Fire was rising along the car's underside, inching forward.|
Gage smashed the glass he could reach
and he wormed his way
inside the car quickly to reach their victim. The man started screaming
he felt the sharp heat of hot metal begin to sear the side of him
that was still trapped under a twisted
car seat and touching the door frame.
He began to flail about, in a panic.
his face to hold him still after snuffing out the intense
sparks that were landing on them both.
Roy struggled at the door with
the bar with all of his strength, working above them. "Just take it
We won't let that fire reach you!" Johnny promised.
The face bloodied, groggy older
man in his grip just sagged, finally
becoming quieter, moaning confusedly at the thought of actual
and from some overwhelming pain. He didn't even flinch when a sharp
blast of carbon dioxide
from Roy's extinguisher flooded in to cool
the metal around him.
"Hey mister. Can you hear
me? Where are you hurting the most?"
Gage shouted loudly, holding the driver's shoulders protectively
his gloves. Johnny ducked sharply at every flame that licked inside their
tiny crumpled space.
The man didn't reply and suddenly lapsed into unconsciousness.
At a particularly bad surge of fire, Johnny yelled aloud. "Ahh! Roy, where|
coming. I just got Stoker on the radio saying they're heading
right for us." DeSoto shouted back.
"This is stuck real good. I can't
"Looks like we have no choice. Roy get down here.
We'll pull him out
through the windshield hole. He's free!" he grunted, pulling the man's legs
from where they were folded.
A loud rumble of falling rock alerted them and the car lurched, suddenly
teetering as a weak point in the storm loosened hillside gave way.
Johnny shot out of the burning
car and to his feet. Panicking, they gripped
the edge of the car as it oscillated sickeningly on a
cliff edge they hadn't
been aware was nearby because of the smoke. Desperately, they hung
the automobile's frame until its unsteady motion stopped.
DeSoto gasped. "Now get him out! I'll
stabilize this for as long as I can." he
said, clinging to the steaming metal with his gloved hands.
Gingerly, Gage let go of the side. The car shifted slightly, but then it held,
with only falling
dirt to announce its precarious position on the hill.
Johnny scrambled, breathless, back into
the car, this time getting in through
the windshield that he had smashed open a few minutes earlier.
An incoherent shout from Roy gave him a warning he couldn't ignore.
Gage grabbed their victim
gracelessly by the collar and hauled backwards,
straining, until his dead weight began to slide out
into the tall grass that
was slowly igniting all around them. Johnny grabbed the rest of the folded
man as his upper half cleared the car into a bear hug under the arms, pulling
with every ounce of
muscle he had, first freeing his head, then his shoulders.
But in seconds, it happened. The car....fell.
Roy shouted in frustration and worry, as he leaped backwards into the clear,
calling for his
"I got him! We're over here!" Johnny yelled from a torn clump of towering pampas
A hissing sound of covering water began as a charging Chet met them on
the slope with his
fire hose. "Oh, my gosh. Are you guys okay? We saw it go!"
"We're fine." gasped Roy, thoroughly exhausted as he crouched by Gage as|
they checked to see if the
driver was still breathing. "I think."
"That guy must be pretty busted up inside after a tumble
like that one, I'll bet."
How is he doing?" Kelly asked as he redirected his stream to join Stoker's
combating the growing brush fire that had been started by the burning car.
answer, feeling sick to his stomach. "Roy, I had to pull him
hard. I had no choice."
about that later. If you hadn't, he would have been dead." DeSoto
reassured him. "Cap? We need our
stokes and spinal gear!" he yelled up
"On the way. 36's bringing just the basics. I want
the three of you out
of here before things get out of hand even worse." Hank said about the raging
Roy glanced up and into a wall of flame barely being held at bay by a double
curtain. "You don't have to tell me twice." he said wholeheartedly as
he and Johnny worked carefully
to straighten their limp victim into anatomical
alignment enough for a guarded log roll to check for
"He's still got a strong pulse." he told Stanley in an update.
