Image of caproygetmanout.jpg Image of emergencylogo.gif Image of caproygetmanout.jpg

Image of animekg.gif
 Father and Son
Image of animekg.gif

          Page Eight

Shortly thereafter, the elder Brackett was escorted
to the table.  Kel rose not only as a point of
etiquette, but also as a token of respect.  Brent
offered his hand in greeting, and suddenly Kel
felt self-conscious about his injury.  Pasting
an uncomfortable smile on his face, he gingerly
shook his father’s hand.

Brent frowned.  “What happened to your arm?”

“Oh, I had a little accident at home.  I’m fine.”
Eager to deflect attention from himself, Kel asked,
“Did you have any problems finding the restaurant?”

“No, not at all.  Your directions were quite
specific.”  Appreciatively eyeing the premises,
Brent remarked, “This place has a very cozy
atmosphere.  How did you happen upon this amazing
little discovery?”

Kel inwardly smiled at the memories of many pleasant
evenings he shared with Dixie here.  “A friend
introduced me to it several years ago.  I hoped
the change of venue would provide a fresh start
for us.  There would be no ghosts from the past
to haunt us.”  Signaling the waiter, he ordered
a round of drinks for the two of them, preferring
club soda for himself.  He decided he could not
afford to have his thoughts clouded by alcohol,
nor his famous temper unleashed by lowered
inhibitions.  No, tonight Kel needed his complete

His father’s brow furrowed.  “You’re not having
your usual?”

“I’m taking some medication,” Kel lied.

“I heard you took a rare day off today.  Is
everything okay?”

That was the problem with a small community like
Rampart, news traveled fast.  How much did his
father know about last night?  Kel’s answer was
evasive.  “I had some personal business to attend

“I have to admit, I was surprised to hear from you
this afternoon,” Brent said.  “I thought our last
meeting went rather badly.”

Taking a sip of his drink, Kel proceeded, “That’s
why I wanted to see you again so soon.  I think
we’ve allowed this situation to go on long enough.
Don’t you agree?”

Image of restaurantposh.jpg Image of brackettgraysuit.jpg

His father sighed.  “So, has the prodigal son
experienced some glorious epiphany since we last

“Dad, I’m simply tired of this ridiculous state
of affairs.  We’ve been at odds since I was a kid.
Okay, I’m not a brilliant psychiatrist, so maybe
I’m too dense to understand the official psychobabble
explanation.  But I’m smart enough to know this
standoff has come to an end.”

“You always have been willful.”

The men were granted a respite when the waiter
came to take their order.  They sat in silence
for several minutes, each studiously avoiding
contact.  It was painfully obvious neither felt
comfortable in the other’s presence.

Finally, Brent addressed his son.  “I understand
you were upset with me last night.”

Kel shot his father a baleful glare.  “We’re not
here to discuss MY problems.  We’re here to
discuss OURS.”

“Okay, so what’s really on your mind?”

Attempting to keep his tone of voice devoid of
emotion, Kel asked, “Why DID you move to Los
Angeles?  Of all the places in the country you
could have relocated to, why did you have to move
here, and why did you choose to practice at

Brent stared at the table centerpiece.  “Your mother
wanted the two of us to make amends.  Since it
was obvious you weren’t going to make the first
step, she thought I should swallow my foolish pride
and initiate the process.”

“I don’t understand.”

“When you were a boy, we used to enjoy spending
time together, as strange as that seems now.  We
went almost everywhere together.”  A small smile
escaped Brent’s lips.  “I used to take you to the
hospital with me, and you’d tell anyone who would
listen that you were my son, and you were going to
be a doctor like me when you grew up.”

The older man remorsefully shook his head.  “But
soon your youthful boasts appealed to my vanity.
I envisioned you as my own immortality, so I wanted
to remold you in my image.  Since you were always
so willing to please me, I assumed you would be
agreeable to this arrangement.  I honestly pictured
us spending quality time together over the years,
and in due time, I foresaw the day when you would
take your rightful place as my partner in my
clinical practice.”

