Humming contentedly, Dusty made sure his run down |
operation looked as finely raked and pristine
as any other
racing barn's on the row. He set his final touch by grabbing
some field clover
from the patch of weeds under the barn's
leaky hose faucet and jauntily shoved the yellow blooms
a dusty vase on top of the nearly empty, barely regulation,
first aid kit he had hanging
next to his barn office door.
As an afterthought, he blew the dust off the cock angled
"Warning, extreme fire risk. No smoking." sign
that was in bilingual english and spanish anchored
on the wall, and straightened it out on its nail. Smiling,
Dusty polished it to a high shine with
his black twill
He went inside to the silty desk to call Swale's owners
with a less than glowing report on the horse's condition.
What Dusty did not know, was that
circumvented any further crooked race deception
by his desperate plea for help to a
certain, very special,
horse loving, firefighter paramedic.
"Oh come on, Cap!" Johnny insisted. "Just look at
Swale's pedigree! Walter Farley
shoved a racing form
into my back pocket while we were loading Jose'
up and now I got all his juicy
statistics right here.." he
said, drawing out a sandy white booklet of the
daily races from where
he had shoved it in his
belt. "Son to Native Dancer, full brother to Citation
himself.. Man, when
Swale gets his wind back enough
to run ten furlongs again, ..we'll all be RICH !"
ignored his paramedic's tirade and
instead took offense at the fine track dirt festooning
and table top near him. "Gage, I said no. Now
go grab a towel and a broom and go clean this up!"
said shoving back in his kitchen chair and away
from all reminders of their morning rescue call.
Hank's agitated hands continued to pet Henry the
hound dog's back harder and harder absently,
a loud moan of protest floated up from the lazy form
sprawled across Cap's lap. "Sorry,
of my supposedly polished firefighting men is
being a bonafide twit again.
know how that irritates the snot outta me...
Gage, about Swale; that's IF he gets his wind back, not
when. To me, that colt looked pretty much three of four
hooves boots up into a grave this morning."
"Kelly and Stoker reversed that, Cap, with their wash
down. He came outta heatstroke just like
and Gage snapped his fingers in the air derisively.
"I don't care. Once a horse does
down like that,
that trainer, what's his name again? Ah, yes,
Walter Farley, told me it's five
times harder to get
him back up onto his feet and into racing condition
again!" Hank countered
with a slap of his hand
on the table. "Count me OUT. Beside, I'm NOT a horse
racing fan. Didn't
you catch onto any of my attitude
towards that this morning, pally?"
Johnny sputtered ineffectual
Chet smiled and bit his lip in predatory fashion as
Johnny Gage clammed up and did
what his captain
told him to do. But kernels of Johnny's sales pitch
had already sprouted under
his irish skin and he
said. "Cap.. I really think this is an opportunity of a
life time. Even
for me. And you know how picky I
can get about taking on weird deals."
"This is not a weird
deal.." Johnny glared at him
through pursed lips.
"Sure it is.." Marco Lopez piped up. "I mean,
just how many firehouses do you know of who get
themselves reined into buying a broken down racehorse.."
"He's not broken down.." Johnny hissed at
Lopez. "He's still got four good legs on him."
You're forgetting one tiny detail there, Gage."
Cap said levelly firm with a finger pointing right
at his man's nose. "Add THIS fact to his excellent
boneleg status. Swale's got one very, very sun
cooked BRAIN!" Cap said, drawing crazy circles
around his ear for emphasis. He rose to his feet,
shoving away the track racing form. "This is the
end of this particular discussion with me!
Henry.. Let's go hide in the recliner to get away from
these kooks.. "
took a breath.
"You know.. I should order ya ALL to Rampart for|
a checkup. Looks like Swale's not the only one
got in a little too much sun today."
Cap hefted up the ample Henry into his arms
above the recliner where Mike Stoker
was reading behind a newspaper. Cap cleared his
Stoker looked absently up to see who it was.
He hastily vacated the coveted spot in a pico
he saw Cap's expression.
Hank settled in and snatched the section Stoker
had been reading for
good measure, too. Cap
draped Henry onto his lap for maximum comfort
and prompted buried himself
into the sports page.
