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Where The Wind Blows
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Page Four

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Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2006 06:26:45 +0000 (GMT)
From: "Clairissa Fox" <>  
Subject:  Sticky Business

A shot fired in distress rang out clearly over the roar of the wind.

"Someone else's noticed the fire or the hiker. He might not be alone."
DeSoto said, pulling up to listen more closely.

"Let's just get there before we start worrying about someone else
doing something stupid." shouted Gage, driving his gray on a little faster.

It wasn't five minutes later when the hard blowing horses finally
reached the top of the wide tableland billowing fresh brush smoke.

Jimmy dismounted soon after the ranch hand did. "Where's this
hiker, Lou? I don't see him at all."

"Right there!" said the older man. "Just under that pine tree on
the flat to the right of the cliff face." he said pointed.

"All right. We got him." said Johnny, grabbing two coils of hundred
foot rope. "Roy, what do you think? Just the basic equipment?"

"We're gonna have to. That fire building up may not give us time for
anything else except dragging him out of the fire's way." answered

Colorado's cool was shaken. "Is it really that bad of a burn starting up?
I'm familiar with ones back home. Usually they take a half an hour or so
before working into anything serious."

"You're overlooking a crucial factor, Jim. There's about a hundred times
less water present in the soil and foliage here in California than back near
your home in Aspen. Fires always get bad when they get going in thick brush
like this. And they get bad fast. So do us a favor; man our anchor line and
don't try to follow us. If we need something from the horses, we'll signal ya for it."
he told the quietly worried singer and the frantic ranch hand.

"All right. I'll tie the horses by the road so the fire stations can easily
spot us when they come." said Jimmy. "I'll keep an eye on him, too. He
looks a bit anxious to just dive right on in with you." Colorado said, casting his
head at the ansy rancher shouting up at the distant prone hiker.

"Fair enough." Gage said, sighting along the ridge face for the best, safest
way up the cliff that wasn't downwind of the gnawing flames building in the grass
niched in its crevasses.

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They left the others behind on the horse trail, quickly jogging for the vertical
cliff face Lou had shown them. Soon, they rounded a bend and the accident
slope became visible. Johnny sighed in frustration."Our victim's a city slicker
all right. He's hardly tan and there are no rocks above him around the fire pit
he tried to light up. Looks like he tried to use charcoal starter in spite of the
warning signs about all this breezy weather. I can see the can lying at his feet
from here. It's still leaking."

"Is he moving?" Roy asked.

"No. And it's too windy to tell if he's still breathing or not."

"Let's just hope none of that fuel got on his clothing when he fell. If a
spark from one of those burning shrubs gets a chance to land on him..."

"Don't even think it, Roy. I'm scared enough as it is going into all this smoke
without knowing where the head of the fire's at." Johnny frowned.

Soon, the two paramedics began to climb the rocks, foot by careful foot.
Johnny led the way, being the nimbler of the two and every so often, he
tied off on a snug tree that wasn't dead to be a backup rope support for
the medical pack equipped Roy.

The ledge was even narrower and more angled than what they had initially feared.
Many times, the two firemen slipped, sending rocks and small dirtfalls
cascading to the trail floor down below. Only the ropes kept them on
their hand and foot holds.

"Gimme more slack!" DeSoto called out as he skirted around a
smouldering pine sapling. He started coughing as acrid smoke
began to grow thicker. "I'm * cough* almost over to him!"

"How far?" shouted Gage, still out of sight around a fold in the boulders.

"About twenty five feet." Roy yelled back. "He's alive. His legs are
trembling. Looks like fracture spasming and contractures."

"I'll be right there in a minute. I'm tying you off so I can send down a line
to the others for the rest of our gear."  

Roy methodically negotiated the bare rock face on toes and fingertips
until he found good purchase. Then he reached over to the shivering man's
neck for a pulse quality check.


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From: "patti keiper" <>
Date: Fri Jan 27, 2006  2:46 pm
Subject: Catch 22...

"How's he doing?" Gage asked, crouching by Roy's
side. He started unstrapping the knapsack full of medical
supplies from his partner's back without asking.

Roy leaned forward and dug out some loose dirt and
pebbles out of the unconscious man's mouth with a few fingers.
"He's shocky. Breathing for now although how long he'll be able
to keep that up once the air gets worse up here.." Roy said, blinking
the stinging smoke out of his eyes.  "I turned him onto his side.
He seems clear neck and spine wise. He took the impact to both feet
when he landed. See the blood smears?  Looks like he struggled
then stopped moving when he realized both his legs were broken."

