just take it easy.
We'll find another way to let them know where we are.."
he said, beginning to cut open the football jersey to expose
a soft spot his fingers had found
from his assessment, with his
shears. "Just try to relax.."
Gage didn't like the way the teen
It seemed that he had broken ribs on that
discolored left side and a distinct sound
of bubbling which
attested to fluid building in his chest. Johnny
mumbled to himself. "Oh great.
::His lung's collapsing..::
But his sweep of the boy's legs showed no fractures
and his back and neck were fine and in proper alignment
the whole way down his spine from what he
He got back to Gil, clicking the talk button, "Gil,
He said something like.. seven
or seventeen or
seventy nine... I can't be absolutely certain.
We won't be able to get a definite
address of this house."
Then, he remembered. He fell onto his backup plan.
"Watch for Fielder!!
He knows where we are!!"
"I'm on it!" A few seconds later.."I think I see him
a quarter of
a mile up the road. Hang on!!"
Johnny could hear Cap and Moreno and the others
and forth to each other, both live and
on the talkie trying to find him. He had done all
He had to start concentrating on keeping
his victim alive now.
He crouched back over his patient.
are you doing?"
The teen focused uncertainly on Gage's face,
but the nail rub
had definitely brought him
more to consciousness.
"I'm with the L.A. County Fire Department..|
Saw your tree go down.." he joked. "Quite a sight."
The teen smiled a bit, then winced in pain as something
sharp dug into his side again. "Ow.. something's
A low rumble made him cut off what he was saying.
A sudden new shift in
the ground made a new dust cloud
roar up around them. The shattered tree began to
them as the sinkhole shuddered into life
once more. The ground sagged beneath them.
himself on top of the kid's face and chest
as a huge section of tree came down on top of them both.
Gil and the other men got together to swap
Fielder shared the news.
"You say Gage was near the leak on the other side of
Cap said, leaning out of his cab, looking
toward the rising dust cloud. He didn't think either the
engine nor the squad were light enough to drive onto
the weakened frontage road. Only the concrete's
rock hardness kept the road in one piece. A lot
of the earth under it, had vanished. "All right.
Grab your gear, all. We go in on foot. Show us
where he is Fielder.. " He raised his talkie to
lips. "Engine 51 to Squad 51, come in.."
There was no reply.
"Engine 51 to Squad 51, Come
Still nothing. And Captain Stanley didn't like
the fact that the ground was rumbling
from over where Fielder had come running.
Cap leaned in the cab and flicked on the air
horn, hitting it twice in a summons. Then he
shouted over the loud speaker.."Gage!! If you
hear us... Hit your squelch, buddy.."
They all looked at the Cap's handy talkie,
the double squeal that was the
standard reply for any man lost.
The static remained.
got onto his CB radio. "L.A. we've got
a search and rescue operation on our hands.
Roll an additional
responding unit to our location.
We've multiple caveins. Casualties involved.
Tell them to use
the east road only upon
Cap hopped out of the engine and ordered
all to grab extrication and medical gear and
two sets of stokes as he heard the new rescue call
out from dispatch following a new set of
summoning tones. Station eight was
rolling out to aid
her sister station.
"Engine 51. This is station 8. Our eta is...
Brackett who had been listening intently, had
his medical bag. "Would it help if I tried
a way in down that lane in front of those houses?"
Cap looked where Kelly Brackett
"Couldn't hurt.. Fielder.. You go with him."
Gil handed the detective the biphone
trauma kit. "You got airways in there?" he
asked the doc about his satchel.
I got a D tank in here, too."
Sheppard nodded. "Good, then we'll keep our
O2 on this side of
that crevasse. That way will
have a double chance on one of us reaching Johnny
with one of them."
Brackett and Fielder left on the run towards the
tree filled neighborhood's entrance road.
Cap, Gil, Odegard and Moreno ran back down
the frontage road to the site of the leak.
made it hard to see much so they
ran north a bit more until they got into clear air.
was huge, stretching more
than sixty yards across and its far edge had
eaten more than six large
trees. Gil's heart
sank. ::I hope Johnny's not down there. He
doesn't stand a chance..::
Roy woke up, tightening every muscle.|
He wasn't yet awake, but he could've sworn
he heard Johnny
nearby. Then his eyes
focused past the clock to the walkie talkie
beyond and he heard a pain wracked
"Squad 51 to L.A. Do you ....c- copy?"
