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   What's  A  Dedicated Captain  Like  You  Doing..
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          Page Seven
Note: Music soundtrack is high quality and slow loading in some cases. Patience. :)


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Kel smiled, "Sure. That's right. I forgot. Sorry." he
winced.

Dixie narrowed her eyes.

Brent and Kel saw the better part of wisdom and kept
silent for the trip out to the patient pick-up entrance.

"You are going to relax..." Dixie warned.

"Of course." Brackett grinned widely.
"Would we lie to you .. of all people?" Brent blinked
innocently as both men spoke at the same time.

Just as quickly, Kel escaped Dixie's wheelchair.

Kel and Brent hastily loaded their gear into the
copper colored truck. There wasn't much of it, and
the truck still had plenty of room just in case they
needed it for anything else. Kel finished stashing his
duffle and he said, "I'll be right back, dad. I'm going to grab
my water.. I forgot it in the--"

Dixie held up his bottle of spring water that she had put
into her pocket. "Looking for this?" she said, waving it
before his eyes.

Brent nodded, "Yes, he was. We're gonna need it for
his Sphagonium.." the elder Brackett said, taking it from
her playful hand.  "Here, Kel. Water it if you wouldn't mind."

"His what?" McCall asked.

"The get-well plant I got him from the gift store.. See?"
said Brent.. and he reached into the back load hauler
and pulled out a blue foil wrapped large tropical leaved
plant. Almost startling, he used his other hand to swiftly
cover up the fishing poles that had become exposed
from the wind where the tie down tarp had slipped before
Dixie's prying eyes could see them. Neatly, he jumped into
the driver's seat, as Kel got in, who was shaking out the
excess water he had poured into the plant's potting soil.

"Ready?" asked Kel.

Brent grinned broadly, "Yep."

"Do nothing!" Dixie hollered out as they pulled away.

"We'll do nothing....." Brent said, calling after her.

"....much!" said Kel, mischieviously added.

They left behind Dixie's mortified, I-was-fooled expression
behind in the darkness of dusky sunset.

-----------------------------------------------------

Brent pulled onto the freeway and headed for their
destination. Brent was quiet, which concerned Kel.
"Dad, is everything okay?"

Brent quickly recovered, "Everything's fine, Kel.
Just a bit whipped from the week at work."

Kel sighed, "I hear that. Why don't we trade spots
now that Dixie's not here. Then you can lay back and
catch a few zzzz's. It'll be a bit before we get to our
destination."

Brent stifled a yawn. "Sounds good. Wake me up if
you need anything."

Kel smiled, "I will, dad."

Soon, the truck was silent except for Brent's soft snoring.
Kel kept a close eye on the road, his senses heightened
as usual when he was out in traffic.

Two hours north of Torrance, Kel pulled off the
paved road on to a dirt one. The change in
terrain woke Brent who had been sleeping sound.
It took a minute for the elder Brackett to regain
his bearings before he asked, "Where are we?"

Kel smiled, "Almost there, dad."

Brent woke up more and took in the scenery. He was
stunned silent. Minutes after Kel pulled off the
paved road, he stopped. In front of him was a lake
shore. Around the car on the other side, was a small
clearing, in a grove of pine trees. Kel shut the car
off, turned to his dad and said, "Dad, we're here."

Brent was stunned as the duo climbed out of the truck.
"K-Kel, this is amazing. This isn't where I thought we'd be."

Kel just grinned, "Glad you like it, dad."

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Brent smiled, "I don't just like it, I love it!"

The sun was already long gone as father and son unloaded
the truck. Kel said, "Hey dad, do you want to just eat
what we brought tonight and hit the lake in the morning?"

Brent looked around appreciably before he answered,
"Yeah that's probably best. That'll save battery power
on the outboard's running lights."

Kel and Brent went to work making a fire outside
the cabin Kel had reserved and the two started cooking
dinner. In no time flat, they had eaten Dinty Moore stew
and were headed for the sack. Both were fatigued
from the trip in and all their sneaky planning to get
away from Dixie's clutches.  

--------------------------------------------------------

Kel was awake the next morning before his father. He
quickly set to work making breakfast and packing the
boat for the day on the lake. Brent awoke to the smell
of brewing coffee and a freshly made meal.

Kel smiled as his dad finally exited the porch. "Good
morning, dad."

Brent blinked to adjust his eyes to the light. "Morning
Kel, sleep well?"

"Yeah, you?"

"Some of the best sleep I've had in quite a while."

"Better than mine has been for the last week. The beds
at the hospital are atrocious. Breakfast is ready."

"Aren't they made that way to hurry up recovery periods?"

"Most likely.." Kel laughed. "Go ahead and crush my ego.
I thought my patients got well fast because of my skill
in medicine."

"It's in combination.." the elder Brackett finessed.
Brent smiled as Kel handed him a fresh cup of coffee.
"Thanks. It smells good. What are we having?"

"Eggs and bacon with this coffee chaser."

Brent smiled, "Sounds wonderful. But isn't coffee off
your menu now?"

"Shhhh.." said Kel. "How can I get a pressure spike
surrounded by all of this? It's a tranquilizer just being
outside.."

As the duo ate, Brent finally asked the question that
had been bugging him since the day before, "Kel, how
did you find this spot?"

Kel smiled warmly, "Honestly, dad. One of my friends,
Captain John Gage found it for me. Not long after he
was promoted, he dragged me up here after a really
h*llish week. Then I came back up here after mom died
last year to get my head back on straight before I went
back to work. We're in Santa Rosa County."

The mention of Kel's mother and Brent's late wife quieted
them down some but both shook the feeling off. Breakfast
and cleanup was peaceful as they woke the rest of the
way up. Once all was in order and put back away, Kel asked,
"Ready to hit the lake?"

Brent smiled, "You bet. We've a lot of hours to make up."
he said, peering at the sun rising over the trees.

"About twenty years worth by my reckoning." Kel grinned.

Both doctors met eye to eye and a moment of unspoken
deep devotion passed between them. The first in a very,
very long time. The older Brackett held out his hand to
help the still tired Kel over a large root on the path.
"Shall we get started then, son?"

"Sounds good to me, old man."  his son winked.

Brent laughed out loud. "Let's go!" beamed Kel.

