Roy and Johnny
had been selected by the department to go to Oklahoma to lead a paramedic
conference for the southwest area. The two men had elected to drive
and were on their way home. They were within the LA city limits and
were looking forward to getting home and seeing their families.
Johnny looked around as he stopped at the red light. They were near
Station 51 and things had changed a lot since they had been assigned
there as paramedics. He began to feel a little nostalgic and jumped
when Roy tapped him on the arm. They had been third car in line at
the red light and the cars behind them were impatiently honking.
With chagrin, Johnny realized the light had turned green and the
cars in front of them were already through the intersection.
“Sorry, I was reminiscing about our days at Station 51. The
days we spent there ….”
The rest of whatever Johnny was going to say was lost in the sound
of the crash. Roy’s last conscious thought was if Johnny would
ever get a chance to tell him what he was going to say.
Vince and Lt. Crockett were the first two police officers out of
their cars. They had both seen the fire department vehicle that had
been in the path of the car the bank robbers they were chasing were
driving and the semi-truck barreling from the opposite direction.
They had started towards the scene of the accident when they saw
the red vehicle sandwiched between the two vehicles, but found themselves
changing course as the four bank robbers left their vehicle and started
running. With a last quick look at the accident scene the two police
officers joined the others in chasing four men who had not only robbed
a bank but killed three people in the process.
Johnny and Roy were oblivious to the drama unfolding around them.
Both men were unconscious. It was fifteen minutes later that Johnny
started to move. As he tried to remember what had happened, he realized
that he hurt all over. As he gradually became oriented to his surroundings,
he remembered the blur he had seen out of the corner of his eye just
before the impact at his door. But he also remembered the impact
on Roy’s side. With a slight moment of panic, he turned to
look at Roy. He reached over to make sure Roy still had a pulse.
It was weak, but it was there.
Johnny briefly wondered if there was anyone else hurt in the accident
before he started to do a self-assessment of his injuries. He knew
he was in trouble, but he was worried about Roy and wanted to know
how badly he was injured.
Taking a deep breath, Johnny turned around to see if he could determine
the extent of Roy’s injuries. Doing a visual assessment, Johnny
saw that Roy was bleeding heavily from his left leg. Johnny knew
he had to do something or he would lose the best friend he ever had.
Taking another deep breath, he shifted himself towards Roy. As he
moved, the pain in his back took him to the brink of unconsciousness.
But he couldn’t pass out now. He had to help Roy. Taking a
few seconds to get the pain under control, he moved again towards
his friend. The closer he moved, the more determined he was to ignore
the pain in his back. He realized that his back was probably broken
and he was making the injury worse. But Roy needed him.
Vince had called over his walkie-talkie for a couple of squads and
ambulances to be sent to the scene of the accident. When the chase
had ended with the four robbers being caught ten blocks away in four
different directions, he immediately headed back to see if he could
help. All the way back he was praying that the squads and ambulances
are there. He was happy to see Lt. Crockett join him five blocks
from the accident.
Johnny was worried. He had discovered that Roy’s left leg
had been almost completely severed just above the knee. Knowing he
was probably paralyzing himself for life, he pulled his belt off
and used it as a tourniquet on Roy’s leg. Then he reached in
the back seat and grabbed his jacket that he had thrown back there
and used it to apply pressure to the injury. As he worked, he realized
he couldn’t feel anything below his waist—not even the
unbearable pain he knew he should be feeling in his lower back. But
he did feel the sharp pains in his chest which told him he had at
least one, if not several broken ribs and they had caused some damage.
Just before the pain in his ribs became so unbearable and he finally
passed out again, Johnny sent up a silent prayer that help would
arrive for Roy before it was too late.
Station 51 was the first on the scene. They arrived just five minutes
after Vince placed the call. Captain Chet Kelly started issuing orders
to his crew as he headed towards the three vehicles blocking the
intersection. He hurried a little faster when he realized the vehicle
in the middle was a fire department vehicle. He wasn’t prepared
for the sight that met his eyes. Two of his closest friends were
It took the crews from Station 51 and Station 24 over an hour to
cut Johnny and Roy out of their vehicle. Roy was cut out in the first
30 minutes and sent to Rampart. Chet couldn’t help but worry
as they worked to get Johnny out. He had almost lost the contents
of his stomach when he saw that Roy had lost his lower leg. Chris
DeSoto had been assigned to work on the semi-truck driver since he
was too close to both his father and John Gage. His heart broke when
the driver kept saying that he was sorry for falling asleep at the
wheel. His foot had pressed harder on the gas pedal. Chris had to
fight to keep his composure as he realized that this accident should
never have happened. The getaway car that was evading police in a
high-speed chase and a semi-driver falling asleep at the wheel had
sandwiched the fire department vehicle between them. Now his father
and “Uncle” Johnny were fighting for their lives.
The emergency room staff had been prepared for the severe injuries
they knew were coming in, but they were not prepared for the revelation
of who the injured firefighters were. They all had to stop to take
a deep breath as they realized that both Johnny’s and Roy’s
lives were about to change forever. Both men would have some difficult
adjustments ahead of them.
Then the activity in the emergency department heightened to a new
level. They needed to work fast to save the two men’s lives.
Dixie sent up a silent prayer as she and Dr. Brackett rushed Roy
to surgery to try and save his leg as well as his life.
Carol was working with Dr. Early and Dr. Morton to stabilize Johnny
so they could repair his punctured lung and set his back. He had
regained consciousness briefly in the treatment room and had asked
about Roy. He had also revealed that he had no feeling below ribs.
The pain he had felt in his lower back at the accident scene was
now non-existent. He felt nothing when Dr. Early had examined him—no
pain, no touch, no sharp objects, no tickling sensation—nothing.
Joe Early was worried. He didn’t voice his fears, but he knew
the chances of Johnny making a full recovery were slim.
Four long, heart-wrenching hours later, Dr. Brackett opened the
door to the lounge. He knew he would find Joanne and Nicole and most
likely Chet, Marco, Mike and Hank, but he wasn’t surprised
to find the entire room full of the Station 51 A-Shift “family” and
firefighters—both on and off duty. He didn’t like this
kind of meeting, but he wanted to be the one to break the news. Steeling
himself he entered the room.
Joanne was on her feet the moment she saw Dr. Brackett in the doorway. “How
is he, Dr. Brackett?”
“Why doesn’t everyone find a seat and I’ll fill
you all in.” Dr. Brackett walked over to Joanne and sat across
from her as he talked.
“Joanne, Roy is very lucky. Johnny did a great job keeping
him alive until the paramedics got there.” He tried to think
of a way to break his news gently.
“But, there’s something else isn’t there?” Joanne
had known Dr. Brackett a long time and knew he was holding something
back. She felt Nicole’s arm around her shoulder.
“Yes, there is. Joanne, we couldn’t save his leg. It
was too badly crushed.” Dr. Brackett took Joanne’s hands
in his as he talked.
“But he is going to make it, right?” Joanne was more
worried that Roy might die than the fact that he had lost his leg—that
they could deal with as long as he was alive.
“Yes, he will be alright. And he can be fitted with a prosthesis
which will let him do everything he does now and almost as well.
He is a Battalion Chief and will be able to continue since they don’t
really fight the fires, but I would love to have him as an instructor
in the paramedic program.