Johnny inserted an oral airway into the man's mouth so he could
breathe unimpended on his back. "Roy,
he's got multiple fractures. Left arm,
lower left leg, right arm. And I still don't think I've found
"How's his head?" DeSoto asked, quickly tying off a blood stopper around |
a fast flowing wound on
their patient's foot. He didn't ask the other questions
that usually followed the first. They both
knew that movement probably had
already risked the man's spinal cord if it was injured anywhere along
"No depressions. But he's got a deep bruise behind both ears." Johnny replied.
"Yeah." Gage said.
"Okay, let's get him outta here pronto." Cap gestured,
shouting over the roar of
the growing fire.
Marco, and a team from the other fire truck companies
the driver with a cervical collar, and longboard on top of an uninflated mast
swiftly, so they could make good a strategic escape from the hillside fire that
to blow fiercely with spreading thermal effects.
It quickly outgrew the two fire hoses.
let's get out of here on the double!" Cap ordered.
"We're out of time."
On the side of the freeway, Hank made for the biophone while a very sooty
Chet ran to grab out the
resuscitator, and other medical gear, for Roy
and Johnny. Cars were already absent as the cordoned
off section of
the highway was buffered away from danger by the Highway Patrol.
and Jon stood by their motorcycles and a semi they had
shanghai'd into being a wind block for a flames
created gale that was
effecting the rescue squad site.
Far below, the fire continued to rage.
But soon, its chaotic destruction
was being met with swift water drops from two fire department choppers.
Captain Stanley spoke aloud into the phone receiver. "Rampart, this
is Engine 51. How do you read?"
Click the rotating dome for a music soundtrack change.
From: "patti keiper" <email@example.com>
Thu Aug 16, 2007 1:05 pm
Subject: Ties That Bind..
##Go ahead, Engine 51.## said Dixie McCall
from the hospital.
"Rampart, we've a male victim aged in his middle fifties. He's been
from a rollover crash over an embankment. Stand by
for vital signs." said Stanley.
by, 51.## she replied.
Rubbing her chin, Dixie thumbed a silver button on the wall to hail
an operator on intercom.
"Yes, this is Miss McCall in Emergency.
Page a doctor to the base station. Stat. We've a multiple
case coming in. Thanks." she said.
A few seconds later, she heard her announcement
as she moved Station 51's status board magnets to the 'on scene'
square of the
##Dr. Brackett to Emergency at the base station. Dr. Brackett to
Emergency at the
base station. Stat.## said the operator.
Kel hurried to McCall's side a minute later, still in
the scrubs he
had worn for another procedure. "What is it, Dix? That sounded
is, Kel. A multiple trauma with 51's. They've got a man they've just
rescued from an automobile
after it tumbled down a cliff." she replied,
handing him the time stamped notes she had begun.
Brackett made a face and a noise of sympathy. "Rough. Okay, I got
this from here. Would you go meet
Vince and sign some paperwork concerning
the Yellowbird girl? There are some state agencies looking
for her information.
And nice job learning who she is. We had her medical records in our greedy
hands in no time at all." he grinned, as she turned to go out of the
glassed in communications room.
"How'd you manage it?"
"I got lucky. Someone decided to step forward despite getting a possible
"Anybody she knows?" Kel asked.
Dixie hid her reaction, tightly. "Probably." she
answered noncommittally as
she closed the door behind herself without looking at him. Her evasion
escaped him completely.
Brackett turned to wait for a reply back, leaning on his hands in anticipation.
DeSoto looked up from the blood pressure he was taking on the
rescued driver. "It's down. 68 over
40. Get those mast trousers on. His
pelvis and femurs aren't fractured." he ordered the gang hovering
"Cap, pulse is 46 and regular, respirations are shallow."
Poncherello stood watching
Hank as he wrote down the vital signs
Roy was relaying to him. "Any sign of alcohol?" he asked.
DeSoto looked up, startled. "What? Uh,..no. None."
"Well how about needle marks? He must have
been on something if
he crashed his car without even braking. There're no tire marks over there."
he shrugged, pointing.
