Joe's gaze cast around the room and he took in everybody's faces one by |
one in careful measure.
Then his eyes stopped on Lopez, the only man of hispanic
descent, in the room. "Mr. Lopez, I presume.
Please confirm for my partner and I
that your first name is Marco."
"Uh,.. yes, uh, it is.
And I vouch for Johnny Gage here completely. He wouldn't harm
a fly let alone some woman in a city
alley." Marco insisted, licking his lips.
"She was no stranger, I'm afraid. Especially not to
you, Mr. Lopez." Joe said bluntly.
Unpleasant nausea that couldn't be explained caught Marco fully
as he tried to
work his brain around Friday's last sentence."Wh-?" he gasped.
immediately became vocal when the implication came to him first
about the dead woman and Marco."Now
wait just a dog-goned minute here!
That's no way to drop a--"
Bill Gannon broke in. "I'm sorry,
Mr. Lopez. But the woman your friend couldn't
help this morning has just been positively identified
as your first cousin, Maria Angel."
Lopez went white as a sheet and choked. He got one step out
of his chair before
his eyes rolled up into his head into a dead faint. He went limp and noodled,
Johnny and Roy's chairs slammed backwards into the couch as they both
to catch him before his head cracked against the floor.
The kitchen erupted into pandemonium
as Captain Stanley, the lawyer and the other
firemen started arguing angrily with Gannon for his tactless
way of delivering bad news.
Only Chief Houts remained measured. He got DeSoto's attention, who
with his partner over Marco as they loosened his collar so he could breathe without
"Do you need your medical gear and a Mayfair's response?"
Gage, still numb but functional, nodded.
"Yeah. ...uh, yeah, chief. I mean, sir.
Stoker! Go grab it all." Then a bizarre thought struck him.
"Chief, am I able to
work still?" he asked Houts.
"Of course. Until I see real evidence that
proves otherwise. Keep helping him."
Captain Stanley was still glaring at the two city detectives
as he got on the pay
phone. "L.A., Station 51 is no longer available. Still alarm at our location.
Respond one ambulance and--"
Houts held up his hand as he stood to help the others move the
and Boot out of Roy and Johnny's working space over Marco. "Hank, don't
getting Lopez's fill in. I'll do it. I already know Gil Robertson's signed
up for replacement duty
here. He thought he had to do it for Gage."
Stanley looked up sharply at Hout's "extra man" plan already in place, |
and all he could do was
nod stupidly. "....that's all for now, L.A." Hank
said into the receiver. "Yes. Thanks. My timeout
for the log book is 14:55.
Got it." and he hung up the line. Then he turned his back purposely
Gannon and Friday and looked to Roy, who was fitting an oxygen mask
over Marco's pallid face while
Mike got his shirt open. "Is he ok?"
"As well as he can be, given the circumstances.." Roy said
angrily. He got
back to taking Lopez's blood pressure. He frowned when he found how low
become. "Johnny, we might need an I.V." he said, reaching out to his
shaky partner's sleeve. "Johnny,...did
you hear me?"
"...uh,...right, I'll make the call to Rampart. Stoker, keep an eye on that EKG.
His system's had quite a shock. Mine, too, for that matter." he said, rubbing his
to drag his thoughts together. "That's right, cover him up,
Chet. He's going to need a blanket. Boot!
Get outta here! You're getting in
Chet, nearby, was seething. He jerked a thumb
over his shoulder in irritation
at Gannon and Friday. "Cap, do we need these two hanging around any
I think they've done enough damage to the station for one day."
Stanley held up his
hands in sarcasm. "Not my place to say, Chet, now is it?
"They stay. Cogley still has
to get in an official conference with them
to get all the details for the formal court proceedings.
Do you need anything special for that task Trent?" Houts asked Trenton.
"No. That is, if Mr.
Lopez here is nothing more than just a relative of the
Joe Friday replied. "That's
all he is."
"Ok, uh, Then I'll need nothing else. Let's get to work, shall we?" Cogley said with
mild sarcasm, trying to ignore the sharp emotions in the room as the cluster of
firemen tried to
restore Marco to some semblance of normalcy with shouts
and shoulder shaking. But Lopez did not awaken.
Cap knelt by Roy's shoulder. "Is this because he's still hungry from sleeping
overnight on an
empty stomach with all this bad news? We did get back
from that multiple MVA awfully late. I know
for a fact that he didn't eat before
"Probably. Rampart'll order a check for
glucose in the ER
after we give them some vitals." DeSoto said. "That's pretty standard."
Let me know if you need anything. I'm going to go pop open the front
doors for the mobile rig when
it comes." and Stanley jogged out of the kitchen.
Johnny finished getting Marco turned onto his left side so an airway wouldn't be|
needed over his
tongue. He handled his crewmate gently, going overboard with
being the caretaker to protest the detective's
manhandling of Marco's emotions.
Then he got on the biophone Chet had deposited at his feet.
this is Squad 51. How do you read?"
