Roy was not looking forward
to this trip. Yes, he enjoyed attending the firefighting conventions
that were held annually and this year’s convention was being
held at Mackinac Island in Michigan. And the wives were attending,
too. But what bothered him was this year the convention was going to
honor the paramedic program’s 20-year history. As one of the
original paramedics, he was asked to sit at the head table at the annual
closing dinner in a place of honor. It was something he was grateful
for, but what bothered him was that his paramedic partner would not
be by his side.
John Gage had disappeared over 12 years ago—just disappeared.
One day he was at work and the next it was like he had vanished into
thin air. No one knew what had happened to him. At first Roy was confused.
Then the confusion turned to anger and then the anger turned to worry.
It had taken Roy a week to finally go by Johnny’s home. Roy was
afraid to knock on the door. His anger made him want an answer to why
John Gage had resigned from the department and not answered anyone’s
calls but he wasn’t sure he was ready to get that answer. His
knock went unheeded. The door to Johnny’s home was unlocked—something
Johnny would never do if he was going to leave for the ranch at all.
The only time he left the door unlocked was when he was at home.
Roy thought back to the day he had discovered that Johnny had just
disappeared. When he opened the door to his best friend’s home,
he knew the place had not been opened in awhile—there was the
beginning of a musty smell. But what bothered Roy the most was the
evidence that no one had been in the house for a long time. There were
dirty dishes on the table and in the sink that were gathering mold.
Then Roy found the dirty clothes Johnny had worn the last time he had
seen him. Roy knew that Johnny would not have let them go for over
a week without washing them. Looking in the mailbox, Roy noticed that
Johnny’s mail had collected and that nothing had been taken out
of the mailbox since the day before the last shift Johnny had worked.
A search of the property had shown that his horses had been left out
to fend for themselves. Roy knew he wouldn’t find any signs in
the yard or fields—they had had a major thunderstorm three days
That was when his anger turned to worry. Johnny was no where on his
ranch and no one had heard from or seen him in a little over a week.
Whatever had happened, Roy realized they were a week late in finding
any evidence of his partner.
The next few months had been filled with police reports and searches,
but none of the crew of Station 51’s A-Shift had been able to
find any evidence as to what may have happened. Even the police were
coming up empty handed. Foul-play was never ruled out, but nothing
was ever proven. The case was even more baffling when Vince Howard
showed up at the station one day and said that Johnny’s file
had been sealed and removed from the station. He couldn’t find
out who had taken the file, but they all realized they were at a dead-end.
It was just a few months after that the A-shift all took the tests
and moved on. Hank went on to become a Battalion Chief. Roy and Mike
both became Captains and Marco and Chet became engineers. The heart
of the original A-Shift crew had died a little the day John Gage disappeared.
The police had found his Land Rover over the side of a cliff a few
months later. There were several items that had fallen out of the Land
Rover on the way down the cliff that could have only belonged to Johnny—some
of the items were things that were precious to him and he would not
have given to anyone else as well as his ID. Then the ME had said that
his medical and dental records and fingerprints matched those of the
body they found in the Land Rover. Roy and the rest of those who knew
and loved him didn’t want to believe it, but they had to accept
that Johnny was dead. The funeral had been attended by firefighters
from all over the country.
Roy had thought about his friend almost daily over the last 12 years
wondering what had happened that day. What had caused him to go over
the cliff? He realized he would probably never know. His thoughts were
pulled back to the present as Joanne entered the bedroom with some
of Roy’s things for him to pack. He smiled a sad smile at her
as he placed the items in his suitcase.
“Honey, I know how hard this must be. I still miss Johnny, too.
I guess it’s because we never got any answers as to what really
happened.” Joanne was rubbing her husband’s back.
“You can always tell what I’m thinking. You are right.
I keep thinking about him. I just wish I knew what happened that day
and why he disappeared in the first place.”
“I know.” Joanne kissed Roy on the cheek and went to finish
preparing their dinner leaving Roy with his thoughts.
Hank watched Roy and Joanne as they came down the airport hallway.
Roy looked sad. Hank was sure Roy’s thoughts had been running
along his own—about Johnny. This convention would be bitter sweet.
It would honor a program that had been desperately needed, but one
of the first paramedics would not be there to see it.
As Roy and Joanne joined the group, talk turned to all the things
they would do in their free time on Mackinac Island. And once again,
Roy tucked his memories of John Gage away in a special place in his
heart to keep until he died.
As they stepped off the plane in the middle of Mackinac Island, Roy
marveled at the beauty. Once again he thought of his best friend and
how he would have enjoyed the area. Knowing that he had to keep his
emotions in control, Roy pushed his memories back where they belonged
and smiled as the group put their luggage in the back of the horse-drawn
carriage that was waiting for them. He was going to enjoy this trip.
