Old Friends or
Johnny was true to his word. He was the first one in at every shift for the
next two and a half months. Chet couldn’t believe it. But then again neither
could any of the other members of A- shift.
“Hey, Johnny, married life must really agree with you.” Chet followed Johnny
out of the day room for roll call.
“Yes, it does, Chet. I highly recommend it.” Johnny smiled as he fell into
“Good morning, fellas. I would like you to meet Cameron Donaldson. He is
the new paramedic trainee that will be working with Roy and Johnny. Johnny,
you will be his supervisor and in charge of his evaluation. He’s originally
from back east and has only been in LA about six months.” Captain Stanley
had handed out the duty assignments and then introduced the temporary member
of Station 51s A-shift. Then Captain went down the line and introduced the
guys before going back to his office.
Mike, Marco, and Chet shook Cameron’s hand and then went onto their assigned
duties. Roy was the next one in line. When Johnny went to shake Cameron’s
hand, he swallowed when he saw hatred in Cameron’s eyes. He had seen that
type of hatred before. Cameron’s name also rang an alarm bell. This wasn’t
the same Cameron Donaldson was it?
Cameron immediately took a disliking to Johnny. What was this Indian trash
doing working here? His kind should've been wiped out a long time ago. Well,
if he had his way, John Gage would be fired and the white man who deserved
the job would get it.
“Let’s go get a cup of coffee and then we’ll show you where everything is.”
Johnny hoped he could keep his cool.
Roy had noticed the look in Cameron’s eyes. He couldn’t believe the hatred
he saw there. He was surprised when it was immediately gone when Cameron
turned to look at Roy and follow him into the day room. Something didn’t
seem quite right. As they drank their coffee with the other crewmembers,
Chet asked Cameron where back east he was from. When he said Philadelphia,
Johnny’s alarm grew. He had to talk to Nicole as soon as he could.
Johnny had just gotten through showing Cameron where everything was kept
in the squad when the klaxons sounded for the station. They were called out
to an apartment building fire. The fire was shooting out of the back of the
building when they arrived. Because the apartment manager couldn’t verify
that all the tenants were out, Captain Stanley had to send Roy, Johnny and
Cameron into the building to see if there was anyone in there. When they
got into the building, Johnny indicated to Roy that he and Cameron would
take the second floor while Roy checked the first floor to save time. Roy
agreed and started down the hallway.
When Johnny and Cameron got to the top floor, Johnny could feel the heat.
He knew they had to make it fast. “Cameron, you start with this apartment
and go down this side of the hallway, I’ll go down the other side.” Johnny
pointed at the door near them and entered the door across the hall. Cameron
felt the door and found that it wasn’t hot, so he opened the door and went
into the apartment. As he heard the fire, he froze in the middle of the room.
Johnny finished checking the apartment across the hall and was getting ready
to head to the next apartment. He looked to see how Cameron was doing and
saw him standing in the middle of the room. Johnny went to check on him.
“Cameron, did you check out this apartment? Cameron?” Knowing their time
was getting even shorter, Johnny checked out the rest of the apartment and
then guided Cameron out the door. Neither man had seen Roy standing just
outside the door watching the whole thing. As they left the apartment, Johnny
“Captain Stanley just radioed that everyone is out. We need to get out of
here now.” Roy was going to have a talk with Johnny the first chance he got.
“Ok, let’s go.” Johnny pointed towards the stairs.
Roy headed out first with Cameron second and Johnny bring up the rear. Johnny
took a look behind him and saw the fire was coming closer. All three men
noticed the fact that the ceiling was about to give way. As they were coming
down the stairs, Cameron stopped so quick that Johnny had a hard time stopping
without running into him. But Cameron made it look like Johnny ran into him
and tripped down the stairs. He twisted his ankle. He was putting his plan
to get Johnny Gage fired into place.
Johnny was at his side instantly. “Are you ok?”
Seeing that Roy was waiting for them at the door, Cameron just nodded to
Johnny. “I just twisted my ankle.” Instead of taking Johnny’s offer of help,
Cameron limped out of the building and over to the squad. He wanted Roy to
look at it, but when Johnny was the one that started checking him out because
Roy was talking to one of the other firefighters Cameron had to let him do
it. After all, the Captain was standing right there.
“What happened to you?” Captain Stanley looked at the trainee.
“Oh, Mr. Hotshot Paramedic here pushed me down the stairs.” Cameron took
advantage of the situation. As he looked at Johnny, the Captain saw the hatred
in his eyes.
“What?” Johnny couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “I—“ Johnny didn’t go
on. He just continued his examination of Cameron’s ankle.
“How is it, Johnny?” Captain Stanley ignored the looks Cameron was throwing
“I think it is just sprained, but we should have it checked out at Rampart
to be sure.” Johnny was angry, but knew he couldn’t let it get to him.
“Ok, we’ll talk about this when you get back to the station. I’m going to
get Roy and the two of you take him to Rampart in the squad.” Captain Stanley
wanted to know what was going on.
Johnny was right, Cameron’s ankle was just sprained. The ride back from Rampart
was quiet. When the squad backed into the bay, Johnny was out of the door
almost before Roy had the engine turned off. He turned back to help Cameron
out of the squad.
“What happened today?” Johnny wanted to help the trainee.
“You told me to stay put because you wanted to be a hero. At least that is
what I am going to tell the Captain.” Looking at Johnny’s outstretched hand,
he sneered. “Don’t you ever touch me again. If you do, I’ll kill you. You
are nothing but Indian trash. I don’t know how these men can stand working
with you. Your kind should’ve been wiped out years ago. You keep away from
me. I am going to see that you loose your job, Mr. Hotshot Paramedic.” Cameron
turned and went into the day room.
Knowing he needed to cool off, Johnny headed towards the dorm praying that
no one had heard what had just happened. He was pretty sure no one had. He
also knew that he couldn’t let Cameron’s prejudice interfere with his evaluation.
He just couldn’t. If he did, that would make him no better than Cameron.
What he didn’t know was that both Roy and Captain Stanley had overheard the
entire conversation. Roy had been coming around the back of the squad. He
had stepped into the shadows as Cameron went into the day room. Captain Stanley
had been coming out of his office when he heard the voices. He stepped back
until Johnny walked by and into the dorm.
Roy was headed towards the Captain’s office and ran into the Captain headed
towards the day room. “Captain, I think we have a problem.”
“I heard. But we’ll wait until Johnny comes to us before we do something
about it. Come on, let’s go hear Cameron’s side of story.” Captain Stanley
led the way to the day room when Chet, Marco, Mike and Cameron were sitting
at the table. What Cameron didn’t know was that the Captain had already talked
to Chet and Marco about the events in the apartment building. Roy poured
himself and the Captain a cup of coffee and then joined the other men at
“Ok, Cameron, tell us what happened at the apartment building today.” Captain
Stanley wondered if he would tell the truth.
