by Sarah Vita
Roy DeSoto pulled into the parking lot for the apartment complex where his best friend John Gage lived. Jumping out of his station wagon, he ran up to the porch. The door pulled open just as he was about to knock. Johnny looked surprised to see Roy there, and looked at his watch to check the time.
“Would you believe I thought we still had fifteen minutes?” John said as his hand collided with his forehead.
Roy giggled. “Well Junior, punctuality was never your strong suite,” he replied with a wink. “You ready?”
“Yep, let’s go!”
As they walked off the porch, Johnny stopped suddenly and ran back inside. He came out a second later with his suitcase. “I knew I forgot something!” he blushed. Roy laughed and led his friend to the car. He unlocked the doors and took Johnny’s suitcase to put in the trunk. He sat in the car, turned the ignition key and they were off. They made conversation with each other while they drove down the familiar streets of Los Angeles.
“So, what’s Jo making for dinner? I’m starved!” Johnny asked halfway down the road.
“Steak with potatoes!” Roy said with a grin.
“Oh man, when was the last time I had a good steak?”
After less than fifteen minutes of driving and chatting, the station wagon pulled into the DeSoto’s driveway. Roy unlocked the doors, and as Johnny got his suitcase out of the trunk, he wondered how many times he had walked up this path to the familiar house. Whenever he was injured or just needed a friend, he could always count on Roy and Joanne.
No sooner had Roy unlocked the door, when the younger paramedic was nearly mauled by two laughing children. Jennifer and Christopher DeSoto bolted out the door and raced to hug their Uncle Johnny. It felt like ages since they had last seen him, but in reality, it had only been less than a month.
“Wow!!!” Johnny yelled as the duo slammed him into the ground, sending his suitcase flying, along with its contents.
“Jenny!! Chris!!!” Roy called. He covered his eyes with his hand when he saw the suitcase fly. Johnny couldn’t help but laugh as the pair hugged him tightly with love. “Well, that’s one way to greet a friend… I guess,” he said with a crooked grin. “Okay, you two, come on. I gotta get my clothes.”
Chris and Jenny got off of him and tried to help him up. “We’re sorry, Uncle Johnny,” little Jennifer apologized through sympathetic eyes as she watched her Uncle re-pack his clothes.
Johnny couldn’t help but laugh at the little girl. “That’s okay!” he said as he lifted her into the air and took hold of Chris’ hand. Roy picked up the suitcase.
As they walked through the doorway, Chris yelled to his mother. “Mommy! Uncle Johnny’s here!”
Roy put his hand up near his head. “Christopher! What did Mommy and I tell you about yelling in the house?”
“Oops, sorry Daddy!” the five-year old replied as he covered his mouth. He then proceeded to whisper very loudly. “Mommy! Uncle Johnny’s here!”
Johnny burst into laughter, still holding the three-year old girl in his arms. Joanne DeSoto emerged from the kitchen, drying her hands with a towel. “Hello Johnny!” she greeted with a kiss to his cheek.
“Hi Jo!” he kissed her back. “How are you?”
“Fine, how are you?”
“Okay. Dinner smells great!”
“Well thank you, dear! Why don’t you and Roy put your things in your room and I’ll set the table?”
“Okay,” he said, releasing Jennifer from his grasp and setting her down by her brother. Roy and Johnny went upstairs into the spare room which had been transformed into a bedroom for Johnny whenever he came to stay over. They quickly put the clothes into the drawers and Johnny shoved the suitcase under the bed. A few moments later, Joanne called them for dinner.
“Finally; I’m starving!” Johnny said as he and his partner made it down the stairway.
As they sat eating dinner, Roy and Jo talked with Johnny. “So what’s going on with the building again, Johnny?” Joanne asked.
“Well, the lady across the hall from me has been bugging the landlord to paint the hallways, so he decided to do the entire floor! I just wish he didn’t have to do my place. I don’t link the color he picked very much, and the smell is gonna be lingering for days! Yuck!!”
Roy couldn’t help but laugh at his partner’s disgust. “Just be glad you’re not the there while it’s being done. Those fumes can get pretty bad.”
“Tell me about it. Ever since I was a little kid, I hate the smell of paint!”
The children went to bed at eight o’clock, while Johnny, Roy, and Joanne talked a while on the deck. “So, how’s Chris’ reading coming along? He was getting pretty good last time I was here,” Johnny said.
“Fantastic!” Joanne replied.
“Yesterday, he read “The Cat in the Hat” to Jen all the way through by himself!” Roy stated proudly.
“Wow! Good for him!” Johnny said, raising his glass. He yawned and looked at his watch. “Oh man! It’s almost 11 o’clock, Roy! We gotta be at the station at eight-thirty tomorrow!”
Roy stretched as he and Joanne got up. “Then let’s say good night.” The trio walked up the stairs and to Johnny’s bedroom door. “Good night, honey,” Joanne said with a kiss to his cheek.
“See you in the morning, Junior,” Roy said as he ruffled Johnny’s hair. “See you, Pally.”
Early the next morning, the DeSoto family was awake and getting ready for the day. Johnny woke up at about quarter past six, and walked down the stairs to see Chris and Jen waiting for him at the bottom. “Morning, guys,” he yawned.
Roy came out of the kitchen, sipping his coffee; black coffee. “Morning, Junior!”
“Morning, Roy… what time is it?”
“A little past six; I’m gonna drive the kids to school while Jo makes breakfast for us.”
“K… I’m gonna go get changed.”
“Okay, see you in a few.”