Gannon and Friday were oblivious to the proceedings, deep
as they were in
deliberating with Cogley about the strength of the murder rap against Johnny.
had the good manners to keep concerned for Gage's coworker even
as he got details from the detectives'
notes down onto his own ledger.
##Go, ahead, 51. We read you loud and clear.## replied Dr. Early.
Johnny opened his mouth, but nothing came out.
Roy took the phone from Johnny when he choked
for being so furiously
upset at how Marco had been treated by the Dragnet pair. He spoke
"Rampart. One of our own. A thirty one year old male. Down from a syncopal
episode due to psychogenic
shock. Patient did not strike his head when he
passed out. Vital signs are : B/P is eighty two by
palpation with his legs
elevated. Pulse's 110 and respirations are twenty and shallow. He's on 15
O2. EKG is showing only slight sinus tachycardia with normal T wave elevations
still proving as unresponsive to verbal commands. Request permission
to start an I.V., Rampart."
##Go ahead, 51. An I.V. of Lactated Ringers at a rate of 120 ml/hr. Run in an initial
250 ml bolus,
or more, until his blood pressure returns to normal. Administer a course
of 100 mg Thiamine IM as
a precaution. I heard your station had some fairly
heavy duty during your last twenty four hour shift.
Give him glucagon 1 mg IM if his
LOC doesn't change appreciably within five minutes. Push D50, 51,
at 50cc IV if you
still don't see improvement en route after an appropriate interval following those
two treatments. Get a full medical history and any medications he might be currently
Resend a set of vitals if they continue to downcurve. Keep him warm and
transport as soon as possible.
"10-4, Rampart. I.V. LR at 120 with 250 bolused to low normal of 90 systolic.
100 of Thiamine
now. 1 mg Gluc IM in five if no change. D50 push at 50 if still
unresponsive en route. Our ETA is...."
Captain Stanley heard the sound of an approaching siren. "....less than five minutes."
"...five minutes." Roy finished neatly.
##We'll see you then, 51. Rampart out.##
replied Joe Early.
Roy and the others quickly directed the arriving ambulance attendants into|
getting Marco situated
on the wheeled gurney once he was I.V. line tape
secured and fluid, mineral and sugar treated fully.
Johnny Gage couldn't wait for the sanctuary of a quiet Mayfair cabin in which
to try and pull
together his tattered thoughts. If events had seemed surrealistic
before, they were feeling absolutely
out of any shred of his control now.
Marco coughed then under the mask and Johnny used every
sighing from Lopez as a steadying support for his nerves.
From: "Roxy Dee" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed Dec 14, 2005 7:49 pm
Subject: The Truest Color Of Devotion~~
Dr. Joe Early
sighed as he and Roy and Johnny left the treatment room
that held the sleeping Marco Lopez. "And you
say that Marco
fainted right after hearing some news? That doesn't sound like
the kind of thing
that would usually bother him normally. He's been a
firefighter too long to be that vulnerable. But
his tests, past
the basement level serum glucose reading, are all coming back as
forces me to believe his symptoms were as you say,
all psychosomatic. But surely, he must have some
pretty thick skin
working for him by now. What did he get upset about if I may ask?"
Johnny shared a conspiratory gaze and clammed up. "Uh, doc.
We're on sensitive ground here and I guess
by the chief's orders, such
as they are. He's effectively gagged us. We can't talk about it.
least, not yet." said Johnny, raising his eyebrows matter of factly.
He bounced on his toes and fidgetted
with the buckle on the front
of the oxygen demand valve case he was still holding.
"But I promise,
we will soon, hopefully." Roy reiterated. "Sorry, doc.
But the matter is rapidly stepping into Johnny's
and into the professional range of another higher agency in authority."
understand perfectly. I realize that even a doctor can fall under a need
to know only basis. I hit
walls like that with juvenile court, priests and
nursing home administrators all the time and quite
frankly, I'm almost
getting used to it." Joe grinned. "You told me all that was necessary in
for me to effectively treat Marco and that pretty much nails the cap on
what a doctor SHOULD do,
boys. So don't worry about it."
"So is he gonna recover in time to start tomorrow's shift? If he can't, he's sure |
gonna rail about
missing getting in some good holiday overtime." Gage
grinned wanly. "He's gonna wanna work after
tonight. Trust us that Roy and
I know this as a concrete fact, doc."
Joe met both paramedics
with an even stare. "Physically, I'd say yes. But our
chaplain, who was in when you two stepped out
of the room briefly for the lab
tech's draws, says no for the emotional side of things, for at least
of days." Joe was unhappy with that kind of prognosis from a man who was
a healer of
a kind, like himself, and it showed on his face.
Johnny opened his mouth, about to say something
to his silver haired
mentor, but immediately shut it again.
Joe didn't press him one second
further, at least, not intentionally.