Gage lost his temper. "Listen, Ponch. I don't want to be rude or anything.
But please stop interfering with our medical call. We'll try to get all the
needs just as fast as we can. All right?"
"Sure. No problem. I thought I was helping out again.
You know me."
Frank smiled amicably, but then his smile disappeared. "How about
looking for his
"Later." said Roy, without turning around, quickly cutting away the man's
pants for the team quickly fastening up the mast suit's velcro
straps and stop cocks. "His back's
clear, Johnny. I don't feel any
Gage nodded, letting out the breath he was holding
as he connected up
the EKG monitor. "Let's keep on hoping. He's built like an ox." Then he
over and peered a light into the man's nose, eyes, ears and mouth
around the airway and mask Marco
was monitoring with suction. "There's
cerebral spinal fluid in the right ear. It's staining yellow."
he said, holding
up the testing 4 X 4 he had used to clean up other cuts he had found on
head. "Pupil is dilated on that side and he's doll's eyes negative.
They didn't track at all when
we rolled him. He's ipsilateral."
"I'll get his lung sounds. Marco, is he breathing okay?" Roy
"A bit slow. But his color's still good." Lopez answered.
"Watch for vomiting. He
may have an occipital skull fracture." Roy told him.
"Once the others get through pumping up that
last chamber on the suit, go
ahead and elevate the head of his longboard onto a gear box or something
high. His brain's starting to swell. See how his eyes are getting swollen?"
"Yeah." Lopez replied,
frowning. "What are his chances?"
"That'll depend on his surgeon and just how bad that crack in
his head reacts
inside. If he develops just an epidural hematoma, we're in luck. But if that
gone deeper, into the subdural layers.." his voice trailed off.
"I'll vent carefully once he needs it." Lopez promised, repositioning the |
demand valve over the
man's mouth and nose a little tighter so he could
draw in better breaths of pure oxygen on his own.
Gage quickly palpated the man's large sized abdomen and found a hot pulsing
mass under his fingers
just below the navel. "Whoa.. Roy. I think I got something
else." Quickly, he motioned for the others
to stop pumping up the mast suit.
"I've found a huge triple A. Right here. I can feel it overlapping
right behind his liver." Reaching lower under the suit, Johnny quickly compared
of their patient's femoral pulses. "They're grossly different, Roy, by far."
Cap overheard the
news about an unruptured aneurysm and sighed. "So
he's no longer a flight candidate. Okay, cancelling
the helicopter. L.A., this
is Engine 51. Respond an immediate ambulance to our location. Our
has been flight contraindicated and limited to ground transportation."
he reported over HT.
Mayfair is giving an E.T.A. of three minutes.## L.A. responded.
"Copy that." Hank answered. Then
he looked up Johnny. "Is this why his
pressure's so low with that skull fracture?"
his eyes grimly.
"Yeah, he's hemorrhaging out somewhere. Either at his descending aorta
a few membranes or around the sites of his limb fractures. His shock
right now, is probably saving
his life. Such a large AAA that's leaky or having
a basal skull fracture alone, is usually bad enough
to kill someone in a few
hours. But having both these problems..."
"Keep breathing, man."
said Poncherello, crouching by the driver's
head. "You've got your kids to live for." he said, passing
over the wallet his
partner had just located on the hillside in a fast search. The medical history
card inside listed hypertension as one of the man's pre-existing conditions.
He tossed the photo section
open and the firefighters winced when they
saw pictures of a three year old boy, and his six or seven
year old brother,
playing baseball in a yard, along with a portrait of the driver's wife. "Now you
know why I was hurrying so badly down there. I saw a baseball glove in the
back seat." he glared
Gage nodded a silent apology, stunned at the reality of a young family,|
still waiting at home for
their husband and father.
Hank grabbed Roy's notes and got on the phone, quickly. "Rampart. Vital
signs are.." and he listed off those and his paramedics' medical findings,
one by one as fast as
he could relay them. "...and Rampart, he has a
Glasgow coma scale rating of three." Stanley concluded.
