Johnny sat at the desk in his office at Station 51 thinking about how
the lives of the members of the first Station 51 A-shift had changed.
And now their lives were going to change again. Hank had been promoted
to Dean of Students at the fire academy and continued to turn out very
capable firefighters. Johnny, Roy and Mike had all passed the Battalion
Chief’s exam and Marco and Chet had passed their Captain’s
exam. In two weeks, Chet would take over as Captain of Station 51; Macro
would replace Roy at Station 14; Mike would become Battalion 14 Chief;
Roy would become Battalion 10 Chief and Johnny was being assigned to
work with the arson squad and headquarters. The work Johnny had done
with the arson squad had spread throughout the County. He was in demand
to work with other arson teams in other counties and with the City of
L.A. It had surprised even him how much he enjoyed it.
His reverie was broken by the ringing phone. “Station 51,
Captain Gage speaking.” The words almost stuck in his throat
when he realized that he wouldn’t be saying them very much
“Hey, Captain Gage.” Roy was having the same trouble
as Johnny when he realized that it would be in just a couple of weeks
that he would be calling him Chief Gage.
Hey, Roy. To what do I owe the honor of this call?” Johnny
knew his friend had just received the word that he and Marco would
be moving up in the ranks. Johnny had been privileged to learn
all the news early. Johnny had been at headquarters for a meeting
with the arson team when the results of the tests came in and had
accidentally walked in on a discussion regarding where to assign
all the men. Once again the three Captains had tied for first on
the chief’s exam and the two engineers had tied for first
on the captain’s exam. And, of course, headquarters wanted
to assign them were they would be the most effective for the department.
“Well, I just got the results of the exams and wanted to congratulate
you and Chet. Soon I am going to be calling you Chief Gage and good
ole’ Chester B. is going to be Captain Kelly. I wonder how
he is going to handle it if he gets a ‘phantom’ of his
own to deal with. I wonder were we will be assigned.”
“I’ve been wondering that same thing about Kelly. As
much as I was a little afraid of having him as my Engineer, I must
admit he was as good as Mike. I really could depend on him. I think
he will make a great Captain. As for were they are going to assign
us, Chet is taking over here for me; Marco is taking your place;
you are now Battalion 10 Chief and Mike is Battalion 14 Chief. I
am going to headquarters and continue working with the arson team
not only here in L.A. County, but across the state when needed. They
keep getting requests for me to come and help out in other places—so
that is what they plan on me doing.”
“How do you know that already, Jr.? The results were just
“Ooops, I forgot—I wasn’t supposed to let it slip
yet. I was at a meeting with the arson team last week and found out
the results and where they wanted to assign us. Hank was at the meeting
and he was as proud as could be of all of us. Don’t let on
that you know already. I walked into the wrong room at headquarters
and overheard. I think Hank wants to be the one to tell everyone
their new assignments. He even got promoted and loves what he is
“I won’t say a word to anyone and thanks for the info.
We need to get everyone together soon to celebrate.” Roy’s
words were cut off by both stations being called to a warehouse fire.
Both captains smiled as they realized that this might be the last
time their crews would work together and Mike’s crew was added
to the assignment.
The crews had worked together as one just like they had the past
ten years. As the three captains met for one final time, each knew
that no matter what happened in the future they were still family
and nothing would change that.
Two weeks later Johnny, Roy and Mike became Chiefs. Chet, Marco,
and Andrew Clark became Captains. William Stoker and Greg Sanders
became Engineers. Chris DeSoto became a paramedic. Hank Stanley became
Dean of Students at the Fire Academy.
Labor Day, 1988
Over the next few months, Nicole gained her strength back on a daily
basis. Dr. Swan was pleased with her progress and was amazed that within
six months Nicole had 85% of her strength back. It would take a few
more months before she would be back to 100%, but she was well on her
There was excitement in the air as the Station 51 A-shift family gathered
at the Gage ranch for Nicole’s first gathering since the transplant.
She wouldn’t have to wear the mask or stay away from her friends.
They had decorated the yard with streamers and balloons. The kids were
out at the corral petting the horses and waiting patiently as the oldest
Stoker and DeSoto boys gave each of the younger ones a turn on Johnny’s
horses. The older kids had a volleyball game going which soon had the
men playing right along with them. And through it all, Nicole sat on
the back porch on a reclining lawn chair and watched everything that
was going on. The annual Fire Department talent show had been postponed
from Memorial Day to Labor Day. No one wanted to have it without the
tradition began at the first talent show—Johnny and Nicole leading
them in “God Bless America”. They had finally been able
to hold it earlier in the day and everyone in the Fire Department had
been thrilled to have Nicole there. Just the short time it took for
them to sing had taken a lot out of her.
The ladies were busy getting the food on while the men began gathering
the kids and making sure everyone had their hands washed. It was Alex
who went to escort Nicole to the chow line. However, before he could
ask her if she was ready to get her dinner, they were surrounded by
four-year old triplets, Mark, Melissa and Michelle who ran to tell
their mother all about their “ride” on the horses.
Dr. Swan had been surprised and pleased when he had received an invitation
to the picnic and had joined Drs. Brackett, Early and Morton as well
as Dixie. He laughed with Johnny as they watched the triplets run up
the stairs of the porch.
Soon Mayan, Michaela, Michael, Matthew and Megan joined their brother
and sisters at their mother’s side. Everyone smiled as the kids
all tried to talk at once and tell their mother about their time with
the horses. Mayan was trying to get the quads and triplets calmed down
so that only one was talking at once.
“Come on, guys, let’s go get something to eat.” Johnny
picked up Melissa and Michelle and carried them under his arms like
bags of potatoes and headed down the steps with the rest of the group
except Mayan chasing their father to “rescue” their sisters.
All those present watched the family as Nicole walked slowly down
the steps with her hand in Mayan’s. Although she looked tired,
her smile could light up all of L.A. Everyone sent up a silent thank
you for the Gage family that everything had turned out so well. It
would be a while before Nicole would be back to 100% but she was well
on her way to a full recovery. And the “Station 51-A Shift Family” had
grown with the addition of Nicole’s father and her brothers with
Lisa Stoker’s wedding was going to be taking place in less than
two months. Mike was running errands for his wife to help get ready
for his daughter’s wedding. He checked off each item on his list
and was pleased to see it had taken him only three hours. When Beth
had handed him the list, he thought it would take him most of the day.
He had one more stop to make and then he could spend the afternoon
with his wife and family before they headed out to Johnny’s for
the monthly barbeque.
As he pulled into the first available parking space, he made a mental
note of everything he needed to get—first class postage stamps,
postcard postage stamps and a money order for that vacation deposit
he wanted to make.
He was so preoccupied with what he had to get, he didn’t notice
the young man that was nervously pacing just inside the post office
door. If he had, he might have been able to prevent what happened next—at
least that was what he thought later when he kept blaming himself for
Mike flinched as gunshots rang out. He dropped to
the floor when one shot hit the post office boxes he was standing next
to as he waited in line. Trying to find out what was going on he started
to turn over. But the bullets were still flying and he knew he had
better stay down.
After what seemed like hours but in reality was only two minutes,
the gun shots stopped. No one dared move however. Mike was waiting
for the shots to start again. Just as he was about to take a chance
and turn over, the gunman started shouting.
