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   A Day In The Life
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Page Eight

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**************************************************
From: patti keiper (pattik1@hotmail.com)
Sent: Mon 11/19/12 1:47 PM  
Subject: Rev Up

The coroner, Quincy, found Dr. Early conferring with Dr. Brackett
and Dr. Morton at the nurse's desk where Dixie normally was
stationed.

The head nurse wasn't visibly present. But then again, he thought, he
didn't know her working hours schedule. He put on his best social
smile and left the stairwell to head towards the trio at a brisk pace.

Kel looked up from his close conference huddle with Joe and
Mike Morton. "Ah, Dr. Quincy. Just the man I wanted to see. Got
a minute?"

"Yep. Got a phone book? I'll trade... My time... for some White Pages.."
the coroner dangled, holding out a friendly, empty palm.

His request won him a sour look from Morton but one of amusement
from the silver haired cardiologist, Dr. Early.

Dr. Brackett peered around for a bit around the E.R. desk until
he found one propped up against the side of the patient chart rack.
"For business or pleasure?"  Kel smiled as he reached for it.

"Definitely pleasure, Doctor Brackett. I'm off to mend a few broken
hearts, Dr. Brackett. But without any surgery.." Quincy joked to Dr.
Early with a waggling finger. "At least, I hope I can fix them." he
amended with a look of hesitant doubt upon his worry lined face.
"Sam, my assistant, has already branded me a helpless cause and
has threatened to bolt for the safety of home."

"Those hearts of yours wouldn't be belonging to six, bone weary
firefighters, now would they?" Joe asked.

Quincy drew up short as he accepted the pro-offered White Pages
that Morton passed over to him from Kel.  "As a matter of fact..." his
comment fizzled out into a look of self consciousness. "Yes. Am I
allowed to talk to them even though they're still in a psychological
evaluation period?"

Morton scoffed. "Sir, what you do on your own down time is up to you."
said Mike. "We've got you pegged for another reason."

"Oh? And what's that?"

"The USGS has just declared a county wide alert for weather." Mike
replied, angling his round glasses a little bit lower down onto his nose.

"Anything dire?" Quincy asked, knowing that meant mudslides.

"Nothing yet for us." said Kel.  "But the storm's been bad enough to ground all
news and fire department helicopters so they can't report on what conditions
are going on out there." he reported.

"How does this.....weather alert ...involve me?" Quincy wondered, waving
a hand at the amber lit situation panel glowing above Rampart's police and
fire scanner resting on the counter.

Brackett's face suddenly betrayed inner turmoil.
"Car accidents are sure to happen tonight in greater frequency than normal
due to traffic mishaps. And.. quite honestly, Dr. Quincy, we're worried about
one of our nurses. She's late for her shift and we haven't been able to call her.
Our outside phone lines appear to be down."

Morton piped up.. "And we know your morgue is near where she was heading
this afternoon to do a favor for a few friends of ours. She went to pick up
Station 51's dog from the vet's." he shared.

Quincy held up a sympathetic hand.
"Say no more, doctors. I completely understand. We'll swing by the animal shelter
on our way home to check and see if she's been smart enough to wait out
the weather there. I've already been hearing from your arriving night staff that it's
pretty bad outside. And getting worse." the coroner replied, opening up the phone
book to look up the first firefighter name he could recall from memory for its
street address.

"We appreciate it." said Joe, offering Quincy a quick handshake in thanks. "She's
never been late before, ever, and it caught our attention immediately. Carol here
has been kind enough to take over the front desk."

Quincy waved back at Nurse Evan's professional smile when the dark haired
woman responded to her spoken name. "Happy to poke around a little. I do that
anyway." the older doctor quipped as he turned pages rapidly to find the right
spots.

"We noticed." Kel grinned.

Chuckling, Joe, Kel, and Mike returned to their light medical rounds.

Frowning ruefully, Quincy tilted his head as he watched the activity level in the E.R.
slowly begin to pick up its pace.  ::Hmm.:: he thought. ::Maybe there's something to
this weather alert of theirs after all. ::  It was looking more and more like it was going
to be a long night ahead of him. ::No time for a night cap at Danny's. Sam and I
are going to have to delay that outing until tomorrow.::   He gathered the home
addresses of Station 51's A-shift firemen and returned the phone book to Carol.

Then the coroner picked up the hospital's black house phone receiver to dial his
assistant in the Nurse's lounge to tell him about their sudden change of plans for
the evening. ::Sam won't object this time, because all we're doing is following up
on the whereabouts of a nurse..::
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Carol Evans looked up when she saw Emily Stanley walk in from the front entrance.
She appeared to be holding and guiding her husband by the arm. Alarmed, she stood
up quickly. "Is he-?"

"No. We're just visitors." Emily said about the ragged look on Cap's face. "He's not
hurt. At least, not physically. We're just going to go see the baby." she emphasized
significantly.

Evan's concern softened into understanding. "She's still on the third floor, in the west
wing. We have her right in front of the incubation room's observation window."  She
handed over a pair of fire department visitor badges. "We knew some of you might
be coming back in."

