Johnny had joined the group because he was feeling
lonely. He was in his late 20s and still had trouble keeping a girlfriend.
And although he really wanted to go hiking on his day off, he didn’t want
to hike alone but for some reason all the guys seemed to be mad
at him—even Roy. He didn’t know what he had done, but a few weeks ago
the guys topped talking to him. They were mad at him for something, but
he really didn’t know what. The Phantom pulled an excessive amount of pranks
that were very hurtful and all the others had laughed and then ignored
him. They all razzed him unmercifully about his girl troubles and anything
else they could find. Even Roy razzed him and seemed to making fun of
him. Whenever the squad was in the barn, no one noticed that he spent all
his time in the dorm. No one ever bothered to come and find out why or
even say they missed him. He was never included in their conversations
or plans anymore. He had even handled the request from headquarters himself
because no one listened when he tried to tell them about it. Every time
he started talking, someone else would start talking as if he wasn’t
there. If they didn’t just start talking, they left the room. Even the
staff at Rampart seemed to ignore him. He was seriously considering either
transferring out of Station 51 or quitting the department all together—he
just hadn’t decided which yet. That’s why he took the plunge when he saw
the flyer for this hiking group and signed up. He needed to find someone
to talk to—he needed to feel he was worth something. Now he was waiting
at the meeting point wondering if he had made a mistake. He was wandering
around absent-mindedly whistling off-key.
As Nicole looked over the group of people waiting
for instructions, she sighed. She was feeling lonely lately and saw that
most of the people here were in couples. There were some single guys and
girls, but most of them looked like teenagers. Watching the single guys,
she realized that most of those who were even close to her age were either
“stuck on themselves” or so rude she didn’t want to be caught within 100
miles of them. Her heart was breaking. She wished just once there would be
someone—anyone—who would love her or care about her. But she had learned from
the time she was small that she wasn’t worth loving and didn’t deserve to
be alive. There was one guy, who seemed to be really nice, but he was also
very good looking and she knew he wouldn’t look at her twice. She was not
a beauty. Oh well, she would try to have fun anyway—not that she deserved
to have fun. She was sure she would be spending most of her time by herself
doing nothing but thinking.
Their guide called for all of them to gather around
for last minute instructions. Nicole found herself standing near Johnny.
She silently sighed. She would love to get to know him better. He had such
a nice smile. But she wasn’t going to get her hopes up. He probably
already had a girlfriend. And even if he didn’t he wouldn’t be interested
in her anyway. After all everyone in her life had taught her that she was
not a lovable person.
Nicole had been so lost in her own little world
that she had not heard the instructions that everyone was to have a “buddy”
for the hike. She was brought back to the present when Johnny put his
hand on her shoulder. She looked at him and realized that he had been
talking to her. “I’m sorry, I was thinking about something else. Did you
say something to me?”
“Yeah, my name is Johnny Gage. I see you were somewhere
else—someplace pleasant, I hope. I just asked if you would like to be
my ‘buddy’ since everyone has to have one. I am here by myself. That is
unless you are here with someone.” Johnny didn’t know why, but he really
wanted to get to know this girl better. She was nothing like the girls he
usually dated, but there was just something about her.
“Oh, my name is Nicole Schall. No, I’m not here
with anyone. I don’t know anyone here either. Sure, I’ll be your buddy.”
Nicole had to remind herself it was only for the hiking trip. She had
to keep her feelings in check.
Johnny and Nicole told each other about their jobs,
hobbies and things they liked to do. They discovered they both worked
out of Rampart—Nicole was a caseworker there. They were both surprised
when they discovered they both liked bowling, camping, hiking, horseback
riding, photography and sunsets. Each was surprised that they felt so comfortable
with each other and were telling things about themselves they hadn’t shared
with anyone else. They also discovered that they were both half Seminole
Indian and had grown up about 400 miles from each other in Oklahoma. Johnny
told Nicole he had camped here before and he promised her sometime he would
bring her back to see a sunset she would never forget. Nicole thought Johnny
was really nice and she was having a hard time keeping her feelings in check.
No one had ever treated her so nice before. But she had to remind herself
that she shouldn’t think of his actions as anything but those of a very
nice man. She also knew it wouldn’t last—it never did. He was just being
friendly because he didn’t know anyone else yet. Probably by the end of
the day he would be off with someone else and she would bealone. That was
the story of her life. They fell into a comfortable silence as they started
on their hike.
The group had been hiking for about half an hour
when they ran across an old abandoned cabin. Figuring he had found a new
“buddy” and not expecting to spend any time with Johnny, Nicole had been
at the front of the group. She was surprised when Johnny appeared at her
elbow and held the door to the cabin open for her to enter. Her heart did
flip-flops and she took a deep breath to keep her emotions calm. She began
to relax, however, as Johnny stayed by her side and treated her like a queen.
The group had spent the day exploring. As much as
she wanted to, Nicole was having a hard time keeping from falling for
Johnny. He was so kind and they were always laughing at something. Her
heart broke for him as he told her that he didn’t know what he had done
to make his “family” angry with him. As they walked she prayed that the
situation with his “family” would be straightened out and that when the
day ended, she wouldn’t be too hurt knowing she would probably never see
There was a small group of teenagers who felt that
the rules they were given were for babies and started wandering off the
path. Because they were not really paying attention to the rest of the group,
the teens fell behind. Johnny’s protective instinct kicked in and he was
trying to keep an eye on them to make sure they stayed out of trouble. He
became concerned when they passed a cave that the guide had just told the
group to stay out of. There had been some rock and mudslides recently and
it was unstable. He knew the four teens were too far back to hear the guide’s
warning. When he turned around to pass the warning on, he knew there was
going to be trouble. The teens were headed for the cave and were too far
away to hear any warning.
Johnny called for the guide and the rest of the
group and let them know the teens had headed into the cave. He said he was
going to go back and get them. The rest of the group followed as Johnny
and Nicole ran to the cave. They had just reached the path in front of
the cave when the rocks and mud just above the opening started to rain
down on them. The group outside the cave ran into the surrounding trees
for cover as the entrance to the cave was covered up. When the slide stopped,
Johnny ran to see if he could find out anything about the four teens. Nicole
was right behind him.
Carefully climbing up the side of the cave, Johnny found
an opening. He realized he could fit into. He called out to the teens and
found that they were scared. Turning to head back down the hill to get some
rope to tie around his waist and a couple of men to help lower him in,
he bumped into Nicole who had followed him and had taken one look at his
“I can fit in there.”