Mike Stoker thought about getting his paper back
but decided that superior
rank ruled. He sighed
and took up his usual place at the kitchen table.
Despite things, ten
minutes later, Gage had everyone's
signature on the stay of execution papers for Swale, except
and Cap's. ::I'm just going to haveta work
on those two. Until then, Swale can stay at my place.
as soon as the vet clears him for travel.::
Johnny thought to himself with a pleased thrill.
Brent Brackett and his wife Anna Rose found
their son, Kel Brackett, lurking in the nurse's
Dixie McCall was with him, and Doctor Morton.
And they were going over Mary Kenner's
private medical case.
The older Bracketts barged in, infected with
a healthy case of co-worker
which abruptly interrupted their confidential
there you are, my dear.." Anna Rose said
to Dixie, bending down to leave a kiss
on the mortified
head nurse's cheek. "I hope you
haven't forgotten the important role that Brent
and I imparted
Dixie's fake smile locked in stone. "How could
I, Anna Rose? I assure you, I've been
about it every second.." she answered truthfully.
"That's good. I'll give you a call
you at home tonight for
your idea run downs. Kel gave me your number."
Dixie's withering look
at Kel made the younger
Brackett hold up his hands in defense.
Brent spoke on another matter,
now that his wife's
concerns had been voiced first. " Kel, I found your
rescue base station out
there in the hall simply
astounding! I must learn more about your emergency
uh. If Dixie allows me. I can't believe
I've been working here for six years without
how it all works." he said incredulously.
Kel cracked a smile. "I'm sure that my best intern,
Mike Morton, here would be more than happy to
take you on clinical tours, dad, today and all
the next week."
Morton choked on his donut he had been
eating with gusto. Dixie slapped him
on the back
to get him over it before things got out of hand.
"You all right there, Mike?"
"Yeah, *cough* I'm fine, just.. fine. Thanks, Dix."
Mike Morton took the napkin he
had used and
crumpled it up onto his paper plate. "Look uh,
Kel, are you sure that Joe Early wouldn't
a better tour guide for your parents? I mean he's
got far more experience than little ol
Kel shook his head slowly. "Speaking of
experience, this will just be another aspect
medicine for you to learn about by catering to
local dignitaries." he quipped to the delight of
It was Mike's turn to wear an expression that|
didn't match his current emotional status and
felt immediate sympathy for Morton now
that he was joining her in misery. She poured him
full coffee cup to fortify him.
"I'll cover the nursing angles." then she said
under her breath
so only Mike could hear.
"That way it'll all go that much faster.." she said
from the corner of
Mike nodded his gratefulness to both the coffee
and the offer. "Great..we'll get
"This afternoon..." Kel countered with a smile..
"...this afternoon, Mr.
and Mrs. Brackett." Morton
amended smoothly without missing a beat.
To Dixie, Mike cracked
the biggest toothiest
doctor's professional grin that she had ever seen.
::Oh, boy. He's not happy.
But, rank has its
privileges. :: she thought scratching an itch on her head.
She cast a dangerous
calculating eye on her best friend.
:: You know, I think I'll go to medical school after this,
to become a doctor so Kel won't be able to pull
one over on me or my staff anymore.::
chagrin, Kel was obvious to her discomforture.
Soon, the elder Bracketts left for a late snack
cafeteria and talk resumed about Mary Kenner,
the woman jockey.
Mike said. "The
ABG levels in that hand are
simply perfect, Kel. She came through that
immediate surgery of yours
with flying colors."
Kel frowned and shifted in his lounge chair,
sighing. "Yeah, but that's
just one of her problems
solved. I'm concerned about her continued
"Why? Her x-rays are showing
clear. There are no fractures anywhere along
her spine. She doesn't
even have disk
misalignment. Seems to me that her paraplegic
deficit might be temporary just due
from hyperflexing her back when she landed on
top of that track railing. You did tell
me Roy found
her hanging there."
Kel answered. "Mike, you know how these things go.
seen patients who have whole vertebrae
completely shattered in two, three places who
get up and walk again. And then there are
cases like Mary Kenner's..." and he let his comment
in the air.