“Everyone get up and get over here—now.”
Mike slowly got to his feet looking around him to see what was going
on and to see if he could tell if anyone was hurt. His heart leapt
to his throat as he saw three men on the floor with bullet wounds either
in their arms or legs. Praying that none of the bullets had damaged
arteries, Mike started towards the man pointing a gun. It was then
that he realized there were really three gunmen and several hostages.
“Terry, I thought you said that this would be an easy in, easy
out job.” One of the gunmen was getting very nervous.
“It was supposed to be. How was I to know she wasn’t going
to be here? And, Jerry, you shouldn’t have used my name.” The
first gunman looked to be as nervous as the second one.
“You mean like you just did?” The third gunman stood shaking
his head. He should have known better than to go along with his crazy
brother’s idea to get back at his ex-wife. When his brother had
mentioned it being a federal pay day and hinting that maybe they could
also get some cash by making it look like a robbery/hostage situation,
he had gone against his better judgment and agreed. Now he wished he
had walked away when Terry and his twin brother, Jerry, started making
“What do you mean, Paul?” Jerry once again didn’t
realize what he had said.
Mike couldn’t help but chuckle to himself. It looked like Terry
and Jerry weren’t too bright. He was worried, though, about the
postal customers who had been injured.
“Let’s just get all these people into the back room and
then you and I are going to have a little chat.” Paul was definitely
put out with his brothers and the way the situation was shaping up.
Mike had taken charge when those who weren’t injured started
to pick up the three injured men and move them to the back room as
Jerry found the keys and locked the front door. Under Mike’s
guidance the wounded were moved without further injury and the necessary
pressure applied to stop the bleeding. Mike sent up a silent thank
you that it looked like no arteries were hit. He knew, however, that
they needed to get them to a hospital as fast as possible because they
were losing blood. But right now he knew all three of the gunmen were
nervous and he didn’t want to make them angry.
Paul hauled his twin brothers over to stand in front of the only entrance
in the room so he could keep an eye on the hostages and still rake
them over the coals. “What are you two planning to do now that
your little stunt has backfired?”
“Sally was supposed to be here. Where could she be? All I wanted
to do was take her somewhere and talk to her. I just want to tell her
I still love her and want to see my kids.” Terry wasn’t
listening to his brother.
“Well, she isn’t here and now we not only have hostages,
we have injured people and probably the cops on their way.” Paul
was getting angrier by the minute. He had first thought of just walking
away from all of this since they did have masks on. But his two brothers
calling each of them by name and Terry giving away the original reason
for their being there had quickly changed the dynamics of the situation.
He pulled off his mask and motioned for his brothers to do likewise.
The masks were getting too hot anyway.
“And I just wanted to make them pay for taking my job away from
me. They had no right to fire me just because I was taking so many
breaks and always mixed up the mail. If they had just let me rest more
often, I wouldn’t have switched the addresses so much. If I could
have just had more breaks, the pot would have helped me concentrate
more.” Jerry had been fired because he was smoking heroin on
the job and was on break more than at his station.
“Paul…” Terry was cut off by the sound of the back
door being opened and footsteps headed in their direction.
“Didn’t you check the back door?” Paul looked in
disbelief at Terry.
“No, I didn’t even think about it. When I saw Sally wasn’t
here, I just panicked and started shooting.” Terry knew his brother
was really angry at him now.
“Tom, Jason, Tammy? Where is everyone and why is the front door
locked? What’s going…?” Sally Watters’ voice
trailed off as she turned the corner and ran into her soon to be ex-husband
and his brothers. “What are you…?” seeing the guns
in their hands, she stopped dead in her tracks.
“Well, there you are. Come on in and join the party. Jerry,
go make sure the back door is locked. We don’t want anymore surprises,
now do we?” Paul was beginning to believe they might be able
to salvage something of the situation.
Sally walked around the two remaining men and went over to the group
that was now huddled together in one corner of the room. Seeing that
three men had been shot, her eyes burned with more anger than she could
ever remember having in her life. “Terry Watters, what in the
world have you done now?” She turned to glare at the man she
had married. By this time, Jerry was back and she glared at him and
Paul with a hatred she never knew she possessed.
“I came to take you away from here so we could talk. When you
weren’t here, I got worried and started shaking. My gun went
off and Jerry started shooting thinking someone was shooting at us.
I thought he knew something I didn’t, so I started shooting,
too. Paul finally stopped us.” Terry got very defensive. He didn’t
have to explain anything to his wife. He was the man of the house and,
therefore, made all the decisions. Didn’t the Bible say that
the wife should submit to her husband? Sally needed to learn some more
lessons and he was going to make sure she learned them soon.
“And I came to get even with Mr. Matthews. He had no right to
fire me last week.” Jerry was just as defensive as his twin.
“And just why did you come, Paul?” Sally turned to the
oldest of the three. She had thought that Paul was different.
Yes, the three boys had grown up in a home where their father was
an alcoholic and their mother ran around on their father. Yes, their
father had ended up in prison for “accidentally” shooting
his wife one night when he was drunk and she was sneaking in late from
one of her one-night stands. There had been some robberies in the neighborhood
and Mr. Watters had taken to sleeping on the couch with a gun under
his pillow. When his wife came in that night, he said he mistook her
for someone breaking into the house and had shot her. Because she had
forgotten her keys and had broken the window to open the door, the
police bought the story and charge him with manslaughter. But secretly
Sally had never believed it. Something their father had said after
he got out of jail, led Sally to believe he had hidden his wife’s
keys and used the neighborhood robberies to murder his wife. She couldn’t
prove it and it was all in the past, but she had hoped the boys wouldn’t
be like their father. She should have known better.
“I’m here because I need a little cash to take to the
track with me on Saturday. I have a couple of ‘sure bets’ and
needed something extra to make it pay off.” Paul didn’t
like the tone his sister-in-law was taking with him. “Beside
it really ain’t any of your business.”
Trying to regain control of the situation from Sally, Paul turned
his back to her and started quietly talking with Jerry and Terry. They
had to decide what the next step would be. Just as he started to share
his idea with them, the sound of sirens reached his ears. Yep, the
cops were definitely here and now it was a whole new ball game.
Johnny had agreed to run a few errands for Nicole.
She had wanted to start sewing some summer clothes for the kids. He
knew that in the time it took him to run the few errands on the list,
she would have an outfit for one of the kids completed. Roy was on
his way out to run errands, too, when Johnny stopped by to drop off
a recipe from Nicole for Joanne and so the two men ended up running
their errands together.
Johnny was in the middle of a story about how one of Chet’s
younger crew members was pulling pranks that was making the Phantom
look like an angel when they reached the Post Office door. Roy’s
laughter turned to a frown when he found that the door was locked.
It was definitely during business hours and the post office should
be open. Just at that moment police cars pulled up from all directions
and a squad was pulling up a little ways down the street.
Vince saw Johnny and Roy standing there and yelled at them to get
down. Dropping to a crouch, both men ran behind the police vehicle
that was right in front of the building.
“Vince, what is going on?” Johnny took a minute to look
at all the police personnel around him.
“We have a report of gunshots. How long have you guys been here?” Vince
knew that if Johnny and Roy had been there when the shots were fired,
they would be chomping at the bit to get inside the building.