Johnny jumped at the sound of Nicole’s voice. He hadn’t noticed
that she had followed him. “I’m going in.”
“I can go in with you to help get those kids out as fast
as we can. You don’t know the extent of their injuries and remember I’ve
had training because of my job at Rampart. I’m not a nurse, but because
of the domestic violence, abuse and rape cases I work with, I have more
training than just giving basic first aid. I’ll fit. I can go in and help
you check on the condition of those kids.” Nicole knew that Johnny was
concerned with her safety.
“You’re right. I’ll be right back with some rope and someone
to help lower us down and pull the kids out, ok.” Johnny’s paramedic
training had kicked in. He knew that Nicole was right. He didn’t know the
extent of the teens’ injuries and they were too scared to provide him with
any information. The two girls were crying hard and he prayed that Nicole
would be able to calm them down. At least he wouldn’t have to deal with
two hysterical teenaged girls on his own. Nicole saw something in Johnny’s
eyes she couldn’t quite place.
Johnny turned from Nicole and called down to their guide
who was waiting at the base of the hill they had climbed. “I need some
rope up here and two men. But whatever you do, be careful climbing up. We
don’t want to cause another mudslide or a cave-in.” Soon two men made their
way carefully up the side of the hill. Someone handed the rope to Nicole
who handed it to Johnny. Johnnywas happy to see that the guide had sent up
two walkie-talkies as well as the rope.
Johnny tied one rope around Nicole’s waist and the other
around his waist. The look that Nicole could not explain was still in
his eyes as Johnny carefully lowered her first holding onto her as long
as he could.
Nicole asked for some slack in the rope as she reached the
floor of the cave. Looking around she found the four teens huddled together
in one corner. They appeared to have some cuts and bruises and one looked
like she might have a broken arm, but all inall they looked to be in pretty
good condition. “Hi, guys, we are going to get you out of here.” Johnny
joined her as she saw the smiles that spread across their faces when she
told them they would get out of there. “Johnny, all four seem to be in
pretty good shape. They have cuts and bruises. Some of the cuts will need
stitches, but will be ok until we get them up top. One girl looks like
she may have a broken arm. I’m going to use my belt and immobilize her arm
against her chest. From the looks, all four will fit through the opening.”
Johnny was on his walkie-talkie as Nicole related the information
about the teens’ conditions. He was glad to hear that no one was serious
injured. He let the men up top know that they would be sending the teens
up shortly. If they worked quickly and carefully, they would have all six
of them out of the cave in about an hour. “Ok, Tie the rope around the
girl with the broken arm first. Tell her to let us do all the work.”
As soon as she was ready, Johnny got the teen in position
to be pulled up. Her friends huddled nearby. Before sending the first girl
up, Johnny turned to all the teens. “Whatever you do, be very careful getting
out of here. The ground is not too stable and you could causea cave-in if
you move around too much. Let the men on top do the work.”
The teens all nodded but Johnny wasn’t too sure they were
really paying attention. He could tell they just wanted to get out of there.
The rest of the other men in the group had positioned themselves
below the two men on top so that they could “pass” the teens down the
hill. The end of one rope was tossed down and the men grabbed it. When
Johnny called over the walkie-talkie, they slowly pulledtogether so that
they wouldn’t cause another slide. It only took about three minutes for
the girl to be lifted out of the cave and helped down the hill. It wasn’t
long before they had the other girl out of the cave. As they started pulling
the third teen up, a rock slid down and he started to panic. He hung from
the rope, but kept turning around causing the rocks at the top to begin to
“Stop moving around or you are going to start another rock
slide.” Johnny yelled at the teen. The men were careful but hurried a
little so that the teen wouldn’t bring the whole thing back in on top of
the three people still in the cave. They were successful in getting him
out without the teetering rocks being sent back down below. Before he called
to send the fourth teen up, Johnny looked him straight in the eye. “You saw
what happened when your buddy panicked and didn’t let the men up there do
all the work. Please don’t do what he did—just let them pull you out.” The
teen nodded. He just wanted to get out of there. Johnny gave the signal
and the men on top started to carefully pull him up. But the teen hadn’t
listened. When his feet were within touching distance of the rocks around
the opening, he started looking for a place to put his feet to help push
him up and out of the cave. As they got him to the top of the opening, he
found a small space where he put his foot and pushed causing the rocks to
give way below him. Soon the opening was covered by a pile of rocks.
Down below Nicole had tried to escape the falling rocks,
but couldn’t get out of the way in time. A rock that Johnny would later
describe as a small boulder hit her on the back of her left shoulder
knocking her to the ground and landing on top of her. Another large rock
fell on her right leg pinning it to the cave floor. The pain was unbearable.
She tried moving to see if she could roll the rocks off but it only caused
her more pain so she just lay still. She wondered how Johnny was. “Johnny?”
Johnny heard someone calling him through the thick fog. As
the fog slowly lifted, he remembered the cave-in. He then realized it
was Nicole that was calling his name, but her voice was filled with pain.
“Nicole, where are you hurt?” He slowly sat up realizing
he had been lucky. When the teen started kicking his feet trying to find
a place to push himself out, Johnny had moved over to one side of the
opening so he could yell up at the teen. A rock had hit his shoulder and
he had hit his head on the cave wall when he jumped. Other than that he
felt he was in pretty good shape. He ignored the pain and pulled himself
up. Turning towards Nicole, he saw the reason for her pain and hurried
to her side. However, his haste was his undoing. As soon as he kneeled
beside her, the dizziness caught up with him and he blacked out.
Nicole had been elated when she heard Johnny’s voice and
his movements towards her. But when he passed out, she began to worry.
It was then she remembered he had handed her the walkie-talkie before
the cave-in. She hoped it had survived as she painfully brought it to her
mouth. “Is this thing working? Can anyone hear me?”
The members of the group left on the outside of the cave
were worried. None of them were really trained in this kind of thing and
didn’t know what to do. The guide jumped when the walkie-talkie came to
life. She grabbed it from the man who had been the contact on the outside
of the cave. “Nicole, this is Susan. Are you and Johnny alright?”
“Well, I’d be a whole lot better if these two rocks would
be kind enough to find somewhere else to take a nap. They are just a little
heavy. Johnny decided it was time for a short nap while we wait for you
to come and get us.” Nicole heard the concern in Susan’s voice and tried
to make light of the situation.
Susan could hear the pain in Nicole’s voice. She was silently
glad that Nicole was trying to make light of the situation. But from the
sound of her voice, Susan knew that Nicole and Johnny were both in trouble.