"Let me know if there's anything I can do to help all of you
when you can,
ok? It's the least I can do past the non-charges I'm going to file for him
that precautionary ambulance ride, your treatments, and the use of
that exam room." he said jerking
his thumb over his white coated shoulder.
Both paramedics brightened from their listless distant
to thank Dr. Early with a heartfelt sincerity. "Thank you, doc, on Marco's
I'm sure if he wasn't medicated right now, that he'd think the same
thing I was thinking, uh,..I
mean, about thanking ya and all." said Gage.
Joe Early nodded, accepting the vague explanation
gracefully and they
could see that he was chalking up the whole conversation as one
from a couple
of men truly caught between a rock and a hard place.
"If I don't see you again before midnight, Merry
"Merry Christmas, doc." said Roy, waving as the mild mannered M.D. returned
back to his normal rounds. "Thanks for everything."
"From me, too." said Johnny, trying to smile
as he watched Joe's
back retreat cheerfully away from them.
"I suppose we'd better get back. Your lawyer's bound to get
fairly expensive if we keep him
waiting too long for us to return here."
Roy jibbed, attempting a joke. He started to head for the
the ekg monitor after taking a sip of water from the fountain in the wall.
leaned on the door of the treatment room, pressing his nose against
it to fight back tears that had
surprised him by resurfacing. He ignored
Roy's comment completely as he busied himself by watching
breathing rate and its count through the glass window.
A floating floor nurse was still
in the emergency room with him. She was waiting
for his pressure to stay level enough to discontinue
Lopez's flowing I.V.
It was almost empty. ::That's kind of like how I'm feeling right now.:: Gage
thought. Suddenly, he started actively crying...quietly to himself, without
making a sound.
Being closely attuned, Roy noticed Gage's absence at his side
immediately, and made his way back
over to him through the heavy Christmas
Eve waiting room crunch. It was then, that Roy noticed Johnny
shaking in a delayed reaction.
Gage's mind was a whirlwind. ::Why didn't I know the dead
was part of Marco's family? I'm usually pretty good about noticing odd
that. Why didn't I look for a wallet for a form of I.D. like I've
done on calls thousands of times
He felt Roy rest a hand on his shoulder softly and his head shot up
with a jolt,
both reddened eyes glistening in the lights.
DeSoto dropped a balled hankerchief down his front
subtly while he
pretended to fiddle with his online HT with the other one, waving cheerfully
passing nurses who were noticing Johnny's droop against the door to
show them that he was fully aware
of the situation and had it in hand enough
without needing them. He kept his back to his partner,
so he could save some
face and have some privacy while he gave into some healthy venting.
had a gun drawn on you for Pete's sake." Roy replied as if he were
clairvoyant. "I honestly can tell
ya my shorts wouldn't've been as clean
as yours if I turned around to find a police detective with
an oozy aimed
at my head. Quit blaming yourself. You can't know everything. Let's go.
You can roll
down the squad window and let the sun dry off your face before
we get back to the station. Take comfort
in the fact that nobody'll see
you if you start blubbering again in the squad, except me."
"I should say something to him." he said, throwing a chin up at Marco,|
still looking at Lopez through
the window's clear pane.
"Do you think now's the best time to offer Marco platitudes? Come
Johnny. Get real. You know how crappy folks feel for the rest of the
day after suffering a faint.
Especially one as deep as his. You can tell
him anything you want once he's been discharged. Now,
And Roy tugged on his arm. "Let's get this detective/lawyer interview
thing over with.
Houts hasn't got all day available to babysit us like
he's been doing already."
the cloth and chucked it into a red plastic lined
bio-bin nearby. "No, let's go grab a cup of coffee
first. I gotta get
something to settle my stomach that's not liquid drug box anti-acid.
have chugged a whole bottle of it on the way in."
"Ok, but only for a few minutes. And milk'll
be better for you."
Johnny started to gape but Roy interrupted him.
"Before you open that
yap of yours in pointless protest, I'm buying.
So get moving." Roy told him.
Dr. Brackett was working on his chart stack at Dixie's center desk when
a pair of police officers
approached him. Kel looked up. "Can I help
"Yes, we're looking for a paramedic
who's recently brought in one
of his coworkers from his own fire station. A guy by the name of Johnny..."
"Gage? Yes, I know him. I think I saw him and his partner, Roy DeSoto,
walking that way towards
the cafeteria. They're here for what?"
The two officers didn't like that he had missed their prior
They started to head away, when Kel grabbed the officer's arm. "Uh,
if I may, what's
all this about officer? Is my man in some kind of trouble?"
"Well, I don't know if I can tell
you our business, doctor.."
"Dr. Brackett. Dr. Kel Brackett, head of emergency."
Angeles street cop still looked un-reassured.
Brackett reiterated his position clearly.
I really am the boss of every paramedic who delivers
patients to Rampart Hospital. I trained up most
of them myself.