“We just got here. Do you know if there are any injuries?” The
paramedic in Roy kicked in when he heard there were gunshots.
“We don’t know. All the information we can get is that
there are three men inside, gunshots were fired and there are hostages.”
“Vince, how do you know there are three of them?” Johnny
was ‘scoping’ out the building to see if he could see anything.
“There as a gentleman who was just about to enter the post office
when the shots started. He was an off-duty security guard and noticed
that there were three of them with guns. Not knowing exactly what was
happening, he didn’t wait to find out anymore or to let the gunmen
see him, he just found the nearest phone and called us.”
“I wonder what they want.” The investigator in Johnny
was showing through.
“As soon as we make contact with them, we hope we can find out.” Vince
smiled at Johnny. He knew that Johnny’s mind was churning in
a thousand different directions to see if he could get a handle on
the situation. At this point, Vince knew the police would be grateful
for any help they might get.
Mike had seen the anger in Sally’s eyes and
figured he had better find out what was going on before the situation
deteriorated so badly that all of them would get killed. Walking quietly
up beside the woman, Mike gently guided her to the back of the group
and sat down next to her as they leaned against the wall.
“Hi, my name’s Mike. Can you tell me who those men are
and what they want?” Mike hoped she would open up to him.
“Hi, my name’s Sally. The twin in the blue shirt is my
soon to be ex-husband, Terry Watters. Our divorce should become final
tomorrow and I have full custody of the kids. He is an alcoholic like
his father and has started beating the kids when he punishes them.
When he put our three-year old in the hospital with a broken collar
bone, I left and filed for divorce. I also have a restraining order
against him to keep him at least 500 feet from either me or our kids.
Needless to say, he has been ignoring it.” Sally took a deep
breath before she continued.
“The other twin is Jerry Watters. He used to work here. I got
him a job as a mail clerk, but he spent most of his time on break smoking
heroin. When he was working, he totally messed up sorting the mail
into the correct piles and caused major problems. He was only here
two weeks and was fired when he came in from a break not only high,
but also very drunk.” Sally wasn’t sure why, but she did
not hesitate to tell this man all about the three men standing near
“The third guy is their older brother, Paul Watters. I thought
he was the one with his head on his shoulders, but he started gambling
about six months ago. Luckily I had all of Terry’s and my assets
tied up in the divorce or I wouldn’t have anything to live on.
Paul lost his home, his car and the $100,000 trust fund he had inherited
when his father died. He had been in the Army but was dishonorably
discharged for using drugs and lost the money he had earned from them.
Hitting a winning streak about two months ago, he turned around and
then ended up losing a half-a-million dollars in one night. Now all
he does is gamble.”
Taking another big breath, Sally continued. “As for what they
want, Terry says, he wants to take me somewhere to talk. I’m
not going anywhere with him. He has inherited his father’s temper
and I know that it will not turn out good. Jerry says he wants to get
even with Mr. Matthews for firing him for no good reason. Paul says
he has a few ‘sure bets’ at the track and needed a little
extra cash to help him win big. I bet Jerry told him today was a federal
payday and there would be federal checks in the mail.”
“Ok, I know there are police cars outside because I heard the
sirens. We need to think of a way to get all of us out of here in one
piece. They all seem pretty nervous, but I wonder if it is time for
Jerry’s fix or a drink. He seems to be more hyper than the other
“I think you’re right. And we really need to get these
men some help. They are bleeding again.” Sally couldn’t
believe her husband would have stooped so low as to really shoot someone.
Mike took one look at the pale faces of the three men who had been
shot and came to a decision. Before Sally realized what he was doing
Mike was up and headed towards the three men talking urgently now. “Hey
Paul.” Mike wasn’t sure what he expected their reaction
to be, but he hadn’t even considered the fact that he might be
staring down the barrels of three guns pointed at him. He gulped when
that is exactly what happened. But Mike knew it was now or never and
he wasn’t about to give up. “There are three men over there
who are going to die if they don’t get medical treatment yesterday.
They all have lost a lot of blood.”
Paul looked over to the group that was huddled in the corner. He saw
what Mike was talking about. All three of the men looked really bad.
He didn’t want to be charged with murder. That was not in the
plans at all and if the three men died, they would never get out of
jail. Plus the shootings occurred during a robbery/kidnap situation
which wouldn’t sit well with a judge or jury at all. “You
come with me and we’ll see what those stupid cops out front have
Mike felt the gun in his ribs as he was pushed towards the front door.
No one had noticed—they really hadn’t had a chance—that
all three men were either high or drunk. He noticed that Jerry didn’t
need a fix—it looked like he was on a bad trip. Mike knew the
situation had gone from bad to worse to desperate. He hoped the police
could get the hostages out alive.
Paul stopped in the middle of the Post Office lobby. He had planned
to talk to the “fuzz” and let them know that he was in
control. But he wanted something that would give him a better advantage.
Pulling Mike back with him, he went back towards his brothers with
a very confused Mike doing everything he could to stay on his feet.
“Hey, Jerry, do you have a smoke? I think we all need one.” Paul
pushed Mike back towards Sally and reached for the cigarette that his
brother handed him.
“I should have thought of this sooner.” Jerry wasn’t
really feeling good and thought that maybe the “smoke” they
would have would calm him down.
It was only when they had finished smoking and Paul motioned for Mike
to join them again, that Mike’s suspicions were confirmed. They
had been smoking heroin. Things were really going downhill fast and
Mike was beginning to fear that something bad was going to happen soon.
The heroin Jerry had purchased from his supplier had been doctored
up—if he had known he probably wouldn’t have given it to
his brothers or used it himself. The supplier had been angry with Jerry
for late payments, non-payments and short payments. Oh sure, Jerry
had always said he would pay the guy what he owed, but it was usually
only after the supplier cut him off until he paid in full that he got
his money. Jerry’s supplier was tired of it and was going to
take care of the problem. So, he had doctored up the heroin he had
Jerry had smoked one of the tainted heroin cigarettes right before
they had entered the Post Office, so the second one helped make the
trip he was already on to become worse. He started to believe that
everyone, including his brothers, was out to get him. Looking at Terry
watching their older brother walk towards the front door, Jerry started
“Stop right there, you aren’t going to turn me over to
the fuzz.” Jerry hit Terry on the back of the head with the butt
of his gun and then aimed at Paul and Mike through the door. Although
his hand was shaking, Jerry pulled the trigger. The first shot struck
Paul in the arm and he turned sideways back towards his brother. Before
he could do anything, though, Jerry’s second shot struck Mike
in the back in his upper left shoulder. That was the last thing Mike
Johnny had seen Paul and Mike headed towards the front
door the first time they entered the lobby. Everyone had been surprised
when they turned around and went back the way they had come. The S.W.A.T.
members and police officers took advantage of the time they were out
of sight to get into place. That’s why when Mike and Paul were
on their way back to the front door, the police were ready. But they
weren’t ready for the shots that were fired from inside.
When Mike fell to the floor, the place swarmed with police. They broke
the glass in the doors and entered in record time. They found Paul
yelling at his brother for shooting him; Terry was out cold on the
floor from when Jerry had hit him; and Jerry was in the throes of what
every officer knew was a bad trip.