“Nicole, what rocks? Where are they sitting? How long has Johnny been unconscious?”
“Two rocks fell on me when they slid. One is sitting on my
back on my left shoulder area. The other one is sitting on my right leg.
I tried rolling over to roll them off, but it hurt too much to move and
they are too heavy. Johnny was out for a few minutes when the cave-in first
happened. Then he came to and tried to come to my aid. That was when he passed
When Susan heard where the rocks were, she knew it was better
for them not to be moved until help arrived. “Nicole, just lie still
and we will get to you as soon as we can.”
Things started fading for Nicole. She pressed the button
on the walkie-talkie to answer Susan. “I won’t move. Please just hurry.
It—“Then her world went black.
“Nicole, ---- Nicole.” Susan realized that Nicole had passed
out. Calling down the hill she told one of the other hikers to call the
fire department and an ambulance. She asked one of the men to join her
and they carefully started pulling rocks away from the opening. They didn’t
want to cause another slide or send any more rocks down on top of the
two people in the cave. It was slow going but everyone knew they had to
be careful. All the hikers prayed they would reach Nicole and Johnny soon
and that they weren’t too badly injured.
Everyone worked as fast as they dared. Susan would periodically
try to contact Nicole again, but so far had not received any answer.
Hearing the sirens that indicated help was arriving she tried one more
time. “Nicole, can you hear me?” The faint “yes, Susan, I hear you,” surprised
her. “How are you doing? How’s Johnny?”
“It hurts. Johnny is moaning and maybe starting to come around.”
Nicole fought the blackness that threatened her once again.
“Hang on, help has just arrived. We’ll get you out of there
as soon as we can.” Susan knew their “golden hour” was running short.
“Ok, and thanks Susan.” Nicole was too weak to say anything
Susan and the men helping her had joined the group at the
bottom of the hill by the time the men from Station 16 had arrived. The
Captain was the first one to the group. “What have you got?”
“There’s a cave up there that four teenagers had gone into
to explore against the instructions they were given. Just as they entered
the cave, there was a rock/mudslide and the entrance was almost completely
covered. Two of my hikers, John Gage and Nicole Schall went into the cave
to check on the teens. They got the four kids out. However, as we were
bringing up the last two teens the first one panicked when a rock slid causing
the scene to become unstable. The last teen decided to try to help by pushing
himself out and pushed against the unstable rocks with his feet causing
the whole thing to cave-in. Now the entrance is completely blocked and Nicole
and John are inside. I don’t know the full extent of their condition, but
Nicole is lying on her stomach with one rock sitting on her left shoulder
and another sitting on her right leg.
She was unconscious for about ten minutes, but I just talked
with her as you drove up. John has been unconscious the whole time except
for about a minute when he tried to help Nicole. It isn’t very stable up
“John Gage is in the cave?” Craig Brice prayed that both
victims were going to be ok.
“Let’s go see what is going on. Craig, you and Charlie go
up there with this lady and see what we need.” Captain Stevens knew that
Johnny was one of the best paramedics on the force. He prayed that both
Johnny and Nicole were not too badly injured.
Charlie Dwyer, who was working for Bellingham, was picking
up some overtime this shift. He and Craig followed Susan back up the
hill. “Nicole, are you still with me?” Susan wanted to let Nicole know
what they would be doing.
“Yes, I’m still here.” Nicole had been getting drowsy and
was glad to hear Susan’s voice.
“Hang in there, ok? I’m going to let you talk to one of the
firemen who are here.”
“Nicole, my name is Craig Brice. Can you tell me the extent
of your injuries and those of Johnny?” Craig listened as Nicole once again
explained about the rocks sitting on her shoulder and leg. He frowned
as she described the blood flowing from a gash on Johnny’s head and the
description she gave of Johnny’s shoulder. Nicole, we’ll get you out soon.”
Craig could tell that she was losing the battle with consciousness again.
“Thanks, Craig.” Nicole’s world went black once again.
It took the men of Station 16 several hours to get an opening
large enough for Craig to be lowered down into the cave. They were being
careful not to start another rockslide. When Craig reached the cave floor,
he made his way to Nicole’s side. Doing a cursory assessment of her injuries,
he pulled out his HT. “Charlie, send down the stokes, backboard, c-collar,
shock suit, sandbags and equipment. Then you need to get down here as
quickly as possible. We need to get both of them out of here as soon as
possible, but we are going to have to stabilize them first.”
Charlie could hear the worry in his partner’s voice. He knew
that Craig had been “loosening” up and actually really cared about John
Gage. He knew that Johnny and Craig had even double dated a couple of times.
“I will be there in just a few more minutes. The equipment is on its way
down to you now.” Charlie lowered the stokes with all the equipment that
his co-workers had brought over to him.
Craig quickly got the equipment and went to work getting
Nicole’s vitals. It worried him that she didn’t move or make a sound
the entire time he was working on her. After getting the information, he
quickly got Johnny’s vitals. Johnny had been moaning and just on the verge
of consciousness. When Craig put the blood pressure cuff around his arm,
he opened his eyes. “Brice?”
“Yeah, Johnny, it’s me. It’s about time you woke up. Besides
your head and shoulder, do you hurt anywhere else?”
“No.” Then he started to get agitated. “Nicole, she has the
rocks sitting on her.”
Craig pushed Johnny back down. “Charlie is on his way done
and we will take care of her. You need to lie there and take it easy.
Why don’t you watch me so you can critique my performance?”
Johnny grinned. “Craig, did you just crack a joke?”
“Yeah, Johnny, I did. But you know what? It’s almost time
for my evaluation. Since you are a ‘senior’ paramedic in the program, why
don’t you watch me and maybe I can get it taken care of today.” Craig
was trying to keep Johnny’s mind off the possible injuries those rocks
were hiding. He picked up the HT. “Charlie, we really need to get them
out of here now and I need you down here before I try to do anything else.”
“We’ve got enough room for them to lower me down. I am on
my way.” Charlie handed the HT to one of his co-workers as he was lowered
into the cave. Taking one look at Nicole, he knew why Craig wanted
him down there before he did anything. When they moved the large rock off
Nicole’s back, she could begin to hemorrhage internally. If that happened,
she would need the shock suit put on immediately. He was at Craig’s
side giving assistance as soon as he could.