“But it didn’t quite work out that way,” Kel said

“Unfortunately, it didn’t.  I pushed you away
instead. In my arrogance, I refused to recognize
you as a unique individual.  You always had a
sense of your own identity.”

“I resented you dictating my life,” Kel stated.
“You never bothered to ask me if I wanted to
participate in your grand plans or not.  All I
knew is one day I was Dad’s precious son who
could do no wrong, and then the next you found
fault with everything I did.  No detail was too
insignificant to escape your exacting scrutiny.
I thought you didn’t love me anymore.”

“But that was the problem,” Brent explained.  “I
loved you too much, but in an unhealthy way.  Ironic,
isn’t it?  Here I was, a well-renown psychiatrist,
but I wasn’t able to see I was sabotaging our
relationship.  Every time you rebelled and became
angrier, I became more critical.  Because you failed
to conform, I assumed you were stupid and ungrateful.
I felt like a failure not only as a father, but also
as a psychiatrist.  My ego wouldn’t allow me to admit
I had failed.  Until the day you left, I had to keep
trying to remake you.”

Kel rubbed his face.  “Why didn’t you say anything

Image of brackettlookingshockedclose.jpg

“Saying ‘I’m sorry’ has never come easily to me.
I didn’t realize the full implications of what I
had done to you until you were gone.  By that time,
we were barely speaking to each other.  Over the
years, begging for forgiveness became next to

Conflicting emotions swirled within Kel.  He was
angry with his father for not mentioning any of
this earlier, but he understood how difficult it
must have been for him to do so tonight.  Kel
took after his father in that respect.  It was
not in his nature to cross emotional barriers
without significant effort.  If it were not for
the encouragement of Dixie and Joe, he would not
be here this evening having this conversation.
He knew he was hardly in a position to judge his
father on this particular point.

But he also felt a myriad of other feelings:
abandonment, betrayal, resentment, bewilderment
and surprisingly, still even love.  Kel saw his
father with new eyes.  Brent didn’t look so arrogant
and controlling now.  Instead, he came across as an
aging pathetic figure that once hoped to live forever
through his son.

For a long period of time, the two men did not
speak.  They were content to nurse their drinks
and stare into oblivion.  They were relieved when
the waiter served the food.  For a few moments
they would be spared the necessity of having to
engage in conversation.

As they began to eat, Brent looked on with genuine
concern since Kel seemed to have trouble carving
his steak due to his injured hand.  “Do you need
any help with that?” he offered.

“No, that’s okay, I have it under control.  I’m
pretty good with a knife, if I do say so myself,”
Kel grinned.

“I see you haven’t lost your sense of modesty
over the years.”

The son shrugged.  “It’s hard to be humble and
great at the same time.”

“You’re a lot like your mother in some ways, very
resilient and single-minded.  I know you tend to
think of it as a sign of weakness, but you’re more
compassionate like she is.”  Brent softly said,
“After all these years, your mother has never
forgiven me for driving you away from us.  I’m
not sure I’ve forgiven myself.”

Kel was confused.  He wasn’t sure what he expected
from this evening’s meeting, but his father’s
uncharacteristic confession certainly wasn’t it.
He shifted uncomfortably in his chair.  Recent
conversations with Dixie and Joe weighed heavily
upon his conscience.  Years of hurt could not be
easily erased with a simple apology.  Yet, they
needed to begin somewhere.  He thought of his mother,
and the years of anguish this rift must have caused
her.  Didn’t he at least owe it to her to make an

Image of dixjoesmirk.jpg

Staring at his nearly full plate, Kel tentatively
cleared this throat.  “Dad, as you’ve pointed out
before, I’ve never been good at maintaining
relationships.  But maybe now is a good time to
begin.  Don’t you think it’s time we started
behaving like two grown men and put aside our
differences, if for no other reason than for
Mom’s sake?”

“I don’t even know where to begin,” Brent said

Cautiously leaning forward, Kel spoke.  “Perhaps
it’s time for you to visit me in my office for a
change.  You know, see me in my natural habitat?
It’s possible I subconsciously went into emergency
medicine to spite you or to prove something to myself.
But somewhere along the way I discovered it was
my passion.  I really love this field, and I’m
good at it.  I can’t imagine being happier anywhere
else but the emergency room of Rampart.  What do
you say, Dad?”

