For personal use and select distribution only © by Addmom

DISCLAIMER: "Emergency!" and its characters © Mark VII Productions, Inc. and Universal Studios. All rights reserved.

The poems and songs used in this story do not belong to me. I have indicated the singer/writer of each one.

No infringement of any copyrights or trademarks is intended or should be inferred. This is a work of fiction, and any similarity to actual persons or events is purely coincidental. This story is only written for entertainment. No financial gain is being realized from it. The story, itself, is the property of the author. Please ask before archiving elsewhere and/or using characters created by the author.

I am in no way connected to the medical profession and take responsibility for all mistakes in dealing with treatments, diseases, etc.

A Stab in the Heart


Part II

Walking down the hall Officer Ron Belk wondered what he had gotten himself into. When he had originally approached him, Ron didn’t realize who the men were that he wanted to take revenge on and that it would go this far. He had been a little shocked when they had entered the house and found John Gage standing over the victims. Arresting Johnny would have fallen right into this guy’s plans. Knowing he wouldn’t be able to stall forever, he had arrested Johnny and tried to formulate a plan from there. They had grown up together and the man had used that to get the dirt he needed to blackmail him into helping. But after the last phone call, Ron was beginning to believe it would be better for him to get fired and even go to prison rather than help him any longer.

Making a decision, Ron walked into his Captain’s office. “Captain Ramsey, can I talk to you for a few minutes?” He took a seat after closing the door and poured out his heart to his boss.


It was a big fire—a warehouse of furniture that had refinishing chemicals stored in the workroom. By the time any fire department personnel arrived on the scene half of the warehouse was in flames. With organized chaos, the firefighters pulled their hoses and went to work while the paramedics ran into the building to do a search and make sure everyone had gotten out safely. Hank Stanley watched as his paramedics seemed to be working in sync like they always did, but he notice what only he would see—the slight tension between the two of them.

Roy led the way and Johnny watched his every step. The warehouse was filled with black smoke and they could hardly see. When they reached the second floor hallway of offices that were assigned to them, Roy pointed and Johnny knew from years of working with him that Roy would take the left side and he would take the right. With a slight nod of acknowledgment, the two split up.

They had searched for ten minutes and found no one. Heading out of the building they were nearing the stairwell when the hair on the back of Johnny’s neck stood up. Looking up he realized that the ceiling was about to give way. They had started down the stairs and Roy had reached the bottom. With a quick shove Johnny pushed him out of the front door as the entire ceiling fell and the chemicals exploded.

Roy lay still for a minute until he could once again take a breath. When Johnny had shoved him, he had gotten the wind knocked out of him. As his senses started to return to normal, his first thought went to Johnny. He wondered where his partner was. Sitting up carefully as he took stock of his body, he looked around the area. His fears were that Johnny was still in the building when the world seemed to have exploded. Looking towards the engine, he saw Captain Stanley headed his way. But he really wanted to find out where Johnny was.

When he looked to his right side, Roy saw the man he was looking for lying on the ground not moving. Fear gripped his heart as he made his way over to Johnny’s side just as Captain Stanley reached his fallen men. With trepidation, he reached out to check to see if Johnny had a pulse. The steady but faint heartbeat made him release the breath he didn’t even realize he had been holding. With the knowledge that Johnny was at least alive, he started examining him to ascertain what injuries he had received. During the whole examination, Johnny remained unmoving and unconscious.

Roy was having trouble since he kept seeing double. He realized he had a concussion from being hit by the flying debris, but his only concern was Johnny. Roy’s only thoughts were what if Johnny didn’t survive. Johnny had pushed him out of the way and saved his life. Why? There were other ways Johnny could have saved him but prevented himself from receiving the worst injuries. He could have just yelled at Roy and ran, but instead he had made sure that Roy was out of the way.

Hank and Roy had reached Johnny at the same time. One look at Roy and Hank knew they needed another paramedic team to treat both of his paramedics. He got on his HT and called for two additional paramedics while Roy gently turned his partner over. His heart leapt into his throat as he saw the blood pouring from the laceration on Johnny’s left temple. Grateful that Brice and Bellingham had arrived with their equipment, he grabbed a pressure bandage and pressed it to the laceration. Sinking down to the ground, he didn’t hear Bellingham when he lost consciousness. His last thought was that Johnny had saved his life once again.


Hank, Chet, Marco and Mike were released from cleanup duty and headed immediately for Rampart to check on their fallen comrades. Looking for a friendly face, Hank was surprised to see both Bellingham and Brice waiting at Dixie’s desk. “Brice, any word on Roy and Johnny?” he hurried towards the two men.

Brice had been trying to figure out how to tell Hank what had transpired when they arrived at the hospital when the man came walking down the hall. But before he could answer Hank’s question, Roy and his wife were wheeled out of treatment room three. Joanne was being released and Roy was being sent home with a mild concussion. A nurse was going to stay with them for a few days until Roy was back on his feet. What the other men did not know, was that the nurse was also a police officer who had been assigned to Roy and Joanne. The DeSotos didn’t know that little detail either.

“How are you doing, Roy?” Hank was glad to see one-half of his paramedic team looking better than he had at the scene.

“I have a headache and am a little tired, but I am doing ok. Have you heard anything about Johnny? He still had not regained consciousness when we arrived.” Roy was worry about his friend.

“He woke up just as Dr. Brackett started his examination. He has a broken collar bone, several deep muscle bruises on his back from flying debris, twenty-five stitches to close the laceration on his temple and a severe concussion. Brackett says he will make a full recovery with time and a little therapy.” Bellingham had been asked to leave the room when two men in suits walked into the treatment room. He had learned the extent of Johnny’s injuries just before he left, but wondered what was going on when he realized the two men were police detectives.

Just at that moment Kel Brackett and Dixie came out of the treatment room. Roy quickly wheeled himself over to be the first one to reach them. “Doc, is he really going to be ok? Can I see him?” A knot formed in Roy’s stomach as Dixie and Kel exchanged glances.

Before either one could answer Roy’s question, the door to the treatment room opened again. The two detectives emerged from the room. The first one saw the group congregated in the hallway. “Detective Bergson, I’m glad we caught you. There has been a change in plans.”

The fire department and hospital personnel exchanged questioning glances. Before any of them could ask the question that was on their mind, running footsteps could be heard down the hall. Turning, they all saw Chris and Jenny DeSoto heading for their parents along with their next door neighbor and Vince Howard. The questions only multiplied. “What’s going on, Vince?” Hank decided as Captain he would take the bull by the horns.

“Let’s all go upstairs to the conference room and we’ll explain everything.” Vince knew that the detectives had arranged the room before he arrived.

Before anyone could move, the treatment room doors opened again and two orderlies were wheeling Johnny out. “We’ll be up in a few minutes. Linda and Sandy are waiting upstairs.”

With a quick nod, the orderlies took Johnny in the elevator as the group watched. Then some of them went in the next elevator while others took the stairs to meet in the second floor conference room. They wanted to know what was going on.

When they reached the conference room on the second floor Captain Jeff Ramsey and Lt. Lane Banden were waiting for the group to arrive. When everyone found a seat, Captain Ramsey explained the situation. He outlined the plan they had devised and asked for their cooperation. Johnny had already been asked and had readily agreed to it. The others agreed to go along, too.