Johnny knelt down and got out his clothes shears from his
hip holster. "Good thing for him he's passed out." he said quickly
cutting away the man's blood soaked jeans. "This lower bone shaft's
open and comminuted right at the knee. The other leg's been spiralled.
That break's closed. It's most likely his femur. It's angulated.
But I've got a good femoral pulse with this."

"Do you have circulation in the first leg anywhere below that knee?"
Roy said, feeling along the man's upper body for other soft spots
while he checked also for telltale skin tears and bleeding.

"No. His foot's dark. And it's getting more than just a little cold." Johnny
said grimly, peeling off a tarp that had wrapped their backpack's frame.
He used it to cover up the man snuggly to start preserving his body

Roy tried moving the pulseless leg into better alignment.
"Feel anything now?"

Johnny shook his head after feeling at artery points on top of
the foot, around the ankle and behind the shattered knee. "Nothing.
At least, an artery's not torn. He isn't hemorrhaging badly from
anywhere down here through these bone lacerations.
I don't understand it."

"Compartmental syndrome?" Roy sniffed, thinking.

"Already?" Gage frowned, bending close to make sure the man
was breathing well in his new left side shifted position.

"It has to be that. You know how bad joints swell up after taking a hit.
Especially if it's a knee."

Gage lifted his head, feeling how the broken bones lay tangled just
under the skin. "I'll get a splint. Maybe we can keep, at least,
his upper leg viable enough to save."

"That's what we're gonna have to do. We've no other choice
in the matter." Roy agreed.

Johnny horsewhistled loudly, and got Jimmy Colorado and Lou's attention.
He pinwheeled an arm sharply in a gesture. "He's alive! Send up the first
bundle! The splints pack!  No, not the green one yet. The long, flat
orange one!"

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Colorado finally got the right duffle tied off and Johnny began the long
chore of hand over hand pulling it up on its rope.

A scuffling on the rocks above them sent a small cascade of sand down
onto Roy's head. He protectively threw his body over the injured hiker's
head as he looked up for the source of the disturbance. A dangling foot of
a practiced climber lowered quickly into view.

Roy saw that their new arrival had expensive cleats on and he barely
registered the fact that the man could only have come from the hot, flame
burning campsite on the ridge above the ledge. "Where'd you come from?"
he blurted out, helping the man's feet gain a grip on the narrow ledge.

"I was about to ask you the same thing." he grinned, pulling something off
from around his neck. "Glad you heard my gunshot and came up here, too.
I was wondering how I'd get Stuart down from this ledge all by myself."
he said piling a coil of light mountain rope near the cliff's drop off.

"Wait a minute. Isn't the fire fully involved up there? How is it that you're
still breathing?"

The climber reached into his jacket and pulled out a small cylinder. It
was green. "With this. It's portable oxygen. I grabbed it from our cessna
while getting a few other things I needed and I wore the mask until
I got into the clearer air blowing up the rock face. Get it on him. I assume you
have medical training. Stuart looks like he's been effectively evaluated." he
said, throwing a well groomed head at the neatly split clothing skirting
Stuart's bruised arms and legs.

"You sound very much like a close paramedic friend of mine." Roy mused,
smiling. "His name's Brice."

"And you're one, too?" guessed the man.

"Yep. So's my partner. He'll be right back. He's getting some splints up here
from a pair of horseback riders waiting down below. I'm Roy DeSoto. From
Los Angeles County." he replied, turning the dial of O2 on after he had the
small mask snuggly fastened over the hiker's nose and mouth.

Johnny reappeared from around the corner, flattening to the rock wall with all
the clinging power he could muster in the sharp breeze. "I got them and some..."
he broke off as Roy and the stranger both reached down to help him up onto
leveler ground.

"This is Johnny Gage from my same fire station. 51's in Carson City. And you
are?" DeSoto interjected neatly.

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"Dr. Lance Baldwin. I'm an orthopedic surgeon. Stuart's a med student of mine,
originally from Chicago. I brought him up here to see what the back country
looks like but I didn't quite bank on his suburbanite upbringing getting in the
way. I told him not to light a fire until the Santa Anas died down for the night."
said the doctor tightly as he immediately knelt down by Stuart's ruined knee.
"Still no pulse in it?" he asked them.

"No." Gage replied. "You wouldn't happen to have any I.V. solution bags with
that oxygen do you, doc?" he said, crouching near with a serious expression
on his face.