Hank, Emily, Roy, Joanne, Mike and Beth had come on the first plane.
They would have to wait for Marco, Melinda, Chet and Cindy who would
be arriving on the next plane. Roy was surprised at how much he had
enjoyed the flight on the six-passenger plane from Pellston, Michigan,
to the island.
Roy and Joanne had decided they would walk towards the Grand Hotel
where the convention was to be held while the others waited for the
second plane to arrive. It was such a beautiful day, they wanted to
enjoy some time together. Just as they started their walk, a siren
could be heard, and they stepped back to watch the Island’s ambulance
and what looked like a Chief’s car as they headed down the road
Roy began to wonder what the medical services were like on the Island.
He had done some research and realized that most of the people lived
there year around so there must be some time of emergency services
available. His thoughts were pulled back to his wife as she slipped
her arm into his and pointed out some of the beautiful flowers, trees
and smaller animals that were visible along the trail. Although he
would miss not having his friend there, Roy knew he was going to enjoy
this convention and was glad that he had come.
Andrew Stevens had been at the station when the call came in for a
possible heart attack at the hotel. He missed using his paramedic training
and had decided to follow the ambulance on the run. As he drove by
the Island’s airstrip he saw a group of people that he knew were
coming for the firefighters’ convention. Each year the convention
came up he was given the opportunity to attend but he always had an
excuse why he couldn’t go. This year was a little harder to avoid
since the convention was right here on the Island. It was very difficult
to explain why he would not be attending the convention, but he just
couldn’t do it. He had booked himself to work every available
shift to avoid it.
Pushing all thoughts to the back of his mind, Andrew was pleased when
he had been needed and had actually been the one to start and do CPR
on the heart attack victim and save his life. It gave him a satisfaction
he had not had since he had become the Fire Chief three years ago.
He had kept up his paramedic certification since the Island was so
small and he had been asked to help train the new recruits, but this
was the first he had been able to use it.
Beverly Stevens was at the Grand Hotel where she worked, helping to
get all the conference rooms available for the Firefighters’ Convention.
She had not asked Andrew if he would be attending when it was announced
the convention would be held on the island—she knew he wouldn’t
and why. But she was there to help get it set up and everything ready.
Looking up, Beverly saw Calvin Watson bringing in two men. She had
been expecting them and had the AV cart set up at the back of the room
with the slide projector. A few minutes later, the older gentleman
started showing slides of different people. She learned they were among
the first paramedics in the country. They were among those to be honored.
One of the pictures was of Roy DeSoto and John Gage. She knew the other
gentleman was Roy DeSoto and found out that the gentleman showing the
slides was Dr. Kel Brackett, a doctor in L.A. who had helped get the
first program started and worked with the paramedics in L.A.
Jim Candleson entered as the slides started. He walked over to Beverly
and gently took her hand taking her attention away from the slides.
Jim had been at the hotel when Andrew had been there for the rescue
and had known how it had affected him. Jim wanted to let Beverly know
her husband may need to talk to her. Since it was nearing lunchtime,
Beverly stopped at the kitchen and got two lunches and headed towards
The rescue had left Andrew a little unsettled. He had recognized the
man he had just saved. Hesitating slightly, he pushed his feelings
to the back and let his professionalism take over. But he had to talk
to Jim Candleson about the man he had just performed CPR on and escorted
to the medical center. It was something that would cause a lot of changes
in his family, but it had to be done.
Beverly waited in the door to her husband’s office to find him
staring off into space. Jim had informed her of the rescue and the
state of mind it left her husband in. She had an idea of what was causing
his mood and knew he needed someone to talk to. She watched as the
single tear slid down his cheek. “Hi honey. Are you alright?”
Andrew turned to face his wife. “Yeah, I’m fine.” He
was glad his wife was there and soon shared his feelings with her.
He held his wife as he voiced his feelings about the rescue. He held
her tight as she told him she would support him no matter what happened.
Samuel Cantone lay in his hospital bed in Mackinac City thinking about
the man who had just saved his life. What he couldn’t fathom
was why this man would do it. He knew the man had recognized him but
had saved him anyway. If their roles had been reversed, he would have
let him die. Samuel knew that he had to talk to him. He just hoped
he would be able to.
Roy, Joanne, Hank and Emily were sitting on the front porch of the
Grand Hotel watching the beautiful sunset out over Lake Huron. Roy
couldn’t help but think that Johnny would have loved to take
a picture of the sunset. Johnny would have loved this Island. But Roy
knew he would never get to see it.