"Thanks." said Emily as she lovingly studied Hank's tear shiny, but vacant eyes. "I know
he'll perk up once she's in his arms again and then maybe he'll be able to get some rest.
I promise I'll watch them both."

Carol nodded and pointed the way to the elevators.

"Come on, love." she whispered to him. "We're almost there."

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It was almost a full hour later, deep into the night.

"Unit 60 to base, come in."  spoke A.C. Officer Dave Gordon into
the mic of their animal control truck radio.  "Base this is Unit 60, do you
copy our transmission?" he shouted a little louder through the deluge
of thunderstorm rain that was practically deafening he and his partner,
Les Taylor, as they drove out of Carson residential blocks and into the
rising canyonlands beyond.  He took his finger off the talk toggle and
gave vent to his rapidly growing frustration. "Come on, Patty." he
complained. "There's no way the front desk phones are busy at
the vet office this time of day and you're too good of a secretary to
let any hail slide longer than thirty seconds so where the h*ll are you?"

Radio static continued to meet his ears.

Les Taylor kept a firm grip on the steering wheel as he drove them down
the last avenue leading into the hill country. "Huh. That's a first. Dead air over
our channel?" said his dark skinned coworker. "Something's gotta be wrong."

"What makes you think so?" grinned Dave as he scratched his damp, neatly
trimmed frosted blond hair under his helmet. He laughed. "It is two minutes
before closing. Can you blame Doc and the rest of the staff for clearing out
before Noah's Ark's spotted floating down Carter Street?"

Taylor eyed Dave with a critical look. "Laugh all you like. A flood is a flood,
Dave. Even if it didn't last long in the city. In case you've forgotten, our animal
hospital is still situated inside of a humongous bath tub called a valley last time
I checked."

"Relax, Les. There's a new spillway around work. It'll hold just fine."

"But the same old dirt's still there." Taylor snapped. "And that means
landslides whenever the rain lasts for more than an hour."

"Who says? The weathermen? The USGS?"  Dave scoffed lightly.

"No," said Les vehemently. "My gr--" he broke off, a self consciousness
suddenly choking off his ire. "My grandmother if you must know. And she's
never wrong. Not at fifty five." he finished, still tensing up.

"Yeah?" said Dave noticing a suddenly excessively pressed accelerator
pedal. "We'll we're doing better than that. Slow down or we're going to
get another speeding ticket."

"What? Oh!" Les exclaimed in horror when he realized what he was doing.

Vivid red lights suddenly bloomed out of the darkess and the unmistakable
sound of a police siren.

Dave whirled around in instant dismay as he identified the cruiser as being
of the truly official kind trailing them. "Too late. We're caught."

Les grumbled in irritation at himself. "Like dogs in the net. That was fast.
Were we speeding for more than ten seconds? Maybe we can convince
the judge to throw out the ticket on--"

"Just pull over! Whoever this is, this isn't your ordinary garden variety
traffic stop. Somebody's waving us down!" Dave said, rubbing his
brown jacket sleeve on his passenger window to clear it.  

The figure running toward them was Officer Vince Howard.

"Sir, we can explain..." Dave began he said, rolling down the window
and peering out into the driving rain.

"Unlikely. I'm not here about that. Why weren't you answering your radio?
We've been trying to hail you for over two minutes straight." Vince said,
tipping streaming rain water from off the rim of his police helmet.

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"That would be kind of hard to do if we were also trying to transmit out
at the same time.." Gordon shrugged. "What's the prob-"

Vince interrupted.
"It's Carter Street! The drive in's been completely washed out by a huge
mud flow and the highway engineers think it just may be big enough to
threaten the vet hospital. They tell me nobody can move in or out of that strip
mall."

"Oh, sh*t. Is that why our radio's been all static? Officer, our staff at work isn't
answering our radio calls. They haven't replied to us yet and we've been trying to
reach them for almost five minutes."

"Are you sure?" asked Howard, leaning heavily against their window sill against
the wind.

"Absolutely. It's clear reception. See?" Dave showed him, clicking the live mic a
few times to activate the open channel warble.

Vince's face turned firm with calculation. "How many people are in that building?"

"Uh, just two. Doc Coolidge and Patty Burns, our receptionist." Dave replied,
breathing hard with rising worry.

"A-And any visitors who might be there for the animals." Les added quickly.

"Right. Let's go. Leave your truck. We're going in on foot."

"What?!" Dave spat. "I thought you said the road was washed out."

"It is. Look, fellas. The mudslide's already passed. It can't do anything more to
us except get a little slippery underfoot in all this rain."

"Can't we call for some help?" Les asked. "We don't know what we're going to
run into down there."

"We're it. The whole fire department's already back logged up to the hilt in
emergency calls. They're evaluating each, one by one, and then handling the
worst first. They won't be able to come for this. Not for a while." Howard
reasoned. "There's no fire."

"D*mn it. Why do disasters in California have to happen all in the same week!"
cursed Les in frustration. "Uh, okay. We've got ropes, flares, shovels."