"Sorry. Fresh out. We can always improvise and make some at the ranch
once we're out of danger until your coworkers get here to give us replacements."
he said opening a small red plastic case that he had pulled out of his jacket
pocket. "I've got a sphyg and steth in my backpack. Take a vitals set, would ya?
I'm gonna try and save this leg if I can." he said, getting out a long sterile syringe
and needle pack.

"What are you gonna do?" asked Roy, frowning.

"I'm going to try and draw out some of this excess fluid buildup here. If I can
do that, blood may flow back down into Stuart's leg. Knee fractures create a lot
of clots. If I can remove most of them..."

"His foot'll probably make it then. I get the picture. Need my help at all?"
asked Roy.

"Yes, go get that empty water bottle blowing around. We can use that to hold the
blood and debris I'll get out of the joint. But first, swab down the entire knee with
this betadine. I'm going to go in from the front." said the surgeon, holding up the
still safely sheathed syringe.

"Will that evacuation work?" Johnny asked, looking up from a blood pressure he
had taken along with the rest of the basics. "80/54.....22 and 124."

"Yes. I do these all the time on the operating table to prevent nasty unnecessary
amputations. Let's hurry a little. Stuart'll kill me when he wakes up later and finds out
that I couldn't keep him from having one of THOSE done on him. There's still time
to reverse this leg's compromised blood flow." said Lance. "And he won't get
cardio-hyperkalemic on us if I manage to do this fast enough."

Soon, the leg was set and the doctor began the emergency procedure. He
advanced the long needle under the skin after a sharp pop, until a pulling up
on the plunger produced a flashback of thick redness. "Hold the leg still, while
I get the rest of this eviscerated marrow out."

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Johnny and Roy both used their hands to still the twitching muscles of the oxygen
starved leg with firm grips. Clot after thick soupy clot entered the syringe's chamber
until nothing but clear fluid followed. Gage slipped a hand under Stuart's popliteal
artery. "I've got a pulse now." He looked down at Stuart's bare foot. "And there's
refill almost faster than two seconds in all five of his toes. I think that did it, doc."

"It usually does." smiled Baldwin. He pulled out the needle and plungered pushed
its contents into the plastic water bottle Roy held out to him. He dropped in the
whole injector set, needle and all into the container and screwed the water bottle's
cap down to seal it away so no one would stick themselves on its sharp end. "I like
to stay thinking that I'm pretty good at doing knees, boys. Ok, let's get him set to
move out. I'll take one of those splints of yours to wrap this leg up myself. I know
just how to position this kind of bad break for the best perfusion. Don't worry, we've
plenty of time to do this now."

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A sharp gust of wind sent a swirl of burning loose grass tornadoing around
the four of them. Johnny threw the tarp over Stuart's head so the oxygen gas
wouldn't ignite the skin on his face off an ember. The fire surged and lapped over
the edge of the ridgetop only twenty feet above them making all of them duck
into a huddle instinctively.

"I think.. we just ran out of time. The brush fire's right on top of us." Gage quailed.

Then the opposite ends of the ledge burst into flames.

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From: "Cassidy Meyers" <>
Date: Sun Jan 29, 2006  2:00 am
Subject: Good Things Come In Small Packages...

"He's gotta get down now!" Johnny shouted to Roy and the
cringing doctor.  "We won't make it running away from here
if we're carrying him!"

Baldwin swiftly began wrapping Stuart's legs together
with his belt. "I got some mailing bubble wrap in my pack.
Between that and the straps off of it, I'll splint his legs well enough
to keep his pressure in compensation for any rough hauling.
You guys just get that rope I set over there ready for him."
said Lance, reaching into his emergency satchel for a
nasopharyngeal airway. "I got this working..." he said firmly,
threading the rubber tube into Stuart's nose to secure him
better breathing wise.

Roy heard a shout of panic drift up to the ledge.

It was Lou, yelling louder than ever. "Get down! Get down from
there!" screamed the ranch hand. "The trees are going up! It's
a fire storm!"

Thick smoke billowed in like a sour fog, blocking their view
of the horse trail utterly and the heat began to build.

A sputtering spark alighted in Johnny's hair as he worked to
fashion a fast, crude body harness. He uttered a cry and fell to
the ground as he used the sandy dirt to snuff it out.

"You ok?!" DeSoto coughed.

"I'm fine. Just keep working..*choke*. We may bake for a while
here lowering him down, but at least in all this wind, we've got
air to breathe." Gage puffed, getting to his feet and shaking
dirt from his head.

"I can think of worse ways of dying as a firefighter." Roy quipped,
grinning. "But I never thought I'd find myself wishing that the Santa
Ana winds would keep on blowing."