The two men worked together to remove the rocks. They had
discovered that although they weren’t huge rocks, they were heavy. The
largest part of the rock that covered most of Nicole’s back was resting
on her left side and had definitely broken some of her ribs. The rock on
her right leg had broken it in two places. Charlie laid out the shock suit
and helped move it under Nicole after Craig had removed the rock from her
leg. When it was in place and ready to be fastened, Craig moved across
from Charlie and together they lifted the rock off her back. Craig had left
the blood pressure cuff in place and quickly started to take her blood pressure.
As he feared it was dropping fast. “Fasten the suit NOW!” He once again took
her blood pressure as Charlie quickly fastened the suit. He was please to
find that it was starting to come back up and stabilize.
Nicole had been lying on her stomach. Johnny’s eyes were
filled with worry as he watched the two paramedics work. As Charlie placed
the c-collar around her neck, Craig moved the backboard into place. They
gently rolled her onto the backboard and fastened her to it. Then they
carefully placed her into the stokes and added sandbags to counteract the
damage to her ribs.
Only then did Craig take the time to contact UCLA Medical
Center, Squad 16’s home base station. Charlie had already anticipated UCLA’s
instructions and had the IVs and medicines ready when Craig repeated the
instructions he had received from Dr. Jones. Once they had the IVs started
and Nicole and Johnny packaged, Craig picked up the HT. “Cap, we are ready
to have you lift the stokes out now. You’ll need to be careful.”
It took the crew of Station 16 another twenty minutes to
get Nicole, Johnny and the two paramedics out of the cave. Just as they
pulled Charlie out the rocks gave way and soon there was no evidence
that cave even existed there. It had taken them ten hours to get them
out of the cave and on their way to the hospital.
They were just starting to put Nicole in the ambulance when
she started to come around. Craig was by her side instantly. “Nicole, you’re
going to be alright. We are taking you to UCLA Medical Center.”
“I’m right here, Nicole. Just take it easy. We’ll be at the
“Johnny, it hurts.”
“I know it does, but the personnel at UCLA will help you.”
Nicole smiled and then blackness overtook her world once
again. By the time they reached the hospital, it was 28 hours after Johnny
and Nicole had first met. It would be another day before Johnny was due
back at Station 51.
“Johnny, I’ll call Roy or Captain Stanley for you.” Charlie
knew his crewmates would want to know what happened. However, Johnny’s
response surprise both Dwyer and Brice.
“No, I’ll call headquarters and ask them to get me a replacement.
Don’t call anyone. And by the way Craig, I’ll be happy to give you a very
good evaluation.” Johnny turned his head and closed his eyes, effectively
ending the conversation.
Roy was reading the paper at the table drinking his coffee.
Mike and Marco were sitting on the couch debating the latest basketball
game. Captain Stanley was in his office getting the morning’s announcements
ready for roll call. Chet was whistling as he made his way across the bay
towards the day room for a cup of coffee. No one noticed that Johnny had
not arrived yet.
Captain Stanley walked into the day room and called the men
together for roll call. No one noticed Johnny wasn’t there. No one noticed
that Charlie Dwyer had stayed over and was standing in Johnny’s place in
line. No one had time to notice as the klaxons sounded just as Captain Stanley
finished roll call sending the station to an unknown rescue.
Hank wrote down the address and handed it to Roy who turned
to hand it to—Charlie Dwyer? It was like Dwyer was supposed to be there.
Hank didn’t remember seeing Johnny this morning now that he thought about
it. He couldn’t recall Johnny calling in sick or asking for time off. Had
he said anything last shift? Hank made a mental note to ask Roy what was
going on when they got back to the station.
The unknown type rescue turned out to be an attempted suicide.
The man had taken an overdose of pain killers. Ten more minutes and they
wouldn’t have been able to save him. As Roy walked down the Rampart’s
hallway, he thought about the distraught man in treatment room 3. He had
been so upset when he regained consciousness. His last words kept running
through Roy’s mind. “Why didn’t you just let me die? Everyone is mad at
me for something and no one will even tell me what I did. They won’t talk
to me and leave when I enter a room. No one will even care if I’m gone.
Why couldn’t you have just let me die?”
Roy felt sorry for the man. He was right—no one could make
anyone be friends or family with someone else. That was a choice each
person had to make on his own. Roy thought about Johnny and the fact that
he had no family—well, not biological family. He was determined that Johnny
would never feel like nobody cared. Why, Johnny was always over to their
house for dinner. Wasn’t it—no wait a minute. Roy stopped dead in the
middle of the hallway. When was the last time he had invited Johnny over
for dinner? He hadn’t even realized Johnny wasn’t there this morning until
this run and he saw Charlie sitting in Johnny’s place. Roy started thinking
about the last few weeks. He realized he needed to get back to the station
and talk to the Captain NOW.
Charlie Dwyer was standing by Dixie’s desk as Roy rushed
by. “Come on, Charlie, we have to get back to the station right away.”
Not knowing what was going on, Charlie said a hasty goodbye
to Dixie and followed Roy out of the hospital. The ride back to the station
was a silent one as Roy was deep in thought. He didn’t even ask Charlie
why he was there in Johnny’s place.
As soon as he turned off the key, Roy was out of the squad
and headed for Captain Stanley’s office. He was relieved to find him
there. “Cap, can I talk to you for a minute? It’s really important.”
“Sure Roy, come on in.” Hank waited as Roy entered, closed
the door and took a seat across the desk from Hank. “What’s on your mind?”
Roy told Captain Stanley what had been on his mind from the
moment he left the treatment room at Rampart Hospital. At first Hank didn’t
want to believe Roy, but as he thought back over the last few weeks, he
knew Roy was right. They needed to find out why Dwyer was still there and
to talk to the other guys.
Charlie Dwyer knew by the looks on their faces when they
entered the dayroom that Hank and Roy needed to talk to Mike, Marco and
Chet without him around.
“Charlie, why are you still here? Are you filling in for
Johnny, and if so, why?” Hank realized something that he didn’t want to
vocalize just yet. Four stunned men turned to listen to the conversation
as it unfolded.
“Didn’t headquarters call you?” Charlie had offered to take
half of Johnny’s shift. Craig Brice was coming in at 6 p.m. to finish out
“No, I haven’t received any calls from headquarters.” Hank
was a little unnerved that Charlie Dwyer knew what was going on before
any of them did.
Just then the phone rang. Charlie picked it up since he was
closest to it. “Station 51.—oh, hi, Chief. Yeah, he’s right here.” Charlie
held the phone out to Hank. “It’s Chief McConikee for you.”
