McConike glared at the cadets to shut them up and to|
spare Hank the humility. But his dogged I'm
and you're not grin stayed firmly in place as he thoroughly
drank in Hank's discomforture.
"Knew that would get ya,
Henry. I never miss my mark when I pull that one." and he
alone and long. The need to wipe away his
tears ended McConike's enjoyment and he said one last
shot before moving on to inspect the next
cadet to Hank's left. "Never liked my real name either,Henry.
So just call me Cap."
Hank started to
mumble in his half state..
"Hank, call me Hank! D*mn him..No wonder I set his
hat on fire. He never
let up the whole time with
those stupid slapstick jokes of his for as long as
I was his newest
man at the station. It wasn't
until I became a captain myself that he finally
started calling me
Hank like he should have.."
he chuckled weakly.
there rrrr..e...rre...just a little bit longer..rrrr..rrr...rr....r"
voice's ghostly echo floated over the loud
rushing waters ringing in Cap's ears.
dulled mind ventured. ::Is that you?::
Hank coughed and then just hung limp where he
was, too tired
to even think anymore.
Johnny Gage was
a bit lower than his partner in
the cramped well shaft. "Gimme more slack!" he
said looking up
Roy, sweating and climbing down on the boards
one by one in his harness, spoke.
you noticed how much rope we've been using?
I'm at the one hundred foot coil mark
DeSoto kicked away the extra belt they had for
Cap, from around his legs as he eased
a tangle of mining wire..
"I know.." Johnny said, grunting as he tipped his
head down to avoid the water streams
from the ground seeps raining down on them
in the gloom. He
didn't voice the fact that a fall
any farther than thirty feet usually ended up in
"Just keep going.."
Around Gage's belt, hung Cap's bloodied helmet.
and he kept one superstitious
glove on it as
they descended even deeper into the murky
gloom of the well. He shouted again down
the shaft towards their feet but yet again,
nothing but the bubbling echoes of his own voice
upwards along with the sounds
of the raging water below. Johnny began to
breathe harder as unwelcome
about Cap's continued sinking survival chances
came more and more frequently
They were still seeing splashes of blood on
the walls. Roy
became analytical. "All of this
is bright red. He must have gotten a cut into
an artery.. "
"We hope.." Gage said sarcastically. "Grossly
displaced open fractures do this kind of thing
in a fall.."
"Yeah, well I prefer to be optimistic, Junior."
Roy sighed. "Because I can't bear
that Cap might actually have d-" and he broke
off his line of thinking.
what you mean. I'm having those
kind of doubts myself right now. Come on,
let's keep going." Johnny
said."Like you said,
we'll get all our answers soon enough."
Roy shouted back up the shaft..
"Gimme more slack!"
Hank's breathing was coming with difficulty|
now and to him, the moist cool air seemed
to be growing
thinner. He could barely open
his eyes and the whirlpool seemed to weave
a hypnotic spell over
him. "I'm sorry, Chief..
I won't do it again..I promise.. Please.. Just
get me out of here....and....you
can call me
anything you'd like.."
Hank lifted his numb arm in front of his
face by picking
up its sleeve with his other
hand and he peered at the skin on his palm
there. "Man, looks like
the mother of all
rug burns.. heh. Will take at least a graft
or two to patch that.."
take a month or two to pass that Hank.
Only by becoming a captain will you find some
him..What ever possessed you to
set the chief's hat on fire?:: his mental psyche
his mind. "Emily?" he gasped, imagining
his wife's soft alto whispering to him next to
Cap's eyes closed as his deepening
hypothermia made him think the stony wall was
his cotton quilted
bed at home and his hallucinations
real aspects of his family.
Cap finally slipped into a
shadowy realm and
all trace of the chamber exited on the silent
black wings of unconsciousness.
slowed to a crawl.
Gage stopped shouting Cap's name.
"Wait a minute. Wait a minute.. I see him..!"
Roy asked eagerly, and very tired.
"To my right.. straight down beyond that
like he's mostly out
of the water. More slack!!!" his voice sliced
up the shaft..