Dr. Brackett responded. ##Okay, 51. Everything we're going to do will be
Start a large bore I.V. of normal saline, TKO. If his pulse
rate remains below sixty beats per minute,
inject 0.5 mgs atropine I.V. push. And
if his intracranial pressure rises significantly, with an onset
of Cushing's syndrome,
administer lidocaine 1.0 mg/kg slow IVP to counteract his ICP immediately.
Premedicate him for a rapid sequence intubation. Use Etomidate, at 0.3 mg/kg
IVP and have someone
apply a Sellick maneuver while you intubate. If your tube
placement is confirmed and the patient
shows signs of increasing consciousness,
administer 2 mg's midazolam in slow increments to sedation,
then use 0.1 mg/kg
vercuronium to regain paralysis. We'll have mannitol and Lasix standing by
Monitor his vitals signs, heart rate and overall reactivity and give me
a new update every five minutes
in transit. Also use the standard
dose of phenobarbital if he starts developing seizure activity.##
Hank faithfully recounted Kel's orders to his paramedics, word for word. And soon,
and necessary care, were provided.
Jon Baker looked up. "Traffic's still real bad out there. It's just past the lunch rush."|
to Captain Stanley. "How about we provide an escort for your ambulance?
He'll get there faster by
whole minutes if we lead the way. Cars are used to
yielding to us." he said as his partner cracked
his leather gloved knuckles in
"Of course they are. You're their ticket writers."
Hank grinned. "All right. Let's
load him up." Cap said to everyone working over the man as the
rig finally arrived from an off ramp. Ponch was so worried about
the driver, that he helped carry
the stretcher himself over to the open doors.
and Dr. Early met 51 at the entrance. "Okay, Carol, skip the CT scan.
He's going right into surgery
for that dissecting aneurysm. I want a type and
cross, for whole blood and a full skull series while
he's getting prepped."
"Right away, doctor." said Ms. Evans.
Reluctantly, the dusty Squad
51 pair finally let go of his stokes and longboarded
gurney as orderlies took over and handed them
back their oxygen and ekg
equipment. One of them spoke. "We'll wash off your board and stokes and
them by the entrance in about a half an hour once he's cleared on X-ray."
two highway patrol officers watched them soberly as they
traded information and updates. Finally,
the pass-off happened between
the paramedics and the hospital staff.
"Is there any hope for
him at all, doc?" Johnny asked Kel as the doctor
rapidly turned to follow the driver's bed. Dr. Early
stayed by the man's
head, assessing his breath sounds and the endotracheal tube's placement
they hurried away.
"A slight chance. If any. As you know, patients with basilar skull fractures
are also very likely to get meningitis, an infection a man in his condition
be able to survive. I give him, maybe two chances in ten
that he'll still be alive by morning. After
that..." Kel trailed off. "Excuse me,
gentlemen, I'm off to guarantee that he'll have those odds
even as they
"Of course. Don't let us delay anything." Johnny mumbled, stunned.|
The worried doctor disappeared
through the surgical doors after his
trauma team and they soon shut behind him.
It was Vince's voice in quiet discussion with Officers Baker
and Poncherello that distracted Roy and
Johnny where they
mulled over cold cups of tasteless coffee in the cafeteria.
help but overhear the conversation.
"So she's got a clean M.O.? No crimes?" asked Ponch of
"That's right. Joy's rare that way as far as runaways go. And
she tested negative for
drug or alcohol abuse. So that's why
we've placed her in the camp retreat up north until her
comes to pick her up. There's minimal police
presence there but enough security to keep her from getting
away again." Howard admitted.
Johnny's face twisted into an unidentifiable emotion as he spoke
aloud. "She was bored. And feeling useless. I mean there are
no jobs back at home to take for summer
work. And school's out
until fall." he said softly. "Summer's always a bad time when
But it was enough to be heard by the highway patrolman.
"Mr. Gage. Do you know Joy Yellowbird?"
"I do. She was a friend. A kid I knew once."
didn't know what to do, ..smile reassuringly or stay
completely serious. So he just spoke softly.