Hank took the phone. “Hello, Chief.—well, you’re welcome.—Yes,
he stayed. Oh, ok, then I’ll expect Craig at 6 p.m.—How bad is it?—Ok,
we’ll ask him.” Hanging up the phone, Hank turned to Charlie. “What happened
and how bad? Why didn’t anyone call us?” Hank was afraid to hear the answers
to his questions.
Charlie knew what he was asking even if the other men didn’t.
“Well, he was hiking with a group in the foothills outside of LA. There
was a small cave that four teens went into to explore against the orders
of the guide. A rock/mudslide pushed them into the cave. Johnny and another
hiker by the name of Nicole Schall went into the cave to get them out.
I guess Nicole is a caseworker at Rampart and went to help provide what
medical aide she could. Anyway, they got the two girls out fine. When the
first boy was lifted out, he started to panicked and made the edges unstable.
But it was the fourth kid—the second boy—that really did it. When he got
close to the top he tried to help by finding something to push himself out
of the cave. Well, he caused a cave-in. It took us over ten hours to get
Johnny and Nicole out. We took them to UCLA
Medical Center. But something tells me Johnny was relieved
that he wasn’t being sent to Rampart. He ended up with a mild concussion
and a bruised shoulder. I offered to call either you or Roy, but he said
he didn’t want me calling anyone and he would call headquarters. He didn’t
say anything else after that.”
“That explains why someone from Rampart didn’t call one of
us.” Roy knew that Dixie or Dr. Brackett would have called one of them.
Or would they have? If Johnny didn’t want them to call, they would have
had to abide by his wishes. “When did this happen?” Maybe Johnny just
hadn’t had time to call them yet.
“Two days ago.” Charlie wondered what was going on with these
“Charlie, would you go clean the dorm? I need to talk to
these guys.” Hank didn’t like the memories he was having of the crew’s
actions over the last few weeks.
As Charlie walked out of the room, everyone pulled up a chair
to see what Hank had to say. “Guys, before we talk about Johnny, do any
of you know anything about a request from headquarters to take food to
Charlie had walked back in to get a cup of coffee. When the
four other men just shook their heads, he spoke up. “Sorry, I didn’t mean
to eavesdrop, but it’s that new program headquarters has where each of the
stations was requested to provide a meal to a needy family. Don’t you remember
the calls went out two weeks ago with the meal delivered last week? I helped
Johnny deliver your meal since it was close to the family our station delivered
to. But I have to say you guys went above and beyond. I can’t believe how
much food you all provided. It should last them at least two weeks.” Charlie
didn’t notice the surprised looks on the guys’ faces as he took his coffee
and headed back towards the dorm to complete his assigned duties.
“Johnny must have taken the call and did the whole thing
by himself.” Hank couldn’t look any of the others in the eye. All he could
do was sit and stare at the table.
“But why didn’t he say something to the rest of us? We would
have all helped.” Chet wondered what was going on.
“Well, when was the last time Johnny came into the dayroom
other than to eat or grab a cup of coffee during the times we were here
in the station? And when was the last time we listened to what he had
to say or included him in our conversations?” Hank’s stomach was beginning
to knot up.
“The last time I can remember for sure that he was in the
room was when we were discussing Valentine’s Day plans. Even then I don’t
remember him being involved in our discussion that much. I don’t remember
any of us including him.” Mike couldn’t believe what he was saying.
Hank thought about the last few weeks. “Roy, has something
been bothering Johnny lately?” He hoped that the feeling he had in the
pit of his stomach was not right.
“I honestly don’t know. The last real conversation I remember
having with Johnny was when we were talking about Chris’s summer baseball
program several weeks ago. Oh, man.” Roy remembered something else he
would rather forget.
“What’s wrong, Roy?” Hank wasn’t the only one to realize
they had ignored the youngest member of their crew. Mike was beginning
to realize they all had inadvertently started taking Johnny’s presence
“Johnny was supposed to come to dinner that weekend to discuss
helping me coach Chris’s baseball team. But Friday night Joanne and I
decided to go visit her sister for the weekend. I never called Johnny to
cancel and I never said anything to him about it when we got back to work.
I don’t remember the last time he came for supper or to help me out around
the house. I don’t even remember the last time he came into Rampart after
a run. He is usually sitting the squad waiting for me.”
“Uh, guys, when was the last time Johnny shot hoops with
us or watched TV with us or played cards with us?” Chet was beginning
to feel like a heel. “And we’ve gone out to breakfast together at least
twice a week the last few weeks. Did any of us invite Johnny or even miss
him when he wasn’t there? Have any of us even talked to him lately? And
the pranks that I’ve been pulling lately have been very hurtful and all
of us have laughed and then ignored him. We also have been razzing him pretty
hard about his girl troubles and anything else we could. Although he has
eaten meals with us, I don’t remember him being around much other than on
“Knowing Johnny I bet he feels like he has done something
terribly wrong and that we are all mad at him. I wonder if he was beginning
to feel like that guy we took to Rampart today.” Roy had made himself a
promise that Johnny would never feel like the guy they had saved. But now
he had to wonder if it was already too late.
“How’s that, Roy?” Marco looked at the pain etched in Roy’s
“He said that everyone was mad at him and wouldn’t tell him
why. He said that everyone would leave every time he entered a room. He
said that no one would care if he was gone. Isn’t that what we’ve done to
Johnny? I can’t remember the last time that I stayed in the room when he came
in. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to be in the same room with him, but
he seemed to come in every time I thought of something I had to take care
of. I made myself a promise we wouldn’t let him feel abandoned since he has
no family.” The words of their patient were continuously running through Roy’s
“Well, I think we did just that.” Mike voiced the thought
running through all their minds. “I think we all just started to take his
presence and good nature for granted. We all got so busy with our own
lives, we just assumed he would be there when we needed him but forgot
that there might be times he needed us. We weren’t here for him.”
Just then the klaxons sounded sending the station out to
a structure fire. The thoughts of what they had done to Johnny were pushed
to the back of their minds, but they weren’t forgotten.
Dixie, Dr. Bracket and Dr. Early were all waiting at the
emergency room doors as the ambulance backed into the bay.
Dr. Brackett helped pull the stretcher out of the ambulance.
“What have you got, Roy?”
Dixie followed behind as Roy updated the medical staff on
the patient’s condition. Dixie grabbed Carol as they headed into treatment
As the activity calmed down and the patient was being settled
for transport to a room, Carol, Dixie and Roy exited the exam room. Carol
looked at Roy. “How did Johnny get injured this time and how bad are
Roy was surprised that Carol would know that Johnny had been
hurt. Who would have told her?