Johnny lowered another six feet.
He strained reaching for the nearest part
of Cap to his fingertips.
His bloody right hand.
Gage grasped that wrist, feeling for a pulse.
He didn't find one. "What?"
eyes shooting to Cap's face for a confirming
off color. But Cap was still pink. Then
the shiny coils tied around that arm. "It's a cannula,
Roy, acting as a tourniquet.."
he sighed in relief.
"I thought he was dead for a second.." Gage grunted
as he angled in a little
closer to reach Cap's limp head.
Johnny had to swing and grope three times before
he landed a solid
touch on the side of Hank's neck.
"He's still got a carotid. But its thready. And he's
Here. Gimme the safety belt, Roy. I'll put it
As Gage struggled nearer, his gloves
stomach expand ever so slightly as he worked
to place the belt around Hank's waist to
it to their third lifeline."Breathing's shallow. But
he's doing it."
quite reach the fastener on Cap's
belt to their free rope and unconsciously, Gage
gave a tug, trying
to bridge the final inch separating
Captain Stanley's snag on his collar suddenly snapped
and he started sliding down the slope like a stone
towards the creek streaming passageway below.
"Cap!!" Roy shouted, but he was at the end of his rope|
and could go no lower.
a grab for Cap and only got the loose end of
the cannula tubing in his grip. It tore loose, untying
Cap's arm before Hank fell the rest of the way to
the bottom. He sank rapidly under the water.
Johnny didn't have time to think. He acted. "I'm
going in!" and he cut his short rope from the
one with his holster bowie knife not even hearing
Roy's shout not to.
Johnny Gage was shocked by the utter icyness
of the torrent of water. He barely got his head back
its frothy surface before his lungs shuddered into an
instinctive involuntary gasp. He wasted
"Roy.. lower another rope after I get him up!" and
Johnny began a powerful stroke down
towards the dead end wall. Briefly, Cap's back
surfaced as his body floated up in the grip
the leading edge of the eddy. Gage grabbed him,
lifting Hank's pale head above the water before
he flopped it back onto his shoulder. "I got you Cap..!"
he sputtered as he fought the rapid undertow
beneath them. His face filled with a sudden horror
when Johnny realized the danger.
Roy saw the underglow lit whirlpool
surge and it dragged his struggling partner
and their ragdoll
captain inside a ferocious swirl
as it hungrily sucked both of them under.
shadows that he could see
of their clinging bodies, spun wildly beneath the flow's
one terrifying second before they
disappeared entirely as the whirlpool suddenly
onto itself and rippled away into stillness.
Hot tears blinded DeSoto when he realized the
of what he had just witnessed.
"Johnnyyyyy!!! Caaaappp!!!" Roy screamed and
his terror echoed
a dozen fold above the underground
Roy never remembered pulling on his rope for
From : "Roxy Dee" <email@example.com>
Date : Tue, 15 Apr 2003 20:27:20 +0000
Hands reached for Roy the moment everyone
around the caved in well could see him.
"Captain Stone?! They fell.." his voice cracked.
"What?!" the station eight captain gasped.
Roy let the crew around him pull him out by
"My partner was about to secure Cap to a lifeline
when the debris holding him on the
wall gave way.
Johnny cut his rope and went after him but they're
in trouble. The current had
an undertow at the
end of what I think is a dead end passage and they
both were swept under."
Captain Carter rubbed his chin, thinking.
"A dead end passage did you say?"
Roy coughed, catching his wind after
the long climb upward. "Is that important?"
Steven nodded. "When these old mines
were open, certain tunnels had sloughs specifically
for discharging excess rainwater into an aqueduct
that feeds into the main quarry just over that
he said, pointing. "If your captain and partner are
still alive, that's where they'll
Stone stepped back from the hole as Chet and Marco
helped Roy out of his repelling
belt and ropes.
