Photo Scene Short|
by Patti Keiper
"Hey Gage!" shouted Ranger Matt Harper as he pulled the blanket more snugly around the tiny
injured hiker girl they had found. "Do you
and your partner always split up like this in the middle
of a rescue?!"
The roar of the rescue helicopter was deafening and blew pine needles, dust and
icy blue aviation exhaust into the one clear spot the
rangers and Los Angeles County paramedics had
managed to find away from the precarious civilian campsite.
"Not always. But a deal's a deal.
Little Cindy here wouldn't load up with us unless Roy went back for those peregrine eggs. I trust him
to know what he's doing. I taught him basic survival skills and your Julie Beck and Ted Cassidy have
done their darnedest to make sure he knows his way around these parts..." Johnny smiled down on the frightened
oxygen masked girl in the stokes. She was shoved in behind the pilot's seat and in front of the passenger
jump seats. Harper climbed into the rescue helicopter immediately after Johnny Gage pulled himself inside.
"Let's hope so." Matt Harper said, "From what I can tell,
he's not the one who's part Indian in
outfit." he said wryly, tossing an include-us-all gesture between them.
be back." Johnny said, setting the flight headset over his neck for later use when they got nearer to
"A promise is a promise, right sweety?" Johnny asked the leg splinted girl. She
was still trying to hide her tears.
"Yes, Mr. Gage. M- My mom's research project just HAS to keep
I promised her that I'd find someone to watch after them. It wasn't
her fault she tried
to stop the eagle that killed the mama falcon
and fell doing it. It was an accident." the little girl
"And you fell trying to find a ranger to come rescue your mother."
Gage smiled. "I'm
glad you came up using that elk antler as a crutch.
That was a very clever idea."
head ranger for the Sierra Station, looked back from
the seat he had next to Ranger P.J. Lewis, his
pilot. "I still can't believe
I agreed to this nest rescuing thing. Park rangers chase off problem
"...like Cruncher?" Cindy volunteered brightly.
Jack Moore made a face but
rolled his eyes for the immobilized child's
benefit as he continued dumping his woes on Gage. "..We
rear bird of prey chicks for a later introduction back into the wild.."
Johnny leaned over and took another blood pressure on Cindy,
who started to giggle at her ranger friend's
"Think of it as...furthering your education, Jack." Gage said, "A chance for
your department to really ....connect with wildlife in a meaningful way."
connecting a water gun against some grizzly butt during
Cruncher's garbage dumpster escapades any
day over being stuck
feeding venison scraps to baby falcons." P.J. shivered.
teased. "They're still eggs yet."
"That's precisely my point.." Moore bemoaned again. "I'm
a mother hen.."
"Well Roy is..." Johnny countered. "That's why he went back to Cindy
her mother's cliff top observatory to see what he can do for the nest.
Believe me, he'll do anything
to keep a kid happy." he sighed.
Cindy's eyes twinkled and demonstrated that she had noticed
fire paramedic's inherent weakness, too.
Right then, a down draft from above pushed
the cruising helicopter
a little closer to the pine tops whizzing by underneath them.
boy. Giddy up there, honey." murmured P.J. to his flight
bird's control handle in between his gloves.
"Don't letta little
twilight wind buck you around."
Gage and Harper kept their grip on Cindy's
both hastily buckled their safety belts on, getting pressed in close
to where they were
tethered to the wall.
"Don't ya trust me?" Lewis said, hearing the snick of buckles
snapping home behind him.
"I trust ya,.. it's the wind I don't trust.." Gage admitted.
for yourself. It's the wind I'm rooting for, it's the pilot
who's got things messed up here." Matt
chuckled. "I can almost
skim my boot toes on the treetops again." And he dragged his
back inside the chopper's belly compartment, hugging
both feet to his chest protectively.
whipped his earphoned head around. "No you can't!
My altimeter's showing fifty feet above the canopy's
"Made you look...." Harper said. "Gotcha.. That's two for oh, this week,
Lewis grumbled and returned back to his flying.
Gage grinned good naturedly at all three forest
men with him
and immediately felt right at home with the sudden plan to evac
the little girl to
the city before they swept back to pick up Roy
Julie and Tim later that night.