“Well, Mr. Hotshot Paramedic wanted to prove he was a hero. He sent me into
that apartment and told me to just wait. Then he came in, searched the apartment
and told me to follow him. I did. Then he sent me down the stairs between
him and Roy. I guess I wasn’t going fast enough for him though, because he
pushed me down the stairs. That’s when I hurt my ankle. I think he’s trying
to make me fail. He is going to make sure I wash out of the program.” Cameron
felt a sense of satisfaction. John Gage would soon be out of a job.
“Why would he try to make you fail?” Roy couldn’t believe this guy.
“Because he knows that I am going to be a better paramedic than he ever will
be. And I will probably end up being partnered with you and we will be a
better team than you guys ever could be. Besides, he doesn’t like me.”
“First of all, if you make it, which is highly unlikely, you will never be
partnered with Roy or Johnny. I will personally see to it. And Johnny has
worked with every paramedic in the battalion at one time or another. There
are others he does not like, but he works with each and every one and doesn’t
try to make them fail. And now I want you to listen to what Marco, Chet and
Roy have to say about the situation.” Captain Stanley was having a hard time
controlling his anger.
Roy started with how he had seen Johnny go into the apartment and had watched
Johnny trying to get Cameron to move. Then Chet and Marco told how they had
been fighting the fire through one of the main areas on the main floor and
had seen the three men coming down the stairs. They both said that Cameron
had stopped on the stairs and that Johnny did not run into him, but that
he had made himself fall down the stairs.
Cameron’s face drained of all the color as the men told their version of
what had happened. Why were they sticking up for this piece of trash? Well,
he would change their minds. Just wait and see.
“If I ask Johnny his version of what happened in the apartment building today,
would it match theirs or yours? And if you are lying, why?” Captain Stanley
was trying to decide what to do.
“He just got disoriented in there. You know how it is, Cap. All new guys
have a hard time at first. He just needs to learn how we operate here at
51 and he’ll be fine. All he needs is another chance.” Johnny had entered
the day room just in time to hear what Roy, Chet and Marco had to say. “Roy,
I think we need to get those supplies. We forgot to get them when we were
at Rampart with Cameron.”
It took Roy a few seconds to answer. Neither he nor Captain Stanley could
believe that Johnny was sticking up for Cameron—not after what Cameron had
said to him. Roy thought that this might be a good time for him to talk to
Johnny alone. “Yeah, I think you’re right.”
But Roy’s hopes were dashed when Johnny turned to Cameron. “I think you should
come, too, and learn what we need to do to refill supplies.”
“Yeah, I think you’re right.” Cameron was surprised that Johnny was sticking
up for him, but that didn’t change how he felt about him.
“Hey, guys, if Nicole calls while we gone, tell her I’ll call her when we
get back.” Johnny turned to leave the day room.
Cameron listened with interest. He knew that Johnny was married. Now he knew
that his wife’s name was Nicole. Could it be her? He would have to talk to
Tim about it tonight. After all they had been looking for her for over two
As the squad pulled out of the bay, Chet looked at their Captain. “Cap, why
is Johnny sticking up for that guy?”
“I don’t know, Chet, especially after what Roy and I overheard.” Hank Stanley
was staring at his coffee cup. He did not realize he had said the last part
“What did you and Roy overhear, Cap?” Marco looked at Chet. There was something
going on that none of the men of A-shift liked. They wanted to know what
“What?” Hank looked at Marco.
“You said you and Roy overheard something. What was it?” Marco was concerned
that something was happening that was affecting one of their own.
Realizing he had let it slip, Hank took a minute to think about whether or
not he should tell the others. Then he realized they would all need to keep
an eye on Cameron Donaldson, so he proceeded to tell them about the conversation
between Johnny and Cameron.
“Can’t you just tell headquarters that Cameron isn’t going to make it and
get him out of here before he does something to Johnny’s career or worse
something that might seriously injure Johnny or—“ Chet left the rest of his
sentence unfinished. He teased Gage unmercifully, but he cared a great deal
“I could, but then I would have to tell Johnny that I overheard the conversation.
You saw how Johnny stuck up for Cameron. I want to let Johnny handle it in
his own way. If any of us sees anything that is harmful to Johnny or any
of the rest of us, or if it gets out of control, I’ll step in. But Johnny
was given the responsibility of training Cameron. Let’s give him a chance.
Just keep your eyes open, ok?” The Captain wanted to send Cameron Donaldson
packing. But he didn’t want Johnny to think that they didn’t trust his judgment.
“Ok, Cap.” Mike, Marco and Chet responded as one. Then each man quietly left
the day room to finish his assigned task for the day.
The ride to Rampart and back was a quiet one. There was a tension that kept
each man immersed in his own thoughts. But Roy was silently praying for an
opportunity to talk to Johnny alone when they got back to the station. He
knew his friend was hurting and he wanted him to know that the guys were
But Roy didn’t get a chance to talk to Johnny. The rest of the shift was
a busy one for the whole station. And Roy couldn’t get in touch with Johnny
on their days off. He had tried calling, but got no answer.
Roy hadn’t gotten a chance to talk to Johnny their last shift or the time
off in between, so he was early today since he wanted to talk to Johnny before
Cameron arrived. Feeling relieved, Roy walked into the day room to find Johnny
sitting at the table with a cup of coffee.
“Good morning, Junior.” Roy headed towards the coffee pot. He turned to look
at Johnny as he poured his coffee when Johnny hadn’t answered him. Johnny
was lost in thought and it looked like he hadn’t sleep at all for the last
two days. “Johnny, are you alright?” Roy was growing concerned when he still
hadn’t received an answer before he reached the table.
Johnny was pulled out of his thoughts as he heard the chair Roy pulled out
scrape across the floor. “Good morning, Roy. Aren’t you a little early this
morning?” Johnny tried to put the thoughts of the last two days behind him.
He and Nicole had taken the two days to go to a cabin in the mountains. They
had spent the time talking. Nicole had gotten upset when he mentioned the
new trainee and his name. She was hoping it wasn’t the same Cameron Donaldson,
but when she had shown some pictures to Johnny, she knew it was. Now they
had to decide how to handle the situation. Cameron and Tim Donaldson were
two people from Nicole’s past she had never wanted to see again. Johnny was
a little worried but needed to put it behind him for this shift. If he didn’t
he wouldn’t be able to make it through.
Roy looked carefully at Johnny. Something was wrong and he was determined
to find out what it was. He had a feeling it was more than just the conversation
he and the Captain had overheard the last shift. “Yeah, I wanted to talk
to you privately.”
“Johnny, Cap and I overheard what Cameron Donaldson said to you after we
got back from Rampart last shift. Are you alright?” Roy hoped Johnny wouldn’t
get mad at him for listening.
“Yeah, Roy. I’ve had to deal with that all my life. In the white world I
was an Indian. In the Indian world I was a half-breed. There will always
be people like Cameron Donaldson.”
“But it still hurts, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah, it does. But I can handle it.”
After a few seconds of silence, Roy continued. “But there’s something else,
isn’t there, Johnny?”
Looking at Roy, Johnny knew that Roy could tell he was troubled by something.
He wanted to talk to Roy about the situation, but didn’t think this was the
time or place. He didn’t want to make a very hard situation any more difficult.