He walked into Rampart through the main entrance. He didn’t want to risk being seen by anyone who knew him. His contact had said that Johnny and Roy were injured at a fire and were being kept at the hospital. This was the chance he had been waiting for to get even with the two paramedics. With his friend’s help, he would finally have his revenge.

He made it up to the fourth floor. Luck had been with him when he found the doctor’s locker room empty and some clean scrubs piled on the shelf. The scrubs made him look like he was a hospital employee and he knew he would have no problem getting around. His luck had held when he found the medicine closet on the fourth floor unlocked and unattended. Grabbing two syringes and two full bottles of morphine, he stopped at the empty nurses’ station to find the two patients he was looking for. It never occurred to him that things were too easy. He just wanted to make them pay.

A feeling of elation washed over him as he realized the two men were actually sharing a room. This was going to be so easy. He also noted that the required checks by the nurses had just been completed and the next ones weren’t scheduled for another four hours. By that time the two men would have felt his revenge. With a feeling of giddiness, he headed towards room 405.

His feeling of confidence strengthened when he reached the room and found that his friend was actually the officer that had been assigned to protect the two men. With a small wave, he walked past the officer, pushed open the door and walked into the room. The lights were out and he saw that both men appeared to be asleep. Planning on waking each of them up just as he pushed the plunger on the syringe into their IV so that they would know he had won, he walked over to Roy’s bed.

It had been Johnny who had said those harsh words to him and could identify him for the attacks. It was Johnny he wanted to make pay last. So he headed to Roy’s bed first. He placed the needle into the IV port and then shook Roy’s shoulder as he started to push the plunger.

It was then that Lt. Banden turned and pointed a gun at him. “Ed Marlowe, you are under arrest for the attempted murder of Roy DeSoto and John Gage and the rapes and beatings of Katie Selfridge, Joanne and Jennifer DeSoto.”

Thinking he could get out of it by pushing the plunger, he didn’t realize that the IV line went to a small bag hidden under the covers. He tried to run but was stopped by Captain Ramsey standing behind him. He had not realized that the Captain had been the person in the other bed.

Knowing he had been caught, he surrendered to the two men. When they led him out of the room, he realized that his friend, Office Ron Belk was also in handcuffs. “You traitor. You are going down with me.”

“I’ve already told them everything. There is nothing you can say that they don’t already know.” Ron Belk looked at the man standing in front of him and wondered how he could have ever gone along with his plan.

“And I’ve told them everything about my part in this little plan of yours,too.” Ed turned to find Roy’s neighbor in handcuffs, too. There was no way he was going to win this one and he knew it.

As the uniformed officers led the two men and woman away, Captain Ramsey stopped in Roy and Joanne DeSoto’s room. “John was right. Ed Marlowe was the one that was trying to hurt both of you. He blamed you not only for him washing out of the paramedic program, but a girl he was dating and was going to ask to marry him was killed in an auto accident. The two of you were the paramedics called to the scene and he blames you for not saving her. I remembered the accident and know that there was nothing that anyone could have done—she suffered a broken neck and died instantly.”

Roy lay in his bed thinking about what the Captain had said after the police officer left. Johnny’s folder had been buried at police headquarters the night of his arrest by Officer Ron Belk. Ed Marlowe had been friends with him growing up and had blackmailed him into helping him. It seems that Officer Belk had lied on his academy application and had been heavily into drugs. Then the Captain had said that Roy’s neighbor was an old girlfriend of Ed’s and wanting to hurt Johnny, she had jumped at the chance to lie about seeing Johnny at Roy’s that night. Officer Belk had turned her in and given the police the location where she was hiding. Roy just prayed that he would be able to make it up to Johnny somehow. But he would not blame Johnny if he never forgave him.

Lt. Banden closed the door to John Gage’s and Katie Selfridge’s room. They had both been through a lot and he was glad to have given them some good news. But John had been quiet during the whole time he was there. Lane knew that John had a lot on his mind and needed to figure out where he went from here. Lane wouldn’t have blamed him if he had filed a law suit against the police department and from what he had learned, Lane would even volunteer to testify for him if he did.

Johnny lay on his bed lost deep in thought. Katie had lost the battle to stay awake after the Lt. had left and he had time to think about what might lay ahead. He had to decide whether what the future held in regards to his job. Did he want to go back to 51s until his transfer came through? Did he really want to transfer? What was he going to do? He tried putting himself in Roy’s place and remembered seeing Katie lying there when he arrived at the scene. It had been all he could do to keep his professionalism. If it hadn’t been for the captain and his paramedic partner at the time, he wasn’t sure he would have been able to function.

He was still running options through his mind when the door opened. Turning to see who it was, he grabbed the control and raised the head of his bed so he was in a sitting position. He wasn’t sure he was ready for his visitors, but he felt it was better to get it over with. The same uncertainty he felt was visible on both Roy’s and Joanne’s faces.

“How are you, Johnny?” Roy’s voice cracked as he slowly walked over to Johnny’s bed.

“I have a bad headache and my shoulder and back is sore, but I’m glad you’re ok.” Johnny had been told that Roy was ok, but until he saw it for himself he wasn’t convinced. Now he could rest easy because Roy would be fine.

Roy was trying to think of something to say to Johnny. There were so many things he wanted to tell him but none that he could think of that he felt Johnny would want to hear. Thank you seemed so inadequate but Johnny had willing pushed him out of harm’s way. I’m sorry seemed so hollow. Roy wondered what thoughts and feelings were running through Johnny’s mind. He really wished he could turn the clock back to before the attacks. Roy’s guilt at ever even considering the possibility that Johnny could have hurt either Joanne or Jenny was consuming him. What could he say to Johnny?

Johnny could tell that Roy was feeling guilty, but he wasn’t ready to talk with Roy yet. He was still conflicted about what he really wanted to do. Just as he was about to ask Roy to leave, they heard noises from Katie’s bed.

“No, please don’t hurt me. Please leave me alone. Johnny, help me. I need you.” Katie was in the throes of a nightmare.

Johnny slipped out of his bed and slowly made his way over to Katie’s bed. “Honey, it’s ok. I’m here. You’re safe and everything is going to be alright.” Johnny carefully climbed into bed with her and wrapped his good arm around her. Soon her nightmares were over and she was resting comfortably again never having woken up.

“Roy, Joanne, I’m tired and I really don’t want to wake Katie so would you mind closing the door on your way out?” And with that Johnny closed his eyes.

Roy and Joanne turned and sadly walked out of the door.


Johnny was sitting in the chair in front of the window watching the rain as it kissed the window pane. He thought about the short time he had been back at Station 51 before he was injured. The tension had been thick and he didn’t think he could return. But he didn’t know if he wanted to leave either.

Katie slowly opened her eyes and saw her fiancée sitting by the window. She knew what he was thinking about. The fact that he had asked for no visitors was probably bothering him, too. Her heart ached for him. His “family” had hurt him very deeply and she knew that he still cared about them. “Hi sweetheart.”