“Thank you, Dr. Brackett. Is there any word on Johnny?” Joanne
was thankful that her husband was alive. Now she prayed that Johnny
would make it through as well.”
“I know that he is still in surgery. I’ll be honest
with you. They thought they had lost him twice on the table. The
second time they weren’t sure they were going to get him back.
His broken rib did a little more damage than just puncturing his
lung. When I checked just before coming down here, they had him stable
and hoped to finish his surgery soon. Then they will be sending him
for a body cast from his chest down. It will be at least a couple
more hours.” Kel could not believe that this had happened to
two of his closest friends. And from what he had learned, it was
avoidable. A high speed police chase and a semi-truck driver falling
asleep at the wheel had ending two promising fire department careers.
“Can I see Roy?” Joanne was worried about Johnny, but
needed to see for herself that her husband was ok. She smiled as
Nicole hugged her and whispered in her ear to give Roy her best.
“They are settling him into ICU right now, so let’s
head up there and you can see him as soon as he is settled.” Dr.
Brackett led the way out of the lounge as the others waited for word
Nicole looked at the faces of her “family” and friends
waiting in the lounge with her for word on Johnny’s condition.
She said a silent thank you to the Lord for the wonderful support
they had. Knowing that they were going to need that support, she
slipped out of the room and headed towards the chapel. This accident
reminded her of another one that had happened shortly after she and
Johnny had started dating. Only this time she knew that Johnny was
not going to be as fortunate—he would probably never walk again.
In the chapel she asked the Lord to give her the strength and wisdom
to help Johnny get through the dark days ahead and to know that God’s
plan is always best.
Nicole was still in the chapel when Dr. Early came to find her.
Chet had seen her slip out and had been sure that she would be found
there. Feeling someone slip in the seat beside her, Nicole turned
to look at the caring doctor. “How is he?”
“He’s being transferred to ICU right now. As soon as
he is settled you can be with him. I have left the same instructions
for you as Dr. Brackett left for Joanne. You can be with him as much
as you want.” Dr. Early knew he needed to tell her the rest
of the news, but he was hoping to postpone it as long as possible.
“Joe, how severe is the damage to his back? I know that he
probably won’t be able to walk again. I would like to be prepared
so I can do everything to help him through this.” Nicole had
never been one to beat around the bush.
“The injury to his back was in the lower lumbar area. There
was severe damage to his spinal cord, so I would agree with you.
We won’t know the full extent of the damage until he wakes
up, but his chances of ever walking again are slim to none. But with
your help, I know he is going to be able to face this.” Joe
Early was once again impressed with Nicole’s strength and love
“Do the others know yet?” Nicole knew there was a whole
room of people waiting to find out if Johnny had made it.
“No, but I’ll go tell them while Dixie takes you upstairs
to see that husband of yours.” Joe marveled that once again
Nicole was thinking of others even in her toughest times.
“Thanks, Joe.” Nicole hugged the doctor as Dixie appeared
in the doorway. With a quick kiss on Joe’s cheek, Nicole steeled
herself as she followed Dixie to ICU to see her husband.
Roy felt foggy as he tried to open his eyes. He wasn’t sure
where he was and what had happened. The last thing he remembered
was traveling home from the conference with Johnny. Now he was in
a bed. Where was he and how did he get here?
As the fog started lifting a little more, he recognized the sounds
around him. He heard someone being paged over the hospital intercom
and the sound of the machines surrounding his bed. Trying to figure
out how he ended up in a hospital bed, he thought back to the trip
home. It didn’t take long for him to remember sitting at the
light near Station 51 and then the blur from the vehicles coming
from either side of the car. He remembered the loud sound as the
car had impacted Johnny’s side and the semi impacted his side
just in front of the front door.
Joanne realized that Roy was awake and was remembering the accident.
She saw the realization in his face the moment he remembered the
crash. Taking his hand in hers, she squeezed it to let him know she
Roy turned to see the smiling face of his wife. “Hi beautiful.”
“Hi yourself. How do you feel?”
“My head hurts some and my leg feels strange. What happened?” Roy
thought he remembered the accident right, but he was still not completely
“The police were chasing some bank robbers who had killed
three people. The criminals’ car slammed into the car right
in the driver’s door. Your side was hit with a semi when the
driver fell asleep at the wheel and his foot pressed on the accelerator.
He hit your side just in front of the front door.” Joanne was
so thankful her husband was alive. From what Vince had told her about
the damage at the accident scene, she knew that both Johnny and Roy
should have been killed.
“What are the extent of my injuries? How long have I been
out of it?” Roy was wondering why his left leg felt so strange.
It was as if it wasn’t even there.
“I can answer that for you.” Kel Brackett had walked
into the room just as Roy had asked his question.
“Doc, what injuries do I have and when can I go home?” Roy
knew he was no where near ready to go home, but he needed something
to think about.
“Well, let me do a quick check and then I will answer your
questions.” Kel was trying to postpone telling Roy about his
leg as long as possible.
Joanne watched Roy’s face as Dr. Brackett did his examination.
She squeezed his hand when Kel lifted up the blanket to check Roy’s
leg. She felt Roy squeeze her hand as Kel probed the place where
Roy had lost his leg.
“Well, doc?” Roy was impatient as Kel made notations
on his chart. “What’s the verdict?” He tried to
keep it light hearted, but he had this feeling something was not
“Well, your head hit the side of the car when the semi hit
you giving you a severe concussion. You have been unconscious for
two days.” Kel hoped that the good news would prepare him for
the other news, but he knew that nothing could prepare anyone for
the news he was about to deliver.
“What about my leg, doc, it feels strange.” Roy had
known Kel long enough to know that he had some bad news for him.
“Roy, there is no easy way to tell you this, so I’ll
just come out and tell you. You lost your left leg just above the
knee. It was severed and crushed in the accident. We did everything
we could, but we couldn’t save it.” Kel watched Roy closely
to see what his reaction would be.
Roy was numb. He had lost his leg. What would he do now? How could
he be a husband and father? “Why didn’t I just die?”
“Roy DeSoto, you are alive. The kids still have a father and
I still have my husband. I am just glad that Johnny did what he could
at the accident—he saved your life. If it wasn’t for
him, you would have bled to death right there.” Joanne had
known that it would be hard for Roy, but she wondered what was going
through his mind.
“He should have let me die.” Roy wasn’t thinking
about the fact that Johnny had been in the accident, too, and was
probably injured. All he thought about was that his fire fighting
career was probably over and he had lost a leg. How could he take
care of his family now?
“Roy, Johnny saved your life at great expense to himself.” Joanne
would have gone on, but Roy interrupted her.
“I don’t want to hear about Johnny or his ‘great
expense’. I don’t ever want to hear his name mentioned
again. He should have let me die, but since he didn’t it just
shows that he’s not a friend. I never want to see him or hear
about him ever again.” Roy was angry about the accident—he
wasn’t really angry with Johnny, but he had to take it out
on someone and he didn’t want that someone to be his wife.
“Roy, you don’t mean that.” Joanne was shocked
at her husband’s reaction.
“Yes, I do and if you can’t respect that, then don’t
visit again.” Roy turned away from the questioning eyes of
Dr. Kel Brackett.
“Ok, I’ll respect your wishes.” Joanne’s
heart was heavy as she sat beside her husband’s bed. Kel had
given him something for the pain and he finally succumbed to it.