Johnny and Roy wasted no time running into the lobby. They had heard
the gunshots and saw Mike go down. Both were afraid of what they would
find. Johnny reached him first. He found the entry wound, but there
was no exit wound. Wishing they had equipment, both men were relieved
when the paramedics from Squad 43 kneeled down beside them and took
“Johnny, Roy, we’ve got some injured in the back room.
Also, that guy over there needs some attention, too.” Vince knew
that the two men would need something to help keep their minds off
their injured friend. “Can you check them out until more squads
arrive? We’ve radioed for four more squads plus five ambulances.”
“Sure, Vince,” Johnny’s voice cracked as he stood
up to follow the police officer.
With one last look over his shoulder, Roy moved over to see the extent
of Paul’s injuries. He prayed he would be able to keep the anger
he was feeling in check as he assessed one of the men who was the cause
of his friend’s injury.
Nicole guided Beth through the busy emergency room
looking for a familiar face. Johnny had called Nicole first since Joanne
was out of town visiting her mother. Nicole had immediately gone to
the Stoker home and was there when the police arrived to give the news
to Beth. Knowing that the police had to keep their personal feelings
out of it, Nicole was thankful she had been able to break the news
to Beth first. The cold, to-the-point manner in which the policeman
delivered the news made Nicole want to slug him. But she knew he was
just doing his job.
Seeing Dixie wave at them from the other end of the hall, the two
women made their way through the sea of on- and off-duty firefighters
lining the walls. “How is he, Dixie?” Nicole knew Beth
was holding her breath and was afraid the answer would be bad news.
“He’s in surgery to remove the bullet. His guardian angel
was working overtime today. The bullet fractured his collarbone, but
didn’t do any damage to any major organs or muscles. He will
have his shoulder immobilized for several weeks and then have to go
through therapy, but he should make a 100% recovery.” Dixie was
glad she could deliver good news to the two women. “Come on,
Johnny and Roy are in the lounge.”
When they opened the door, none of the women were really surprised
to see the entire Station 51 A-Shift family waiting for Mike to come
out of surgery. Nicole and Beth were quickly surrounded by Johnny,
Roy, Hank, Marco and Chet and were led to the couch.
Beth had been told that Johnny and Roy were outside the Post Office
when Mike was hurt. “Johnny, is Mike really going to be ok?” Beth
knew Dixie wouldn’t lie to her, but she needed to hear it from
“Yes, Beth, he is. I got to ride in the ambulance with him and
he came to just as we left the scene. When he looked at me and said
that I was usually the one that was in the wrong place at the wrong
time, I knew he was going to be just fine.” Johnny had remembered
the light hearted bantering he had shared with Mike and sent up a silent
thank you that Mike wasn’t hurt as badly as he could have been.
“He’s right, Chief. You’re usually the one that
ends up in these situations. What did you do to Mikey that he was the
unlucky one this time?” Chet was so relieved to hear that Mike
had actually joked with Johnny he had to let it out in the only way
he knew how—ribbing his friends. He was relieved that although
Mike was in the wrong place at the wrong time he would make a full
Johnny looked at Chet and walked out of the room without saying a
word. Roy exchanged questioning looks with Chet and followed Johnny
out of the room. Johnny was headed out of the emergency room doors
when Roy found him. He quickly followed Johnny outside.
“Hey, Johnny, is there something wrong? Chet didn’t mean
anything by what he said.” Roy wondered what was going on with
“I know, Roy, Chet was just expressing his relief in the only
way he knows how. I was just thinking about Mike. He walked into a
Post Office to buy stamps and almost leaves in a body bag. If that
bullet had been lower, it would have killed him. And it all started
when one of the twins freaked out. We could have lost one of the best
friends we have ever had. I’d like to know what made him start
shooting. He even shot his own brother.”
“I don’t know why he would start shooting like that, but
Mike is going to be all right. He will be laid up for a little while,
but he is going to make a complete recovery.”
“And I can tell you why the shooting started.” Vince had
been coming to the hospital to talk with Roy and Johnny to find out
what they knew of the incident.
“What happened, Vince?” Johnny turned at the sound of
“It seems Jerry bought some heroin from his dealer. Well, the
dealer was angry because Jerry was behind in payments and had even
skipped some. So he sold him some tainted heroin. Jerry smoked two
of them within a short period of time and began to feel the effects
of it. He was having a very bad trip. He thought Paul was going to
turn him over to the police, so he started shooting to prevent it.”
“Well, I’m just glad that Mike is going to be ok.” Johnny
shook Vince’s hand and then started back into the hospital to
see if Mike was out of surgery yet.
Mike’s surgery had lasted for four hours. Dr.
Brackett pushed open the door to the room where the A-shift and their
families had been moved. He was glad he had good news for these people.
He wasn’t surprised when he was surrounded by all the people
in the room. “Why don’t you all sit down and I’ll
update you on Mike’s condition?”
Everyone found either a place to sit or a counter to lean against
and settled to listen to the doctor’s report.
“He came through surgery with flying colors. We removed the
bullet from his collarbone and repaired some minor bleeders. His shoulder
has been immobilized and he is in recovery. It will be about six weeks
for the shoulder to heal and another three to four weeks of physical
therapy, but he will make a complete recovery.”
The room was full of high fives and pats on the back as everyone sent
up a silent prayer thanking God that Mike was going to make it. Beth
gave each one a hug just before Dixie led her to Mike’s room.
Mike had spent two weeks in the hospital. Lisa had put
her wedding plans on hold to spend time with her father. Now that he
was home, she knew she needed to make sure everything was ready for
her wedding. As she looked over the list, she knew that the timing
would be a little tight, but she would be ready in time.
Beth made sure Mike was comfortable on the couch. Chet and Marco were
coming over to spend time with him while Beth and Lisa ran errands
since the wedding was only three weeks away. “Don’t overdo
with the guys. You know you will be in pain if you do.” Beth
leaned down and kissed Mike on the cheek and opened the door when Marco
and Chet arrived.
“I won’t, honey, I promise.” Mike knew what Beth
had said was true and he was just going to lie on the couch. He wanted
to regain his strength as soon as possible and he didn’t want
to do anything to jeopardize it.
Chet turned on the TV so the three friends could watch the game as
Marco went into the kitchen and filled a couple of bowls with chips
and salsa. He also grabbed three bottles of pop out of the 12-pack
he had brought. Mike made himself comfortable on the couch as Chet
and Marco settled into the two easy chairs to watch the game.
That’s where Beth and Lisa found them when they returned two
hours later. Mike noticed the strange look on the faces of both his
wife and his daughter. He also realized that they had returned far
sooner than they should have for all the errands they had to accomplish.
They should have been gone until well after the dinner hour. He was
afraid something bad had happened in regards to Lisa’s wedding. “What’s
wrong, Beth? Is there a problem with the wedding arrangements?”
Chet and Marco looked at the strange look on both Beth and Lisa’s
faces. Saying they needed their soft drinks refilled, the two men went
into the kitchen to give the family some private time.
“No, as a matter of fact everything is finished.” Beth
still couldn’t believe that not only had all the plans been finalized
and paid for, the extra things Lisa wanted but couldn’t afford
had been added.
“What do you mean finished? We still had to make final payments
and decisions.” Mike couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Someone not only make the final payments, all the extra things
that Lisa had wished for were paid for, too. Everything is ready.”