Johnny jumped at the sound of Katie’s voice but he smiled when he realized she was awake. The only thing was the smile did not quite reach his eyes. “Hey, how are you feeling?” He was glad that she had steadily been getting stronger and better.

“Better than I was. I’m stiff and sore, but am really beginning to feel stronger. Are you alright? I see you are busy thinking. Come up with any decisions?”

“I’m glad you’re feeling better. I’m doing better, too. And no, I haven’t come up with any definite decisions. But I really don’t think I can go back to Station 51 again. It is just too hard. But I think leaving will be just as hard.”

“I think that whatever you decide it is going to be hard. I know you will do the right thing, though.” Katie’s heart broke for Johnny.

“Thanks. I love you.” Johnny was thankful for her support.

As she lost the battle to stay awake, Johnny’s thoughts turned back to the last few weeks and the decisions he was going to have to make. The hardest thing though was when the memories that he had pushed to the back of his mind kept rising to the surface. No matter how hard he tried pushing them away, they wouldn’t stay in the corner of his mind that he had relegated them to.


Roy, Chet, Mike, Marco and Hank all arrived early for the next shift. As they sat around the table drinking coffee, they all seemed lost in their own thoughts.

“Has anyone seen or talked to Johnny?” Chet knew that Johnny had asked for no visitors, but he hoped that maybe Roy at least could have been able to get in to see him.

“No, he still won’t allow any visitors. I think Dixie said both Johnny and his fiancée are going to be released today. In the past, I would have asked both of them to come and stay with us, but not this time.” Roy knew that they would need help, but didn’t know where they would get it because all Johnny’s friends had turned on him when Roy seemed to.

“How could we ever believe that Johnny could ever hurt anyone—let alone Joanne and Jenny? And then to find out that his fiancée was attacked by the same guy. From what I overheard Dr. Swanson say, she was injured more severely than Joanne and there was more than once that they thought she wasn’t going to make it. She was brutally beaten and savagely raped and then developed a couple of serious infections after that. There for awhile they were afraid she was going to have complications and never be able to have kids. That would have devastated Johnny. I know he wants to have a large family.” Mike knew that they had hurt Johnny deeply and he really didn’t think if the roles were reversed that he would be able to forgive them. Charlie Dwyer was filling in for Johnny and had passed through to the locker room.

Before anyone could answer, the phone rang. Chet slowly made his way to the phone. The joy of the station had been missing since the night of Johnny’s arrest. Now it seemed like it might be gone forever. “Station 51, Fireman Kelly speaking. ~~ He’s right here. Just a minute and I’ll get him for you. ~~ Roy, it’s Dixie McCall for you.”

Hank, Marco, Mike and Chet all watched as Roy answered the call. “Hi Dix, what can I do for you? ~~ Really? When? ~~ Let me check with Cap. Just a minute--” Roy turned to see four pair of eyes watching him. “Cap, can you get a replacement for me? Johnny’s asked to talk to me.”

Hank didn’t have to think twice about his answer. He just prayed that it was a positive sign that Johnny had asked to talk to Roy. “Sure, I’ll just stand the squad down until someone gets here.”

Roy quickly told Dixie he was on his way and was out the door without even changing out of his uniform. Charlie entered the room to see Roy’s departing form.


As Roy entered Rampart through the Emergency entrance, he wondered what his best friend—could he still call him his best friend?—wanted to talk to him about. He knew that whatever Johnny had to say he probably deserved to hear it. The thought that wouldn’t leave his mind was that Johnny was going to tell him that he never wanted to work with him or see him again. Johnny had a right to feel that way and if that was what he said Roy would accept it. Nothing would change how he felt about Johnny, though. Johnny would always be his best friend.

Before he realized it, Roy was standing outside the door to Johnny’s room. He jumped when he heard Johnny’s voice.

“Are you just going to stand there, Roy, or are you going to come in?” Johnny was nervous about this talk—probably as nervous as Roy. He had done a lot of thinking and talking with Katie. Grateful for her listening and wisdom, he had come to a decision.

“Hi. I’m coming in. Dixie said you wanted to talk to me.” Roy stepped just inside the room. He could see Katie sleeping in the other bed in the room. Johnny and Katie had been put in the same room when the police were still after Ed Marlowe, just like Roy and Joanne had been put together in a room. They had been left in the same room when they requested no visitors and Katie got too overworked when they tried to move one of them out of the room. For her continued recovery, the couple was kept together.

“Yes, I do. Please close the door and come on in. Pull up a chair.” Johnny was growing more confident each minute with the decision he had made. It was going to be hard on everyone, but it was the right decision.

Roy did as Johnny asked with a growing feeling of dread. Realizing that this was probably the last time he would ever talk to his best friend, he slowly pulled the chair to beside Johnny’s bed and sat down so he could face him.

“Roy, I have been doing a lot of thinking and talking with Katie and I have come to a decision. But before I tell you what I have decided, Katie suggested that I tell you a little bit about my childhood. You see, when I walked in on Joanne and Jenny being attacked, that wasn’t the first time in my life that I have been in that situation.”

The surprised look on Roy’s face was just what Johnny had expected. “What do you mean, Johnny?”

“My father drank heavily when I was growing up. He used my mother as a punching bag until I was old enough, then he would take turns using her and me. It got so I dreaded coming home from school, but I knew I couldn’t leave my mother alone in the house with my father. One day when I was ten I walked home slower than ever. My dad had lost yet another job and was blaming my mother and me. He said that if he had married an Indian he wouldn’t have the problems he did. My mother was German. He kept telling us we were worthless and I would never amount to anything. Anyway, close to home I started hearing screams. I began to run fearing that my dad was killing my mother. I didn’t know how right I was. As I entered the house, I saw my father beating my mother. When she would cry out, he would hit her as hard as he could. My father was 6’2” and weighed 240 pounds. My mother was only 5’7” and weighed 120 pounds. There was no doubt over who was winning. I started to turn around and run to get some help, but my father’s voice stopped me. ~Don’t you dare leave this house, young man. Get over here or I’ll kill her.~ I didn’t know my father had even realized I was in the room. I saw the knife he was holding at my mother’s throat. If I had known then what was going to happen, I think I would have run anyway and maybe I could have prevented part of what happened next.” Johnny took a deep breath.

“Johnny, you don’t have to tell me this.” Roy was beginning to get a sick feeling. Johnny’s childhood had been horrible. He was just beginning to get an idea of how deeply the events of the night Katie, Joanne and Jenny were attacked were affecting Johnny.

“Yes, I do. Katie is right. I need to talk to someone and that someone is you.” Johnny started again and as he talked, Roy could tell he was reliving the scene in his mind. “I stopped and just stood there. I didn’t know what to do. ~Get over here. Now you can see how a real man treats a woman. Your mother has not been fulfilling her womanly duties so I am teaching her a lesson. You can watch and learn—sit on that chair right over there.~ My mother had lost a lot of blood by this time from her broken nose and the stab wound I saw in her stomach. As I walked over to the chair, I tried to think of a way to get out of the house and get some help. But my father must have realized I would be home soon, because when I turned around to sit down in the chair, my father was right behind me. He tied my arms to the arms of the chair and gagged me so I wouldn’t call out for help. Then he returned to my mom. By the time he was done, I couldn’t even recognize her because he had beaten her so badly. He had stabbed her a couple more times and she was bleeding pretty heavily.

