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
I am in no way connected to the medical profession and take responsibility for all mistakes in dealing with treatments, diseases, etc.
Terror at Carson High
The Gage quadruplets and DeSoto twins were turning 14 and had started their freshman year of high school. Matthew and Michael were very protective of their sisters. Mark, Melissa and Michelle were as protective of all four of their siblings as Matthew and Michael were of the girls. Even though the triplets were 16 and considered upper classmen because they were juniors, they treated the quads like they did all their other friends. They also were protective of the DeSoto twins. Soon the six younger kids were “siblings” of most of the upper classmen.
Matthew, Michael, Michaela, Megan, Jason and Crystal were walking down the hallway towards the cafeteria for lunch.
Stopping at their lockers, Matthew looked up at the kid who had the locker next to his. “Hi, are you new?”
Samuel Ruse turned and looked Matthew up and down. Maybe he would find an ally in this school after all. If this school was anything like his other schools had been, he knew he would need at least one. “Yeah, my dad just transferred here and today is my first day.”
“I’m Matthew Gage. I am in the ninth grade.” Matthew held out his hand for Samuel to shake. “Welcome to Carson High.”
“I’m Samuel Ruse.” Samuel shook Matthew’s hand as the others came up and joined them.
“This is my brother Michael, my sisters Michaela and Megan and our cousins Jason and Crystal DeSoto.” Matthew introduced his siblings and their cousins.
“Wow, there are four of you?” Samuel couldn’t believe his eyes. Maybe he would have more than one ally.
“Yeah, we are quadruplets and Jason and Crystal are twins. We were all born on the same day.” Matthew chuckled at the look on Samuel’s face.
“You must have one huge birthday party.”
“You should see it.” Michael started to tell of the “family” get-togethers, but the bell rang indicating Samuel had to get to class and the others should get their lunch eaten. “Well, we’d all better go. We have to meet our brother and sisters.”
“Brother and sisters?” Samuel couldn’t believe the large family. He was an only child and no one seemed to care about him.
“Yeah, they’re triplets and are in the 11th grade. We are meeting them for lunch. It was nice meeting you Samuel.” They turned as the last bell for the period rang.
Samuel Ruse just watched as the six kids made their way to the cafeteria. Maybe this school wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Johnny and Roy sat at the Gage’s table.
Johnny twirled his glass around and around while he talked. “Man, I can’t believe all the calls Chet and Marco have had at the Jr. High and High Schools lately. Chet said they had three in one week and one of the students was hurt pretty badly.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. Marco said that when they arrived at one of the high schools, the kids started throwing things at the police and fire personnel when they arrived. Luckily the police were able to contain them within a couple minutes, but Marco said he didn’t like sending his men into the situation.”
“Vince was telling me that most of these incidents have been caused by kids who had been the victims of tormenting and teasing by other kids in the school. I remember living through that, but I never wanted to hurt someone else as a result. My idea was to try to do something so someone else wouldn’t get teased and hurt like I did, but in a positive way. I don’t ever remember anyone even attempting this kind of violence because they were picked on. Where are the teachers and parents? Why aren’t they teaching their children that violence only brings more violence? There is a better way to deal with our problems than with anger and hatred. Usually, those kids are left alone at home, too. Or worse yet, get abused at home by the very people that are supposed to love and protect them.”
Roy remembered when Johnny had opened up about his childhood. He knew the pain his friend had suffered and respected him even more as he thought of how Johnny wanted to handle it. “I don’t know, Johnny. I think the parents are leaving it up to the teachers and the teachers are expecting the parents to be more involved in their kids’ lives. And the kids are threatening abuse when parents try to discipline them or teachers try to keep control of their students. And with all the calls we are getting for kids who get hold of a gun left lying around their home, I’m just afraid one of these days one of them is going to take it to school and do something worse than just beating up on his or her tormentors.”
As they sat in silence, both men prayed that they were wrong.
Samuel had been trying to get buddy-buddy with Matthew and Michael. At first they had accepted Samuel and tried to build a friendship so that Samuel wouldn’t feel left out. But as the days passed, both boys were beginning to feel uncomfortable about the friendship. In the beginning Samuel would include all four of the quads as well as Jason and Crystal. He had met Megan, Michelle and Mark, but he tried to avoid them as much as possible. Gradually, he tried to alienate Matthew and Michael from the rest of the group. Then he would get angry when they didn’t do exactly what he said and how he said to do it.
The event that frightened the boys the most was when Samuel had gone to his locker to get his books. Some of the football players were standing near the lockers and were joking around with each other. None of them even realized Samuel was there. One of the players made a comment about another player, whose name was Joe that could have been considered racist. What Samuel didn’t realize was that it was Joe who started using the comment about himself and did it quite often. Even Joe said that he was the one that started it.
Samuel’s face was beet red he was so angry. He spun around and started yelling at the players. He had heard this same comment directed at him many times and every time it was in a derogatory way since he was of that nationality. Donald Sunderland, the captain of the team tried to tell Samuel that the comment had been directed towards Joe and that they were sorry it had been said. Donald even promised that none of the boys would use that comment again. But Samuel wouldn’t listen. He just kept saying he didn’t appreciate the wisecracks and said some very hurtful and derogatory things about the football team and the other guys standing there.
Turning to Matthew and Michael, his anger grew. “Come on. We’re getting out of here. We don’t have to take this from anyone.”
“We aren’t going with you, Samuel. We have to go catch our bus.” The two boys wanted some time so they could plan how to deal with the situation without making it worse. They knew if they just tried to walk away, Samuel would only get angrier.