"I'm sure glad
I asked Julie Beck and Tim Cassidy to keep
my extra medical gear to meet Roy with halfway back to
when he's done. I'm amazed that we're still light enough weight wise,
to fly straight."
"Every medic's a critic.." Lewis rejoined instantly. "Now I know
why we aren't
baby sitting one at the ranger station." But his smile
belied his voice's sharp bite.
wind's buffetting increased, swaying all of them, nauseatingly
as the helicopter was made to hold
its flight path.
Cindy was bravely quiet.
"Promise we'll survive long enough to come back
for the others in one
piece." Moore teased his underling hot shot pilot.
"As if I wouldn't.."
Lewis guaranteed. "I gotta show this city boy medic
the miracle ability that all of us rangers possess.
An uncanny innate
sense of orientation in the air and our homing instincts."
Roy DeSoto found the nesting cliff easily by sunset. He
could still see the packages of IV solutions
and the plastic
wrap from the trauma sheeting they had used on Cindy's mother
following her extrication
from the ledge below the nest. The fall had
been a bad one. Bad enough to make the woman's evac by
bigger helicopter a priority.
But Roy was convinced the tough as nails woman
live to study yet another peregrine family generation......next summer.
so would her daughter.
"But why did I promise to come back for these eggs?" he
forward on his belly until he could see the ropes and
pitons the rescue team had left behind, driven
into the rock.
"I've nothing to carry them up to the top with. My backpack's still on
Cindy was loaded onto."
DeSoto sat back well away from the edge and pulled out
his handy talkie
connecting him to the two rangers hiking
back with him back to the accident site. "DeSoto to Ranger
HT 3. Do you read?"
##Go ahead, Roy.##
"I'm at the cliff top. I'll start heading down
to the nest's ledge
before you get here, grab them and climb back up. That'll save
us a lot of
time before night falls. I'll meet you at the same clearing
the helicopters lifted off from."
##10-4, our ETA there's twenty minutes.##
Roy tightened the orange helmet around his head and
a rope harness from one of the lines left abandoned by the
rescue team around his waist
and brown corduroys. Then he
began the long climb over the edge to the large pine bough
the waterfall where the woman scientist had said
the peregrine eggs were nestled in soft down.
He was halfway down the cliff when water spray from
the thousands foot high cascade next to him began
to mist heavily into his face. "Ahh,.." Roy grimaced. "That's
cold!" he yelled, rubbing his eyes
with his free hand to
Then the wind picked up as clouds of gray boiled over
ridge sprouting El Capitan and he was bucked
against the rock face, despite his firmly tied rope.
Roy clung like a barnacle to the slanted ancient pine tree
that sheltered the peregrine nest.
Reluctantly, he removed
his helmet and lined it with down and pine needles to
hold the eggs he
had seen deep within the bower. One by
one, he deposited the mottled eggs carefully inside of the
helmet until his last reach found only empty space and
He picked handfuls of
green pine branches to stuff around
to cover the still warm eggs. Then he hooked the helmet's
strap around his right elbow for the climb back up the
sheer rock cliff.
The wind was
more than wild at the top, growing stronger
despite the waning energy spilling down from the setting
Roy decided to hurry the pace a little, to beat the darkness
and the changing weather
before he was forced to camp
out in the researchers' blind until morning; an idea that he
Cradling the eggs under his warm arm to stave off chill,
Roy bounded up the trailhead
towards the flare marked
clearing the rescue rangers had used for their aircraft the
out for mother and child.
But then, a sudden gust of wind swept up a pine bough Roy had
into the helmet and it slithered free. It scooped a shallowly
buried falcon egg up and out of the
helmet rapidly and it went tumbling
towards the ground.
Without thinking, Roy made a grab for
it and shifted his feet,
throwing away the walkie talkie in order to make the save.
loose shale popped under his heel. It started
a mini landslide, cracking all the firm ground from
Roy's feet like a rug pulling out from under a swift runner.
