The ball smashed into the far wall with blazing force |
and riccochetted back to hit Johnny hard, in
He looked skyward. "Oh no! It was good! it was good...
You win the match, Roy.."
Roy jogged across the floor and retrieved the racquetball,
pulling a sweaty terry cloth band off
of his forehead to
scratch an itch. "Are you sure you don't want to go for a
POSITIVE!" Johnny said as he wiped his streaming face.
"Roy, you've got an edge over me here, you realize?
all, you were THE Ojai College All State Champ in
Racquetball for three consecutive years.
No, I don't
want another game. I'm giving up while I still have some
DeSoto laughed, "Yeah, I guess I haven't lost the
"I'll say you haven't.." Johnny's
mouth twisted into a
mischievious smirk. On the way off the court, he shoved
the double doors made of glass leaving
Roy to clumsily block their rebound. He chuckled at Roy's
cry of muffled surprise.
"Ooff! Almost got me but not quite good enough, pal.
harder next time..Anyway...." Roy said, toweling off,
"Do you want to play again next week?"
Johnny arched both eyebrows. "What?! And get humiliated
again?! Oh yeah, I really love getting badly
I come to the club. I pay good money for membership, just
like you do. So I
should enjoy the emotional benefits
too, like winning...." he hinted.
Roy slung his towel
over his shoulders. "Quit being such a
sore loser, Johnny."
"Listen, Roy,..I've been coming
here for the better part of
...what? Three months? And I've never even come close to
a racquet ball game over you. It gets kind of degrading
after a while.."
"Now I wouldn't say
that.." Roy reasoned once they were in
the locker room, They peeled off white T-polos and shorts
and grabbed shampoo bottles and more pastel towels from
a stack set aside on a rack. "How about
in swimming? You
finish your twenty four laps in nothing flat and plow me
under doing it, too."
"Yeah.." Johnny said, reflecting back on a more gentler note,
"I guess you're right."
you go, Johnny Gage. You DO excel in something
better than I do.." Roy smiled. He good naturedly
towel crack to the back of his head.
"Let's go shower up or we'll be late for work."
Fifteen minutes later, the two came out of the
headed for Gage's jeep. Johnny suddenly laughed to himself
as he shut the car's door.
"What's so funny?" Roy grinned.
"I heard you and Joanne are finally cutting loose for a while
and are going on an escape to the San Bernadino mountains
"SHhhhhh! Not so loud!"
Roy exclaimed, as Johnny backed
them out of their parking space, "You remember what
year. The subpump failed and flooded the
basement. The year before that it was the dog, going
labor two minutes after we finished packing the car.
We missed our flight, as you recall. Please,..
on this thing until after I'm gone. I don't want anything
to jinx us and cause something else
"Well, you know.. They say bad luck comes in threes..
and you're only on
your second year for cancelled
vacations.." Johnny grinned evilly.
Roy shot him a look that
Johnny glanced back at the road, "Easy! Ok., man. Don't
get so worked up about it.
Nothing will happen. All
right, no more. I won't even mention or THINK about
your leaving on
"...he mouthed the word vacation,
Satisfied, Roy concentrated on combing his hair.
But just as they pulled into the back lot of the Station,
a sudden thought entered his head.
Johnny bent close in a stage whisper. "Where are you
Roy glared at him in utter disbelief. He rolled his eyes
In the locker room, the gang was engaged
usual prying into yet another one of Chet Kelly's
brainstorms while they got into their
"No, really, Cap." Chet exclaimed. "This is a really
good deal. I just know it is.
Listen..." he gestured
"That does it.." Marco said, closing his locker door
a slam, "I have another one of those feelings
again, guys." Marco moaned, "Look out! guard your
pocketbooks with your lives!"
The gang erupted in laughs.
"Very funny, Lopez.." Chet frowned,
should listen to this, too."
Marco cut Chet off, "Uh uh. No way." He gestured
to the guys for support. The guys chimed in. The
room chorused negatives.
"You got to be kidding,
"Even my mother knows better than to play one of
your deals." Mike Stoker piped up.
not a chance.." Marco agreed.
Cap remained silent.