Not even ten minutes later, Roy came back and was sitting at the table eating breakfast with Jo and Johnny. Halfway through the meal, Joanne noticed that Johnny hadn’t eaten very much.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart? I thought you liked my pancakes,” she teased.
Johnny threw a crooked grin, a little embarrassed at not eating Joanne’s food. “I do, Jo. I guess I’m just not very hungry.”
Roy looked suspicious, but decided not to pry, even though he thought Johnny might be sick or something.
“Okay, honey,” Joanne replied to the younger man. Glancing at the clock, she turned to her husband. “Roy, it’s almost quarter after seven, you and John better get going if you’re gonna make roll call.”
Roy wiped his mouth with his napkin and grabbed his car keys off the table. “Let’s go, Junior! See you tomorrow morning, honey,” he said kissing his wife.
“Bye Jo!” Johnny called from the doorway.
Roy drove Johnny in with him, seeing as he was going back to his place that night anyway. They arrived with just enough time to change into their uniforms and managed to escape latrine duty. By nine-thirty, they got their first run of the day. The SCU tones sounded off with the paramedic alarm.
“Rescue 51… heart attack… 2462 N. Sunset Blvd. … 2-4-6-2 N. Sunset Blvd. … time out: nine thirty two AM.”
“Station 51, KMG 365,” Cap responded. The squad drove off and was at the address in ten minutes flat. They pulled up to see a woman on the porch. “Please hurry! It’s my husband! In here!” she directed. Johnny and Roy came into the house, to find the elderly man lying on his stomach in on the kitchen floor.
“Call Rampart, Junior,” Roy directed.
“K.” Johnny attached the antenna and hit the transfer button. “Rampart, this is Rescue 51, how do you read?”
“This is Rampart, 51, go ahead,” Dr. Brackett answered back.
“Rampart, we have a heart attack victim, approximately fifty years old, hundred seventy-five pounds, currently unconscious.” Johnny had hardly finished his sentence when Roy told him to stop. “Rampart, victim’s heart has stopped; we’re gonna defib.”
Johnny hooked up the machine and Roy shocked the victim. “No good, load it again!” Roy said to his young partner.
“Four hundred watts/seconds. Go!”
Roy grunted when the heart rate didn’t pick up. “One more time.”
At the final shock, the heart rate went back up to normal. Johnny grinned at Roy. The ambulance arrived and they transported the man to Rampart. After a few minutes in the emergency room, Dr. Brackett came out.
“How is he, Doc?” Roy asked.
“Well, he’s having some trouble breathing, but other than that, he’s gonna be fine, you guys. Nice job!” he praised.
Roy grinned and swung his arm around Johnny’s shoulders. “Come on, Junior. Let’s get some lunch back at the station.”
Back at 51, it was Cap’s turn to cook. Unlike when Chet cooked, the guys never complained about Cap’s meals. Today he had decided to make spaghetti and meat balls, always a hit with the guys. Halfway through lunch, again, Johnny had hardly touched his plate.
“You okay, Gage?” Chet asked. “You always gobble down Italian food like it was water.”
“Yeah, Junior, what’s wrong? You didn’t eat too much this morning either.”
Johnny looked up and shrugged. “I don’t know; I guess I’m just not too hungry today.”
“Something wrong? You coming down with something?” Roy asked, looking at his partner as if something were wrong with him. Johnny didn’t want to admit it, but his stomach was bothering him a bit. He just shook his head and took a sip of his water. Roy was about to say something to him when the SCU tones went off again.
“Rescue 51… fall from stairs… 5286 E. Moran…. 5-2-8-6 E. Moran… time out: twelve thirty PM.”
Cap answered the call and gave the medics directions to the house. They arrived in less than ten minutes to a house that was obviously under renovation. A young construction working was directing them to the house. “It’s Jack; he fell when he was fixing the banister. He can’t get up.”
Johnny and Roy set up the bio phone next to the victim. “Rampart, this is rescue 51.”
“This is Rampart, go ahead 51.” Dixie was on the line.
“Rampart, we have a male victim, approximately twenty years old. He fell from a staircase while fixing a banister. Vital signs are…”
Roy gave the vitals while Johnny examined the boy. He grimaced when Johnny probed a bit at his hip.
“Okay, take it easy, you’re gonna be okay. Hey, Roy, the hip’s broken and his knee is bruised.”
Roy gave the information to Dixie. They were instructed to start an IV and give the boy some oxygen. Five minutes later, the ambulance arrived and the boy was transported. Again, their patient was fine and expected to make a full recovery. Johnny and Roy were making out their report and arguing a little bit at the same time.
“You sure you’re okay, Johnny?” Roy asked for what seemed to be the umpteenth time.
John rolled his eyes in annoyance. “Yes! I’m fine, Roy. Drop it, please. I’m just not hungry, that’s all,” Johnny was getting frustrated with his partner’s constant fussing. The two of them were unaware that Dixie and Dr. Brackett had overheard the whole argument.
“What’s wrong, hotshot?” Dixie asked from behind them.
Johnny jumped at the voice behind him, but his features quickly went back to frustration. “Ah nothing, Dix. Roy thinks I’m sick.”
“Are you?” Dr. Brackett asked with a cocked eyebrow.
Johnny rolled his eyes once again. “No, I just haven’t eaten anything today.”
“Why not?” Dixie asked.
“I’m just not hungry.” Johnny was getting slightly aggravated now. He left to go back to the squad before they could ask him anymore questions. Dixie looked a bit surprised at Johnny’s slightly hostile attitude.