“I’ll check back on him in a little while.” Kel
wasn’t sure what to say about what had just transpired.
“Thanks, Kel. I know he is in trying to deal with all of this.
He doesn’t mean what he said. Maybe when he wakes up and has
a chance to think about it, he will have a better attitude.” Joanne
couldn’t believe what Roy had said. Johnny had saved his life,
but all he could think about was the loss of his leg. He hadn’t
even asked about Johnny’s injuries.
“I hope so, Joanne. I really hope so. Johnny and Nicole are
going to need their friends’ support just as much as you and
Roy do.” Patting Joanne on the shoulder, Kel left Roy’s
ICU room to go check on the other half of one of LA’s first
Johnny remembered the accident as soon as he woke up. Feeling the
tube down his throat for some reason he didn’t fight it this
time. He knew it was a ventilator, but he remembered the pain from
his punctured lung. Thankful for the machine he winced as he felt
some pain in his chest. Careful of the ventilator, he looked around
the room. Just as he figured, Nicole was sitting beside his bed.
He watched her silently for a few seconds. She was deep in thought
and Johnny was sure it was about him. Not trying to kid himself,
he knew that he was most likely paralyzed from the waist down. He
had remembered the severe pain when he pulled himself over to Roy
and then the total loss of feeling from the waist down.
Nicole had been thinking about what Kel Brackett had told her when
he stopped in after seeing Roy. She knew that Johnny would be worried
about Roy and wondered how he would take the news that Roy had said
he didn’t want to see or hear about Johnny ever again and that
he wished Johnny had let him die. Looking over at her husband, she
smiled when she saw his twinkling eyes watching her.
Nicole stood and moved over to her husband’s side. Taking
his hand in hers, she knew he would want to know how Roy was. She
wondered if she should tell him about Roy’s reaction or wait
a few days to see if Roy changed his mind.
Johnny took it out of her hands when he squeezed her hand and looked
at her expectantly. She told him that Roy had a concussion and that
he had lost his leg. Nicole knew that Johnny knew there was more
when he squeezed her hand again and looked at her questioningly.
With a deep breath, she told him how Roy had reacted when he had
learned of the loss of his leg.
Johnny just looked at her and then signed to Nicole that he understood
and that they would respect his wishes.
Nicole leaned over and kissed her husband on the cheek as he let
the pull of sleep win the battle. She sat down and thought about
the situation. Knowing that Johnny would understand Roy’s feelings,
she had already had some ideas of what they would need to do to make
it easier on him.
Joe Early entered Johnny’s room lost in thought. Roy was still
angry about the loss of his leg and often said he wished Johnny had
let him die. Although Joe knew that deep down Roy didn’t really
mean it, he also knew that that anger was taking Roy into a deep
depression. The one person who could get through to Roy was the one
person Roy refused to see or talk about—Johnny. Anytime Roy
mentioned the accident, he would angrily refer to Johnny as “that
person”. He wouldn’t use Johnny’s name.
Everyone had decided to keep Roy’s feeling a secret from Johnny
in the hopes that he would soon realize how lucky he really was.
But as the days passed, Roy remained angry—at least on the
outside. What only Johnny would have realized was that Roy’s
outward display was only hiding the inner feelings of fear that were
taking hold of Roy’s heart.
Joe tried to plaster a smile on his face as he entered Johnny’s
room. Johnny had been asking about Roy and how he was doing. What
Joe didn’t know was that Nicole had already told Johnny about
Roy’s feelings. Johnny understood how Roy felt because he was
sure he would have felt the same way. That was why Joe was totally
unprepared for Johnny’s request that day when he stopped to
check on him.
Circumstances over the five days after the accident would add up
to cause pain and heartache that had someone had the courage to speak
out would have been avoided.
The men of the original A-shift crew and their families would often
visit Johnny and Nicole. Nicole never visited Roy, because the one
time she had stopped in to see him, he had yelled at her to get out.
She had left when she realized his outburst was causing his blood
pressure and heart rate to elevate alarmingly high. But she continued
to check his progress to keep Johnny informed.
Everyone prayed that Roy’s feelings would change when he had
a little time to get adjusted to the situation. But he remained angry
and refused to let anyone even mention Johnny’s name. If someone
had just suggested that he visit Johnny, Roy would have broken down
and talk to the one person he needed the most. But because he had
said he didn’t want to even hear Johnny’s name, everyone
walked on eggshells and avoided any mention of Johnny at all.
Dixie, Kel and Mike Morton were all off duty five days after the
accident but had decided to stop in to see their friends. They stopped
by Roy’s room first. Kel was surprised at the anger still coming
from Roy. He tried to tell him that he was lucky to be alive, but
Roy didn’t even want to hear that. Secretly he was afraid of
what was going to happen. He also knew that he had created a situation
he was unsure how to get out of—he had been angry with the
wrong person and he didn’t know what to do to straighten out
the situation. He had probably destroyed his friendship with his
As the medical personnel approached Johnny’s room, they were
surprised to find it empty. Joe and Kel had removed Johnny from the
ventilator earlier the day before and had stopped in to see him just
before they had gone off shift the night before. No one had mentioned
anything about a room change.
Dixie quickly looked for one of the on-duty nurses. She saw Anne
Sherman coming out of a room just down the hall. “Anne, I need
to ask you a question.”
“Sure, Dixie, what is it?” Anne had a feeling she knew
what was coming and really didn’t want to be the one to tell
the people standing in front of her, but there was no way to avoid
“Has John Gage been moved to a regular room or changed to
a different room on this floor?” Dixie didn’t think Joe
would have moved Johnny without discussing it with Kel first.
“No, Mr. Gage is not here any longer.” Anne wanted to
put off telling them everything as long as possible.
“What do you mean he isn’t here?” Dr. Brackett’s
voice was beginning to rise. Dixie quietly put her hand on Kel’s
arm to calm him.
“Dr. Early approved a transfer to a different facility earlier
today.” Anne knew that information was going to cause some
“He did what? Where is he?” Kel quieted down. He knew
that he shouldn’t get mad at the nurse standing before him.
“I’m right here, Kel.” Joe knew that Johnny’s
family and friends weren’t going to be happy with the news
he would have to tell them, but he also understood Johnny’s
motives for doing what he did.
“Joe, what is going on? Anne just said that Johnny was moved
to another hospital.” Dixie was concerned for her friends.
“Johnny asked to be transfer to another facility to finish
recuperating and completing his physical therapy. I had every intention
of denying the request until he informed me that he would check himself
out AMA if he wasn’t transferred, so I had him moved late this
morning.” Joe could see the pain in the faces of the group
in front of him.
“Where did you transfer him?” Dr. Brackett calmed his
voice. He had suspected that Johnny would do something like this.
“They asked me not to tell anyone where they are. Johnny felt
it would be better for Roy’s recovery if he didn’t have
to worry about running into Johnny in physical therapy or around
the hospital. After he got so angry at Nicole, Johnny didn’t
want him to have a setback. I tried to explain to them that Roy would
come around, but when Johnny asked if I could guarantee that, I had
to say no. So, he was transferred this morning.”
“Will he be alright, Joe? Will he ever come back?” Kel
knew that Johnny really needed the support of his friends, but also
realized that once again Johnny had put Roy’s well-being before
his own. Johnny also knew how hard it would be on his friends to
respect Roy’s wishes, so he made it easier for all of them.