“Johnny’s been hurt? How did it happen and how bad are his
injuries?” Dixie echoed Carol’s questions. She didn’t remember Johnny
being brought in.
“Yes, he and a lady by the name of Nicole were brought in
two days ago. It must have been while you were at lunch. UCLA was full because
of a major MVA, so they reloaded them in an ambulance and sent them here.
I think they are upstairs. The funny thing, though, was that Johnny asked
for Dr. Andrews to be his attending physician. When I asked him if he
wouldn’t rather have Dr. Brackett or Dr. Early or even Dr. Morton, he
turned away and said no. Oh, and ah—Dixie—ah—he doesn’t want you to visit
him either. I would have mentioned it sooner, but I thought
you already knew.”
“Why wouldn’t he want me to visit him—what’s going on?” Dixie
didn’t get any immediate answers to her questions as the orderlies arrived
to take the patient upstairs. When the orderlies had taken the patient
to his room, the three reentered the exam room and Dixie again asked her
“Um, Dixie, before I even try to answer your question, let
me ask you one.” There was something that Roy had been thinking about
and how he answered would depend on the answer to his question.
“When was the last time you remember Johnny coming into Rampart
after one of our runs? When was the last time you remember talking to
“Well, um—uh—I guess the last time was a few weeks ago when
you guys brought in that little girl he pulled out of the crushed car.”
“Did you even miss him since then?” Carol remembered a couple
of times seeing Johnny trying to talk to Dixie and the three doctors
and getting ignored.
“Um, oh, man, no.” Dixie’s heart broke.
“Well, I remember seeing him a couple of times waiting for
Roy when the three doctors and you were standing together talking. He
asked you how the patient was and was totally ignored. Then Roy walked out
of the treatment room and straight out of the hospital. I think after it
happened the third time that was the last time I remember him even coming
in.” Carol wondered what was going on.
“Roy?” Dixie hoped she was wrong.
“Well, yeah, Carol’s right and what’s worse is that for the
last few weeks it was like he was invisible at the station, too. None of
us remember one time in the last few weeks that he spent any ‘down’ time
with us and none of us remember the last time we included him in any of
our plans. The last real conversation I remember having with him was several
weeks ago. He even handled a special request for the station from headquarters
on his own because none of us would listen to him.” Roy wondered how they
were going to make this up to Johnny. He was Roy’s best friend and
brother. What had they done? All of them had gotten too busy with their
families and Johnny was left out. They sure hadn’t treated him like
a brother or even a friend.
Roy and Dixie quickly headed towards the nurses’ station.
“Sandy, can you find out what room John Gage is in and if you can find
a lady by the name of Nicole who was brought in at the same time as Johnny?”
Dixie wanted to see Johnny for herself.
“Dix, what’s up?” Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early walked up just
in time to hear the last part of Dixie’s request.
While Sandy looked for the room numbers, Dixie and Roy filled
the doctors in on what had been happening. As much as both doctors wanted
to refute what they were saying, they knew that all of them had actually
“Johnny’s in room 412 and there is a Nicole Schall in room
414.” Sandy knew the group would be heading up to Johnny’s room. “I’ll
mind the desk.”
Dixie smiled at her and the four friends headed for the elevator.
Roy was the first one to break the silence. “How do we face him? What
do we say to him?”
“I don’t know Roy, but whatever it takes, we will prove to
him how sorry we are.” Dr. Brackett couldn’t believe how they had treated
one of the best friends a person could ask for.
Dixie slowly opened the door. Johnny was staring out the
window. He turned his head when he heard the door open, but he didn’t
smile. With a sigh, he turned back towards the window.
“Hi, Johnny, what brought you to Hotel Rampart?” Dixie wasn’t
the only one to hold her breath waiting to see if Johnny would even answer.
“Four teens and a cave.” The four looked at each other. At
least he wasn’t telling them to get out.
“Exactly what happened, Johnny?” Dr. Bracket was hoping they
could get Johnny to talk. That would let him determine Johnny’s state
of mind and how deeply they had all hurt him.
Although Johnny told them everything that had happened from
the moment he had seen the four teens take off towards the cave against
orders, his voice was flat and he wouldn’t look at any of them. Johnny’s
thoughts were on Nicole. He didn’t quite understand why, but he was very
concerned about her. She had found a special place in his heart even though
they hadn’t known each other very long. He was also surprised with himself
when he realized that although she wasn’t the type he would normally date,
he really wanted to ask her out.
He was deep in thought when he heard Roy’s voice. “Johnny?”
Roy hoped he would at least look at him, but that wish wasn’t granted. “What
is the extent of your injuries and how long do you have to stay in here?”
Roy wanted to hear from Johnny himself how badly he was hurt.
However, Roy didn’t get his answer right away. Dr. James
Andrews walked into the room. “Oh, hi Dix, Kel, Joe, Mr. DeSoto.”
Johnny turned towards the doctor. “Hey, Dr. Andrews, how
is Nicole? I keep asking but no one will tell me anything and it’s been
two days. Is she alright?” It was the most animated the other four had
seen Johnny since they entered the room.
“Well, Johnny, she had to have surgery. She has four broken
ribs, some internal bleeding, a pneumothorax, a broken collarbone, a dislocated
shoulder, and a broken leg. We put her on a respirator so her lung can
heal a little. She should be as good as new in about six weeks.” What
Dr. Andrews didn’t tell him was all the old injuries that he had found
that showed that Nicole had sustained lots of severe injuries in her life.
Injuries he was sure were intentionally caused by the hands of another
human being. Until he had a chance to talk to her and really examine the
injuries, Dr. Andrews didn’t want to voice his suspicions. He was also
wondering what was going on between his patient and the four people standing
in the room. He knew that Johnny had requested that they not handle his
case or visit him.
“Thanks, Dr. Andrews.” Johnny turned back to looking out
the window. Dr. Andrews took his vitals, made notations on his chart
and patted him on the leg. “Everything looks good, Johnny. I should be
able to release you tomorrow.”
“Thanks.” Johnny didn’t watch the doctor walk out of the
“Johnny?” Roy still didn’t have an answer to his question.
There were several minutes of strained silence in the room.
The four visitors were just about to give up and leave when a very quiet
“what, Roy?” was heard.
“How bad are your injuries and who is Nicole?” Roy’s hopes
raised a little. At least he hadn’t shut them out completely like they
seemed to have done to him for the last few weeks.
“I have a mild concussion, ten stitches and a bruised shoulder.
Nicole is a lady I met in the hiking group. She helped get the teens
out. Actually, she works here as a caseworker.”