Andrew and Beverly were taking their nightly “constitutional” and
passed the Grand Hotel. He noticed the two couples sitting on the porch
and smiled to himself. He was always thankful when the visitors to
their Island enjoyed the sunsets and the view.
Beverly hadn’t been feeling well for a few days now. Andrew
was a little worried and had decided to take her to the main land to
the doctor. Oh, the Island doctor was good, but he was on vacation
for a few days and the main land doctor was taking all his patients.
Plus they needed to talk to him about Beverly’s upcoming appointments.
Andrew and Beverly were ready to take off in the Emergency Services
small plane. Andrew had learned to fly when he first arrived so there
would always be someone who could get injured/sick people to help immediately.
George went through the pre-flight check to make sure everything was
ready for their flight. He was a little concerned with the sound of
the left engine when it started, but it had started and he heaved a
sigh of relief. He realized that it was the back-up plane that had
been flown in the last time the island medics flew someone to Pellston.
He would radio Pellston control and make sure the right plane was given
to Andrew for his return flight. George gave Andrew the ok to take
off and the small plane lifted into the air.
Roy and Mike had decided to take walk. Both men had been thinking
about Johnny and for some reason Mike had wanted to talk. As they neared
the center of the Island, they heard the sound of a small plane engine
stalling. They hurried towards the small airstrip they remembered as
the other engine also stalled. Just as they reached the area, the small
plane came in on its belly and slid down the runway into the tree-lined
edge of the airstrip coming to a stop crashing into the trees. Roy
and Mike broke into a run to see if they could be of help.
When they reached the accident site, three men were already working
on the pilot’s side of the plane trying to get the door open. “Can
we be of assistance?” Roy immediately went into paramedic mode.
He was glad he had kept his certification current. “We’re
from the L.A. County Fire Department.”
“Yeah, thanks. Will you see if you can get to the other side
of the plane? Mrs. Stevens is in there.” George was thankful
someone was there to help them. It was taking everything they had for
the three men to try to gain access to the Chief. “Just be careful
taking her out of the plane. Her back was injured in an accident a
few months ago.”
Nodding, Roy and Mike headed towards the passenger side to see if
they could get to the lady trapped in the passenger seat. Working hard,
they were finally able to get the door opened. They carefully removed
her laying her on the ground away from the plane.
George and the two men helping him soon had Andrew lying on the ground
on the other side of the plane. One of the men had taken off towards
the office to call for help. Roy checked Beverly for injuries as Mike
took her pulse and determined her respirations. Roy grabbed some of
the supplies he had seen in the back of the plane and had Mike hold
pressure on two of her wounds that were bleeding heavily. Then he hurried
around to the other side to see if he could help with Andrew.
George was worried about Andrew. None of the three men working on
Andrew had any medical training beyond general first aid. He prayed
that help would get there soon. He was relieved when Roy kneeled down
beside him and asked what they had. “He has several cuts and
I think his arm and leg are broken.” He moved out of the way
as Roy slid in to get what little information he could before the others
arrived. As he started counting respirations, Roy looked at Andrew’s
face. Shocked, he stopped for a few seconds. He shook himself and then
began again to get what vital signs he could. The man he was looking
at was an older version of the John Gage he knew. But he also knew
that Johnny was dead. They say that everyone has a twin and Roy knew
he was looking at Johnny’s. It made his heart ache once more
for the partner he would never see again.
Help had arrived within a few minutes of getting both victims out
of the plane. When they were no longer needed, Roy and Mike stepped
back to watch the emergency personnel work on their friends. They could
see the same pain and determination that would be evident on each of
their faces when they worked on their co-workers and friends.
Mike looked at Roy and noticed that he seemed to be a million miles
away. He wondered what would have his friend in a contemplative mood. “Roy,
are you ok? You look like you have seen a ghost.”
Roy pulled himself out of the memories of his days working with John
Gage and looked at his friend. “Yeah, Mike, I’m fine. Did
you get a look at the man?”
“If Johnny was alive, it would have been like looking into a
mirror. He was a dead ringer for Johnny.”
“They say everyone has a twin somewhere.”
“You’re right, Mike. I would like to go to the hospital
and check up on the couple. By the way, did anyone ever say who the
couple is?” Roy wanted to see if there was anything he could
do for the couple.
“Yes, they are Andrew and Beverly Stevens. Andrew is the Fire
Chief here on the Island and his wife is the event planner at the hotel.” Mike
wanted to help the couple, too.