'Yeah, well that's one wish I'll join in on wholeheartedly."
Johnny said, tying one last knot into their improvised rope harness.
"All right, my side's done. Let's get this on him."

Lance was folded on the ground, sucking in the cool air uprising into
the fire. Stubbornly, he had kept the oxygen on Stuart while he waited
for DeSoto and Gage to finish their preparations.

Roy crawled over to him. "If you're short of breath, go ahead and use
his O2. You can't rescue anybody if you let yourself get into trouble first."
he told the doctor as he peeled off the young man's mask to hand it
to him.

"Wait!  What are you--.." Lance protested. But then he accepted that
firefighter lesson instantly when the oxygen Roy suddenly pressed to his
face drove away a bad wave of dizziness. He let his face drop nose down
into the dirt as it left him.

"You ok?" Roy asked him, pulling himself nearer. "It's gonna take
all three of us to handle his weight with all this bad air around." he said,
keeping the mask in place. "Is this helping?...Baldwin?...Hey.."
He started to call out when Baldwin didn't move or reply right away.

The doctor held up a just-give-me-a-minute finger without lifting his
head as he started coughing, trying to get his lungs free of the acrid smoke.
"I'm.....*gag* ...fine. Don't slow ....your partner down at all." he whispered.
Then he rolled over onto his back and took three more breaths off the
oxygen mask Roy was holding for him. "I don't have a pair of firemen's
lungs yet like you two seem to have. Guess I'm.....just unlucky enough
to be in the wrong kind of business here." he grunted uncomfortably.

Roy bent lower, watching him closely. "Do you have asthma or any other
kind of COPD I should know about?"

"No." Lance lied.

DeSoto wasn't fooled.
"I'll give you a minute more on that. Then we have to---"  

"I'm ready now.." Lance said, sitting up abruptly. He pulled off
the mask. "Give this back to him for a bit. Until he's over the edge.
Then we can take it and save it for our trip down, ok?" he begged
DeSoto. With an effort, he suppressed his coughing long enough to
show Roy that he could still control his breathing rate.

Gage suddenly reappeared and dragged himself into their midst
through a thick plume of smoke. "Stuart's set. Gimme that." he said,
reaching for the oxygen.

Lance gave it to him.

Johnny took a few pulls and pushed it back. "Here, set it back on him.
Roy doesn't need it yet."

With a sober look, Baldwin did it. Stuart's color improved visibly a few
seconds later. "He's feeling this smoke, too. I still say we should keep
the tank on him."

"Lance, he's not breathing as deeply as we are. He's got more tolerance
then we do right now believe it or not. He'll do fine for a while. Just help
Roy and me roll him over the edge. I've thrown a rock. The others saw its
impact so they know we're still all right and that he's coming down."
Gage snapped.

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Lance tried to smile. "Imagine that. A paramedic's finally giving orders to
a physician."

"I won't tell if you won't." Johnny quipped with the same brave smile.

They got to work.

Roy added more. "I got a note tied around Stuart's arm saying to send
up our last pack, Johnny."

"Good, we're gonna need it." Gage said quietly, scared.

"Need what?" Baldwin asked.


Jimmy Colorado and Lou managed to lay Stuart down on the trail
in between the horses. They cut his rope away to save time and they
saw Roy's note.

The smallish square green pack was soon secured by its hook to the hauling
line still disappearing up the cliff's face in the thickening smoke. The
ranch hand gave the line a firm couple of jerks.

Slowly, foot by foot, the pack was retrieved.

"What are they doing now asking for that?" Jimmy wondered as he
knelt by Stuart's head to keep tabs on his condition.

"I don't know. Maybe they're pulleys or something so all three of
them can rappel down from there all at once." Lou shrugged.

"They'd better hurry. The fire's burning right down to them.
If they don't get out of there soon..." Colorado said.

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"Easy, son, don't get all worked up over nothing. Have a little faith. Those
are firemen up there. I'm sure that they probably know what they're doing.
Think about it. If they didn't, they never even would have made the trip
up there to try and save this guy." chuckled Lou. But then his face
lost all trace of humor after they both lost sight of the dragging bundle
knotted at the end of the rope.

Above them, the fire began to roar like an angry waterfall.

They were forced to retreat many yards down the trail towards the roadside.

::Please be ok. Please.:: Lou thought privately as he desperately tried
to peer through the huge bank of smoke twisting visciously into the sky.

Then the tongues of flame began to rise higher than the trees.

"Oh mother of--!" Colorado gasped as they watched in a panic.
"Lou, please tell me they're good enough to survive even this." he moaned

The horses behind them panicked, straining against their reins tied to a tree.

