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   A Day In The Life
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Page Seven

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From:  patti keiper (
Sent: Sat 8/11/12 12:19 AM
Subject: Noble Intentions...

Nurse Terri Stonelake set herself to finish shooing Millicent Fishmeyer out
of Chet Kelly's hospital room. "It was best three out of five, Millie. That's
good enough. You're the champ, and Chet's finally relaxed enough
to sleep. Can't you see that his eyes are closed? You can come
back tomorrow afternoon to visit on your next candy striper shift."

"But he asked me to keep playing with him." Millie frowned, mildly resisting
Terri's herding hold on her shoulders.  "We're making good progress
sharing all of his recent troubles."  said Mrs. Fishmeyer proudly, still
grasping a stack of won black checkers coins possessively in her gnarled
and freckled hands from where she sat on her stool.

"Not with just one person doing all the talking and the second all the snoring.
Let's face it. Anything more said right now is just unwelcome noise during
someone else's badly needed nap." said Stonelake kindly. "Our patient needs
rest, Millie. By himself. In peace."


"He's fine. Does he still look stressed out to you?" Terri asked her, pointing out
Chet's unlined baby-like sleeping expression.

"Well, no. Not right now." said Millie, frowning a bit. "But I know he will again.
A- And.. Oh, Terri. I just want to be there when he really needs somebody!"
Millie insisted, worried for Chet.

Terri put a finger to her lips to shush Millie's emotion.
"Ssshhhh. We'll both be here because it's our job to care for him. He's doing
fine for tonight. Go get yourself a soup and sandwich or something solid. I
can see you're so hungry you're transparent." Stonelake said firmly.

"B-" Millie sputtered.

Terri set her hands on her hips. "Do I have to tell Dixie that you skipped taking
a break on your very first volunteer day?" she said, raising her eyebrows.

Millie stood there, suddenly stunned, and looking horrified at the threat.

"Please, go..." Terri said, giving her one last soft push against the shoulders near
the door.

"All right. You're the boss."  Mrs. Fishmeyer whispered and left quietly. The
door gently shut between them.


Terri sighed, turned around, and then tip toed back over to her tired patient's
bed so she could take another hourly vitals set on him for his chart.

She was pumping up the blood pressure cuff on his left arm when Kelly cracked
open one eye. "Is she gone?"

Terri noticed. "Yep. You're a good faker. Now hold still for half a minute while I get
this." she chided, cocking her head around her stethoscope's ear pieces.

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Kelly took in a deep, full cleansing breath and stretched what limbs not pinned by
her hands that he could. Then he took a fleeting guess at her future reading.
"It's gonna be...  134 over 90." he said, pulling off his oxygen mask until it parked
on top of his curly head like a jaunty cap.

Terri's poker face was knocked into amazement when those numbers slowly
materialized in her ears. "How did y--?"

Chet bailed her out by pointing to the EKG monitor tracing a rhythm next to his bed.
"I've got a central line in and it's on auto detect." he said, pointing to the tiny numbers
displaying his pressure underneath the cardiac readout. "They did that thinking they
were going to have to crack my chest open and reinflate a lung or two until the X-rays
came back all normal to prove them wrong about the big surgery plans." Then
Kelly eyed up the chart still hanging on the wall. "You didn't know about my CVC?"

Terri pulled off her stethoscope in self conscious surrender and slumped back into
the recliner next to Chet's bed. "I didn't read your chart, Mr. Kelly. This isn't even my
scheduled patient floor. I came up here because Dixie asked me to spring Millie so
you could finally get some peace and quiet for the rest of the night." she grinned,
leaning on her ample chin without apology.

"So the busy-as-snot head E.R. nurse actually cares about me. How cool is that?"
Chet smiled, leaning a little farther back onto his pillows. "Just...don't tell her I said
so.  I've had a secret crush on her for years."

"Isn't Miss McCall almost old enough to be your mother?" Terri gaped.

"Well, yeah.. but I like older women. I always have." Kelly squirmed.

Stonelake cocked her head the other way. "So why haven't you ask her out?"