“He didn’t eat any breakfast or lunch today. I don’t know if he’s sick or not, he says he isn’t… but I’m not so sure. He seems a bit tired, and looks a bit flushed to me,” Roy explained before he left to catch up with his partner. Dr. Brackett looked at Dixie curiously. If something was wrong, Johnny sure didn’t want to admit it.
The next morning, Johnny and Roy changed from their paramedic uniforms into their street clothes. They hadn’t gotten any runs the night before, so they were well rested, except for the early run they received at practically the crack of dawn.
“Hope Jo’s not mad at us for being late,” Johnny said tying his shoes.
“Nah, she’ll be fine. How’s your appetite this morning?” Roy asked, worried that Johnny might snap at him again.
“Better… I’m actually hungry,” Johnny replied.
“Well, then let’s get going.”
They said goodbye to the A shift and were on their way back to Roy’s house. They pulled into the driveway to see Jo getting out of her station wagon in the garage. She waved to them and waited for them to pull in.
“Hi honey!” Roy called as he got out of the car. Jo walked up and planted a kiss on his lips.
“Morning, Jo!” Johnny greeted from the other side.
“Good morning, sweetheart. Hungry this morning?” Johnny nodded. “I’ll get breakfast started. I just dropped the kids off at school so it’s nice and quiet inside.”
Roy grinned at the thought of a little bit of quiet before their meal.
“And no SCU tones to boot!” Johnny teased.
“Come on, Junior,” Roy laughed, putting his arm around his young partner’s neck. Johnny threw him a crooked grin. The trio at breakfast on the patio, and afterwards Joanne went out to do some shopping. Once she left, Johnny helped Roy clean the dishes. “You must’ve been feeling better, Johnny. Especially since you had those two cups of coffee,” he teased.
“Okay, Roy, okay. I’m feeling a bit better.”
“Aha! So you were feeling bad!”
“No…” Johnny raised his hand in protest. “I was just… agreeing with you.”
Roy shrugged. “Okay, if you say so, Junior. You weren’t sick; you just weren’t hungry.”
“Thank you.” After the dishes were finished, Roy went to take a shower while Johnny decided to watch some TV. Sometime later, the phone rang. Johnny looked at the phone, wondering whether or not to pick it up when it wasn’t his house.
“Roy? Hey Roy!” Johnny called with no answer. He shrugged. “What the heck?” he thought. “Hello?”
“Hi… Roy?” the female voice on the other end asked.
“Uh, no, he’s in the shower. This is his partner, John Gage.”
“Oh… OH! Johnny! You’re the paramedic, aren’t you?”
“Well, uh… is Joanne there?”
“I’m afraid not; she’s out shopping. Can I take a message for them?”
“Okay, could you please tell them that Katelyn Jones called, and that my husband and I are having a party tonight and would like them to come?”
“Sure thing, Mrs. Jones!”
“Thank you, Mr. Gage. Tell them to be here at six-thirty.”
“You got it!”
The woman said goodbye and John hung up. A few moments later, Roy came out of the shower wearing his pair of old jeans and drying his hair with the towel. “Watcha watching, Junior?”
“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” John grinned.
“Again?! You’ve seen that movie a million times.”
John just nodded. “Oh! Some lady called for you & Jo. A Mrs. Jones… she wanted to invite you two to her party tonight at six-thirty.”
“Hmmm, I don’t know… it’s the middle of the week and with Chris and Jen…”
“I’ll watch ‘em for you!”
“Are you sure?”
“Positive! Besides, what better babysitter for them than their Uncle Johnny?” he replied proudly.
“Okay Junior, you got yourself a deal! I’m gonna call Kate and tell her we’ll go.”
Roy walked off to make the phone call. John leaned back on the couch pleased with himself. He was glad Roy trusted him enough to let him watch the kids. “They’ll love it!” he thought. Two hours later, the movie was over and Joanne came home.
“Hi Johnny!” she said when she came inside.
“Hi! Need any help?” he offered when he saw the groceries she was carrying.
Johnny put down the television remote and took the bags from Jo, placing them on the kitchen counter.
Hearing the voice of his wife downstairs, Roy came out of the bedroom. “Hi honey!”
“Hello handsome,” she said giving his a kiss. She sniffed his neck at the familiar scent. “Cologne?”
Roy nodded. “We, my love, are going to a party tonight,” he said trying to look like Cary Grant.
“Party, where? What about the kids?”
“Kate Jones called; she and George are having a little cocktail party tonight and we’re going. Johnny already agreed to watch the kids, so we’re free.”
Joanne looked at Johnny in surprise. “Oh John, you didn’t have to do that! We could’ve...“
John raised his hand to stop her. “I’m gonna tell you what I told Roy -- what better babysitter for them than their Uncle Johnny?”
“Oh sweetheart, thank you! And you handsome,” she said turning to Roy. “I think I’m going to wear my blue party dress just for you!” Roy grinned at the thought of his wife wearing her prettiest dress. Johnny left a few minutes later, since he told Roy he would pick up the kids from their after-school activities. When they returned, Roy and Joanne were just about ready to leave.
“Wow!” Johnny commented, seeing his best friends looking stunning in their party clothes. “Like the tux, Pally!” he winked.
Roy laughed. “Thanks Junior!”
“How do I look?” Joanne said to her husband as she came out of the bathroom putting her earring on. Roy whistled.
“Holy cow, Jo, you look great!” the younger man commented.