From: Sam Iam <>
and Cory Anda <>
Date: Sun Jan 29, 2006  10:39 am
Subject: Plume From Heaven..

"That'll be up to the wind, Jimmy. It's holding all the
cards now."

"The ....wind..?" Colorado murmured. "Oh, the wind. Yeah,..
uh, right." he said weakily, sagging to the ground next to
Stuart. "This man's still alive. And he's....breathing ok for
us." he said taking a wrist pulse with his other hand on top
of Stuart's stomach.

"That's good. You just keep on thinking positive thoughts,
son. It'll work out in the end for those paramedics 'cause
that's just the way things follow through for guys like them."
Lou said with a fervor he didn't feel.

Then the horses' frightened chorus whinneys splintered
off key under some new growing sounds. The sounds of fire
department sirens....

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Up on the ledge, Gage was clawing at the pack blindly
because he couldn't see very well at all through the smoke,
but he was smiling. "Roy, that's 105! And our engine. I know
those sounds ....*cough* anywhere."

"105's the magic number we were waiting for, junior. She's gonna
be our ticket outta here." Roy was just as quick to help him while
Baldwin conserved his strength lying on his side. Lance's face
was overhanging the ledge inside the stream of speeding fresh
air flowing up the mountain. And Roy was still firmly sitting on the
rope tied around the doctor's waist."Let's hope she's faster than
the fire, Johnny. I don't wanna have to use the brand new aces
up our sleeves."

"What? Don't you trust 110's brush captain to come up with another
smart, effective invention like he's apparently done? I don't know
about you but I'm awfully glad we commissioned to get some of his new
FS's. Those brush assignment boys of his alone swear up and down
that these things work like a charm."

"I don't wanna tempt fate any more than I have to." Roy told him softly,

Johnny forcibly turned Roy's head with his hands until he had DeSoto
looking directly up into the inferno enveloping the doctor's plane and
campsite. "Just look at what we're gonna face, Roy. In about three
minutes we won't have much choice to do anything else about it." Gage
said loudly. "Come on. No use whining now. We got these. And I know
you're really glad you have em, too. I know you are, ...somewhere." he said
unconvincingly. "You always trust new technology whenever it's handed
to us. Just like I do. You knew that when we got up here or you never
would have written that note we sent down with our victim."

It had taken half a minute to explain why there wasn't time enough
for anyone to climb down the clifftop. DeSoto could still
remember the end of their conversation.

"....The ropes will catch on fire and burn through with us only half way
down. Think about it, doctor. Do you want to end up like Stuart or worse?"
Roy had asked. "We're far better off sticking around and waiting for
help to arrive."

Lance had shut up after that. He no longer said anything much at all.
Neither did he attempt to cover up the obvious fact that he was slipping
further into a bad asthma attack. He just crawled over to the ledge's lip
and rested there on his stomach, gasping. It was as good a solution as
any. Cold air usually worked for him. ::Now why didn't I grab my inhaler
along with the plane's emergency surgical kit?:: he wondered.

Johnny broke Roy out of his reflections with a smack of a plastic
bound package against his chest. "Open yours. I'll open mine. And
then we'll both tell him how to use his. Is he still conscious?"

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"Yeah. He's trying to get a hold on his fright right now so he doesn't
tighten up worse than he already is." DeSoto replied, keeping a hand
on the doctor's respirations where he lay. He tapped him. "Baldwin,..." he
said. "Come on and get on your feet. We gotta show you something.
Real fast. And yes, it's gonna save our lives here. I can read your mind."

The two paramedics opened up billowing silver triangles of mylar supported
with tent shaped wire frames and both of them stepped onto elastic cords
stretched across the ends of their fire shelters. "Here. Do what we're doing
now. Grab a tight hold of yours so the wind doesn't pull it out of your hands."
Johnny told Lance.

"What? I don't--"

"These are emergency fire tents, doctor. It'll block out all the flames. No matter
how hot it gets outside, inside these, it'll only be 275 degrees.. Just pull it over
yourself once you get on the ground and let it cover you completely. Like
a tent would."

"Wonderful." said the gasping doctor, getting to his feet. He soon caught
up with them on setting up his own experimental fire shelter. "That solves
the fricasee problem, but what about ....the air ..*gasp* ..we need to breathe?"