Chet's mouth flopped open, totally incredulous.
"Because she's dating Dr. Brackett, ma'am. And quite frankly, I don't want to
piss off the head doc I'm probably going to see the next time Johnny and Roy
haul my fire or accident winged *ss into Rampart from a rescue scene."

"Chicken." Terri teased.

"Wh-- Excuse me, nurse?" Kelly snorted, surprised at the taunt, suddenly
smiling shyly.

"Dixie's very open minded that way I'll have you know. Just whom do you think
she learned it from?" And then Terri Stonelake winked.

Totally taken by surprise, Chet slumped down into his sheets and quickly slid
back into the false shelter of his partially face concealing oxygen mask. Only
his eyes shared the answer he already knew right down to his very bones.

Terri just blinked, still very classy in her initial flirtation.
"She won't bite." Stonelake emphasized calmly. The middle aged nurse leaned
forward and rested both of her happy dimples on top of his bed railing. "Neither
will I, Mr. Fireman. So take your pick of one of the two because the hunt is most
definitely on."


Quincy found his girlfriend in the hallway just as she was leaving Chet Kelly's
room.  He snuck up on her and snatched her up into a bearhug from behind
as he kissed the top of her head affectionately. "So how's he doing now?" asked
the coroner.

"He's pink and rosy and definitely not thinking about the leftover pain in his chest
anymore." Terri Stonelake giggled, turning around to plant a mild peck onto his lips.

"Oooo, so you had to use flirt on full." he smiled.

"Something like that. For a bachelor, he's as stubborn as they come. But at least,
I gave him something harmless to focus on for a few hours until his sister arrives
to take over his emotional care."  

"That's why I love you." Quincy's eyes twinkled merrily. "You care almost too much
for people."

"So do you. I heard what you did for that newborn baby at the fire station. I'm so
very proud, Quincy. My heart could just burst."

"Good place for it." Quincy quipped, gesturing at the crash cart gear stored all
around them. "Just not right now, please. I don't want to work that hard doing CPR
on you." he joked. "I'm bushed."

Terri's face suddenly furrowed and she sniffed the air around Quincy's head and
shoulders. "Blood? Is that--"

"Not mine. Maybe a dog's. It's nothing. I needed a disguise. Listen, can we get
out of here yet? I need another very long shower if you know what I mean."
Quincy whispered into her ear.

Nearby, an orderly cat-call whistled at their very public embrace in the middle
of the partially darkened hallway as he passed by.

Quincy and Terri broke apart, assuming professional stances again.

Stonelake narrowed her eyes. "You're not here just to set up another nightly
roll in the hay. What gives?"

Quincy hung his head. "I need your sleuthing abilities. I need the last names of
the firefighters with whom I was held hostage for personal business."

"You want to heal them." Terri said, smiling gently, her eyes shining.

"Yes. Nobody can live with another's horrific death on their conscience for
very long without paying a terrible price." Quincy said eagerly. "I am
going to go to them. But off duty, so I'm not wearing my white coat."

"I don't have their information. But I know somebody who does. Dixie McCall.
She's a good friend to all of them." Terri shared.

"Where's she now?"

"Last I heard, she went to the Carter Street Animal Shelter to pick up
the firefighters' dog, Boot, from the vet clinic."

"How long ago?"

"This afternoon. That's strange. She hasn't made it back yet." Stonelake
said, looking around.

"Maybe the storm delayed her return." Quincy said. "It's raining cats
and dogs out there. I'll give them a call. Thanks for the tip. See you
later tonight."

"Bye, Quincy. Don't do anything...." Stonelake shook her finger at him.

He finished her words..."....that will turn me into a slab of meat prematurely.
I know. I won't. Have I ever?"

"There's always a first time..." said Terri, retreating down the hall for the
elevators. "Even paramedics can't be everywhere."

"Thanks for helping out our Irish firefighter friend."

"Anytime. It's gonna be hard to keep my hands to myself, Quincy. He's
really cute."

"I trust you implicitly, Sweet Pea."  Quincy shot back, heading for the stairs
to go find a payphone and a phone book to utilize.