“I knew he was going to kill me when he turned towards me with nothing but cold black hatred in his eyes. My mom’s sister, Margaret, would have to pick that time to stop by with her six year old daughter, Julie, to visit. She walked in to see me tied to the chair, my mother beaten, naked and bleeding to death on the floor and my father with a bloody knife in his hand. Instead of turning around and getting out of there my aunt yelled at my father. ~What is going on here? What do you think you are doing?~ She kept walking towards him while she talked and Julie followed her mother because she was so scared. By the time my aunt realized she had made a very stupid mistake, they were within my father’s reach. He grabbed Julie and threw her against the wall. It knocked her unconscious. Then he grabbed my aunt. ~I’ll show you exactly what I am doing. You need to be taught a lesson just like your sister.~ My aunt received the same treatment my mother had. I was really hoping that would be the end of it, but Julie had woken up and was crying. I wish she would have remained unconscious. He did the same thing to her. By this time I wanted to die. I was crying so hard and had rope burns on my arms from trying to get away to do something—anything—to help. But I knew they were all going to die and I couldn’t do anything about it. When he turned and headed towards me, there was another voice. The neighbors had heard the commotion and had called the police. Since we lived on the reservation, it took them 20 minutes to get there—20 minutes too long.

“The sheriff yelled at my father to stop and drop the knife. My father just leered at the cop and then headed for me once again with the knife pointed right at my heart. I was sure that my father’s determination to kill me would win out over the sheriff’s orders. But the sheriff didn’t say it again. With my father ten feet away, the sheriff shot and killed my father. I went into a catatonic state. They found my sister in her bedroom in the same condition as my Mom, aunt and cousin. I had no family left.” The tears were running down Johnny’s cheeks. The shame at not being able to help his mother, aunt, sister and cousin had come to the surface again. He had tried to push it down, but retelling the story only made the shame grow stronger.

Roy couldn’t keep the tears from running down his cheeks either. No one should ever have to witness or live through anything like that—especially a ten year old boy. He wasn’t sure he would have been able to survive like Johnny had. Before he could say anything, Johnny was talking again.

“My mom’s other sister, Janet, and her husband took me in. They moved me here to California to get away from the memories and the talk. Their support and three years of therapy with a child psychologist helped me begin to be able to face life again. They had put me in a private school where the teachers and administration had been informed of the situation. But somehow I fit in there and found some friends. That was the first time I really felt worth something. When my uncle died, I realized then that I wanted to do something with my life that would help people. Since they didn’t have paramedics at the time, I became a fireman—my uncle had died in a fire trying to save our neighbor. He gave his life saving hers.

“I thought I had dealt completely with the memories, but when I saw Jenny lying on the floor bleeding and Ed Marlowe standing over Joanne, they all came back. I have been having nightmares ever since that night. I feel so ashamed I couldn’t help my family. Katie thinks getting it out in the open will help me deal with the memories better. When I thought about that night while I was sitting in jail it was like a—” Johnny hadn’t looked at Roy during the whole time he was talking. He wasn’t sure he wanted to see the judgment and disappointment on Roy’s face—judgment because he hadn’t done anything to stop the attacks on his family and disappointment in his friend. When he did look at Roy’s face he was surprised to see love, compassion and support. He couldn’t complete his sentence.

Roy had a good idea of what Johnny was going to say. “It was like a stab in the heart, wasn’t it?” When Johnny nodded, Roy continued. “Johnny, you were only ten. And being tied to a chair keeps you from being able to do anything. A child is supposed to be able to trust his parents and look up to them for protection—not be afraid they are going to kill them. There was nothing you could have done. I’m just glad that sheriff showed up when he did. Think about the kids we have met when a father has beaten up their mother. What do we tell them?” Roy knew that Johnny had to once again realize that nothing that happened was his fault.

“That it isn’t their fault—there was nothing they could do. Thanks, Roy, I needed to be reminded of that again.” Johnny knew it was time to tell Roy of his decision. What he had just told Roy had no bearing on the current situation, but Johnny had felt the need to tell him.

“Johnny, why did you tell me all this now?” Roy was glad Johnny had finally opened up some about his childhood, but he wondered why.

“Because Katie kept saying that I really needed to talk to someone about it and I didn’t want to talk to another shrink. After what happened to Katie, Joanne and Jenny, I needed to let you know how I felt. I guess I should have asked if you wanted to hear about it. I’m sorry.” Maybe he needed to rethink his decision.

“Oh, Johnny, don’t be sorry. I’m glad you told me. I feel honored that you felt you could tell me. I realize now why you never talk much about your childhood.” Roy stopped and it was his turn to take a deep breath. “You said you had made a decision.” Roy’s last statement was so quiet Johnny almost didn’t hear it.

“Yeah, I have. Katie said that members of families make mistakes in their relationships with each other. Sometimes those mistakes are small, sometime they are huge and sometimes they are in between. But families deal with these mistakes because they love each other and try to work them out. They share their feelings about the mistakes and try to learn from them and strengthen their relationship.”

Roy hadn’t met Katie officially yet, but if her advice was leading Johnny the way Roy hoped he was going, Roy liked her already.

Johnny noticed that he had Roy’s attention and decided it was time. “I have always thought of you as more than my best friend. I consider you my brother. And I believe you feel the same way.” Johnny chuckled as he saw Roy nodding his head so hard Johnny thought it was going to fall off. “And the rest of the guys are my brothers, too. I put myself in each one of your shoes and tried to picture how I would have reacted in your place. Ed Marlowe went to a lot of trouble to destroy our friendship and our partnership. I found out from Jed Carson that he had begun to spread lies in the department before he carried out the attacks. I’m not sure what he was saying, but according to Jed, if anyone had believed him or it had gone any further you and I would hate each other and our careers would have been ruined. He did things that caused you and everyone else to act in a way they never would have normally.”

Johnny’s smile got a little bigger as he saw Roy sitting on the edge of his seat by this time. “I guess what I am trying to say is that I have talked with headquarters and won’t be transferring out of 51 at all if you guys want me to stay and work this out. It will be hard, but I’d like to try.” Johnny lost his smile as he realized that maybe the guys didn’t want him to come back.

“Are you kidding? Of course, we want you to come back. The place isn’t the same without you. There is no joy or fun anymore. Johnny, I will never be able to tell you how sorry I am that I didn’t do more that night or the two weeks you were in prison to find out what really happened.” Roy looked at his hands afraid to see the accusations in his friend’s eyes.

“Roy, I have been doing a lot of thinking about that. I know how worried I was about Katie that whole time and knew that you had double the worries with Joanne and Jenny both being hurt. After putting myself in your place, I realized that I probably would have reacted the same way. Ed Marlowe really did his homework and almost succeeded. It won’t be easy, but I know we all want to get our relationships back on track.”

Roy looked up to see the forgiveness in Johnny’s eyes that was mirrored in his own. “Yeah, we do.” After a few comfortable minutes of silence, Roy asked the question that Chet had asked the day they all discovered that Johnny shouldn’t have been in jail in the first place. “Johnny, who’s Katie Selfridge? And why didn’t you tell us about her?”