“Ok. But this isn’t over by a long shot.” Samuel looked at the football players and started down the hall on his way out of the building.
“I don’t like the sounds of that.” A shiver ran down Matthew’s spine.
“What happened guys?” Mark saw the fear on his brothers’ faces as he, Megan, Melissa, Michelle, and Michaela joined the two boys to head for the bus. Jason and Crystal had already gone ahead.
“We’ll tell you on the way home.” All Michael wanted to do was to get on the bus and head for home.
Monday morning broke with the sun shining bright. Matthew was lost deep in thought as the bus made its way towards the school. He was worried about the escalating anger he was seeing in Samuel Ruse. Matthew knew that some of the other kids teased Samuel, but it was the same way they teased each other. Sure, there were a few bullies in the crowd, but the majority of the kids at Carson High respected each other.
As the bus pulled into its spot so the kids could unload, Matthew noticed Samuel waiting beside the front steps of the building. Having a lot he wanted to accomplish before classes actually began, Matthew walked quickly up the steps with his brothers, sisters and cousins. But he didn’t make into the building before Samuel had caught his arm and quickly pulled him aside.
“Hey, Michael, I want to see you, too.” Samuel didn’t notice the look of dread quickly passed over Matthew’s face. When the two Gage boys had joined him in a secluded spot beside the front steps, Samuel’s face broke out in a wicked grin that sent shivers up the other two boys’ spines. “Look what I’ve got.”
Mark looked over at the three boys as he followed the girls and the DeSoto twins into the school. He decided that he would try to talk to Samuel and see if he could make friends or at least diffuse some of the anger Matthew and Michael had been telling him about.
Michael looked at his brother and could see the same worry in his face that Michael was feeling. Something needed to be done, but what? Should they say something to someone? What would happen if they did?
“We need to go talk to the principal.” Matthew had known all along what they needed to do and that they would do it. No sense in putting it off any longer.
“Ok, lead the way.” Michael had been ready to suggest to his brother that they not wait any longer to do what they both knew they were going to do. But that didn’t ease the nervous knot that had settled in both their stomachs.
As Matthew, Michael, Michaela, Megan, Jason and Crystal were walking down the hallway discussing the homework they had for the night, they heard a commotion in front of them. Samuel was standing in the middle of the hall yelling that he wanted everyone to just leave him alone and that they would be sorry for the way they had treated him. The disturbance was drawing a large crowd.
Matthew, Michael and Jason took up positions in front of their sisters in an effort to protect them. As they got closer to the large group in the hallway, Samuel Ruse stopped his ranting and looked at Matthew and Michael. “Here come the do-gooders now. But you know what I’m talking about. I don’t know why you are taking their side.” His comments were directed towards the two boys.
“We just got here and have no idea what is even going on. What are you talking about Samuel?” Matthew didn’t like the wild-eyed look on Samuel’s face. He realized that Samuel must have found out that the two boys had gone to the principal about the object he had shown them earlier in the week.
“That there are too many students in this ‘fine’ school that pick on and bully those who are different than they are. We get treated like dirt. At least I know I have someone here to help me with my cause even if you did report my prize possession to the principal. I can forgive you for that—especially since he never found it and didn’t believe you anyway.” Samuel walked over and wedged himself between the two boys. Putting an arm around them both, he turned to the girls. “Come on, you can make it up to me as we have some planning to do.”
A feeling of dread washed over all six of the kids standing in the middle of what had grown to be a very large group. “We need to go and get our things from our lockers before we miss our bus.” Michael was as worried about the situation as Matthew was. “Besides, these students are our friends and we don’t want any trouble.”
“Friends?” Samuel spat the word out like it burnt his tongue just saying it.
“Yes, friends.” Matthew was getting angry at this guy.
“All they do is torment and tease those of us who are different. They aren’t true friends.” Samuel had thought he would have some allies in his “fight” but was quickly beginning to realize that he was wrong.
“No, they treat us just like everyone else. We are a part of this student body. There are very few kids in this school who treat others like you say they do. The majority of the members of the student body treat each other with respect even if they don’t like you or agree with you.” Matthew had a feeling that the anger Samuel was displaying had started a long time ago and was fed by something other than the so called abuse he said he was receiving at the school. He knew that when the principal didn’t believe them that there would be trouble.
“Well, mark my words. They are just pretending to be your friends. When you least expect it, they will turn on you and humiliate you. If you believe they are your friends, you are a bunch of losers.” Samuel was getting irate again.
“Well, I’d rather be considered a loser by you because these guys are our friends than be involved in something that isn’t right.” Matthew just wanted to get his brother, sisters and friends away from this guy.
“Yeah, we are their friends and I think you’d better leave them alone.” Donald Wright, the quarterback of the football team, was in the front of a group of the older male students who came to their aide. He was quickly followed by a couple of the other team members.
“They are our brothers and sisters. Samuel, no one in this school wants to hurt you. We all tease each other, but none of us would intentionally hurt someone else’s feelings. Some of the comments you have been overhearing have been said to others and not you. When you come upon a group and begin to hear what they are talking about you only hear part of the conversation. Just because you arrive, doesn’t mean everything that is being said is directed at you, either.” Mark tried to keep his voice calm and even as he tried to get through to Samuel. Michelle and Megan stood on either side of him.
With a snarl, Samuel removed his arms from Matthew’s and Michael’s shoulders and glared at them. “So they are part of you, huh? Well, all of you are going to be sorry.” Giving them all one more glare, he headed down the hall towards the outside door. “You all are going to be sorry and wish you had never met me. Your kind always sticks together and treats ‘outsiders’ like dirt. Well, someone is going to be sorry.” And then he was out the door.