“Yeah, there is, but now is not the time or place to discuss it. Why don’t
you and Joanne come over for supper tomorrow night? Nicole and I really want
to talk to the two of you.”
“Ok, we’ll be there.” Roy wanted to ask more, but Chet and Marco came in
right then so the subject was dropped. Roy was determined to talk to Johnny
Cameron Donaldson was deep in thought. He had taken the opportunity to call
his brother Tim from Rampart on the last shift. Tim had met him and they
had followed Johnny home. Their suspicions had been confirmed when Nicole
had met him at the door. They had found her. After over two years of searching,
they had found Nicole Angeline Schall. Only now she was married to Johnny
Cameron walked into the day room thinking about the plans he and his brother
had made over the last two days. Plans to get back at both Johnny and Nicole
Gage. Plans that he knew his brother was going to set into motion tonight
or rather early tomorrow morning. ~Will you make it through this shift, Johnny
Gage? I doubt it. Let’s just wait and see.~
“Good morning, Cameron. How are you this morning?” Johnny put on a smile
and tried to push all his thoughts and feelings into a little box.
“Good morning. I’m fine.” Everyone could feel the tension in Cameron as he
answered Johnny. It put everyone on the alert to keep an eye on him.
The shift was not too busy, but busy enough that by the time the guys went
to bed that night, they were ready for a good night’s sleep. They all prayed
they would have a quiet night. That is all of them except Cameron. He knew
that in a few hours, they would be called out on a run and maybe he would
be able to implement his part of their plans.
It was 4:00 a.m. when the klaxons sounded. Not only station 51, but stations
36, 41 and 18 were all being called out. As the squad and engine left the
bay, all the men knew that it was going to be a long, hard one. Each one
wondered when they would get to go home. They knew their shift was going
to be extended.
Station 51 was the first one on the scene. Captain Stanley looked at the
warehouse that was fully engulfed. Then he looked at the houses on either
side of the warehouse. There were two houses on the left and two on the right.
The two houses closest to the warehouse were beginning to smoke. The fire
had traveled to the roofs of these houses. Yelling at Chet and Marco, he
told them to take their hose and head towards the house on the right. As
he was getting set to tell the rest of his men where he wanted them, the
other three stations arrived. Hank Stanley sent crews to all sides of the
buildings. He hoped they could keep the damage to the two houses closest
to the fire at a minimum and prevent it from spreading to the other two houses
They had been working for about 20 minutes. So far, they were keeping it
from spreading. Then Cameron ran over to him. “Cap, there was a guy over
there that told me he had seen a kid run into that house over there.” Cameron
pointed to the house closest to the warehouse on the left. So far it seemed
that the firefighters were winning with that house. But Cameron knew that
it would all change soon.
“Roy, Johnny.” Captain Stanley wasn’t sure if he believed Cameron Donaldson
or not. But he didn’t want to take a chance that someone might be in the
house. He looked at Cameron Donaldson one last time as Roy and Johnny ran
over to him. “Cameron was told that a kid ran into that house over there.
I want you guys to go in and check. But make it quick. The wind is changing
and not in our favor.”
“Sure, Cap.” Johnny led the way to the squad as the three men donned their
gear. Hank watched as Johnny, Roy, and Cameron entered the building. He had
a strange feeling about this.
Captain Stanley was staring at the house when Chief McConikee walked up beside
him. ”Where do we stand, Hank?”
Captain Stanley filled him in on what was going on in regards to the fire.
When he came to the part about his paramedics being in the house he wondered
how much he should tell the Chief. After all he only had a feeling. But Cameron
Donaldson had put three lives in danger, his own as well as Johnny’s and
Roy’s. If Hank was wrong, he would gladly admit it. But if he was right,
then the sooner they could work it out the better. As they were talking two
of the men from station 36 walked by on their way to get a drink and take
a short break.
“Captain, Chief, we’re sorry to interrupt and we didn’t mean to listen in
on your conversation, but I think there is something you should know.” Stan
Reynolds, one of the paramedics from squad 36 stopped when he overheard them
talking about Cameron Donaldson.
“What is it Stan?” Captain Stanley waited patiently for the paramedic to
“Well, Steve and I were over where Cameron Donaldson was standing. I heard
you say that someone told him that a kid had run into the house. Cameron
Donaldson was not out of our sight from the time we arrived until he went
into the house with Johnny and Roy. At no time did he talk to anyone. No
one except fire personnel has even been in this area. I don’t why, but I
think Cameron just made that up.” Stan hoped he was wrong, but Cameron Donaldson
hadn’t talked to anyone.
“Thanks, Stan. We’ll take care of it.” Chief McConikee wondered why someone
would make up a story like that.
As the paramedics from squad 36 walked away, Chief McConikee turned to Hank
Stanley. “Do you think Cameron Donaldson would make up a story like that?
And if he did, what would be his reason?”
Captain Stanley proceeded to tell the Chief about the incident and conversation
that had taken place during Cameron Donaldson’s first shift. “I hope I’m
“What does Roy say about Cameron?”
“Roy told me that Cameron doesn’t seem to even remember the basics. They
have to ask twice when they want something from the drug box and he doesn’t
know how to start an IV. A few times, Roy said he even had to point to what
he wanted. Unless Johnny or Roy yelled at him, Cameron would just stand there
and look like he was lost. The times that he has been out on a fire with
us manning the hoses, all the guys have said that he hasn’t been pulling
his own weight. Roy said he knows that Cameron is not going to make it. How
did Cameron get to go through the paramedic program before he did his probationary
work as a firefighter?”
“Well, his father is a Senator and has pull. He got both of his sons into
the fire department even though neither one of them did very well at the
Academy. As a matter of fact, they both should have been kicked out of the
program by the end of the first month, but their father pulled some strings.
I’ll take care of it.” Chief McConikee walked over to the men from station
41 and 18. He made it a point of having men stationed to be able to see into
the house from any angle. He wanted to see what was going on in there.
Johnny led the way in with Cameron following and Roy bringing up the rear.
They decided to split up. But this time Roy decided he would take Cameron
with him. Roy thought he saw a quick look of disappointment on Cameron’s
face, but he wasn’t sure as the look changed to a smile. Johnny nodded and
headed up the stairs while Cameron and Roy looked through the first floor.
Cameron kept looking at his watch. It was getting close to the time he needed
to be out of there. He breathed a quiet sigh as they completed their check
and headed back towards the front door. Johnny was just coming down the stairs.
Cameron took one more peek at his watch. They had 30 seconds. Now all he
had to do was make sure Johnny Gage was still in the building in 30 seconds.
Since they hadn’t found anyone, Roy motioned towards the door indicated they
should leave. The wind had shifted and the firefighters were now beginning
to loose the battle to save this house. With a quick look at the ceiling,
Johnny nodded at him and waited as Roy started towards the front door. Cameron
waited as if he was going to follow Johnny out. But just as Johnny got abreast
of him, Cameron pushed in front of him knocking Johnny to the floor. At that
moment two of the ceiling beams fell on top of Johnny. Cameron looked at
Johnny’s outstretched hand asking for help and turned to run out the front
door. Just as Cameron made it through the door the explosion came. Both Cameron
and Roy were knocked off their feet when the explosion hit.
