This is one of many stories I've written based off of the TV show Emergency! that aired in the 1970s. I do not own the rights to this show or any of its characters. I just enjoy coming up with stories based off of the series. I hope you enjoy!
ROY'S APPOINTMENT WITH THE APPY
Roy felt awful. As he lay in bed next to his sleeping wife, he contemplated which would be worse: lying in bed and trying to tough out his upset stomach, or risk disturbing Joanne with his getting up to get an antacid. His stomach finally answered that question – he was not going to get sleep without clearing up this problem.
He carefully made his way out from under the covers and padded towards the bathroom. Shutting the door to keep the light out of the bedroom, he tossed the light switch on, blinking against the sudden brightness. He fumbled for the medicine cabinet as his eyes adjusted to the light, searching for the container of antacids. Finding it, he dumped two into his palm just as the door was opened by his wife.
“What’s wrong, Roy? Couldn’t sleep?” She stepped up close to his side. She noticed the bottle of antacids on the counter and the two tablets in his hand. “Stomach still upset?” At his nod she sighed. “I’m sorry. Do you think it was something at the potluck tonight? I know some of the dishes were too spicy for my taste. I took one of those before we went to bed.”
Roy listened to his wife as he chewed and swallowed the chalky pills, chasing them down with water. He grimaced against the taste, and then turned his attention back to his wife. “Don’t worry about it, hon. Just give my stomach time to settle, and I’ll be fine. Just remind me to steer clear of Marge’s chili casserole next time, okay?” He pulled his wife into his arms and kissed her. “Why don’t you head back to bed? I’m gonna go for some milk, and then I’ll be back up.” He watched as she headed back towards their bed, and headed for the kitchen.
Roy found a small glass and, pouring himself a glass of milk, sat down at the kitchen table. He sipped his milk, willing the creamy liquid to help coat his stomach and calm down the waves of nausea and pain caused by last night’s foray through the potluck buffet line at the local church. As he sat there, his thoughts quickly turned to tomorrow’s upcoming shift. He groaned inwardly as he quickly glanced at the clock on the stove – 1:34 AM! He had to get up at 5:00 AM to get ready for work. Maybe I can sneak in a nap sometime tomorrow.
Draining the rest of the milk from his glass, Roy stood up, stretched, and set his glass in the sink after rinsing it out. He turned from the sink and headed back to bed to try for a couple hours’ sleep.
Three hours later, Roy dragged himself out of bed to the tune of the alarm. Although he was exhausted, he was pleased to find that his stomachache had almost dissipated, leaving only a dull ache. He went about his routine, getting ready for work, but still wishing he could return to bed.
He studiously avoided looking in the mirror as he got ready. He knew that he probably looked like a zombie, but he couldn’t help it. He scrambled to finish getting ready, seeing that he was already running late. He threw a quick kiss to his wife as he ran out the door.
Marco had made it to the station early that day, and sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee with C-shift. Chet wandered in the kitchen. “Morning gentlemen! How was the shift yesterday?”
Dwyer, who was standing next to the coffee pot, grimaced. “Busy. Big residential structure fire with two Code-Fs. Three cardiacs, two psychs, and a 4 year old kid who took her grandmother’s digoxin. She died enroute to Rampart.” He took a big swig of his coffee just as Captains Hookraider and Stanley made their way into the day room.
“Morning men. Got any of that coffee left?” Stanley made his way over towards Dwyer, who had already set about pulling down a cup for the oncoming captain.
“Thanks Dwyer. Marco, Chet, have you seen the rest of the crew come in yet?”
Chet nodded. “I saw Gage and Stoker in the locker room. Gage is going on about his most recent attempt at romance. I tell ‘ya, Cap…”
Stanley was spared the pre-shift blow-by-blow by Roy’s entrance. Stanley was rather taken aback by his senior medic’s appearance. Roy looked exhausted and rather haggard, as if he had been run through the ringer and spit out dry.
Stanley moved up close to Roy. “Morning. Could I see you in my office for a moment?”
Roy looked surprised, but acquiesced to his superior’s request. He followed Hank into the office and shut the door behind him. “What’s up, Cap?”
Hank sat down in his office chair and looked up at the paramedic. “I could ask you the same thing. You look awful, Roy. What’s wrong?”
Roy sighed. “Nothing that some rest and coffee shouldn’t fix. I didn’t get much sleep last night.” He hoped the Cap didn’t push further – the last thing he wanted or needed was for Johnny to focus his attention on Roy all day.
Stanley regarded Roy with a long look, but relented. “Okay, Roy, if you feel you can make it today, then I’ll not stand in your way. But if you don’t think you can hack it, you tell me immediately, okay? Hopefully you’ll have a chance to rest sometime today.” Hank sighed as he got to his feet. “Go get cleaned up and ready for roll call. I’ll stall for about 5 minutes to give you time.”
Roy headed for the door and stopped, his hand resting on the doorknob. “Thanks Cap.” He exited and headed for the locker room. He quickly changed into his uniform and headed for the sink. He glanced at his reflection in the mirror and saw what Captain Stanley had seen: a rough, haggard vision of himself, looking rather battered and exhausted. Turning the water on, he splashed some onto his face and tried to erase the signs of his fatigue and his pain. He ran a hand through his hair and reached for a towel.
Johnny popped his head in. “C’mon, Roy. Cap’s holding roll call on you.” Roy nodded and sighed, quickly finishing his towel-drying and hurrying out to the bay.
