From: patti keiper (email@example.com)
Thu 4/26/12 1:43 AM
Subject: These Are The Times That Try--
Dr. Bob Asten opened Dr. Brackett's
office door and let himself inside
after a short knock received an invitation to enter.
Brackett and Joe Early were in the midst of reading the crisis
Lt. Frank Monahan were there, too, for other business
for when the two doctors were ready to use them.
"There you are, Quincy. I've been looking all over the hospital for
you." said Asten at his county
"Sorry, Bob. I've been busy. These two, very kind doctors, kept
drumming up business
for me to do in triage." Quincy said.
Asten didn't buy it for one second. "Now that's a line of
I ever heard one. Triage's been over for hours. Quincy, if I didn't know
I'd say you were stooping to some really transparent
bald face ly--"
"I'm not lying. I'm still
on the clock... as an advisor and confidant
now instead of just as a forensic investigator. And for
a very different
kind of triage situation. Isn't that so, Dr. Brackett?"
Kel looked up from his notes, and offered Dr. Asten a polite smile.|
"All true, Doctor." Brackett agreed.
"I need your man's insight into
a fire house full of firefighters. You see, I'm on the paramedic
board and if anybody working under my license proves
to be having unusual difficulty with emotions
following a crisis, I have
to handle it to see if they should stay on the job after a suitable rest
interval, or not. And it follows if any pair of senior paramedics of mine
are being rocked to
the core by some catastrophe, it makes sense that
any immediate coworkers who were involved in the
could be effected also."
"What was it that got them so riled up?" Dr. Asten asked,
"A hostage situation that used a knife and a gun over a surviving
the murder of her mother at the hands of two
unstable prison inmates." Quincy replied.
"You said it."
Police Lieutenant Frank Monahan's broad forehead furrowed above his
steel gray eyes. "I wasn't there. But from what my boys have been
telling me after evidencing
the scene, their incident didn't turn out pretty."
Dr. Early nodded. "One of the firefighters
was injured in a scuffle
and at one point, he was used as a torture prod to gain compliance
"How's he doing?" Quincy asked Joe.
"Chet's going to be fine. Kel and I didn't
find any significant problems
that a little time and rest won't cure on its own." Early answered.
three days should see him over the worst of it."
"Wonderful. I was worried there for
a while." Quincy said, his eyes twinkling
Asten was all about cooperation. "And Doctors,
you paged me for..?" he
"Your feedback, ..on Counselor McPherson's notes. You do
hold a degree
in psychology, don't you?" asked Dr. Brackett.
"Yes, I do... Uh,...May I?" asked
Bob, reaching for the notes Joe and Kel
had been mulling over.
Brackett pushed them over. "I'm
using your coroner here to fill in some
details about how these firemen were reacting during the heat
of it. He
might offer some clues about how Joe and I and the rest of our staff can
men recover some balance sooner. All of them are showing strong
signs of acute post traumatic stress
syndrome in some form or another."
"Okay. Sure. I'd be happy to take a look." Asten nodded, his
Joe Early sighed. "Good. Thanks, Dr. Asten. You see, Kel and I are
friends with most of these firefighters. It's hard for us to be
objective effectively enough to pass
judgement or form any accurate
opinions. That's why we called you to come back in tonight."
thought firefighters were supposed to be tough as nails, doctor." said
Frank Monahan, scratching his
thatch of neatly parted white hair in
puzzlement. "If they're anything like cops.." he began.
Quincy finished Frank's thought with one of his own. "Then they never would
have let the situation
drag on so long. They would have snatched out their
guns and took out their assailants, one by one,
right between the eyes." he
gestured empathetically, stabbing himself in the same place with a finger.
"Just like a good little S.W.A.T. team. But there isn't a firefighter born who's
made to act like
a police officer. He's made to save lives. Not take them."
Frank threw up his hands. "So what
makes things so different this time, Quincy?
Can you tell me that? Firefighters see more life and
death than anybody else
does in a lifetime! Well, except perhaps, for you."
Quincy waved inequivocal
hands. "My clients have never tried to kill me
in my own personal workplace, Frank. That's the difference."
with a sweep of his hand. "A place these men felt safe for years was
And there was no cushioning for any of the war time vets
present either. They experienced murder
up close and personal through the
words and eyes of a killer, over and over again. No safe soldiering
perspectives here. It all happened in a quiet suburb during peace time! Now
add the plight of
that poor little horribly orphaned newborn as a result and
maybe, just maybe, you'll begin to understand
what these firemen had to
face in their minds and hearts. Half of these men, Frank, are parents."