Joanne grinned, pleased that they liked her dress. “Well, thank you! Now, are you sure you can manage the kids?”
Roy giggled as Johnny rolled his eyes. “Jo, I know how to take care of my own niece and nephew!”
“What are you going to do for dinner?”
“The bachelor’s best friend: PIZZA!!”
Again, Roy laughed. “Okay, honey, let’s go. Johnny knows what he’s doing, and besides, we’re gonna be late.”
“Okay, okay,” she kissed her children good-bye and Johnny closed the door behind them. Chris and Jen went into Chris’ bedroom to play for a bit while Johnny ordered pizza. When asked what topping they liked, both children denied sausage or pepperoni, so Johnny settled on the basic favorite: cheese. Dinner finally arrived half-an-hour later and Johnny served the kids. After dinner, they watched some TV for a little while. Just a little after seven-thirty, while John was clearing off the table, his stomach started bugging him again, only this time it was worse. He looked at the clock, and saw it was the kids’ bedtime. “Well, that’s good. If I am sick, they don’t have to know it.” He helped them brush their teeth, told them a story and tucked them in. After they were asleep, he went to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom to find something to settle his stomach. He found a bottle of antacids and took one, then he went to relax and watch some television until Roy and Jo got home. They returned from the party at about nine-thirty, to find all the lights off, except for the TV. When Joanne turned the lights on, she saw Johnny sit up tiredly on the couch.
“Oh, I’m sorry honey. Did we wake you?”
“No, wasn’t asleep, Jo. I was just resting.”
“Were the kids okay?” Roy asked closing the door.
“Oh yeah, they were great!”
“Johnny, you did the dishes!” Jo called in surprise from the kitchen.
“Thank you, sweetie!”
“No problem, Jo.” Johnny leaned over to Roy with a crooked grin. “Actually, I used paper plates.” Roy burst out laughing. “Well, I’m getting tired. I think I’m gonna hit the sack. G’night, Roy, Jo.”
“Good night, Junior.”
“Sleep well, Johnny,” Joanne added with a smile. When she went into the bathroom to comb her hair, she saw the bottle of antacids on the counter. “Roy, did you take an antacid before we left?”
“No, honey, why?”
“I found a bottle of them on the counter.”
Roy just shrugged back, but then he remembered Johnny. He wasn’t eating and now finding pills. Hmmm...
Just a little after midnight, Johnny woke up feeling miserable. He was hot and sweaty all over, with terrible cramps in his stomach. He didn’t know how, but he did manage to get to the bathroom before he vomited terribly. Afterwards, he began to shiver. When he finally made it back to his room, his knees began to buckle, causing him to fall.
Hearing a thud, Roy came to see what happened. Upon seeing door open to John’s room, he entered. When he flicked the light on, he saw his young partner lying on the floor clutching his stomach painfully.
“Johnny!” Racing to his side, Roy gently lifted him up and placed him in the bed. “What’s the matter, Johnny?”
“I don’t know… my stomach… Roy, help me,” Johnny pleaded breathlessly.
“Okay, just take it easy, I’m right here,” Roy soothed. “Now, just relax, Junior. I’ll be right back, I’m gonna go get Jo.” Johnny nodded.
Flicking the lights on, Roy gently shook Joanne awake. “Jo? Jo, honey, wake up!”
“Roy?” she moaned with a stretch. “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know for sure; Johnny’s sick. Something’s wrong with his stomach.”
“Is he in his room?” she asked sitting up.
“Yeah, I gotta get back to him. Can you bring me an extra blanket and a thermometer?”
When Roy returned, he saw Johnny struggling to sit upright. He helped him straighten up, allowing his young partner to lean back against his chest. “Just take it easy, Johnny, I’ve got you.”
“Hurts, Roy,” Johnny replied, gritting his teeth against the pain.
“I know, just hang on.” No sooner had he finished his sentence did Joanne come into the room. Draping the blanket over Johnny, she handed Roy the thermometer. He already knew Johnny was burning up, but both of them being paramedics, they needed an exact reading. The temperature read 103. Not good. By now Johnny’s breathing was becoming rapid and harsh as he tried desperately not to be sick again. The pain was becoming excruciatingly and it was all John could do not to scream aloud.
“Johnny, did you take an antacid pill while we were gone?” Roy asked. The younger man nodded. “Okay, Johnny, I’m gonna press on your stomach and you tell me where it hurts, okay?” Again, all Johnny could do was nod through the pain. “Okay, Junior, here we go.”
Placing his hands on his partner’s abdomen, Roy pressed gently, starting with the left side. “Does this hurt?” John shook his head. “How about that?” Roy asked moving his hands to the center.
“No.” Moving his hands to John’s right side, Roy pressed one last time. Immediately, the young paramedic’s body arched, a raw scream ripping from his lips; his eyes shut tightly in pain. Roy instantly jerked his hands back and tried to calm him partner. Grabbing Johnny by the shoulders, Roy and Joanne gently pressed him back on the bed.
“I’m sorry, Johnny, I know it hurts… sshhh, relax.”
By now, Johnny was panting and trying to catch his breath.
“Johnny, look at me.” Then Roy saw what had caught John’s gaze: Chris and Jen standing in the doorway, both of them crying silently.
“Jo, take the kids back to their room,” Roy said, nodding toward the door.
“Okay, you two, back to bed.” Joanne picked up Jennifer and took Chris’ hand, leading him back to their room. Chris climbed into bed, while Jo put Jen into hers.
“Mommy, is Uncle Johnny alright?” Chris asked.
