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Father and Son
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      Page Thirteen

Kel glanced at her reflexively but the woman's
face stayed looking down at what she was doing.
For her benefit, Kel said. "Sorry about that, I'll
slow down." Dr. Brackett half wondered if there
was anyone on the staff who didn't know about
the Brackett family friction. And he quickly began
feeling like an *ss for what he had done.
::Dixie's thorough on the grapevine, I'll give
her that. About as thorough as she is running triage.
Everyone around us is walking on egg shells.
That's gonna change..:: he vowed. ::Now.::
he said. He was glad for his mask when it hid
the rising red of embarrassement in his face.
He decided to show the entire room that Dixie's
tale about them was now completely baseless.
"Dad, look here. This is where Chet's fall impacted
against his spleen. See that mark? You can almost
make out lettering from the regulator valve he fell
on top of. He must have been wearing a SCBA bottle
when he fell and that metal piece on the harness
was what cut him internally."

"Hmm. I see it." Brent mumbled.
"Looks sort of like the artifacts that show up on chest
x-rays sometimes from drivers impacting
their sternums against the steering wheel column?"
Brent asked. Then he chuckled. "Saw a Chrysler
logo chevron once on one from a patient of
mine. That young man now hangs that
x-ray on his wall." He sighed accepting a cotton wad
from a nurse gratefully so he could mop up his
gory face. "He now shows it to all of his dates
and tells them its his secret tattoo that can even
be felt, for a kiss."

"Yeah? Well Chet won't be left with any such girl magnet.
This tissue isn't bone. It will heal cleanly in a few days,
leaving no traces. Chet's external skin bruising will
stay longer than this laceration."
Kel said, snipping off his last internal suture stitch.
"There," he said, "Good as new.." Kel dabbed the
spleen with gauze until Brent could see his work.

"Bowels clear? And the intestines?" Brent asked,
peering closer.

"Completely. All of Chet's internal bleeding came
from this site alone. The spleen's the body's
repository for whole blood so it's not surprising
this tiny tear hemorrhaged so much. The anti
shock trousers did a good job stopping it as
you saw on the films."

"So I did.." Brent said. "So, what should I tell
the fireboys?"

"That it was a piece of cake, doctor. Chet's no
longer in jeopardy."

"Will do." and he nodded and winked to the nervous
tech across from them. Then he turned to his
surgeon son. "Coffee after you close?"

"Wouldn't miss it." Kel said.

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"Then I'll leave you all to your work.." Brent
Brackett leaned down to Chet. He saw
the young fireman's eyes had been ointmented
and protectively taped shut and he carefully stayed
away from where the anesthesiologist was listening
to Chet's breathing through the endotrach
tube with a stethoscope. He spoke firmly into Kelly's
ear. "Looks good son. Almost done. Wake up fast
cause your friends are still hanging around
to see you. My guess is that it won't be good
for them later if your dispatcher has to order
them back to the stationhouse. Oh, and Joe Early
just told me they've saved some pizza for you."
he said, patting Chet's sheet covered shoulder.
"So hurry up son, before someone gets hungry
again and it disappears."

Everyone around the table laughed when Chet's
stomach took that moment to start growling.
It was very audible as it and the organs around
it were still exposed to the air.

"That got through my anesthesia?" the man at
Chet's head joked. "Usually I have people's
plumbing napping soundly during splenectomies."

"Yeah well this fireman's appetite is legendary, Dale.
Don't feel bad. I hear Johnny complaining about his
donut stealing prowess all the time." Kel shook his
head ruefully, amused. "Dad, I know of a better
way to wake him up if you're interested.
Grab Johnny's walkie talkie. I'll have Doctor
Riley here on the respirator play him his station's
alarm tones after he's extubated." he joked.

"Aren't you the creative one.." Brent teased back,
just before the surgical bay doors closed between
them. "But I think I'll pass on that. Positive
reinforcement works so much better than shock
tactics.." he replied.