Mike and Roy arrived at the Medical Center shortly after the ambulance
had. Roy was thankful that the Island wasn’t very big. They stayed
out of the way in the waiting room until the emergency personnel left
the treatment room. Approaching carefully, Roy asked how the couple
was doing. Both men sat back down when they were told that the doctors
were examining them and they wouldn’t know anything for a little
Jim Candleson walked into the emergency room entrance to see what
he could find out about Andrew and Beverly Stevens. As he walked up
to the admitting desk, he noticed the two men sitting in the waiting
room. He recognized one of them from the hotel at the beginning of
the Fire Convention. His curiosity got the better of him and he wandered
over to the two men. “Hi, are you waiting for someone?”
Roy had seen this man with Mrs. Stevens earlier in the week at the
hotel and figured that he would be the best way to get information
about the couple. “Yes, we were out on a walk earlier and were
near the airport when Chief and Mrs. Stevens’ airplane went down.
We helped get them out of the plane and just wanted to know how they
were. The paramedics left about half-an-hour ago and we don’t
know who to ask how they are—or if we would even be able to find
“I’m here to check on them myself. I’ll see what
I can find out and be right back.” Jim was deep in thought as
he walked back towards the Nurses’ desk. There were a lot of
events that had happened in the last couple of days that he really
needed to talk to Andrew about—events that were going to change
the course of Andrew’s and Beverly’s lives.
Before he reached the treatment room, the door started opening. He
realized that Mike and Roy had seen it and were now standing beside
him as Andrew was wheeled out of the room. He was trying to regain
consciousness and get his bearings as to where he was. Later all involved
would realize that what happened next would never have happened if
he had not had a moderate concussion. Trying to take in everything
that happened and the people around him, Andrew’s eyes fell on
the two men from L.A. Without thinking, Andrew uttered two words that
brought questions to Roy’s and Mike’s minds—“Mike?
Roy?” Then he gave in to the darkness that was pulling at him.
Roy looked at Mike’s face and saw that it mirrored his own shocked
look. Jim grabbed the two men and quickly escorted them into the empty
doctor’s lounge before anyone else could register what had just
happened. Now he really needed to talk to Andrew—it was just
one more event to add to the growing list.
Hank, Marco, Chet and Kel Brackett were beginning to wonder where
Roy and Mike had disappeared to. No one had seen them since mid-morning
and it was now getting close to dinnertime. The six men were going
to meet to talk about their part of the presentation. Not wanting to
worry their wives, the four men decided to walk the island to see if
they could locate the missing men. They all knew that there was no
way they would leave the island without telling someone where they
were going. Maybe they had gotten lost on their walk.
Hank realized that if they weren’t concerned about the two missing
men, he would really enjoy the walk down the main street of the island.
He would have to make sure he brought his wife on a nice quiet evening
walk later. As they started down the street which led to the medical
center, they were surprised to see Mike, Roy and a gentleman they didn’t
know come out of the building and stand deep in conversation. Even
from a distance Hank could tell there was something unusual going on.
He just hoped neither one had been injured somehow.
Mike looked up just as the four men picked up their pace. He nudged
Roy’s arm and pointed. “That’s the rest of the crew
and Dr. Brackett” he quietly informed Jim. The three men just
stood until the other group reached them.
“Roy, Mike, we have been looking all over for you.” Hank
was relieved to see them, but curious as to what was going on and where
they had been for the last few hours.
“Cap, Doc, guys, let’s all go over to the Great Staits
Seafood Co. for dinner. We have something we need to discuss with all
As the seven men headed towards the restaurant, Hank, Marco, Chet
and Kel were very curious about what was going on. But no matter how
many times they asked, the other three men would only say “when
we get to the restaurant”.
Marco and Hank just stared at the three men after hearing what they
had to say. Dr. Brackett had gotten out of his chair and was pacing
around the small room the men had been given for privacy. Roy and Mike
were smiling to themselves.
Chet was the only one who seemed to be able to find his voice. “Are
you sure? You’ve got to be kidding? I can’t believe it.” Chet
kept repeating over and over to himself.
Finally Roy again answered Chet’s questions. “Yes, we’re
sure and no we aren’t kidding. We couldn’t believe it ourselves.”
Mike looked at Jim and once again repeated what they had told them
before. “Andrew Stevens is really Johnny. On his way home from
the last shift he worked before he ‘disappeared’, he ran
across a man who had been severely beaten, shot and left in an alley
to die. The man had crawled to the end of the alley and Johnny found
him. Johnny was able to save the man’s life.
One of the “junior” bosses of the L.A. mob had decided
he wanted control of his area and had talked the “victim” into
helping him. Kenneth Backen was one of the few people the top boss
trusted. He was supposed to kill the boss making it look like an accident.