"I've signed up to be
her Big Brother in the state chaperone program. But if you
have any problems
with that I can always.."
"I don't." said Gage, still not turning around. "In fact, getting to
know someone in authority might be a very good idea in this
stage of the game. I know I appreciated
getting a mentor like
that when I was her age."
"All right." said Frank. "Do you want me to
tell her you're around?"
"No, I'll do that myself. I know where to find her."
changed a little since you were a teenager." said Jon.
"The retreat's now at a camp, in the mountains
above Station 110,
near the river."
"What's the name of the place?" Johnny said.
Field Retreat. It's non denominational."
"It would have to be." murmured Johnny. But then he turned
and regarded Frank with a sober expression and he slowly offered
his hand to shake. "Thanks
for looking out for her,.. officially. Unofficially,
you'll probably be a better friend than I ever
was while she was
growing up." And with that, Johnny left the room, heading for the squad.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Ponch asked Roy.|
"I don't know. But I'm sure as h*ll going to
find out." said DeSoto.
"Give me that address of yours, okay? I want it, too. She was a patient
ours not too long ago."
"Here you go." said Baker, offering up a business card from his uniform's
pocket. "The address is on the back. And a phone number. The camp
director's named Millie, an ex judge,
retired. She'll allow a visitor for Joy
only if she wants one first."
"Has she been discharged
from the hospital?" DeSoto asked.
"Yes, a half an hour ago for an overnight stay at the retreat's
left for the camp with Bonnie Clark, one of my officer co-workers from
"Can I speak with her for a moment?" asked Roy.
"Sure. Call that second
number at the bottom. That's hers. We'll
be over here, out of earshot." said Jon, drawing Ponch away
the phone on the wall that Roy was regarding seriously.
Slowly, Roy DeSoto picked up the
receiver, dialed the woman police
officer, and asked her about Joy Yellowbird's state of mind.
From : patti keiper <firstname.lastname@example.org>
: Sunday, August 19, 2007 4:17 PM
Subject : Windows Of The Soul..
"Hey, Joy. I really
believe you're gonna like it here. Just look
at the view! And the air. Take a deep breath. Isn't it
asked Bonnie Clark of her legal charge as they left the squad
car to enter the main
lodge of the state run foster camp.
Joy Yellowbird flung her duffle bag on the floor and eased
onto the porch sofa. She let out a huge sigh and winced at the still
continuing sting of
aches in her muscles and chest from her
ordeal of the night before. "If you say so, Officer Clark."
the quiet teenager. "So Roy said that Johnny was coming? For
"Joy. I can't guarantee
the actions of a man whom you claim is
your friend, just based on hearsay." Bonnie insisted softly,
down her folder about Joy.
"Is it because you've read that I have a record a mile long
in my files?"
Bonnie chided her gently and tried to touch her shoulder reassuringly.
committed no big awful crimes. At least not technically.
I wouldn't call running away a felony, but
it is a continuing problem.
Especially for your grandmother."
"I don't want to talk to her."
said Yellowbird fiercely.
"You don't have to. At least, not today." Bonnie smiled gently. "Today
is for regrouping and healing. There's a nurse coming shortly
who'll make sure you're still doing
fine. Then we'll check you into
your cabin that you'll be sharing with the other girls who will be
to join you tomorrow afternoon."
Yellowbird's eyes glittered defensively.|
"So when's my next session with a shrink? I keep telling
that I wasn't trying to kill myself. I was tired from walking so far
from the bus station.
I only fell asleep outside the fire station by accident.
I wasn't even sure I was even at the right
one." she insisted. "And I didn't
want to embarrass myself by asking my stupid question of those inside
right away. Just picture what they would have thought seeing me at the door
asking for Johnny
Kaulope Bear. I didn't want to get him into any trouble."
Joy began to study her small, journey scraped
hands, fidgetting. Her face
betrayed nothing of her conflicting, vulnerable emotions, at least, not
openly. But then a little of her bravado, cracked, and she slumped lower
into the cushions.
smoothed back Joy's long black hair in a mothering way.