“I think so. Although I can’t tell you anything, I will
be keeping in contact with them and his doctor at the new facility.
I will make sure everyone knows how he is doing. He has asked that
I keep him informed of how Roy is doing. He said that when the time
was right and Roy was on his way to recovery, he would be back.” Joe
felt bad for Johnny’s friends. He knew that they would want
to be there for them.
“Thanks, Joe, we appreciate it.” Kel joined the others
as they turned and headed back towards Roy’s room. “You
know why he did it, don’t you?” Kel asked no one in particular.
“Yeah, so it didn’t put us between him and Roy with
Roy feeling the way he is right now.” Dixie knew exactly why
Johnny had made the request—it was just the type of guy he
Chet was the first one to see the three medical personnel leaving
the elevator. “Hey, why the long faces? Has something happened
to Johnny?” His stomach tied in knots as he saw the pain in
“Well, not physically anyway.” Mike Morton couldn’t
bring himself to tell the others about what they had just learned
upstairs. Actually none of them wanted to voice it out loud hoping
it was all just a bad dream.
“What do you mean by that?” Mike Stoker was now getting
“Johnny isn’t here anymore.” Dixie looked at the
four firefighters standing in front of her.
“You mean he died?” Marco couldn’t believe it.
They had just seen Johnny yesterday afternoon and he seemed to be
doing so much better.
“No, he’s not dead—he was transferred out of the
hospital.” Kel knew he needed to reassure the men standing
in front of him.
“Transferred? Where?” Hank was trying to make sense
of what was going on.
“Dr. Early said that Johnny requested that no one be told
where he was moved to. Knowing how Roy felt, he thought Roy would
make a faster recovery if he didn’t have to worry about running
into Johnny in the hospital or at physical therapy.” Mike Morton
realized how much Johnny was giving up.
“Why would he do something like that?” Chet thought
that Johnny was finally going to try to pull one over on the Phantom.
“So we wouldn’t be put in the middle between him and
Roy with Roy feeling the way he does right now.” Dixie was
worried about both Johnny and Nicole.
“But Roy will change his mind as soon as he can accept his
situation. Everything will work out alright.” Marco wanted
his friends back.
“Are you sure, Marco?” Mike Stoker knew that Roy might
never change his mind and realized that Johnny would never put any
of them in the position of having to choose one friend over another.
It had been two weeks since the accident. Roy had reluctantly started
his physical therapy. He had done a lot of thinking over the last
two weeks. He had put this day off in hopes that somehow the last
two weeks would just be wiped away and he would once again be whole.
But that was not going to happen and he needed to finally accept
that fact. When he was alone, he had often had the desire to talk
to Johnny, but he never voiced that desire—he didn’t
think Johnny would want to talk to him.
On the way back to his room, Roy realized that it was not as bad
as he had figured it was going to be. Oh there was a lot of hard
work and pain ahead of him, but he had actually listened this time
when the therapist talked about the prosthesis and that he would
be able to do almost everything he had done before without any problems.
He also realized that he was very thankful that John Gage had saved
his life. But he also thought about the last two weeks and how he
had treated someone very close to him. With a start, he also realized
he had no idea if Johnny had been injured in the accident or how
Hank and Joanne were waiting for him when he returned to his room.
He was glad he could honestly tell them that he was looking forward
to getting his life back. The three were talking about his physical
therapy when Dr. Brackett walked in.
“Well, Roy, how would you like to go home today? Bruce Candle
said your physical therapy went very well and I think you might want
to get out of this place.”
“Yeah, I’m ready.” Roy waited a minute as he looked
up at the doctor standing in front of him. He had a hard time getting
up the courage to ask his next question and even wondered if he had
the right to ask it. Knowing he would regret it if he didn’t
he finally asked. “Dr. Brackett, how is Johnny? Was he hurt
in the accident, too?”
Exchanging glances with Hank and Joanne, Kel took a deep breath. “Yes,
he was injured in the accident, too, but I don’t know how he
“What do you mean you don’t know how he is?”
“Johnny asked to be transferred five days after the accident
to another facility.”
“Why would he do something like that?”
“Because he wanted to respect your wishes. They didn’t
want to put any of your mutual friends in a position where they would
have to choose between the two of you. No one has heard from them
since they left.
“How bad were his injuries?”
“I don’t know the full extent of his injuries and even
if I did I couldn’t tell you. Johnny made all of us promise
not to tell you. He said you needed to concentrate on getting your
life back and didn’t need to worry about him. He wanted to
respect your wishes about him and asked that we all do the same.”
“Oh, but I really want to know how he is. Jo, you must have
seen him. How bad was he hurt? Does anyone know where he is?”
“Honey, Johnny wouldn’t allow any visitors after we
told him that you didn’t want to see him. He didn’t want
to put any of us in a position where we might have to choose between
our friendship with you and our friendship with him. He just wanted
to keep from putting any pressure on you. He wanted you to make a
100% recovery without any complications. There is someone that knows
where he is, but he can’t tell us, per Johnny’s request.”
“If that’s the way he wants it, fine. Let’s go
Jo.” Roy spat out the words. His emotions were on a roller
coaster and he knew it was causing pain. But he didn’t know
how to stop it. Johnny had once again put Roy’s needs ahead
of his own. Roy really wanted to talk to him but he was also still
somewhat angry at the whole situation.
Roy didn’t say another word as Dixie wheeled him out of the
hospital and Joanne walked beside him.
Hank, Marco, Mike and Chet were at the DeSoto home when they arrived.
Roy looked across the field that separated their home from the Gage
home. He was surprised to see three different cars there—cars
he didn’t know. “Looks like Johnny and Nicole have company.”
Exchanging glances with Marco, Mike and Chet, Hank knew he was elected
to break the news to Roy. “Johnny and Nicole don’t live
“What do you mean, Hank?”
“The longer you refused to have any contact with him, the
more Johnny believed he had really hurt you somehow. So, again to
respect your wishes, they have rented out the ranch and moved.”
“Where did they move to?” Roy was having warring feelings.
He was still somewhat angry that he had lost his leg and that Johnny
had saved his life. He was also a little jealous believing he would
have had to watch Johnny out running and playing with his kids while
he was still confined to a wheelchair and crutches. He wasn’t
sure he could have handled it. But the feeling that was beginning
to push its way into the middle was one of guilt. Guilt because he
knew that it wasn’t Johnny’s fault he had lost his leg
and guilt because he really should have been grateful that Johnny
had saved his life.
“None of us knows. Remember, they didn’t want to put
any of us in a position where we might be forced to choose between
our friendship with you and our friendship with them.” Mike
was beginning to see some remorse in Roy’s face as he repeated
what everyone had mentioned to Roy that day whenever he asked about
“Well, maybe that’s for the best. Now I won’t
have to watch him as he rides his horses and plays with his kids.” Roy
had made the comments to himself, but the others had all heard. They
just shared knowing glances and felt it was best to drop the subject.
Joanne had known that when Roy continued to not let any information
be shared about Johnny that he would one day regret it. Well, that
day was here.
It had been two weeks since Roy had left the hospital. He continued
his physical therapy and although he never let anyone else know it,
he wondered how Johnny was and where he was. The longer they went
without knowing where he was, the more Roy missed him.