Captain Stanley had seen the two men coming out of the house. He had seen
the first man come out and waited for the other two men. It was several seconds
before he saw another man come out of the door. Then the explosion came.
And Captain Stanley realized only two of the men had gotten out. Hurrying
to his men, he had a bad feeling.
Roy had gotten to his feet and had his air mask off by the time the Captain
had made it over to them. “Roy, are you all right?” He was relieved that
Roy looked just a little shaken up but not hurt.
“Yeah, how are—“ the question died on Roy’s lips as he turned and realized
that only one other man had made it out. The dread became even greater when
he saw that it was Cameron Donaldson who was now pulling off his mask. Where
was Johnny? “Are you ok?” He was worried about Johnny, but his paramedic
training took over.
“Yeah, I just had the wind knocked out of me.” Cameron started towards the
“Where’s Johnny?” Roy grabbed Cameron’s arm.
“I don’t know. I’m not his keeper. I thought he was right behind us.” Cameron
pulled his arm out of Roy’s grasp and walked away.
Roy pulled his mask back on and started towards the house. Captain Stanley
grabbed his arm. “Roy, wait.”
Roy wasn’t about to leave his partner in the house. “I have to go get him,
“I know. Just wait a minute. I am going to grab some gear and help. You can’t
do it alone. I’ll get Chet and Marco to help, too.” And with that the Captain
ran to the engine yelling at Chet and Macro as he went. Soon all three had
donned their gear and were ready to enter the building with Roy.
When the explosion came, Chief McConikee had hurried to the men that were
covering the house. He made sure that all efforts were concentrated on the
house when one of the men from station 18 said that one of the paramedics
was still inside. The Chief went to find Cameron Donaldson. When he saw Cameron
just standing by the squad doing nothing, he took a deep sigh. He sent Cameron
over to help 36s. Knowing it was going to be a difficult job, Chief McConikee
knew he had to do something about Cameron Donaldson when he watched the young
man take his time getting over to the men of Station 36. Then he picked up
the end of a hose but didn’t do anything to help.
Roy, Chet, Marco and Captain Stanley went in the doorway that was still standing.
But just on the other side was a pile of debris. All of them knew that somewhere
under that pile was their friend. Being careful to not make the debris shift
any, the men quickly set to work to find Johnny. Every once in a while one
of them would call his name, but they received no answer.
Outside Mike Stoker kept looking over at the house. He had wanted to join
the search, but couldn’t because men from the other stations had grabbed
the hose Chet and Macro were using and were helping fight the fire that was
threatening the house. He had to watch the gauges on the engine—that was
Chief McConikee called Joanne DeSoto and told her what was going on. He asked
her to call Nicole Gage and to bring her down to the fire. He wanted her
there when they brought Johnny out. It might be the last time she would have
It took the men of Station 51 over an hour to get through the debris to where
Johnny was. The wind had shifted again just after they had entered the house
and now all that was left was smoke. The fire was under control. Johnny was
unconscious and Roy really didn’t like the way he looked. Chet and Marco
ran back outside and got the backboard and c-collar. Carefully Johnny was
carried out of the house.
Stan and Steve from Squad 36 were on hand to take over as protocol stated.
Roy knew the paramedics from 36 were good, but he felt useless. That is until
Joanne and Nicole arrived. Roy pulled Joanne into his embrace as the two
women reached the group standing around Johnny. Then he turned and hugged
Johnny started to get agitated. Nicole knelt down beside him and took one
of his bloodied hands in hers. “Hey, it’s ok. I’m right here. Just let these
guys do their job.” Johnny calmed as Nicole talked to him. “Johnny, hang
in there. I love you and need you. And your friends need you, too. But there
is someone else that is going to need you. I was going to tell you tonight
before Roy and Joanne came over, but I think I ought to tell you now.” Then
she lowered her voice so that only Johnny, Roy and Joanne were able to hear
what she had to say. “Johnny, you are going to be a father. So our child
needs you, Johnny.” Nicole could not keep the tears from flowing.
Roy and Joanne heard Nicole’s statement about Johnny becoming a father. Roy
was so happy for his best friend, but he was afraid Johnny was not going
to make it. He wasn’t sure that Johnny would even get the chance to learn
that he was going to be a father.
Nicole had to move so Stan could work on Johnny. As soon as she let go of
his hand, Johnny started getting agitated again. Moving so she was out of
the way of the two paramedics, she quickly took his hand and started talking
to him again.
“Johnny, you know the words to the anonymous poem, ‘A Firefighter’s Prayer.’
When I’m called to duty, God, where flames may rage,
give me strength to save a life, whatever be its age.
Help me embrace a little child before it is too late,
or save an older person from the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout,
and quickly and efficiently to put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling to give the best in me,
to guard my every neighbor and to protect his property.
And if, according to my fate, I am to lose my life,
please bless with your protecting hand – my children and my wife.
Johnny, you have given your best. There are so many people, both children
and adults who are here because you risked your life to save them. You have
give 110% of your best. You care about people. Now it is your turn to rest.
The Lord will protect us. Johnny, I love you with all my heart. You are my
soul mate. But, if it is too hard, or hurts too much to hang on, that’s ok.
Go ahead and let go. You deserve it. You know I heard someone say once that
‘they say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate
them, a day to love them, but then an entire life to forget them.’ Johnny,
it will take more than two lifetimes to forget you. You are a very special
person, Johnny. I want you around for the rest of my life, but whatever is
best for you is ok. You’ll always be in my heart.”
By this time, Chet, Marco, Captain Stanley and Chief McConikee had joined
the group gathered around the two paramedics working on Johnny. There was
not a dry eye among the group as they listened to Nicole’s quiet words to
Johnny. No matter what happened, from that moment on the men of Station 51,
Squad 36, Chief McConikee and Joanne DeSoto were going to think of Nicole
as Johnny’s special angel.
The ambulance had arrived and Stan and Steve were finished packing Johnny
up for transport. Roy and Chet helped them get Johnny onto the gurney. Johnny
once again became agitated when contact with Nicole was broken. As soon as
she could, Nicole found Johnny’s hand and he calmed down. Johnny still had
not regained consciousness and Roy was worried. But he was amazed at Nicole’s
calmness. She was now softly singing to Johnny as they headed towards the
ambulance. It was decided that Nicole would ride in the back with Johnny
to keep him calm.
As they passed the squad, Nicole looked up and caught the look on Cameron
Donaldson’s face. When she turned white, Roy glanced over at Cameron too.
Cameron didn’t see Roy looking at him or he would have wiped the smug look
off his face. Nor would he have lifted his finger in front of his lips indicating
to Nicole to keep quiet about something. Roy was determined to find out what
was going on.
Roy wasn’t the only one who had seen the look and gesture. Both Captain Stanley
and Chief McConikee saw it too. There was more going on than the prejudice
of Cameron Donaldson. They were determined to get to the bottom of this accident.
Nicole kept singing to Johnny like nothing had even happened. Chief McConikee
took Cameron Donaldson with him to find out his version of what had happened.