-------------------------------------------------------

Kel had already loaded the gear in the boat along with a
small cooler of sandwiches and soft drinks. Father and son
headed down to the lake. In minutes, the boat was
launched and the new fishing day had begun.

Brent asked, "Kel, how are you feeling?"

Kel knew his dad was still worried after his
hypertension scare. "I'm good. I took my
medication like a good pre-senior citizen
and I'm ready for a day on the lake and hopefully
I'm also gonna bag a lot of fish."

Brent looked Kel in the eye and smiling softly, he said,
"You will."

Kel and Brent made their way to the middle of the lake and
threw out the anchor. Once their lines were baited and
in the water, it was time to just sit back, relax and talk.

Only distant muted birdsong, the lulling melody of rippling waves
and the scent of warming pine needles filled the air.

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A brief, slightly awkward moment intruded over them before Kel
looked at his father with a complex expression. "Dad..."

Brent softened quickly, "Yeah Kel?"

Kel's voice softened, "Thank you."

Brent was stunned, "For what?"

"For coming out here with me. We've needed to do this for so long.
Then I got sick and I got to thinking about things. I actually
didn't know if we'd ever get the chance to do this again."

"Come on, Kel. You weren't dying."

"Sure felt like it. I felt like WE were, dad. Our relationship. And
I'm glad we decided to change that."

Brent squeezed Kel's arm, "You're welcome, my boy. You're
the only son I've got and we're the only family we have left.
Each other."

Kel burst out laughing. "That's until Dixie joins the fray.."

Brent went goggle eyed. "You didn't."

"Not yet. But I'm going to."

"Good. She's sassy, foxy, and I know she's got what it takes
to keep you in line. A woman's touch. That was my mistake when
I tried to do the same thing while you were growing up..."

Kel's smile faded.

"Can you ever forgive me?" Brent said, not looking away from his
bobber. Brent's breath caught in his throat.  

Brent's words tore at Kel's heart. He hadn't realized how much
his own mortality had worried his father. "Dad, I never meant to
make you worry. And let me make another confession. I've known
for years that everybody was telling me I needed to slow down and
take it easy. Especially after I went from the emergency room to
the head of cardiology. I never listened until my own body
said that's it either rest or I'm going to quit on you."

Brent's voice cracked at Kel's words. "Kel, I lost my best friend
because HER body quit on her, I know I wouldn't be able
to handle your death, too. A son should never die before his
father.. Especially not like his mother did."

Father and son grew quiet as each got lost in memories of Anna
Rose, the now lost, third side to their private trio for over a year.

As one, both looked up to the sky and each whispered a few words
to Anna. As they finished, the sun brightened even more and lit up
a flurry of snowy pinion feathers on a soaring eagle, who began
sounding a single fluting cry as he greeted the dawn.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Kel took a deep breath. He hoped he didn't open a very old
can of worms with his next question, but it had been weighing
on his mind for far too long to go unasked.

Brent relaxed and looked over at Kel, his face still filled with delight
at the sight of the tiercel wheeling overhead. Immediately,
he could tell something heavy was on his son's mind. "What is it,
Kel?"

::Here goes nothing:: thought Kel as he asked, "Can I ask you
something that was bugging me while I was in the hospital?"

Brent became immediately concerned and completely focused on Kel.
"Of course son, go ahead and ask anything, always..." he licked
his lips, controlling old habits. "What's on your mind?" he finally asked
simply, without the abrasiveness of old.

::Hopefully he takes this well so I don't end up swimming back to
shore:: was the next thought that crossed Kel's mind, "Why did you
want me to follow you into psychiatry? You never did explain that to me.
I remember how we fought tooth and nail about that for way too long,
but what I never understood.... was why."

Brent was stunned by Kel's question. Then he was saddened when he
realized that Kel was right ::My boy wants a straight answer that he
deserves that. Not just professional to professional, but as father to
son.::

Brent looked Kel in the eye. Before he could answer the question
though, both lines tightened up at once. The heavy question was
quickly interrupted by the shouts of "I've got mine!" that echoed
completely across the lake as they wrestled their catches into the
boat. A sleek pair of speckled brownies danced on the metal,
drumming out their anger inside the hastily cast net.  

The rest of the day was just ..like.. that. Each time Brent would go to
answer Kel's question, the fishing lines would get busy.

As the sun when down over lake, the question still hung in the air.
Kel wanted to know the answer, but then both became refocused on
future days' dinner whenever one tried to escape from the gill leader
cord they had floating in the water. Kel finally headed for the shoreline
when they couldn't take any more trout. He was about to speak
when the anchor was fully aboard, but he held his tongue when he
saw his father trying to fight off his emotions.

Kel made it obvious that he had noticed and he said gently, "Dad,
talk to me."

Brent looked up with pure pain in his eyes. Kel immediately shut the
boat off roughly, two hundred yards from shore. He squeezed his dad's
shoulder, but stayed silent. Brent was in the old, still fresh agony and
Kel knew it, too, just as sharply.

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Finally Brent spoke, with his voice full of emotion, "I...I miss her,
Kel. I miss her every single day... And it's not fair. We fought off
everything together. You, Anna Rose, and I, but we couldn't win
that final fight."

Kel's rough exterior crumbled to the bottom of the boat as he bear
hugged his father. Brent didn't resist the hug, but fell into it as
he fought a long hidden, still losing battle with his emotions. Kel
tightened his grip on his father's neck and he whispered, "I miss
her, too, dad. I miss her every minute. But I know she'll be there ..
when I finally get off my butt, and propose to Dixie.  But what I
wouldn't give to hear her voice again when I finally call you to tell
you when the official day is when Dixie and I begin our new
lives together."

Brent now spoke through tears, "She'll be thrilled son.
She always did love Dixie. But I know one other thing."

Kel picked his head up, but kept the grip on his dad. "What's that?"

Brent smiled through the tears, "No matter how much neither of us
wants to admit it, she was the top boss of us all and she still is.
We've got to take care of each other or your mom's gonna give us a
heaping load of cr*p when we see her again."

Kel chuckled as he wiped his moist eyes, "You've got that so right."

Brent chuckled as he calmed down. "Getting hungry yet?"

Kel smiled lightly, "After burning off all this energy on sappy emotional
stuff? What are you trying to get at? Convincing me to be a lawyer again?"

"That was just an inside joke. Everybody knows lawyers aren't heroic
about anything."