Today had been especially hard on Roy and he was in a bad mood when
the rest of the original A-Shift and their families arrived for their
annual July 4th get together. They were at the DeSoto home. Roy looked
at Johnny’s ranch. But instead of missing him today, the anger
returned that Johnny had not let him die. The therapist had really
pushed him in his session the day before and he was still feeling
the pain as well having been reminded of what life had been like
before the accident. It was because of times like this that Johnny
had told Dr. Early it was too soon to let the others know where he
was just yet.
Things had been going along fairly quietly. Marco and Chet were
standing off to one side and didn’t know that Roy was within
hearing distance of their conversation. Chet would have been very
careful about his words if he had known. “I wonder where Johnny
is and how he is doing.”
“I don’t know, Chet. No one has heard anything from
them. We don’t even know if they are still in California. Do
you know that Johnny and Nicole even broke off contact with her brothers
and father so they wouldn’t be put in the middle?” Marco
missed Johnny as much as Chet did.
“Well, it doesn’t matter where he is. I say good riddance
to him. We are all better off without them. And I won’t be
reminded of what I have lost.” Roy really didn’t mean
what he was saying, but the guilt, anger, and pain from his therapy
session all combined as he took it out on the only person not there—Johnny.
It was a good thing he didn’t know that Dr. Early knew where
he was because he would have been angry at him.
The whole group quieted as they heard Roy’s voice. He had
not been quiet in his response. Chet turned and grabbed Roy’s
wheelchair and spun him so he could look him in the eye. He decided
that it was time someone finally straightened Roy out. He could not
take the tension about Johnny any more. “Why are we better
off without him? So you don’t have to take responsibility for
your treatment of him—so it gets you off the hook? And you
don’t want to be reminded of what you ‘lost’. What
about what Johnny lost?” Chet’s voice kept rising more
and more on every word he spoke. “You should be thankful you
are alive and will be able to walk on the beach and through the woods
with your family. You can still walk Jenny and Crystal down the aisle
when they get married and stand up with Jason at his wedding. Right
now you can play with your kids and when you get accustomed to your
prosthesis, you will even be able to run with them again. You still
have a job with the Fire Department or, if not, at least a job teaching
the paramedics. Johnny has none of that.”
“What are you talking about Chet?” Roy’s stomach
started to tie into knots. Just how badly was Johnny hurt in the
accident? Just how badly had Roy’s actions hurt him?
Chet was afraid he had gone too far. But he also knew he couldn’t
turn back now—Roy wouldn’t let it go. “We all made
a promise to Johnny not to tell you anything—to respect your
wishes. But, I for one am tired of your self-pity. Yeah, you lost
a leg but Johnny almost didn’t make it because he had broken
some ribs. When he moved over to help you, one of those ribs punctured
his lung, but he ignored it.” Chet took a breath. Now that
he was finally letting out all of his feelings, he had to get control
of his anger about Roy’s treatment of Johnny.
“There’s more, isn’t there?” Roy knew Chet
had not told him the worst part yet. His voice was barely above a
Chet squatted so he would be eye level with Roy and not towering
over him. The anger had completely left Chet and he felt bad for
Roy. Chet had thought the others would be angry with him, but all
he had seen in their faces was encouragement. Deep down they were
all relieved someone had finally had the courage to tell Roy about
Johnny. “Yeah, there is. Johnny had injured his back. He knew
it was broken, but he could still move his legs. He knew if he stayed
still he would be alright. Then he saw how badly you were injured
and knew that if he didn’t do something, you would die. Your
life meant more to him than anything else. When he moved over to
help you, he damaged his spinal cord. The last time we had any report
on him, the news was that he would be paralyzed from the waist down
for the rest of his life. That’s what I’m talking about
Roy. Johnny and Nicole are facing all of that on their own because
they wanted to respect your ‘wishes’ and they didn’t
want to put any of their friends or family in the position of having
to decide who they would be friends with—you or Johnny.” Chet
took a deep breath and turned away from Roy to gain his composure.
Hank and Mike had moved to either side of Roy as they saw the color
drain from Roy’s face.
“He’s paralyzed. And all I said was that he should let
me die.” Roy was oblivious to the others around him. He had
been so absorbed in the fact that he had lost a leg and had to relearn
a few things that he never even considered that Johnny might be very
seriously injured. Oh, he knew that Johnny had to be injured in the
accident, but he had blocked the entire incident out of his mind.
Now as he thought about what Chet had said, memories of the accident
came rushing back at him. He remembered the vehicles coming at them
from both sides. But the thing that stuck out in his mind about the
accident was that he realized now that Johnny had actually saved
his life twice. As the accident was occurring, Johnny tried to maneuver
the car so that Roy wouldn’t get hit. Although he wasn’t
completely successful, he had lessened the impact on Roy’s
side considerably. But he had taken two very direct hits on his side
of the vehicle when the getaway car had struck Johnny’s side
and then spun around to hit it again—right in the driver’s
door. And Roy had taken it all out on him.
Joanne had walked up behind Roy while Chet was talking. Joanne bent
down and put her arms around him. “You had a lot to deal with,
“But he knew what he was sacrificing to save my life and I
told him it was for nothing—that it didn’t matter—that
I wished he had let me die. And I didn’t care about him or
want to hear about him.” Roy stared off into space.
“Roy, Johnny said he understood how you felt and knew why
you didn’t want to see him. He wanted you to live and he tried
his best to save your leg but it was too badly crushed.” Roy
never heard Joanne’s response.
Fifteen minutes later when Roy was still staring at Johnny’s
home, everyone was starting to worry about him. “We gotta find
him. I gotta know how he is. I need to apologize. I want my ‘brother’ home.” And
with that Roy broke down and released all the feelings that had built
up inside since the accident—something he should have done
“We can’t find him, Roy.” Chet had calmed down. “I’m
sorry I yelled at you like that. I shouldn’t have done it.
But I have tried to find Johnny ever since you were released. But
no one knows where they are. None of the hospitals will give me any
kind of information.” None of the group had remembered that
Dr. Early had been the one to approve the transfer. Had he been there
that day, he would have known that this was just the time Johnny
was waiting for. But as it was, no one even mentioned it to him.
“We couldn’t get any information either.” Mike
looked at Hank. They had tried to find Johnny and didn’t realize
that Chet had been trying too.
“What have I done?” Roy whispered to himself as he realized
he may have severed his relationship with Johnny permanently. “Maybe
Uncle Richard or Alex or Joseph would know where they are. I need
to ask them.” Roy had forgotten about that part of Chet and
“No, Roy. Johnny and Nicole contacted them when they left
the hospital. They told them that they really didn’t want to
put them in a hard position. So they said that they would always
love them, but they would be out of touch. Alex and Joe have been
trying to find them, too. Joe did say that if they do hear from either
Johnny or Nicole, they will let us know.”
“They are dealing with all of this by themselves. Not only
do they have to deal with the medical situation, they don’t
have anyone to lean on or give them support. What have I done?” Roy
turned his wheelchair and rolled away from the rest of the group.
He needed to be by himself for a few minutes. ~Where are you, Johnny?
I am so sorry. You saved my life and all I did was yell and tell
you that you should have let me die. I never stopped to think about
what injuries you might have sustained. I was too busy feeling sorry
for myself. You didn’t even think about yourself—you
are probably paralyzed because you wanted to save me. I just pray
that I get the chance to tell you how sorry I am and to thank you
for my life.~
As each one left that evening, the group decided they would get
together and try to find Johnny and Nicole and bring them “home”.