“That’s why the name sounded so familiar. Kel, she’s the
caseworker that came down when we had that deaf family about a month
ago.” Dixie had been trying to figure out where she had heard the name
Nicole Schall before.
“I remember her. She was good with the deaf family.” Kel
marveled at the courage of the woman.
“She was great with the teens, too.” Johnny had turned to
face his friends. The smile still had not returned, but he was looking
Just then the HT in Roy’s hand went off. “Johnny, I have
to go. Would it be alright if I came and picked you up tomorrow when you
are released?” Roy knew the extent of the relationship of the men at Station
51 depended on Johnny’s answer.
Johnny looked at the window and then back at the group standing
at the foot of his bed. “I’ll get a way hone. I am not going to impose
on you. I’ll call a cab or take the bus.”
Roy realized what Johnny was feeling and knew he had to start
somewhere. “Johnny, you aren’t imposing. I really want to do it, please?
I’ll see you tomorrow.” Roy turned and left with one last look at his
“Only if I don't find another way home, I’ll let you know.”
Johnny turned back to watch out the window effectively ending the conversation
and the visit as Roy closed the door. Dixie, Dr. Early and Dr. Brackett
walked out of the room a little encouraged. Johnny had at least talked
to them. But there was still something in Johnny’s demeanor that showed
he had been deeply hurt and the three friends determined they would not
ignore him again. No one noticed the tears that silently slid down Johnny’s
cheeks as the others left the room.
Dixie smiled as she walked as far as the main desk with one
member of her favorite paramedic team. Roy had just ridden in with a kid
who had fallen off his bike and broken his arm. “I went out to his favorite
place and snuck him in a hamburger, fries and a malted. Boy, you should
have seen the way he wolfed it down. Carol said he hasn’t been eating since
they brought him in.” Roy’s smile was a sad one.
“Did he talk much?” Dixie saw the pain in Roy’s eyes.
“He actually is blaming himself for us ignoring him. All
he would say was that he was sorry for whatever he had done to make all
of us mad at him and hoped that we would let him know how he could correct
it. He asked me to let the rest of the guys know that whatever he had done
he wouldn’t be doing it again because he would be resigning from the department.
I didn’t get a chance to tell him that he hadn’t done anything—that it was
our fault, we got called out on this run and I didn’t want to leave the conversation
in the middle for him to take the wrong way. At least I got him to agree
to letting me take him home tomorrow.”
Dixie was filled with guilt. Why hadn’t she missed Johnny’s
infectious laugh and boyish antics? What was so important in her life that
she shut out a very important part of it? “It may take a while, Roy, but
we will show Johnny that he didn’t do anything and that we won’t let it
“Hey, Roy, we’ve got a call. See ya’ later, Dix.” Charlie
Dwyer let Roy know that duty called.
The squad was near the station when the call got canceled.
Although Roy had wanted to visit Johnny, they headed back to the barn.
Roy walked in the dayroom to see four gloomy faces. Between
the calls for the squad and the calls for the engine, this was the first
time the crew had been together since Charlie Dwyer arrived that morning.
“Man, how could we just ignore him like that? How
do we face him again? Can we go see him at UCLA Medical Center tomorrow?”
Chet wasn’t giving anyone time to answer any of his questions.
“Would he even want to see us?” Mike wondered how they could
“You won’t see him if you go to UCLA.” Roy had some news
for this group.
“Why not? He doesn’t want to see us does he? How do you know
that Roy?” Chet was getting discouraged. They had to show Johnny they
“Because he’s not there.” Roy hadn’t even had a chance to
tell Charlie Dwyer that Johnny and Nicole had been transferred to Rampart.
“He’s not!” Charlie knew that with the injuries Johnny had
sustained that he would have had to stay in the hospital.
“No, UCLA was too busy with a major MVA just after you dropped
them off. So they sent Johnny and Nicole to Rampart.” Roy wished they
could go back in time to the last time he had invited Johnny over for
dinner and redo the last several weeks. But of course that was impossible.
Now they needed to pick up the pieces and start over from here.
“You’ve seen him?” Now all five men were crowded around Roy.
“Yes. Now, if you all sit down, I’ll tell you what I know.”
Roy sighed as he pulled out a chair and sat down. Waiting for the others
to take their seats, Roy told them of the three visits he had with Johnny
that day. He didn’t tell them about Nicole and that he thought Johnny really
like her. That was Johnny’s place, but he was sure Johnny was smitten
with the lady. “I’m going to pick him up tomorrow when he is released.
Joanne has already agreed that he will stay with us for a few days while
his shoulder is still healing. I just hope he doesn’t turn me down. I
really need to get through to him.”
“He’s really ok?” Chet wanted to know that his friend was
still his friend.
“Well, physically, yes. But he hasn’t smiled yet and was
barely talking to me. But the worst part is that he is blaming himself
for us ignoring him.”
“WHAT?!” Five voices came at Roy at once.
“He told me he was sorry for whatever it was that he had
done to make us all mad at him and that he hoped we would let him know
how to correct it. He asked me to tell all of you that whatever he did,
he wouldn’t be doing it again because he is planning on resigning from
“You set him straight, didn’t you, Roy?” Chet was really
worried now. He knew the guilt trips Johnny usually had. But this was
NOT Johnny’s fault.
Roy sighed as he saw the hopeful faces staring back at him.
“No, I didn’t get a chance to. We were called out on a run and I never
got a chance to make it back up to his room.”
“You know, there was something he said in the ambulance that
I thought I was imagining because he said it so softly. But after what
I’ve learned, maybe I was right.” Charlie thought back to the ambulance
“What was that, Charlie?” Captain Stanley was riddled with
guilt. How could he let this happen to one of his crew?
“He said that he didn’t know why we bothered with him. No
one would care.”
“We’ve got to make him know that it wasn’t his fault and
that he is special. Man, what did we do to him?” Mike knew how sensitive
Johnny could be.
Hank stood up and walked over to the phone. The guys watched,
wondering what he was doing. He sighed as he picked up the phone and dialed.
“I would like to speak to chief McConikee please.—Chief, this is Hank Stanley.
There is a situation that my crew needs to take care of and I would like
to put the station out of service for a few hours.—Yeah, how did you know?—He
did?—Yeah, I’d like to get it straightened out, too.—Thanks. Yes, I’ll
let you know.” With a sigh he turned to see four worried faces staring
back at him. “The Chief is putting us out of service. It seems Johnny called
him last night and had a long talk with him. He thought he had talked
Johnny out of resigning at least for right now. Guys, we are going over
to the hospital to see Johnny and let him know he can’t quit. We’ll take
the rigs and make ourselves available from there once we make Johnny realize
how much we need him here.”