Dave improvised even more. "And a pretty big first aid kit. We can throw them all
into a dog net and drag it in after us."

"I'll add my medical gear and equipment." Howard said. "Leave your ambers on
like I'm leaving my squad car lights going. It'll tip off anybody arriving that there's
a problem around here."

"How's your radio?" Dave shouted over the storm as the two of them got out
of the animal control truck's cab.

"Same as yours! Staticky!" Vince said running for his gear. "If you got a pair of HTs,
bring them. We'll see if they work when we get some place dry.  For the mean time,
I suggest you bundle up into all the warm clothes you can under your rain gear."

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From: patti keiper (pattik1@hotmail.com)
Sent: Wed 11/21/12 1:21 AM
Subject: What's A Little History?

The tangy salt of savory chicken broth steam rising around his nose
made Craig Brice sneeze.  He opened his eyes and found another
spoonful of soup being offered to his lips. He startled and grabbed
the hand that had been feeding him. Its tiny size was instantly swallowed
in his own larger one. ::Wait a minute, I know this woman.::  he thought.
"Nurse Walters. Wh--" he broke off his question when another sensation
on his skin caught his attention. "Am I sitting bare naked, except for a
blanket wrapped around me, right in front of you?"

"Yes." said Sharon, her face still inches from Craig's.  Brice immediately
cleared his throat quickly and felt his face grow hot as he let go of her
fingers and the spoon.   "Johnny!" she called out.

"Yeah?" came Gage's voice from the other room.

"He's feeling modest!" she hollered.

"Okay, I'll be right there..."

Craig kept on blinking a few times trying to get his brain to work on his new
reality. He didn't resist Sharon wrapping his hands around the soup mug
for its heat.  He took a quick gulp from it without any urging. He didn't make
any further eye contact as he recovered emotionally while he wrapped the
blanket a little tighter around himself with his free hand.

Walters got up and moved to a couch near the spot Brice sat on
the rug before the roaring fire. "In case you can't remember, Mr. Brice,
you saved your own life this evening by coming to Mr. Gage's house for
shelter after falling afoul of an ugly thunderstorm."   She poured him
a refill of broth from a tea pot. "Here's more. You're still a bit cold. Keep
drinking. And no, I didn't think anything of it. I was too scared to death
worrying over you to care about what I was looking at."

"Thank you. For that reassurance. I don't know why that bothered me.
We're all medical people."

Sharon was honest. "Look, Craig. It was no secret you had a crush on me
before you married your wife.  There are still bound to be left over feelings.
It's no biggie. Nobody can turn their heart off. All we can do is choose not
to act on it. Besides, I'm with Johnny now. Can't you tell?" she shrugged.

Clear signs of a set of hickies peppered her neck. Brice blushed again,
and cursed when Sharon started laughing out loud in sympathy.

Johnny Gage entering the room with a set of folded clothes, breaking the
uncomfortable moment with action. "Welcome back to full consciousness,
Brice. About time you quit fighting us. How's your head now?" he said,
crouching down in front of him. He began to examine Craig's pupillary
responses with a pen light without preamble.

"Fine." Brice answered quickly as he tolerated the neuro check.

"A little too clear." Walters quipped at the same time.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Gage frowned at them both.

"Nothing." they both said at the same time.

"An inside joke." Sharon amended.

"On me." Craig admitted.

Gage didn't even bat an eye. "Glad you're feeling better. Any nausea?"

"None at all." Craig replied, reaching for the tea pot again to refill his
empty mug. "Just a dull ache where this cut on my face is."

"Good. Now can you tell me what the h*ll you were doing out on our mountain
road in the middle of the night in less than favorable weather conditions?"
Johnny asked.

Craig froze in place, suddenly remembering. "Oh no. Gage, turn on your radio."

"Why?" Johnny asked suspiciously, getting up to do just that. "What have I been
missing?" and he glared at Sharon, who looked away in self consciousness.

"Only a county wide emergency resource call out. Do you remember Pompeii
from history?"

"Yeah. A town buried in ash from a volcano."

"Try five buried in mud." Craig shared. "This downpour's turned into a record
flood. I was on my way to answer 110's call for additional paramedic personnel
when part of your mountain decided to cave in over my Porsche."

"Never mind about that. Nothing we can do right now for any of them
with the wind conditions I just found out there.  The trees are practically laying
flat. How long do you think you were blacked out?" he said, turning the scanner's
volume down to a murmur.

Craig just lowered his head and started fidgetting with his hands.

"Come on, Craig. Your B.P. still wasn't stellar when I checked it five minutes ago."
Johnny said, giving him a daggered stare.

Brice's sense of duty finally made him give in to his attending paramedic.
"Maybe... two hours. It was sun up over the trees when it happened and
just after dark when I woke up."

"Two hours?!" Gage griped. "Brice, you could have a subdural bleed going on."

"I don't."

"And how would you know?" Johnny challenged him.  