So anything that effects any of them legally, effects me, in a way."
doctor. Guess we can tell you. Your man Gage's free on bail
over murder charges for killing the cousin
of one of his fellow firefighters,
a Marco Lopez from Station 51. Apparently, this Lopez collapsed
hour ago and was treated by Gage's Squad 51. We want to ask Lopez a
few questions about
the victim and about what might have caused his
own illness. You see, we have reason to be suspicious
of Johnny's off duty
whereabouts over the last day."
Kel reeled and barely covered the shock which bloomed in his chest at|
the bland statement. "Who's
overseeing this investigation officially?
I've a right to know if this effects one of my out-of-hospital
"Detectives Bill Gannon and Joe Friday from the downtown precinct,
"Johnny? Trumped up on homicide charges? You're sure barking up
the wrong tree! Gage's never harmed
anyone his whole life."
The taller officer leaned in on the desk. "Did you know that before
Roderick Gage became a rescue man with the county, he served
three years probation for offenses he
committed as a teenager?"
Brackett's face twitched. "No, I didn't."
The two officers started
smiling at the doctor's chagrin.
Kel erupted. "For what? Double parking or drinking and driving
"For disorderly conduct, doctor. Which is well known to be a precursor
for a later
tendency ...towards violence."
Brackett became speechless.
"Excuse us, doctor, we've a
couple of paramedics to catch."
and they walked away, leaving a very rattled Dr. Brackett holding
the worst possible of ill tidings.
Dixie happened to notice him as she passed by and immediately,
she went to his side. "Kel? Are you ok?"
"No. Not by a long shot. I've found out something incredible
about Johnny. And it involves his fellow crew member, Marco Lopez."
Dr. Brackett proceeded
to tell his nurse about the whole situation
as quickly as he could. "Apparently, Johnny just treated
"Marco? He's here?"
The thought of working an easy ER night shift on Christmas Eve
became the most remote one for both doctor and nurse soon after that.
the only possible one who could know about that is.." Kel
"....Joe. Come on, I think
I know where he is." Dixie finished for him.
They practically ran for Joe Early's office to speak
Stanley was still steamed. He had already sent Chet Kelly out to
the yard to hang hose to work out
some of the hostility that had shown
in his voice when he directed his humorless comment about the
And he had received word that Marco Lopez was fine, well, and resting
in one of Rampart's short stay emergency treatment rooms.
His office door had barely closed behind
himself, Chief Houts, Bill
Gannon and Joe Friday, when he went off. "Is it common practice to
relatives about a victim's shotgun murder so thoughtlessly?!
My g*d, didn't you two see the kind
of effect your just the facts mentality
had on him?! It was as if you had hauled Marco Lopez against
and shot him with a gun yourself!"
"At ease, captain..!" Houts snapped.
immediately went rigid at attention. "Sorry, sir, I thought I could
speak freely in my office because
we're well away from the rest of my
crew's ability to hear."
"Not when you're yelling that
loudly, you're not. Sound always
carries through the pipes in stations this new." he said jerking
up at the ceiling where a few white painted ones threaded through above
light. "Captain, I appreciate you wanting to protect your firefighters
being incriminated and investigated.
It's only natural, given your station. And
I don't mean that as a pun, Hank."
Stanley had to
smile. Wearily he sat down in his chair without asking,
and Houts didn't harp on him for doing it.
"Sorry, Gannon, Mr. Friday,
it's been a stressful day. Every Christmas Eve gets this way. I just wish
you would've found a gentler way to tell my man about the death of
his cousin. Marco's very attuned
to his family. It was bound to have
effected him the way that it did."
"How else are we going to catch Maria Angel Lopez's killer? Every minute|
we delay is one minute more
for the trail to get cold. We wanted to speak
with Marco as well as the rest of your men about what
happened this morning
with Gage on his way to work. Can we get to it please?"
"Ok, but talk
with them all in a group or they won't be talking I'll have
you know." Hank warned.
are fiercely protective of each other." Houts added.
"You don't have to tell us that. We see that
in you." said Friday deadpan.
"Oh. Yes. Well,.." Cap said sheepishly. "sorry I blew up just now.
I just thought you did a little too much straight sided talking over the
kitchen coffee, that's
"And how are we going to solve this crime if we don't talk?" Gannon
asked quite frankly
and dotted with a little sarcasm. Like the firemen,
he was very hungry.
"You don't learn ANYthing
by talking. You learn by listening." Cap
said with a touch of heat.
Behind him, standing quietly
under the clock, Chief Houts, nodded
slowly in agreement. He was deeply pleased for Hank's bit of
That got Gannon and Friday's attention. "Just how do you propose
we do that?"
Hank's eyes sparkled with newfound energy. "Let's discuss it over
a pot of chili, shall we? My
station never gets called away on a run
while we're eating five alarm chili."
Houts added more,
trusting his favorite captain and trusting Hank's
absolute faith in his men. "I promise you that
we'll make such head
way into your investigation, in just an hour, that your ties'll start
Finally, the two detectives looked up from the watches they wore.
"You have one hour to prove
your point of view. After that, we do
things ...our way."