It was enough to topple
Roy DeSoto over backwards and
off balance into a fall back downhill along the trailhead.
and curl.. You remember football, don't you?:: DeSoto
thought to himself. ::Go with the momentum,
but stay limp.::
Roy let himself continue rolling, clutching the helmet against his
with both arms wrapped around it to spare any of the eggs
::Boy, this was brilliant.::
he said, somersaulting to the shallow
ravine at the bottom. ::I'm gonna be black and blue tomorrow
As he started to think about what Johnny would say, he started to laugh.
the back of his head cracked against a flat boulder with
enough force to knock him out .
came to rest on his back in a limp heap against a shelf.
The lucky peregrine egg tumbled unharmed
out of Roy's rock abrasioned
hand and onto the sandy floor at DeSoto's feet.
Nearby, the walkie
talkie sprang to life.. ##Beck to DeSoto. Come in.
Do you read? Roy, It's Julie. Do you read me?!
Come in !! Why won't
Johnny Gage couldn't get P.J. Lewis to do his take off list any faster.
He even volunteered to be
the copilot and read out of the manual for
all the proper responses to his check list.
working as fast as I can, Gage. Now Julie Beck said that
the last radio transmission she got from
your partner was right around
sun down. Gimme some of your sandwich. I'm hungry.." and Lewis
the ham and cheese Johnny had gotten from the hospital
cafeteria deli line, and immediately stuffed
it into his mouth.
"Hey!" Gage said, getting a grip on the unclaimed side of it. "That's
dinner. Let go!"
P.J. let go with his teeth, but his fingers were clenching the food as
as ever. "Do you want to whine or fly Mr. Fireman? Cause I'll
guarantee that I'm not gonna do much
flyin if my blood sugar drops
into the basement while we're getting back out there.." Lewis said.
Gage gulped, "Is he a diabetic?" he asked lamely, pointing to the
back of Lewis's pilot's chair.
Jack Moore nodded the same time Lewis jangled a wrist
dressed out with a silver chained military
medical tag bracelet.
"Oh, well why didn't you say so?" Johnny said, letting go of the food.
"Didn't know I had to.." Lewis chewed noisily, kicking in the main rotor
the moment dispatch cleared
him for take off. "Everybody hang
onto your hats!"
And the ranger helicopter leaped insanely
vertical as it twisted a full
one hundred eighty degrees back towards the mountains into the
darkening night sky.
"Well, why was he
hanging onto his hat and not wearing it?" Tim Cassidy,
the ranger wanted to know, as he placed a
cervical collar around Roy
Julie Beck grinned. "Take a look inside of it, partner."
she said making sure the
unconscious paramedic could breathe all right without an airway under
oxygen mask they had given him. "Makes ya wanna just weep, doesn't
From inside the orange
climbing helmet, popped out five glistening baby
falcon heads, chirping loudly for all they were worth.
Cassidy shot back onto his butt in mock alarm. "YAhhhahhh..." he shouted
from inside a wall of
Julie laughed all the harder. . "Oh, knock it off Tim. You act like you haven't
baby birds that have hatched out before.."
Tim sobered and thoughtfully tucked the helmet with
its vulnerable soggy
and fluffed passengers into the foot of the stokes they were preparing for Roy
for when the helicopter arrived back to the ridge top. "I'm not playing here.
There's something kinda
gross knowing that those guys were born Caesarean
"Caesarean section? Oh, you mean
forcibly delivered because they
were jolted around when DeSoto fell?" Julie analyzed.
yuck.." Tim said, covering the damp peeping things up with
the stokes tarp to preserve their body
Julie shook her head, clucking chiding noises softly. "You'll never make
it as one of
our new paramedic trainees if you carry on at this rate.
You're so squeamish, Tim."
bristled mildly, which was strong for him.
"Gage's not here and DeSoto's out to lunch. I don't think
I'll have to worry
about what the others might think of me for at least twenty minutes
Then he blinked, calm as ever. "Want me to take another
"Be my guest." Julie
sighed. "It's the same as it was when we
first got here. I'll check him out for limb fractures."
Tim Cassidy hunkered down inside his jacket, sheltered from the
force of the wind in between his
uniformed knees. There he got
his reading. "100 over 86." he announced loudly to be heard.
same. He's very stable, thank goodness." Beck replied, leaning back
and brushing sand off of her dirty
knees. " I found no breaks. Not even
along his c-spine."