Monahan closed his eyes in sympathetic horror. "I'm sorry. I... didn't
really... think the whole
thing through. I forgot about the vivisection.
All I saw was a murderer and his accomplice back behind
Next to the lieutenant, Dr. Asten pursed his lips as he read the reports
forgiven, Frank. Leave the emotional analyses to
medical personnel, and we'll leave any crime busting,
to you and yours."
Frank didn't take offense. He just chuckled in amusement.
"So why AM I
Dr. Brackett didn't even bat an eye. "We you need to find Baby Jane's
The law says we can only treat life threatening conditions
without parental consent. Anything else.."
"..needs permission. Yeah, I know." sighed Monahan. "All right, I'm
on it. Quincy, you got the
mother's name for me?"
"Cyndy Carlson. Aged 22. This baby was her first. All signs Sam and I
support that beyond any shadow of a doubt." the coroner reported.
"Here's her last known address."
he said, reaching into a pocket and
handing out a scrap of paper torn from a copy of the woman's
"How'd you find this out?" Frank asked.
Joe Early angled his head. "Through her
dental records. Apparently,
she was seeing a private practice right here at Rampart. Her x-ray
were on file."
"I'll get my men right on it." said Frank, exiting the office. Then he
his head right back into it. "Uh, who do I call when we find
"Me." said Dr. Brackett.
"I started the baby's chart. I can relay any
information to the staff in NICU as needed."
this time, Dr. Asten had read enough from the critical incident
stress management notes to offer his
expertise. He sat down
into a chair next to Quincy before Kel Brackett's desk and closed
"Doctor. You have something to share?" Dr. Early asked him.
"Yes. I do." said Asten reluctantly.
"I'm afraid your friends aren't
going to react like you would guess they normally would. Not
to McPherson's observations. She says most of them
are either in complete denial of the whole thing,
or they're feeling
helpless for having been kept so vulnerable in the face of uncontrollable
"They were very angry. I could see it." said Quincy. "But they couldn't
do anything active about
their helplessness, and it was driving them
crazy. Especially that slender, black haired Native American--"
"Johnny Gage." Brackett supplied. "He's a good paramedic. But he can
be mercurial and very defensive
when it comes to personal affronts."
"Sounds like someone I know." Joe quipped, meaning Kel himself.
Brackett just angled his head in mock annoyance at Joe.
Asten nodded in ironic agreement.
"A lot of men aren't good at expressing
emotions, not even in normal everyday life, as we all know."
stated. "And I have a feeling these firefighters' true reactions to last night
come to a complete head yet. Could get ugly. I can see current
relationships getting strained as
"Or strengthened." Joe theorized. "Several from Station 51
are married and I can't
believe any firefighter's wife being surprised
for long after seeing a few raw consequences of her
Dr. Brackett speculated.
"But what about the single ones? Usually bachelors
rely on their best
friends for support during any rough times. You know, someone to
with going out to the bar, to a baseball game, or on a fishing
trip. That's what I'd do."
hmm.." murmured Quincy. "Well, what does happen when your best
friends are caught in the same quagmire
as you? There's no one close
at hand to throw a rope to haul you out of danger."
another firefighter who's been under a seige like they have
been would even begin to understand how
they feel." Kel agreed.
"So I called Battalion a few minutes ago. It turns out a fire station seige
with weapons has never happened before, until now."
"So what do we do?" Joe asked all the
"We wait and see what develops, for good or for bad. And then
step in to deal with things as they happen." Asten suggested.
"It may help to have a lot of their
female friends handy, if that's possible.
For only a woman has the power to get a man's full attention."
All of the other doctors nodded their heads, considering Bob's
"And I think we
all know just the right kind of women needed for our three
single firemen." Kel said ruefully.
As one, they whispered, "Time to get some nurses into the fray."
"So who are we going to find
for Chet?" Joe wondered. "He's
going to be hospitalized at least, until Tuesday."
I know just the person." Brackett grinned slowly. "Her
name, is a one Millicent Fishmeyer."
Joe chided. "She's not a nurse."
"Good enough. She really wants to be one, according to Dixie."
"She's 94." Early scoffed in surprise.
"So..." Kel retorted. "A nurturing soul's a nurturing,
"...soul." Joe finished for him when Dr. Brackett's voice trailed off
in a lack of confidence. "I hope she works out." he grinned.
"So do I." said Kel empathetically.
Dr. Quincy just chuckled. "And if she doesn't. I have another
"Oh, yeah?" Kel
"Who?" Early echoed.