“Who paid for it? Did the Thomas’ take care of it?”
“No, Dad, I called Justin and he said that all the details for
his part have been taken care of, too. He was going to call me and
ask if I knew anything about it.”
“Do you guys know anything about this?” Mike accepted
the glass Marco handed him as the two men came back into the room.
“No, this is the first we’ve heard of it.” Chet
knew that Mike had seen them standing in the doorway and realized they
heard the tail end of the conversation.
“I wonder who would have done something like that.” Mike
was completely baffled.
“I don’t know. I asked at a couple of the stores, but
they said the person or persons wish to remain anonymous. One sales
clerk did say that whoever it was said they wanted only the best for
Lisa and Justin and they didn’t want us to have to worry about
it. They just wanted you to get better without any stress.” Beth
was still in a mild state of shock.
Mike was lost deep in thought. Chet and Marco both asked him a question,
but he didn’t hear either one. Who would have even known what
Beth and Justin wanted for their wedding let alone finalizing them
and finishing paying for them? Who knew about the “wish list” the
bride and groom could not afford, but had dreamed about? Mike figured
it had to be one of the guys from the station, but which one?
“Have we ever discussed Lisa and Justin’s wedding plans
with anyone outside the family?” Mike wanted to find out who
would do this for them.
“Not that I can remember. I know we’ve talked about different
plans with different people at different times, but there are things
that were done that I don’t ever remember talking about with
anyone but Justin, his family and you.” Even Lisa wondered who
would have known what they needed to have completed.
As Lisa and Justin’s wedding got closer Mike and
Beth kept trying to see if they could find out who had taken care of
the arrangements, but they weren’t having any luck. Finally they
decided to just let it go and maybe someday they would find out who
their anonymous benefactor was.
Lisa’s wedding day dawn bright and clear. Mike had watched as
Lisa and Beth carried their gowns into the bridal room at the church.
His little girl was getting married. He thought back to Brandon’s
wedding. But this was different—Lisa was his little girl and
now someone else would be responsible for her well-being. He had tried
to prepare himself for this day from the day she was born and even
more so since Justin had asked him for her hand in marriage. But now
that it had arrived, he wasn’t sure he was ready to let her go.
Johnny noticed Mike standing in the hallway staring at the door he
knew led to the bridal room. Having four daughters of his own, Johnny
thought he had a pretty good idea of what was going through Mike’s
mind. Putting his arm around Mike’s shoulder, he led him outside
to the little garden on the side of the church where they sat on a
bench. “Mike, Justin loves her very much.”
“I know, but she is my little girl.”
“But you can’t keep her little forever. You and Beth have
done a wonderful job in raising her and now it is time to see all the
love and devotion you put into her life in action. Justin is the kind
of man you want to take over taking care of her. He puts her first
and will do anything for her. Your family has grown since he met Lisa
and he has become a very important member. You have gained a son-in-law
who not only loves your daughter, but loves her family as well. He
is a firefighter and has his head on his shoulders. I don’t think
you could ask for anything more. Justin and Lisa will have a wonderful
“You’re right, Johnny. Thanks. I guess I was feeling a
little jealous because another man has taken first place in my little
girl’s life. Justin is a great guy and I know he will treat Lisa
with respect and love. Thank you for pointing that out to me.”
“Well, just remember what I said and you can return the favor
when I have to walk my daughters down the aisle. I guess they never
stop being our little girls, but we only want the best for them. You
have that in Justin. I only hope my sons-in-law will be as good. We’d
better get you back inside before they send out the police to look
for us. You have a daughter to walk down an aisle.”
“Yeah, and Johnny, I will return the favor when it is your turn.”
With that Mike and Johnny walked back inside so that Mike could give
away his daughter. Johnny kissed Lisa on the cheek as he left Mike
by her side to go find his seat. He hadn’t told Mike, but he
had been as protective of Lisa as her parents. It had taken him a month
of having Justin at his station as part of his training to realize
how special he was and how much of an addition to the family he would
Lisa and Justin had been kept busy talking with all
their guests at their reception. Now they were taking the opportunity
to thank their parents for all they had done for them. Having already
spoken with the Thomas’s, they made their way over to Mike and
Beth. “Daddy, have you had a chance to give Linda the final payment?” Lisa
knew that Mike had planned to pay the wedding planner the final payment
for the reception that day.
“Not yet. I have been keeping an eye out for a chance when she
isn’t so busy. Don’t worry, sweetheart, I’ll make
sure it is all taken care of before I leave tonight.” Mike hugged
his daughter with his good arm and looked over her shoulder at Linda
Mancini, the wedding planner. He noticed she was talking to Johnny
and Nicole in one corner. Just as he let his daughter go, he noticed
Johnny handing her something. A niggling suspicion started in the back
of his mind. Before he could question it any further, he turned his
attention back to his daughter and son-in-law.
After Justin and Lisa had moved on to talk to more guests, Mike was
determined he would find Linda and pay her. He actually wanted to satisfy
his suspicions. As he started off, he was surprised to feel Beth’s
hand slip into his.
“I want to go with you. I know you saw her talking with Johnny
and Nicole and I bet you have the same questions I do.” Beth
smiled at her husband as they walked across the room.
“Yeah, I think I do.”
Mike and Beth found Linda at the food table making sure everything
was in order. “Linda we want to thank you for everything. It
has been absolutely perfect.” Mike was trying to think of a way
to find out if their suspicions were correct. “How much is the
“You are welcome. It has been a pleasure to work with you and
the bride and groom. Everything has been taken care of—you don’t
owe me anything. If you will excuse me, I have a couple of things to
check on and make sure things are getting cleaned up.” Linda
left before Mike and Beth could ask her anymore questions. The people
who had paid her wanted it kept a secret and she was afraid she would
let it slip if she had to answer their questions.
“Mike, do you think we should thank them.” Beth knew that
their suspicions had been correct—Johnny and Nicole had taken
care of the rest of Lisa and Justin’s wedding.
“I don’t think they want us to know. I don’t know
why they did it, but let’s respect their wishes to keep this
all a secret. We can think of some way to repay them.” Mike appreciated
what the Gage’s had done. Somehow he would repay them without
letting them know they had discovered the secret.
As Lisa and Justin were leaving, Johnny and Nicole were standing beside
Mike and Beth. Mike had made sure that Johnny and Nicole would have
a chance to wish the happy couple God’s blessings. Johnny had
secretly been relieved when Mike asked them to join the happy parents
to send the bridal couple on their way. He and Nicole had found two
poems they wanted to share with Lisa and Justin. So as Johnny hugged
Lisa and shook Justin’s hand, he slipped the poems into Justin’s
As they were pulling away, tears filled Lisa’s eyes as she read
the poems. She knew then how much she really meant to her “Uncle
Johnny and Aunt Nicole.” Justin put his arm around his wife as
they read the poems together.
As hand in hand you enter
A life that’s bright and new,
May God look down from heaven
And bless the two of you
May He give you understanding
Enough to make you kind,
So you may judge each other
With your hearts and not your minds.
May He teach you to be patient
As you learn to live together,
Forgiving little human rifts
That arise in stormy weather.
And may your love be strong enough
To withstand the strongest sea,
So you may dwell forever
In love’s rich tranquility.