Brent considered his son’s proposal.  “I don’t know.
I heard the head of the department can be a real
bear and a force to be reckoned with.”

“No, those are all vicious rumors,” Kel chuckled.
“He’s a real pussycat once you get to know him.
At least that’s what the head nurse is fond
of pointing out.”

“Speaking of the head nurse, do I have your
reassurances she’s not going to bite my head
off if I set foot in the ER?  She must think
I give you such grief.”

“No, Dad.  In fact, she’s one of the reasons
I called you.  Dixie has been after me for ages
to get me to end this conflict.  She’s a
persistent woman.”

“Sounds like your mother,” Brent joked.  The two
men laughed.  For the first time all evening, they
felt genuinely relaxed.

“How about meeting me in my office for coffee
tomorrow morning?” Kel asked.  “I can give you
a tour of my department.”  With a tinge of a
little boy’s expectation in his voice he added,
“Hopefully you’ll be proud of what your son has

From : "Cory Anda" <>  
Subject : Mad Dash...  
Date : Thu, 28 Nov 2002 08:20:24 +0000


Acknowledgements to Tom Stafford  MD Firefighter Captain  On Foam Truck Hazmat Procedures via email.

Acknowledgements to P. Keiper NREMT, for first aid advice treating anhydrous NH3 exposures for characters instory and finding related image jpegs for me.

Back In Story:

Roy sped the squad down the boulevard
as Johnny doubled checked the exact
location of access to the scene in his head.
"The best exit to use for that ramp is
the PCH itself, Roy. That part of the freeway
wraps around a bend in a canyon. Let's hope
whatever the gas is coming from this spill
doesn't float too high. There are about sixty
homes in the area on the bluffs." Johnny finally

"Let's hope for the best." DeSoto replied.

The communications channel patched between
all responding units was in a flurry of activity.
They could hear Highway Patrol chattering urgently
as they continued their evacuation of the cars in
the area, and one merchant's business. Then,
came the reassuring voice of Battalion 14, already
on scene.
##Battalion 14 to Station 51. Approach from the
Southbound direction, downwind of the wreck,
two cars and one semitruck are involved. Wear full
SCBA turnout and stay out of the area until Hazmat
moves in. The truck involved is a NH3 nurse truck with
confirmed top tank valve leakage.##

John and Roy heard Cap pick up the mike,
"Batallion 14, Station 51. Acknowledged. Southbound
entry in full respiratory apparatus, understood."

"Oh, great.." John moaned. "Anhydrous ammonia. All our
turnout jackets might as well be paper suits for all the
protection they'll give us once we're in there."

Roy glanced at his partner. "Yeah, well, let's just
hope the Santa Anas keep the cloud blowing away
from us.. Shouldn't be a problem today..."

"I wouldn't bet on it. Look." Johnny said. In the sky,
rare, heavy rainclouds were blowing in off the ocean to
their left as they sped ahead of the Ward LaFrance. "If
that rain gets here. That spill's gonna go. You know
how reactive anhydrous is to free water.."

Soon, the thickening stalled traffic made Roy slow,
and two CHP motorcycles joined up with them to show
them the twisting curving route to the accident scene
in between the stopped, now emptied cars on the

"Wow, they acted fast. There's no bystander victims
on the curbs." Johnny said. "Amazing.. That gas cloud's

Through the windshield of the squad, a tenuous white
steam-like misting of gas fumes,were pooling against
the cliffs around the truck in a long plume, carrying downwind.

Image of rjlookatthatsquad.jpg Image of anhydtruck.jpg

Image of caproygetmanout.jpg Image of emergencylogo.gif Image of caproygetmanout.jpg

Click Defibrillator to
go to Page Nine :)
Image of e-defibrillator.jpg

Image of animekg.gif
 Father and Son
Image of animekg.gif

<BGSOUND src="atomic.mp3" LOOP=INFINITE>