Roy flung himself across the bed to
radio.. "Johnny! It's Roy.. Where are you?"
But Johnny's dry voice just repeated
"L A. Over.. I'm with a victim.. caught in a
landslide....*ugh*.. I've been injured,
Roy tried again to contact his partner but
it was horrifyingly clear that
Johnny could only send
and not receive on his radio. DeSoto dressed as
he had never dressed so
fast before, into a T and jeans,
and then switched the frequency to dispatch
This is squad 51.
Repeat Engine 51's 10 -20. Emergency.."
He knew dispatch would react to his
anyway, being ignorant of personnel shift assignments
for each paramedic at each station.
Roy would get
his information regardless of whether or not he was
"51, the address
was reported as being on the
1800 block of Supulveda and Mitchell.. Last update,
Engine 51 reported
a resolved gas leak, then
multiple cave-ins. A paramedic is transmitting
but isn't replying to
incoming hails. His location
Roy's voice cracked, "That's six blocks from
He lifted his talkie to his mouth. "10-4, LA. Out."
It was 5:45.
At the door he caught
Joanne and the kids
coming in."Oh hi Roy.. Bernice offered the kids hotdogs
at the party and
I couldn't resist her fondue." She held
up a crock pot, "Saved you some.."
himself in a child's
greeting at his father and so did the younger
Jessica. Roy caught them into
an automatic hug,
but set them down immediately. "Kids, not right now,
Daddy's real busy."
His urgency caught his wife right away.."Roy, what's
the matter..?" she said, setting the pot on
"It's Johnny. He's at a rescue just over the hill.
There's been a cave
in and I think he's trapped."
As he spoke his fingers twisted the radio back to Johnny's
showing her what he had found.
"My patient's vitals are worse... I think my arm's broken..."
all heard a pained soaked Gage report.
Roy took off at a dead run around the house after
up a sweatshirt John had forgotten at his
house a week ago.
Joanne ran after him, telling
the kids to stay in
the house and to wait for her.
She met Roy, oddly, in the back yard. He
undoing Shania's chain.
"Roy,, I know it sounds bad. But you can't leave
you under house arrest? The
other men on the crew can get help to him.."
Roy looked up from
the knot he was untying around
Shania's collar. She was whining picking up the human's
She began howling.
"I'm going, Joanne! I'll deal with the
legal consequences later on. I know
I've got the best chance of reaching Johnny. Our
house is on the other side
of the hill from the cave in..
I've got clear access from this side!"
He knelt by the excited
Malamute, grabbing her collar.
"Shania.. " He thrust Gage's sweatshirt he had
snatched up under
her nose. "Find Johnny..
Go. Seek.. Find Johnny. Now.." He let her
go as the dog latched onto
something on the wind
and lifted her head. She took off running uphill towards
Joanne called after Roy, shouting desperately,
"Oh Roy,, be careful..!"
"Keep the kids inside, Joanne. Don't let them follow|
He fought to keep up with Shania,
regretting that he had flung
her leash off in his haste to start her tracking Gage.
As he ran,
he listened to the radio pressed next to
his ear for more clues.... ::Come on , Johnny. Keep talking.
In the wreckage of tree, Gage was leaning against
limb, favoring his left arm. He suspected
a humerus fracture on himself. ::A simple one.
to cripple me..:: he cursed. He curled
around the teen's head once more as he sent
transmission out on his station's frequency.
"I'm at a treefall, inside a collapsed treehouse." he
cast his eyes around the hidden tangle. "I'm hearing
...water, so I can't be that far away from the
He didn't know if the radio was even working.
A heavy limb had cracked
its casing in the last
A moan from the boy drew his attention downward.
to me.. If ...I...on't make it--" the
"Hey, who said you're going to die now?"
told him, adjusting the boy's head and neck to
give him the best airway possible. "Just stay
with me.. all right. You're going to have to keep
awake from now on. You think you can do that for
The teen coughed, and bloody froth bubbled
out of his nose.
Johnny cursed. ::Yep.
Definitely a pneumo.
A tension pneumo from the looks of it.::
"Hey, what's your name? I see you
a Pittsburg Steelers fan here." and he
pointed to the teen's cut open jersey,
The teen smiled, "Steven-n.. S- Sure am..