“Do you think he’ll really do something?” Jason looked at the two boys sitting in the seat in front of him. They had both turned sideways in the seat so they could look at him and talk. Crystal was turned to talk to the girls sitting in the seat behind her and her brother. The triplets were seated behind Megan and Michaela.
“I don’t know, but he seemed full of anger at something. What could have happened that made him so angry?” Michael shuddered as he remembered the look on Samuel’s face as he had left the school building.
“I think it started a long time ago. Do you know that he has been in fifteen schools in the last two years? He is only a sophomore and yet he has not been in one school longer than two months.” Matthew remembered when Samuel bragged about how many schools he had attended in the last two years.
“Why so many different schools?” Jason hadn’t heard about this situation yet.
“I don’t know. He never told me that. He was just talking about all the different schools he went to.” Matthew had wondered the same thing.
“I was working in the office about a week after Samuel arrived. Mrs. Cadwood asked me to help her copy his records. It seems that in every school he went to he caused all kinds of trouble. The one school that he was in for two months was the first school he ever attended. After that the longest he was ever in one school was three weeks.” Megan had been watching Samuel through the last few weeks. There were signs that led her to believe he was being abused at home, but when she had suggested it to Mrs. Cadwood and Mrs. Denison, the school nurse, they didn’t believe her. Now she was almost positive she was right.
“Wow, I don’t think he will listen to any of us anymore, but I hope he will listen to someone. If he gets any angrier he is going to explode and something terrible is going to happen.” Michaela had been quietly listening to her siblings talk about Samuel.
When they arrived home, the quads silently agreed they needed to talk to their parents. Thankful it was the couple of days between paramedic classes and would be their Father’s day off, they headed into the house to get some reassurance from their parents that everything was going to be ok. The triplets followed them into their Father’s study so they, too, could get the reassurance they all needed.
Johnny was lost deep in thought as he sat at his desk. The conversations he had with the quads and triplets two days before and last night kept running through his mind. They just had to trust in the school administration. He and Nicole had urged the kids to talk to the principal about their concerns about Samuel and he was proud that they did. But he wasn’t so convinced of the response they received. The administration had said they had nothing to worry about and that Samuel was just lonely. The principal had said that once he made some friends, everything would blow over and he would be fine. Just like they had done when Matthew and Michael had told them about the gun, they swept it under the rug.
Roy watched his friend from the doorway and wondered what he was thinking about so deeply. He knew there was something troubling Johnny and he hoped Johnny would open up to him before the day was over. Although he was aware of some of the trouble Samuel Ruse had caused, but wasn’t aware of the quads concerns. Jason and Crystal hadn’t told him they had talked to the principal. “Hey, Johnny, what’s on your mind?”
Johnny was glad Roy was here. He really wanted to talk to someone and started to tell him about the problems the quads had with Samuel and their concerns. Realizing it would have to wait the two men turned as their class filed into the room.
Although the Gage children were relieved to find that Samuel was not in school when they arrived, they each had a very uneasy feeling. It got stronger when the principal said that he had talked with Samuel the day before and Samuel had said they were wrong—that he had several friends and liked the school just fine. The principal had taken him at his word, but the Gage kids knew there was serious trouble ahead.
Samuel didn’t show up for school at all and as the day went on the four relaxed a little, but Matthew wondered how long it would be before Samuel Ruse did something they all would regret later.
As the bus pulled up to let the kids off in front of the school, Mark noticed Samuel hiding in the shadows at the corner of the school building dressed in all black. It was obvious he did not want to be seen and was watching the other kids arrive at school. Mark wouldn’t have noticed him if he hadn’t been learning from his father to pay attention to his surroundings. Not wanting to scare the others, he quickly herded them off the bus and then started a conversation that was sure to keep their attention until they were inside the school building. He knew that Samuel would not make himself known and that if Matthew and Michael were kept talking, he wouldn’t be able to get their attention. With a sigh, Mark closed the school door after everyone had gotten in before him. It was then that the feeling of dread hit him. What was Samuel up to?
Mayan had gotten a job working in the school cafeteria cleaning tables and sweeping the floors. He also was good at serving the ice cream sundaes. He was well loved by all the kids in the school and many of them had learned sign language to talk to him. Today he came in early to help set up the cafeteria. He smiled as he thought of being able to see his brothers and sisters. The quads were turning 14 today and he had gotten permission to help them celebrate so he had decorated the lunch room. The lunch bell had just rung and he was waiting with the triplets who had been given permission to get out of class early.
Students started filing into the cafeteria and quickly got their food. They all wanted to be ready when Matthew, Michael, Megan and Michaela arrived. Excitement filled the room. When the four kids arrived with Jason and Crystal, the celebration started. None of them were aware of what was going on just down the hall.
Samuel waited until everyone was in their classes or the cafeteria before he made sure that he was fully prepared. Walking down the hall he found the room he wanted and opened the door to the English room. Everyone looked up as they heard the door open and several loud pops. It only took a few seconds for them to realize Samuel was standing in the doorway shooting at them. Before they could find cover, four of the boys and the teacher had been shot. The other students dove under their desks and tables. The girls started screaming as Samuel shot at the desks as he backed out of the room.
Students in the classes nearest the English room had wandered out into the hall to find out what the noise was. They scattered as they heard the shots and saw Samuel backing out of the room. But they were not prepared for the gun fire that started from the other direction. Turning, Miss Blair, the math teacher, saw that Joseph Sanford, the senior who had been kicked out of school a week ago, was shooting at them from the opposite end of the hall from Samuel. She hurriedly tried to get the students back into her classroom when she was shot in the head and fell in the doorway to her classroom.