Brackett immediately regretted his little stunt with
splashing the sterile wash. Internally, Kel accepted Brent's
hidden admonishment. ::I deserved that. Now
why am I still acting like such a pig? This unspoken feud
between us is being addressed. What am I afraid

Inside his head, another voice of conscience spoke
up. ::Losing your mother because of it.::


Brent Brackett was still wet from his shower
when he dialed the nurses lounge.

The phone rang, making the whole gang jump
in their seats as way too much coffee in their
systems made them overreact.

Then the babble in the room ceased when no one
moved to intercept the phone. Marco, Stoker, Johnny
and Roy all hushed up in tension, like frightened rabbits
when it was the red phone and not the black one
that was paging them.

Dixie MacCall answered the phone. "Nurse's lounge,
Dixie McCall speaking.."

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Brent greeted her. "Miss McCall? Put Mr. Kelly's
captain on. I wanna speak with him directly. And
before you ask. All things went well. Both my
visit and with Chester's exploratory. His spleen's
intact. Didn't need to be removed. So hop to,

Dixie hid her smile even from her eyes as she
handed over the phone. "Captain Stanley.
You're needed here."

"Oh, boy. Hope it's not McConike for playing hooky.
He never goes through public HT channels when he's
really mad at somebody." Cap said, leaping off the
lounge couch and wiping nervous palms on
his turnout.

Dixie couldn't help herself. She said, "Relax captain.
It's not him. Remember, I'm your solid alibi here for
all of you staying at Rampart even if the chief does call.
I already have my speech planned out."
and she broke into a reasoning voice, sugar coated with
Dixie no nonsense. "I'll just say, 'Chief, It's a little busy
today, and that's why it's taking longer than usual to
examine all of your men. ' when the time comes."

"Glad somebody's prepared for that call."
Hank sighed, and rose, taking the phone from her.
"This is Fireman Stanley." with more than just
slight apprehension.

Brent grinned."Go home, captain. Chet's already
being sent to recovery. His spleen was only
holed, not grossly ruptured. It was all just minor

Cap excitedly spread the good news to his listeners
out of ear shot.

Brent heard the cheers and had to take the phone
away from his ear for a moment but then he shouted
before Hank hung up again. "Captain Stanley, one thing.
Hand that to-go box full of pizza to Dixie for her to
take to his room or Chet's gonna personally kill ya."


"Subliminal suggestion, Captain. Works everytime.
I told him it would be waiting."

"Gotcha, doc. She heard ya. Thanks Dr. Brackett,
for everything. We really appreciate it."

"That's why I'm a psychologist, son. Take care."
and Brent hung up the phone.


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Marjorie Kelly sat next to Chet's bed as she
waited for him to awaken from his latest anesthesia
slumber. Chet's eyes were unbandaged and he
had already blinked away the antibiotic ointment
in them as the scent of his sister's musky
perfume woke him the rest of the way to

A rodent's fuzzy face, and whiskers, met his gaze
when focus returned from the middle of
his chest.  "Ahhh!!!" he shouted in fright and immediately
winced when his surgical staples bit back in protest.
"OoooooOOOOooo, Marjorie.. Did you have to bring
Herbert here? Animals aren't allow in at Rampart.."

"Who says? No one saw me. Besides, what better way
to make you feel better than to bring you,.. your best

Chet watched Herbert crawl further up his chest to land
curious paws on his chin as he sniffed his master's
morning anesthesia breath.
Then he made for an immediate beeline for the open
pizza carton lying across Chet's legs.
"Oh, no you don't. That's mine."
and Chet pinned Herbert's tail long enough to
nestle him into a palm to caress the brown mouse's
head and kiss his ears. Then he double taked.
"Wait a minute. Why did I say that?"

Marjorie laughed. "Dixie left this here an hour ago.
She said a doctor in surgery told you some would
be waiting for you when you awakened. Wah la.."
she said, with a flourish at the pizza half. "It's
still warm. I just reheated it up again."