Johnny knew that Roy had been told that she was his fiancée, but he realized exactly what Roy was asking. “To answer your second question first, I didn’t say anything before because of how my relationships always seem to go. I really liked her and didn’t want to give Chet any more ammunition to use against me. I was actually planning on telling you the night after all this happened when you guys came over for dinner. But things changed. I met Katie at the Emmanuel Center.”

“The shelter for battered, abused and rape victims?”

“Yeah, after the run we had there several months ago, I decided to volunteer to do repair work around the place. I guess it was my way of trying to help my family and make up for not being able to do anything for them that day. Anyway, Katie works there as an aide. She plays with the kids and often ends up being a listening ear for the women even though she isn’t trained for that kind of work. Watching her, I think sometimes her advice and help is better than the trained therapists.”

“You’d better not let Dr. Watkins or Sandy hear you say that.” Katie had woken up shortly after Roy had arrived, but had lain quietly so as to not interrupt the two men.

“Hey, how long have you been awake?” Johnny was glad to see that she was getting better every day.

“Most of the time Roy has been here. I didn’t want to interrupt anything.”

“Well, I still believe you give out the best advice.” The pride and love Johnny had for her shown in his eyes.

“That’s because it comes from experience.” Katie’s voice was quiet, but the two men heard every word.

“I know, honey.” Johnny had heard how Katie’s ex-boyfriend had beat and raped her and how she had gotten out of the relationship.

Roy was curious but knew he didn’t have a right to ask what had happened. That’s why he jumped when Katie started telling him about her experiences. When she finished Roy looked at her with admiration. “Thank you for telling me. You really didn’t have to.”

“I know, but like I told Johnny, it helps to talk about it. Besides families share the good and the bad so they can help each other.”

Roy realized just how special Katie was and how lucky his best friend was to have someone like her in his life. Then it hit Roy—he could still call Johnny his best friend. It would take time and hard work to get the relationship back to where it was before all of this started, but he knew they were starting down that road together.

“Roy, we do have something to ask you, though.” Johnny was hoping he was not pushing his luck.

“What’s that?”

“Katie and I can be released today if we can find a place to stay. With my broken collar bone and headaches, I really can’t take of Katie by myself. She can’t take care of me because she is still recovering from the internal injuries as well as a broken arm and leg. She has to be on strict bed rest for the next few weeks. Do you have any suggestions as to where we could stay?”

“Johnny, you can both stay with us. We would love to have you. It will give us time to get to know Katie better. I remember now that we were supposed to go to your place for dinner that weekend. I’m just sorry that things happened the way they did. Will you stay with us? It will give us a chance to start on rebuilding our friendship.” Roy’s guilt was beginning to surface again.

Johnny knew the look on Roy’s face. “Yes, on one condition.”

Roy looked at Johnny with a puzzled look. “What’s that?”

“That you stop the guilt trip and let it go. We are a family and families forgive.”

“You’ve got it partner.”

The three talked quietly after Roy had called Joanne and told her they would be having company. Then he called Gil Robinson to ask if he could bring his van and help take Johnny and Katie to the DeSoto home. Secretly Gil was thrilled to learn that the two friends had been able to patch things up and quickly agreed. Dixie came and helped Katie get dressed while Roy took Johnny for his last walk around the floor to prove to the doctor he was ready to be released. When Gil arrived, he pushed Johnny’s wheelchair as Roy pushed Katie’s wheelchair. Dixie and Gil shared a smile at the familiar bantering between Roy and Johnny.


Chet kept pacing the floor in front of the TV mumbling to himself. He was lucky that he was the only one in the TV area at the moment. Hank, Marco and Mike had all bitten his head off several times for pacing in front of them whenever they were at the station. Even getting latrine duty had not stopped his pacing or mumbling. Roy had left the station early that morning. It was now almost dinner time and he hadn’t called them to tell them anything. Chet had snuck away to try and call Roy’s house or the hospital, but Roy’s line was either busy or went unanswered every time he called. And it seemed that every time he went to call the hospital, the tones went off sending them to a fire.

When the phone rang, Kelly was there so fast it didn’t even have a chance to ring a second time. He was praying that it was Roy. “Hey, Roy, how’s Johnny? What did he have to say? How come it took you so long to call?” Chet didn’t even give Roy a chance to answer any of his questions.

It took all of Roy’s willpower not to laugh or even let the smile on his face creep into his voice. “Chet, can I talk to Cap please?”

Chet wanted answers to his questions, but could tell from the sound of Roy’s voice he wasn’t going to get any. “Uh, yeah, sure.—Cap, Roy’s on the phone and wants to talk to you.” Chet watched as his boss pushed his chair away from the table and slowly took the receiver.

“Hi, Roy, what can I do for you? ~~ Let me check with them. Just a minute--” Turning to see five sets of eyes watching him, Hank took a deep breath. “Mike, Marco, Chet, Roy wants us to come to breakfast after we get off shift in the morning. He says he needs to talk to us.” Hank had listened to the sound of Roy’s voice. He couldn’t tell if it was good or bad. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know now. Maybe it would be best to wait until tomorrow. Receiving nods from all three he returned to his conversation with Roy. “We’ll all be there. ~~ Sure, I’ll call when we get ready to leave. ~~ You’re welcome and we’ll see you tomorrow.” Hank hung up the phone and walked to his office. He wouldn’t start looking for a replacement for Johnny just yet. That could wait until next shift.


Hank, Mike, Marco and Chet all rode over to Roy’s house in Hank’s car. As they got out of the car, they all looked like they were heading towards a firing squad. Johnny had a hard time keeping from laughing as he watched them from the window of the room he would be using while he was at the DeSoto home.

Katie joined him at the window. “Are you nervous?”

“A little—I’m not sure how the others will react. I wish we could turn the clock back two months before any of this ever happened. But it did and now we just need to pick up the pieces and go from there.”

“It will work out. From the looks of those guys, they are afraid you have already left the state and they will never see you again.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” Johnny moved over the door. Katie sat in the wheelchair and wheeled behind Johnny. The door was open a crack and they could hear the four men greet Roy and Joanne. They would wait until the group was seated at the breakfast table to join them.


The room was quiet as Hank, Chet, Mike and Marco sat down at the table Joanne had prepared for them. It was when they were all seated that Chet noticed there were four more places set at the table. Roy and Joanne would use two of them, but who would be using the other two? The kids were in school. But before he could ask, Roy left the room.

The four men were watching Joanne as she placed the food out on the table. They were all so lost in their own thoughts that when Roy pulled out the chair for Johnny and it scraped on the floor, they all jumped. Then they were all on their feet when they realized Roy had wheeled Katie to one of the empty places and Johnny was sitting at the other.

“Johnny, you’re here.” Chet was hoping he wasn’t hallucinating and Johnny was actually there.

“That’s stating the obvious.” Marco placed his elbow into Chet’s side as Hank, Mike, Roy and Joanne started laughing.

“Yeah, Chet, I am.” Johnny smiled as everyone took their places.