Mr. Randolph, the history teacher had headed towards the cafeteria with the intention of grabbing the phone and calling for help. But he only made it three steps down the hall before he was cut down by gun fire.
The screaming only got louder as the gun shots increased. Hearing the commotion in the hallway, the students pushed towards the doorway to see what was going on. But as the gun fire started hitting the walls near the door, they all ran back into the room and tried to find places to hide. With the number of students, they all knew that there would not be enough places for everyone to hide.
The klaxons went off and kept going off. Stations 14 and 51 were among the stations called out to gun shots fired at Carson High School. Roy had been standing at Dixie’s desk when the call went out. Dixie had the fire/police scanner tuned into dispatch and they heard the call that went out.
Roy thought about the conversation he had with Johnny during the break that morning. Jason and Crystal had said there was a problem at school with a kid by the name of Samuel Ruse, but he didn’t realize how serious the situation was until his talk with Johnny. His thoughts went back to the conversation they had several days ago about sometime someone bringing a gun to school. Well, it looked like that sometime was today. He turned as he heard his friend coming up behind him.
Before Johnny could ask what was going on, the voice of the dispatcher went out over the radio called for more police and fire units. At the same time one of the interns rushed out of the doctors’ lounge saying that there was a report of a shooting at Carson High. Roy worried as the color drained from Johnny’s face.
“It has to be Samuel. Why wouldn’t anyone listen to them?” Johnny was talking to himself, but everyone heard his words.
“What do you mean, Johnny?” Kel Brackett had joined the group along with Joe Early and Mike Morton just when the second call from the dispatcher went out.
“It’s a long story, doc. I’ll tell you later. Roy, let’s get the trainees. Since this is the last day of their classroom work, maybe we can get them some hands on training and be of help at the school. Doc, can you find out which hospitals dispatch will have on call and let us know through dispatch? That way we can have some of the trainees with some of the squads.” Johnny was calm on the outside, but on the inside he was torn apart. He knew that Mayan was working today so all eight of his kids were at the school.
Surprised that it had been Johnny who had been the one to take control, Kel realized the value in what he was saying. “Sure Johnny. I’ll let them know that you will be arriving with sixteen more sets of hands for triage. Dix, get the necessary equipment for all sixteen teams and handi talkies for Roy and Johnny. Carol, start getting every available treatment and trauma room set up and call in as many off duty doctors, nurses, and interns as you can. Sharon, get the ambulances ready to go out with the teams.”
Roy and Johnny were already on their way back to the classroom to grab the trainees. Johnny would take one team in the car that was left at the hospital for Roy and Johnny’s use when on duty since his wheelchair would make it time consuming for him to go in an ambulance. Roy would go in the lead ambulance. In less than fifteen minutes, they were on their way listening to the radio traffic as they headed towards an unknown situation unsure of what they would find.
The gun shots kept ringing out as the two boys made their way towards the cafeteria doors that were in the middle of the hall. A couple of the football players and two faculty members had closed the doors and pushed heavy tables in front them hoping to keep the two boys out.
Principal Jeff Regal heard the screams mingled with the gun shots outside of the cafeteria. He had grabbed the phone in the cafeteria kitchen and called 911. As the gun shots got closer he dropped the phone without hanging up and ran to the doors. He didn’t want any more casualties and prayed that the tables would hold the doors shut. Looking back at his conversations with Matthew and Michael Gage and then with Samuel Ruse, he realized that he hadn’t given the Gage boys’ concerns any merit. His conversation with Samuel played over in his mind and realized there were signs that he had not wanted to see—signs he had ignored.
But as the bullets from the automatic weapons the two boys were firing kept anyone from getting close to the doors, they pushed them open. The only thing the principal could think of was that they were both so pumped on adrenaline that they had strength they wouldn’t normally have. They only had destruction on their mind.
Samuel and Joseph entered the cafeteria with their guns blazing. The screams now came from students inside that were being hit by bullets or flying debris. Amidst the screams and gun shots came the sounds of sirens—lots and lots of sirens. Hearing them caused the two boys to panic. Their plan had been to do as much damage as possible and disappear before anyone could catch them. Having sprayed the cafeteria with bullets, the two boys stopped for a minute and met in front of the doorway out. As they looked around the room, they saw all the dead, injured and frightened students and faculty huddled in groups around the room. Keeping one eye on everyone, they whispered as the voice of the police came over a bullhorn telling them to give themselves up.
Roy, Johnny and the trainees had met with Chris DeSoto and Brandon Stoker who were the paramedics in charge of triage. They had been partners for a couple of years. Working closely they soon had one paramedic partnered with a trainee giving them more teams for treatment when the time came when the wounded were brought out. Knowing that it was going to be bad all four of them were thankful they had so many hands.
It was only ten minutes later that the swat teams started bringing out the survivors and casualties from the classrooms furthest from the cafeteria. They were working their way towards where most of the students had been.
With a quick look at the school building, not knowing where their kids were, Roy and Johnny followed the orders that Chris and Brandon were quickly giving. They were glad to keep their hands busy so they wouldn’t dwell on the possibilities of what was going on inside.
Mayan had been confused at first by all the students rushing towards the cafeteria door and then turning and hiding. Looking around to see if he could determine what was going on, his eyes caught his brothers. Mark quickly signed to him what was happening and then went to try to protect his brothers and sisters. Mayan hid behind the lunch serving counter. All the other workers were out in the cafeteria trying to calm down the students who were panicking. He peeked out just as Joseph and Samuel pushed their way into the cafeteria.