“We saw him scream,” Little Jen added with tears threatening to spill.
Joanne sat next to Jennifer. “Uncle Johnny’s going to be fine; he’s just sick right now. Now, it’s time for you two to get some sleep,” she said tucking them in.
Before she left Chris spoke up. “Mommy?”
“I hope Uncle Johnny feels better.”
“So do I, Chris,” she replied, turning off the lights. When she got back to the other room, she saw Roy holding a damp cloth on Johnny’s forehead. The dark haired paramedic was forcing himself to take deep breaths, trying to slow his respiration rate.
“Jo, keep this on him,” Roy said handing her the cloth. “I’m gonna start the car, he needs to go to Rampart. I think he has appendicitis.” Joanne’s eyes widened in fear for their young friend. “I’m gonna use your station wagon,”
Roy ran down the stairs and through the house to the garage.
Joanne took Johnny’s temperature again and tried to keep him cool. She adjusted the blanket to make him more comfortable, causing him to groan at the motion. “Shhh, honey, everything’s okay. Just relax,” she said brushing the hair from his face.
“Roy?” Johnny moaned, wondering where his partner had gone.
“It’s okay, sweetie; he just went to start the car.”
“Car?” Johnny didn’t understand. Why did Roy need the car? Where was he going?
“He’s gonna take you to Rampart.” At that moment, Roy returned. “Roy, his fever’s up two degrees.”
“Great, that’s all he needs,” Roy said sarcastically.
“Roy?” Johnny called again, looking at his partner with a confused look.
“Yeah, Junior, it’s me,” Roy reassured, taking a hold of John’s shaking hand. Helping his partner sit up, he slipped John’s arm behind his own neck and tried to help him out of bed. “Come on, Johnny, we’re going to Rampart.”
John began to shake his head, “No… no… stay here… tired.”
“I know you’re tired, Johnny, but you need to go to Rampart. We need to see Dr. Brackett.”
Too tired to argue any farther, Johnny let Roy lead him out of his bedroom. When they got to the stairs, both John and Roy stopped for a moment before continuing. After the third step, Johnny stopped with a moan, the pain in his stomach becoming worse and his head spinning every which way. “Roy… I can’t…” Finally, Roy lifted him up. He carried Johnny briskly down the stairs and out to the car. Joanne opened the back door, and Roy eased his partner into the seat, helping him to sit up straight. Taking the blanket from Joanne, he covered Johnny with it.
“Jo, call Dixie at Rampart and tell her I’m coming in with Johnny. Tell her what’s wrong and that I think its appendicitis.”
Running around the Chevy wagon, Roy practically jumped into the front seat and pulled out as fast as the vehicle could go.
“Rampart Emergency, Miss McCall speaking,” Dixie answered the phone.
“Dixie, it’s Joanne DeSoto.”
“Joanne? What’s wrong? Roy?” Dixie replied, knowing that if Mrs. DeSoto was calling at this hour of night it was not just to say hello.
“It’s not Roy, Dix; it’s Johnny. He woke up almost an hour ago miserably sick. He has a fever up to 105 and cramps. Roy said he thinks it’s appendicitis. He’s bringing him in now.”
“Okay, Joanne, thanks for the heads up. I’ll tell Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early. Thanks again. Good night!”
“Good night, Dix!”
Back on the streets of LA, Roy was getting very frustrated with the traffic situation. How can traffic be this bad at one in the morning? Noticing an opening in the lane on the right of the street, Roy turned and began to accelerate, disregarding the speed limit. He needed to get Johnny to the hospital, and he wasn’t going to stop for a speeding ticket. If it was appendicitis, he had to get him to Rampart before his appendix ruptured, in which case he’d be worse off than he was now. Behind him in the back seat, Johnny was struggling to stay awake. He wanted desperately to lie down, but the thought of possibly getting sick in the back of Joanne’s car suppressed the urge. Finally arriving at Rampart, Roy parked the car and whirled around back to help Johnny. Once standing, John’s head began to spin once again, causing him to nearly collapse. Luckily, Roy was there to catch him before he could fall. After starting to walk again, John moaned again as the pain in his stomach returned, worse than before. Once again, Roy lifted him into his arms and carried him through the emergency room entrance. Dixie and Dr. Brackett were waiting for them with a gurney. Roy laid Johnny down easily and they took him into Treatment Room 3.
“What time did you say he woke up, Roy?” Dr. Brackett asked flashing a pen light in Johnny’s eyes.
“Was the pain there then?”
“Yeah, he said he woke up and got sick. I heard a sound from his room and found him lying on the floor shivering.”
“What was his temperature when he woke up?” Dixie asked after she set up the IV.
“Uh… 103… but it was 105 when we left the house.”
“Kel, it’s down to 104.”
Dr. Brackett took the thermometer from Dixie and frowned as he read it. “Dixie, get Dr. Early. I want images taken of Johnny’s abdomen just to be sure it is appendicitis. Roy, you said the pain was in right his side?” Roy nodded. A moment later, Dr. Early came in along with the intern who was to take the pictures. Roy, Dixie, and the doctors had to go wait outside while the images were taken.
“What’s up, Kel?” Dr. Early asked his friend.
“It’s Johnny; we think he has appendicitis.”
“Appendicitis?” Joe asked in surprise. After about ten minutes of talking, the intern came out and gave him the images. Holding them up to the light, the dark haired doctor nodded as their hunch was correct. “Dix, have the OR waiting for us, I wanna get in there before anything happens. Joe...”