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"Easy, Gage. My heart rate's fast, not slow and my B.P.'s low not high. And
there's absolutely nothing wrong with my breathing rate if I'm talking to you in full
sentences like this."

Johnny's mouth gaped open. Then he just angled his head. "Well, you got
me there. No Cushing's triad. Quit trying to be so perfect when you're hurt.
That's my job as your attending paramedic!" he snapped, his rage faltering.

Both Sharon and Craig smiled at each other.

"All right. I'll stop talking. Feel better?" Craig joked.

"Yes. Er.. no! Quit messing with my head, Brice." Gage warned, poking
an antibiotic ointment smothered two by two gauze pad at the still oozing
cut on Craig's cheek.

"Why? You're messing with mine. Ouch!" Craig said, swiping at Gage's hand.

"Boys. Be civil. People are probably at risk of dying out there. So what are
we going to do about it once this storm dies down a little?" Sharon said
succinctly.

Brice and Gage both looked at her and said the same thing at the same time.
"We'll go rescue them."

"Cool. I'll start gathering up all our gear." she smiled, hopping to her feet into
action.  She was out of the room before either firefighter could protest.

"Have we just been had, Brice?"  Johnny said, his salve dabbing paused
in mid dab.

"Fraid so." sighed Brice, feeling the cut's treatment progress with a few finger
tips.

"Women..." they both sighed, looking after the door through which Sharon had
disappeared.

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From:  patti keiper (pattik1@hotmail.com)
Sent: Mon 1/07/13 2:16 PM
Subject:  The Mud In Your Eye


"So this is the kid we saved, eh, Cap?"

Hank Stanley startled at the soft tenor voice that spoke up into his ear.
"Oh my G*d. Chet. I-I'm sorry. I - I completely forgot that you were
still here."   Cap looked up from the baby cradled in his arms inside
the maternity ward to look at an I.V.-less Kelly, also seated, in
a wheel chair being pushed by Ms. Millicent Fishmeyer.

Nearby, Emily Stanley just smiled from the couch and didn't look up
from the book she was reading.

"Small wonder. Your wife said you haven't slept all night. Now what's
up with that? I've got a lung with a barely patched hole in it and even I
managed to get a few winks. Just hand her over.. Your eyes are
about to put out the fire." Chet said no nonsense as he gestured impatiently
to take the sleeping infant from Hank, whose tired eyes were drooping out of
control.

"Hmm?" Cap grunted sleepily. His hands grasped the air absently
where she had been. "She okay?" he mumbled in concern.

"Yes. Go to sleep. And that's an order. " Kelly whispered firmly so as to not
awaken their charge.

"Before you become a patient yourself." added Millie helpfully.

Chet looked up at her. "Thanks, Mrs. Fish. For wheeling me down."

"Anytime, dear. Now,... I'll be right outside if there's anything else you boys
need me to do." she said as she backed out of the room.

Chet and Emily both nodded warmly for Cap, who was rapidly losing the battle
to keep on feeling bad.

The door of the ward shut, leaving the group of four alone with the nurse
monitoring them discreetly from the nurse's station in the I.C.U. room.

Emily watched her husband fall awkwardly into slumber seconds later.
"It's about time. I knew this would work." she admitted to Chet as she
rose to flip a blanket over Hank's shoulders and lap for warmth. "Thanks
for coming."

"Wild horses couldn't keep me away." Kelly admitted ruefully. "My sister
told me you two walked in the door. She was down by the E.R. admissions
desk getting the latest scoop on the big---"

Emily shushed him with a quick finger to her lips. "I don't want him to know."
she mouthed without speaking.

Kelly nodded. "Okay. We can talk about something else. I am kind of stuck
here at Rampart. What can I do about it all out there? Absolutely nothing."
he grinned.

"Sorry, Chet. I just don't want his stubborn streak to kick in. This is the first time
in years I've ever seen him overdo it." Emily apologized.

"You don't have to apologize, Mrs. Stanley. Once the guys find out he's like this,
they'll probably sit on him to keep him in bed." Chet joked.

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"Where's your sister?"

"She's napping. A connecting flight from Seattle will do that to you. She had a lay over
of four hours in Denver. Once she found out I was fine she snagged a pillow from
the closet and konked out on the couch in my room. I ordered a pizza for her from
dietary. She can eat it when she wakes up."  Chet said.

"So how are you doing? They didn't tell me much." Emily said, stretching a bit
and setting her mystery novel aside.

Chet kicked up the foot stands on his wheelchair, locked it, and got out gingerly.
"They can't. So I will.  I'm great. Nothing major broken. And I'm sore. Well, maybe
my pride. A little. I mean a guy just doesn't go into work every day expecting a pair of
crazies breaking in and holding you at gun and knife point for hours on end." he
said, carefully trying his legs in a walk around the last vestiges of his lingering
medication effects.  He finally sat down onto a night stand next to Emily.

