For personal use and select distribution only © by Addmom

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

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

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

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

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

April, 1988

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 longer.

“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 released.”

“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 doing.”

“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 way.

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 their families.


April, 1990

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 what happened.


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 plans.

“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 door.

“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 two.”

“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 to say.”

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 sold him.

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 to sweat.

“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 remembered.


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 over.

“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 him.

“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 recovery.

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 his friend.

“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 Vince’s voice.

“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 life together.”

“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 make.


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 final payment?”

“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 pocket.

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 together.


July, 1991

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 a surprise.

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 shoulder.

“Is there any change, Hank?”

“No, what am I going to do without her, Johnny? She’s my life.”

“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 to visit.

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 hungry.”

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 him.

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 the others.


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 two women 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 using them 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 another crisis.


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 pleasure?”

“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 arrest.”

“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.


June 1992

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.

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
Through eternity
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
Through eternity
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.”


June 1993

Roy and Johnny had been selected by the department to go to Oklahoma to lead a paramedic conference for the southwest area. The two men had elected to drive and were on their way home. They were within the LA city limits and were looking forward to getting home and seeing their families.

Johnny looked around as he stopped at the red light. They were near Station 51 and things had changed a lot since they had been assigned there as paramedics. He began to feel a little nostalgic and jumped when Roy tapped him on the arm. They had been third car in line at the red light and the cars behind them were impatiently honking. With chagrin, Johnny realized the light had turned green and the cars in front of them were already through the intersection.

“Sorry, I was reminiscing about our days at Station 51. The days we spent there ….”

The rest of whatever Johnny was going to say was lost in the sound of the crash. Roy’s last conscious 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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