Chet watched as Herbert pushed out of his hand
with a frustrated squeak until he gained his
freedom and he beelined once more for the pizza
across the sheets. Marjorie intercepted Chet's correcting
grab with a grip of her own. "Oh, come off it, Bro. Let
him be. You share your cereal with Herbie all the time.
I'll just keep an eye out and cut off all the parts he drools
on. No problem. I'll defend your half."

"Marj we're gonna have problems if they catch you
in here with him. And I'm not eating. I can't. I mean
whoever heard of someone right out of abdominal
surgery being allowed to eat?"

"You had a repair, Chester. And that's a whole different
ball game. Only difference between getting basic stitches
and what you had done, is the fact that yours are on
three layers with two rows inside, and those are just
on your spleen and along your abdominal lining.  
Nice stapling job topside. Saw them when Dixie
changed your dressing."

"That sounds so appetizing Sis. Here, you eat this."
he said, plunking pizza carton, Herbie and all on the
bed in between them. Herbert went right on gnawing
at a pepperoni. Despite his feigned disgust, Chet's
stomach growled.

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Marjorie laughed and handed him a pizza slice with no
Herbert pawprints on it and a paper towel. "Uh huh.. tell
me another lie big brother and I'll restart our practical
joke war despite our vow to never do them whenever
one of us is sick or hurt."

"Ha ha. Very funny." But Chet began to eat, fussing over
his IV. "I wonder why I'm not puking my guts out. I did
last time I had surgery. Remember my broken
shoulder from that cave in rescue? Needed surgical reduction
for that one."

"I remember, I was the one who had to listen to you
whining for two weeks while ya mended." Marj laughed
through her freckles and curly bangs. "You aren't nauseated
because Dr. Brackett told you not to be."

"Kel Brackett was here?"

"No, the other one."

"What other one?" Chet said, "Hand me that water
pitcher will you. I'm thirsty enough to drink my IV."

Marj slid the water jug over and a glass, but not
before she poured some into a toothpaste tube
cap as a water dish for Herbert the mouse.

"Kelly Brackett's dad is a psychologist. The gang
wanted to hear how you were faring in surgery so
Brent Brackett went in to find out. Then Brent told us
all on the phone that he had suggested a few things
to you while you were under to make your recovery
happen faster. Oh, Chester, did you know you
were almost in a coma when they brought you
in? You scared the living snot out of Johnny. "

"I did?"

"Yeah. I'd never seen him so quiet and focused
until we got the news your injuries were only
appearing to be more than minor. Roy told me Gage
wouldn't leave your side at all while you were still
having trouble breathing. Even after you were at
Rampart with two doctors working on you."

"I remember hearing Cap's joke about the rain,
and then I remember getting very cold. Dreamed
I was drowning."

"You weren't drowning Chester. They decontaminated
you with a water hose on scene and Mendelson had you
firmly on a positive pressure valve so no water got in. Geez Louise, even
I know how dangerous liquid ammonia is on the skin.
Lucky you didn't get much more than a whiff in your
lungs or I'd be leaving my rubber chickens on your
coffin instead of in your sh--..
Never mind."she broke off.

Chet's eyes narrowed as he played with a now fat,
pizza filled, burping Herbert, making jungle gyms
out of his fingers for the mouse. He finally
spoke with long practice at a conversation
he had shared with Marj many many times
before in the past.
"They gotta be in my shoes, Sis, since I'm not
wearing any shorts on account of these lovely
staples I've got under my sheets here. Ok, fess up.
Which shoes?"

Marjorie was pinned, fairly. "Ok, I had the guys take
back a set of my top end RC's, you know the ones
that spray baby powder out the moment they're
moved, to rig into your locker shoes for you to find
when you got back, is that such a crime?"

"The guys were here?!" Chet said mortified.

"Yeah, so? What's the big deal? They were in,
they were out. Guess they came so Roy and Johnny
could see with their own paramedic eyes that you
were truly out of hot water. They even reassured
themselves further by taking a vitals set on ya for
the nurses chart while you were sleeping."

"What's the big deal? What's the big deal?! Sis, tell me
they didn't see Herbert here."