"That where she come in.." Gage said happily, pointing downwards
through the smoke just as a loud klaxon burst through the roar of the fire.
He stuck out one of his hands that contained a flare gun and he fired it
off away from the mountain where he knew it would arch in clear air and
be seen. "105's already on the job. Just get in. Get in!" he urged as he
dropped to the ground "Doctor, you're on your own now." he warned.
"The fire's here! Trust us. These will buy us the time we desperately need."
Then Johnny disappeared underneath his shelter. Roy had already done
so under his silver triangle of flimsy seeming mylar. "Just relax and breathe
slow off the oxygen's tank once you're under it." shouted his voice through
the shiny material.

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Baldwin finally decided to use his emergency fire shelter moments before
a wall of fire, dipping on the wind, covered him utterly in a snarling blast of
red hot flames.

Captain Stanley got out of the Ward LaFrance and instantly, his face
turned toward the mountain as he felt the others gather around his side.
"Chet, Marco. Circle around and see if you can spot where they are up there.
Bellingham, Brice, and I will start this man's care until 84's squad gets here
to help us out." he said opening the squad's medical gear doors. "Stoker,
get our water hooked up to 105's pump immediately."

"Right." said 51's engineer.

"Cap. I hope they're doing ok. This fire looks like she's shaping up
into a bad one." Marco said. "They managed to find the hiker and get him out
ok, but they might not get so lucky here."

"Yeah, well, it might not be so bad yet. The only tinder's up there on top.
A point in our favor always.. concerning coastal pines like these. Get going
up the trail. Chet's already heading towards the ocean." Hank told him.
"Radio to 105 with a new orientation if you see any signs or anything at all
about where they are." he said with a full, quiet worry coloring his voice.

"Got it." said Lopez, gripping his HT even tighter. He ran off away from
the light smoke pouring off the mountain slope.

Station 105 continued to prepare for her rapid rescue.


Kelly had pushed through a thick bush when he spotted a blood bright
flare as it came bursting out of the rising smoke column above the canopy
blaze. He froze in his crouch and started yelling into his handy talkie.
"HT 51 to Laddertruck 105. I've got a flare! Seventy five feet above you
directly. See it? The wind's pushing it westward rapidly."

##We see it and we're shifting position. Our bucket's live and all aerial
hose lines are charged. ETA to your men's elevation, one minute.##

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"Come on, come on. Burn those hydraulics, captain." Chet mumbled
as he started running back for the engines and squad. "These are my
personal friends' butts we're bailing.." he said to himself.

The tall, pure white, swan like neck of the Addison on Ladder Truck 105 rose
high into the sunny air and was soon bissected by the fire's thick brown smoke.
Her operator was uneffected, wearing full scba. Even before the full panel
directed height was reached, the bucket man plumed his hose on full force stream
into a massive fan. Supported by Engine 51's ample supply, he sent tons of water
down onto the mountainside over the invisible ledge the flare had apparently
fired from. The falling water snuffed out the rising flames in great fountaining
hisses and suddenly, three singed, deployed silver fire shelters became visible.
"I don't believe it." he muttered. "They managed to get em up in time. But
who's under the third shell?"

Still providing cooling cover in a curtain, he lowered his bucket to the rocky shelf
and landed on it with a thud. "Hey, can anybody hear me? Rise and shine!"

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Johnny Gage was firmly delivering breaths, using the ladder bucket's positive
pressure demand valve, to Doctor Baldwin. The small oxygen tank that Lance
had used had run bone dry. Then the smoke had done the rest of its suffocating
work. Roy was on 105's HT.  "Cap! Get permission for albuterol and an endotracheal
intubation a.s.a.p. We've a status asthmaticus. Acute!"

##Brice's got Brackett on the horn. I'll relay.## replied Hank.

There were no sweeter words Roy could have heard right then, except those.

Baldwin and Stuart would live to fly another day.

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From: Patti or Jeff or Cassidy <>
Date: Sun Jan 29, 2006  9:31 pm
Subject: Walk Like A Man...  

It was Saturday. Six weeks later.

And things were definitely looking up at the Beer-A-Bye-Bye
club in uptown L.A. The entire A shift, plus four others, were
with their associated dates or spouses at tables surrounding
the talent night open stage where Jimmy Colorado was holding
the last newspaper promised concert of the year, in California.

It was intermission, at the half way point, which allowed time
for the down to earth singer to rest and drink water to get set
for the more vocally intense second half of his one man show.

"Johnny, you are absolutely right about him." murmured Joanne
DeSoto about Jimmy Colorado. "His music makes you want to
smile or cry in the blink of an eye. And I'm not one to be swayed
easily that way."

"Sure you are." said Roy. "You weep listening to classical music
all the time while you do the dusting..." he insisted.