With God as Your Partner
A prayerful reflection on marriage by Helen Steiner Rice
It takes a groom, it takes a bride –
Two people standing side by side
It takes a ring and vows that say
This is our happy wedding day.
But wedding vows are sanctified
And loving hearts are unified
When, standing with the bride and groom,
Unseen by others in the room,
The spirit of the Lord is there
To bless this happy bridal pair…
For God is love, and married life
Is richer for both man and wife
When God becomes a partner, too,
In everything they plan and do,
And every home is specially blessed
When God is made a daily guest
For married folks who pray together
Are happy folks who stay together,
For when God’s love becomes a part
Of body, mind, and soul and heart,
Their love becomes a wondrous blending
That’s both eternal and unending ---
And God looks down and says, “Well done,”
For now you two are truly one.
It was a very happy group that went their separate ways knowing that
the station 51 family had just grown a little bigger and a little closer
The crews of stations 51, 24, and 14 had decided to have a picnic
at the Torrance Hot Air Balloon Show to celebrate the 4th.
All three crews plus the extended family, including Nicole’s
brothers and their families and her father, had just finished their
picnic lunch and the older kids were clamoring to go ride some of the
carnival rides that had accompanied the hot air balloon show. With
a laugh at their antics, Brandon and Brittany, Lisa and Justin, William,
Chris and Jennifer along with Mayan took the Gage quadruplets and triplets,
the Kelly twins and Aaron, the DeSoto twins, the Lopez triplets, and
Nicole’s nieces and nephews and headed for the merry-go-round
and Ferris wheel. The adults laughed as the youngest kids pulled the
others along. It was good to see that the next generation of the Station
51 family was as close as the original group.
He was supposed to be the one getting ready to fly formation with
the Blue Angels today—not that new member they brought in.
Sure, he had taken some risks and almost caused some accidents because
he was hot dogging it. He had wanted to be the star and was just
trying to show them that he was the best pilot. There was no need
for the court marital and discharge because of the accident that
put the Lieutenant into the hospital with career ending injuries—injuries
that had left him a paraplegic for the rest of his life. So what
if he had disobeyed a direct order and was reckless, putting the
rest of them in danger. They all knew the risks of the maneuvers
their stunts required and what could happen if one went wrong. Captain
Stanson would pay for what he had done.
As the Blue Angels took off, he stood to one side and watched. Now
Captain Stanson would pay—he had seen to that. It would not happen
until later, but it would happen.
Johnny, Nicole, Roy, Joanne, Hank, and Emily were seated on the blanket
watching the Blue Angels. The rest of the group had wandered off
in various directions for drinks, to use the facilities or just to
take a walk. The Blue Angels were just finishing and flying off towards
the East. Everyone knew that the Hot Air Balloons would be lifting
off in about fifteen minutes. That’s why when one balloon lifted
off as the Blue Angels turned to fly back to base, the three men
were on the alert. The planes would be flying higher than the balloon
would reach, but there was a feeling of tension just the same.
Seconds later the lead plane exploded. Johnny, Roy and Hank were on
their feet running towards the spot that seemed to be the target of
the falling debris. Horror filled everyone on the ground as parts of
the plane collided with the balloon and then spiraled towards the ground.
The balloon tore into shreds and the basket fell like a rock. The three
men were already headed towards the spot where the balloon basket would
land before it impacted. None of them noticed the parts of the plane
that were spiraling towards the three women standing in the same spot
the men had left them. They didn’t notice either as they concentrated
on watching their husbands in action. That’s why the impact was
Nicole was hit with what was later determined to be a part of the
wing. Joanne was hit with a part later determined to be a part of the
tail. And Emily was hit with what was later determined to be a part
of the engine. They would all learn later that the impact with the
balloon had been the miracle that saved their lives. That contact had
slowed the rapid descent of the plane parts to a speed that would not
cause immediate death when they hit the three women. As a matter of
fact, the parts had slowed so much that if it hadn’t been for
the sharp pieces sticking out of each one, they would have just hit
the women and caused severe bruising or broke a bone.
Johnny was the first to realize that their wives were in trouble.
Just as he reached the impact location at the instant of impact, he
looked back to where his wife was watching him. He stopped when he
saw Emily fall and Joanne and Nicole sink to the ground. He could see
the blood even from the distance between them. He was torn between
helping his wife and friends and helping any victims in the basket.
The decision was made for him when Hank looked into the basket and
realized it was empty. Someone had sent up the empty balloon on purpose.
Johnny took off running faster than he had ever run before as soon
as Hank let them know the basket was empty. Hank and Roy were surprised,
but quickly realized where he was headed when they looked back over
at where they had been seated. By this time, Chet, Kimberly, Marco
and Rebecca had returned. Mike and Beth were coming from the refreshment
stand. Hank, Roy and Mike all realized that something was wrong just
by the way Johnny was running. They were soon headed to the blanket
as fast as Johnny.
Nicole was sitting with her hand on the laceration on Emily’s
head. Emily was unconscious. The piece of plane sticking out of Nicole’s
shoulder went unnoticed as she was worried about Emily and Joanne.
She kept talking to Joanne who seemed to be in shock. The pieces of
plane that stuck out of her arm and leg worried Nicole. She just prayed
they hadn’t hit any arteries. They looked like they might be
deep. What Nicole didn’t realize was that she was in shock, too.
She didn’t even register the arrival of any of the firefighters.
By the time she passed out, her family and the members of all three
crews were crowded around the three injured women and the paramedics
in the group had gone to work. The remaining women had met the returning
children and had taken them over to see the military plane that was
on display and take them through it. Relief filled all the adults as
they realized they had been able to keep the kids from seeing the injuries
of the three women.
Chet had taken off to find the on-duty paramedics for help. He knew
that even though the off-duty paramedics were doing everything they
could do, they didn’t have the equipment or supplies to do any
more than keep the bleeding under control. Johnny sighed with relief
when Chet returned with the paramedics from St. Mary’s Medical
Center stations 10 and 23. As he relinquished care of his wife and
friends to the on-duty paramedics, his knees gave out and he collapsed
on the ground. Roy and Hank soon joined him.
It had been three hours since the three women had been injured at
the Hot Air Balloon Show. The St. Mary’s Medical Center had
graciously found a special lounge and designated it solely for the
Station 51 family. Johnny had worn a path between the window and
the door. No matter how many times he tried to sit down and not pace,
he couldn’t do it. Roy had joined him and was heading in the
opposite direction so the two would meet in the middle of the room.
Several times one of them would grab the hand of the other and then
continue on his way. Hank seemed to be in a world of his own—Emily
had been injured the worst. Johnny and Roy had honestly admitted
that to him. What would he do if he lost her? His daughters were
grown, married and had families of their own. He knew they would
be there for him, but Emily was his life. He didn’t know what
he would do if she didn’t make it.
The Torrance Chief of Detectives and Police Commissioner had stopped
in to see all of them to get their statements. During that visit, they
had learned that there had been a bomb in the plane that had exploded,
killing the pilot, Captain Stanson, instantly.
Roy knew that the longer it took for them to bring word, the worse
the news was likely to be. He was getting impatient and had made the
decision that when his route took him to the door again, he would go
and see if he could find out what was going on. As he came within ten
feet of the door, it opened admitting Dr. Hanson, head of emergency,
and his head nurse. But what surprised all of them was that the doctor
and nurse were accompanied by Drs. Brackett and Early and Dixie McCall.