He thumbed his radio and said, "HT Eight to Engine
8 and Brush 4. We've two men
washed away in a
subterranean current near our location. Send four
men with a pair of stokes
and mountain rescue gear
to the north side of McGregor Quarry. The place
we're looking for them
to reappear is anywhere along
that shoreline. Over."
##10-4, Engine 8. Slope extrication
to the north escarpment of the quarry. We're moving
Roy's face was pale with fright for his crewmates and
he found he couldn't think
clearly at all. Chet Kelly
grasped him on the shoulder and said. "Roy, they're
ok man. You heard
Captain Carter. That tunnel wash has an
outlet that's not very long. You know how Johnny always ends
up back on his feet after something like this happens.."
he nodded animatedly.
But he doesn't ever do that without injury, Chet.
Gonna be harder this time because Cap's got more
besides just shock and hypothermia. His arm was in a
tourniquet when we found him for
a very significant laceration
and that came free when he fell. On top of the drowning danger,
may just bleed to death before Johnny can do anything to
stop it." DeSoto said.
sobered, but immediately, he said.
"Roy, quit freaking out. You're snowballing.
Just go with
the other guys running over there.
Marco and I will handle the squad gear and we'll meet
in two minutes! I see Stoker already booking for it."
With a heavy heart, Roy took up Chet's
jogged after the two fire captains to the edge of the
abandoned quarry just beyond
From: "Ziggy" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue Apr
15, 2003 6:36 pm
Subject: A Brief Return
Station 51's captain stirred slightly,
but did not awaken fully.
"Hank." The voice, vaguely familiar, insisted more insistently.
Hank's eyes fluttered, but no other response was forthcoming. *Go 'way! 'm
wet, cold and tired. So
tired. Just wanna sleep-*
"Henry Adams Stanley! Ten-hut!"
Hank started awake at that. Old
habits faded slowly. He raised his head a
few inches off the stony ground and blinked as the blurry
beside him. The form coalesced itself into-"Chief?" Hank knew it wasn't
but the figure at his side appeared to be McConnikee. The chief
was dressed in his day uniform, including
his turnout coat and white helmet.
"But-you're dead. aren't you?"
McConnikee smiled somewhat
sadly. "I'd like to say the rumors of my death
have been greatly exaggerated, but I'm afraid I can't.
But I'm not allowing
the same to happen to you, Hank. You've got to hang in there. Help's on it's
way. Just a short while longer."
Hank blinked. "I--can't. Too--tired."
"You must and you
will. The department can't afford to lose another
experienced leader. You've got to hold on." The
chief's image smiled. "God
knows Gail is a strong woman, but I need you to help her get through this."
As McConnikee spoke, Hank felt something being tightened around his bleeding
arm. In his half-faded
state, he barely paid it any mind.
"Chief, I-I'm sorry f-for-"
"Burning my hat?" McConnikee
chuckled. "I admit, I had it coming. Another
reason for you to stick around, Hank. You gotta let your
men know the reason
for that. I forgave you for it a long time ago." The chief looked behind
"Help's coming now," he stated as he turned to face his rapidly fading
captain. "You were one of my
best men, Hank. I'm proud to have been your
That said, McConnikee rose. Hank thought
he saw him pause beside the
unconscious form of another blue-uniformed firefighter near-by. His eyes
closed briefly and when he managed to crack them open again, McConnikee's image-- ghost?--had disappeared.
Again, Hank lapsed back into darkness.
From : "Patti Keiper" <email@example.com>
: Recovering the Past..
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 23:30:14 +0000
They had found them. Amazingly,
on the only
horizontal margin possible, rimming the flooded icy
watered quarry. There had never
been a faster descent
by rope than the one made by Johnny and Cap's
"Got that tourniquet in place, Chet?" Roy asked in
a strained voice, crouching to check Johnny's
breathing yet again where he lay on his stomach
"Yeah. It's tight. Thought he
was awake for a second
here. He just mumbled something."
"Just keep that arm elevated with
pressure just like you're doing. When that bleeding slows,
pack it off with even
more pads and then try to ease
the band loose enough to get that hand to pink up again.
bleeding starts up again with any substantial flow,
tell me, and I'll come over there with a hemostat.