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From:  patti keiper (
Sent: Sat 8/11/12 10:42 PM
Subject: Drowning...

Hank Stanley moved in the darkness, wearing only a pair of blue jeans in the heat.

What attracted him to the kitchen, was the promise of a quiet cup of coffee, and
a peach.

But the new storm outside the house was shattering his sense of peace. It made
him pay closer attention. For long seconds, Hank's hand hesitated over the volume
control on the soundless scanner that was always powered up on the counter top.
Before his fingers could make contact, a soft set of smaller ones stopped him.

"Hank, you were excused from duty. Remember I get you exclusively for the  
whole two weeks. Not just in snatches." said Emily, his wife of twenty six years.

She saw his fire-captain smile briefly before it retreated underneath the surface
of his skin. "Sorry, honey. My weather itch almost got the best of me." Hank said,
shoving the radio monitor away.

"One hundred and seventy two other stations can worry about the lightning tonight.
You don't have to." she smiled. Time had slightly silvered her long black locks, but
Emily's soft amber eyes still held a sparkle of their former youth as she stood in
a long flowered sundress. She reached out to the stove and picked up a coffee pot
that had been left on low heat. "Let me take care of you already." she

"Just thinking about the kids." Hank admitted as he watched her pour him his desired
decaffeinated coffee.

"Ours? Or your other ones?" she chuckled, while she snatched a peach from a wooden
bowl that his eyes had already chosen seconds before. She tossed it to him.

"Both." he quipped, rubbing an exhausted hand over his chest to release hidden tension
as he crunched on the cool fruit happily. "I adopted the grown up ones practically the
same day we had Abigail as I recall."

"But whom do you love more?" Emily teased, straddling a stool at the breakfast bar
and stealing a quick sip from his cup.

"You know there's no way for me to answer that, Em. For families, I have two. And
that engine back at the station, is my other wife. She nags me about that, too, almost
as bad."

Em slapped him lightly on his nearest arm. And as the latest clap of thunder rolled
away from them outside, her face stilled into an uncharacteristic look of deep
concern. "You're still shaken up. You can't hide it. Are you sure you don't want
to talk about what happened in more detail? I learned about most of it from the

Hank sighed and took her into his arms where the warmth of his body almost
soothed her out of her fretting. "It's the same as always. Someone died. Another
one lived. And one of mine got banged up a little. My distress is nothing that
won't fade over time." he reasoned, his face very pale.

"It may pass, but not without a huge push or two. Or three. Your red eyes are
betraying you. You haven't slept, Hank."

Captain Stanley's face suddenly wrinkled into silent tears. He took deeper refuge
in her rich hair to hide the anguish that he had refused to show to his men the night
before. "I can't, Em. I keep seeing her blood. All over the baby and on his hands." he

"The baby's mother's? The one who was killed?"

"Yes.." Stanley whispered, his throat tight with immense sadness. "I'm just so
grateful that we didn't have to see the violation the knife made of her body."
He collapsed then, fully into her arms. "That coroner showed me a picture that
he had taken from her wallet after we had taken care of Boot, Chet, and the infant.
Oh, Em. She looked so much like you. That's all I've been thinking about for hours."  
he twisted up once more into a protective ball around her. "I'm just... so sorry she
had to die like that at the hands of a madman. Now her daughter will never know
who she was.. much she was loved---" his voice broke off into a choke.

"Hey." Emily whispered, willing the tears to come more quickly out into the open.
"You can't save the whole world, Hank. You only have a chance to save those
you can reach. Like you did with me, so long ago."

Hank looked down into her elegant face and let her wipe his tears away into a
kitchen towel. "I know. I know. But somehow this loss is so much harder to take.
It was so brutal. And senseless."

Emily's face contorted, too, in horror. But she remained strong.
"Some deaths are going to be like that. Because some people are sick and decide
to act upon their impulses without a care for the harm they cause." Emily told him.
"Be proud, Hank. You survived along with your men. And so did that precious little
baby girl."

Hank just sobbed harder, suddenly suffering flashback after flashback. Unbidden,
his hand touched the place on his neck where Ice's bloodied knife had touched him.
"I was almost killed, Em. I ... I forgot to tell you that. My throat was almost cut like a
steer's in a slaughter house. I can still smell... that stench... coming from his blade."