Best team in the whol--" his eyes began to
the top of his head.
Johnny dug his pen back into one of Steven's
nails.. "Hey.. Wake
Steven's eyebrows rose but he didn't open his
Johnny told him the reason
to fight harder.
"Steven.. you've got to keep awake. I know
how hard it is. But we've got a problem
if you go out on me. I've only got the use
of one arm here." ::If he codes. I won't be
do his CPR. :: "Not much I can do
after that to help you. So keep listening
to my voice and try
to concentrate on
staying with me. Ok ? Help is on the way..
But you're going to have to just
hang in there
as long as you can. It won't be long now."
::I hope.:: he amended.
nearby rumble created another cloud of
dust and twigs and more branches rained down
on Gage and
One caught Gage across his broken arm.
He blacked out.
When he came to, the dust was only slightly less.
::I couldn't have been out long.::
he looked over to Steven. A thick tree
trunk about six inches in diameter lay across
His face was blue.
Groaning, Gage dragged himself over to the boy
and used his legs to push
it up and off of
his neck. He flopped down in agony around his
arm at the pain the effort cost
him and gasped
for long tortured seconds.
::Come on. Check him..:: he told himself.
found a weak heartbeat but there was no
sound in his lungs. ::Not even trying to breathe
He dug a hole in the dirt with his good hand until
Steven's head flopped back opening his airway
again. Gage tucked his broken arm into his shirt
with his other hand, swallowing around his
then leaned over, giving the boy a couple of short
breaths mouth to nose, using the
grip of his good
hand to hold his jaws shut. It was the best he
could do with the use of only
"Come on, Steven! Don't give up on me now."
The chest beneath his hand didn't rise.
Again, a series of short breaths, this time more
of them, more forcefully, but not enough
exacerbate the torn left lung.
"Hey.. wake up..!!"
Steven jerked, and began to cough and wheeze
weakly, Johnny used a shred of jersey to soak up
the blood in the boy's mouth as he began to breathe
once more. "That's it. Be a fighter.."
He slid his fingers to Steven's throat to monitor the
thudding pulse there.
::Come on, Cap. Find us. We don't even have that golden
hour for this one.
We gotta make every second this boy
Dr. Early and Dixie McCall were bent over Marco's bedside|
with an aural scope and penlight. It was
six o'clock. The deadline the neurologists had said
would mark the demarkation between a
miracle and a
tragedy for Lopez's future prognosis.
It was time for a change.
handed Dr. Early his different scopes as
he checked inside Marco's ears for the color and perfusion
of his eardrums. "They're pink. His parasympathetic nervous
system's made a comeback. Open one
of his eyes and shine
this light in it...I want to see if he reacts."
Dixie did so, peeling
away the protective tape, soon,
noting again the awful dialation of Lopez's pupil from the
Dr. Early ordered. "Observe his pupil closely." He raised
Marco's metal chart and brought
it sharply down on
the bedside table inches from Lopez's ear creating a
very loud impact sound.
Dixie saw the black circle shrink sharply, then relax
back into its normal size.. "Joe! It's reactive!"
Dr. Early freed Marco's other eye and saw the same
result, "He's coming out of it." And one of
found a waiting epinephrine syringe from a nearby
crash cart and quickly injected a
few cc's of it into
Marco's IV port.
Joe and Dixie held their breaths.
Then the EKG
monitor began to speed up
into a blissfully normal sinus rhythm.
Lopez said and blinked.
"He's awake." she grinned.
"Yeah, but does he have any frontal
Joe wanted to know.
Dixie leaned in, "Marco.. Marco.. Can you hear me?"
eyelids twitched and he sighed, a rich wonderful
voluntary sigh.. "..w-who wants to know??"
his eyes opened and he smiled with a full intelligence
behind his look at doctor and nurse. "Oh, it's
Though you were mama calling to me for a sec, Miss McCall."
Joe straightened. "Well.
I guess the answer to my last
question is a very resounding,.No."
"No !!" Dix said simultaneously
"I guess Gage finally gets his dream phone call after all.
reached for the landline on the wall, "Yes,
hospital operator? Patch me through to the fire
dispatch. I need to get in contact
with a Fireman Gage at 51's in a relay as soon
Yes.. I'll hold."