Breakfast was quiet but a little tense as the four men wondered why Roy had asked them there. They all figured it had something to do with Johnny and now that he was sitting there, they were sure of it. But neither Roy nor Johnny was saying anything that would give them any indication about what was going on. They all hurriedly ate their breakfast so that they could find out.

Joanne knew Roy and Johnny wanted to talk to the guys in private. She also knew that Katie needed to lie down. She was on bed rest orders from Dr. Brackett. When she caught Katie’s eye, she knew Katie was ready to let them talk, too. Quietly she wheeled Katie into the family room and got her situated on the couch. Turning on the TV to watch the morning news, she sat down in the easy chair and relaxed.

Roy looked at his crewmates and knew that Chet was about to burst. Taking pity on the guys, he told them Johnny had come to a decision. For the next 45 minutes, the six men talked. The longer they talked the more relaxed they all became. When they finished, they all knew it would take time until things were back the way they had been a few months before, but they were well on the track of regaining their family feeling.


Johnny and Katie spent the next three months at the DeSoto home recovering from their injuries. The guys and their families spent that time getting to know Katie better. The more they got to know her, the more they realized how special she was and how perfect she was for Johnny.

During that time, Ed Marlow went to trial. Everyone was surprised at how fast the trial had been set, but the police department and DA had wanted to get it over with so Johnny could get on with his life. Since both he and Roy were going to testify at the trial, they didn’t want to draw it out.

At the trial, Marlow admitted that he had been drunk and drove the car causing the accident that killed his girlfriend. Because the occupants of the other car had been killed instantly, Marlow knew he would have been arrested for vehicular manslaughter—especially since it would have been the fifth time he had been stopped for drinking and driving and the third accident he had caused. The other two accidents had been fender benders. He had moved his girlfriend over to the driver’s seat and hid while the emergency vehicles had cleaned up the accident. She had been conscious when he started to move her.

Testimony proved that Ed Marlow had broken his girlfriend’s neck when he moved her. She was dead when help arrived. There was nothing Johnny or Roy could have done to save her.

As he was led away, Ed Marlow looked at the two paramedics. He couldn’t believe that they had actually come together and sat together. His plan had back fired. Not only had he not destroyed their friendship, he was going to jail for the rest of his life with no chance of parole. Officer Ron Belk and Roy’s neighbor both got 20 years for their part in the plot.

The papers had carried the story on the front page during the whole trial, making it clear that Ed Marlow had tried to destroy Roy and Johnny and even went so far as to try to kill them. His entire plan was outline in the story.

As they walked out of the court room, Roy and Johnny both knew that they had both taken another step in their healing process.


During the time Katie and Johnny were at the DeSoto home, the rest of the group decided they wanted to do something special for the couple—for Johnny to show him they were sorry about what had happened and for Katie to welcome her to the “family”. But they didn’t know what the something should be.

It was during one of their barbeques that Johnny had mentioned to Chet that he and Katie were going to get married at the Justice of the Peace because they didn’t have enough money to have a big wedding. Neither his nor Katie’s medical insurance covered all of their bills, so they had to pay the difference. And they both had deductibles for their therapy. Plus, Johnny had bought two horses just before he had been arrested. The owner had kept the horses waiting to find out what happened to Johnny, and had been willing to board them while he was recuperating. They would be delivered when Johnny moved back to the ranch. So, they were going to have a small wedding at the Justice of the Peace.

During their next shift, Chet approached the other guys with the idea of providing a big wedding for the couple. The idea was a resounding success. When Dixie and the doctors at the hospital got wind of the idea, they wanted to be a part. So they used the rest of the time Johnny and Katie were recovering to plan a special wedding for them.


Johnny had been back to work at Station 51 for three weeks. The first day had been a little tense, but it wasn’t long before things had gotten back into a rhythm. He was glad to be “home”. Walking into the dayroom, Johnny fully intended to invite everyone to his wedding on Saturday at the Justice of the Peace with a small Indian wedding ceremony at their ranch later. Just as he entered the room everyone yelled surprise. Dixie, Dr. Brackett, Dr. Early, Dr. Morton were standing with the other guys and their families. Then Joanne entered with Katie.

“What’s going on?” Johnny wasn’t sure what to think. He pulled Katie into his arms and looked expectantly at Roy.

“Well, we wanted to let you know how much we care about both of you, so we planned a wedding for you on Saturday if you’ll accept it.” All of a sudden Roy was afraid they might have overstepped their bounds.

Johnny looked at Katie and receiving a slight nod. “If we’ll accept it—yes, we’ll accept it. Thank you—all of you.”


Saturday dawned bright and clear. Johnny looked out of the window thinking about the last six months and knew that things could have turned out very differently. For the first time in his life, though, he realized he had a real family. He also realized that having a family didn’t mean there wouldn’t be rough patches, but a family could weather anything.

Roy walked into the room to see his “brother” lost deep in thought. “Not having second thoughts are you?”

Johnny smiled as he turned to his “brother”. “No, I was just thinking about how the last six months have shown me that I really do have a family and people who truly care about me. I never had that growing up—even with my Aunt and Uncle. I think it was the specter of my mom’s and Aunt Margaret’s deaths as well as Julie’s and Anna’s that kept me from letting anyone get too close to me. The memories of that day were never far from the surface of my thoughts and for a long time, I didn’t want to get close to anyone either. I was afraid that something bad would happen to them, too. But now I know that loving someone doesn’t mean nothing bad will happen. It just means that you have people who really care to help you through those bad times and who can lean on you to help them through those bad times.”

Roy put his arm around Johnny’s shoulders. “I’m glad you realize that we are a family.”

It was then Johnny noticed the Indian wedding outfits Roy was carrying. He realized that one was the groom’s outfit and the others would be worn by Roy and Gil Robinson who would be standing up with him. “Where did you get those?”

“Well, I know how much your heritage means to you and we wanted to learn more about it so we did some research and thought we could include some of the Indian traditions in your wedding. We have got Katie an outfit, too. Will you wear it?”

“Yes, thank you for doing this.”

“You’re welcome. Come on let’s get changed so this wedding can take place.” Roy handed Johnny his outfit and turned as Gil entered. Seeing Johnny’s trademark grin, Gil knew they would be dressed in Indian attire for the wedding. Taking his outfit, he quickly joined the others.

“Well, Junior, are you ready to go make Katie your wife?”

“Yes, Pally, I am. Let’s go.”

Katie loved the knee-high moccasins and leather dress she would be wearing. Looking around she saw Joanne and Dixie dressed in Indian attire, too. She knew they were trying to show Johnny that they care about him and his heritage. With a grin that matched any Johnny had ever worn, she quickly changed into the dress she would wear to become Mrs. John Gage.

Joanne kept Katie in the back room as Roy led Johnny down the stairs and outside. As they stepped out on the back porch, Johnny just stopped and stared. His family and friends had used the flowers and plants around his yard to make a beautiful backdrop for the archway under which the minister and chief would stand to perform the ceremony.

Johnny was surprised at the number of people who had come—several of his fellow firefighters and as well as members of the Rampart staff. He let Roy lead him to the archway followed by Gil. Mike, Marco and Chet were acting as ushers.