"Please?!.. Guys.. " Chet said over the
din. "Just listen
for two seconds. What harm can come for just listening
to a guy, huh? Do I
have a say?"
There followed a long silence. Cap's eyes met each
of his men's eyes in turn.
"Guys,.. how about it?" he
toned evenly. He encountered no opposition so he
took a deep breath
and gave a small nod. "Go for
Chet hooted and, rubbing his hands together, flashed
an open for business grin. "Ooo! You're gonna love
Someone growled, "All
right.. Spill it, Chet.."
Chet said, "I'm coming to it. I'm coming to it..Just
hang on.. Geez..Well,
you're not going to believe this
but I have a friend who's uncle is interested in buying
Cielo's first filly, Cielo Madre. Remember
All heads shook no.
"The only filly
to ever win a Preakness Stakes by
"What about the Preakness Stakes?" A voice interrupted. |
Chet broke off his idea pitching as
Roy and Johnny
walked through the door. "Oh, hi, Gage, DeSoto...."
Chet said, " As I was saying
before,, this uncle is.."
"Get on with it!" Mike prompted. His stomach growled
"Yeah,.." Marco agreed, "I'm getting hungry for
breakfast. And it's your turn to cook, Kelly.."
"O.K., you two turkeys, pipe down. I'm getting
there. Just.. just hold your pants on.."
shot a glance downward and grabbed his
suspenders as if they had suddenly gave way..
Even Chet laughed, in spite of himself. Much
encouraged, he went on, "I got a
phone call a
few days ago and he asked if I wanted to invest
in Cielo. I said, Sure.. after an
on her history. Did you know she breezed the
mile and three quarters in just
under 1:52 flat?
Anyway.. I told Unc that maybe you guys'd be
interested in investing with me
in the deal and
to hold off the purchase til this afternoon
after I gotten an answer from you
all. Are you in?"
"Fellas!" Chet agonized..
"Well,.." Roy broke the silence,
"Wait a minute there,
Chet...ah, are you absolutely certain that this filly is
real and legit?"
Chet beamed and let loose a kick at his locker's
door. It swung open smoothly to reveal a sleek,
red horse in racing gear hung in a frame propped
up on Kelly's shelf. The gang crowded round.
Johnny had been quiet throughout the entire
exchange. Now, he eyed the photograph critically.
about her pedigree?"
"Yeah.." the guys agreed.
Chet smiled cooly and pulled out a bundle
papers. "Here you go.." he said, handing out
xerox copies of it to eager hands. "...And here's
the contract of agreement I've brought for
scrutiny. You fellas can uh,, co-sign with me
Roy cleared his throat loudly and got
everyone's attention. "Chet, uh.. Where's
going to stay? I mean, it costs a lot of money
to feed and train a thoroughbred. You'll
good stable, trailer to haul her, a vet, a farrier..
Who's going to cover those costs?"
"No problem, Roy, my man. My sister's got a ranch
in Rock Creek Canyon. Remember? And her hired
hand is a retired veterinary and an honored
race horse trainer who'll foot the bill for feed and
board until Cielo's first purses roll in.."
"Hey. hey.." Marco said, "Sounds like the first
deal I've heard yet from you Chet. Sounds like a
golden opportunity, Roy..I'm in!" He snatched
contract away from Chet and signed it with a flourish
with the pen Kelly gave him. "If I
strike it rich, maybe
I can take mamma to Hawaii.."
"Sounds good to me.."
"Oh boy!" The room was quickly filled with the sounds
of "me too's" and pen scribbling. Roy was
the last to
get the contract. He waited, pen over paper over
the signature line. "How much money
Chet, did you
just con out of these guys just now? Can you tell me
distinctly uncomfortable. He answered in
a meek tone, "Ah..only *cough* ...$425 dollars a piece.
But fellas--!" When they started to growl.
Roy through up his hands, "That's precisely my
There's always a deposit first.. This is TOO easy guys.
Think about it. Do people really
buy racehorses everyday
of the week? I think you guys got suckered, no offense,
Chet, on this
deal." Roy turned, dropping the pen without
Johnny gripped his arm, "Just wait a minute..
you aren't going to do this. It's a sweet deal, Roy."