“Sorry we haven’t been able to come sooner. Drs. Brackett
and Early arrived just as we were completing our examinations and asked
if they could examine Joanne, Nicole and Emily for themselves. Dixie
will fill you all in on what is going on as we take the three women
to surgery. Drs. Brackett and Early will be assisting in the operating
room. Please don’t worry. Your wives are in good hands.” Dr.
Hanson smiled at the three men as he and his nurse left to go attend
to the surgery they would be doing.
Johnny and Roy took turns pacing with Hank crossing against them.
Mike briefly wondered how they didn’t run into each other,
but even though they didn’t seem to be paying attention to
anyone or anything else in the room they missed each other every
time. Then he turned back to worrying about three of his favorite
people who right now were in surgery and fighting for their lives.
Dixie had told them that Dr. Hanson had called Rampart for the medical
background on the three women. That’s when she, Dr. Early and
Dr. Brackett decided to come to St. Mary’s since they were going
off duty. They were anxious to see if they could help. She went on
to inform them that Nicole’s suspicions were correct. The parts
of the plane that had caused Joanne’s injuries had hit major
arteries. If the pieces had been removed, she would have died almost
instantly. Emily was unconscious. They were doing surgery to relieve
the pressure that was building from a subdural hematoma and she had
a fractured skull. If she survived surgery, the extent of the rest
of her injuries would not be able to be determined until she regained
consciousness—if she regained consciousness. Nicole had suffered
a puncture wound and a fractured collar bone. She was in surgery to
repair the internal damage from the piece that struck her shoulder
and to fix her collar bone.
Johnny stopped in the middle of the room and looked around. Then
without saying another word, he left the room. Chet had an idea of
where he was headed and was out of the room before anyone else even
realized Johnny had left. He found Johnny in the Chapel right where
he expected him to be. As he quietly slid in beside him, Johnny smiled
at him and returned to his praying thankful for the support.
Roy didn’t know if he should follow Johnny or not. But when
Chet didn’t return, he figured the other firefighter had found
him and everything was alright. If he knew Johnny, they were both in
the Chapel praying.
It had been three hours since Dixie had explained the three ladies’ injuries.
Roy and Hank were getting very impatient. Johnny had finally returned
to the lounge an hour ago, but he had not said a word since returning
to the room. That was almost as unnerving to Roy as the fact that Johnny
had not moved at all since he returned either. Johnny wasn’t
pacing, he wasn’t jiggling his leg, he wasn’t drumming
his fingers—he was sitting perfectly still lost deep in thought.
Just as Roy was about to check on Johnny, the door opened admitting
Drs. Brackett, Early and Hanson. Everyone was on their feet as soon
as they realized who was entering the room.
Dr. Brackett motioned everyone to sit back down. When everyone was
settled back in their seats, Dr. Hanson took a deep breath and began
with the updates on the three women.
“Nicole came through surgery and is in the recovery room. There
was some nerve and muscle damage, but it was completely repaired. We
have her collar bone set and immobilized. She will be transferred to
ICU overnight just for observation and to a regular room tomorrow.
Joanne has also come through surgery and is in recovery. Nicole was
right—the part that struck Joanne nicked two arteries. We successfully
repaired them and she, too, will be transferred to ICU for observation
overnight. We expect to move her to the same room as Nicole tomorrow.
Hank held his breath. He was waiting for word about his wife. He was
happy for Johnny and Roy, but he was worried about his wife and what
he would do if she died.
Dr. Hanson looked at Hank and then continued. “Emily has a fractured
skull. We relieve the pressure build up in her brain from the subdural
hematoma. She will be moved to ICU where we will monitor her continuously.
Right now it is a wait and see game. The surgery was a success but
we need to wait to see if she will regain consciousness. We expect
her to make a full recovery, but the brain is such a mystery to us
yet we can’t tell you anything definite. She will be kept in
ICU until she regains consciousness.”
Hank’s shoulders slumped. Roy moved to one side of him while
Johnny moved to the other. The two men put their arms around their
friend and tried to give him the comfort they both knew he needed.
They just held him as the sobs started to rack his body.
Johnny quietly slipped into Emily Stanley’s ICU room and stood
at the door as he watched his friend trying to deal with his wife’s
injuries. Saying a silent prayer for healing for both Emily and Hank,
he slowly walked across the room and laid a hand on Hank’s
“Is there any change, Hank?”
“No, what am I going to do without her, Johnny? She’s
“Hank, I don’t know what is going to happen, but I do
know that she is strong and your love for her is strong. She has you
and all of her family and friends praying for her. Whatever happens,
we will get through this together.”
“Thank you for being here, Johnny. Your support helps.”
Nothing more was said as Johnny sat with Hank and both men prayed
for Emily Stanley.
Nicole and Joanne had been moved to the same room. It seemed like
they always had someone in their room during visiting hours. But
during the times they were alone, they prayed for their friend. It
had been five days since the accident and Emily Stanley was still
in a coma. Both women could feel Hank’s worry when he came
Today both women were being released. Nicole was impatient. They had
decided they were going to visit Emily before they left. Nicole had
a feeling she couldn’t put her finger on. When Roy and Johnny
entered the room to pick up their wives, they hadn’t even had
a chance to say hello before both women said together, “Let’s
go. We want to visit Emily.”
Laughing, Johnny grabbed the wheelchair Nicole had already sat in. “I
guess we know where we stand, Roy.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Roy joined Johnny’s laughter
and followed him out of the room.
Hank was sitting with Emily when the two couples arrived. Smiling
at Nicole and Joanne, Hank rose to hug both women. “How are you
both? It looks like you are going home today.”
“Yes, but we wanted to see Emily before we left.” Nicole
moved close to Emily’s bed. “Johnny, why don’t you
and Roy take Hank down to the cafeteria to get something to eat. If
Hank is anything like you two, he probably hasn’t been out of
this room for the last five days and he really needs to take a break.
Jo and I will sit here and talk to Emily.”
Hank didn’t want to leave his wife’s side, but he knew
that Nicole was right. He needed to get something to eat and he knew
that Emily wouldn’t be alone. “Thanks, Nicole. I am getting
Johnny and Roy just looked at each other in disbelief. They, along
with Chet, Marco, Mike and even the hospital personnel, had tried several
times to get Hank to take a break without any success. Then Nicole
came along and just made the suggestion and Hank was almost out the
door. With a shrug, both men followed Hank to the cafeteria.
Nicole smiled to herself as she watched Roy and her husband follow
Hank out the door. She had seen the surprised looks on their faces
out of the corner of her eye. To tell the truth, she had fully expected
to have to fight with Hank to get him to leave.
Nicole knew that Hank would soon be back. The guys had already been
gone half an hour and she had really expected Hank back with coffee
in his hand almost as soon as he had left. She and Joanne had spent
the entire time telling Emily how much Hank needed her with no response.
Nicole didn’t know what she had expected, but she was disappointed
when there was no reaction from Emily. She had hoped for something.
“Hank should be back any second, Emily. He has been here every
second since our accident. He loves you.” Nicole squeezed Emily’s
hand and started to pull her hand away when she felt a slight, very
weak squeeze. “Emily?” Nicole’s face split with her
grin when she felt another very weak squeeze again.