"And doctors are?"

"As psychiatrists aren't.... That's my point. Back then. And now. You're
something special, son. Never forget that."

Brent smiled, "How 'bout us city boys get ourselves in long enough
to go fry some fish. Then afterwards, we can hit the sack if we get
tired."

Kel's smile brightened, "Do you feel tired?"

"No. I feel alive. I think, for the first time in my life."

They finished the trip to shore.

The night went on with dinner and then lights out, without that earlier
annoyingly interrupted question, being answered. Kel really wanted to
know it.

On the other side of the fire and the Brackett fence, Brent didn't quite
know how he was going to give his answer to his newly aging son.

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-------------------------------------------------------------------------
The next morning was time to head home. Father and son laughed and
joked anew as they packed the pickup. The cooler was full of the catch
they hadn't eaten all of from dinner, the night before.

Kel and Brent took in a few last deep breaths of fresh pine pitched
air, and headed out.

The truck tire-rocked Brent to sleep as Kel drove. Kel glanced at his
father and smiled....and was jolted when a screeching of tires ahead
of them billowed clouds of stinking burning rubber when a nail blew
open the driver's rear tire on the car a few lengths ahead of them.

They watched in horror as the small blue Pinto careened into a bush.

Kel slammed on his brakes and followed its path onto the margin.

"Dad! Call in for help from that call box. I'm gonna go check them
out!" Kel said, running for the other car with a kit in hand.

Brent made the call, reporting what they had seen.

A minute later, Kel returned, dusty, but smiling ruefully.
"They're okay. Shaken but in one piece. Nobody hurt."
Then he noticed his father's complexion.
"Dad, you okay?"

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Brent was stunned, "I'm fine, Kel. Wow. That could have
been bad."

Kel smiled, "Yep. Man, I forgot the rush you get when you
think you're gonna have to use your emergency medicine
on scene."

Brent took a quick breath and thought ::Here it goes.::
"Kel, you remember the question you asked me yesterday that
I never got to answer because the lake started jumping?"

Kel took a quick breath unsure of what his dad was getting
at. "Yeah dad, I asked you why you wanted me to follow you
into psychiatry."

Brent took another breath, "To be honest son, I've been
trying to answer that question myself for quite a while.
I always dreamed of the two of us having a practice
together, so I was thrilled when you wanted to get into
medicine. I was floored when you got into Johns Hopkins,
but then as you know, I got angry as a beehive when you
told me you were going into general and emergency
medicine."

Kel said quietly, "Uh,..I know you were, dad. That's all old hat."

Brent looked at out of the corner of his eye at Kel. Kel
turned to face his dad when he felt his gaze as Brent
spoke. "Kel, please. Just hear me out. I...I've come to
realize over the past day and night, that I was... probably
being a selfish, ignorant windbag back then."

Kel was caught off guard, "Oh?"

Brent continued, "I still wanted to have a practice with you,
but just now, after watching you in action a few minutes ago,
I realize you definitely went into the right field for you. I don't
know many people who could do what you just did without
a second thought for their own safety. I mean you stopped
and were already halfway out the door before you even
asked me to call the dispatcher's."

Kel blushed to his toes. "Dad, it was instinct. Even
though I now work most of the time upstairs, my heart is
always going to be with emergency medicine and the
paramedic program I started a decade ago. To think I
almost put the kabash on the program in the beginning...
Each day, I realize that there is an ever growing need for
it. I've even come up with a new line of rescuers. Have
I ever explained what an EMT is to you?"

Brent smiled warmly as he closed the lid
on the call box. "Your heart's in the right place, Kel.
Don't let anybody ever tell you different even
if it IS me."

Kel smiled warmly as he realized his father really
had finally come to terms with his chosen field and
his heart's passion.

Brent shut their truck off. "Now, Doctor Brackett.. Go take
care of your almost-patients."

Kel turned to Brent, "Thanks, dad." Kel smiled, "On my
way, Doctor Brackett. But, eh, I'm sure they could
use the comforting hand of a shrink just now. They did
suffer a shock or two emotionally."

"Quite right."

Kel got out of the truck and was followed back to the
steaming car by his father. Brent watched proudly as Kel
jumped into his work, making sure no injuries were cropping
up.

Brent looked up at the trill of an eagle's call and thought to
himself ::Anna Rose, I know you always said it, and I realize
now that you were right all along. Kel never belonged upstairs
with me, he belonged right in the middle of the chaos of an
emergency room or out here in the street helping others.
Remember that I love him like I love you.... Always::

Brent cut through the brush to go pluck a screaming toddler
out of his automatically functioning mother's hands. "Give me
the little guy, ma'am. I know just how to handle sons."

"You sure do, dad. You sure do." Kel whispered, smiling.
---------------------------------------------------------------

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***************************************************
Subject: Let The Games Begin!!!
Date: Now
From: Patti and Erin ETL Hosts USA

Roy, Johnny and Hank liked visiting so much in the
impromptu way they had worked the system, that
they decided to do it again, right after the next
captainís meeting, which ironically, had been
held at Station 51ís.

"Howís Kel Brackett doing?" asked Hank, when all
the other captains and his own regular men had left.

"Heís been discharged. No problems." Roy sighed
with relief. "But Dixieís real mad for some reason
about it and neither Johnny nor I can fathom the
reason why."

Gage just started chortling. "I know why. Theyíre
fighting again. Just like we figured a long time ago."

"What makes you think that?" DeSoto said,
getting on the defensive. "Just because two
people are effianced doesnít mean theyíre
immune to having disagreements anymore..."
Roy said in exasperation.

"Well, why not?" Gage asked. "They love each
other, donít they?"

Roy started to say something, but then he just
threw up his hands. "Hank, youíre a married man, too.
Why donít YOU tell him..."

"Donít look at me. Iím out of this one for my continued
sanityís sake."

Both Roy and Gage sighed in frustration, irritated.

Cap just raised his eyebrows and shrugged, long
immune to the effects of his old crewmatesí
manipulations.

Tired of the silence, Johnny looked up and saw a lone
deck of cards laying on the far end of the table.

Johnny smiled, "Hey, Cap."

Hank smiled at Johnnyís use of his nickname. "Yeah,
pal?"

Johnny eyed the deck of cards, "You guys still play?"