"We know you aren't dangerous to yourself.
That's why you've been brought
here, Joy. Nothing in your evaluation demonstrates anything alarming
for the fact that you're growing up and seeking some roots of your own."
and coughed deeply, splinting her ribs, from the soreness there.
"It's not easy being a half blood.
Especially back at home. I just needed to talk
to someone who's like me who understands what I'm going
said urgently. "Grandmother keeps telling me to not think about it so much.
she can't see how everyone treats me. She's gets blind sometimes
in more than just her eyes. I felt
so alone, I couldn't stand it."
"So that's it. Roy told me Johnny Gage mentioned you were from
said the lady officer.
"He changed his name?" Yellowbird asked incredulously,
grew bitter. "What? Don't tell me he's afraid of the color of his skin, too, living
out here away from the People." she said angrily.
"That isn't it at all, Joy. Unlike you,
Johnny had a record as a juvenile delinquent.
I know. I used to ferry him around from place to place
whenever he was in
department custody. He changed his name as a sign of finally taking on a new
And his first break, was the fire department, eight years ago."
Joy's eyes finally twinkled. "So,
what did he do that was so bad? Can you talk
Bonnie grinned widely. "No. I'm
pretty sure I want to leave divulging
that part, up to Johnny himself. I respect his past and his
privacy. I have to.
Just like I'm protecting you now from your own nosy tribal Elders. They don't
need to know all your details other than the fact that you're all right and located
"I'm a disgrace to them."
"How? They were worried about you. Enough to notify us that you were
after Nurse Dixie McCall contacted them. Doesn't that count for anything?" Bonnie
"The leaders were doing that to preserve grandmother's honor. Having a disobedient
child is a
black mark that stains a parent publicly, whenever it is witnessed, in their
why do you keep running away?" Clark asked quietly, holding Joy's hands.
"Because I'm hurting.
He- he suddenly went away." she declared, tears
finally rising. "After he promised me."
promised you? Was it Johnny?" Bonnie guessed.
Sobbing, Joy Yellowbird fell into Bonnie's arms
miserably, and nodded yes.
Johnny Gage was with his prayer sack, praying in the bunkroom.
Roy DeSoto was taken by surprise
when he saw his partner occupied
in something obviously religious. But his worry and concern finally
him intrude enough to disturb Gage's solitude. So he picked up his
laundry basket full of
the gang's clean uniforms and walked over to
his own bunk, to fold them. He had sorted out all the
different sizes when
he finally spoke. "I'm here if you want to talk about it."
"I don't want
to talk about it." Gage said instantly, still fiddling with the beads
on the bag in his hands. "At
least, not until we get up there to see her for
ourselves. I'm... inviting you to come along with
me when we get off in a few
minutes. At times like these, it's kind of nice having a best friend to
when something ugly from the past finally catches up to you."
Roy merely nodded, not
saying anything even though he was burning up with
curiosity about everything that might have gone
on between Johnny and the young
Yellowbird girl. "I'll go. You don't even have to ask." DeSoto smiled.
"Thanks." Johnny said, without looking up at him from where he was sitting
cross legged on the
bunk. He put the prayer sack back inside of his uniform
shirt with reverent respect. Then he rose
to his feet and left the room.
From : patti keiper <email@example.com>
: Thursday, August 23, 2007 6:19 PM
Subject : The Dawn Warbler..
Dixie McCall left Kiowa
cabin at Elders Field in the police
and firefigher run state retreat for runaways. The teen camp
was privately nestled in a rich stand of a sequoia redwood
tree forest within eyeball view of Station
110, located along
the highway, on the beach by the ocean.