It had been a month since the gathering at Roy’s. The group
had tried to find Johnny, but had been unsuccessful. Roy had worked
hard in his therapy—he felt he owed it to Johnny, but he often
wondered if Johnny was having therapy and how he was doing. Although
none of them knew it, Dr. Early had finally gotten wind of the gathering
out at Roy’s home and the change in Roy’s attitude and
had passed the word onto Johnny’s doctor. He was sure it would
only be a few more days before Johnny called Roy himself.
Roy was having a great therapy session and was feeling really good.
He was surprised about how much he was able to do with the prosthesis.
There were very few limitations on what he could do—all it
took was will and determination.
Roy smiled as he saw Kel Brackett walk into the room. He knew that
Kel had come to check on his progress. As Chet had said, he would
have two employment options when he returned to work—stay on
as a Battalion Chief or becoming an instructor for the paramedic
program. He was still weighing the pros and cons of each.
“Looking good, Roy. You have come a long way.” Kel
was pleased to see that Roy had beaten his depression and made great
“Thanks, Doc. How are you doing?”
Before Kel could answer, Dr. Frances Rogers approached. “Hey,
Kel, how are you?”
“Hi, Frank. I’m doing great. I’d like you to meet
Roy DeSoto. He was one of our first paramedics and is now a Battalion
Chief. I am trying to convince him to teach for us. Roy, this is
Dr. Frances Rogers. He and I were interns together.”
“Hi, Dr. Rogers.”
“Hi, Chief DeSoto. You were partners with John Gage weren’t
you? If you teach for Kel, I know they will learn from the best.
Even injured your paramedics are good, Kel.”
“What do you mean, Frank?” Kel was wondering how his
friend knew that Johnny and Roy were partners. One look at Roy’s
face and he knew that Roy was wondering the same thing.
Dr. Frances Rogers was not connected to Johnny’s
case and, therefore, didn’t know that he had requested no information
be given to anyone. So that’s why he related the incident that
had shown him how good a paramedic John Gage was. “Well, I
was visiting a colleague last week at the UCLA Medical Center when
there was an accident in the Rehab Center. John was there for his
physical therapy session. Two of the therapists had been injured
and were waiting for someone from the hospital staff to arrive to
handle things. One of the other patients started having chest pains.
It turned out she was having a heart attack. John was close so he
maneuvered himself over to her side and started chest compressions
when her heart stopped. His therapist, who was the only uninjured
in the room, provided the breaths. They continued CPR until the therapists
had been removed and a doctor could get there. If John hadn’t
been there and performed CPR, the lady would have died.”
“Johnny was one of our best paramedics.” Kel was proud
of his friend.
As fate would have it, Dr. Joe Early had just walked in to check
on one of his patients and had heard the entire conversation. He
had known about the event, but what he had to tell the others was
not good. “Hi, guys. Sorry to eavesdrop on your conversation.”
“We were just talking about Johnny.” Kel and the others
had known that Johnny had started therapy, but that was about the
extent of the news they had received.
“Yeah, I heard.”
“Isn’t it great? Maybe I can go see him.” Roy
was proud of his friend, too, and was excited.
“Yeah, you could go and see him, but he’s not up to
visitors right now.” Joe looked at the smile on Roy’s
face. He hated to be the one to change it.
“What do you mean? Oh yeah, he probably doesn’t want
to see me.” Roy had forgotten why Johnny had transferred hospitals
in the first place. A look of dejection replaced the smile on Roy’s
face that had been there just a moment before.
“That’s not it, Roy. He has been waiting for the time
when you would want to see him, but he is in isolation right now.”
“Why, Dr. Early? How do you know?” Roy was beginning
“He was ready to contact you when he developed a very severe
case of pneumonia. It’s only been a couple of months since
the accident and his body is still very weak. I know he was put on
a ventilator to help with his breathing. Hopefully, he will be able
to get over it fairly quickly and get back to his therapy sessions.
Remember, Roy, I was his physician here. I am the one that approved
“Dr. Early, can you tell me how I can contact him? Do you
think he would want to see me? I really need to apologize to him.” Roy
was beginning to get excited. He was sure he was going to be able
to apologize to his friend.
“I am sure he would want to see you. And I’ll get you
the contact information. And Roy, you need to go as soon as you can.
From what Dr. Kanton told me when I talked to him a little while
ago, Johnny may not make it.”
Roy was getting very nervous. He had called Hank as soon as he arrived
home from his therapy session. When Joanne had suggested that he
go see Johnny, Roy wasn’t sure he wanted to go alone. So that’s
why he was relieved when Hank, Chet, Mike and Marco had agreed to
go with him.
It was hard to tell which of the five men were the most nervous
as they approached the nurses’ desk. Hank took the lead, “We
are here to see John Gage?”
The nurse at the desk looked at the men standing in front of her.
These were the first visitors this patient had received so she was
pleased. He really needed support. “I’ll let his wife
know you are here.”
Without even asking their names the nurse headed down the hall towards
John Gage’s room. Suiting up as quickly as she could, the young
nurse hoped she was bringing good news to the couple.
“Mrs. Gage, there are some gentlemen out here to see Mr. Gage.” The
nurse realized she had not gotten their names.
“Okay, I’ll be right there.” Nicole prayed that
one of the visitors was Roy. He needed to be here and Johnny needed
him. She looked at her husband and saw the sweat on his brow from
his fever. Praying that his fever would break soon, she looked back
at the nurse. Nicole kissed her husband and followed the nurse down
Nicole stopped when she saw Hank, Mike, Marco, Chet and Roy standing
at the nurses’ station. Slowly she walked towards the men.
Seeing the fear in their eyes, she realized they were afraid that
Johnny would turn them away. “Hi, guys. It is good to see all
of you.” Nicole noticed that Roy was not using crutches. She
assumed he was using his prosthesis and was glad things were going
so well for him.
Roy stepped forward and took hold of Nicole’s hands. “Nicole,
I want to apologize for the way I have treated you and Johnny. Dr.
Early told us where we could find you and how sick Johnny is. Nicole,
I need to see him and to apologize. I want you to come home.”
As Nicole stood there trying to gain control of her emotions, the
five men were afraid she was going to send them away.
“Johnny has a fever right now and is sleeping. You are welcome
to visit him, but I’m not sure he will even know you are there.” Nicole
knew her husband would have been thrilled to know that his best friend—his “brother” was
there to see him.
“Thank you. We would like to see him. I need to see him.” Roy
needed to tell his “brother” that he was sorry.
As they walked down the hall, Nicole was pleased to see the progress
Roy had made. She also saw the fear in his eyes—fear that he
had completely destroyed his relationship with Johnny. “Roy,
Johnny understands how you felt after the accident. He said he would
have felt the same way if he had been in your shoes.”
“Thanks for trying to make me feel better, Nicole, but Johnny
sacrificed so much to save my life and all I could do was turn on
him. I need to tell him I’m sorry and be there for him.” Roy
was amazed at the warmth Nicole was showing him. He prayed that Johnny
would be as forgiving.
Nicole and Roy were the first to suit up. Hank, Chet, Mike and Macro
knew that Roy needed to be the first one to see Johnny. The others
would take their turns by twos when Roy was done.