"That's not because of the music, you ninny.  You know I have a dust
allergy. I turn on that music so I can distract myself from sneezing. If
I didn't do that every week, the housecleaning would never get done."
Joanne laughed.

"Really.. so I married an insensitive domesticator? That's news to me."
Roy grinned, biting into a Cheetos nugget from the woven snacking
basket in front of him.

"Oh, you..." Joanne said, smacking Roy affectionately on the shoulder
in mock insult.

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Dixie and Kel Brackett had overheard and McCall whispered to Joanne.
"Jimmy's singing effects me the same way and I first heard him a capella."

Nearby, Kelly sat with his sister and he leaned into Johnny secretly.
"Psst. Hey, Gage." he said, pretending to tie the laces on his splashy
two toned shoes.

"What?!" Johnny replied in irritation at his coworker. He was deeply
into making ga-ga eyes at his date, the EMT from Schaeffer's.

"Is that Matilda Emily Lynn Volskeld? Man, is she a looker.." and Chet
gave him a thumbs up before he leaned back into the darkness once
more to give them a little privacy to continue on with what they were

Johnny Gage just smiled with a smug modest look and started kissing
his date once again over a glass of red wine. "Thanks. I think she's real
nice, too. That's why I brought her here tonight, Chet." he whispered.

Mel blinked quizzically when they finally broke apart. "Who are you talking

"Nobody as important as you are to me right now." he said cheekily sly,
sipping his wine without looking over at Kelly.

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"Aww, that's so sweet." Mel said, and she gave Gage another peck on
the lips.

"Way to go to charm the ladies.." came another silky voice from the darkness
on Johnny's other side. It was Craig Brice, still relaxing at his own table.

Johnny turned around to grin at him, too, when he realized that Brice's date,
who had been late, had finally arrived.

"Hi, Johnny.." said a familiar bubbly blonde. It was Valerie, the three kid
single mom who's dating stint with Johnny ended horribly during her oldest
child's dog bite rescue call.

Gage did an unpleasant double take. "Uh, hi." He said the first thing that
came to mind. "Uh, I hope you enjoy the rest of the show, Valerie. Glad
you could come..." Then he turned right back around, with social niceties
satisfied. Then he thought very softly to himself. ::First thing I'm gonna
do tommorrow morning is get Valerie's picture out from behind Smokey
the Bear's poster in my locker. If Craig finds out that I have that still...::
he shuddered.

"Oh Jimmy's dreamy, Johnny. And his voice is, too. How many albums did
you say he has out already?" asked Valerie innocently.

"Two." Johnny replied, trying to smile at Mel again over his wine glass, without
turning around. He could feel his lips pursing angrily at the further interruption.

"You know, I think I'm gonna go out later this week to go buy them myself."
Valerie tittered. "I never realized that I could get into country tunes.."
Then she mercifully turned back to Brice, and started snuggling a blush
overbrushed cheek against his shoulder.

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Johnny had a further thought. ::Should I warn Brice about her?:: Then his better
half decided discretion was the better part of valor. ::Oh, well. No one warned me.
Experience is the best teacher they always say.:: he said giving a mock mini
toast to the air as he sipped his Cabernet solo at the idea.


The MC for the club got back on the microphone parked on the black
varnished stool sitting center stage. He was wearing a Woodstock tie dye
T-Shirt with a peace symbol in metal on a chain around his neck. He had
a red biker's bandana tied around his forehead but his hair was nothing like
a biker's, it was close trimmed with elegant sideburns. "Hello all, I hope you
all got the right burger orders. We have a new waitress on the floor tonight."
he joked, pointing at the bar's newest employee just to embarrass her." No,
really folks, Peggy from Anaheim did just fine on her first night waiting tables.
Please show your ...appreciation ...the best way you know how later on, she thinks
she's going to med school in the fall..." he teased. Peggy blushed even brighter.
"It's almost time once again for this evening's very special guest performer
to return onstage to finish the very latest repetoire of previously unheard
and soon-to-debut radio songs. Ladies and gentlmen, remember that
you heard them first right here at the classic, Beer-A-Bye-Bye in wonderful
uptown L.A. I give you once again... the one, the only, Jimmy Colorado, folks."
and he started applauding in cowed respectful admiration as the singer, still
limping lightly, came out from behind the wings with a bright blue guitar to take
over. He sat down on the black stool, returning the microphone back to its
mic stand in front of him.

Jimmy sat down with a bit of stiffness from lingering muscle aches. He politely
acknowledged the over enthusiastic whistles and applause coming from his
fans and invited firehouse and hospital guests. Then he began to speak.
"You know. I'm going to be honest with you tonight if I may."