He was cut off by Dr. Early’s raised hand. “Of course I’ll help, Kel. Just give me a couple of minutes.
“Thanks, Joe,” Brackett grinned. Roy and Dixie returned to Johnny while Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early got ready. After adjusting the IV, Dixie turned to the younger nurse in the room. “Have the OR standing by for an emergency appendectomy. Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early should be there soon.”
“Right away, Miss McCall.”
Hearing the voices around him, Johnny stirred restlessly. “Roy?”
“I’m right here, partner.” Roy held Johnny’s hand reassuringly.
“How are you feeling, handsome?” Dixie asked her favorite paramedic.
“Hi Dix.” Johnny tried to smile, but it quickly shifted to a grimace. “Hurts… bad”
“I know; we’re gonna fix that soon. Just try to relax.” She shifted her gaze to Roy. “I’m gonna go help the OR prep.”
No sooner did she leave when another nurse, Kate, came in with some papers. “Mr. DeSoto?”
Roy looked at her as she handed him the papers.
“Mr. Gage’s paperwork; Miss McCall said to give them to you to fill out.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot about his papers. Thanks.” The nurse smiled and left. Roy filled out the forms while his other hand clasped to his partner’s. Once he finished, Dixie returned with Kel and Joe, the trio clad in their scrubs.
“An OR nurse will tell us when the room is ready,” Dixie informed as they walked to the two paramedics.
“Johnny?” Dr. Early called leaning over their patient. John simply moaned. “Johnny, we’re gonna take you up to surgery in a minute.”
“Does your stomach still hurt?” Dr. Brackett asked while he checked John’s pulse.
“Actually, no… it went away… a few minutes ago,” Johnny gasped in between breaths.
A look of concern crossed Brackett’s features, surprised that the pain had suddenly stopped. Before he could say anything, the nurse from the OR came in.
“Well, let’s go,” Dr. Brackett said as she held the door open. Just after Dixie moved the IV bags to the portable rack, Johnny’s grip on Roy’s hand tightened.
“What’s wrong?” Roy asked Johnny. “Your stomach again?”
Johnny nodded. “… Worse.” Before anyone had a chance to even move, Johnny bolted into a sitting position and nearly screamed in pain wrapping his free hand over his stomach. Roy grabbed him by the shoulders and tried to press him back against the pillow. “Whoa, take it easy, Junior!” He looked at the doctors in concern. He tried to lay Johnny back down, but the pain in John’s stomach had become too much for him to even lie back. “Okay, Johnny, I know it hurts, but you gotta lie down. Just take a deep breath, and lie back, okay?”
Dr. Early moved forward and laid his hand on John’s abdomen. “Kel, I think his appendix just ruptured.”
Dr. Brackett placed his hand where Dr. Early’s had been. “You’re right, come on!”
They wheeled the young paramedic out of the treatment room and quickly into the hallway, Roy clasping his hand all the way. When they got to the elevator, Roy was told to stay there as they took John to the OR. Roy obeyed, reluctantly. He didn’t want to leave Johnny, but at the same time he knew that his partner would be perfectly fine with the doctors and Dixie. On their way to surgery, it took all of Johnny’s will power not to be sick in the elevator. Dixie saw him trying to catch his breath. She gently patted his shoulder. “We’re almost there, sweetie.”
“The sooner… the better.” Johnny weakly smiled at her.
Roy slowly walked back to the doctor’s lounge, looking at the clock in the hallway. It read three-fifteen. Knowing Joanne wouldn’t be asleep, he called her. “Hi honey!”
“Hi… how’s Johnny?”
“He’s in surgery. I was right; it was appendicitis. His appendix ruptured just before they went in.”
“Poor thing. I’ll come down there after I drop the kids off at school.”
“Ok babe. Get some sleep now, okay?”
“You too, I love you, honey.”
“I love you too, Jo. See you later.”
Now came the hard part: waiting. Roy hated waiting almost as much as his young partner did. He laid down on the sofa, but he knew he wouldn’t be sleeping. He knew Johnny would be alright, but couldn’t bring himself to fully relax. As long as his partner was up there in the OR, there was no way Roy was going to sleep. Not in a million years.
Nearly two hours later, Dixie came into the doctor’s lounge to find Roy sitting on the sofa impatiently drumming his fingers on the arm rest. He saw her and was about to stand up, but she laid her hand on his shoulder to stop him.
Roy breathed a sigh of relief, and visibly relaxed upon hearing the words.
“I’m on my way to set up his recovery room. Wanna help?”
“You bet,” Roy smiled.
Dixie led him to the second floor and into a nice quiet room set for Johnny. She handed him some sheets and blankets. “You make the bed while I get the equipment.”
No sooner had they finished when Dr. Brackett and a young nurse came wheeling John, who was still asleep, in on the gurney. Roy helped Kel transfer John from the gurney to the bed while Dixie worked with the IV bags and heart monitor.
“I’ll call Jo for you, Roy,” Dixie offered, knowing Roy would want to stay with Johnny.
“Thanks, Dix.” When she left, Roy looked at Dr. Brackett, waiting for him to tell him how Johnny was doing.
Kelly smiled, knowing exactly what was going through Roy’s mind. “I think he’s gonna be alright, Roy. There were no complications during surgery, and he’s already responding well to the medication we gave him.”
The look in his eye told Roy that he wasn’t telling him something. “But there’s something else. What is it?”
“Well, Roy, because his appendix ruptured before we could get in, there’s a chance of peritonitis. Now, the chance isn’t too great since we got in such a short time after the rupture, but like I said… there is a chance.”