Roy sighed an incredulous sigh.
"If you've never even
seen the filly yourself, how do you know what her
temperment is like, huh?
Do you know how she'll
react on the track after being coached by strange
people..?" He pointed
"Oh. Ha. ha." Kelly protested.
Roy went on.."Also, that Preakness she was entered
in was a fluke. Three of the favorites were scratched
for influenza and the rest of the field
was a bunch of
green colts. Those odds weren't all that hard to beat.
And those fast workout
times really don't tell us much
about her ability because the element of competition
with a full
sized field is something Cielo Madre's
Roy's words fell on deaf ears..
whole gang was clustered around Chet Kelly as
he proudly displayed the computer statistics on his
filly and her workout times. Roy threw up his hands
in the air and finished changing.
tapped Chet on the shoulder, "Hey Chet? When
does the deal get underway?"
Chet's eyes gleamed..
"Today.. After my sister buys
her, we'll trailer her off to the ranch where the trainer
work her out. This afternoon! Man, I can hardly
wait to ease myself onto that saddle! She'll be like
dream, I'm sure.."
"Hey" Marco crowed, "That's right. It's your day off |
Chet was very pleased with
himself. "Yep. Moreno
from 36's has to make up some hours so he's covering for me."
Chet thoughtfully, "Hey, Kelly. Have
you ever ridden a racing thoroughbred before?"
turned to him collecting checks and contracts
from the gang. "Hmm? Oh, my sister Marj and me grew
up on horses. I've ridden ever since I was a kid. Well,
gotta run or I'll miss Unc at the auction!
I'll call ya all
after the first workout..!"
"See ya, man.." Johnny waved.
for the parking lot.
The rest filed into the kitchen where 36's Joachim Moreno
spread out eggs, bacon and toast.
Mike Stoker said, "This is our lucky day.. Not only do
get a chance to get rich on a racehorse, we don't
have to suffer Chet Kelly's cooking.."
chuckled, "Don't say that in front of Kelly when
he's here or we'll die for sure next time from his
burning food. I'm almost getting used
to his sushi slash bacon.."
All the guys laughed.
Johnny followed Marco, setting plates at the table and
silverware. He handed Roy his blue and white
mug of coffee. "You don't know what you are missing
Roy.." and he stuffed a whole muffin
into his mouth,
Under his breath, Roy replied as he studied the newspaper,
yes I do."
At Rampart General, in Treatment Room Three,
sat impatiently on a gurney. A prim nurse adjusted the
flow of his IV's flow rate and marked
it in her chart. He
watched her dispassionately. At last, he grumbled,
"Is Brackett coming soon?
I know he's on today.."
The nurse blinked, "I suppose he knows about you and
is on his way
to see you right now, Ron.."
"Mike!" he snapped and immediately regretted the action.
He slumped back onto the table seriously considering
biting his own left foot off at the ankle. The
RN deftly slipped
up the side rail on the bed as he reeled about. "What did
you do that for?
I'm not going to fall out." he frowned.
"That's what they all say..." she burbled sweetly
adjusted his covers.The man slapped at her hand. She
stepped back, shakened.
Brackett really did open the ready door. He was
met with a complete surprise. He did a double take
his arms across his elbows in amusement. The crabby
man he had heard bellowing out in
the hall, was Dr.
Morton..! "Well. well. well... Look at this.." he chided
He took in Mike's angry expression and
one very sore, air splinted ankle. "What has fate brought
your way today, Mike?" he delivered casually.
"Don't ask, Kelly. I don't want to talk about
grumbled, shifting uncomfortably on the bed.
Brackett simply grinned, "Fine. I'll
get your story from
her. Please read the run sheet to me, Nurse."
"Yessir.. Apparently, doctor,..
the young patient--"
"Young patient? Young patient! Let me inform
you, Nurse, Nurse.."
he snapped his fingers irritably
at her, "Your name!" Morton said gruffly.
RN blurted out, "Evans!.. Carol Evans.."
"Evans." Morton snapped, "I inform you now , since
are new to this floor and this hospital. I am on
the resident staff in this department and I expect
be called by my full name DR. Morton at all times if
..you..don't...mind.." he said dangerously.