Marjorie was a mouse. But Herbert squeaked in
betrayal. He wasn't a good liar at all.

"Marj!!" Chet complained, and Herbert leaped
into Marjorie's plaid shirt pocket in fear at Chet's
thundering protest. Kelly immediately gripped his
sheet covered staples. "Ow...WWWW...www ..
G*d D*mn it.. ..Ow..  ..Why me?"

"Hush, That's Captain Stanley's line. Or at least, I think
it is from what you've told me about him." Marj
"Dix told me if you're gonna cough, shout or sneeze,
to hug a pillow before you do so. It'll hurt less."
She said, smacking his face with one, before gently
setting it on his stomach.

"Yeah? It'll hurt more later on when I get better
and back to duty and have to face the guys finding
out I found Herbert again and kept him as a pet.. I'll
never hear the end of it!"

"So? We'll just...deflect them with another Phantom
Strikes war."

"Won't work, they're on to me." Chet complained.
"Oh Marj. Why'd ya have ta bring Herbert to see me
today of all days?"

"He knew something was up." she said defensely as only
a younger sister could. "Squeaked something awful
in his Habitrail maze about the same time as your
accident. That's how I knew to call in and  ...when ...
I found out  that you were really down on the ground
out there." and Marjorie sniffled and Chet saw sudden
bright full tears filled his sister's amber eyes.

"Come here, little Sis.." Chet said, and he hugged
Marj with a grin. "Quit it. I must really be fine if I'm
not on an EKG and no doctors or nurses are in sight.
Does Gramps and my little brother know about all

"Yes, Gramps and Brendon send their best, Chester.."
she sighed into his hair. "Wouldn't be surprised if a
bouquet of flowers wrapped in antique barbed wire gets
sent in this afternoon to your room personally."

"Why didn't you tell them that they didn't have
to go through the trouble?"

"Because they're just as stubborn as anyone
else in our family Chester when it comes to
reaching out. And you and I both know that
it's a terribly long distance still keeping us apart.
Might as well be light years between California
and Wyoming. Just take the flowers when they
come with good grace."

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Chet released her and Marj handed them both
tissues from the bed table. Herbert poked his
head out of Marj's shirt pocket at the scent of
tears and squeaked a question.

Chet patted his chest and the mouse
happily ran to his chin again to nibble and cuddle
in his moustache, like a dog rubbing himself on
a couch after a bath. "Thanks Marj. I feel better
already. I'm only dreading what the guys will do
to me after I get back to work now they know
I rescued Herbert from the untamed city wilds.
I was chosen to be the station's.." he covered
Herbert's ears with two fingers. ".. exterminator."

"Oh, poo.. " Marj sighed with a mischievous grin.
"Fodder for the fires, my fraternal fellow prankster.
It will give us an excuse to come up with more devious
jokes to play on your friend Johnny Gage, now
wouldn't it?"

"Hmmm.." Chet said. He closed his eyes, and
started chewing pizza while they planned.

It was just a few minutes later..
Outside the room, a nurse was walking by Chet's
hospital room. She overheard a single sentence.
"And Herbert, if you so much as squeak a word
of this prank to anyone, I'll trade Chester Bartholomew
the puppy for a cat and move you into the station!"


The nurse, thinking she was hearing things, moved
on when a woman's laughter covered up the
odd animal noise she had thought she heard but
finally dismissed as only imagined. ::I gotta cut out
on drinking all of that coffee..:: she promised
herself. ::Starting tomorrow.::

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From : "SM Fortis" <>  
Subject :  [EmergencyTheaterLive] Hello?  
Date : Thu, 12 Dec 2002 23:15:18 -0600

Silently cursing himself as he entered the elevator,
Kel punched the button for the ground floor.  What
was he thinking when he invited his father to
spend time with him at work?  Did he possess
a bizarre need to validate his sense of self-
worth?  Was he trying to dazzle him with his
diagnostic and surgical abilities?  After all
these years, did Brent Brackett’s opinion still

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Father and Son
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