The words were hardly out of Hank’s mouth before four men
were running to the rigs. Charlie Dwyer was close behind. He thought about
what had happened in this station. He made himself a mental note to talk
to Captain Stanley about it. This was something that headquarters needed
to know about—not for disciplinary purposes, but to make sure it didn’t
happen anywhere else. This was the closest knit crew in the county. If
it could happen to them, it could happen to anybody and their jobs were
Dixie looked up as the six men entered the emergency room.
Seeing the determination on Hank’s face, she knew where they were headed.
Since it was quiet in the ER at that moment, she grabbed Dr. Early, Dr.
Brackett and Dr. Morton. “Captain Stanley, do you mind if we go along.
I think we need to be there, too, as we are a part of this.”
Hank realized they knew without asking where the firefighters
were headed. “Yeah, I think it would be a good idea. Let’s just pray that
it isn’t too late.”
Johnny looked up as the door opened. He figured it was the
nurse coming to take his vitals once again. But he was surprised when
the ten people filed into his room. “Isn’t there some kind of law against
this many people in this small a room?” He didn’t want to talk to any of
them yet. Turning his head to look out the window, he wished they would all
go away. But he didn’t get his wish. Instead they gathered around his bed
effectively closing him in on three sides. There was nowhere for him to
look without seeing at least one of them. Sighing he closed his eyes. What
did they want from him?
“Johnny?” Roy hoped that Johnny would talk to him since he
You could have heard a pin drop in the room as several minutes
passed before a sound was made. Just as the group was beginning to think
they weren’t going to get anywhere, Johnny’s voice could barely be heard.
“You know, no one answered my question about there being a law against
this many people in here.”
“Right now, we are very concerned for a very special friend.
None of us cares if there is a law against it or not. We would all gladly
go to jail if we knew our friend was going to be ok.” Roy saw Johnny’s
brown eyes peeking through slits as he looked at Roy.
“Your friend isn’t worth going to jail for.” Johnny opened
his eyes fully and looked only at Roy.
“Oh yes he is. He’s worth that and so much more.” Roy realized
they were getting through to Johnny.
“Even when he does something so bad it makes everyone so
mad no one wants to be around him or talk to him?” Johnny still wondered
what he had done to make everyone mad at him. It must have really been
bad but he couldn’t think of anything he had done.
“Johnny, you didn’t do anything to make us mad. We are the
ones who made the mistake. As we got involved in our own lives and families,
we left out one very important person. It is no excuse, Johnny.” Chet
really cared a lot about Johnny, even if he did tease him unmercifully.
Johnny sighed and closed his eyes. “Right, so important that
you can forget about them and ignore them and not realize it or care?”
The hurt was evident in Johnny’s voice. “No, it had to be something
I did to cause that kind of treatment. If you don’t want to tell me how
I can correct it, that’s ok. You won’t have to worry about working with
me either on a regular basis or as a sub. I am quitting the department.”
“Johnny, you didn’t do anything. You can’t quit.” Hank was
“No, Johnny, it wasn’t you. It really was us. Please believe
us.” Marco prayed they hadn’t lost a very good friend.
“Johnny, I don’t know how any of us could treat you like
that and not even realize it, but we did. It was NOT something you did.”
Roy was even more desperate than Hank.
“Johnny, we took your presence for granted. When things got
hectic in our lives, we just assumed you would always be a part of it.
But you did nothing wrong. As a matter of fact, I don’t know why you didn’t
transfer out of the station before this. I don’t think I could have handled
being treated like that either—especially if I didn’t have anyone at home
to talk to or help me deal with it.” Johnny’s eyes opened and got big as
Mike said more in that short time than Johnny had heard him say in a VERY
As usually was the case, Johnny couldn’t hold a grudge or
stay mad at the people he had always felt were really his family for very
long. He was already beginning to forgive them.
“Johnny, you are one of the best paramedics in the program
and I should have realized there was something wrong. Please forgive me.”
Dr. Brackett realized he had slipped in his duties as paramedic advisor.
“We’re sorry too.” Dr. Early’s eyes pleaded with Johnny as
Dr. Morton nodded his head.
“Johnny, I have always thought of you as my little brother.
You can’t leave. Now I realize what has been missing the last few weeks
when I went home at night with an empty feeling—it was your laughter
and mischievousness.” Dixie prayed Johnny would forgive them
“If you think of me as your brother, does that mean that
you are Roy’s or Joanne’s ‘sister’?” The lopsided grin had found its
“I think I’ll claim Joanne as a ‘sister.’ I’m not sure I
can handle being Roy’s ‘sister or that I would want to claim him for a
‘brother.’” Dixie’s comment and the look on Roy’s face brought a laughter
that erased the tension in the room.
“Johnny, I need to ask you a question.” Hank wondered why
Johnny would do as headquarters requested even though the others didn’t
“Charlie told us there is a new program at headquarters that
asked each of the stations to provide a meal for a needy family. Did you
take Station 51’s call and handle it all by yourself? If so, why?
“Yeah, I took the call. I tried telling you guys about it,
but no one would listen. Either someone interrupted me or everyone left
the room when I started talking. I couldn’t let headquarters down and
I wasn’t about to tell them what was going on. So I just did it myself
and told them it was from all of us. I did it to help the family.”
“But, Johnny, when we delivered all that stuff it was so
much more than headquarters requested—you provided them with groceries
to last a couple of weeks. Why?” Charlie hadn’t realized that the others
didn’t know about the request until that moment.
“Because I know from personal experience what it is like
to have to go without food. I just wanted to help them. I needed to feel
that I was useful and worth something.” The collective gasp was audible
as everyone realized that Johnny had just let slip a little about his past—something
he had done very seldom.
“Johnny, we will all pay you back for what you did. We really
need you around the station—you keep us on our toes and keep the fun
in our lives. You are worth something, Johnny.” Mike realized at that
moment just how special Johnny really was.
Everyone knew it was going to take time for Johnny to get
over the hurt they caused him by ignoring him, but since he was willing
to try, they were all going to do everything they could to regain his trust
“Johnny, all of us here are going to do everything in our
power to let this never happen again. We all love you and want you to know
you are a very important part of our lives.” Roy’s smile matched Johnny’s
as he realized he had his “brother” back.
“We sure will!” Chet was the first one to make the promise,
but it was one that everyone else in the room agreed with and intended
Johnny's Angel, Part II