Hank and Roy both looked up and followed Johnnyís line
of sight. Hank grinned, "Actually, yeah, we do Johnny."

Roy chuckled, "What, Captain Junior? Did you finally
figure out how to win without dish pan hands?"

Johnny laughed, "Nah, Captain Pally, I was just remembering
an old call we went on."

Roy looked surprised, "Oh no! You donít mean that
idiot M.I. who didnít want to go into the hospital until
you agreed to play that poker hand for him, do you?"

Amused, Hank sat back remembering the aftermath of
that call, but curious to hear more about it since
it had been a paramedic squad only call. "I just remember
what little I read on your very short incident report. Can
you guys fill me in?"

Roy and Johnny smiled. Roy spoke first, "Iíll
start and then let Johnny finish since I wasnít
there for the end of it."

Hank smiled, "Okay."

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Roy said, "We got called out to a possible heart
attack. When we got there we found this group of
guys that had been playing poker all night. The
one guy was not looking good at all. We worked
him up and he needed to go to the hospital. And
he actually fought with us about that, ... like a kid
fights with the dentist."

Hank chuckled.

Johnny picked up with a far away look in his eyes.
"The only way the guy would go in, was
if one of us played the end of his hand for him.
I knew he needed to be at Rampart so I... volunteered."
he said, looking for all the world like a jogger who just
ate a fly.

Hank couldnít bite back a comment, "Gage, I know
your history with poker here. Why did you go and do
a stupid thing like that?" he asked, rolling his eyes.

Roy chuckled.

Johnny blushed to his toes, "Cap, the guy had to go in.
He was gray and throwing off PVCís faster than.. well,
faster than anything. I thought I might have better
luck for him since none of those there knew me at all."

Hank coughed on a sip of coffee and waved the guys
off, trying not to laugh. Roy was biting back one, too, as
Johnny continued, oblivous to his friendsí actions as he fidgeted
with the deck of playing cards in his hand.

"Anyway, " Johnny muttered distastefully. "I sat down and was
under the impression this guy had a decent hand or something,
because of the way he was fighting to leave so hard, so I grinned.
Man, was I wrong! He had a pile of garbage bigger than I EVER
had here, and I was stuck with my promise to that guy. I couldnít
fold."

Gage suffered an immediately flashback to the game
and suddenly it was back to the moment it happened.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Johnny sat down at the table and looked at the cards
he picked up. ::Oh my G*d, this hand smells worse than
Chetís cooking. I did this to save somebodyís life?! If he
doesnít kill me later on for messiní up, these guys will now!::

His eyes wandered over the money and chip pile and
in his head, he began adding up everybodyís anteíed
dollar amounts. ::Holy cow! Seventy hundred five dollars
are in the pot?!::

The bet came around to Johnny. He limped into the pot
with the minimum bet. Johnnyís face reflected pure
professionalism even though the alarmist part of
his weaker brain knew that he was in deep trouble.

The dealer chain smoking to his left said, "I call."

Everybody at the table flipped over their cards. Johnny
had to fight to keep his jaw from dropping. The guy had
bluffed seriously. On his right, the guy had ten high.
Across the table the guy had king high. The dealer had
queen high. Johnny was stunned, he held ace high. Only
just.

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And by doing nothing, he had managed to win the
night long covetted pot.

Gage tried very hard to keep the rest of his body from
shaking as badly as his hands were doing.

The rest of the table grumbled when they realized their
dear departed friend had bluffed them out of some major
bucks. The thick black framed eyeglassed dealer voiced
everybodyís opinion. "I donít eff-ing believe it. That little
sh*t was actually bluffing us for the first time ever!"

Johnny stood as the guy across from him gaped. "He didnít
just bluff you, he took you to school. Iím calling the game
for today. I canít play any more. By the law, I canít accept
or lose any cash. Besides, Iím on duty..." Gage grinned
lopsidedly.

The others nodded, quite respectfully.

Right then, Marco sailed into the house. "Johnny, theyíre gone,
ready to go? I got the squad idling." he said, tipping his helmet up.

"Yeah, Iím ready." he hollered back. "Go wait in the cab for me a sec!"

Johnny smiled apologetically. "Sorry guys, gotta go." he said,
grabbing his HT, helmet and turnout. "Uh, .. whoís gonna save
the goods?" he asked, indicating the money he hadnít touched.

"I will. Iím his banker. He trusts me with his life." said another
player, who was rising from the table and putting on his hat.

"No, he actually trusts my partner today, whoís saving his..
...heh." Gage said, unable to resist the temptation.

The dealer said, "Hey, man. Weíre not arguing. Listen, Mickeyís
gonna give him his money. You guys go take care of his heart.
Weíll take care of the rest of this game and take Bradley
to the cleaners the NEXT time we get together." he said,
sounding for all the world like a gangster.

Gage didnít wait around to find out whether or not there
was a gun in somebodyís lap that was getting its safety
cocked back into place. He bailed.

Johnny nodded as cordially as he could, grabbed the
rest of the gear Roy had deemed non critical, and said,
"Yes, sir." Clearing his hands to cover his butt, Johnny made
tracks out of the room.

------------------------------------------------------------

Hank and Roy had to catch each other to keep from falling out
of their chairs for laughing so hard. When they regained
the ability to speak, Roy spoke first. "You told me he was
bluffing, but I didnít realize it was that bad. Thatís
insane."

"Hey, I didnít deal the cards. I just played them and hoped I
wouldnít lose my shirt." Johnny scoffed. "Or my lifeís blood.
Literally." he said seriously.

Hank chuckled. "Hey, pal, maybe you should play more
hands like that at other mafia houses. You might have
better luck at the games here."

Johnny scowled.

Royís mirth tearing eyes caught the very worn red USC sticker
affixed on the top of the TV set in the corner, that was miraculously,
somehow, still working. "Speaking of games we should of had
better luck with..." and he began to point.

Johnny spun around and followed Royís sight line until he, too,
saw the familiar sports emblem. He coughed on his drink. "Oh man,
that thing? Iíve been tortured with not knowing THAT answer for
six whole years now.. Geez.."

Hank had a rough idea what his former paramedics were talking about
but he wanted to make sure. "Boys, are you remembering that debacle
that you guys suffered when you worked the big Stanford Cardinals
game all day but never learned who won?"