The door had opened just as Nicole had felt the first squeeze. Hank
looked at his wife’s face and then at Nicole’s. He didn’t
want to get his hopes up, but when he saw the huge grin on Nicole’s
face, he rushed to the side of the bed. “Emily?” When he
reached her side, he saw his wife’s brown eyes staring back at
him with the twinkle he had always loved.
Nicole pushed her wheelchair away from the bed to let Hank in. “Johnny,
go have Dr. Hanson paged. He needs to be here.”
Thinking that something bad had happened, Johnny rushed out of the
room to have the nurse page Dr. Hanson. Roy rushed over to the bed
and then stopped when he, too, saw Emily’s eyes smiling up at
The page for Dr. Hanson went over the loudspeaker and Johnny dashed
back into the room only to see everyone with grins on their faces.
Then he saw what had made everyone so happy. His grin was the biggest
when he turned to meet Dr. Hanson as he came in. “Emily’s
awake, Doc,” he blurted out before the doctor even had a chance
to make it all the way through the door.
“Then how about all of you waiting outside while I check out
my star patient.” The doctor’s grin was almost as big as
Johnny and Roy were sitting out in the ICU waiting room. Hank had
been let back into his wife’s room about 10 minutes earlier.
Dixie and Dr. Brackett had been visiting and had taken Joanne and
Nicole home so they would get their rest and take something for
their pain. The DeSotos would be staying with the Gages while the
recuperated. When the Gages had rebuilt after the arson, they had
built extra bedrooms so that when their children got older they
would each be able to have their own room. Right now they were
as guest bedrooms, so they had plenty of rooms for the DeSotos.
When Emily was released, the Stanleys would be joining them.
“I’m so thankful that Mrs. Stanley regained consciousness.” Johnny
felt like everything was really going to work out for the first time
in five days.
“Yeah, things are going to be ok.” Roy smiled as Chet,
Mike and Marco entered the ICU waiting room.
“What are you guys doing out here? Aren’t you supposed
to be taking Joanne and Nicole home?” Chet was afraid something
really bad had happened.
“Dixie and Doc Brackett were here and took them home. We are
out here to let Hank have some time with Emily alone.” Johnny
knew that Chet was worried.
“Yeah, Emily regained consciousness about an hour ago and they
are just spending some time together.” Roy had also seen how
worried the three men who just arrived had been.
“She regained consciousness? That’s great!” Mike
was as pleased as the rest of them that their family had come through
It had been three weeks since Joanne and Nicole had been released
and one since Emily was released. The original Station 51 A-shift
and their families were gathering for a barbeque at the Gage ranch.
It was a quiet gathering and everyone often sent up silent thanks
that they were all together and the three women were well on their
way to making a full recovery. It would take several weeks of therapy
for Nicole after her collar bone had mended. Joanne was almost back
on her feet and Emily was slowing regaining her strength.
The celebration had been in full swing for an hour when Policeman
Vince Howard showed up. As soon as they saw the car drive in, all the
men headed towards the driveway. “Vince, to what do we owe this
“I just thought you would all like to know that the blue angel
plane was sabotaged with a bomb. As you know, the pilot was killed
instantly. It turned out that a man by the name of Adam Wellman planted
a bomb to get back at the Captain for kicking him off the blue angel
team for being a show-off and putting him through a court martial for
disobeying a direct order and recklessness causing injuries to a Lieutenant.
Adam wanted to get back at the Captain. He thought the plane would
be father away from the park when the bomb went off. We have him under
“Thanks for letting us know, Vince.” Johnny shook the
police officer’s hand and headed back to hold his wife. He was
soon followed by Roy and Hank as the police cruiser pulled away. They
all knew they had a lot to be thankful for.
Roy was nervous. He really didn’t know why—his son, Chris,
was getting married, not him. But he was nervous. Maybe being the best
man and responsible for the ring had something to do with it. He envied
Johnny. When Chris had been pacing endlessly, Johnny had taken him
aside and given him the same talk he had given to Chet and Marco when
they were getting married. Roy had frozen up when he wanted to say
something to Chris—his mind went totally blank. He had always
thought he would get nervous and tongue tied at Jennifer and Crystal’s
weddings, but not Chris’s and Jason’s.
Johnny saw how nervous Roy was and took him aside. “Roy, just
remember you are gaining a wonderful daughter-in-law. And just think,
you may be a grandpa in the next year or so.”
Roy looked at Johnny’s lopsided grin and smiled. The tension
flowed from Roy and he was ready when the minister said it was time
to take their places.
The ceremony had been simple but beautiful. Johnny and Nicole were
acting as host and hostess. Just before the cutting of the cake, Nicole
and Johnny stepped to the microphone. Nicole spoke first. “Chris
and Aimee, we are so happy for both of you tonight. As you start your
life together, I want to remind you of something that the minister
said at our wedding. Aimee, you carried 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.”
Then Johnny took over the microphone. “Aimee, Chris wanted me
to read a poem that he picked out especially for you.
MY SPECIAL ANGEL
You are my special angel
Sent from up above
The Lord smiled down on me
And sent an angel to love
You are my special angel
Right from paradise
I know you’re an angel
Heaven is in your eyes
The smile from your lips brings the summer sunshine
Tears from your eyes bring the rain
I feel your touch, your warm embrace
And I’m in heaven again
You are my special angel
I’ll have my special angel
Here to watch over me
A smile from your lips brings the summer sunshine
The tears from your eyes will bring the rain
I feel your touch, your warm embrace
And I’m in heaven again
You are my special angel
I’ll have my special angel
Here to watch over me
As Chris and Aimee got into the limo Johnny and Nicole had rented
for them, Roy and Joanne hugged their son and daughter-in-law. It was
then that the rest of the Station 51 A-Shift family all yelled as one “Welcome
to the family, Aimee.”
Roy and Johnny had been selected by the department to go to Oklahoma
to lead a paramedic conference for the southwest area. The two men
had elected to drive and were on their way home. They were within the
LA city limits and were looking forward to getting home and seeing
Johnny looked around as he stopped at the red light.
They were near Station 51 and things had changed a lot since they had
there as paramedics. He began to feel a little nostalgic and jumped
when Roy tapped him on the arm. They had been third car in line at
the red light and the cars behind them were impatiently honking. With
chagrin, Johnny realized the light had turned green and the cars in
front of them were already through the intersection.
“Sorry, I was reminiscing about our days at Station 51. The
days we spent there ….”
The rest of whatever Johnny was going to say was lost
in the sound of the crash. Roy’s last conscious hought was if
Johnny would ever get a chance to tell him what he was going to say.
Vince and Lt. Crockett were the first two police officers out of their
cars. They had both seen the fire department vehicle that had been
in the path of the car the bank robbers they were chasing were driving
and the semi-truck barreling from the opposite direction. They had
started towards the scene of the accident when they saw the red vehicle
sandwiched between the two vehicles, but found themselves changing
course as the four bank robbers left their vehicle and started running.
With a last quick look at the accident scene the two police officers
joined the others in chasing four men who had not only robbed a bank
but killed three people in the process.
Johnny and Roy were oblivious to the drama unfolding around them.
To be continued in New
and Dificult Adjustments
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