Mayan could tell the gun shots had stopped. He peeked around the corner of the counter once more and jumped when he realized he was very close to the two boys. Being glad they didn’t know he was there, Mayan also realized he was in a position to read their lips. What he learned determined his next course of action.
The police were getting no response from the two boys inside and had put snipers in positions to shoot through the windows of the cafeteria if they could get a clean shot at either boy. However, both boys made sure they were well out of the range of the windows.
The swat teams had moved into place outside of the cafeteria, but they still hadn’t been able to get a clear idea of what was happening inside or where the two boys were.
While Joseph sprayed periodic gun fire around the room, Samuel made his way through the tables until he found who he was looking for. He was actually glad they weren’t very far from the door so he didn’t risk the chance of someone playing hero. With his gun pointed at them, he smirked. “Ok, Megan and Michaela, you are coming with me.” Seeing he was going to get some protesting, he turned the gun towards the rest of the group huddled near him. “Or does someone want to die? Oh, I think Crystal should come with us, too.”
Not wanting anyone in their families to die, the three girls stood up and walked in front of Samuel back to where Joseph was standing. Megan knew that Mark and Matthew had both been hit by bullets and needed help. Jason had been hit by flying debris and was in and out of consciousness.
“Ok, girls, you are going to stay with us for a while. After all, we are friends, aren’t we?” Samuel laughed at the frightened look on the girls’ faces. Pulling some rope out of the pocket of the large coat he was wearing he proceeded to tie the three girls’ hands behind their backs and then tie the three girls together back to back. “Why don’t you sit down girls?” He then helped them to sit on the floor with their legs out in front of them.
Roy and Johnny hated the lull. All the victims the police had been able to reach had been brought out and now they were just waiting for this whole thing to end. The swat team had finally gotten a clear view of the inside of the cafeteria and had reported seeing the two boys with three girls as hostages. From the descriptions, Roy and Johnny knew who the three girls were. They both needed this to end and end NOW. The report had also said that there were several other injured students and probably several dead students in the cafeteria, too, but no one could get an exact count or identification of any of them.
The wait was beginning to wear on all the fire personnel as well as the police. Just when Johnny thought he would push his way inside the school, the sound of a lot of gun fire resounded through the school and the charged air outside. Every firefighter, paramedic and police officer was holding his breath as the gun fire seemed to continue for an eternity. When looking back on the entire incident later, they would all realize that the gun fire lasted only about three minutes before a deafening silence covered the school.
Mayan had watched as Samuel had brought his sisters and cousin to the front of the room. As long as they were seated where he could see them, he knew that they would be alright. But when Samuel pulled the three girls to their feet and untied them only to retie them so they could walk single file, he knew he had to do something. He had been able to remain hidden and, in his mind, was the only one who could prevent anyone else from getting hurt. His eye caught the sight of a swat team member out of the corner of the window in the cafeteria door. Now was the time to act. Samuel, Joseph and the three girls were headed his way.
It would be the next day before the whole story of exactly what happened next came out, but three minutes after they started firing shots into the cafeteria again and walking towards the kitchen with Crystal, Megan and Michaela, Samuel and Joseph were dead. And Mayan was fatally wounded. The swat team was followed closely by other police officers and soon all the students and casualties were being taken from the room. Officer Vince Howard and Lt. Ron Crockett were the ones who grabbed the three girls and took them to their fathers.
Roy and Johnny had quickly gone back to work as the wounded were brought out for treatment. They did their jobs, but both men kept an eye out for their children.
Chris was the one who treated Mayan. His heart broke when he saw the injuries the boy had received. He “listened” as Mayan looked at his sisters and cousins and told them he loved them. Vince and Crockett were asking the three girls and the two swat members who had found them what had taken place. While they were telling the events that happened, the three girls watched Chris treating their brother/cousin. He had saved their lives. Now all they could do was pray that he would live. But deep down they all knew he wouldn’t make it.
Brandon and his partner were working on Jason, Matthew and Mark and were glad that none of the boys had life threatening injuries. They would be ok. Melissa, Michelle, and Michael were standing nearby with the principal where they could keep an eye on all three injured boys. They, too, knew that Mayan was not going to make it.
Roy looked up as Vince and Crockett made their way over towards him and Johnny. Being between patients, he nudged Johnny’s arm to get his attention. Johnny looked up and saw the two men coming towards them and the somber look on their faces. Afraid it had something to do with their girls Roy put his hand on Johnny’s shoulder.
“Roy, Johnny, your children are all over here. They really could use their fathers’ arms right about now, I think.” Vince knew he needed to tell Johnny about Mayan, but he wanted to put it off as long as possible.
But Johnny had other ideas. “How are they, Vince? Are they all ok? Were any of them injured?” He couldn’t make himself use the word shot.
“Are they ok?” Roy’s words echoed Johnny’s showing he was as anxious as Johnny for word on the kids—especially the girls who had been held hostage by the two boys.
“Jason was hit by some flying debris and has a mild concussion. Mark was hit in the leg by a bullet. According to Brandon and his partner, the bullet went straight through without doing any permanent damage, but he had lost an awful lot of blood. Matthew, too, has lost a lot of blood from the bullet wound in this right shoulder. The bullet is still there, but they are sure there is no permanent damage for him either. Michael, Megan, Michaela, Melissa, Michelle and Crystal are all uninjured but every shaken up.” Vince dreaded the next piece of news he had to deliver.
“Mayan was working today. Has anyone seen him?” Johnny had a knot in the pit of his stomach and knew something was terribly wrong.