Roy and Johnny groaned as they turned back to Hank. Johnny
replied, "The one and the same, Cap."

Hank blinked for several seconds, and commented, "I felt bad
for you guys about that."

Roy said, "Thanks, Cap." He began to gesture gimme hands, but
Stanley seemed not to understand his drift.

Hank smirked, "Yeah, thatís right." he sighed, leaning back into
his armchair. "When we watched it, I was wondering if you guys
were going to come back in one piece. Gage that tackle you
took must have smarted something fierce, didnít it?"

The trio got a far away look in their eyes as they remembered
back to the game that nobody got to see the end of.

Image of 2game105pattis.jpg Image of gamerjoutsideyouknowwhatgame.jpg Image of game2.jpg

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Johnny turned to Roy, "Man, partner, can you believe our luck? The
one game we end up working this year is the biggest one around."

Roy grinned, "No, I canít , Johnny. Iíve been looking forward to
this game since they announced the schedule for the Trojans."

The guys grabbed some basic gear from the squad, locked it up
and headed for the Coliseum. Johnny looked around at the
growing crowd and commented, "You werenít the only one, Pally.
Man, would you look at this crowd? There must be ten thousand
people here."

Roy looked around and then mumbled, "At least. Letís just hope
they play nice so we can enjoy the game, too."

The boys checked in and were excited to learn they were going
to spend the first half on the field, the second they would
trade with another squad and head for the stands. They
were stunned when they found out that not only were on the
field, they were on the fifty yard line. The two couldnít
wipe the grins off of their faces as they headed for their
posting.

After the pre-game colors ceremony, the boys settled in
for the rest of the day. They cheered right along with the crowd,
but were always on alert in case something happened that
wasnít caught by spotters in the announcerís booth for on
the field or either sideline.

Just before half time, the away team quarterback handed off to his
running back. Johnny and Roy had moved to standing on the
team bench to see better once some of the bigger lineman
started standing in their way.

The new vantage point provided them with a better view,
but proved that it had absolutely no stability to it, at all. The
running back headed toward the out of bounds, blinded by
the sun, with a head full of steam. The Stanford safety
bowled into the running back and set him flying even deeper
into the out of play zone.

Roy yelled, "Watch it!..." but he was cut off before
he could say more as the two players plowed into their
bench. The force of the impact sent the guys and
the players toppling over each other into one big
flailing heap.

Image of uscstanford.jpg Image of 2game73pattis.jpg Image of 2game70pattis.jpg

The players quickly sprang off of the paramedic, murmuring
apologies. Johnny sat up first. "Hey, Roy, you okay?"

Roy sat up and brushed himself off. "Yeah, Johnny,
you?"

Johnny stood up and smiled, "Yeah, although Iíd
rather fly in a plane than off a bench."

Roy groaned at Johnnyís humor as he got back to his
feet. The rest of their medical calls for the first half
proved to be steady, but satisfying. Every once in
a while Roy and Johnny would catch a bit of the crowdís
enthusiasm over a hot play or two.

-----------------------------------------------------

But the big gameís second half, kept the boys futilely
hoping, and deep in the stands.

The game was getting closer and more tense and energetic
as it neared the end. And neither sunburned fireman
wanted to even mention getting a call so they didnít jinx
themselves.

With less than three minutes left, the score was 21-20
home advantage. Suddenly, their HT called them out to
a possible cardiac, in their own crowd medical monitor
booth.

The boys swiftly booked through the stands and cared
for their male patient. And later, as they loaded the
sick announcer into the ambulance, Johnny took a look back
toward the roaring stadium. ::I wonder if weíll get back
here today in time for the outcome?::

Image of 2game101pattis.jpg Image of 2game106pattis.jpg

----------------------------------------------------
The sports reverie faded out and everything righted
itself back to present day station 51.

Hank asked, "Did you guys get to see the end of the
game?"

Roy shook his head, "Nope, Cap..."

Johnny cut Roy off, "The place looked like a ghost
town by the time we got back. We never did find out
who won either."

Hank grinned slyly, "I know who did..." he dangled.
"I read about it a few months after the fact."

Johnny and Royís jaws dropped. Johnny said, "Out
with it, Cap, weíve waited long enough."

Hankís grin grew, "Stanford held on, 21-20, but it was
a real nail biter of a heart attack, no pun intended of
course."

Roy and Johnny grinned as Johnny drummed his
fingers on the table. "So we DID see what mattered
in the end. Good deal!"

Image of 2game107pattis.jpg Image of gagelookingatyougame.jpg

The guys refilled their drinks for a fourth consecutive
time. Hank commented as they sat back down, "Boys,
I wish I could get us all back together every week. This
has been truly awesome."

Roy smiled, "Hey, Cap, how íbout my place this weekend?
We havenít gotten our old group together since..."

Royís voice dropped off and his smile faded quickly.

Everybody knew right then, the reason for the downward
change in mood. And nobody wanted to revisit that past
with any relish. Sighing, the captains pushed away their
coffee mugs without lifting them again, and entered pain.

***************************************************
From: patti keiper <pattik1@hotmail.com>
Date: Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:57 pm
Subject: The Dark, and The Light


"That day started happily enough, didn't it?" Gage asked,
his eyes filling.

"It sure did. That was also the day that basket of Boot's get was
handed over by that angry house owner. Wasn't it only a couple
of hours then before she arrived, too?" Roy recalled.

"Yeah. Who can ever forget Felicia.." Cap smiled gently as
all of them drifted away into her still sharp memory..


***************************************************
From :  Roxy Dee <laterrapincabesa@hotmail.com>
Sent :  Thursday, December 21, 2006 12:49 AM
Subject :  Puppies and Partners~~

(From Episode Forty, Canine Capers )

Chet Kelly's mouth dropped open when he found the cause of all
the scratching they had been hearing echoing through the vehicle
bay off and on all morning. "Say, Cap. You're not gonna believe this."

"I'm not gonna believe what?" Hank hollered from inside his office. "Did you
set those d*mn*d mouse traps like I asked you to, yet? I don't want those
nasty germ ridden vermin to get anywhere near those pups of Roy's. Got it?"

"I'm afraid you're going to have to come out here and see the cause of
all the noise for yourself, Cap."