Brad Weaver, the junior boss, would then give him a higher position
within the mob. However, Ken changed his mind and was going to go to
the boss and tell him what was going on. Before he could, Brad and
Gary Rosen, a dirty cob on the junior mob boss’s payroll, had
taken Ken into the alley and tried to kill him. If Johnny hadn’t
shown up, they would have pulled him back into the alley and finish
the job. Until he learned the truth about the attempt to kill him and
take over the mob, the boss had thought that Ken was behind it. He
had said that he would kill Johnny because he had saved the man who
was trying to kill him. Johnny testified in the man’s attempted
murder trial. His name was never released to the media and he was put
into the witness protection. Twelve years ago Johnny ‘died’ and
Andrew Stevens was ‘born’.”
Kel sat down and looked Jim Candleson in the eye. “How come
you’re telling us this now if Johnny is in the witness protection
program? Won’t that comprise his cover? Will you have to give
him a new identity and move him?”
“Actually, there has been a development on that front. I can’t
believe that this happened at the same time you guys are on the Island.
But Brad and Gary slipped six months after Johnny disappeared and the
boss found out the truth about what was going on within his own trusted
men. He has been trying to find Johnny ever since to apologize to him.
Yesterday, because Andrew/Johnny wouldn’t give up, he saved a
man’s life. Johnny recognized him and he recognized Johnny. He
was impressed when he realized that even though Johnny knew who he
was and that Johnny thought he was trying to kill him, he worked to
save his life. He apologized to Johnny for putting a ‘hit’ on
him 12 years ago and made a promise that no one in the mob will ever
hurt Johnny or his family. Johnny is free to go back to L.A. or stay
here or do whatever he wants to do.” Jim thought about the conversation
he had with Johnny and Beverly when he told them the same thing he
had just told these men. Johnny was relieved that it was over and knew
that now he had some decisions to make. He also knew that his friends
were really on the Island.
Johnny had suffered several cuts that needed stitches and several
deep bruises as well as a broken arm and leg. Beverly had suffered
several cuts and bruises—the cut on her shoulder took 25 stitches
to close and the cut on her leg took fifteen stitches. The doctors
were worried about her back since she was still recovering from the
back injury she had received a few months earlier.
Johnny was waiting for them to bring Beverly back from the x-rays
and tests they were running to see what the condition of her back was.
They had been on their way to her doctor’s appointment to check
on the damage from the first accident. The swelling had been almost
gone and they were going to find out just how much damage had been
done. Did this accident cause more or even a worse injury? Was she
going to be permanently paralyzed? He prayed that she would be alright.
His thoughts were still with his wife when the door to their room opened
admitting Chet, Mike, Marco, Hank, Kel and Roy. Johnny’s infamous
Gage grin graced his face when he saw who his visitors were. “Hi
“Hey, junior. Boy is it good to see you.” Roy couldn’t
believe he was really talking to his best friend—someone he had
believed to be dead for the last twelve years.
“Yeah, next time, take a map with you so you don’t get
lost, ok?” Chet was as glad as the rest of them that Johnny was
Before anyone could say anything else, the door opened admitting a
set of nine year old triplets, a set of six year old twins and another
sent of four year old twins. All seven kids ran towards Johnny’s
bed at once. “Daddy, daddy, daddy, are you alright? What happened?
Where’s mommy? Who are these men?” Questions came from
all seven kids at once.
Putting up his hand, Johnny regained peace and quiet instantly. The
guys all watched as the kids looked expectantly at their father.
“I’m going to be just fine. Mommy and I were going to
visit the doctor.” Johnny paused as the kids all nodded their
agreement. “Well, there was a problem with the plane and we had
an accident. Mommy’s with the doctors now to see how her back
is. And these men are friends of Daddy’s from before I met Mommy.
I’ll explain it all to you when Mommy and I get home.” Johnny
then introduced the men to Janet, Jason and Jill, Linda and Larry,
and Kimberly and Kevin.
“They wanted to see for themselves that you were alright. We
had a hard time keeping them from coming here on their own.” One
of the ladies that had been standing by the door came over and picked
Johnny introduced Sandy and William Carson and Cathy and Bruce Mendleson
to the guys. “These are some of our closest friends. They help
take care of these rug-rats when Beverly and I have appointments or
a night out.”
With hugs and kisses for Johnny from all the kids, the Carsons and
Mendlesons led the kids out of the room. Just before the door closed,
Kimberly looked at her father. “Daddy, be good—do what
doct’r tells you so you come home.”
Kevin turned around, too. “Yeah, don’t be stubern. And
don’t ‘sbehave. Mommy don’t want to spank you.” And
with that the kids were gone.
Johnny’s laughter joined the others when the door closed on
the kids. “Those are my kids.”
“You have seven kids? I never thought I would ever see the day
when John Gage was a father.” Chet was reviving up to give his
friend twelve years worth of pranks and jokes.