She sighed, looking at him thoughtfully, with a great inner strength that showed brightly
in her deeply colored, hazel eyes. "I'm sorry you and Hank had to go through what you did.
Some things are unpreventable, Chet. And no matter how big the door lock is, sometimes
you just can't keep the bad things out." she said, not meaning the dead bolt on the fire station
door.  "I'm here for you. All of you. Not just for my husband. We're family."

Chet's eyes filled suddenly and he held out his I.V. site Band-aid-ed hand and took her
offered one.  "It was bad, Em." he said, his voice choking up and sniffling as he battled
sudden emotions. "I was sedated, but I saw everything. If Quincy hadn't of gotten into
the middle of things, by getting inside of those convicts' heads, I don't know what would
have happened to us."

Emily's face twisted in sympathy as tears came, too. "Shh, we'll make her cry." she
said of the baby in his arms.

"No, we're going to make her smile, Em. All of us. We're going to find her family and
make sure she gets back to them. Safe and sound." Kelly promised, taking Emily
into a soft hug. "Now that's something Cap's already insisted on. Right along with
that coroner who saved all of our butts."

Emily laughed and tears squirted down her face before she wiped them away.
"Sometimes it really sucks being a firefighter's wife."

"Yeah? Well, try being a firefighter sometimes. You'll be changing your tune real
fast." He joked. "Dumpster fires, false alarms, middle of the night calls with cats stuck
in trees.. Nah, yesterday was just a fluke and that's what we're going to tell Cap when he
wakes up." Kelly released Emily and began fussing affectionately with the baby's
wraps with a few tender fingers. "She's comfortable. And if we stick together,
we'll all feel the same way real soon." he promised.

"I know we will, Chet. I brought Hank to the hospital so we can begin the whole
healing process they're all talking about." she grinned, showing him the CISM
pamphlet she pulled out of her purse.  "And I think visiting the baby is a good start."

Millie poked her head in the door. "I need to see you both."

Emily and Chet looked up at Mrs. Fishmeyer in her candy striper uniform with questions
in their eyes.

"In private." she said, tossing her head towards their sleeping Captain.

The nurse at the desk cleared her throat and she got up to collect the little girl from Chet
to put her back into her heated incubator.

Once in the hallway, Millie made sure the door leading into the baby's ward was shut tight
between Cap and themselves.  "There's just been an announcement. Some kind of big
disaster. An ARKstorm, they called it. They said the weather is forming mudslides."

"Oh, no." Kelly gasped.

"What's an ARKstorm?" Emily asked.

"It's a codeword for a scenario that matches the Great Flood of 1861-2. That year, the rain
that pooled in the Central Valley in San Joaquin County flooded for a hundred square miles."
Kelly said. "I learned about it last year in some new training at Headquarters." he turned to
their older companion. "Millie, what areas are being impacted. Do you remember?"

Millie concentrated, her wrinkled mouth working with effort.
"The worst is in Rialto. On E. Carter St. At the Five Points Plaza Shopping Center." she reported.
"I think. I'm horrible at remembering addresses." she fretted.

"That's good enough. Okay, ahh.." said Chet, thinking fast. "They'll probably be calling all off duty
firefighters to report in. And Cap's not going to know about this, kapesh? He's completely exhausted.
Listen, I'll handle everything by phone and--" he broke off as an orderly walked by, curious of their
gathering. He wandered away moments later. Chet  continued. "Shh, don't tell the staff. I'll be in my
room." Kelly said, carefully walking away, around the pain he had left in his chest. "I'm going to get the
guys in on this despite our medical leave orders. They'd kill me if they found out I didn't even try."

Nodding, Emily got back into the ward with her husband and shut the door quietly so he wouldn't
wake.

Millie eyed up her patient charge. "Now what? You left your wheelchair in there."

Chet waggled his eyebrows in jest. "Millie.. think you can you carry me?"

She slugged him on the arm. "I'm 94 years old, young man. What do you think?"

Grinning, Kelly waved over an orderly, who got him a new one when he spotted Chet standing
a little bit crooked from his remnant pain, in his patient robe.

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Johnny Gage dressed and packed up what he thought he needed, swiftly. "Brice,
feeling up to coming with us?"

"I'm not cold any more if that's what you're wondering." Craig offered.

"Hmmm."  Sharon said thoughtfully, right before she pinched him square on the haunch.

"Ouch!" Brice yelped, jumping away from her.

She grinned. "Oriented times three, Johnny. Looks like a good healthy anger to me."

Brice shrugged her off in half embarrassment and half irritation. "Gage, just why are YOU
going? It's against medical leave orders."

"What I do on my own free time, is none of Headquarters business. If somebody wants to
hide in their office and b*tch about things without seeing me face to face in person about it
for some talking, it's all fine by me. That's just cowardice in my book. Policy or no policy.
So don't quote it." he challenged, grabbing up his duffle.  "I don't have to use their channels."

"The chiefs are grunts, Brice." Walters snapped. "They're only emotionally winged, not physically."
she said of Station 51's A shift. Sharon Walters tossed Brice a warm coat as she snatched
up an ample medical bag. "Two weeks off is hogwash. Do you think we can get through,
Johnny? I saw a lot of mud out there. Even up this high."