There was a hasty rustle of paper and a firm bang from a hastily hung up
phone receiver before Hank finally joined Kelly and the rest of the gang by
the back garage door, now auto-retracted open.

Cap skidded to a halt half way across the open floor where the squad
usually parked. "How'd they get here? I- I.. I thought Bonnie was with
her real owner and Boot was still holed up at 110's."

Henry woofed a sudden greeting as he trucked out the kitchen door
to greet the two "old" newcomers to what was now his fire station.

Image of bonniesitupinchair.jpg Image of henrycouchstretchclose.jpg Image of bootgoodcloseengine.jpg

Boot and Bonnie gleefully began to chase him, recognizing his
current king-ship with an all out play feint, darting around and around
the gang's legs, and wildly dashing in and out under the Ward fire engine.

"Hey, knock it off all you hairy, four-legged twits. You'll wake the puppies!"
Hank roared.

All three dogs screeched to a halt, and regarded Cap's face with surprise.

Then their mouths fell into happy grins and they made an immediate
beeline for the bunkroom, with Henry leading the way, to where the
basket of dalmation puppies was being kept inside Henry's doghouse.

"Oh no, no..  no..  no..  no!" hollered Cap in a vain attempt to stop them.

"Cap, let em go. They're all fire dogs. They know better than to wake
sleeping babies, don't they?" Marco asked.

Hank ran a hand through his hair in irritation. "Let's just hope you're
right, Lopez. Last thing I need is a pack of overexcited puppies running
around the station, piddling all over the place."

"Yeah, aren't we glad we've got just the concrete and tile flooring."
Chet quipped.

Hank nailed him with a glare. "For that you've got puppy bottle
feeding and their latrine detail until the pound gets here to take them
away for Adoption Day on Friday." he fumed.

"Hey, take it easy. I'll do it. I'll do it. Geesh, what is there about today
to get all worked up about? It's not like we've had any engine calls
yet to go on this morning." Kelly groused.

"You want to know why I'm all worked up? I'll tell you why I'm all worked
up. Your ever loving crewmates just agreed to Wish host a little girl at the
station for a week so she can learn enough to write a final semester
report for her fifth grade class about firemen lifesavers. That's why.."

Stoker, Marco and Kelly all went thoughtful. Then...

"Cool." said Stoker.

"She'll be someone nice for all the dogs to play with. And the puppies, too."
said Marco.

"Right on, man. She's more than welcome here. I'll hang the privacy curtains
myself." declared Chet. "When's she coming?"

"She's on her way right now." Cap said, all of the hot air leaking out of
his sails in the face of his men's open and honest enthusiasm for the added
complication to their day to day routine. Then he sneezed. Hard.
"OhHHhh. Not again." he grimaced, snatching a hand up to his face quickly to
catch a trickle from an active bloody nose.

Mike whipped out a handerchief and handed it to Hank. "Did you forget to
use the Vaseline Roy and Johnny left out for you last night to coat your
sinuses from all the dry winter air, Cap?"

"Yes. I had a ton of paper work to do last night and this morning." Hank
grumbled. He coughed wetly when blood finally worked its way back and
into his throat. "I don't have time for this.." he sputtered.

Image of stokermarcoincredulousbayenginenozzlepolish.jpg Image of capcalmbaylistenclosebloodynose.jpg

The guys led him over to the radio receiving alcove and over to
the garbage can resting there under the writing shelf.

"Spit it out. I'll go get some ice." said Kelly. " Then sit down on the
bench. Stoker went to grab more dressings so we can pack
you off on that side before you drip out onto your uniform."

Kelly ran off and disappeared into the kitchen. The engineer began
digging through the engine compartments for their road side first aid
kit.

Cap sighed, watching him, and then he sat dutifully. He began leaning
forward to clear out his mouth into the garbage can they had given him.

He was still sitting there when the front doors opened to admit the
squad, Roy, Johnny and a tiny new passenger sitting in between them.

"She's here already. Ah, isn't she a little darling." said Marco, rising from
where he had been crouching next to Cap. "Well, hello there little miss.
Welcome to Station 51. What's your name? Como te llama?" he asked.

Image of marcothrusquaddoor.jpg Image of roygagediscussioninsquadgirl.jpg

***************************************************
From: "Patti" <pattik1@hotmail.com>
Date: Thu Dec 21, 2006 11:09 am
Subject: The Angelic Act..

The girl before Marco was pale, but she smiled like the sun only
an instant after he did. "Am I really here?" she asked excitedly,
brushing long wavy curls out of her tom boy like face. Her eyes
were brown and she seemed to be of half Italian descent.

Johnny Gage, seated next to her, took off his helmet and hung
it on the hook behind him in the cab. "Yep. You sure are. And
your mother's right behind us. She went to go park your station
wagon in the back." said Johnny, getting out of his side of the
squad.

The petite girl frowned briefly and made a small face of disappointment.

Roy clarified matters. "Don't worry. Your ma'll only be here for a little
while to sign some permission papers. Then it'll be just seven of us,
for a week, like we promised." He wiggled fingers to get the girl's
attention in order to help her climb across the middle seat into his
arms for a lift down. "And this handsome gentleman fireman addressing
you.. is Mr. Marco Lopez."

"Hola, Marco. I'm afraid my spanish isn't so good yet. But I keep trying."
she said, accepting Marco's greeting handshake.

Lopez chuckled. "That's all right. I can give you a few handy pointers
over tacos. You like those? That's what's for lunch in about fifteen
minutes." he offered.

"Thanks, Marco. I like tacos. I'm Felicia. I'm sorry I can't tell you my
last name. Mom says only the captain gets to know that. And any doctors,
if I gotta go see some for another tune up while I'm here. Thank you
everybody for granting my Wish. Don't worry. I'm an A student. I promise
I'll write a really, really good report and I won't say anything bad. I can't if
I want to get to the sixth grade. I'll let you read it before I hand it in to my
teacher, Mrs. Mulligan."

"Sounds like you have everything squared away except for putting down
the actual words, Felicia." said Marco.

"I've been thinking about what to say for a long time, but I know I need a
little more time seeing how everybody here works at their job to get
everything exactly right." said the little girl, touching the side flasher
on the squad's door with undisguised curiosity.

A new voice piped up. "You've come to the right place. We're the
busiest fire station around these parts." Mike Stoker slammed shut
an engine door loudly and that was when the three of them noticed
that he had a portable first aid kit in his hands.