Roy sighed. “Why do these things always happen to you, Junior?” he whispered next to Johnny.
At the sound of his partner’s voice next to him, Johnny started to wake up. He opened his eyes, locking them with the blue of his partner’s.
“Hey Junior,” Roy smiled.
“Hey,” John managed a weak smile back at his partner.
“How are you feeling?”
“…tired,” Johnny whispered.
“That makes two of us,” Roy joked at he brushed the dark hair from his partner’s forehead.
Dr. Brackett stepped up behind Roy. “Why don’t you go home and get some sleep?” he whispered. “Johnny isn’t going anywhere for a while.”
Roy looked back at the doctor and smiled. “Thanks, Doc, but I’m gonna stay with him.”
“Then I’ll have a nurse bring in a chair for you. If you’re gonna stay, you might as well be comfortable.”
A few hours later, the sun was up, and Johnny was still peacefully resting with Roy by his side, asleep in the chair next to him. Joanne arrived at about quarter after eight. She tried her best not to laugh at the sight that met her eyes, but she couldn’t help it. Roy jumped in his chair at his wife’s voice from the doorway. He sighed when he saw it was only her. “Jo, don’t do that,” he smiled tiredly.
“Oh baby, I’m sorry… I couldn’t help it.” She winked. “How is he?”
Roy stretched. “He’s fine now. Dixie told you what happened?”
Joanne nodded. “She said he could have a chance to get peri… perito… ah! What was it?”
Roy laughed. “Peritonitis.”
“Yeah, it’s an infection of the abdominal cavity.”
Johnny moaned in the bed, hearing the voices of his friends. He finally managed to crack his tired eyes open. He smiled at Roy, mouthing the word “hi” to him tiredly. Roy smiled back. Johnny’s gaze shifted to Joanne.
“Hi sweetheart,” she said, kissing his forehead. “How are you feeling?”
“Better,” he whispered.
“Good. You scared us last night.”
Johnny blushed. “Sorry.”
“Forget it, Junior,” Roy said, taking hold of his partner’s hand. “We love you, and we take care of the people we love.”
John smiled at Roy, knowing in his heart that the DeSotos really did care about him. “Thanks, Roy.” The conversation didn’t go any farther, as Dr. Brackett entered the room with Dixie.
“Well, you’re looking much better this morning, Johnny!” the older nurse commented.
“I agree. How are you feeling?” Dr. Brackett asked.
“A lot better, thanks.”
“You’re not dizzy, nauseous, or drowsy?” Johnny shook his head. “That’s good. Now, as I said to Roy, you might become sick within the next couple of days. There’s a chance of peritonitis.”
Johnny rolled his eyes. “Great,” he said sarcastically.
“But as I also told Roy, the chances are slim.”
“Well, that sounds a little better.”
“Now, if you’re feeling better and not showing any signs of infection, I’ll let you go home with Roy and Joanne tomorrow or the next day.” Johnny visibly perked up at the idea of going back home.
A little while later, Roy went home to change his clothes and take a quick shower while Joanne stayed at Rampart with Johnny. He returned about a half hour later to find Dixie and Dr. Brackett with Johnny and Joanne.
“Is something wrong?” Roy asked from the doorway.
Joanne walked up to him. “A little while ago, Johnny started to feel sick again.”
“Oh no,” Roy whispered as they walked over to the bed. Dr. Brackett nodded to them as he listened to Johnny’s heartbeat with his stethoscope. Johnny smiled at his partner weakly.
“How you feeling?” Roy asked as he sat on the side of the bed.
“I felt better this morning,” Johnny whispered. Dr. Brackett finished listening to Johnny’s heartbeat, and looked slightly concerned.
“What’s wrong?” Johnny looked at the doctor with slightly frightened eyes.
“You’re heartbeat’s a bit fast. I’m just gonna run some tests, Johnny.”
“Peritonitis?” Roy asked.
“I don’t know for sure yet, but I’m not ruling it out completely.” Kel turned to Dixie. “Get the lab ready for a blood sample.”
Johnny rolled his eyes. “Oh great,” he mumbled.
After an hour of waiting, Roy and Joanne were allowed back in Johnny’s room. The young paramedic was lying in his bed with his eyes closed, although he was awake. “Johnny?” Joanne called from the side of the bed. His eyes cracked open sleepily.
“Guess the medication makes your drowsy, eh?” Roy smiled. John smiled weakly at the couple.
Joanne leaned closer to him. “I have to go to pick up the kids, sweetheart, but I’ll be back in the morning.”
“Yeah Junior, I’m sorry but I gotta start my next shift tomorrow, so I gotta get going too.” Before John could say anything to them, Dr. Brackett walked in holding the test results. The look in his eyes was enough.
Knowing it was an infection, Johnny slumped back on his pillow in defeat. “I knew it!”
Joanne and Dr. Brackett tried not to laugh as Roy smiled sympathetically at his partner. “Well, the good news, Johnny, is that we caught it early, so it probably won’t affect you that much. However…”
“Here it comes,” Johnny cut him off with a roll of his eyes. Roy giggled.
Dr. Brackett began again, “However,” he stressed teasingly. “You will need another surgery.”
“Oh, that’s not so bad, Junior,” Roy teased.
John threw him a sarcastic smile. “Easy for you to say,” he muttered.
“I have it scheduled for tomorrow, Johnny. The sooner it’s done, the sooner you can go home.”
Joanne glanced at her watch. “Roy, it’s getting late. We really do need to pick up the kids.”