A brave from the reservation was playing music on an Indian Love Flute while another played a traditional Indian drum. The chief of the tribe would be the one to perform the Indian parts of the ceremony. As the music played, Dixie and Joanne made their way down the aisle.

Then Hank escorted Katie towards Johnny bringing everyone to their feet. No one missed the fact that Johnny and Katie only had eyes for each other. Hank couldn’t have been more pleased to be able to give Katie away to marry Johnny. He knew that Johnny had finally met his perfect mate and Hank couldn’t have been happier for him.

There were several who were having a hard time keeping the tears from falling as they thought about the last six months and how far the couple had come. As the ceremony started, everyone sat down and smiled.

“Friends and family we are gathered here to share with John and Katie as they become one. John’s co-workers have made arrangements to include an Indian wedding ceremony today. As they had already planned a small Indian wedding ceremony themselves, they have written their own vows for The Rite of Seven Steps.

“John and Katie, as you start your life together remember that it is easy to stand here before God and these witnesses and pledge your love to each other. But as you wake up each morning it will be hard to put these promises into action. Each day you much consciously decide that you want to renew and reaffirm these promises you have made to each other. No other human ties are more tender, no other vows more sacred than those you are about to make. Each day you need to remember the responsibilities you are accepting today.

“Who gives Katie to be married to John?”

“I do.” Katie turned and kissed Captain Stanley. Katie stepped next to John handing off the two roses she carried to Joanne sliding her hand into John’s waiting hand.

“John and Katie, you have made the choice to commit yourselves to each other. As you start your life together remember that you are two uniting to become one. As you face each new day remember that your mate isn’t perfect. Be quick to praise and magnify each other’s strengths without minimizing your mate’s weaknesses. See your mate with eyes of love, patient and kindness.

“As you walk together, the situations God will lead you into will bless you and develop your characters. The tears He gives you will be enough to keep you tender. The hurts He gives you will be enough to keep you compassionate. The failures God gives you will be enough to keep your hands clenched tightly in His. And the success you receive from Him will be enough to make you sure you walk with Him.”

The Indian chief who had agreed to perform the Indian part of the wedding stepped before the couple. “As you become one remember the following prayer and blessing:

Apache Wedding Prayer
Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness,
For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,
But there is only one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place
To enter into the days of your togetherness
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

"Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulties and fear assail your relationship, as they threaten all relationships at one time or another, remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives -- remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight."

An Indian brave stepped to an area between John and Katie and the minister and Indian Chief to light the small fire that had been prepared before the ceremony began.

“Family and friends, John and Katie will now recite the vows they have written for the The Rite of Seven Steps ceremony. In this ceremony, both the bride and groom take seven steps sunwise or clockwise around the sacred fire. For each step, a vow is said by each. The groom takes one step forward reciting a vow and then the bride takes a step to join him and recite her vow. This is continued until one round around the fire is completed. Please listen as John and Katie

Johnny took his first step. “My precious Katie, as we take this first step on the path before us, I know our love will only grow stronger with each step. I will not take your love for granted. We will walk side by side, hand in hand as we share the responsibilities of our home, food and children. May God our Creator who has laid this path before us bless us with many noble children to grace our lives for many years.”

Katie took her first step. “John, my protector, I gladly take this first step in our future and life together as we share the responsibility for our home, food and children. My commitment to you is that I will joyfully accept and perform my share of the responsibilities to insure the welfare of our family and children. My love will make your burdens lighter because I will be there to accept my part when we divide them. I will not take your love for granted.”

Johnny took his second step. “Katie, my special angel, as you take this second step with me, may God our Creator shine His blessings on you. I pledge to you my pure, unconditional and undying love. You are in my heart to stay forever. I have chosen you and will treat you with respect. Today I promise to be your strength, to stand beside you to daily face whatever lies ahead. I will give you the encouragement to fill you with strength and courage. I will be your leaning post and the head of our home. I will love you, respect you, be honest with you always and will love only you for the rest of my life. May God richly bless our love with His protection on our home and family.”

Katie took her second step. “John, I am honored that you are becoming my husband. I still cannot believe that you have chosen me to be your mate. As I take this second step with you, I will respect you, be honest with you always and stand by you through whatever lies ahead of us as we start our life together as one. I will rejoice with you and will honor you. I will put your needs, wants and happiness before my own as we walk in the same direction together. You complete me. I pledge you my undying love and shall fill your heart with courage and strength. May God our Creator bless and protect you and our honorable home.”

Johnny took his third step. “My precious Katie, now you are taking the third step with me. We may not be wealthy in material things, but our love will make us rich in all the things and ways that really matter. May God bless us as we daily teach and train our children to meet life’s challenges and lessons. May they live long and prosperous lives.”

Katie took her third step. “John, my beloved, I promise that I will stand beside you, working with you. I will gladly rejoice in your comfort and the strength you provide. I ask God to daily help me to be your helpmeet. You alone are my husband and all others are only my brothers. As we walk down life’s pathway, my devotion is pure and to you alone and thank God that you are my joy. This is my undying commitment and pledge to you.”

Johnny took his fourth step. “Angel, I am honored that you are taking the fourth step of the beginning of our journey that will take us down the path of our life together. You are more precious than diamonds or pearls to me. Your love has brought joy and favor to my life. You are my soul mate, my heart song, the twinkle in my eye, the gentle touch of a warm summer’s breeze, and the kiss of the warm sun on my cheek. May God shower His blessings on you and our love. Our joys will be more intense because we will share them.”

Katie took her fourth step. “John, my soul mate, as we face whatever lies ahead, I pledge that I will listen to you. I will share my feelings, thoughts, needs and desires as I stand beside you and support you always. I will be there for you to lean on and to assist you in whatever way you need. I promise you that I will gladly be a willing participant in all acts of righteousness, in material prosperity, in every form of enjoyment and in the divine acts of our worship and charity.”

Johnny took his fifth step. “Katie, this is the fifth step you are taking with me. May God our Creator make us prosperous and bless us. I will be beside you to share the joys and trials we will face as one. We will not always agree, but I will listen to you and value your views, opinions and feelings. I will openly share my views, opinions and feelings with you. As we face the difficulties, fears and frustrations life will throw at us, I will remember the love God has given me for you. With His strength and our love we can face life’s storms and trials together.”

Katie took her fifth step. “My precious husband, you are my heart song, my strength, my defender, my completion. I am honored to share in your joys and sorrows as I lean on your strength and rejoice daily in your love. As we face each situation in life together, I will always remember what brought us together. I will focus on our love and not on the things that may seem to go wrong. We can face anything that lies before us together because of our strong love and God’s strength.”

Johnny took his sixth step. “My special love, my heart is filled and overflowing with love and happiness as you have taken six steps with me. I pray that my love and encouragement will daily fill your heart with love, peace and joy to overflowing like mine. I thank God our Creator for you and pray that He will continue to bless you.”

Katie took her sixth step. “My beloved John, you are a blessing from God our Creator. As I promise you to always be by your side, may my love fill your heart with joy, peace and love overflowing as your love fills mine. I will do whatever is necessary to always be with you.”