"Let's immobilize him anyway." Tim
said quickly before Beck moved
even a single leg.
"Of course. Not like we have an X-ray machine
around here any place
close." Julie said, her tone very light to make her nervous partner feel
at ease at rescuing the man who was supposed to be his teacher.
Then she lifted her HT radio once
again. "Gage, he checks out. Do we
have permission to start that I.V. yet?"
Brackett says yes. Make it Ringers in his right arm,
wide open. If you can't get a vein, I'll do it
when I get down there. Though I
don't think you'll have any problems.. Roy's got real nice veins.
Tim'll be able to do it. Our landing ETA is six minutes, Julie..Keep me
posted on any new
changes. I'll hang up in communications range until
you're through. ##
Julie Beck heard Johnny's
laughing tone even over the howling wind.
"My he's chipper. I wonder how he gets under pressure.."
Tim sighed, hunkering down in between his knees again with
an unshealthed needle cathether poised
over the bend in Roy's elbow.
"Shush woman. I'm trying to concentrate here."
Right then the
covered hungry falcon chicks in the stokes basket,
chirped even louder when a lightning bolt jagged
across the sky.
"Why don't you tell them that?" she shrugged in amusement.
Tim tilted his
ranger hat down so he couldn't see Julie at all and
got down to business. A bright red flash back
of blood rewarded him
a minute later and soon, he had taped down the I.V. line. Cassidy
the bag with the tube's other end and left the Ringers bag
hanging between his teeth as he adjusted
its flow to full open.
Next to him, Roy groaned. But he didn't move at all, still mostly out.
Julie bent close over him to be heard over the roaring wind. "Roy? Can
you hear me? It's ok,
you've hit your head but we're taking really
good care of you. Johnny's hovering up above us." she
"Breathe a little deeper, ok? I got ya on some O2. It may clear
your head a little bit
DeSoto bubbled when he tried to talk and Julie wiped away
some superficial blood with
her hand. "Ughh... did th---*cough* "
"Did what?" Beck asked. "Easy now. Spit
out that blood first, you've
cut your lip."
Roy grimaced and opened groggy eyes. But the second
he annunciated clearly. "Did...they....make ...it?"
"Cindy and her mother? Or the eggs?"
Tim asked in an assessment test.
Roy smiled, feeling the oxygen mask with his un-IVboarded hand.
"Doing fine. Brackett's got Mama in surgery right now. We also got ourselves
brand new newborns and whoo wheee, are they lively! Slimy, but lively.."
They always are.." Roy whispered. Then he closed his eyes and
the smile waned a bit into the flatness
of unconsciousness as his face
sagged into another blackout.
"Roy? You still with me?" Cassidy
said, gripping Roy's carotid in
a quality check. "He's out again." Tim said looking up from where
Julie was preparing the lift lines on the stokes.
"But he's ..HAPPY ...and out. There's a difference.
" she joked.
"You know, I just may have been wrong about you. That was a
sweet piece of reassurance
you just crammed into those few seconds.
And Gage heard every word.." Beck said, hefting a live talkie
up into the air.
Its red talk light, was on.
"Julie Beck! For crying out loud. I'm gonna
kill ya!" Tim Cassidy
##Not unless you bring her back afterwards. Nice job on the
I.V. stick, Tim.
Julie says you got a vein first attempt. Hang tight. Lewis's bringing us in.
don't'cha get me another set of vitals while you're waiting?##
Tim snatched the HT from Julie's
hands with an indignant smirk and he
fiddled with all the buttons until he knew it was off. "We're
not in class here
Beck!" he giggled nervously. "You know how I feel about Gage looking over
"Not exactly class time now, yeah, I know. More like training in the field, but it's
still Gage's rightful territory. And mine, to evaluate YOU... while you're doing it."
frowned. "Let's get DeSoto ready to move, before I decide to
stick you, too, for tricking me."
"Make mine a Heineken I.V. Please."
Julie Beck said as she waggled her eyebrows under her ranger's
Tim got off his knees, suddenly more confident than he had been just
a minute ago and
he instantly found it impossible to stay mad at her.
Seconds later, a warm shaft of white light
sliced down from the night sky
above as a basket hitch cable was lowered inch by inch from Johnny
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