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"I've got a Land Rover, not a Porsche." he winked without amusement.

"Ouch." Brice muttered, remembering his mud buried car.

Johnny ignored him. "It can get through anything." he said. "Got my
handy talkie?" he asked Sharon.

"Yeah. It's on." she replied, patting her backpack.

"Turn it off the fire department frequency and on to the police department's.  
I'm allowed to talk to them anytime." he said sarcastically.

"Got it."

Gage grabbed his keys and opened the front door once his rain gear was on.
"Brice, I'm driving. You're lying down in the back until we get there. I don't want
you to get nailed by any body core temperature afterdrop."

"Where are we going?" Craig asked, shouting over the storm that exploded over
them as they struggled past, and then through the front door.

"Where do you think? We're going to get the guys. One by one, if that's what it takes.
I'll be damned if I'm going to answer a county wide disaster call sitting down."

Brice slipped and almost lost his balance on a sheet of mud forming under his feet
before a quick grab onto a wooden porch pillar saved him. "We just may have to."

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***************************************************
From: patti keiper (pattik1@hotmail.com)
Sent: Sat 1/12/13 10:26 PM
Subject:  Rumblings..

   
It was near dawn.

Roy DeSoto had just locked up his boxes of ammo back into the family safe and
padlocked the doors on his rifle cabinet when he heard two sets of barefeet accompanied
by a matching set of Ralphie claws on the kitchen tiles.

The newly regained relaxation he felt in his body thankfully mirrored the expression on
his face as he turned around. "Morning, kids.  Sleep well?"

"Yeah, Dad." said Chris as he was nearly bowled over by Ralphie, the Irish Setter,
who wanted in on the sudden family greeting.  "Is it still storming out?"

"I'm afraid so."
Roy held open his arms and hugged his kids tightly in an affectionate mock growling
bear hug. "You know how much I love both of you, right?"

"Lots!" they both chorused.  Roy's daughter was the first to let go when she spied
an abandoned, well chewed up Hungarian Magic Cube on the floor by their feet.
"Betcha I can solve it in four minutes!" she challenged her brother as she snatched
the dog tooth punctured puzzle up and began twisting its multi colored squares around.

"No fair! You've memorized all the solving pattern moves from Chet." Chris laughed
as he let his Dad go, to oggle up their current favorite toy in his sister's hands.

"You'll learn." she said diplomatically.

"Now I'm jealous. Who's the real champ in the house?" Roy mock frowned.

"You are, Dad!" they both said happily, the cube puzzle toy immediately forgotten.

"Nobody's better than a fire fighter." said Chris as he hopped on Ralphie's back
in a mock horse ride.  The Irish Setter just sighed and sat down patiently until the
leggy boy slid off.

"Where's your mother?" DeSoto wondered, looking around the dining room where
they were.

"She's in the shower. She said she had to go soak the kinks out because she felt
like she had run twenty miles. But how is that possible? It's been raining all night."
Chris asked, totally clueless.

Roy blushed and just ruffled Chris's red hair. "Uh, never mind. She's fine. Are you guys
getting hungry?"

"Yeah!" They replied joyfully.  

Boom! echoed some thunder as it rattled the windows.

"Whoaaa...."  huddled all three together in another hug ring, feigning fear.  

Bark! said Ralphie.

"What's for breakfast, Daddy?" asked his daughter.

"Anything you want because today's a special day. I don't have to go to work."
he smiled. "For a pretty long time." he murmured under his breath, not exactly happy.

"All right!  A vacation? How about fish sticks and custard?" Chris suggested.

"Eoww."
  "Yuck."  Father and daughter both echoed empathetically.

"Where did you try that?" she asked her brother, rubbing her bright blond bangs
out of her eyes.

"At Robbie's house. He's from England. He says it's all the rage."

"Speaking of which, I'd better get your mother's coffee going here or
she's going to get that way all by herself." Roy said, heading for the kitchen.

"Boy have we seen that." Chris giggled. "Me? I like my orange juice."

"Make mine cranapple." said Roy's youngest as she headed for the cabinet
that held the dog's kibble food.

Roy sighed. "I'm java hooked just like your mother. No thanks to my partner in crime."
he grumbled for their benefit.

"Johnny?!  Is he coming over?" Chris asked as he began to set the table for five.
Roy grinned when he saw that the fifth spot was a dog bowl, complete with silverware
and a napkin.

Roy shrugged, playing tug of war with Ralphie and a beef bone. "That's a good boy.
Grrr..." he laughed. "I don't know. I invited him over last night. Whether or not he comes
is up to him."

At that, his little girl's blue eyes turned serious and round. "You were late last night. I got
worried.  Why, Daddy?  Momma wouldn't say. She tried to hide it but she was worried,
too. We could tell."

Chris, being older, held his tongue and just listened. His table setting slowed
down as he concentrated on the conversation. Roy could see he wore a carefully
neutral expression.