“Mayan had been hiding behind the serving counter. When Samuel and Joseph started out the back way towards the kitchen with Megan, Michaela and Crystal to try and escape, he tripped Samuel who was in front. Joseph was able to get off a shot at him before he swung a large pot at Joseph’s head just as a swat member shot him from behind. Mayan was hit by the bullet from Joseph’s gun. It doesn’t look good, Johnny.” Vince thought of the young man who had willing sacrificed his life for his sisters and cousin.
“Let’s go see them, Johnny.” Roy knew how deep Johnny’s pain was.
“Yeah, I’d like to see Mayan. Vince can you call Nicole and have her meet us at Rampart?” Johnny prayed that Mayan would hold on long enough for his wife to have a chance to say good bye. They hadn’t had that chance with Melinda and Melanie, so he prayed they would with Mayan.
“We’ve already called and Joanne and Nicole will meet you at Rampart.” Vince was glad he had taken the time to make the call when they were first dispatched to the scene.
Johnny reached his son’s side just as they moved him to the gurney. As he reached his side, Mayan’s eyes slowly opened. He “asked” his father how his brothers, sisters and cousins were. When Johnny told him that they were all going to be ok, he closed his eyes and slipped into unconsciousness.
Roy led Johnny over to the fire department car. As he maneuvered the vehicle out of its spot, he hit the sirens and lights and followed the ambulance praying all the time that Mayan would be ok but knowing it was in God’s hands and this was probably the last moments they would have with him.
Joanne and Nicole were waiting at the hospital when the ambulances started arriving. Waiting at Dixie’s desk, Joanne held Nicole as Mayan’s gurney was rolled by them and into treatment room three. Nicole would have tried to follow, but she knew she would only be in the way. She was staring at the treatment door when Johnny joined her.
“Nicole, let’s go to the Doctor’s lounge until someone can come and let us know what is happening.” Johnny took his wife’s hand in his as he headed towards the lounge.
As she sat down on the couch, Nicole knew Mayan would not make it. She had seen all the blood and watched as the paramedics were desperately working on him. She had seen Roy and Johnny in the same type situation enough times to know that Mayan was in trouble. As she waited for word, Nicole prayed that Mayan wasn’t suffering and that if he was going to die that he would not linger. From what she had been told, Mayan had willingly put his life on the line to protect his brothers, sisters, cousins and all the other members of the Carson High student body. To her he would always be a hero.
Johnny sat with his arm around his wife. His thoughts were focused on the scene at the high school and the picture of his son lying there in his own blood. And all Mayan was concerned about was his brothers, sisters, and cousins. He didn’t realize it, but his prayers were identical to his wife. He didn’t want his son to suffer.
Roy sat with his wife wrapped in his arms. His heart went out to Johnny and Nicole. Every parent assumes they are going to be outlived by their children. Yet now they were going to lose their third child in eleven years. He couldn’t imagine their pain.
Both Roy and Joanne were praying for Mayan, too. Their prayers were also along the same line as Nicole’s and Johnny’s. They all knew that Mayan wouldn’t make it and prayed that he wouldn’t suffer and that he wouldn’t linger too long. He had been heroic and deserved to go peacefully.
Ten minutes after they had entered the lounge, they were joined by Michael, Megan, Michaela, Melissa, Michelle and Crystal. They had all been brought to Rampart to be checked out by a doctor and had just been released—none of them were even scratched. They just wanted to know how Matthew, Mark, Jason and Mayan were doing. Without word, they sat in the empty chairs and joined their parents in their vigil waiting for word on the four boys.
Kel Brackett hated this part of his job. Even though he was fairly certain that Johnny, Roy and even Joanne and Nicole knew that Mayan was not going to make it, he dreaded confirming their suspicions. With a deep breath, he pushed open the door to the lounge.
Megan and Michaela were the first ones on their feet and beside Kel when they realized who had entered the room. Scared to hear what they already knew to be true but needing to know, Megan was the first to find her voice. “Dr. Brackett, how is Mayan?”
Kel had hoped he would be able to share the news about Michael, Matthew and Jason before he told them about Mayan, but obviously that wasn’t going to happen.
“Everyone sit down and I’ll tell you.” Kel could see in Johnny’s eyes that he knew what was coming. Once everyone was seated, he looked at each face and knew he couldn’t put it off any longer. “We have made him as comfortable as we can. He was hit in the left chest. The bullet has damaged his heart. There is too much damage to repair. It is only a matter of time. I have ordered morphine for him as he needs it. We just gave him the first dose if you want to see him.”
With a heavy heart, the entire group entered the treatment room. Dr. Brackett was looking for a private room where they could all stay with him until the end. Until then they were in the treatment room.
Looking up when the door opened, Mayan’s face lit up as he saw his family entering. Kel returned five minutes later walking in on the family “talking” with Mayan and letting him know how proud they were of him and that all of them were going to be just fine. Dr. Early, Dr. Morton and Dixie had just brought Michael, Matthew and Jason in so they, too, could be there. As he stood at the doorway for a minute, he could sense Johnny and Nicole’s pain.
Backing out of the door, the medical team had tears in their eyes as Mayan closed his eyes for the last time with his family surrounding him.
Johnny walked slowly from the barn back to the house. Kel had suggested a psychiatrist to help the kids deal with what had happened. The school was planning on having five or six psychiatrists on duty when the student body returned to school on Monday, but Johnny, Nicole, Roy and Joanne had wanted to get started as soon as possible. After all, the twins and quads had been at the heart of the situation.