“Well, make that eight and you’d be right.” Beverly
smiled as Johnny’s six visitors jumped at the sound of her voice
and Johnny startled as she was wheeled into the room.
“Eight?” Even Johnny wasn’t quite sure what Beverly
was talking about.
“Yeah, the reason I haven’t been feeling good the last
few weeks is that I am pregnant again.” Beverly smiled at the
look on Johnny’s face. Every time she was pregnant he was full
of pride. He loved every one of their kids and she knew that he wanted
this one as much as he did the others.
“Alright, I can’t wait to hold this one in my arms. Or
maybe it will be a them—after all, all your pregnancies have
ended in multiple births.
The sound of laughter once again filled the room. Then Johnny grew
solemn. “Bev, what is the word about your back?” He just
prayed that she would be alright.
“I can answer that.” Dr. Carl Sandstone was pleased to
hear the laughter as he entered the room. Johnny and Beverly both looked
at the doctor waiting breathlessly for his answer. “She is going
to be just fine. As a matter of fact, this accident released the pressure
on her spinal cord that was created in the first accident. The inflammation
around her spinal cord has gone down and it was as if she had received
an adjustment. The original injury was not as bad we first thought.
With a couple of weeks of bed rest and some therapy, she will be chasing
all of your kids in no time at all.”
Having delivered the good news, the doctor left a very happy group.
Chet had been wondering about something from the moment they had been
told about Johnny and that he didn’t have to stay in the witness
protection program any longer. He was free to live his life any why
he wanted. “Uhm, Johnny, what are you going to do now?”
Johnny knew what he meant, but he had not had an opportunity to talk
to Beverly and really think about all that had happened so he wasn’t
sure yet what he wanted to do. “I, uh, I haven’t really
had a chance to think about it yet, Chet.”
The room grew quiet. All of them wanted Johnny to come home, but he
had made a new life for himself and was well liked according to everything
they had seen. And he seemed to be very happy. What did he have to
go back to in LA?
Before anyone could say anything else, the nurse came in and told
the men in the room visiting hours were over. Roy was the last one
out of the room. “Johnny, Chris and Jen as well as Brad and Steven
Stoker are all going to want to see you. We’re planning on bringing
Beth, Joanne and Emily as well as Dixie to see you in the morning.
Even if you don’t decide to go back to L.A., will you at least
come and visit?” Roy didn’t want to lose contact with his
best friend again.
“I will promise you that much, Roy. I would like to see the
kids, too. I have missed them very much.” Johnny was torn. He
loved his life on the Island, but he missed his life in L.A.
Beverly looked at her husband. She knew he was having a difficult
time making the decision that could change all their lives. It was
a decision she wanted him to feel free to make whatever choice he wanted. “Andrew?” She
wasn’t sure which name he was even going to want to use.
“I know you have some difficult decisions to make. I just wanted
to let you know that whatever choice you make, the kids and I will
support you 100%. You have friends and people who you considered your
family back in LA. You have friends here. So whatever decision you
make, please remember we are behind you and choose the one that will
make you happy and at peace.”
“Yeah, Daddy. We don’t understand everything, but Mommy
said you had to make a decision about living here or moving to L.A.
We all talked about it and think it would be fun if you decide to go
to LA and if not, we have friends here. Daddy, as long as we are all
together, will be ‘home’. It doesn’t matter if we
live here, in LA, or in some other place, we are a family. If we are
all together, that’s all that counts.” Jason quietly stood
next to his father’s bed. The kids had been allowed to come back
after visiting hours to say good night to their parents.
Johnny looked at his children. He knew he had been blessed with a
loving family. As he considered all his options, he thought back over
the last 12 years and the hole that had been made in his life when
he left LA.
Dixie, Beth, Emily, Cindy, Melinda and Joanne were waiting in the
hotel lobby when the men returned. They had all been curious ever since
the phone call that said they should get dinner on their own and they
would get a surprise when the guys got back. That is why they sat watching
the door to the hotel and jumped up as soon as the men entered. Trying
to gain some control, Hank told the group they need to go to the suite
the Stanleys and Stokers were sharing and all questions would be answered.
So the group hurriedly headed upstairs.
When they got upstairs, they had barely found seats when Dixie took
the bull by the horns. “Ok, you guys, what is going on?”
Exchanging looks, Roy took a deep breath. “Well, we found out
today that Johnny is alive, married and has seven kids with another
one on the way.”
The room was eerily silent as the women digested what Roy had just
said. Joanne was the first one to find her voice. “He’s
alive? How do you know that? Have you seen him or something?” Joanne
really didn’t believe that after 12 years, John Gage was alive. “If
he’s alive, why hasn’t he tried to contact us?”
“Mike and I actually helped rescue Johnny and his wife from
a plane accident today.” Roy looked right at his wife.