Johnny looked up, casting a glance around for the reason why. A few
seconds later, they noticed a forlorn Cap parked on the wooden bench
next to the soda machine by the large wall map near the office. "What
happened to him?" Gage asked Marco, when he spotted the blood
soaked cloth in Hank's hand as it sat over his nose.

Roy's eyebrows went up, too. "Did he lose a tug of war rope game with
Henry or something?"

"Nah. He forgot to apply his schnoz lube last night." Stoker shrugged.
"Things aren't too annoying yet. Chet's getting some ice for him to put
on his forehead."

Felicia's mouth fell into an "O" of concern and she padded quickly across
the garage space to get to him. "Oh, I'm sorry." she said to Cap. "I get
nose bleeds, too, on my bad days. Here, I know just how to handle them.
Want me to help you with it?" she asked Hank. "I know just how to get them
to stop. Fast."

Cap's eyebrows furrowed into brief puzzlement before amusement began to
surface. "Be my guest." he told their young charge as he kicked the bloody
garbage can under the bench where she couldn't get too near it.

Felicia reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out a plastic sandwich
bag which she put on like a glove to wear. Then she dug that thumb against
the side of Cap's nose until it closed off just his one bleeding nostril. Then
she used her free hand to hold and grip the back of his neck gently. "I'm
going to squeeze a bit back here, ok?" she said, digging her fingers deeper
into his thick curly hair.

"Sure..Anything you say." Hank told her, trying not to laugh out loud. He
even leaned forward further so she could reach the back of his head even
easier. Hank held still when she began to lightly massage the area where
his skull met his neck bones. "Ughhff. Ow?" he said when he began to feel
a tingling pressure under his skin and the tightening of muscles he
didn't even know he had somewhere deep inside his forehead.

"That means it's working." Felicia told him. "Only a little bit more." she told
him quietly. "My bleeds quit right away when I do this."

Roy and Johnny gathered around, pursing their mouths shut in growing
amusement where they stood watching the whole affair as they both
leaned against the side of the squad.

Image of royjohnnylockersgrin.jpg Image of girlcurecap.jpg

"Here you go, Cap." said a returned Chet a few seconds later, handing
off the ice bag. He only hesitated briefly at the sight of the girl who was
apparently effectively treating Cap. Hank took the bag from Kelly
but he didn't use it. He let it stay dangling between his knees.

Felicia let go when Cap began to clench his eyes shut against the tingling.
"Ok. It's stopped." she told him, letting him go.

Cap instinctively brought the handkerchief up to his face again but the
strong trickling didn't return. He breathed in experimentally. "There's not
even a clot inside." he told the paramedics. "Thanks miss. Wow, I feel like
a new man." he said, standing back up onto his feet.

Roy and Johnny's eyes grew wide and they both briefly examined the truth
of what Cap reported with their probing penlights. "Really? The bleeding's
over?" Gage asked.

"Yep. Incredible. Usually these last a half an hour or more for me. How
did you do that?" Cap asked the little girl.

"I just want people to get better. And then they just do." she shrugged.

Stoker smiled. "Sounds like Dixie at the hospital's been a big influence on
you."

"Oh, she has. But this is something I've always been able to do." said
Felicia.

"Then I'm very glad you got here. We wouldn't have had any fun at all if I
couldn't eat lunch because of my nose." Hank said, tweeking hers.  
He peeled the blood smeared bag off Felicia's hand and tossed it away into
the waste can along with the unused ice bag. Then he shoved the whole
mess into Chet's stomach. "Here, Kelly. Make yourself useful and go clean
that up for me. I've got an introduction to make. Come on, miss. Let's go find
a sink to wash off a bit first. Then let's go meet your mom for that necessary
meeting before we chase her away for good. Are you ready for a lot of
company besides us? There are nine fire dogs hiding someplace around
the station. And six of them... are puppies." he told her.

"Puppies? I like puppies almost as much as I love horses." Felicia crowed.

Gage cleared his throat.
"Yeah, well, we'll get your horse fix in sometime this week, too. And that
shopping spree on our off days. I've got a ranch and four mustangs just
waiting around, bored, at home." said Johnny.

Felicia giggled and nodded eagerly at the suggestion. Then she
followed Cap politely into the locker room.

A woman who could only be the girl's mother came out of the kitchen
where Marco had fetched her at a ring of the doorbell. "You think she'd
have chosen Disneyland or Universal Studios for her final fling at the
world." said the woman bravely. "But no, she wanted to stay in a firehouse
and shadow some paramedics whom she considers her heroes."

"Hello, ma'am." DeSoto and Gage greeted her. "We'll take good care of
her. Dixie McCall's taking this time off to be able to stop by each day
every few hours to make sure Felicia's vitals stay normal and that all of
her medications are taken properly. Does your daughter have any dietary
restrictions or other situations we should know about that might effect
her ability to get up with us at all hours of the night when we get called
out?"

"None that really matter at this point. She has no real physical restrictions,
either. Her body tells her when to slow down. The first thing she'll do when
that happens is that she'll ask permission to quit whatever's she's doing
long enough to go take a nap somewhere in the sun or under a warm
blanket. I'm just worried that she'll effect how you'll be able to carry out
your normal jobs." said the sad, dimly haunted woman.

"We've got that covered." said Gage. "You see, we have a fireman who's
not actually one who drives a truck that's just like ours. His name's Charlie
and he's one of our fire department's mechanics. He'll be chaparoning Felicia
at all of our response scenes, including watching over her and he'll keep
her from the things that she shouldn't be observing as situations warrant. If
you'd like, we can have Dixie ride along with the two of them, too, if that'll
make you feel more comfortable. We won't be placing her in any danger.
Not even in the slightest. For a fact, Dixie's the one who trained both of
us when we first started out in the paramedic program five years ago."

Felicia's mother shook her head. "I trust you. Please do whatever you
feel's best. For some background, Felicia's father was a....fire chaplain."
she breathed deeply. "But he was killed in a freak car accident when
Felicia was five. She was in the car with him. That's probably where she
got the idea to want to go see the places where he lived his working life
when he wasn't off duty and at home with us. Then.. when my daughter got
sick a year later, I.... didn't know what to do to help her with that. Not
until Dixie came to me last week and told us about the Foundation. Then
everything just got miraculously clearer and clearer. And now we're here.
I want to thank you for taking her in." said Felicia's mother seriously, but
then unbidden tears filled her eyes. She brushed them impatiently away.