A feeling of subtle depression filled the room.
A few moments later, Mike's
on things he knew little about gushed out. "The steroidal
work for her. The anesthesiologist
said he saw a few foot twitches when he was extubating
And I believe what he saw."
"Let's hope you're right.." Dixie whispered.
From: "rampartbase" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 2003 04:12:30 -0000
Dixie finally gave up and suggested Catalina Island. "That sounds
like an interesting place." Anna Brackett said. Dix just nodded. "We
can leave tomorrow. You're
such a dear." Anna hugged Dix.
The next day, the trio of Bracketts met at the dock for the 26
boat ride. They boarded with the rest of the passengers and the boat
left as scheduled.
Somewhere out at sea, the boat ran into trouble.
One of the engines started smoking.
From : "JOHN ALLEN" <email@example.com>
Horses, Ferrys and Fire, Oh my!
Date :Mon, 17 Mar 2003 08:36:53 +0000
This is a
tandem post by John Allen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
and Patti Keiper <email@example.com> via live brainstorming
and mutual research on the web.
Dusty Schraeder exited his track camper and strode
the nearby parking lot payphone under the row of
palm trees over looking his horse barn. ::Man, this
San Antonio, Texas. Hotter than grits on a griddle today.
I hate Californ-I-A. With
He dialed a number, as he slapped on expensive
aftershave. "Artie? It's done.
And it looks like
Jose Rivero's on the outlist for three months, too.
You owe me more for that."
Dusty listened as the mafia man's voice
warbled in his ear for a moment. "No, man. I'm
There's enough police sniffing around my operation
as it is..You want another horse killed do it yourself.
I've got a boat to catch this afternoon." And he slammed
down the phone receiver in irritation. "I
They should stick to drinking bad wine and twirling pasta
on their spoons!"
Kel Brackett and Anna Rose stood by the
the Windjammer Ferry bound for Catalina Island.
"Oh, Kel. Remind me to thank Dixie
I don't think we've been to this island all
the time you were growing up." Anna Rose
sighed, breathing in the rich salt tanged air
ruffling her auburn hair.
Kel and Brent exchanged
a look of confidential
tolerance at Mrs. Brackett, intensely glad that
a destination for their
vacation had finally
Brent drew both Kel and Anna Rose under
both arms in an
uncharacteristic show of
guarded affection, and said. "I'm glad we can get
together for this.
Glad that d*mned snowstorm
changed our minds.. I could get used to trips
smiled. "Dix has a knack for landing
ANYone on their feet."
"Even us?" Brent quipped.
"Apparently, even us."
Anna Rose beamed at Brent and Kel
widely and said. "Let's go get some
champagne to celebrate. Shall we?"
"Celebrate what, mom?" Kel
asked wrapping her sky blue sweater
more tightly around her to stave off
the brisk seabreeze coming from the south.
She could just
see the wild beach of
the graceful desert island less than
a quarter mile away from them.
have to ask? Isn't it obvious?"
Anna Rose asked in return peering up
at her taller son.
chuckled deep in his throat and
adjusted his white golfer's hat more
firmly onto his head. "Anna
Rose, leave off.
Kelly's here to unwind. No surgical wards,
no Dixie to come calling with medical
no Rampart. He's finally on foreign territory
for the first time in years. In more ways
Kel grunted, but deigned to comment.
He sighed grandly and said. "I sure am.
But I'm sure glad I'm here. Listen, hang around
for a few minutes. I'm going to go get
drinks for us. Be right back.."
Anna Rose and Brent Brackett watched him
bound up the deck
stairway to the
upper level and the open air bar above, with
a new energy she had never noticed
Seabirds fluttered down over their heads
and glowed in the azure sky, only increasing
the Bracketts sense of contentment and peace.
But then, Anna Rose's nose crinkled suddenly in
distain. "Dearest, do you smell that?"
On the Windjammer's bridge, the captain's
internal phone rang.
"This is the Bridge.."