"Deal." said Hank, leaning over his
desk. He thumped his fist onto
its surface so hard, that Chief Houts' picture retilted on its nail
the file cabinet. He immediately flushed, muttering apologies.
Grinning at Cap's embarrassment,
the Chief put it to rights with
a few fingers and straightened his hat. "Let's hit the chow line.
Hank, go invite that young lawyer to dine with us. No doubt he's
gonna ask to ride along with Gage
and DeSoto on squad runs
so he can hurry things along a little faster before tomorrow's
"I'll do that right now." said Stanley, opening the door for his very
The four of them were struck speechless when they found Boot,|
the station dog, sitting square in
the absent squad's parking
space, waiting patiently in the sea foggy afternoon chill for Johnny
and Roy's eventual return. His gaze never left the cars on
the boulevard as he searched for the two
Gannon was impressed. "Does he always do this?"
"Always. And only for
those he cares deeply about." winked Hank.
"He dogs anyone in trouble and stays with them until he
they're finally out of it."
Houts grinned, shivering in the seasonable cold seeping
the open garage doors. "Boot here has been creditted with saving
fifty five people by leading
fire department vehicles right to them
on rescue calls."
"Really.." said Friday. "Was he trained
to the skill?"
"No. He does it on his own. You're looking at a genuine, one
unadulterated, wandering alley mutt, gentlemen.
But he always comes through for us in the end. And
he is never
wrong about those he thinks are in trouble."
"Impossible! You say he's here for
Gage?" asked Gannon.
"Most likely. You know how a dog's instincts can sometimes
"That I do. Mind if we borrow him when we take Gage on a re-visit
to the crime scene
when he gets back?" asked Joe Friday.
"That my friend, is up to Boot. He comes and he goes as
pleases around here." Houts told the detective.
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2005 14:14:35 -0800 (PST)
"Jeff Seltun" <email@example.com>
Subject: Just the Simple Facts...
pm. Johnny Gage and Roy DeSoto had reported themselves
as available according to the fire department
dispatcher a half an hour
ago. But still, they hadn't returned from the hospital after caring for
Mr. Lopez. My partner had a theory about that. They must have stopped
at a burger joint on the way
back to the station. One of the regular fireman,
a Chet Kelly, seemed to agree with this assessment.
So Bill and I checked
out the two altar boys from the day's masses while we waited for a
call from the fire captain as soon as DeSoto and Gage were
confirmed as return arrived back in their
base of operations.
The first one, James Cormeen, said that he knew nothing about
statue. The second one, Joseph Hefferman, was
not at home. His pharmacist father said that he had
a part time
job but he'd have him get in touch with us right after dinner.
By 18:00 pm, we'd run out of book procedure. We had a killer to |
find. Our only clue; that the murdered
victim had been to church.
18:07 pm.. We checked the phonebooks for the names of religious
in the area. Two of them were closed. We tried the third.
When we got there, the only person in the
store was an elderly
man sitting by a table. In front of him was a large beautifully carved
Joe Friday drew out his wallet when the white whiskered man
finally looked up from the move he
had been contemplating.
"We're police officers. My name's Friday, this is my partner,
"Great to see ya." said the man, not looking up from a letter that he
was studying intently past
a cursory glance to take in the fact that
the men speaking to him were actually who they said they
"I'll be with ya in a minute. You caught me in the middle of my
big chess match."
smiled, looking at the empty chair across from the man.
"Where's your partner?"
"At work in
a church boiler room. We've been playing for years."
said the old timer.
"Same match?" asked
"No. Just two or three months on this one. What I meant was that we've
been playing different
matches for years.." he said proudly.
"I see." said Friday.
"You know, we do it through
the mail, since he's autistic and can't leave
the church sacristy and Father Xavier Rojas's direct
care officially. He
sends me a move and I send him one."
"Must keep you on your toes." Bill said rubbing his chin thoughtfully.|
"Except during the holidays
when the mail gets all fiddled up. That's
"Guess not." said Bill.
things down. That's no good. I like to catch him off guard."
"What's his name?" asked Joe.
"Really. Is that his real last name? Kind of ironic since he's a ward of
church down the street." Gannon probed.
"Yes. That's his, and that's the honest to G*d's truth."
smiled the white
whiskered man, crossing himself.
Bill looked up at the storefront window,
squinting for a moment.
"Are you Maximillion J. Lorentz?" he guessed suddenly, returning a
gaze at their store proprietor.
"How'd you know? We've never met." declared Maximillion with surprise.
Joe grinned. "Your name's on the window up front."
"Mr. Lorentz, we've checked with the other
two religious stores in this
neighborhood. They're closed."
"This is the best one anyway. Fifty
percent European items." said Lorentz
Joe smiled. "We're checking the stores around
the Mission Church."
"For what?" asked their chess player.
"A statue of the child Jesus."
replied Bill. "Do you have one we could look at?"