"Yessir! I...I mean, doctor..uh...?"
"Morton!" he boomed.
"Dr. Morton!" She stifled
Finishing up the BP reading he was getting on Mike,
Brackett frowned when he
saw the tears on his
nurse's face. He had missed something truly harsh he
guessed. "Mike, lie
down."But it wasn't hard to figure
out just what had occurred while his ears had been
by his stethoscope.
"What?" the young black doctor said, still fuming.."But
I have to tell
this newbie nurse that.."
"Mike.. For all practical purposes, she outranks you,
for you ARE
a patient now. And as your acting
physician, I ORDER you to be quiet and stop
Carol." he said, pushing his voice
louder than Mike's, "You'll aggravate your
your BP's a little high.."
he shook himself, "Nurse, clean out that cut
on his forehead, will
"With pleasure, doctor.." she said vehemently and |
she bustled some peroxide into a sterile basin.
Dr. Morton glared at Brackett but he complied
and laid himself flat and off of his elbows. He
out his breath in a hiss. "I'm sorry, Kel. I really
don't need to be here. Just get me a
and some ice and I'll be just f-- Owwww!!" Mike
swatted at the cotton dabbing his head.
"Ah, ah ah.." Brackett warned, waggling a finger.
Morton snorted. He sat on his hands dutifully.
"Now..." Brackett began, thoroughly amused at
Morton's sour social mode. He began by beginning
an assessment, checking out his injured co-worker's
bruised body by probing belly and tapping
ribcage for percussion sounds. "Tell me what
happened, Miss Evans.. Since our patient
rather not disclose any information at this time. Tell me
what Mr. Morton told you before
he got surly."
"That's Doctor Morton.. Not Mr. Mort--"
Kel silenced Mike with a gesture
and a challenging
look that bordered on serious professional
discipline. "Go ahead, nurse."
Confident under Brackett's protection, she relayed
the details."Well, about an hour ago, the paramedics
brought in the PATIENT with a probable left fractured
ankle due to a fall. He was found unconscious
no indication of spinal or neck injury. He promptly
regained consciousness with a sternal
complained of soreness to his head as well as
that ankle. Patient remarked also that he
fallen on his b--"
"Wait just a d*mned minute here..!" Morton
up. Brackett pushed him down
again with a practiced hand, not caring
about the pain Morton received
from the jarring.
"Go on, please.." he said to Evans.
"On his pos-ter-ior, sir. There were
injuries I could see other than the bruising on those
three areas. He was in considerable
that last region but his vitals are stable.. and
intact.. I checked." she said
"You better mean, blood pressure, lady!" Morton
"Of course, mister. What
else would I mean?" she
Mike reddened, caught off guard. Brackett choked
a laugh, "ahh,,from what distance did he fall?"
He pretended to be busy writing in his chart.
"According to the paramedics.., Mr. Morton slipped
on a peel--"
peel and fell down eleven stairs, about
nine feet, onto a bark path. The stairs themselves
wooden, Doctor. He refused a pain hypo at
"Thank you , nurse. You may go."Brackett
"Anytime, sir." she fairly fled out of the room, wiping
away smeared mascara and some
of her tears.
Soon, the two doctors were alone.
Morton propped himself up on an elbow,
miffed. "Did ya have to do that?" he asked of his
"Of course..!" Brackett
yelled back. "You were
acting like one of those "gomers" you hate so much."
retreated into his hairline in
surprise. His anger melted away. "I was? Hmmm..
M-y E-mergency..R-oom; GOMER."
Morton reflected.. "Nice acronym.. Sorry... I guess
I was a bit
of a gomer to her."
"Umm hmmm." Kel grunted in affirmation, holding
Morton's splinted foot
in his hands. He studied
the blood oozing there. He was still visibly
charged about Morton's
Morton watched him and said at last, "You know..
sorry I treated her like that. I..just don't
like pain, nor being helpless like this at my own work
Brackett grunted again, shining his pen light into
Mike's eyes. "Your pupils are
equal and reactive.
Guess that was just plain natural surliness. Instead of
Morton actually looked cowed.