"Shh.. he only got through your defenses because you were caught off guard. You were
safe in your own station but then that attack was so unexpected. To feel so vulnerable
now is probably a very normal reaction. We can talk about it. Let tonight be a start.
This is one small step on the way back to rebalancing. Let me help you, like you
always do." Em shared tenderly. "Don't shut me out."

Hank forced his trembling grip around his wife's shoulders to let go as his face
went blank. "I understand." he said, even as he nodded in agreement. "But I
really..... have to go see her." Stanley murmured desperately, his voice wheezing
with grief.

"Who?" Emily asked, chilled to the bone when she thought of the murdered mother.
::Oh, please. Don't let it be a corpse viewing...:: she begged in her head.

Hank slowly gripped both of her hands into his cold clammy ones.
"T-The baby. I have to see the baby again, Em. I have to see her warm. And safe.
And comfortable. Like we did when we visited our children this afternoon at their
colleges. Only then will I be able to get some sleep."  Hank begged.

Emily gripped him close. "Okay. We can do that. Let's head to Rampart right now.
I'll notify the CISM counselor by phone that this is what you feel you need to do tonight.
I'm sure they'll allow it. The baby's temporarily a ward of the state. Privacy laws may
not be so strict about who can visit her. So let's try, my love." she said firmly.

Suddenly, her husband seemed very remote; mentally far away, like a broken
marionette. "Do what, Em?" he wondered.  "Did I say something?" Hank asked
meekly, still folded up before her like a tiny, hurt child.

The sound of his voice nearly broke Emily's heart. "Yes. You did. You are so tired.
But you're going to be okay. We're just going to go and see someone really
really special. Put on a shirt and I'll go bring the car around the front."

"Okay.." Hank said, his eyes still wet, and very lost.

Two minutes later, the Stanleys were on the road in the midst of the full blown
and growing midnight storm.

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From:  patti keiper (
Sent: Fri 8/31/12 10:28 AM
Subject:  Visitor...

There came a sharp rapping at the door of Gage's ranch house
at the crack of gloomy dawn underneath the raging rain storm.

Both Sharon and Johnny shot bolt upright in bed in startlement.

"What the h-?!" Johnny mumbled blearily, shooting to his feet
but getting tangled badly in the quilt which bound them together.

"Johnny, aren't we supposed to be in the middle of nowhere out here?"
Walters chuckled, pulling the sheet up to her neck so anyone who
might be by a window wouldn't catch a glimpse of the state of their
undress through the lacy curtains.

"We sure are. With no trespassing signs in neon orange posted all
over the place." Gage said. He didn't bother putting on a T-shirt.
Just a pair of boxers and boots in case he had to chase out some
door to door salesman. "Wait here. I think I'll deliver the message in
person." he hissed, grabbing up a good stout hiking stick.

The sharp knocking continued in earnest with increasing urgency.

Johnny was crossing the spacious room of his log cabin living area towards
the solid pinewood door when it suddenly opened expertly with a snick.

Gage raised his piece of wood. "Hey, you! Get outta h---!" his shout of
warning choked off when he saw it was Craig Brice, looking harried
and half dressed in muddy clothes. His usually neat hair was
in total disarray. His eye glasses were missing entirely.

"Brice? What are you d--" his voice broke off when all was not well.

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Craig stumbled over the landing and Gage caught him to prevent a fall,
the door flinging wide open as his shoulder bumped it, revealing the
full fury of the storm.

Johnny was shocked to find Brice soaking wet, uncharacteristically
unprepared for the weather, chilled, and bleeding from a face cut.

"Holy sh*t, Brice? What happened to you?" Johnny asked urgently.

"M--Mud slide.." Craig said, his teeth chattering. "Car got buried
early last night on the interstate. You were the closest help I could

With an effort, Johnny shoved the front door closed again and
latched it against the fierce wind outside.