"Sure.." said Max and he stepped to a cobwebbed
but shiny brass display
case with no glass and held out the nearest one he had for sale. It barely
fit into the palm of his hand.
Joe piped up. "No, sir. A larger one."
Max blinked. "You
don't want a large one. Unless it's for a church. That's
where you want a larger one." he declared,
thinking the two detectives were
actually going to buy.
Bill smoothed some feathers. "Could
we see it, please?" he asked gently.
Max went away and came back with one about a meter long.
to be one that would fit in the Mission Church's manager. "It's not my
due to butt in,
but unless you live in a big place, this one'll make your
living room all the killer. "
and Bill exchanged ironic looks at the use of that word. "Yes, sir."
said Joe. "Do most of the people
who go to Mission Church trade here?"
"A good many of them. Especially kids."
puzzled. "Why kids?"
"They're more religious." said a surprised Max at the detective's daftness.
"Check on it yourself. See if kids aren't more religious than you."
"That'd be so." agreed Joe.
"That's what's wrong with the world. Oh, I don't mean you're wrong
with it. It's everybody else!"
said Max spraying some spittle in his fervor.
Bill nodded. "Yes, sir. But I wonder if we could
stick to the point, Mr.
"Sure. A lot of people from the Mission Church come in here."
cooling down and cleaning his face with an old, but tidy handkerchief.
Joe dug into
the lead. "Do people ever come in here to sell BACK a
his scraggily beard in puzzlement. "You mean like
a prayer book or rosaries?"
"Yes, sir." Friday
"Second hand you mean?" asked Max.
"Yes, sir." Bill confirmed.
his partially bald and graying head. "Not since I've ever
been around. That'd be silly."
"People don't have religious articles so they can get rid of them.
them so they can HAVE them." reasoned the old man sensibly.
Bill pressed his point. "But if a
man had a statue and wanted to sell it..
would he come to a place like this?"
"Sure. But he
wouldn't want to sell it." Max said, not changing his beliefs
Joe added more. "He
would if it were stolen."
Max vehemently shook his longish, hobo looking hair underneath his floppy
"No sir!" he said, the first touches of anger coloring his voice. "If a man were
a statue, he'd be crazy or something like that. The only place he'd
want to go is where crazy people
Joe saw that their contact was getting riled up unnecessarily rendering him
for reliable information. "You may be right, Mr. Lorentz."
But his placation did nothing to settle
Max's roused ire. "I don't know
what you fellas are looking for. But if it's somebody who stole a
crazy and you won't find him. You won't find him as long as you live. Not in
Joe raised his eyebrows in sarcasm at their impossible assignment.
"That should cover
it." he said in resignation and he and his partner excused
themselves with a nod of thanks to Lorentz.
"Sorry to have disturbed your game,
sir. I hope you can get back to it soon enough to enjoy it again."
he said of Max's
"I will, gentlemen. I just need a snort to compose myself. Sorry.
I always get this
way whenever I find somebody's thinking stupid. Uh, no offense meant.
how I feel about banks, too. I don't trust em either when THEY'RE stupid!"
"Well, isn't that the
way you feel about your slowish friend, Leonard Baptista?"
Bill asked, puzzling on an apparent contradiction.
"He may be dim witted, but it's not the same thing. He's innocent of the crime
of stupid thinking.
He's too pure of a soul for that. It's why I like him and our
As Bill Gannon
and Joe Friday left the store, Bill leaned into his partner and
remarked. "You know. I'll just bet
he's the type to stuff his life savings into
a mattress to sleep on it at night."
"I wouldn't be surprised." Joe said, rolling his eyes. "Come on, let's get|
back to Station 51 and
wait on our two paramedics to come home. Maybe
after we eat on that captain's invite, they'll show
up in time for dessert."
From: "Patti or Jeff or Cassidy" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 18:48:20
Subject: [EmergencyTheaterLive] Looks Can Be Deceiving..
Dixie McCall and
Dr. Brackett were no more clarified
on events circulating around Johnny Gage than before
spoken with Dr. Early, twenty minutes earlier.
Both nurse and doctor slumped as they wandered
the hallway to the elevators above the emergency ward.
"Well, I guess that ends that."
Dixie sighed. "So much for
trying to go for the coveted proverbial friend in need cause."
matched her look of disappointment. "Never knew how
much of a stickler our hospital rules about confidentiality
until I ran up against them myself. And I can't blame Joe
for clamming up on Marco's case
and about what he overheard
earlier in the hallway from Roy and Johnny."
"Look who's talking."
Dixie said, pushing the elevator button.
"And I thought I was onto something that would solve everything
for all three of them." She buried her head against Kel's shoulder
once the doors were closed behind
them. "Having a sense of
curiosity sucks, Kel. Don't you feel the same way?"
"If I did, I never
would have become a doctor." he smiled,
giving her a comforting hug. "I guess we'll just have to let
firemen get themselves out of this bind on their own. All we
can do is be two sets of ears
when they do decide to open up
to us later on and offer all the best advice we can."