Immediately Johnny Gage met her
on the porch and started
asking questions. "How's she doing?I- I mean. Is she still in
"Very little if any of the physical kind right now." she admitted
honestly. "She's sleeping."
said McCall, putting back her
stethoscope into her nurse's carry bag. She specifically angled
not reporting her patient's current medical condition, going
for a distraction instead by addressing
the emotional one that
had brought Joy Yellowbird to Los Angeles, feeling lost and alone.
that's the best thing for her right now despite having such
a devoted pair of visitors. Bonnie's
in there with her right now
with her in case she needs anything. I gave her one of the
pills Dr. Brackett ordered for her. She'll probably sleep
out the rest of the night."
frowned, still nervous, worked up. "You what?" he
exclaimed, not believing. He finally stood on the
top of the
pinewood stairs and hung his head, hands on hips. "Okay,
thanks." he finally said,
visibly wrestling with the weight of a very
old emotional ghost that they could see was suddenly
To Roy's eyes, it was a stress Johnny did not carry well. And DeSoto
Johnny's mood wouldn't improve while he still held out on what was
bothering him on the whole deal
concerning himself and Joy. ::But I'm a
very patient man like I am, a paramedic. I'll just wait him
talk about her soon, I think.:: he thought.
DeSoto changed the subject, knowing
the golden value of deflection
whenever he found his partner letting himself get into a funk. "Say,
when was the last time you were out in the Great Outdoors like this?
I can't remember
ever seeing you getting away from it all. The air's
pure pine. Take a deep breath. Isn't it terrific?"
"If you say so, Roy." she rubbed an itchy nose. "Frankly, I'd rather find
a comfortable hammock
somewhere and let a coma take full control of
my body. My allergies are flaring up. And I worked a
"Ouch." Roy mumbled in sympathy.
Johnny finally stopped pacing, only half listening to their conversation.|
"To dream about home I
suppose." he guessed, looking up at Dixie.
McCall smirked. "Yep. I've two very good doctor friends
there attached to
the largest supply of anihistamine known to man. And I plan on rubbing their
about it, as soon as I get back to Rampart with my followup
report on Joy." She grimaced, locking
her knees as a huge sneeze rocked
her almost off of her feet. Roy and Johnny both grabbed her by
the arms to
steady her, handing her a twin pair of handkerchiefs from their shirt pockets.
accepted one of the cotton offerings, miserably. "Oh, pine pollen's
the worst." she sniffled. She
used one, heftily. Then she pocketed it. "You
don't want this back. I've gotten my mascara all over
it. I'll buy you a new
"Forget it. I've plenty." Roy smirked. "Both my kids share
the same affliction.
Try to relax a little, maybe that'll help. Say, Johnny, we could always go for
walk and check out the sunset from the ridge." he tempted.
"Nope. I'm staying right here."
Johnny said firmly, parking his jeaned butt
onto the pine log swing hanging from the porch roof.
"Dixie's idea of a nap
sounds just perfect. I've a lot on my mind that I have to think about. And..
and...and you already know I only slept a couple of hours last night because
of the rain storm.
I'm actually tired all of the sudden." he said, stretching out
awkwardly on the swinging seat as
he covered his eyes with one plaid shirt
sleeved arm. "I really want my bunk."
rose as he chuckled. "Come on, stop being such a
stick in the mud. Let's go find the stream and do
a little fishing. We're
finally in the middle of nowhere again with no phone, no electricity...
well at least in this cabin anyways. And no Chet Kelly for Pete's sake.
And there you are, wanting
to take a snooze in order to dream about
being back home at the station. Besides, after Dixie leaves,
enjoy your company so you can point out all the hidden fishing holes
using your instincts
honed by living on the reservation." he added,
offering once again to be an ear. "I'm still too city
slicker to manage it."
Snores met this touching speech. Roy was snapped out of the spell the
vibrant sunset held over him. He looked down and laughed. As did Dixie.
Gage had pulled his fishing
cap over his eyes and he wasn't pretending
to be asleep.
McCall threw up her hands, realizing
that getting Johnny to unload his
mysterious emotional baggage, as least for that day, was a futile
She gave up trying for both Roy and herself dramatically. "All right, all right.
wanna be a clam. Okay. Fine. We can live with that. No doubt Roy'll
be back with a humongous brownie
for your supper before too long. Maybe
food'll soften you up. Sweet dreams, Johnny." she said, departing
heading for her sports car that was parked in the red rock gravel parking
lot down the path.