"Sssure... Gao ahead!" yelled one drunk audience member. "I'm listhening.."

Colorado chuckled when he spotted the tipsy man, after shading his eyes
from the spotlight. "Ok, guess I can dump out just about anything now. Thanks."
he said cheekily with a touch of shy embarrassment. Then his expression sobered
into one of serious gratitude. "There was a good chance, a very good chance a
few weeks ago, that a bit of a mishap could have kept me from performing here tonight
for this show or for any other future one, for that matter, if it hadn't've been for a
bunch of good, kind folks who helped me out of the unexpected rut I had suddenly
found myself in."

Cries of dismay from the younger adolescent crowd burst through but Jimmy
staved them off with a reassuring hand. "I'm fine now. Really. Thanks. I can only
say that ...that ..I have a truly new sense of appreciation for all kinds of music
these days, .. and especially for my own, ..because of them. So I figured I'd
return the favor, doing a good deed......for ...a good deed received. Johnny.. could
you come up here for a moment? ....Folks? Is Johnny Gage out there in the audience

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Johnny looked pinned but he finally stood in his seat when the roving spot light
located him when an overeager Chet showed the techie where to point it.

"Ah, he is. Come on, don't be shy now. Because I know you're not. I've
seen how you work." Colorado quipped.

That brought a spate of laughter from the firehouse and hospital portion
of the crowd.

Jimmy then gestured to a stage hand to come on out with a second
stool, microphone.. and....Chet's beat up, hastily polished guitar.

Captain Stanley quailed, along with the rest of 51's gang. They all
remembered what had happened the last time Gage had a guitar in his hand.

"Oh, no.." Kelly moaned. "He's gonna make a fool out of himself. He
can't play worth a dime.." he hissed at Lopez.

"Should we stop him?" Marco asked Chet.

Stoker shushed them both into silence.

Bill McConnikee just winked from a rear table in back of the club
where he sat with his wife in a private booth. He raised his glass
in a toast to Johnny before Gage stepped onto the stage and into
the pastel lights splashing sparkles across the black tiled floor.

Johnny wasn't nervous at all. In fact, he appeared almost....smug,
and everyone he knew soon began to wonder .....why.

But then Jimmy Colorado started talking again. "I'm sure some of
you are scratching your heads right about now, wondering what I'm
up to.. and this is it." He started to strum a few chords of a new
never heard before ballad when he remembered something." Oh, sorry.
I've forgotten someone. Craig Brice? I hope you remembered your
bongo set. I haven't forgotten that you helped me teach him everything
he now knows." the singer said mysteriously with a wink at the front

"Everyone, Johnny here is about to accompany me,
playing on his guitar, during a very, very special new piece that's growing to
mean a completely whole new world to me. He helped me come up with
the melody during these past few weeks...while I finally got all the words
down on paper. These lyrics came to me believe it or not...while I was
watching someone struggling to live....during a brush fire...

"Folks, without further delay,.. we bring you the next main signature song
from my as yet to come third album,......Ladies and Gentlemen, 'Windsong.'" smiled Jimmy.

Click for the concert music. :)This will take a few minutes. It is the artist's original song.

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The gang from 51 cringed as the first notes of the tune started to
emerge from Johnny's fingertips but the jarring they were all expecting,
never arrived. As one, the two guitarists stroked, chord for chord and
then they broke off into independent, bright, melody and harmony,
interweaving call and responses as the opening measures began, with
Craig Brice's soft bongos delivering a light, lilting tempo.

Under the rainbow show lights, Brice and Colorado almost looked like....twins.

"When did Gage learn how to play like that?" Kelly asked everybody,
thoroughly dumbstruck. He sat forward and shook his head a little, not
believing his ears as perfect, professional quality musicianship, filled
him with ....actual wonder.

"Guess he got a few lessons in somewhere along the line. Jimmy did
mention that Brice and Gage were in on the song's creation. For that matter,
I think Bill McConnikee was in on some of it, too. Did you see the odd way
he raised his glass to--" Marco guessed.

"Shhh...." hissed Hank, ending the conversation most effectively.

Very soon after, the whole club was carried away, lost in the delicate
power and beauty of Colorado's newest song. It was surely destined
to become one of the most popular tunes he wrote that year.

Inwardly, Johnny Gage tried not to smile too big......when it was over.

He took the following standing ovation, like a man.

Episode Twenty Nine- Where The Wind Blows


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Where The Wind Blows

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Where The Wind Blows
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