"Follow my finger.." And Kel watched how Mike's
tracked the pattern he drew into the air. "Good."
He turned his attention back to
the clear plastic
splinted ankle. Gently, he tested its range of motion.
Mike looked away, trying
not to flinch.
Brackett arched an eyebrow, "You're sure you don't
want a pain med? You don't
have a concussion from
what I see. The medics were right about that."
This brought a stormy
battering of protest from the
prone man, he bolted upright, brandishing a finger
in Kel's face
about to let loose some blistering
Kel folded his arms levelly."I'm ordering one..
lips and gums are already two shades lighter than
they were five seconds ago."
sputtered on, but stifled himself from saying
any true words.
Brackett moved to the phone
and made a call. A
second later, the double doors parted, revealing
Nurse Evans, brandishing
a hypo and a cotton wad
for viewing. "Into the upper gluteus maximus Nurse,
if you wouldn't mind.."
Kelly said, smiling at her and
Morton choked, "Kel, you're not serious.. I'm one
hematoma down there."
Brackett made for the door coolly with his chart, not
nor answering back.
"Kel, wait! No.." Morton said, "You know d*mned well
I can get that med
through my IV line. Please.. I'll be
more polite! I promise.. Kel, don't go! Kel!! OWW!!!!"
And the swinging doors snapped out the sound as
Brackett left the room. Dixie McCall turned toward
the blood curdling scream curiously, as Brackett
handed her the chart, "Just desserts.." he
Dix puzzled over that comment a moment until she
read the name on
the face sheet. It took her only
moments to put two and two together as it was she
Evans some tissue just a bit earlier as
she emerged from that treatment room. It took
for Dixie to stop laughing and compose
herself enough to return to her head nurse desk
Dispatch clicked a two toned alarm for station 51.
brought everyone on the run into the garage.
##Station 51. Truck 127, Battalion 14, Unknown
rescue. At the Everest Stadium Complex. 4000
Kenwood Boulevard Cross street, Marquette. 4000
Blvd. /c/ Marquette. Manager requests
assistance to the second level tiers grandstand,
side. Time out 08:47.##
Helmets and jackets pulled on as Cap
acknowledged their running status,
10-4, KMG 365."
Moments later, the squad rolled down the
followed by the engine. Their
reds activated and air horns blasts cleared the
highway of traffic.
They sped towards their
Brakes screeched to a halt before a high tech |
modern building. A very hassled man in an
shirt and tie ran outside to meet
"What's the problem here?" Cap said as he
out of the cab of the engine, "Is there
a gas leak?"
"No sir, ..ah, nothing like that. I'm
one of the
janitors. You people are going to have to come
with me and see for yourselves. The
police are rather busy right now...."
Everyone followed with their gear. Roy and Johnny
their O2, Defib, IV, Splint and Trauma boxes.
They kept on their overcoats to save time. Roy
looked at Johnny with a what's this gesture.
Cap shrugged, mulling over the mystery while he
his walkie talkie to a receiving sending
mode with the engine's radio. No one knew what
Johnny Gage was the first onto the second level
deck when he hollered, "Look out!!"
A well aimed beer bottle shattered musically on the brick wall
near his face.
The glass caught him and he sat up, gloves
over his face.. Pissed, Johnny yelled aloud.."Ahhghh ahhh!"
He sounded more disgusted to Roy than in pain.
He ran to him. "Johnny? Are you all right?" He crouched
down, pulling Gage's hands away.. Johnny's face was streaming
red.. (Marco winced..) with stale Killians
"Agh!! *cough* " Johnny shouted, thoroughly grossed out
at the sour smell, "This
has got to be the worst!" he sputtered.
and he spit some of the foulness out of his mouth.
th--?" Cap scratched his head, looking about. Men
and women were fighting in the stands while hoards
officers tried to stop them in any way possible.
he gestured and all of his men slapped
down their face shields
on their helmets as two more beer bottles, hit the wall
Roy rocked back on his heels, visibly relieved. "Here.." he
began "You'll need this.." he clapped
down Johnny's helmet
shield. Gage grinned sardonically, "A little late wouldn't you
A cry ripped the air..