Roy finished setting up the Mr. Coffee machine and turned it on. Then he moved to
a dining room chair at the table, reversed it, and faced them. "Well,..." he said softly.
"Take a seat, and I'll tell you."

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His daughter and son slid into their usual chairs and Roy took his, the one facing
the windows, so he could always look out.  DeSoto took a deep breath and started
talking.  "There was a jail break yesterday and a lot of bad men got out and decided
run around the city and bother people. But they've all been captured and things are
completely safe now. "

"So.... what happened to you during all of that?" Chris wondered, adding it up.

"Me? I was at the station, with the rest of the guys, minding our own business,
answering calls as they came in...  Just basically, the same old stuff." he grinned
unconvincingly.

The look of doubt on his daughter's face made him get honest fast. "And then?"
she asked, half scared, half firm.

Roy kept on smiling, even though it didn't touch his eyes.
"A couple of those men tricked us into letting them inside where they bossed us
around for a while." DeSoto explained. "As you can imagine, just like TV, there
was a fight before we captured them for the police to take away. Boot and Chet
were both hurt. But they're okay now. Johnny and I and a really smart medical
examiner took care of them. In fact, both those guys should be coming home
from the hospital today." he smiled, folding up some cloth napkins. "So, all's
well that ends well."

Roy's little girl was very perceptive. "But you're acting like you're hurt, Daddy."

DeSoto's face went blank and surprised. "I am?"

"Yes." said Chris softly. "Your voice sounds like you're faking. You're not happy
at all."

A freshly groomed Joanne had overheard them and she quietly joined them at the
table with a bowl full of fruit.  She casually chose a banana out of it and began
peeling it while she listened to the rest of her family navigate deep water.

Roy quickly eyed up his wife and took her hand subconsciously, while at their feet,
Ralphie betrayed the tension in the room, by whining.

Roy held very still.
"I won't lie to you, Chris. Those jail men did some bad things. But Johnny and I,
and a friend named Quincy, managed to save a baby girl afterwards."

"What about her mother?" his daughter asked. "I- is she okay? Daddy, babies have
to be with their mothers."

Roy's eyes got very bright with unshed tears and his eyes quickly met Joanne's.
"She didn't make it, love. And that's why your mother and I are so sad."

The children didn't move, still digesting the openly shared evil that their father had lived
through so recently.

Chris was wise beyond his twelve years. "This is just like the war, isn't it? When you
first came back home. From Viet Nam."

"Yes. It is, son. A-And this hurts just as bad." Roy told them. "Because a good person
died for absolutely no reason at all."

Silence stretched into a long minute.

Joanne broke the quiet with some optimism.
"It'll take time, kids. But your father will heal these strong feelings. Just like all the other
times he came home a little banged up.  Can you see that it's up to us to be there for
each other whenever one of us is feeling down? Everybody needs a little help every now
and then. And it's okay for your Dad to feel bad like this. It won't last long."

Right then a clap of thunder rumbled through the house followed by the unmistakable
hollow gurgle of Ralphie's very hungry morning stomach.

Nervously, DeSotos burst out laughing.  Gradually they settled in to eat, with the addition of
a box of kleenix for Roy to use at will as he got some rein back on his close to the surface
emotions.

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


The last dish was being cleared away when there was a fierce knocking at the front door.

Quickly, Roy moved to the curtains and eyed up the porch area through a slit in the shade's
gossamer.  "Three people. Hard to tell through the rain. But I think one of them's Johnny."
he told Joanne, hurrying to unlock the door.

Brice, Sharon and Gage tumbled inside and together they shoved the DeSotos' door shut
against the wild winds.  Sharon immediately helped Craig over to the foyer's shoe bench.
"Sit. You've got to get yourself warmed back up before we do anything else." she said.

And the same time, Johnny spoke rapidly in a run of hyperactivity while all of them
dripped rivers onto the tile floor. "Roy, we've got to handle some work around work
if you know what I mean.  Brice was flattened by the first of a whole slew of mudslides
hitting all over the state. But he's pretty much recovered from it. Nothing that a little more
coffee won't fix."

"I'll get some. For all of you." said Joanne. "Kids, go break out some mugs and.. and..
some bath towels."

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"Okay." they replied, running to do the tasks.

Once they were out of ear shot, Roy asked. "Is it that bad outside?"

"Hasn't your radio scanner been on?" Gage countered.

"No.  I've been occupied with.... family life." DeSoto replied. "Now about Brice's
mishap."

Craig answered him. "Knocked out two hours, two small cuts. No other symptoms."

"Liar." Johnny retorted. "Add hypothermia, barely corrected. Roy, we had to bring him
along."

"And not to the hospital?" DeSoto minced, getting irritated.

"He wouldn't go. Not with this disaster call happening." Sharon said.

"All right. Where are we headed to next?" Roy asked as his family returned with
hot beverages and dry beach towels. Soon, everything was handed out.

Suddenly, the phone rang.

Joanne went into the kitchen to answer it. "Roy? It's for you. It's Chet."

"What?!" both Roy and Johnny exclaimed.