“Ok.” Roy turned to John. “I’ll see you tomorrow between runs.” He winked.
Johnny smiled. “See you.”
Joanne leaned forward and kissed Johnny on the cheek. “See you in the morning, Johnny.” He gave her a tired smile as they left with Dr. Brackett.
Roy looked at the doctor once the door was shut. “I hate leaving him alone when he feels so lousy.”
“I know, Roy, but Jo is gonna be here in the morning, and Dix and I will keep an eye on,” Brackett reassured. Roy smiled at Kel, knowing full well that they would take good care of his friend. Putting his arm around his wife’s waist, they left.
The next morning, Roy arrived at Rampart on his first run of the day with his substitute partner: Craig Brice. To put it mildly, Roy missed Johnny. As soon as they were done picking up supplies, Roy ran upstairs to see his young partner. He opened the door to find his wife and partner playing Scrabble, Johnny laughing triumphantly with Joanne carrying a sarcastic pout.
“What’s going on?” Roy asked, wondering what was so funny.
Johnny tried to explain, but kept laughing too hard, so Joanne explained for him. “He keeps using big medical words on me!” Both Johnny and Roy started to laugh, Joanne soon to follow. Their joy was interrupted when Brice came in looking for Roy. The look on his face was evident; he didn’t want to wait much longer to leave.
“Oh, hey Brice,” Roy greeted, ceasing the laughter. “Uh… this is my wife, Joanne,” he said as he laid a hand on his wife’s shoulder. “And you know Johnny.”
Joanne and Johnny both smiled politely at the paramedic. “Hi Brice,” Johnny greeted.
“Gage,” Brice nodded in recognition before turning his gaze onto Roy. “DeSoto, I’d like to get moving.”
Roy hesitated, “Um… I’ll meet you in the squad in about five minutes, Brice.”
Craig Brice looked at Roy with almost an insulted look. “I like to stay on top of my game, DeSoto. I’ll be outside in the hall,” he practically ordered as he closed the door. Both John and Roy rolled their eyes once he was gone. Joanne looked at her husband questioningly. “I like to stay on top of my game, DeSoto?” she asked, surprised by the tone of the man’s voice.
“Yep, he’s a pain!” Roy replied as he walked out. “I’ll see you two on our next run.”
Joanne looked at Johnny after Roy left, still wondering why Craig talked to her husband that way.
“Jo, I’m sure you’ve heard Roy and I talk about Craig Brice before, right?” Jonny said. She nodded. “Well, that was him. Brice’s doesn’t have a very good, uh… bedside manner. He’s quite the boss. He’s also on a last-name basis with everyone in the department. I don’t even think he knows Roy’s first name!” He rolled his eyes again. “Anyway… where were we? Oh yeah, your turn!”
“Okay.” Joanne laid town her tiles.
Johnny looked at her word and grinned. “Abode, huh? Good word, but not as good as…” he laid down his tiles. “Benadryl.” He smiled triumphantly.
Joanne threw her hands on the air. “I give you an “E” and you give me antibiotics!”
Johnny laughed again; Joanne soon began to laugh with him.
A few hours later, Roy got another run. After helping Dr. Early with their patient, he once again went upstairs to see Johnny, except this time Brice took it upon himself to go with him. He figured DeSoto couldn’t make him wait too long if he was there the whole time. Once in the room, they noticed Joanne sitting by herself.
“Where’s Johnny?” Roy asked.
“Dr. Brackett and Dixie took him up to surgery a little over an hour ago. They should be finished soon,” she said looking at her watch.
No sooner had she said that did Dixie walk in. She smiled at Brice then turned to Roy and Joanne. “Kelly and a nurse are taking him upstairs to another recovery room. I’ll take you two there,” she smiled. She led them out the room and down the hall to the elevator. When Brice was about to step in, she stopped him. “Sorry, Brice, family only,” she said, knowing neither Roy nor Johnny would want him there for fear he might say something annoying.
Walking into Johnny’s room, they saw the nurse and Dr. Brackett getting the IV bag and port set up. Brackett waved them over.
“How is he?” Roy whispered.
“He’ll be fine, Roy. We got rid of all the infection, and I’d say he can go home with you two by the end of the week,” Brackett said with a smile. Both Roy and Joanne smiled, knowing Johnny would be anxious to get back home. Roy was about to walk up to his partner, when the door opened and Brice popped his head in.
“DeSoto, I’m getting impatient out here.”
Roy closed his eyes and stiffened his shoulder in annoyance while Joanne cupped her hand over her mouth to stifle her laughter. “I don’t know who’s going to be more excited for Johnny to get outta here, him or me.”
True to his word, at the end of the week, Dr. Brackett released Johnny, on the account that he stay with Roy and Joanne for at least another two weeks, or at least until he was able to move around without pain.
Roy came by on Friday morning, just after his shift ended, to take him home. “Hey Junior!” he said as he walked in.
“Hi! Boy, am I ready to get outta here!” Johnny smiled. Roy quickly helped Johnny get dressed before Dixie came in with the wheelchair for him. Pushing him down the hall, Roy was telling Johnny of the week’s runs and what was going on at his house. When he got on the subject of Joanne’s new recipe for pot roast, John spoke up.
“Speaking of food, when we get home, first thing I wanna do is eat! I’m starving!”
Roy laughed. “It’s good to have you back, Junior!”
Return to Sarah Vita's homepage
Our authors appreciate receiving comments on their stories. To send comments on this story, click on the author's name at the top of this page.