##Sir.. we have a problem...##
The engineer below decks coughed once
lifted the receiver from his mouth and
shouted. "Get more coolant on that port
turbine! She's still
running too hot!!" then
he thought angrily. The ferry engineer saved a few
choice mental words
for the Santa Anita
track trainer and entrepreneur and spit
sharply onto the metal grating beneath
feet. :: D*mn Dusty Schraeder for cutting
our budget spending on transport servicing.
hauled her up to dry dock months ago
for a complete overhaul. When I get to shore
The Windjammer shuddered as the sudden engine
her passenger crowded decks
shifted in massive concussion.
The Captain on the bridge shouted.
Margolin! Get down there and see how
badly we've been damaged!"
"Aye, sir.." said the
ferry's first officer, and
he gestured to two fellow officers to follow
him down below decks to
the engine room.
The ferry captain's right hand nestled onto
a little used switch on his natical
and he pulled it. The universal mariner's
Kel was sent sprawling off his bar stool|
where he sat waiting for his order
of champagne for three.
He was thrown with terrific force into
the deck plating and the impact made him bite
badly. In wracking pain and bleeding
copiously from his mouth, Dr. Brackett lifted
his head as
he saw smoke billowing from the rear
end of the ferry. A careless wind sent a cloud of
bad air into the bar deck, and visibility
shrank down to nil in seconds. "Everybody, drop
on the deck! There's clear air down here!"
::Mom, dad. Oh, be safe..:: he thought.
one shaken young woman, dazed
from where her head had impacted a
fallen table, to her feet and
fled towards the direction of the stairs they
could barely see and back into daylight.
::What the h*ll happened down there?::
In the murk he spied a big Texan man, lolling
deck, semi conscious, with a black cowboy hat
covering his face. "Hey, mister! You ok?" Kel asked
the fallen man, shoving the crushed hat away.
He could see a large bruise on his head.
be a concussion.:: he reasoned.
Dusty Schraeder moaned and opened his eyes
under Kel's ministrations.
"Oww.. *cough* what
in tarnation is going on?!"
"There's been an explosion below decks. We
get outta here. This smoke's getting thicker." Dr.
Brackett said. "I'm a doctor and there
be more injured people outside. Can you stand?"
"Can a racehorse run?" Dusty said.
"Fine. Let's move out." Kel ordered.
He hefted the southern man to his feet and pointed
the direction to where he knew the stairs were.
L.A. Dispatcher Sam Lanier coordinated the |
data he was receiving from the Coast Guard
Network and decided a course
of action to handle the bounding casualty estimates
his terminal from the Harbor
Master on Duty. Then he toggled out the tones.
A long string of call
signs and finally the fire disaster
LCR's rang out across the county's telecom relay
into the firehouses linked to it.
## Station 110, Waterboat 245, Battalion 14,
Coast Guard 9, Helicopter
8, Station 51, Marina
Cutter 27, Lifeguard 16. Ferry fire. One mile off Catalina
Island. All fire
units respond to LAX heliport. Time
out, 11: 45.##
Cap sidled out from under Henry and shot
to his feet.
"Let's go. Move it out.."
"Sounds like a bad one.." Chet mumbled as he
to the rig and hurriedly pulled on his turnout
gear. "But why call out the engine, too? Gage and
usually get the ocean runs."
" It's a catastrophic all call, Kelly. Remember those tones.
must be a grade four multiple casualty for us to respond
as well." Cap said, climbing aboard the
Ward. Stoker and
the others filed into place and soon, the station rolled out.
On the way,
Johnny cut the tension by talking of
other matters. "Hey, Roy, guess what?"
Roy, deep into
watching traffic as they sped towards
the airport, barely afforded Gage a glance as
"Wanna play altruistic and kill two birds with one stone?"
"Whatdiya mean?" Roy
said, gripping the steering wheel
and speaking loudly over the wailing siren above
Johnny tightened the strap on his helmet and smiled.
"Well, first thing. We should go ahead and
You heard Crockett. I just may have agreed to a
verbal shift of ownership with Jose
Rivero the jockey.."
"What do you mean we?" Roy said frankly. "I wasn't
in on that little deal
you two struck up, now was I?
I'm washing my hands clean of that so you can just forget
would never forgive me if I tapped into
what little savings we have."