Guys," Roy addressed the Station Eight firemen ringing
above them. "Get him into these mast trousers.
negative for cervical and spinal injuries." DeSoto said.
"It's a miracle he's not in
a million pieces." Marco
"The walls of that well were very muddy, Marco.
Lots of soft
clay and moss. No doubt it cushioned him
on the way down until those tree roots stopped his
Only that arm's been cut by something sharp,
most likely on a loose nail or two. How's his breathing?"
Roy asked about Cap, feeling along Johnny's still body
for signs of misalignments or skin breaks.
Roy was still
getting over a scare concerning his partner that had
occurred when they all had
first located them.
Captain Stone was at Hank's head with |
one hundred percent O2 delivering abundantly
valve. "Fast. Seems like he's panting a
little bit here. His rate's around 34 times a minute.
is up there, too."
"It's hypovolemic shock. As soon as I
finish detailing Johnny, I'll get
on the line to
Rampart for Cap's IVs. Help him vent if he loses
color more than that lip cyanosis."
the chin strap of Cap's helmet free that was still
twisted around Johnny's belt to get
it out of the
way for a pelvis fracture check.
"Right." Ben nodded. He could see Marco
Stoker scrambling to lay out the anti
shock trousers and fit them around Cap's
legs and lower abdomen.
As soon as Roy was convinced Johnny was
in no danger, intact, and truly C spine injury clear,
he waved the team of four Carter had mobilized, to
wrap him in a plastic blanket right where he
lay. There was still water trickling from his mouth.
Roy breathed a sigh of relief, finally
think back to the first terrifying moments he had
experienced after his feet had touched
following his rapid repel descent down the face of
the quarry cliff to the water's
Roy fervently began to thank his lucky stars for
where he now was, situation wise. ::Gage's
laryngospasm released only half a minute ago.::
DeSoto thought.::He's looking a LOT better now.
Roy still had both eyes on Gage's chest as he watched
Carter place him on
a high flow O2 mask. DeSoto
was ecstatic that a cricothyrotomy hadn't been needed.
airway maneuvers initially hadn't
had any effect at all during those first few seconds of
DeSoto had just about reached for the 14 guage
when Charlie's failed Magill forceps
relief attempt confirmed that it was a definitely a
causing Johnny's apnea.
Once I.D.'d, the cramp was forced to pass with gentle
Soon after, the hasty gastric tube placement
that water decompressed Johnny's stomach, did much to
ease most of Gage's respiratory difficulties. It wasn't
long until they were resolved enough for
Johnny had begun to gasp right away on his own, soon
after Steve had given
him a few firm breaths mouth to
::He's gonna be uncomfortable if he wakes
that NG in place, but breathing's better
than not breathing at all any day.:: DeSoto grinned.
that Johnny was well seen to, Roy
turned his attention back onto Cap. "How's that
over there?" he asked Kelly.
"The band's off. It seems to be easing, though
his breathing isn't
by a long shot." Chet told
"I'll fix that in a minute. What Cap needs
is a lot of fluid
next until he gets to Rampart
for a transfusion. Kelly, looks like you'll get to
be his donor
once we get there." Roy rubbed
his chin, considering his next plan of attack.
"Looks like I can
start his IVs here, the stokes
rigging isn't ready yet." Roy said glancing up at
the fast working
set of firemen getting a pulley
system set to scale the towering quarry cliff walls.
Roy had his drug treatment go ahead from
Brackett on both his patients. Roy soon inflated
chambers of the mast suit happily,
but Cap's systolic BP remained in the low 60's.
two large bore NS bolus drips
for Cap wide open to elevate him into compensated
shock. Roy looked
up at a moan from over
Johnny stirred where he lay on his stomach and
red haired station eight paramedic at his
head bent over him in a new primary assessment.
quickly shifted the oxygen mask away
and removed the NG tube as Johnny angled his
soggy limbs from
his recovery position in a shaking
tentative experiment of returning consciousness.