"I still want to do something to help."|
"Maybe we can."
Dixie looked up in puzzlement.
"No one says that we can't look in on a patient to get
a vitals set or two for the charts. We
can always say that
we were short nursing assistants today." Kel reasoned.
"That'd be the truth
at least." Dixie said, pulling away from
Dr. Brackett as they reached the ground floor. "But do we
have the right to involve ourselves here? Talking about
whatever upset Marco with him may just make
even worse despite our best intentions."
"You know, I would have never even thought
"Being empathetic sucks, too. Now I can't go against my better
she complained miserably.
Kel sighed hugely, and both of them eyed up the room where
Lopez was. They knew he was most likely changing
while the reception desk awaited Joe's paper orders
discharge him from the hospital. "Neither can I. But we still can
do something on
"Oh? And what's that?" McCall asked..
"We can talk to those detectives
on the phone directly, to get
"How are we going to know where to call them,
"Easy. We ask that police officer who was hunting down Johnny.
By law, he's got to say
why he's on private property like this for
somebody legally freed on bail. And I'm just the man he's
explain himself to. All of the sudden, I'm feeling hungry. And gee,...
from the looks of
your pale-ish skin... You are, too." he lied.
"Come on, let's go to the cafeteria for some pie and
coffee to get
ourselves unhungry and in better shape to handle things."
"Best news I've heard
all day." said Dixie.
With their faces set firm in determination, Dixie McCall and Dr.
set off on their self appointed errand briskly.
Johnny Gage couldn't eat. He couldn't believe it when a police officer
sat down at the table
behind him and started to stare at his back,
without looking away, while he drank his coffee in slow
"Now that really burns me." said Gage to DeSoto. "He's just sitting
is he looking at us?"
Roy glanced over his shoulder and shrugged. "Why don't you get up
go ask him."
Johnny turned back around with irritated energy. "Oh, no. I'm not gonna
his game. So, being out on bail still means guilty until proven
innocent? Ok, all right. Two can
play that game. Roy, let's leave a little bit
"What? I thought we were going to wait for Marco until he's through filling |
out the paperwork so
all three of us can go back to the station together."
"We are, we are. Not so
loud. He'll overhear you." Gage hissed, over
his corn bread and chili.
"He already knows what's
going on." Roy said through tight teeth. "Don't
make such a big deal out of this. You've done nothing
wrong. If ya had,
you'd still be locked up in jail tonight for Christmas Eve."
if I'm so innocent, why are those two detectives still hanging
around us? They're more than just
starting to get on my nerves, Roy. Think
about what they did to Marco."
"That was an accident.
They had no idea how close Maria and Marco were."
"Well, they should've checked before they notified
next of kin like that of
her death. If they had, they'd have realized that it was just him, her and
mother living in the same house together."
"Maybe they took that into consideration, Johnny.
Who better to tell than a
younger son and not some poor old frail mother about her passing?"
did check." said a voice nearby. "It's standard policy to notify a healthy
next of kin with distressful
news to prevent any unfortunate adverse reactions."
The two paramedics turned around with a matching
set of strongly
disapproving double frowns and both pegged onto the policeman
who had just spoken.
Johnny went ballistic. "Thanks a lot for eavesdropping on a private
conversation Mister Squad
Cop. The least you can do is tell us why
you've been ordered to dog us like this."
fell away from the police officer's face. "I thought I was being
polite by letting you eat before
clarifying a few facts that I've been asked
to get by the coroner's office. They need your detailed
physical findings so they can completely fill out Miss Lopez's official death
Gage shot to his feet. "That's it. Roy, let's go..." he said dangerously. "If I don't
I'm gonna start getting real mad here."
"Ok, ok.. Sorry about that, officer.. You see, my partner's
upset about how your
superiors handled breaking bad news about your deceased's status to a friend
of ours. So you're gonna have to forgive him for acting uncooperative. He's just
had to treat
that same friend for falling into moderate to heavy shock because of
it." DeSoto offered apologetically
to the man in blue.
"Ok, now I know. Thanks for telling me what happened to Mr. Lopez. That's
another question I had been wondering about."
Roy blinked five times, getting hold of his
own emotions."Uh,..you know where
we're headed, right?"
"I do." said the man, motioning to
his own partner that they were going to follow
the rescue squad men and the truck numbered 51 whereever
"Ok, ...Then I guess Marco, me and Johnny will meet ya there." Roy smiled
meek, as his partner all but yanked his arm out of its socket
as he successfully dragged him out
of the cafeteria.
As the two paramedics and the two policemen left the dining area, Dixie
Dr. Brackett were coming in.
Dixie was crushed. "Oh, no.. Now where are they off to?" she quailed.
"They probably have a response to handle. They.. are.. still on duty. I heard
Roy call their squad
available over the base station radio as we were
coming here." said Brackett.
"They can do
that with Marco as a passenger?"