The two couples sat in one corner of the living room as the psychiatrist talked with the kids as a group. Dr. Sarah Friderici had brought a colleague, Dr. Benjamin Heilman, along and the two of them asked the kids to relate the events of the day. Johnny, Roy, Joanne, and Nicole listened carefully as each one told what happened. A feeling of grief at not being able to protect their children flooded each of them.
None of the occupants of the room noticed the front door open admitting Vince Howard along with two other policemen and the school principal. They quietly listened as the events unfolded through the words of the Gage and DeSoto children.
An hour later during a lull in the conversation Vince stepped further into the middle of the room. “I hope you don’t mind us listening, but we arrived just as you started talking. Listening to what you had to say answered our questions and we won’t need to put any of you through that again.
Samuel Watkins stepped up beside Vince. “And I just came to say I’m sorry for not listening to your concerns earlier. After we talked, I spoke with Samuel. I should have recognized the lies and been on my guard. I wanted to believe him when he said that he was making friends and that he was glad to be attending school here. I am sorry for what you had to go through.”
Johnny was steadily getting angrier as the principal tried to apologize. If he had paid attention, they wouldn’t have to spend the afternoon making arrangements for Mayan’s funeral. But he was like a lot of people who stuck their heads in the sand and didn’t want to face confrontations.
But before Johnny could say anything, they heard Megan’s voice. “Mr. Watkins, I tried several times to talk to you, but you wouldn’t listen to anything I said. Maybe it was because I am a kid, but I tried to warn you. Now my brother is dead and we have to plan a funeral. Saying you’re sorry isn’t going to make anything alright. It was because you didn’t want to listen or face the fact that there might be a problem in your own school, we lost someone special to us. I don’t know what is going to happen in the future, but I know all of us are going to be at the next board meeting. And if they won’t do anything, I’m sure our parents will do whatever it takes to get us into another school.”
The room was deathly silent when she finished. Roy, Joanne, Johnny and Nicole were speechless. They knew their kids had spunk, but they hadn’t expected this.
“And we’ll be putting the fact that all of these kids came to you five times over the last few weeks and you kept sweeping it under the rug in our official report. I just hope you will be able to sleep tonight.” Vince was angry at the principal, too. As the kids were talking and it came out how many times they had gone to the principal but didn’t receive any help, he wondered what kind of a principal this man really was. Who was watching out for the kids at the school?
The morning sky the day of Mayan’s funeral erupted with the most beautiful, colorful sunrise the Gage family had ever seen. The triplets pulled their parents out of bed and the whole family went to the pasture behind the barn to watch it together and spend some quiet time before they started the long hard day ahead.
“Dad, I really miss Mayan.” Although she was almost 14 and in the ninth grade, Megan’s sensitive, caring heart was breaking and she needed the loving comfort of her father’s arms.
“I know, honey. We all miss him.” Johnny pulled both Megan and Melissa onto his lap—one on each knee—and held them tight. The rest of the kids snuggled closer to their parents. As the sun continued to rise and the sky kept changing colors, the family had their quiet time together shedding tears for their lost family member.
When the sun had made the morning bright, the family dried their tears and headed back inside to get ready for the day. “Mayan is listening to the angels’ voices and he is talking with Peter, Paul and Timothy. He’s probably talking a mile a minute with Melanie and Melinda.” Matthew knew his family needed to think of something good and get their minds off of what would happen later in the day.
“Yeah, remember how protective he was of them.” Johnny’s smile almost reached his eyes.
The family shared happy memories of Mayan around the breakfast table. The sharing continued on the way to the church. Johnny and Nicole hugged each of the kids before entering.
Richard Dean, Joseph and Valerie Dean, and Alex and Bethany Dean were standing with Roy and Joanne and were waiting inside to comfort the family and join the host of others who cared for the Gages. They were ready to lend their support in any way they could. They were all surprised as they heard the family sharing happy memories about Mayan. The tears were on the faces of the Gage family, but they were also smiling through those tears as they thought about the happy times. All those waiting also began to smile through their tears as they joined the family in sharing memories as they headed to the sanctuary of the church for the funeral.
Johnny couldn’t believe his eyes when he entered the sanctuary. It was filled to overflowing. There were people seated on chairs that had been placed in the outside aisles and others standing because there was no where else to sit. He could tell that every student from the high school was in attendance along with their parents. As he walked towards the front of the sanctuary, he realized that just about every off-duty firefighter and police personnel as well as some on-duty personnel were there. Several hands reached out to the family to offer support as they slowly made their way towards the casket that was sitting in the front of the church.
During the ceremony, Mayan was awarded the medal of valor from both the Fire Department and the Police Department and he was given a funeral with full Fire Department honors as they made him an honorary member of the L.A. County Fire Department. Johnny and Nicole were proud of their son as they followed Engine 51 carrying his body to the cemetery.
The gathering at the Gage ranch showed no signs of breaking up even though it was after midnight. The “51-A shift family” had automatically headed there after the funeral lunch had broken up. It was the first time they could gather as a “family” since the incident and they needed each other. Nicole’s father and brothers along with their families were also there.
Hank walked up beside Roy and followed Roy’s gaze to settle on Johnny and Nicole. He immediately knew what Roy was thinking because he was thinking the same thing. As he watched the family, he had been amazed that the family was comforting and supporting everyone else rather than the other way around. His thoughts traveled back through the years and he realized just how good Nicole was for Johnny. The couple brought out a strength in each other that only grew along with their love each year. And that strength went out to the rest of the “family” as well. “They are something else, aren’t they?”
Roy looked at his friend and former boss. “Yeah, they are. They not only bring out the best in each other, they bring out the best in all of us as well.”
“Yeah, but I think there is something we can do for them right now.” Hank noticed how weary Johnny and Nicole were both getting.