Gage groaned. Then he
froze when he realized that he was on oxygen
and that Cap was inches away
snuggly warm wrapped and fussed over by
a very welcome bunch of firefighters.
" And he spat out sandy loam from
his mouth as he drew the blanket tighter
around his chilled
body. Gil sucked the rest of
the grit away with a portable suction lightly as
Gage's water irritated
eyes fluttered opened
"Relax, Johnny. He's fine. We got to you both
How's your chest?"
"Ooowww.. My whaa? Oh...yeah, that." Analytically, he
decided his own
lungs were clear of water. "Uh,,," he said
fuzzily. "No edema. But my gut's more than sore. Man,
feels like someone been squeezing me like a pack of
"Welcome to the world of near
You were a textbook case of cold water laryngospastic
syndrome." Gil quipped.
"I'll never crack another joke about pool gulpers
ever again. I feel like sh*t."
feeling like sh*t than dirt, Gage. Start smiling.
Your fool hardy just-being-a-hero stunt paid off
possibility of your feeling like dirt here's not even an
inkling. Man, Gage. We thought
you both were goners
for sure until Stoker spotted you two in your blue shirts
and pants lying
on the rocks." Chet commented,
placing another dressing pad over the stained one he
his weight on over Cap's cut lower arm.
Roy agreed with Kelly wholeheartedly as he monitored Cap's|
breathing through a stethoscope. "Nice
work on getting Cap
and yourself to shore. Must have been hard getting your
turncoats off so
that they wouldn't drag you under.
That alone probably made all the difference in the world
"Waitdaminute. * cough* I did what?" Gage said,
batting Gil's hands away when
the medic tried to
reposition Johnny's mask back over his face.
"Roy. I didn't have time to do
all that. Last
thing I remember, I was rushing along an underwater
passage, watching the walls
whiz by in a sea
of bubbles with no air in my lungs, clinging for
dear life with my legs and arms,
Whatdiya mean I got him to shore? Geesh. I was
blacked out even before I saw any daylight.*cough*"
Johnny set his own O2 back onto his face and
he laid a muddy arm over his face to block
the painful sunlight streaming into his
aching eyes and head. He let Gil fuss over
Marco, Stoker, Chet and Roy and the other men,
fell silent. They clearly remembered
and Gage, coat stripped and stretched neatly
out, both face down on the beach, as if
been carefully arranged there.
It wasn't until fifteen minutes into an airlift
Hank Stanley roused and began to shout. Roy
and Chet Kelly had to hold him down in his delirium.
seemed to be speaking about Chief McConike and
a solemn promise to visit his gravestone as soon
he got out of the hospital.
Roy and Chet could only shrug as to why Cap
focused on that particular
Hank Stanley adjusted his
sling around his
loose fitting nautical ivory carnigan and he
sighed deeply, ...just before he
McConike household doorbell.
The white lacy curtain on the other side
of the pane
of glass shifted briefly, as
the slight form of Gail McConike checked to
see who had come calling
so early in the morning.
She was still tired from days of crying since
the funeral. But Gail instantly
outward demeanor when she saw who it was
who'd come calling. "Hank.. you've been
from the hospital so soon?"
Hank Stanley pulled the bundle of white roses
with a gold enveloped
sympathy card nestled
inside of them, from behind his back. "I...sort
of made a pest of myself,
Gail. You see.. I...
had to come here. Sort of knew I....needed to
be here, now.. For you and your
Gail accepted the perfumey blooms, taking
comfort in their heady, water coaxed aroma.
"Thank you, Hank. Won't you come in?"
Cap nodded self consciously and he
only sat himself down
on the flower patterned
couch when she insisted that he do so.
"So how are you holding up..?" he
without preamble. "I...sort of feel compelled
to ask you that. Stop me if I'm too personal
here. I- I--I don't want to overstep my bounds."
Gail's freckled face finally beamed inside a
frame of silver white and black curls. "Now
that's Melton rubbing off on you again. Right
core, Hank Adams Stanley. And you know it.