The DeSoto kids started giggling.  

Chris laughed. "I thought he was still in the hospital, Dad."

"He is." the two paramedics replied.

"On strict orders to rest until they release him later on today."  Roy shared angrily.

Joanne just rolled her eyes in sympathy as she cradled the phone in her hand.
"Do you want to talk to him?"

Roy picked up the hallway phone receiver. "Kelly? I know. He's here already."
he said, punching the button to speaker mode on the phone so everybody
could hear.

Kelly's excited voice came through. He did not sound drugged one iota.
##Oh, okay man. I'll try Mike and Marco next.  There's a major new hot spot
that's all the EBS is talking about, so I'll tell the guys to meet you there. ##  
Chet asked.

"Where's that?" DeSoto asked.

##E. Carter St in Rialto. Five Points Plaza Shopping Center. ##

"Hey, isn't that where Boot is?" Johnny wondered. "At the vets?"

Roy shushed him. "What have you been hearing about that area, Chet?"

##The hospital radio emergency channel says half the shopping center's
been buried. You better get a move on. A hammie called this one in. And I don't
think U.S.A.R. or the fire department's even there yet. They're on a site five miles
away handling a bunch of landslided car victims. ##

"We got it, Chet." said Roy.

"Now stay put!" Gage warned.

## I will. I can do more from my bed than I can from--##     Click went the
receiver as Roy hung up the phone.

"Wow, uh.. Joanne. Can you pack up the car with all my bug out gear?" Roy
asked.

"Of course. The kids and I are pretty quick at it now." she nodded.

Sharon Walters spoke up from where she was tying her hair back into a
bun that the wind had loosened. "I'll help. I know you two want to poke at
Brice again before we leave." She eyed up Joanne. "Can I call the hospital
and let them know where we're heading? Dr. Brackett's going to want to know
why I'm not in yet. He's on today as chief physician."

"Feel free." said Mrs. DeSoto as she and the children made a bee line for
the garage.

Sharon reached the main E.R. desk by land line and started talking.

Gage and DeSoto turned to face Craig as one as they began a head
to toe sweep, re-examining him.  Brice did not complain.

"How's your shivering?" Johnny asked.

"It's over." Craig said, gulping down the coffee that one of the DeSotos had given him.

Roy reached into a closet and got out a small kit. Inside of it was a BP cuff and
stethoscope.

Brice quipped. "Plan ahead much?"

"I've got two kids who used to be accident prone." Roy grumbled. "Free up
an arm, Craig. I want to see what you're sitting at."

Craig winced as he moved one.

"Your good one." DeSoto prompted with exacerbation.

"He's hurt his arm?" Johnny asked, startled from his addressing the bandage
on Craig's cheek. "You've hurt your arm?!" he chided Brice to his face in irritation.

Roy just grinned. "The left one. He was hiding it. But I can still read him like a book."

"Only you can, DeSoto." Brice sighed."It's just a strained muscle. I had to dig a
long time before I managed to free myself from my car."  Then he explained to Johnny.
"What, Gage? We trained up in the same paramedic class. Your partner was my first
partner."

Roy stayed out of it and got a reading. "120 over 96... Hmm. Pulse is fast."

"That's the caffeine." Craig grumbled impatiently.

"After Stone." Johnny said eventually, while doing a few neural checks.

"Before Stone." Brice corrected.  "Gage, Stone was YOUR first paramedic partner."

Johnny looked puzzled as he tried to remember back on earlier conversations with
Roy from six years ago, but then Brice coughed liquidly and shattered his reverie.

Both paramedics immediately frowned. "Pulmonary fluid or coffee?" Roy finally
asked as he moved the stethoscope ear pieces back into his ears to take
some breath sounds.

"The Folgers. It's hot. Why won't you listen to me, guys? I told you I was fine."
Brice insisted. "If the only things you'll believe are my vitals signs, knock yourself out.
The sooner you're convinced, the sooner we can get out of here and get where
we're really needed." he insisted. "That two hour black out of mine could have
been chilled sleep."

"Breathe." Roy countered, ignoring him. "In and out and keep at it."

"But--"

"Just do it." Johnny said.

Brice rolled his eyes as he felt the stethoscope's icy drum hit a first spot on his
mid back over his rib cage and then seven more times in all quadrants around
his chest.  

A minute later, Roy dropped it back down around his neck in annoyance.

"See?" said Brice. "I'm clear." Then he stood. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going
to help myself to some breakfast. That cereal and fruit bowl over there are calling
to me almost as badly as the coffee did." he said.

Gage rose and put his pen light back into his pocket as he eyed up Roy. "What do
you think?"

"He's fine." Roy replied. "Just like the man said.  In fact, I think it's better he's tagging
along then running around out there trying to find and meet up with our engine company.
This way, we can control things and keep an eye on him."

"I hope you're right." Johnny scoffed. Then he glanced at the dining room table
speculatively. "Say, Roy. He's onto something. Can I eat some breakfast, too?"

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   A Day In The Life
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