Johnny was floating in and out of consciousness. He heard voices
and tried to make out what there were saying. Fighting the encroaching
blackness, he recognized Nicole’s voice and—Roy’s
voice? Believing that his fever was higher than he thought and that
he was hallucinating, Johnny succumbed to the blackness once again.
Two more times Johnny tried to overcome the darkness, and both times
he thought he heard the voices of his former crewmates, but figured
it was just the fever playing tricks on him.
Hank, Chet, Mike and Marco as well as their wives took turns sitting
with Nicole at the hospital while Johnny fought his battle with pneumonia.
It seemed like nothing the doctor’s did was having any affect
on the disease and everyone was afraid Johnny would loose the fight.
Joanne and Roy had taken the Gage children home with them. Jenny
as well as Wendy and Cindy Stanley were going to take care of them.
Actually everyone in the Station 51 A-Shift “Family” volunteered
and spent time with the brood. Roy was secretly elated when Johnny’s
boarders told him they would have to leave as his father in New Hampshire
had a heart attack and they had to move back to help out around his
boyhood home. Roy had been trying to figure out a way to have them
move without any problems.
Saturday found all the available “family” members at
the Gage ranch cleaning it up and moving the Gage’s furniture
and personal things back where they belonged. Nicole knew that Johnny
had only been waiting for Roy to let him know things were ok for
them to move home. But the original A-shift crew was at the hospital.
Johnny’s fever had continued to climb and was now at an alarmingly
high temp. The doctors’ felt it would only be a matter of a
few hours before Johnny lost his battle and everyone had wanted to
be there for Nicole.
Roy was alone with Johnny in his room. Hank had finally persuaded
Nicole that she needed something to eat if she was going to keep
her strength up for Johnny and for her children. All the men could
see the toll that the last two months had taken on her. Roy was as
worried about Nicole as he was about Johnny.
Walking over to Johnny’s bedside, Roy had a hard time seeing
his friend lying there with a high fever ravaging his body. He sat
down in the chair next to Johnny’s bed and grasped Johnny’s
hand in both of his. “Johnny, I know I have no right to ask
this of you, but I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive
me for the way I treated you the last two months. I need you in my
life. I don’t deserve another chance, but I hope you will give
me one. Johnny, Nicole needs you, too. She really is something else
and she needs you. Your kids need you. I just pray that you beat
this and give me a chance to tell you how sorry I am.”
Roy couldn’t keep the tears from collecting in his eyes. He
was afraid he was going to lose his friend this time and Johnny would
die believing he didn’t want anything to do with him. As his
thoughts wandered back to the last two months, he missed the first
weak squeeze of his hand. When the second squeeze was just a little
stronger, it was enough to get Roy’s attention. His head snapped
up and he looked into fever dulled brown eyes staring back. Reaching
over to push the call button, he smiled at Johnny. “Welcome
Johnny fought to keep his eyes open. As the doctor came in, he smiled
at Roy. Walking over to Johnny, he was pleased to see him awake.
Knowing that Roy would want to know how Johnny really was, the doctor
went about getting Johnny’s vitals without saying a word.
“Well, Mr. Gage, your fever has finally broken and I think
you will make a full recovery. I know there are several people who
are anxious to know how you are.” The doctor patted Johnny’s
leg and Roy’s shoulder as he walked out of the room.
Now that Johnny was awake, Roy was afraid he wouldn’t want
him around. As he tried to get up the courage to talk to him, the
door opened admitting Nicole and the other guys.
Nicole looked at her husband and noticed his eyes were opened. She
was at his beside in less than five seconds. “Hi, honey.”
There was a little twinkle in his eyes as Johnny smiled around the
tube in his throat.
“His fever broke and the doctor says he will make a full recovery.” Roy
was glad that he could report good news.
“That’s wonderful. Johnny, I need to talk to you.” Nicole
knew that the best time to deal with the presence of the five men
in the room was now. “Johnny, Roy is here to tell you that
he is sorry and they want us to come home. They have been here with
me for the last four days.”
Roy watched as Johnny weakly signed to Nicole.
~Good, it’s about time. I really want to go home. The kids
need to be able to run in the fields. As for Roy, apologizing, there’s
no need—I know exactly how he was feeling.~
Roy couldn’t believe his friend. He exchanged looks with the
other four men as Johnny slipped into a deep healing sleep. “He
is something else.”
“I knew he was just waiting for you to walk into this room
and let him know you care. He understood how you felt. That’s
why I had the things moved back into the house. We are ready to come
home.” Nicole reached over and hugged Roy. She had known Johnny
would never hold anything against the guys and was glad she had her
support system back. As she stood, everything that had been happening
over the last few months finally caught up with her and she couldn’t
hold back the tears. Hank pulled her into his arms and let her cry
on his shoulder. They all knew that this was the first time she had
been able to let go and they were glad they were finally there.
Johnny had quickly improved once his fever broke. He was taken off
the ventilator two days later. Roy was the first one in the room
after the doctor had left. He was pleased to see Johnny was awake. “Hi,
Johnny, how are you feeling?”
After taking another drink from the glass of water the doctor had
left with him, Johnny’s trademark grin graced his face. “I’m
feeling a lot better now. My best friend is here. And I am going
to be home again.” Nicole had told Johnny about moving everything
back home to have the place ready for him when he was finally released
from the rehab center.
Roy looked at Johnny as his mind grabbed hold of what Johnny had
just said. “Johnny, I am….”
Before Roy could say anything else, Johnny interrupted him. “Roy,
please don’t say you are sorry. You have nothing to be sorry
for. I understand how you felt and would have been surprised if you
had reacted in any other way. I am just so happy to see how far you
have come. You look like you are doing great, Pally.” Johnny
purposely used the name he had called Roy when they were paramedics
together to let him know that everything was ok.
Shaking his head, Roy sat down in the chair next to Johnny’s
bed. “You are something else, Jr. You are the one who has had
to deal with everything by yourself for the last few months because
of how I felt. Johnny, I didn’t even stop to consider that
you might have been hurt, too.”
“Roy, look, it is all water under the bridge. Let’s
not even talk about it again. What matters is that you are here now
and we will get through this together. Now, tell me all about how
your therapy is going and how you are really doing.” Johnny
smiled at his friend—his “brother”. He knew that
he would have probably reacted the same way if he had been the one
that was unconscious. No one except Nicole needed to know about the
times he had wished he had died in the accident instead of being
paralyzed for the rest of his life. But knowing that he had saved
Roy’s life and Nicole’s support and love had gotten him
through the darkest times.
Nicole and Joanne walked in to see Johnny sleeping peacefully with
Roy nodding off in the chair next to his bed and his hand on Johnny’s
arm. The two women smiled at the sight in front of them. They turned
as the door opened behind them. When Dr. Kanton entered, he saw the
two sleeping men and motioned for the two women to follow him out
of the room.
“Nicole, (she had informed the doctor that she felt very old
if he called her Mrs. Gage) I was just coming to let your husband
know that we have made all the arrangements.”
“Arrangements?” Nicole wasn’t sure what the doctor
was talking about.
“Oh, that’s right. Johnny and Roy were
talking when I made my rounds. They approached me with the wish to
moved back to Rampart when he has recovered enough from this bout
with pneumonia. They would like to complete their physical therapy
together and I agree that it would be best for Johnny to be with
his family and friends. After examining him earlier today, I believe
he will be strong enough to be moved the day after tomorrow. We will
be sending him to the inpatient rehab center at Rampart.”