“What’s that, Hank?” Roy thought he had a good idea, but he waited for the answer.
“Let’s start sending people home so they can get some rest.” Hank as just as reluctant as everyone else to leave, but he knew that Johnny and Nicole needed to have some time to themselves.
“Yeah, you’re right.” Roy didn’t want to leave either, but knew they couldn’t stay forever.
So with sad hearts the group started breaking up. Johnny and Nicole stood in the doorway as the last car pulled out of their driveway. Then with a last hug for each, they watched as Roy and Joanne slowly walked across the joining field towards their own home.
Johnny and Nicole sat on the back porch in the warm night air wrapped in each other’s arms and let the tears flow down their cheeks. They had been strong for everyone else, now they let their grief show.
“I can’t believe how nice the service was. It is really a wonderful thing the school is doing by naming the new auditorium after Mayan.” Nicole was missing her son.
“Yeah, it is. The superintendent told me that the students had circulated a petition for it and that every member of the student body signed the petition. He also told me they all asked for the principal’s resignation.” Johnny was proud of the legacy Mayan was leaving behind.
“Most of the parents who talked to me said they had told the superintendent that if they didn’t fire the principal they would be pulling their kids out of the school and starting a recall of all the board members. One father told me, though, that the superintendent had told him they had nothing to worry about. The principal was fired right after they left here that day he came out with Vince. They said that we could file a civil suit against him for wrongful death. I told them we wouldn’t be doing that.” Nicole had started talking and couldn’t stop the feelings from pouring out. “I miss him so much.”
Johnny’s arms pulled his wife even closer. “I miss him, too, sweetheart. I think the school board and some of the other parents may be taking legal action against the principal since his inaction caused injury to several others besides our kids. But, Nicole, there is something I need to tell you.” Johnny thought back to the conversation head with Dr. Andrews at Rampart the day before.
“What’s that?” Nicole saw the far away look on Johnny’s face.
“Dr. Andrews stopped me in the hall at Rampart yesterday when I stopped to pick up Mayan’s death certificate. He told me something that won’t ease the loss we feel, but might make all of this just a little bit easier to accept.”
“What’s that, honey?” Nicole was sure that whatever Johnny had to say was not going to be good.
“Well, we knew that when we adopted Mayan he had some health issues because of his down syndrome. Dr. Andrews found at Mayan’s last check up the day before the situation at the high school that he had a heart defect. It would have required extensive surgery and he wasn’t sure that Mayan had either the time or the strength to endure the surgery.”
“I wonder if Mayan knew. He always seemed to know when there was something wrong with any of us. He was quite a man, wasn’t he?” Nicole smiled through her tears.
“Yeah, he was. I think he was more of a man than a lot of men two and three times his age. I miss him, but I couldn’t be prouder of anyone in my life.” Johnny pulled his wife into his arms and held her tight.
“I don’t mean to interrupt, but Mayan found this poem about a week ago and he gave it to me to hold. He said that he wanted me to give it to you when he died. I kidded him about it, but he said I would need to give it to you soon. I told him I would keep it but that it would be a long time before I need it. He insisted it wouldn’t be that long and I guess he was right.” Matthew was standing just behind his father’s chair.
“I thought you were in bed.” Johnny let go of Nicole and pulled Matthew into his lap.
“I was, but I had a dream about Mayan giving me the poem and I woke up. I knew I had to give it to you.” Matthew yawned.
“Thank you, sweetheart, for bringing it to us. We really appreciate it. Now while we read it, why don’t you go back to bed? We’ve had a long day and I know how tired you are.” Nicole leaned over and kissed her son on the cheek.
“Ok, I love you.” Matthew kissed his mother and hugged his father and then climbed off his father lap and headed back to bed while Nicole and Johnny read the poem.
Joanne had been concerned about their friends and had sent Roy back over to the Gage home to check on them. He was surprised to see them sitting on the back deck. “Are you two alright? You should be in bed.”
“Yeah, we’re fine. Actually, I’m glad you came back. Matthew gave us a poem that Mayan asked him to give us when he died. Mayan had found it about a week ago and told Matthew that he would be giving it to us soon. Matthew tried to dissuade him, but he was determined that it would be soon. It looks like he was right.” Johnny was glad to see his friend. He needed to share the poem with Roy.
Roy took the poem that Johnny handed him.
He Only Took My Hand (Author unknown)
Last night while I was trying to sleep,
My son's voice I did hear
I opened my eyes and looked around,
But he did not appear
He said, "Mom you've got to listen,
You've got to understand
God didn't take me from you, mom
He only took my hand.
When I called out in pain that night,
The instant that I died,
He reached down and took my hand,
And pulled me to His side.
He pulled me up and saved me
From the misery and pain.
My body was hurt so badly inside,
I could never be the same.
My search is really over now,
I've found happiness within,
All the answers to my empty dreams
And all that might have been.
I love you all and miss you so,
And I'll always be nearby.
My body's gone forever,
But my spirit will never die!
And so, you must all go on now,
Live one day at a time.
Just understand- God did not take me from you,
He only took my hand.
Roy didn’t try to keep the tears from flowing down his face.
Johnny stood and pulled his “brother” into a warm embrace. “Just remember, Roy, that although our hearts are breaking, we know he is walking the streets of gold right now and we will see him again some day.” They all knew that in time things would be ok.
Johnny and Roy sat in their office grading the final tests of their latest paramedic class. Roy glanced over at Johnny who was lost in thought. The last ten months had been rough on the Gage family. Just when they had all come to terms with the idea of Mayan being gone, something would happen that would open the wound for one or more of them.