The chief knew he wouldn’t get any help or even the right answers, but he
had to ask. Joanne followed the ambulance having received the promise from
the guys they were going to be at Rampart as soon as they could get there.
When the ambulance reached Rampart, Dixie, Dr. Early, and Dr. Brackett were
waiting for Johnny. They knew from the paramedic’s report that Johnny was
in trouble. As they unloaded the gurney from the ambulance, Stan quickly
told them that Johnny was agitated any time contact with Nicole was severed.
That is why Nicole was still singing to Johnny as the activity in treatment
room 3 went on around her. She was careful to stay out of the way but keep
contact with Johnny. There was a moment when she had to break contact and
the hospital staff saw for themselves the effect it had. Dr. Brackett made
sure that Johnny knew Nicole was there as soon as possible. Roy stood back
watching as Nicole continued to reassure Johnny even with all the activity
Johnny had a concussion, four broken ribs, a punctured lung and internal
bleeding. They were going to have to take him to surgery to relieve some
pressure on his brain, repair the lung and the damage that was causing his
internal bleeding. Nicole knew there was a concern about how he was going
to react when the contact was broken. Before any of them could voice that
concern however, they listened as Nicole stopped singing and started talking
to Johnny again.
“Johnny, listen to me carefully. You’re at Rampart now and Dr. Early and
Dr. Brackett need to take you to surgery. You were hurt pretty bad and they
need to take care of you. Now, I can only go with you to the elevator. Then
I need to go back to the waiting room and tell the others how you are doing.
I can’t go into surgery with you physically, but I am with you in your heart.
I will be praying for you every second as I have been since Joanne called
me. You go with Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early and I’ll be in the surgical waiting
room. I love you, Johnny, no matter what happens. You will always be in my
Dr. Early and Dr. Brackett started pushing the gurney towards the elevator.
At the elevator, Nicole leaned over and kissed Johnny on the lips and then
on the forehead. “You are my special teddy bear.” It was an endearment that
only Johnny and Nicole knew so she whispered it in his ear. “I am with you
in your heart. I’ll be here when you get back. I love you.”
Everyone was surprised when Nicole let go of Johnny’s hand as the gurney
was pushed into the elevator. Johnny didn’t get agitated. He moved a little,
but calmed down as Dr. Brackett started talking to him. When the elevator
doors closed, Nicole turned and started towards the emergency waiting room
where she knew his friends would be waiting. But she only got three steps
before the tears and anguish she had been holding back for Johnny’s sake
overtook her and she collapsed in heart-rending sobs. Roy had been right
beside her and caught her. He picked her up in his arms and started towards
the nurses’ desk hoping someone could look at her.
Dixie had just finished cleaning up treatment room 3 and was coming out as
Roy came down the hall. She saw him carrying Nicole and ushered him into
the room. She ran looking for Dr. Morton. As she got to the waiting room,
she saw him talking to the family of a patient he had just treated. She also
saw the people waiting for word on Johnny. But her first priority was Nicole.
“Mike, we need you in treatment room 3 right now.” Dixie called to Morton
as soon as she was close enough for him to hear.
Chet and Marco were on their feet when they heard treatment room 3. That
was where they had taken Johnny. “Is something wrong with Johnny?”
“We’ll be back to tell you about Johnny. Right now I need Dr. Morton to look
at Nicole. She collapsed as they were taking Johnny to surgery.” Dixie didn’t
wait to tell them the rest. She quickly followed Dr. Mike Morton down the
“Nicole? I hope she’s alright.” Chet wondered how much more Johnny and Nicole
The waiting room was silent as everyone sent up silent prayers for the recovery
of both their friends. Joanne was saying a special prayer. Somehow she and
Roy had been the only ones to hear Nicole tell Johnny she was pregnant. They
weren’t going to tell anyone; that was Johnny and Nicole’s place.
Dr. Morton checked Nicole over. “I’ll give you something to calm your nerves
and you should be alright.”
Nicole had cried in Roy’s arms and was beginning to calm down. “No, please
don’t. I don’t think I should take anything.”
“But why? It’ll be alright.” Dr. Morton was beginning to prepare the shot
he was going to give her. Dixie was standing beside Nicole, nodding her agreement.
“You can’t tell anyone because I haven’t been able to tell Johnny yet. I
think Roy and Joanne heard me mentioned it at the fire, but no one else knows.”
Nicole looked from Mike to Dixie. Getting their agreement to keep it quiet,
she whispered. “I’m pregnant.”
Dixie gave her a hug and Dr. Morton agreed with her that she didn’t need
to take anything now. But he was going to keep an eye on her.
“I think there are some people worried about both you and your husband. Someone
should go tell them what is going on.” Dixie smiled at the woman who had
won one of her favorite paramedic’s heart.
“I want to be the one to tell them. And Roy and Joanne will be with me. They
will keep a close eye on me. You can be sure of that.” Nicole smiled as Roy
blushed at her words. “But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Come on, Roy,
let’s go see the others.” And with that Nicole led Roy towards the waiting
room full of people. In the waiting room, they found Chet, Marco, Mike and
Beth Stoker, Hank and Emily Stanley as well as Joanne.
Chet, Marco and Mike were on their feet as soon as Nicole entered the room.
“Are you alright?” Chet guided Nicole over to a seat.
“Yes, I am. It all just came down on me as the elevator doors closed taking
Johnny to surgery. He has a concussion, four broken ribs, a punctured lung,
and some internal bleeding. The surgery is going to take a long time because
they have to relieve some pressure on his brain, fix the punctured lung and
repair whatever is causing the internal bleeding. Thank you all for being
here. I just want you all to know that Johnny was right. You are our family
and I have never had so much love and support before. I can never begin to
tell you what it means to me.” Nicole looked at the people around her. “Now,
if you’ll excuse me for a little while, I’m going to spend some time in the
“Can I go with you?” Chet helped Nicole to her feet.
“Yes, I’d like that.” Nicole smiled at Chet and led the way towards the chapel.
The Stokers, the Stanleys and the DeSotos all followed her.
Nicole looked at the people who where really her family now. As they left
the chapel, Nicole held Joanne back a little. After a brief conference, Joanne
sent the guys back to the waiting room and she and Emily Stanley went with
Chief McConikee had joined the group and pulled Captain Stanley aside to
tell him what he had learned from Cameron Donaldson. It was exactly what
they had expected. He also filled Hank in on what he had learned from the
crews of stations 41 and 18.
When they still hadn’t returned thirty minutes later, Roy was just about
ready to go find his wife, Mrs. Stanley and Nicole when he saw them coming
down the hall. He smiled as he saw they had bags of food and trays of drinks.
As they were passing one of the treatment rooms, Dixie came out and stopped
them to talk. After a few minutes they continued towards the waiting room.
“Hey, everyone, Dixie just stopped us. They just called down from upstairs.
So far Johnny is hanging in there, but they expect the surgery to last at
least another five or six hours. We’ve brought drinks and sandwiches for
everyone. It won’t do Johnny any good if we don’t take care of ourselves.