"My girlfriend. Nurse Terri Stonelake. You met her in Triage."
Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early and Dr. Asten's jaws all flopped wide open.
"What?" shrugged Quincy.
"We're in an open relationship. She'd love to help
him out." he said eagerly.
From: patti keiper (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mon 5/28/12 9:55 AM
It was an hour later, at Rampart.
51 gang had regathered into a family meeting room on Chet's patient
floor that had been set aside
especially for them.
Lt. Monahan entered the room just as the fire department crisis counselor
left around him, shutting the door. He said six words. "We're through with
you. Go home."
"Finally." Marco said sarcastically, rising from his chair. "It's about time. Cap,
I'm going to go
look in on Chet one last time to see if he needs anything before
we leave to go get our cars."
Stanley smiled automatically, still gripping his helmet and folded turnout coat
protectively in his
arms. He merely nodded as one by one, his men left to sign
the obligatory exam's discharge papers
at Dixie's desk.
The captain sighed. His legs were tired. For hours, he had not taken a seat
the others had done, not even to eat, preferring to pace while answering all
and crisis counselor questions alike. He was still thinking carefully.
"So where do we park her
when we get back?" he asked the white haired
"The engine?" Frank asked. "Along
the station's side drive alleyway flanking your
bunk room. There's no evidence to disturb there.
The squad's already been moved."
he said, scribbling notes into the margins of his slateboard.
"Uh, can I go now?" Hank wondered, his face blank and numb on the inside.
"Oh, sorry. Yes, captain.
Perhaps I wasn't clear enough a minute ago. We really do
appreciate all of the early testimonies
that you and your men have given to us in this
pre-hearing. It'll save taxpayers the misery of another
trial for these two scumbags."
the grizzled lieutenant grinned in his gray business suit. "I thank
you personally for
Stanley didn't even nod. All he could do was grab for the door knob
to the bright freedom of the hallway.
He felt a light touch on his arm that made him
flinch. It was Monahan.
"Capt-- oh. Didn't mean to startle you like that. I had a few of my men
your personal vehicles from the back yard over to the arco refinery's
parking lot across the street,
They're under guard against left over riot vandals.
All of your keys are still in their ignitions."
"Appreciate it." And then Stanley was gone.
In the back of the room, Quincy was silent and very thoughtful. "We pushed |
them too hard, too early,
Frank. That wasn't good."
"Who asked you?" Frank said. "You're in enough hot water as it is for
your skin back at their fire station."
"I didn't know it was a hostage situation.
I was looking for a baby!" Quincy
said passionately from the chair he slumped in.
"And we were
busy trying to save a whole city from an angry prison mob!
So who was the one who was really overwhelmed
here?" he snarled back.
Both men instantly retracted their sentiments, recognizing fatigue and
hours as the true barb. They eyed each other up apologetically. "Whoa.
Bad night for both
of us." muttered Frank.
"Hmm, mine by choice." joked Quincy sympathetically.
to his feet to gather the hospital autopsy papers that Monahan
and Dr. Asten had used to track him
down during the height of the riot.
Lt. Monahan helped him. "So how is the baby doing?"
be fine. Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early both say she'll be eating orally by
morning. And there's no sign
of any physical trauma past what she received
from her decomposing umbilical cord."
bet her emotional state is a different story." Frank sympathized.
Quincy grinned bravely. "She's
very young. She won't remember missing
her mother for years. But I hope someone remembers the firefighters
saved her life."
"And one particular coroner."
"I didn't do anything." he said,
picking at the clothes he wore that Station 51 had
loaned to him.
go to Danny's and I'll buy you a drink. Dr. Asten's already there."
"Best plan I've had all day."
Quincy said. "And I mean it this time."
"You're on. And I'm sure Sam, your foolishly devoted assistant,
will finally agree
Chet opened his
eyes wearily when he felt a light, but warm grip take his
fingers. He blinked in confusion when he
saw that the one sitting by
his head wasn't still Dixie. It was Mrs. Millicent Fishmeyer, Dixie's
but spiritually bubbly neighbor. "How did you get in here? You're holding my
said without energy.
Millicent simply beamed. The wrinkles in her petite but cheerful face,
along with her. "You were holding my hand not too long ago.
I thought I'd return the favor. And before
you start thinking about
hitting that nurse button, I'm your nurse. Er,... well, truth be told?
their newest candy striper..." she amended. "Of sorts." she said
waggling a gnarled set of age spotted
"I don't see any candy here." Kelly grumbled, eyeing up her blue smock
and white uniform.