A new voice shouted, "Watch out!!! Incoming!!"
CRASHHH!! A vending machine
narrowly missed flattening
Mike Stoker, whose log roll out of the way was barely
The owner of the voice mounted the grandstand stairs |
and observed all the firemen lying belly down,
their gloves over their necks, staring at the machine
which had nearly landed on their engineer.
He cleared his throat, chiding them..
It was Vince, with a handcuffed gang member.
clambered to their feet.
Vince chuckled, "Some war zone huh? Stick around boys.
The fun is
just beginning.." Vince dragged his charge
behind him and stopped before Lopez. He rapped a
on the plexiglass shield over Marco's face.
"Wish I had one of those...."
Pputth! A rheumy
glob of spittle caught Vince in the
eye just then. He wiped it away with a glove, shooting
acid look at the spit's source. The Cuban suspect
grinned dangerously and chewed his tobacco some
"He might be your first victim,, fellas!!" Vince exploded.
He pushed the kid ahead
of himself, none too gently..
"Come on!!: They disappeared noisily through the gateway.
Cap made a small noise in the back of his throat. "Why me?"|
Vince's partner made the top
stair. Johnny and Roy approached
him cautiously, widely avoiding another handcuffed thug
"Blake.." Johnny asked, "How did all this get started?"
Roy could only gape at the melee around them.
"It appears one gang leader got insulted by a rival gang
leader's girl. He slapped her. Her boyfriend
the gang leader.. Then..." And he threw up his hands
dramatically,.."The rest is
history in the making! yes ,
folks. An instant all nighter for half the police force in
He, too disappeared to the street but soon returned
with fifty handcuffs minus
the prisoner. The cop
regarded the dumbstruck firemen wanely.."They
all met here for a rumble,,
to 'Even the score.' A
pause.. "Hey, listen... We're having a hard time
subduing this thing,
Captain Stanley.." Blake
admitted. "Do you have a suggestion on how to
go about doing that? As
you can see, physical
restraint has no effect.."
A huge brute was pounding the face of another
to a pulp nearby. A county cop vaulted onto the
aggressor's back, confident his action would
the fighters.. Oh it did, all right. Both combatants
hefted the hapless cop over their
heads and heaved.
The young officer sailed over rows of seats to thunk
hollowly on top of a
closed concession stand. The
sound of the impact could be heard even over the
noise of the crowd
Roy winced openly and the two paramedics brought
their gear over to the dazed
rookie cop while Blake
gave them some cover with a riot tear gas rifle and
some mild threats
to anyone who came near them.
Cap looked around and gathered recently interrupted
bit his lip and made a decision, "Ah, Marco?"
"How far would you say we are from
"About 400 yards."
"Terrific.. That's a short enough distance. Do me a favor
huh? Would you and Mike rig two inch and a half's and
bring them up here? And turn on the refrigeration
he shouted after his men's retreating backs.
Blake frowned, "What for?"
Blake split a gut at that.
The nearby Battalion chief strode through the doors
calmly surveyed utter chaos. He radioed out.
##LA, this is Chief Blachek. Dispatch three more
additional fire units and send six ambulances to our
location.. We're gonna need them.##
is LA. 10-4, Battalion..##
A short distance away, Roy and John checked out the
police man they had just stokes rigged
to the ground.
"Did you see how far that stinking offal
threw me?! I'll
tell ya.. NO ONE assaults a law enforcement officer and
gets away with it..!"
The kid ripped out of his stokes straps and rose
to his feet shakily, shedding shards and a BP cuff.
He went for the grappling leaders. Roy and Johnny
dove, each grabbing for a leg and tackled the
headed kid cop back to the ground.
Johnny shouted as he struggled to hold his
"Come on now! Do you really want to get
MASSACRED? Just stay put and let us do our job."
his helmet out of his eyes. It slipped
down again on the slick beer in Gage's hair. He finally
the whole thing in his hands and flung it off
The zit faced kid rolled over painfully,
facing his two
paramedics. He gave way into a cute fit of temper.
"Fine!! I'll stop! But just how
do you suppose we'll
Roy simply smiled and pointed toward the infield.