When you're in this house I expect you to be yourself
yourself only. Is that clear?" she smiled slightly.
"Yes, maam.." Cap said, falling into a moment
remembering the Chief's last words spoken to him
that day on the shoreline. He wasn't even
it really happened. Days later, as he lay healing in his
hospital bed, he decided that
how he had come to
experience them didn't matter. What was important
was realizing the profound
effect that the Chief was still
having on both their lives. Cap tentatively reached out
Gail's hand in warm, close friendship.
"Hard to break a habit engrained in my very fiber.
is still very much in my thoughts. There
isn't a day that passes when I don't think of him."
"Join the club.." Gail said gently. "Would you like
a drink? Coffee? Tea?"
"No, no thanks.
I'm fine. I'm just about ready to
stop by the stationhouse and let the guys know
how I'm faring.
They invited me to breakfast to
celebrate my breaking out of Rampart."
Gail laughed gently.
"No doubt it's Marco's mom's
tamales again.." she guessed.
"How'd you know..?"
Wednesday. Melton always used to bother
you men on A shift each month on surprise inspection
so he could have an excuse to eat those wonderful
tamales with you."
Cap's eyes smiled and
he folded his good hand onto
"So how are YOU doing? That broken arm hurt much?" Gail
McConike asked of Cap's sling, misguessing what it was for.
"I just had some surgery to repair
an artery that's all.
I didn't break anything. It doesn't hurt much anymore.
Brackett's a wonderful
vascular surgeon. I-I...I am
healing just fine. " Cap looked down and his eyes
fell on the coffee
table to the maroon photo album
that lay there of Melton McConike. It was opened, ironically
the days when Cap was a new firefighter under him.
On the second page, there was an unexpected
from the day Cap first became Captain of Station 51. From
the first moments in fact, when
he had fired off his first
surprise dress inspection on his new crew at 51 just to
newly appointed rank's muscle. It surprised
Hank that the photo was even there. He hadn't remembered
there even being a photographer present on that day.
But then again, six years of similar inspections
years of runs made it difficult for recalling any great detail
of his first day as "Cap". Hank
remembered feeling far
too nervous to remember much of anything.
Seeing his own men, younger, and
very sharp in their
dress uniforms, gave Hank courage to return the question
back at Gail. "So,
how are you healing, Gail? It can't
be easy for you to adjust at all. Again, stop me if I'm
too personal, please.." he insisted.
Gail noticed the picture that Cap's eyes were focused
and she slowly drew it out of the album so Cap
could take a better look at it. "Here.." she said,
a slight hesitation. "Then keep it. It's a gift.."
"No, no, no.. I - I couldn't take
this. It belonged to
the Chief.. I."
"Hank. It's yours now. Melton frequently sent photographers
out to the stations where his first old crew each promoted
into in order to hand those images back
out to them during
a special occasion, or other moving moment such as.."
and her voice broke off..
Hank finished her thought for her. "...such as during
a fireman's funeral.."
slightly. "Only with your station,Hank, he never
ever got a chance to. You were too d*mned good at
keeping all your men's rears intact.." she joked.
"Melton loved that about you. One of the only captains
to never lose a man."
"Careful, Gail, you might jinx me.."
"Rubbish.. Superstition is for
"And firehouse captains.." Hank quipped, waiting for
Gail to gather herself to answer
"True.." she admitted. Then her eyes grew bright with
a sadness that only hinted
the depth of her grief that was
still very much a part of her existence." I'm taking
it one day
at a time." she sighed. "Friends make my
days bearable. They bring food, flowers.." she laughed,
the vase that Cap had brought to her.
"But the nights are the worse. I can...almost.....feel
in bed beside me sometimes. " she confessed.
Cap just nodded. But then he leaned forward,
Gail's hand once more in comfort.
"This is going to sound crazy, but I had a chance
...him about me, too. I can't explain it, Gail.
And I'm not even going to try. All that kept running
through my mind while I lay there in deep shock on
that shoreline, was how much the Chief loved you
and how much he wanted you to be all right with
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