"I haven't been eye candy for seventy years, mister."
Chet was good enough to blush. "I didn't
mean that.. I meant.."
"The kind you can digest, I know." she teased back. "Sweets made
sugar." Mrs. Fishmeyer simply patted the back of his hand gently
and began guffawing loudly. "Seriously?
Candy? On the post I.C.U.
floor? Don't make me laugh."
"You already are.." Kelly murmured,
wincing at the volume of her
husky sounding mirth. His eyes eventually glanced down at her
ministrations. "Uh,, this is awkward." he muttered.
"What is?" Millie wondered. Then it dawned.
"Oh. My touching you."
she withdrew her contact without any shred of self consciousness.
Chester. I'm under orders to take your pulse every half hour."
"It's, Chet, ma'am. And the machines
can do that." he said, tossing
a head at the EKG monitor still tracing activity near his pillow.
"They can't judge the quality of it, now can they?" Mrs. Fishmeyer told
him no nonsense. "Whether
it's weak, or strong,....... or mad." she said,
finally frowning. The sudden expression change didn't
paint her well.
Chet sighed around his nasal cannula. "I'm not mad. I'm just a little
that you're here, that's all. I mean, considering that last
month we were all doing CPR on you in
your rose garden."
"Petunia bed, dear." Millie grinned.
"Whatever. Look, Mrs. Fishmeyer.
I know you probably mean well, even
though you're officially authorized.. But why.." Chet finally
down politely on his irritation,"..on earth, are you here at MY bedside when
whole hospital of patients to pick and choose from all around
"I told you. I've been
specifically assigned to you to bolster your recovery
until your family gets here. By Dr. Brackett."
Chet eyed her up thoughtfully with a little defensiveness. "But nobody,
past the gang at the station,
knows I'm even here."
"Your sister does..." Millie said in a little singsong.
up what hands he could that weren't hampered by an I.V.
line. "Ohhh.. no. Not her. She's gonna fuss
and raise a big stink about
me being laid up, all for nothing." he whined. "And I'm not even really
hurt this time. Gage and DeSoto told me so."
"So she's coming. So what? Who else are
they gonna call? She's your
emergency contact number with the fire department." Millie said seriously
in her deep smoker's voice. Mrs. Fishmeyer leaned forward in confidence.
"Would you rather I call
in your steady girlfriend?"
"What?! How'd you find out about her?" Chet said, nearly levitating
off the bed.
"Dixie told me to keep me from developing a crush on the man who
kept me breathing
during my cardiac arrest nightmare, okay?" she replied
That shut Chet up. He sputtered.
"You.. have a crush... on me? You're old
enough to be my great great--"
"Oh, shut up." Millie
cackled. "I'm old but I'm not stupid. No, I don't have a crush
on you. Dixie set me straight on that
a few days ago about telling me about your
"I don't have one. She lied.
And I just lied, too."
Millie went on, not hearing him. "A month ago, that was just some artificial
worship on the first rescuer I happened to notice going lip to lip with me when I
really really scared inside."
"That was mouth to mouth, how did you know some of us even did that?
unconscious." Chet insisted.
"Hellooo!" Millie crowed. "Floating body over the scene
thing, seeing everything?
Surely you've heard of victims telling you all about that later on during
to say thanks."
"Ah, no." Chet said firmly.
"Really?" Millie pegged him,
squinting like a pirate. Then her face grew contemplative.
"Huh. Roy and Johnny must be very lax
with you fellas about sharing all their life after
death stories they hear from patients in the ambulance
going into Rampart. I sure
told them a doozy then."
Kelly's eyebrows furrowed and he finally
relaxed. "So, how are you doing?"
"Fine, or I wouldn't be volunteering like this today." Millie
shot back. Then she
winked. "I should be asking you the same question, Chester."
and lung coughed only once. He was very surprised that all of
that ugly pain, was gone. He took back
her hand. "Please, call me Chet, Millie.
Not Chester. Only my sister insists on doing that and it
drives me up a tree."
Millie looked at her watch. "Well, she won't get to do that for another
yet. Heh. Her plane doesn't land until midnight. So watcha wanna do until then?
a little parcheesi, checkers? I brought both.. " she dangled.
Kelly's mouth flopped open, but
then he began to smile softly at Fishmeyer's
gangbuster's enthusiasm. "Checkers, ma'am. My brain
can't handle anything
complex right now. I'm still higher than a kite on all the drugs they've given
"That makes two of us. So am I. Ninety four doesn't work without a few
helper pills every
now and then. Checkers, it is, Chet. I'm black. You're red.