“But we heard that it was the Chief of the Fire Department and
his wife that were hurt. I think someone said their names were Andrew
and Beverly Stevens.” Dixie couldn’t believe that Johnny
would actually be the Chief on the island.
“It was the Chief of the Fire Department. And his name here
is Andrew Stevens. But Andrew Stevens is really John Gage.” Roy
went on to tell the women about their day and why Johnny changed his
name and had not contacted any of them.
“Does that mean he can go back to LA?” Emily knew how
much her husband had missed his youngest paramedic when he had disappeared.
“Yes, if he wants to, but that is a choice he is going to have
to make.” Roy had missed his friend, his best friend. Secretly
he prayed that he would decide to move back to L.A., but he had a family
to consider and a good life he had built on the Island. As much as
he wanted him to go back to L.A., he knew they couldn’t push
him into it.
“From everything I have heard, he is well respected on the Island.
His wife is well loved, too. He must be torn up inside having to decide
between his life in L.A. and his life here. When he thought he couldn’t
go back, things would have been easier.” Mike had been wondering
how he would decided if he had been put in that situation.
The rest of the evening was spent speculating about what Johnny might
decide and getting used to the idea that Johnny was still alive.
Johnny waited until after dinner to talk to his family. He had to
explain to his kids what had happened and how it could affect their
lives for the rest of their lives. The decision he had to make would
affect them, too, no matter which decision he made. The hardest part
was going to be telling them in terms that they would understand. Taking
a deep breath, he started telling them what had been happening the
last few days.
Johnny shook his head as he thought back to the conversation his family
had just had. Knowing whatever decision he made would affect all of
them, he had wanted their input. He hadn’t expected the reactions
he had gotten, though. But he did know that when they had left the
dinner table, they had come to a unanimous decision.
It had been four weeks since the crew of the original 51 A-shift had
returned from the convention on Mackinaw Island. Roy had tried several
times to talk to Johnny. They had been playing telephone tag and had
actually connected once, but Johnny had been at work and an emergency
call cut their talk short. His curiosity as to whether Johnny would
be returning to L.A. or staying on the Island had grown with each missed
call. He had even written Johnny, but had not received a reply yet.
If he didn’t hear from Johnny soon, he was going to return to
the Island and find out for himself.
He was just about to try to call Johnny again when Hank arrived for
their annual get together. “Hey, Roy, it looks like you are going
to be getting some new neighbors.”
“What? Where?” Roy stepped out onto his porch to see the
moving van that was pulling up to the two-story, five-bedroom house
across the street. “I didn’t know that the house had been
sold. I hope they are nice.” He went back into the house and
led his former boss out to the back yard. He walked over to the grill
and absent mindedly put the coals on it and lit it.
“Hey, you’re getting new neighbors.” “Have
you met them yet?” “Looks like they have a lot of kids.” Mike,
Chet and Marco all spoke at once as they came through the patio door.
Roy’s distraction was noticed by all of them. They knew he had
probably still hadn’t reached Johnny. They were just as curious
as Roy about Johnny’s decision, but didn’t want to make
Roy any more miserable than he already was. Nothing was said about
Roy’s new neighbors or Johnny as the annual get together got
Everyone had gotten their food and was sitting around
the picnic table. “I wish Uncle Johnny was here.” Jenny
still missed her favorite “uncle”. She and Chris had not
been told anything yet, so her comment caught all the adults off guard.
“Well, Jenny, I think I can remedy that.” Johnny laughed
at the sight of five heads turning so fast, he thought they would snap
“Uncle Johnny? You’re dead.” Chris was trying to
made sense of what he was seeing.
“Well, about that— We need to do some explaining.” Johnny
wrapped his arms around Chris and Jenny as they wrapped their arms
The kids were soon followed by Johnny’s five former shift mates.
“Johnny, boy is it good to see you. What are you doing here,
man? When did you get here?” The questions poured out of Chet’s
“Well, I came here to ask for help. We just arrived and it’s
good to see all of you, too.” Johnny laughed at his former shift
mate. Chet hadn’t changed and Johnny was glad for that.
“What kind of help?” Roy wondered what was going on.
“Well, we need help moving into our new home.” Johnny
waited for the information to sink in.
“Your new home? You mean you’re moving back to L.A.” Roy
couldn’t keep the excitement out of his voice. “I was going
to try calling you again to find out what your decision was, but didn’t
have time before everyone got here.”
“Where’s your new home?” Hank couldn’t believe
how good it felt knowing Johnny was coming back to L.A.