"Sure, why not? His replacement's already at the station taking
I heard that from Captain Stanley himself about his personnel change
over the same channel
to their Battalion Chief. Marco'd just be tagging
along, Dixie, and still resting under their direct
"Not what I'd call a great way to spend Christmas. It's cold out there tonight."
"Whatever their trouble is, at least they're together. And we're just
gonna have to live without
knowing anything more until after the holidays,
"Somehow, I'm not feeling so merry anymore."
said Dixie with a sad pout.
"And I won't be anytime soon, not until I learn that they're all truly
promised, wiping a sudden wetness out of her nose and eyes.
"Shhh," Brackett soothed her. "That's no way to spend Christmas. Tell you|
what, let's spend it together
come midnight at my house, and I promise you
that I'll make a few well placed phone calls using my
paramedic business clout around city hall."
Dixie nodded blandly, barely
appeased, and together, they left the food line
for their mutual work stations in the busy E.R..
Detective Joe Friday leaned on Captain Stanley's office desk and polished
one of his shoes by
swiping at it with a clean handkerchief. "We can't wait
for your men to return any longer, Mr. Stanley.
Our other assignment has a
very firm deadline that we must meet. We have to have that second case
fully solved by midnight."
"Just what do you expect me to do about it, fellas? I'm not a mind
I don't know where my men are." Hank protested. Boot, in his lap, started
easy Boot. These are the good guys. We can trust them,
I think." he muttered.
"Murder is never
pretty, Mr. Stanley. Believe us when we tell you that we'll
do everything in our power to make sure
your man walks free from these charges.
It's only a matter of time before the real murderer steps
"Oh, really." Cap scoffed. "Have you found any witnesses to that effect?"
yet." said Gannon softly. He set down his nearly empty chowder mug
and he spun it around morosely
on the desk with a calloused thumb.
"That's why we want to borrow Boot here." admitted Friday
Cap's eyes squinted. "You're going to use him to track scents in that alley?"
Very astute of you." said Joe monotone. "Using dogs to solve crime
scenes is something I've been
trying to get the department heads to buy for
years. Maybe Johnny Gage's case will finally be the
one that shows my
superiors the true worth of a canine's incredible sense of smell. I know they
fathom out clues where none remain obvious to the rest of us human
take along Johnny as encouragement for your dog. You said he
works hard for the people with whom
he's formed an attachment." Gannon
added. "Please, captain. Call your Squad Unit 51 and tell them
to report to
the alley where it happened in five minutes. We'll be meeting them there."
Stanley fingered the live HT on his desktop with an empty, pained look.|
"You know my man Marco's
"We know. In fact, we're counting on his presence as positive
impetus for Boot
to perform. Lopez's emotions should drive out the instincts
in him that we need to help us disprove
the state's case against Johnny
Gage one hundred percent." Gannon said.
Without saying anything
more, Cap opened a drawer next to his knee and he
drew out a hardly worn black leather collar with
a fire department trumpet on it
and a light rope leash. He held it out to Gannon firmly for him to
take. "These are
Boot's. He knows that he'll be asked to actively work a scene once he's wearing
"Thank you, captain." said Friday. "We appreciate this greatly. Boot may
to be the big break we've all been waiting for." he said.
"I dearly hope so, for Johnny and Marco's
sakes." nodded Hank seriously.
He watched as Bill Gannon clipped on the leash and collar on the
station dog. Boot immediately sat up with interest, looking up at the detective
then towards the engine bay. "Ok, you do your part captain, and I promise,
we'll do ours." said the
gray haired man. The two detectives left the station
with a very eager Boot on their heels for the
unmarked tan Fairlane which was
lying hidden and parked in the station's sidedrive.
had gone, Hank lifted up his HT and called Squad 51.
"Engine 51 to Squad 51. Report."
is Squad 51. Still 10-8. ## came Roy's puzzled voice over his
"Squad 51. Rendevous
to a Code 6A with Unit H/5K. They are on Tach 2.
Respond a Code 2-High, on my order, a.s.a.p., to
## 10-4, affirmative. Switching to Tach 2 for H/5K. We will advise L.A.
we're on location. Also, uh....our Code I is very 10-2, Engine 51.
He is currently 10-12.##
dropped his head in utter relief at the news that Marco was fine
and discharged from Rampart officially.
He wasn't too pleased with the
fact that he was with Roy and Johnny on the way to another foray into
Dragnet's current murder investigation. ::But then again, beggers can't
be choosers.:: he decided.
A whooping holler of pure delight echoed resoundedly through the vehicle
bay. It was Chet Kelly.
He came running into Cap's office. "I heard! I heard!
Yey! Marco's ok, fellas! Roy just said as much
over the radio."
Cap rose from his seat and hung in the doorway, studying the rest of the
as they gathered around the wall map excitedly to talk. Kelly was
working on straightening out the
spare I.V. box and oxygen equipment
with Gil Robertson, Marco's replacement for the evening. He couldn't
Click DeSoto treating this|
victim to go to Page Three