Dixie said we should move into the doctor’s lounge so come on everyone.”
Nicole led the way into the lounge and had the sandwiches and drinks out
on the table.
Roy put his arms around his wife and whispered in her ear. “Thank you. I
don’t think any of us would have thought about this.”
“It wasn’t me. It was Nicole. She knew that no one would want to think about
eating. Roy, we are supposed to be taking care of her. It is her husband
that is up there in surgery and she is concerned about all of us. She is
really something special isn’t she?”
“Yeah, Joanne, she is. Johnny really has a special Angel.” Roy kissed his
wife and then turned to talk to Nicole. This time he spoke so everyone in
the room could hear. “Thank you, Nicole, for being concerned about the rest
of us. Thanks for getting lunch.”
Nicole smiled. “We all need to eat. I just went and got it. And I want you
all to know that I realize that you have had a hard shift and probably have
other things that you need to do today. I would be thrilled to have all of
you stay here, but Johnny won’t be out of surgery for several hours and if
any of you need to leave, I’ll make sure we call you as soon as we hear anything.”
“We’re all staying right here until Johnny comes out of surgery. And I think
it’s about time you rested.” Chet was the first one to realize what Roy was
trying to tell the others. Here Nicole was worried about whether or not her
husband was going to live and instead of someone taking care of her, she
was taking care of all of them. He left the room to go find Dixie and returned
two minutes later with a blanket and pillow. After Nicole had at least tried
to eat something, Chet led her to the couch, gave her the pillow, and covered
her with the blanket. Then he pulled up a chair to sit next to her, reached
out and took her hand and told her to close her eyes and rest. For as much
as he razzed Johnny, everyone knew that Chet cared a great deal about him
and no one was surprised that he was making himself Nicole’s personal guardian.
Under his watchful eye, Nicole soon fell asleep.
During the next couple of hours, everyone took turns pacing or napping or
just staring out the window. Not hearing was hard on all of them. Joanne
took the time to run home and get Chris and Jennifer when they arrived home
from school. At one point Chief McConikee and Captain Stanley took Roy into
Dr. Brackett’s office to discuss what had happened at the fire and the look
Cameron Donaldson had given Nicole. Roy was relieved to know he was not the
only one who had seen it. But he had no more information than the Chief or
Captain. He was more than a little upset when the Chief told him that the
crews from 41 and 18 had seen what had happened and that Cameron Donaldson
had left Johnny trapped in the house. He didn’t like Cameron’s version either
that said that Johnny had tried to keep him in the house and he barely escaped.
But it was decided that things would be put on hold until they found out
how Johnny was doing.
It was 4:00 p.m. and Johnny had been in surgery since 8:00 a.m. Chet and
Marco decided they would get everyone’s orders and go get some food for everyone
for dinner. Just as they were ready to leave, the door open and Cameron Donaldson
along with another man that most of them didn’t know walked in. All eyes
turned to Nicole when they heard her gasp.
“Hello, Nikki, how are you?” The man with Cameron looked straight at Nicole.
“Hello, Tim. What are you doing here?” No one like the way Nicole’s face
drained completely of color and she leaned on Roy for support. They all noticed
that she reached out for Chet’s hand as he came and stood next to her, too.
“Well, Cameron was telling me that your husband, Johnny, got hurt today and
we thought we would stop by and see how he is doing. After all, Nikki, we
are friends. We were talking about getting married once.” No one could miss
the hate in Tim’s voice when he called Johnny Nicole’s husband or the possessiveness
when he said they were talking about getting married.
“He’s still in surgery and will be for several more hours. I’m sure that
the guys will gladly let Cameron know on the next shift how Johnny is doing.
We should know more by then anyway. Thank you for stopping by.” Tim and Cameron
could not miss the way that Nicole dismissed them and was telling them to
leave—that they were not welcome.
There was a flash of anger and hatred in Tim’s eyes as he decided what to
do. He figured that it would be best if they left. But Cameron and Tim would
deal with Johnny and Nicole later. “Ok, then we’ll be in touch. We’re sorry
about Johnny’s ‘accident,’ Nikki. At least he didn’t die like Daniel and
his friends did. I’ll talk to you later.” With that the two men left.
Nicole started shaking and Chet guided her to the couch. Roy sat next to
her and pulled her into his embrace.
“Nicole, we know Cameron Donaldson, but who was the other guy?” Roy was the
one that was asking the questions on everyone’s mind. “And who was this Daniel
he mentioned? What happened to him?””
“That’s Cameron’s brother, Tim.” Chief McConikee answered for Nicole.
“How do you know them?” Roy was sitting beside Nicole by this time.
“I lived in Philadelphia before I moved out here. I dated Tim a couple of
times. I never, ever said I would even consider marrying him. We only dated
twice. It turned ugly when I tried to break it off with him. Daniel was a
guy I dated after I broke up with Tim. He was killed in a fire. There
was some trouble because of the breakup before I left Philadelphia, but their
father used his clout and got both men out of it. Tim is the reason I don’t
like the nickname, Nikki and why I left Philadelphia.” Nicole didn’t want
to go into everything just yet. “It’s something I would like to rather not
think about right now.”
“The way he talked about Johnny’s accident, you’d think it wasn’t an accident
at all.” Chet didn’t like either one of the Donaldson brothers.
“That’s because it wasn’t.” Chief McConikee looked at the people in the room.
“I can’t go into details yet, but it was no accident.”
As Nicole shivered in his arms, Roy made a vow for him and Joanne to talk
to Nicole and Johnny as soon as they could. “Chet, why don’t you and Marco
go and get that food now.” Roy tried to take everyone’s mind off what had
“Yeah, I think that’s a good idea.” It only took one look at Nicole’s face
for Chet to want to change the subject, too.
Roy left Nicole on the couch so that he, Marco, Chet and Captain Stanley
could pool their money for the food. But Roy was worried when he turned back
to the couch and found Nicole curled up on her side with her back to everyone
else in the room. He walked over and knelt down to talk to her. “Nicole,
are you alright?” The knot in his stomach tightened as Nicole didn’t even
acknowledge that she heard him. He placed a hand on her back and tried once
again a little louder. “Nicole, are you alright?” She still didn’t answer
By this time, everyone in the room had noticed what was happening. They watched
as once again Roy tried to get through to Nicole. “Nicole, we’re all here
for you. Please tell me—us what’s wrong.” He could feel the sobs that wracked
her body. But he still didn’t get any response.
Not knowing what to do, Roy looked at the other people standing there. It
looked like no one knew what to do. Then Chief McConikee surprised everyone—including
himself. He walked over to the couch, sat down in the small space Nicole
had left and pulled her into his lap. She buried her head in his shoulder
and just cried. Five minutes later she was sound asleep.