Johnny took his seventh and final step. “My precious angel Katie, we have walked the seven steps together. Now you are mine completely. Our love has become one in God. We will be stronger as we reach out and become involved with life in ways we dared not risk alone. There will be times of storm in our relationship, but with God’s help and strength, my love for you will never change or falter. Instead it will grow minute by minute. I will love you, honor you, cherish you and protect you for the rest of our lives because today I marry my best friend, the one I laugh with, live for, dream with, love. Today we become one. I will always be faithful to you and give myself totally to you. May our marriage last forever. But when life is done, may we be found hand in hand thanking God for each other.”

Katie took her seventh and final step. “John, before God, our family and friends, I have become your wife. The promises I have made to you today have come from a pure heart and God and those who are here today are witnesses to those promises. I know we will make it through even when the path ahead is not always easy or sunny. I will love, honor and cherish you for the rest of our lives because today I marry my best friend—the one I laugh with, live for, dream with, love. Today we become one. I will always be faithful to you. I promise to always be honest with you and never deceive you. I will not let you down. I shall love you forever. May we be found wrapped in each other’s arms in God’s love and strength when we return to glory or until one of us at last shall lay the other into God’s arms.”

Then John and Katie recited a Cherokee prayer of blessing on their marriage.

"God in heaven above please protect the ones we love.
We honor all you created as we pledge our hearts and lives together.
We honor Mother Earth and ask for our marriage to be abundant
and grow stronger through the seasons.

We honor fire - and ask that our union be warm and glowing with love in our hearts.
We honor wind - and ask we sail through life safe and calm as in our father's arms.
We honor water - to clean and soothe our marriage– that it may never thirst for love.
With all the forces of the universe you created, we pray for harmony and true happiness, as we forever grow young together. Amen."

The minister and chief stood once again in front of Johnny and Katie.

The Indian chief began the next part of the ceremony. “Johnny and Katie have rings they wish to exchange. These rings are a symbol of the unbroken circle of love.

“Love freely given has no beginning and no end, no one giver and no one receiver for each is the giver and each is a receiver. May these rings always remind you of the vows you have made.”

The minister continued. “John, what token do you give to show your love?”

“A ring.”

“Place the ring on Katie’s finger.”

“Katie, the perfect circle of this ring has no beginning and no end. It is a symbol of our marriage, eternity and the seal of the promises we have made to each other. God too has perfect love for us and wants us to love one another in His grace--never, never ending. This ring is made of precious metal. You also are precious in God's sight and now in my love. When we are absent from each other, the presence of the ring reminds us to be faithful to and to fulfill our vows to each other. This ring is my pledge to you of my undying love and unending faithfulness as long as we both shall live.”

“Katie, what token do you give to show your love?”

“A ring.”

“Place the ring on John’s finger.”

“John, this ring is a seal of my vow to you. I present this to you as a token of my submission to you in God our Creator. God has placed you as the head of our family. I will depend upon you for strength. The beautiful metal out of which this ring is formed shows how lasting and imperishable the pledge of my love is for you today. It is a symbol of how precious you are to me. This ring is my pledge to you of my undying love and unending faithfulness as long as we both shall live.”

“The candle lighting ceremony used in a traditional wedding ceremony will today, also represent the Indian Fire Ceremony. Both ceremonies are symbolic of the separate lives of John and Katie uniting into a union of one.

“On the small table in front are set up three candles. The two outside candles have been lighted to represent your lives up to this moment. They are two distinct lights, each capable of going their separate ways. To bring the happiness God designed for your home, there must be the merging of these two lights into one light. This is what the Lord meant when He said, ‘On this account a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh.’ From now on, your thoughts shall be for each other, rather than for your individual selves. Your plans shall be mutual, your joys and sorrows shall be shared. As you each take a candle, and together light the center one, and extinguish your own candles, you will be letting the center candle represent the union of your lives into one flesh. As this one light cannot be divided, neither shall your lives be divided, but a united testimony in a Christian home. May the radiance of this one light be a testimony of your unity in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Johnny and Katie made their way to the front to light the unity candles. As they lit the center candle and blew out the two side candles, both thought of the strength they received from each other and the love that had made them one. Then they made their way back to the minister holding their hands.

“Katie, you are carrying roses today. Both of you need to remember that a rose is a precious flower just as your love is precious. Remember to keep that precious gift in a special place and water it so it will continue to grow every moment of every day for the rest of your lives. Give that gift the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that it deserves. Make it the highest priority in your life.

“Now John and Katie will be united in the Blanket Ceremony. The two blue blankets each represent their past lives that may have been filled with loneliness, weakness, failures, sorrow and spiritual depression. The white blanket represents their new ways of happiness, fulfillment and peace. As they are wrapped in the blue blankets their “family” will follow them to the sacred fire circle.”

Joanne and Roy wrapped blue blankets around Katie and Johnny’s shoulders. Then Chris and Jenny joined them as they followed the couple to the sacred fire circle. They were Johnny’s family. When Katie, Johnny and the DeSoto’s had circled the fire circle, the Chief blessed the union of Johnny and Katie with words from a Native American wedding ceremony.

May the sun bring you new energies by day,
May the moon softly restore you by night,
May the rain wash away any worries you may have,
And the breeze blow new strength into your being,
And then, all the days of your life,
May you walk gently
Author Unknown

After they had received the blessing, Johnny and Katie removed the blue blankets and were wrapped with the white blanket by Roy, Joanne, Chris and Jenny. “John you may kiss your bride.” Then Joanne took the white blanket, folded it and handed it to Dixie for John and Katie to keep and hang on the wall in their living room. Then they moved back to stand before the minister and the chief.

“John and Katie, in so much as the two of you have agreed to live together in holy matrimony and having heard the pledges of your faith in, and love to each other, and having sealed your solemn marital vows by the joining of your hands and giving and receiving of rings, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the laws of the State of California, in the presence of God, whose grace to you is unmeasured, and these witnesses, I now pronounce you, John and Katie, husband and wife. What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”

“I present to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. John Gage.”

As they turned to walk back down the aisle, they made sure that Joanne, Roy, Dixie and Gil all had flyers to distribute to the guests. It was another Indian tradition. The flyer contained a blessing from an old Indian legend:

Flutterby Gardens Wishes You The Best
(as recalled from a Native American Legend)
To make your wish come true, you must first
Capture a butterfly and whisper your wish to it.
Because a butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly
Cannot reveal your wish to anyone but
The Great Spirit who hears all and sees all.
In gratitude for giving the beautiful butterfly its freedom,
The Great Spirit always grants the wish.
So, according to legend, by making a wish
And giving the butterfly its freedom,
Your wish will be taken to the heavens and be granted.
We have gathered here to grant this couple
All our best wishes and are about to set these butterflies free
In trust that all these wishes are granted.

As Johnny led Katie down the aisle, several butterflies were let go throughout the group that was gathered. In the side yard the staff from Rampart and Johnny’s co-workers had set up tables laden with food for the wedding reception.

When it was all over and Johnny and Katie were on their way to a small cabin in the mountains courtesy of their family and friends for a two-week honeymoon Johnny knew that their family was still in tact.

Life at Station 51 settled back into a steady rhythm. The guys would eventually get promoted and leave the A-shift, but they would always remain family—no matter what the future held.

The End

Back to A Stab in the Heart, Part I

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