“We bo’te big blue ho’se across street.” Kevin
was tired of standing behind his father. He wanted to go play on the
swing set he saw in the back yard. Riding in a car for four days was
“That moving van is yours?” Even Mike was glad to have
“Yeah, I didn’t know you all would be here today. It just
makes it right.” Johnny could feel the last 12 years melt away.
He was definitely “home”. “I know you’ve been
anxious, Roy. I’m sorry I kept avoiding your calls. It has taken
the FBI this long to get everything straightened out so that I am officially
alive once again and my family’s last name is Gage like it should
“I don’t mind now that I know you are here and you are
going to be so close. It sure is good to have you home, Jr.” Roy
pulled his best friend into another bear hug as everyone got to know
the newest members of the Station 51 family.
Roy had called Drs. Brackett, Morton and Early as well as Dixie and
asked them to come over. The four adults were surprised when they walked
in and saw the Gage family. Johnny explained how it had taken the last
four weeks to straighten out the paperwork and undo his “death” and
change his family to their legal name of Gage. He had not wanted to
say anything to Roy in case something happened along the way and they
would have to stay on the Island. Jenny, Chris, Brad and Steven took
care of the Gage kids while the other adults helped Johnny and Beverly
settle into their new home. Roy was walking on cloud nine. His “brother” had
not only returned to L.A., he was going to live right across the street.
But the best part was when Roy found out that even though Dr. Brackett
didn’t know for sure when or if it would happen, Johnny had been
talking with him and was going to be taking over the paramedic instructor
spot left vacant by Craig Brice’s death. Roy and Johnny were
going to be partners again.
Life had settled in and Johnny was amazed at how it seemed as if the
last 12 years had all been a dream. But he knew that they had happened—he
had a wonderful life and seven beautiful children. Now he was in his
wife’s room as their eighth child was trying to make his or her
appearance. The only difference was this time he could do what he had
only wished he could have done the last three times—share it
with his family.
As Johnny came out into the maternity waiting room followed by a nurse,
everyone couldn’t believe how much they had missed the trademark
grin that graced Johnny’s face now. He was carrying two babies
and the nurse behind him was carrying a third. “I’d like
you to meet
Nathan, Nicholas, and Nanette Gage.”
“Man that makes ten kids, Gage. Couldn’t you stop at seven?
Chet had taken Nanette from the nurse and was holding her protectively
to his chest.
“Well, like I told Beverly when she told me she was pregnant,
I knew we would have at least two more—every time she has gotten
pregnant it has ended in multiple births.”
Soon Janet, Jason, Jill, Linda, Larry, Kimberly and Kevin pushed their
way forward. “Can ‘e ‘ive ‘em ‘ack?” Kimberly
didn’t like the looks of the squirming bundles in her father’s
and “Uncle Chet’s” arms.
“Give them back? Why?” Johnny kneeled down in front of
his youngest daughter and held his two sons close.
“’ey ‘re ‘ll ‘quirm’y an’ won’t
be any fun.” Kimberly wondered why all the adults in the room
had started laughing.
“Just wait, they are little now, but there will come a time
when you will be able to play with them and they’ll be keeping
you busy. Just like you did with your brothers and sisters when you
were this little.”
“I like that ‘nce? ‘uk.” Kimberly looked at
the faces of her father and “Uncle Roy”. They were both
laughing so hard, they had tears running down their faces.
“Kimberly, you were just like them, but now you are a sweet
little girl. How about I take you and Kevin down to the cafeteria for
an ice cream?” Jenny smiled at the little girl. “If that
is ok with your Dad.”
“Daddee ‘an we? I ‘ike ‘ce ‘ream.” Kimberly
looked at her father with the same look Jenny had given him when she
“Yes, squirt, you can. Thanks, Jen.” As Johnny turned
to head back to Beverly’s room, Chris stopped him.
“If it is ok, I’ll go and with them and we’ll take
all the kids.”
“That’s great. Thank you both so much.” Johnny was
pleased to see that his family had become a part of the family that
had formed in the original 51 A-shift crew. He was glad that he had
been able to come home and share his life with the only family he had
There were a lot of happy members of the L.A. County Fire Department
seated in the auditorium awaiting the graduation ceremonies for the
newest paramedic class. Word had spread quickly when Johnny returned
to L.A. and headquarters had used the excitement to promote the paramedic
program. Enrollment had soared when word got out that Roy and Johnny
were the instructors. They had been pleased with the caliber of the
new recruits and had worked hard to make sure they had received the
best possible training.
No one was surprised when the student selected to speak on behalf
of the graduates told how much they had enjoyed the training they had
received from Johnny and Roy. They all knew that if the new paramedics
were half as good as the original Station 51 A-shift paramedic team,
the citizens of L.A. County would be in good hands. Roy smiled--Johnny
was home and life was good once again.
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