Roy looked at Nicole and quietly said, “What happened to both Johnny and
Nicole in their lives? They both are so innocent. They are both so naïve
and take everyone they meet at face value. Neither one of them ever holds
a grudge. They stick up for people like Cameron even when they have been
wronged by them. They are both are the first ones willing to help in any
situation and try to comfort others or lend a helping hand. Yet, they never
let on when they are hurt or their feelings are hurt. They never ask for
help or sympathy. They put their injuries or needs aside so they can help
someone else who is hurting. What made them the selfless, loving, trusting
people they are? What made them so special?” No one had the answer to Roy’s
Not wanting to disturb Nicole, the room was unusually quiet. It was half
an hour later before anyone voiced the questions that were in everyone’s
minds. And then it came from a very unusual source.
“What happened in Philadelphia with Cameron and Tim Donaldson that she is
so upset?” Mike Stoker startled everyone when he spoke. “And what does it
have to do with whoever this Daniel was that they mentioned?”
“I think I can shed a little light on that subject.” No one had notice Vince
Howard slip in.
Everyone turned and looked at Vince. The Chief made sure that Nicole was
still asleep. “Please tell us. Does it have something to do with what I asked
you to check out for me?”
“Yes, it does. Why doesn’t everyone sit down and I’ll tell you.” Vince thought
of what he was going to tell these people. He looked at Nicole. ~One more
thing to add to what you’ve already had to live through in your lifetime,
Nicole. When will it stop?~
“Chief McConikee asked me to check into the backgrounds of Cameron and Tim
Donaldson when he learned of what Cameron had been saying about Johnny. Their
father is U.S. Senator Andrew Donaldson and they use that fact every chance
they get. It seems that the brothers have been in several questionable situations
but always come out lily white because ‘Daddy’ used his clout. Well, Tim
tried to get Nicole to date him and she did a couple of times. But he turned
abusive and possessive on the first date. When he asked her out again, she
said no, but he showed up at the hospital where she worked one time and forcefully
took her with him. After that, she was never left alone. She had a roommate
that always made sure they had several people over every night. At the hospital
the doctors, nurses, her co-workers and security took turns walking her to
wherever she needed to go and to her car. They even made sure she did not
drive to and from work alone. Then she met Daniel Cannon. They started dating,
but made sure that they stayed either at his place or her place and they
were not seen out in public together. But somehow, Tim found out about it.
She started getting threatening calls and letters that said she was ‘his’
and his alone. Then one night Daniel and Nicole were at the home of a couple
of their friends. There were seven other people besides Nicole and Daniel
that night—the couple that owned the home and their two children and three
other friends of the group. They were having a quiet dinner.”
Dr. Brackett, Dr. Morton, Dixie and Dr. Early, Chet and Marco had all joined
the group about the time Vince had started talking. Dr. Morton kept a close
eye on Nicole while Vince was talking. She seemed to be resting peacefully,
but he was worried about her emotional state. Chet promised himself he was
going to do everything he could to help Johnny and Nicole get through this.
“Nicole got a phone call from the hospital saying that one of her clients
really needed her. She didn’t want to ruin anyone else’s night, so she convinced
them to let her go by herself. She told them she would call as soon as she
reached the hospital, which she did. However, when she got there, no one
had called her. Nicole knew something was wrong, so she tried calling Daniel
again. She figured it would be better for him to come and get her. But there
was no answer at the house. One of the security guards was just getting off
work, so he offered to go with her back to the house. What no one knew until
months later, was that the security guard had been working for Tim Donaldson
and was keeping track of Nicole. By the time they got back to the house,
it was engulfed in fire. No one got out alive—not even the kids. It was proven
to be arson that started with an explosion. The bomb was small, but was in
a place that would do the most damage. Whoever did it knew what they were
doing. The arson investigators had parts of the bomb, but there was nothing
to lead them anywhere. Suspicion was cast on Tim and Cameron Donaldson, but
all evidence disappeared and a few of the policemen became the Donaldson’s’
best friends. Nicole was devastated. She blamed herself.”
Vince stopped to take a drink of water. As he looked around, he could see
that there was not a person whose eyes weren’t a little too bright. He was
having a hard time keeping the lump out of his throat and yet he wasn’t finished—there
“Nicole had taken the notes and the tapes from her answering machine with
the threatening phone calls to the police. They had told her they would check
into it, but there wasn’t really anything they could do until he did something.
After the fire, she got another note and a phone call from Tim. The note
said that he was ‘sorry’ for the accident that took the lives of her friends.
It went on to say that he sure hoped more accidents didn’t happen to any
more of her friends and that he would be in contact with her to set up their
next date. That night she received the phone call. Tim told her that if he
couldn’t have her no one would and he hoped she wasn’t the cause of any more
of her friends’ accidents. Then he told her about their next date without
even asking if she would go out with him. Tim Donaldson became very possessive
and wouldn’t let her out of his sight. Then one day Nicole disappeared. Tim
Donaldson was furious and became violent at the hospital. When Tim couldn’t
find out when or how Nicole had left Philadelphia or where she went, he finally
left all her friends alone. But he did hire a private investigator to look
for her. I’m not sure how she left since that is one thing no one is talking
about. No matter who we asked, no one knew anything. I’m sure she had friends
who helped her leave. But that is one matter the police are not even pursuing.
There were those in the police department who became furious when the notes
and answering machine tapes Nicole gave them ‘disappeared.’ They were all
thankful she had ‘dropped off the face of the earth’ as Tim put it.”
“How long ago was that and how did you find out about all of this if all
the evidence disappeared?” Joanne wondered how much more Nicole had to endure
during her life. Johnny and Nicole had told Roy and Joanne all about Nicole’s
childhood and the deaths of the cousins and her father that had been abusing
her all her life. But Joanne knew that Nicole hadn’t told anyone—even Johnny
“One of the policemen was a rookie at the time this all started. He took
the evidence and for some reason made copies of all the tapes and notes.
The evidence from the fire just disappeared, however. The policeman who made
the copies kept them at his apartment because the Donaldsons had control
over most of the members of the police force. He didn’t know who he could
trust so when Nicole disappeared, he prayed that would be the end of it.
When I showed up, it was just luck that I happened to question him first.
He told me what had happened and then gave me the copies. We can’t use them,
though, because they are copies and no one knew about them but him. It would
be his word against the Philadelphia police force and the Donaldsons. I’m
not sure how long it has been since Nicole left Philadelphia.”
“Over three years ago.” No one had realized that Nicole had woken up and
listened to Vince telling her history with Cameron and Tim Donaldson.
“Nicole, you’re awake.” Vince was feeling a little nervous about having shared
what he knew without Nicole’s permission.
“Yeah, but it’s ok, Vince. Now I don’t have to share it.” Nicole smiled at
the policeman as if reading his mind and stood up. She started towards the
“Nicole, how did you leave Philadelphia?” Chet was worried about Nicole.
Tim and Cameron were in LA and Johnny was in surgery. Who was going to protect
her? He knew that was really a stupid question. There was a room full of
people who were going to make sure nothing happened to her.
“I did have friends that helped me. The only good thing I ever received from
my parents was an inheritance. I never wanted to touch it since it came from
a man that abused me, and a woman that usually stood by and watched letting
it happen. When they were killed in the car accident that took their lives
as well as my cousins, I wanted nothing more to tie me to them. So, when
I needed a way to get out of Philadelphia I used the money. For about a month
I bought tickets on every plane, every train and every bus out of Philadelphia.