Gage snapped into paramedic mode. "Sharon! Get my med bag,
first closet on the right next to the dresser! We've got an injured
firefighter out here!" he shouted into the general direction of
the bedroom as he gathered Craig up into a bear hug to move
him away from the wet part of the floor.

"Miss Walters? Is she h-here?" Brice sputtered, chilled to the core.

"Yes. Now shut up and let me check you over. We've got to get
you out of all of these wet things first. You're hypothermic." Johnny
told him, reaching for a warm wool afghan that lay on a nearby couch.
"No, don't move around. Keep leaning against the wall. Where do you

Brice took a few seconds to register the question as Johnny took his
pulse at a carotid. "Uh,.. I don't know precisely.. I.... can't feel anything
much right now."

"You're at 90 and it's thready. Do you remember blacking out?"

"No. Why?"

"You're pupils are dilated."

"Oh. Cranial involvement maybe?" Brice guessed weakily.

"That's my guess, too. How's your breathing doing?"

"It's fine.." Craig gasped in partial confusion. "I'm just...r-real cold."

Sharon Walters ran into the room wearing a hastily wrapped buffalo robe
of Johnny's. "Craig Brice?! Oh my G*d. Johnny, how bad is he?"

"I don't know yet. Gimme some shears outta there. Then stoke a fire in the
fireplace. Big as you can. We'll bundle him up in front of it once I'm through
with a primary." Johnny told her quickly. "He said his car got nailed by a
mudslide on the freeway." Gage said.

"But that's five miles away from here." Sharon blinked as she threw a match
onto a pile of crumpled newspaper and logs.

"I know." Gage said. "That's what's worrying me. Just how bad is it out
there? And what was he doing out on a rural road in the middle of the
night in first place? It's his night off." he said, cutting away Brice's jeans,
shirt, underwear and jacket from around him right where he sat propped up.

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"A mass casualty all-call? You know he'd be first in line for anything like that."
Sharon said, snatching up a bellows to nurse the flames she was building.

"Is my scanner off the air?" Johnny accused as he worked swiftly with his
hands to find other problems on his semi-conscious patient.

Sharon blushed guiltily. "Yeah, uh, I had to turn it off on the CISM counselors

"They have no authority over me, Sharon!" Gage insisted. "He's got no
fractures in any of his limbs so far." he reported as well, even through his
anger. "No major bleeding."

"They do if Chief McConnikee gives it to them. And he did. You guys were
too out of it emotionally to pay any attention to what he was doing during
the briefing." Walters replied. "Didn't you see him telling me the restrictions
on you guys face to face?"

Johnny didn't answer out loud, burying himself in his assessment work over
Brice, but the sad light in his eyes answered the negative for him.
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"Fire's set." Sharon told Johnny. "I'll get some towels next step so we
can begin to dry him off. I know where they are."  Walters hurried to Gage's
side with a second blanket. She began folding it so it could be used
for their patient as a way to drag Brice over the smooth wooden floor.

"His C-spine's clear." Gage reported. "No lumps or dislocations."

Together, nurse and paramedic lowered Craig from the wall to along its length
onto the blanket Sharon had prepared. Then they rolled him onto his side long
enough to check out his back again from head to heels. Johnny found another
laceration, just below his ribcage.

"It's shallow." Sharon realized. "We can leave that one alone."

"Okay, bundle him up. I'm through. We'll get a real vitals set once he's baking."
Gage ordered.

Soon Brice was parallel to a raging inferno that began pouring ample
warmth into his body. The heat roused him. "Gage? W-Where am I?"
he mumbled.

"My house. Enjoy the campfire. Popcorn's almost ready." Gage quipped,
finally smiling a little as he leaned down into Brice's vision range. "You
got any pain happening now?"

"From w-what?" Craig asked blearily as he shivered inside of his woolen

"I'll take that as a no." Johnny told him. "Never mind, Brice. We'll worry about
that later once you're warmed up."

"Hot soup?" Sharon offered, tossing a stack of towels from the bathroom
into Johnny's arms.

"How about enough for two? Now I'm the one soaked to the skin." Gage
grinned up at her. "He's gonna be fine. We can call for help and get
him in once the storm decides to break."

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   A Day In The Life
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