"See you later, Roy. Call if she needs anything." she
gestured at the cabin window.
promised DeSoto, grinning, watching her get inside the car to
turn the ignition.
had gone, Roy finished unpacking his and Gage's overnight
things into the main lodge's two lone guest
rooms. He grabbed a fishing
pole, and soon, he was hiking down to the rock strewn stream a quarter
of a mile into the valley, under what little light remained of the day.
A cold shiver drove sleep away from Johnny's eyes. The smell of smoke
frying fillets coming from
the lodge across from the cabin wrung a growl
of hunger out from deep within. He peered out between
"Night already? Roy, why didn't you wake me up?" he said aloud.
out of the nearby main entrance of the lodgehouse
with a steaming pan of freshly caught trout. "Oh,
hi sleepyhead. I was
going to in a minute. But I had to flip these first." he held up the skillet
and pointed to it with a mitted hand and spatula. "They're ready."
Gage stretched uneasily
as his private nervousness returned fully.
He tried to yawn.
A piercing stare from his chum
caught Johnny with his guard down.
There was no backing off. "Okay. Okay. You've succeed in making
feel guilty." he sighed. "Got anything left that has to be done around
smiled broadly. "That's mighty big of you to offer, junior. As a
matter of fact, yes, I do. We need
some firewood. Not only for Joy's cabin.
But for the lodge fireplace, too." said Roy, peering out
into the dark forest.
"Now?!" Johnny asked.
"Sure. You asked, and I accepted." Roy beamed.
He paused for emphasis,
"..but I saved you a heck of a lot of trouble by cutting some dead poplar
limbs down for you. They're about twenty yards down the same path that I
took to get to the
Gage grumbled indignantly as he started marching irritatedly out into the
DeSoto spoke aloud. "Ah...Johnny?" Roy called out after him."The axe is
in the outhouse." he
Johnny winced, only barely hesitating in his stride before storming off.
twinkling eyes were hidden in the enveloping darkness.
The wind had been building slightly, little
by little through the course of a few
hours. Now, a huge bolt of lightning flashed as a dry thunder
cracked and a
gale force gust of wind suddenly began twisting the tree tops in the pine tree
above their heads.
DeSoto recovered first from his startled reaction and he teased. "Better hurry,
or you'll get wet." He ducked back into the sanctuary of the warm lodge before
Gage could retort back.
"Aghhh!" A sopping wet Johnny blurted out in disgust as he entered Joy's cabin
through the screened
door with a bundle of split logs.
A raised finger, abandoning a fork a over steaming dinner plate,
and it shot over a pair of pursed lips. "Shh!" Bonnie hissed. "Quiet or you might
her up. She cried herself out only a few minutes ago."
That brought Johnny up short and the expression
on his face went from annoyance
to one of vulnerability in an instant. "S-she did?" The room got so
quiet, the others
could hear the water dripping off of Johnny's face onto the floor. Sobered, he
his pile of wood and got busy lighting a fire in the fireplace across
the room. "What was she talking
about?" he asked in a small voice.
Before the highway patrol officer could reply, Roy stepped
out of the bathroom,
dabbing shaving cream on his neck and chin. "How's the weather looking out
"It's shaping up into a repeat showing of last night." Gage replied, grabbing a
to dry off his hair and most of his skin.
"Oh, yeah?" DeSoto remarked.
Clark left her fish
and peeked out the window. "It certainly isn't the typical autumn
shower out there. That's for sure.
I'll go make sure the generator's gonna stay
working for us in the lodge." She grabbed her raincoat,
Roy went over to the door and opened it a crack after she was gone. The sight was
to make him gape in disbelief. The massive hundred foot sequoias were
swaying and the younger trees
at their bases were bowed low to the ground under
the onslaught of a hurricane force straight line
wind. It took considerable strength
to shut it again. He latched it snugly, but left the door window
ajar so they could
see when Bonnie returned.
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