And I'm gonna kick yer butt in about
Kelly settled back on his pillows and let his caretaker set up the playing board
his bedside tray with a good heart. "I wouldn't have it any other way." he
muttered. "You're honest
to goodness, Dixie-trained to the core."
He let her prattle on excitedly about life after death
and everything and kept on
smiling in genuine affection.
the three palm trees, every window of the DeSoto house was dark.
Roy DeSoto turned the key in
his front door of his small white stucco split
level entry rambler and slipped inside so he wouldn't
disturb the kids.
An Irish Setter greeted him at the door, first barking and then whining instantly
when he smelled the invisible but still leftover blood traces on his street clothing.
down to comfort him. "Shh,,, quiet Ralphie, you'll wake up Joanne
and the kids." he hissed, shoving
the dog over from the marble tiles to
the wool Persian rug to silence his eager claw sounds as he
repeatedly in frantic relief.
"Your wife's not sleeping." came a voice that hurried
into his arms through
the warm darkness.
Roy embraced Joanne's small form gracefully, kissing
the top of her short
bobbed red hair. "New coolot?" he said of her long, flowing white
"Yes. I bought it today to get my mind off things."
She kissed him afterwards,
then she switched on the hall light inset into
the gold foiled wallpaper. "New bruises?" she countered,
eyeing him up
Roy kept the smile on his face. "Yeah, a few. We had to tackle
those two into
She carefully traced the tender, swollen areas of his face lovingly.
the news. Anybody get shot?"
"Just Boot. He's gonna be fine." said the war vet in Roy.
"Is the house
still locked up tight?"
"Yes. And your gun locker's not. All set for you." she
said no nonsense,
letting him go so she could go to the dusty brandy decanter in the elegant
room to pour him a rare drink.
Roy let her. The relieved smile on his face faded into a faint
pain. "I'm not
going to have any nightmares tonight."
"I won't let you." she said, returning,
and handing him his snifter of Cognac
as she kissed him. "The kids are fine. They're sleeping. I didn't
let them watch
TV all day."
Roy set down the drink to hold his wife. "The riot's over. Chet's
gonna be fine,
too." he volunteered, not knowing the extent of the news coverage that was aired.
"Chet?" Joanne muttered in concern.
"He was pushed around a little and got lung bruised.
It was nothing that Johnny
and I couldn't handle."
"And how about those two thugs with the
gun?" Joanne asked sagely, very near
her husband's lips with her own.
Roy didn't say anything,
because he could no longer talk. He just began loving
her with all his heart through his hands and
was dawn and Gage awoke suddenly from a cold sweat. Then his nose caught
a delicate bouquet of femaleness
and he suddenly remembered.
Sharon Walters was stretched out beside him, in bed, sans clothes.
He smiled as she awoke as well. "You broke my unlucky streak last night, you know."
"I know." Sharon said, rolling over so she could snuggle with him, chin on his bare
"That was the plan. I've had my eye on you for quite a long time, Johnny."
"For real?" he asked,
turning all teenager inside.
"For years." she said, biting him lightly on his nose. "I was just
waiting for you to ask
me out but was too old fashioned to do it myself." she said, coyly wrapping
a yellow sheet
around her bare body.
"Sharon.." said Gage. "You're probably the most modern
woman I know. Well, past Dixie
perhaps." he said, holding her in his arms.
"Or Joanne DeSoto."
Walters amended, tracing a finger around a deep bruise that
she had found on his arm.
pulled his injury away, remember how strong Ice had been during the fight to
subdue him at the station.
"Yeah, her too." he admitted, trying to concentrate on the
normal conversation that she was trying
Sharon noticed the leftover clamminess of his skin. "Still cold?" she asked, still part
"Not physically." he told her with a kiss. "Not any more."
"Well, how about emotionally?"
Sharon asked, laying herself on top of him, chest to chest
under the sheets.
Johnny went silent
and still, despite the temptation to frolic physically. He didn't tell her about
the bad dream that
had awakened him from his deep, post love making slumber. "Let's just
go back to sleep, Sharon. Okay?
I'm still really bushed."
"Okay." she replied, staring into his eyes in worry. Then she laid her
head back onto his
shoulder carefully. Walters fell asleep in an instant.
But Johnny lay staring
at the ceiling of his ranch house's rustic pinewood cabin themed
bedroom for a long time afterwards,
reliving the hostage hours, over and over again.
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