“Thank you, Dr. Kanton. That is the best news I have heard
since the accident.” Nicole knew that Johnny would make great
strides in his therapy with his friends and family in tact once again.
“You’re welcome. I think it is about time something
good happened for that husband of yours. He is one special man.” The
doctor turned and left not expecting a response.
The two women pushed the door open to Johnny’s room once again.
This time Roy was waking up and smiled as they entered.
“Hi, sleepyhead.” Joanne kissed her husband on the cheek.
“Hi. I guess letting go of all the stress made me relax.” Roy
smiled at Nicole.
“Well, I have some good news for you and Johnny, but I think
I’ll wait until he wakes up and tell you both at the same time.” Nicole
wanted Johnny to hear the news at the same time as Roy if not before.
“I’m awake. What’s the good news?” Johnny
had a big grin on his face. He had been watching Roy sleeping for
a couple of minutes.
“We just talked to Dr. Kanton. You are being moved back to
Rampart the day after tomorrow.” Nicole smiled as she watched
the news sink in with both Johnny and Roy.
“Wow, that was fast.” Roy was thrilled.
“Alright!” Johnny’s shout brought the nurse running
in to see what was wrong. “Sorry.” Johnny sheepishly
smiled at the nurse when she told him he needed to keep it down.
But he also saw the smile she was trying hard to hide.
The two couples spent the next couple of hours talking and making
plans for helping with Johnny’s therapy and at the Gage home.
They decided to keep Johnny’s move a secret and ask the others
to attend one of Roy’s therapy sessions. Johnny would also
be doing therapy and they could surprise them.
Hank, Chet, Mike and Marco were curious as to why Roy wanted them
to attend his physical therapy session. All he had told them was
that he needed their help with something and they finally agreed
to be there. Chet had tried to see Johnny in the four days after
they found him, but he was told that no visitors were allowed. He
couldn’t get any more information. Sharing this information
with the others had led them all to believe that Johnny had once
again cut off all ties with them. They weren’t sure they would
ever see him again.
Mike was the first one through the door to the therapy clinic. The
others were talking amongst themselves trying to figure out what
Roy would need help with. He had come so far they just hoped he hadn’t
had a setback. Mike noticed Roy working on his exercises. Then he
let his eyes wander around the room. His eyes got big and he swung
his head around to look at Roy so fast, Roy thought it would go all
the way around.
Roy laughed at the look on Mike’s face. He discreetly shook
his head at Mike. Mike understood immediately. He was the silent
one—he would watch the others for their reactions. The other
three were in an argument over the hair-brained ideas Chet had come
up with as the reason why they were there. None of them even looked
up until Marco bumped into Mike.
“Hey, Roy. How’s it going?” Chet still wondered
what they were doing there, but was trying hard to hold in his curiosity.
“It’s going great.” Roy was having a hard time
to keep from laughing as he saw Mike discreetly slip over to the
other side of the room.
“Ok, this time, I don’t understand. What did you need
help with?” Hank was always able to keep his curiosity in check,
but this time he was afraid something had gone wrong with his friend.
“Well, I don’t need the help, but there is someone over
there that could use some help.” Roy pointed over where Mike
was talking with someone. Mike, Dixie, Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early
blocked whoever was over there from sight.
With a puzzled glance at Roy, the three men headed to the group
in the corner. As they got closer they could hear the group talking.
The next sound they heard stopped them all dead in their tracks.
As the medical personnel and Mike moved, Johnny came into view.
“Hi, guys. Glad you could make it.” Johnny’s trademark
grin was plastered on his face.
Pandemonium broke out as Johnny’s presence broke into the
muddled brains of the three firefighters.
Johnny was due to be released from the rehab center today. The guys
had all taken turns at the center to help with Johnny’s therapy.
But he had a surprise for all of them. Even Roy, who was driving
them home, didn’t know about the surprise. Nicole knew what
it was and she was bursting with excitement as the car pulled into
their driveway. Of course, she knew that the entire A-shift family,
her father and her brothers would be there to greet them and she
was not disappointed.
Roy pulled the car to a stop a few feet away from the crowd who
had gathered to welcome Johnny home. Nicole was out of the car before
anyone could get there. Roy was in the back getting the wheelchair
out of the trunk. What he hadn’t seen was the walker Nicole
had in the back seat. She was at Johnny’s side getting it ready.
Before Roy made it around the back of the car he heard the car door
shut and shouts of “Johnny” and “I don’t
believe it.” He looked around and stopped dead in his tracks
for there was Johnny walking slow and unsteadily towards the group.
“Junior?” Roy’s voice squeaked as he called out
“Hey, Roy. Can you get the wheelchair over here?” Johnny
was getting tired already. He would eventually be able to walk more
with a walker, but it was going to take time. He would never be able
to walk without assistance again and he would have to use the wheelchair
more than the walker, but he could walk.
“Yeah!” Roy hurried towards Johnny and moved the wheelchair
into position for Johnny to drop into it when his strength finally
Finally Hank was able to get everyone quiet and Nicole and Johnny
explained that Johnny had regained some sensation in his legs and
was wearing braces. Even though he would have to use a wheelchair
most of the time, periodically he could walk using braces with the
aid of a walker and maybe eventually crutches. He would never gain
any more use of his legs than he had now, but it was a lot more than
anyone ever expected. Someone watching the crowd that was gathered
around Johnny and Nicole would have thought they had just been told
the greatest news in the world and for them, indeed, they had.
Johnny continued to make progress over the next few months. Although
he was able to stand and walk with crutches and braces once in awhile,
he was adjusting to his new life in a wheelchair. Roy had joined
Johnny in accepting teaching positions in the paramedic program.
They would share their experiences together and had a hand in training
the next generation of paramedics.
As Roy and Johnny’s first class of trainees were gathering
in the classroom, Roy and Johnny were seated in Kel Brackett’s
office. “Doc, thank you for the trust you have put in us. We
will do our best to not let you down.”
“I know, Johnny. You will both do just fine. I have no doubts
that you will turn out some of the best paramedics we have ever had.”
“Thanks Doc. Let’s go, Pally. We need to show these
new recruits how it’s done.” Johnny turned and wheeled
down the hallway to meet their first class.
As the two men left his office, Kel Brackett sent up a silent thank
you that the two men had overcome the odds and made the difficult
The Station 51 Family New Year’s gathering was in full swing.
It was really the weekend after New Year’s Eve, but most of
the firefighters had pulled holiday duty and this was the first chance
they had to get together. Most of the talk centered on the plans
for Jenny and Allen Robinson’s wedding that would be taking
place in a little over a month.
Johnny saw that Joanne was standing in the doorway watching with
a wistful look on her face. He thought he also saw a little fear
there, too. Wondering what could be wrong, he slowly made his way
to her side. “Are you alright, Joanne?”
Joanne looked at her friend. She hadn’t even had a chance
to talk to Roy yet, but she really needed to talk to someone. She
didn’t want to ruin the party and she really needed someone
to help her tell Roy. “No, Johnny, I’m not.”
Although he had seen the looks on her face, Johnny really wasn’t
expecting the answer he received. “Is there something I can
help you with?”
“Yeah, can I talk to you for a minute?” Joanne turned
to walk into the kitchen so they would have some privacy.
To be continued in Life's
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