"Hey, what's going on?" Marco asked.
Roy's lungs were near to bursting. He could see|
the dust cloud coming from a backyard in the next
row of houses down from where he was running.
In order to make time, he'd have to find a short
Shania seemed to agree. For she took a low hedge fence
in a giant leap into precisely
the most direct descending
yard, whose last fence framed the one the sinkhole
had claimed. Roy
held onto his radio a little
tighter, and shouted into it. "Hang on, Johnny, I'm
locate Johnny. Find him. There's a
Together, dog and paramedic ran towards the
fallen tree and the debris they could both see
inside of it, 500 yards away. There wasn't any more
dust rising from it, nor were there any more transmissions
"Mr. Gage?" It was the detective. "I got your
Brackett leaned over the edge
of the sinkhole,
"Johnny how are you? You sound bad..."
Gage looked up even though his head
beginning to spin, "I'm fine.. Just my arm.
It's this kid I'm worried about.. A
tension pneumo.. He's already
quit breathing once on me.. Get down
"How? We don't
have a rope." Fielder said.
"Use this!" a new voice said, and a good solid
flung down into the hole,
already tied to a secure tree.
Fielder gaped, "DeSoto? What are
here? You should be in house custody."
"Yeah well, there's two people who need me
more than any court justice does so I'm going.
Arrest me later." he said, "Come on, doc. You
You've got the equipment. Me and Fielder
will hold on to your line until you're down there."
Shania showed her fearlessness and negotiated
the loose earthen wall, showing the men the
solid places to put their feet. She leaped the
rest of the vertical drop and ran to the object of
her search, Johnny. She sat by him, and pawed
his leg once to show she completed her task.
Roy quickly rigged a seat rope web and
Kel stepped into it. "Use the same footholds
my dog used.
Her instincts are always good
whenever I rock climb. Should work here."
The malamute rose
and went over to Steven,
staring into his face, whining. She licked
his chin once and barked at
"I know. I know...." Gage muttered. "Just
hold on there girl, we aren't as nimble
you are.. kay?" he grinned, pushing her
away from his patient's face with his foot,
to make room
for the doctor to land near them.
"Ok, doc!! Come on down..."
Kel was lowered to the bottom
in record time.
He dropped the rope and unslung his pack,
opening it. He paused near Johnny long
enough to see how shocky he was. He
ordered, "As soon as I get this kid stabilized,
I want you
to get on a cannula, Johnny.
You'll be more comfortable. Without it,
you're fair game for passing
out. I wouldn't give
you ten minutes more before that happens.
I don't want the guys to have to
out too. That'll slow us all down getting the kid
Gage just nodded wearily.
"I will. See to
"Spoken like a true hero...." Brackett said.
The words weren't
lost on the detective
watching them. He grew thoughtful.
Kel got to work.
Johnny spoke from where he was folded on|
the ground, "His head and neck's clear.
No abdominal guarding,
apart from the ribs on that left side.
His pulse's rising. He's breathing shallow
and he's got rales in that lung, doc.
And I think I heard some crepitus under
the skin over that
Brackett felt the site of the rib breaks.
He heard and felt the plastic bubble
wrap like patch Johnny mentioned right
where he said it would be, "You're right
leaking a lot of air here.
Definitely a tension pneumothorax."
But Johnny wasn't listening.
watching Steven. "Doctor Brackett..
Check him. I think he's--"
Kelly felt for a neck
pulse. He didn't find one.
"He's arrested. Roy! Get down here!!
Johnny's not going to be able
to help me.."
Fielder shouted, "Wait a minute, I can't
authorize that!! DeSoto can't treat
man without a license..and letting him
could cost not only my job, but yours!"
began to growl at the nervous stranger
above her. She didn't understand why her
dislike of him
grew. Only that it did.
Brackett looked up from delivering
a breath to Steven before he shifted
to his chest, beginning CPR.
"Do you want this kid to die, Fielder?
Cause most assuredly he will..
in very short
order! Hurry up, Roy."
He shifted his hand position again, keeping
even to mimimize the
damage internally. "Gage, you stay put.."
he snapped when Johnny tried to
"Twelve, thirteen, fourteen.."
Then Johnny and Roy's radio came to life.
was Dixie. "Rampart to Squad 51, guess
who's wide awake and asking for breakfast?"