"We're glad you came." said Johnny, taking her hand.

Roy smiled. "Did you know your daughter's real good with first aid?"

The mother's eyes remained clouded. "Umm, she was in the girl scouts once."

"Well, she helped out Cap a couple of minutes ago with an intriguing new
way to handle a nose bleed. Johnny and I were actually struck speechless
and I'll have to admit we were completely dumb founded with the results
she ended up with."

The mother dropped her head. "Oh, her "healing." She been doing that
since she was a baby. It doesn't matter if it's.... a skinned knee or a
headache. When Felicia's around, everybody's pain and suffering seems
to...just disappear. You know what I mean?"

"Yeah." said Johnny softly in awe. "We saw that."

Image of gagemomgirlstation.jpg Image of roysmiletshirtbay.jpg

The mother looked up with shining eyes when she saw Cap returning
from the bathroom with her daughter. "Some days, I think it's so
entirely not fair that she'll never grow up to become a nurse or even a
doctor. No, it seems like Felicia's one angel that G*d wants back to His
side far, far earlier than most."

With a sharp honk, Charlie the mechanic's horn jarred them as it
sounded from the rear. Marco jogged over there, after showing Felicia
the way to the kitchen as Cap went into the office with Felicia's mother,
and popped open the doors for him.

"Howdy, boys. Is she here yet? Boy am I ready for a day out on the
town with a beautiful young lady." Charlie said, polishing his fire
department badge nervously. "Which way did she go?"

Image of gagehmmroyokbyenginelisten.jpg Image of charlieandhistruck.jpg

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In the present, Captain Gage chuckled. "Now wasn't Charlie the mechanic
a nervous wreck for no reason? I mean, Felicia was a perfect doll.
And she didn't misbehave at all with us using her illness as an excuse."

"There was something very special about her, even when she was scared."
Roy said thoughtfully.

"I remember." Johnny said, looking at Roy and trying not to choke up.

"What, uh, what are you guys referring to?" asked Hank.

"Let me tell you, Cap. She had.. such a wisdom about her ...that belied
even her tender age." DeSoto said. "We talked about ..the unthinkable.
That should never happen to a child."

Roy shared his story of the moment his life had been re-galvanized.

****************************************************
From: Voyagerliveaction Staff <theaterhost@voyagerliveaction.com>
Date: Wed, Jan 3rd, 2007. 6:00:00 pm
Subject:  Spotty Situation  


"So what we were on was called a mass casualty incident?" asked
Felicia to Roy.

"Yep. And we didn't even know we had one until we actually looked into
that smashed car. It happens that way sometimes when you least expect it."

"Well, I think you did a nice job running it, even though Captain Stanley
hasn't told you that yet face to face. I thought I'd be the first to tell you
that since it was my first one ever." she smiled with a derisive no
nonsense nod.

"Thanks." said Gage, checking the copter's cabin out and resupplying
everything he had used on Mary's grandpa's previous flight from his
supply box he had received on landing. "You didn't do so bad yourself.
We were so surprised and so was Mr. Suder, when Mary started talking
again. How'd you convince her to open up again?"

"I knew she wanted to, so I told her by taking her hand that it was her
choice. Everyone else she knows always orders her to talk before she's
ever ready. She doesn't like that very much. She feels pressured." said
Felicia.

"Wow, a budding psychologist, too. I'm impressed." Gage said, patting
the cot. "Wanna see what makes up one of these birds as far as patient
care? Come on, I'll give you a tour."

Image of helicopterovercarsontopview.jpg Image of carsonskyviewcityhelicopterview.jpg Image of johnnyroyhelicopterwindows.jpg

"Ok.. I...oh, " and Felicia sat back down again. "Sorry. I ....think I'm getting
a little tired on you." she sighed, gasping.

Roy's eyebrows raised. "Short of breath?"

Felicia finally nodded.

"Huh, maybe it's our altitude." DeSoto guessed. "We are up kinda high."

"That's all right. Easy fix." Gage said. "Come over here and we'll
have you to rights in a couple of minutes. We'll be done with ya long
before we touch down so don't start freaking out on us." he said,
patting the cot.

Felicia eyeballed DeSoto getting a hissing mask ready.

"Ohhh, not the O2 therapy thing....again. I thought I .....was
doing great....all this week.. not needing it.." she puffed.

"Hey, You think I wasn't puffing today hacking that car apart? I
was you know. Look..." and Gage sucked in a few lungfuls on
the mask himself, filling his chest. Then he wove and faked a faint
on the caretaker's bench. "Whoa.. I think I took too much.." he
said, acting dizzy. "Roy, I think I'm kicking the big one..Uhhhhh."
And he fell over.  Then his eyes opened. "Here Felicia, your turn
to take a hit." he said miraculously recovering. "I think I'm better."
he told her.

Felicia cracked up, laughing so hard that she made the pulse
oximeter Roy slipped onto her finger bleep in warning. "Ok, but
just for a little while."

"That's cool." said Gage.

A few minutes later Felicia opened her eyes where she lay on
the made up cot. "Johnny, Roy? Can I ask you a personal question.
You..you don't have to answer it if you don't want to. I..wouldn't
want to make the two of you feel uncomfortable..but, I have to
ask this, since...you both see this happening alot...with other people."
she said, lacing her hands across her chest. She seemed very small
under the oxygen mask and for the first time, strangely vulnerable to
the two paramedics. It made something deep inside of them, vaguely
ache in a pang of emotions.

"You can ask us anything, Felicia. We're friends, aren't we?" Johnny
finally said, breaking the silence. He fussed with her hair and pulled
some strands out that were tangling the elastic strap of her oxygen
mask. Then without asking, he began to braid some pleats up one
side of her head. "Go ahead, we're both listening and we don't have
to share this with your ma if you don't want us to."

Felicia stared at the ceiling of the chopper and a faraway look filled
her eyes as she went someplace that only she understood in her mind.
"I want...to ask you...what it's like...to die." she said finally, meeting their
eyes with her own suddenly haunted ones.

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  Click the gang watching
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  What's  A  Dedicated Captain  Like  You  Doing..
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