I would get on a plane, bus or train and then get off at one of the in-between
stops or I might take it all the way and then just turn around and come back.
Other tickets were given to a couple of friends that Tim did not know about
that had been mistaken for my sisters. Anyway, just about the time Tim thought
I was gone, he would show up at work and I’d be there. I really kept the
PI he hired hopping. That is until the time that I got on one plane and two
of the other girls got on two more planes going in three different directions
all at the same time. One of the girls got off on an in-between stop and
then flew to meet my plane at an in-between stop. We switched places and
she went back to Philadelphia while I went to Milwaukee. Every three days
I flew to a new city. I went from Milwaukee to Atlanta to New York to Chicago
to Boston to St. Louis to Houston to Seattle and a host of other cities.
Then I ended up here in LA. I had no intentions of ever putting anyone else
in danger so I swore I’d never settle down in one place and I swore off of
men--until the camping trip where I met Johnny. No matter how hard I fought
it, I knew the second that I saw him that I loved him. Since it had been
over nine months since I left Philadelphia, I let my guard down. I should
never have done that. Now look what has happened. I should have known that
Tim would find me.” Nicole had been pacing the floor so no one realized she
was really working her way over to the door. When she stopped talking, she
saw her chance. Everyone was thinking about what she had said. She opened
the door and went running down the hall.
Nicole’s hasty exit had taken everyone off guard. By the time Chet and Roy
made it out the door into the hallway, they saw her heading towards the emergency
exit. Both took off running after her. Chet was determined he was going to
make sure nothing happened to her so he had a burst of speed that surprised
even him. He reached Nicole just as she reached the door.
“Where are you going, Nicole?” Chet stopped her and pulled her close.
“I don’t want to put anyone else in danger. I’m going to go find Tim and
put an end to all of this.” Nicole couldn’t keep back the tears that once
again took over.
“Nicole, come on. Let’s go back to the lounge. You have friends and family
here who are all going to help you.” Roy had joined them in time to hear
Nicole say she was going to find Tim.
“Yeah, you need to think about Johnny.” Chet knew that Nicole was hurting
more than any of them had realized.
“But don’t you see? It’s because of me that Johnny’s fighting for his life
right now.” Nicole wanted to talk to Johnny and hold him. She had told Johnny
everything during the times they had disappeared between shifts. That had
been when the phone calls and notes had started again, too. Johnny told her
he didn’t care and that he wouldn’t let her go. He was going to be there
every step of the way no matter what happened.
“It’s not your fault, Nicole. Come on, let us help you.” Roy was grateful
that Nicole had allowed him and Chet to turn her around and lead her back
towards the doctor’s lounge. He also knew there was more to the story. Something
had happened between the time Cameron Donaldson had shown up at Station 51
that first shift and the fire today. And he knew that he had to get her to
tell them what it is.
Roy could tell that each person in the lounge let out a sigh of relief when
they led Nicole back into the room. He knew that if he didn’t get her to
tell them the rest of what was going on now, she never would and it would
only get worse. Placing himself and Chet in front of the door so no one—namely
Nicole—could leave he took a deep breath. “Nicole, besides Cameron’s obvious
prejudice against Johnny being an Indian, what else has happened since he
showed up at Station 51 that first shift?” Roy heard several people take
audible gulps when he asked that question.
Looking at Roy, Nicole knew he as well as the rest of the people in the room
cared about her. She felt they had a right to know. Not breaking eye contact
with Roy, she answered his questions. “The notes and phone calls have started
again. Tim said that he and Cameron were keeping a close watch on Johnny
and me and that they had some surprises planned for us. But they also said
we weren’t supposed to say anything to anyone else because if we did—“ Nicole
had to take a deep breath before she could continue. It was hard to get past
the lump in her throat.
By now Roy had slowly walked over to her and he put his hand on her arm.
“If you did, what?”
The tears that were all too frequent now came again as Nicole knew she had
to finish. “That any one of you or your families could and would have an
accident and end up like Daniel and my friends in Philadelphia. They said
they were going to let us know what they wanted us to do to prevent something
happening to any of you. I had thought that if I told them I would leave
Johnny and marry Tim that things would be ok and Johnny and all of you would
be ok. But the last note and phone call said they had plans for Johnny, too,
and that I wasn’t going to get off that easy. When I said that we were in
California and not Pennsylvania so their father didn’t have the clout out
here, all Tim did was laugh. He told me to just try and see how much clout
their father had. Johnny and I talked with the police after the first note
and call came. The next note and call mentioned that we had gone to the police
and we should be thankful that no one there believed us. The only way they
could have found out was that someone in the police department told them
and whoever it was had enough authority to make it disappear.” As the full
impact of the events of the last hour hit, Nicole passed out. Roy caught
her before she could fall and carried her to the couch that was quickly cleared
so he could lay her down. Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early were immediately by
her side and took over.
“Oh, Roy, what all has she had to deal with?” Joanne fell into her husband’s
arms as tears for her friend ran down her face. The room was quiet as Kelly
and Joe worked on Nicole. How much more pain would she have to face in her
lifetime? Johnny was fighting for his life. Each person in the room sent
up a silent prayer that Johnny came out of this ok. Nicole didn’t need any
It was only a couple of minutes, but it felt like a lifetime when Nicole
began to stir. Just as she sat up, Dr. Samuels who had been performing the
surgery on Johnny entered the room. “Nicole, hi, I’m Dr. Samuels.” He had
seen her in the treatment room even though he had not had an opportunity
to talk to her. “Johnny made it through surgery. Actually, he was sent to
the recovery room about an hour ago, but I wanted to stay with him to see
how he was doing. We did have to relieve a little pressure on his brain and
he does have a mild concussion, but there will be no permanent damage.” He
figured if he gave her the good news first, the bad news wouldn’t be quite
so bad. “As you know, he had four broken ribs. He had a chest tube to keep
the pressure off the lung we had to repair. It took longer than we would
have liked because his lung was punctured by three of the broken ribs, not
just one like we had originally thought. Because of that, he will have a
chest tube and be on a ventilator for several days. There was damage to several
of his internal organs, which is what caused the extensive bleeding. He had
to have several units of blood, but the good news is that although there
were several areas of injury, none of them were severe enough to cause any
permanent damage to any of his vital organs.”
“When can I see him?” Nicole needed to see for herself that Johnny was going
to be ok. She knew that his recovery time was going to be long, but she was
now determined that she would be by his side every step of the way.
“As a matter of fact, he was coming around as I was getting ready to come
down here and they were preparing to take him to ICU. He was beginning to
get a little agitated and I remembered a brunette Nicole that kept him calm
in the emergency room. When I asked him if he wanted to see you, he nodded
and calmed down enough to keep the ventilator alarms from going off. So why
don’t you come with me and I’ll take you to him.” There were several chuckles
when the doctor mentioned him sending off the ventilator alarms—that was
“Yeah, I’d like that.” Nicole started to follow Dr. Samuels.
“Nicole, do you mind if I come with you?” Dr. Brackett was still worried
about her and it showed on his face. But then everyone else in the room was