They all could
hear Marco's voice talking
in the background.
Brackett turned eyes on Fielder as soon as
finished delivering another set of breaths.
"Looks like you no longer have a case,
Let him pass!! NOW!!!"
Fielder sobbed, relieved that he was legally
freed and he moved aside,
the rope. Soon, Roy got to where he
most wanted to be, down to where two lives
be saved by the skill of his own two
hands and...a little bit of luck.
"So did he make it?" Lopez wanted to know.|
"Of course." Kel said, folding his arms together.
was his attending physician."
From the bed next to Marco's, Johnny protested.
"Hey, who was
the first rescuer on the scene?
Huh? Me..." he said. "I should get at least partial
Chet looked up from his funnies from a third bed,
"Yeah, Johnny, but it was
all of you, as a team
that really saved that kid's life. Even your dog,
chuckled, infectious giggles spreading.
Roy smiled, pleased, and rubbed the sweater he
wearing over his arms. "I would have brought
Shania here to our little get together. But,.. it's
against hospital rules..now isn't it Dixie?"
Nurse McCall felt put on the spot and
"Well,.. I didn't make up the rules
now did I? But.... I seem to remember a time where
ER doctor I know once operated on
a goat he himself let into the hospital...
isn't that right Dr.
Brackett? Now that,
was an infraction..." she emphasized the last
Brackett wore his
best snarly grimace,
"No dogs. Period."
But that ploy just set everyone off again.
knocking at the private patient room door
got all of their attentions. Johnny
said, "Hey, maybe
it's Cap and the
rest of the gang.. Come in!" he shouted.
Detective Fielder entered the room
a box wrapped in gold ribbon.
Immediately the mood in the room chilled.
hope I'm not disturbing you, fellows..."
"Who's he?" Marco and Chet piped up simultaneously.
"Shhhh!" the rest of them said.
Finally, Johnny relented, "What do you want
It was not a question.
"I... wanted to apologize to you, Mr. DeSoto
for my....out of line behavior
at the cave-in. I
was more concerned for my own financial health
than I was for the health of that
or your partner here. I..... wanted to make it up
to you fellas somehow.." he set the
on the bedside table over Gage and slid
it near Roy. "Just a...small token.."
Marco, Dixie , Brackett and Johnny,
all looked at Roy to see what he would do
graciously, unwrapped the golden
ribbon and opened the lid, looking
inside. He pulled out a check
and read it.
"For the US Firefighters Fund, a sum of
twenty thousand dollars.. Mr. Fielder, I'm
speechless. This is... this is Station 51's
disaster charity. How did you find out about
"A little bird told me." he said sharply, right
before it melted into a full warm smile..
Roy looked at Fielder then offered him his
hand in friendship, truly touched.
returned the grasp and
smiled slightly. "Put that money to good use.
And... use any extra for,
" and he pursed his
lips, thinking,....".... a sleep
deprivation awareness class for the next
fire fighting seminar coming up, ok? Your case
could teach other paramedics about the
of that risk. Look at what
we've learned from it."
With that, he left the room.
fumbled for the box trying to
reach the check with his unencumbered arm.
"A twenty thousand dollar
check? No sheet....."
he said incredulously.. "Let me see that..
I've never seen a check for so-"
Something inside the box thunked around
underneath the tissue paper folded there.
There's something else in
there. I think you'd better take a look."
the wrap further and saw...
...his badge and wallet ID.
"Well I'll be... He managed to
the police case thrown out of court."
A shaft of sunlight sparkled on the badge's
making Roy look down. He brought
it up closer to his eyes, "Hey, an inscription's
been put on the
back on a tiny plaque."
"What does it say?" Chet said, his funnies
column long abandoned..
Roy tipped his paramedic's badge into
better light and he read..
"To all the heroes who
by their countless thousands at the
peril of their own. May our need for them
and become no more."
His eyes misted over, and he said, "Never
knew Fielder was such a poet."
Marco said it all in the end, "Never knew we
were such a tight knit group to even
stupid enough to consider doing that kinda hero
stuff, yyuck.." he said, holding fingers
his own weepy eyes.
Johnny laughed so hard, his cast hurt, giving
him the perfect alternative
excuse, for his crying.
Dix and Kel left the room quietly to let them heal,
The Face In The Mirror June 2001
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