“Roy, thanks for joining us.” Stanley gave him a significant look, but Roy also saw the slight nod of satisfaction. Roy still looked tired, but at least he looked like he might survive the shift. “Shall we get started for the day? Roy, you’ve got the dorms. Johnny, you have latrine duty. Chet, you’ve got KP. Try to make it edible for the rest of us, okay? Marco…”
Roy had checked out after Cap had assigned Chet to KP. He couldn’t help but feel worse when Cap announced the cook for the day. He was brought out of his reverie by his partner.
Johnny looked at his partner curiously. “Roy? Earth to Roy. What’s with you today? Late for role call, and now spacing out of said-same role call… what’s eating you?”
Roy sighed. The last thing he needed today was Johnny’s teeth sunk in his stomachache. “I didn’t sleep well last night, and I’m tired. I’m okay, though. I’m going to go start on chores.” With that, Roy beat a hasty retreat to the safety of the dorms.
Johnny stared at his partner as Roy headed towards the dorm. Something was wrong with Roy, but Johnny couldn’t put his finger on it. He decided to keep a close eye on his partner. Roy was predictable. Enough time, and he’d spill whatever was bugging him. Meanwhile, he had better go tackle the latrines: the sooner he started, the sooner he’d be done.
Roy wearily made his way to the dorm and started stripping beds, though he was tempted to just curl up on one and try to sleep away his stomachache. As if on cue, a sharp pain lanced its way through his gut as the nausea returned with a vengeance. Roy clutched his abdomen and quickly sat down on one of the beds. He willed down the nausea and the pain, and the sharpness left as quickly as it came, but the dull ache remained.
Roy was puzzled by the turn his body had taken. What on earth was causing his indigestion from last night to continue today? He tried to remember if he had anything in his locker that he could sneak and use with no-one the wiser. Suddenly he remembered the bottle of pink stuff that Joanne had insisted he keep in his locker. He carefully made his way into the locker room and quickly located the pink goo. Grimacing against the taste, he slugged down a couple of swallows and put the bottle back in his locker.
He returned to the dorm and continued stripping beds. After remaking them with fresh linens, he wandered into the kitchen for something to drink. He felt parched. Grabbing a glass from the drainer, he poured himself a glass of water and drained it. Pouring another glass, he sat down at the table just in time to see Chet come in with groceries.
“Hey there, Roy. I bet you couldn’t wait to see what culinary delights are in store for today. Well, I found this recipe for quiche,” he pronounced it quee-chee, “that I thought we’d try for lunch, and then my famous Irish stew for dinner.” Chet rubbed his hands together with glee and turned his back to his coworker. In so doing, he missed the grimace on Roy’s face as he heard the menu for the day.
And his stomach. Another sharp pain lanced its way through his gut as the nausea he’d been trying to ignore hit with full force. Roy swallowed hard and hastily got up, heading for the latrine. Rounding the corner, he ran smack into Johnny, who let out a surprised yelp as his partner pushed past him.
Johnny thought about following Roy, but decided to give the man a moment to himself before Johnny checked on him. Johnny decided instead to see what Chet had done to send Roy running. He pushed open the door to the day room. “What did you do to Roy?” he asked, inquisition and accusation filling his question.
Chet had been surprised when Roy had suddenly bolted from the room. “I didn’t do anything. I was telling him the menu for the day, and the next thing I knew, he was headed out of here at full speed ahead. What’s up with him?” He glared at the paramedic, as if Johnny had just accused him of poisoning the food.
Johnny looked concerned. “I don’t know. He’s acting… odd. I mean, it’s not like him. And Cap not saying anything to him… I wonder what’s up.” Johnny frowned in concentration, and shook his head. Turning, he left the room and went in search of his partner.
Roy had just come back from the latrine after an unsuccessful attempt to ward off a wave of dry heaves. He was surprised he had actually retched, but figured it was okay that it was just dry heaves instead of vomiting his toenails. At least he wouldn’t be leaving behind the stench as he left the room. Even better, his partner hadn’t followed him into the latrine. Roy was glad that the sharp pains had also left, but the stomachache that lingered was slowly getting worse. He hoped it was just because of his little retching episode, but he had a sneaking suspicion it wasn’t going to go away. He breathed a little prayer to whatever power controlled the universe that, if the pain didn’t go away, it would be tolerable enough that he could finish his shift.
He made his way towards the supply closet to retrieve a mop and bucket. He still had the floor in the dorm to mop, and then he would try for a nap. He had just retrieved the mop when Johnny popped around the open door.
“What are you doing?”
Roy reached for the bucket, not looking at his partner. “Getting stuff to mop the dorm.” Roy retrieved the rest of the supplies he needed, and headed to the spigot to fill the bucket with water. He willed Johnny to drop the subject, even though he knew the younger man wouldn’t.
“I can see that, Roy. What’s up with you today? You and Joanne aren’t fighting, are you?” Johnny looked suddenly concerned.
Roy’s head came up at that. “No, we aren’t fighting. Things are going just fine with Joanne and the kids, and with me. I’m fine. And I’d like to get this mopping done, if you don’t mind,” he said pointedly, looking at his partner, who was standing between him and the dorm. Just drop it Junior, he thought. I don’t feel like going into this with you.
Johnny gave Roy a long look, but moved aside to let the senior medic pass. Something’s going on that he’s not telling me. I wonder if I should talk to Cap… Johnny shook his head. Nah. No sense bugging him with something I can’t prove.
Roy had just finished mopping the floor when the tones went off. Engine 51, Squad 51, Truck 110, respond to 5337 Magnolia Drive, 5-3-3-7 Magnolia Drive, Brentwood Enterprises Building for a man stuck on a scaffold. Time out, 1017.
Roy groaned, but quickly moved the mop and bucket out of the way so nobody could trip over them and hurried towards the squad. He accepted the slip of paper with the address from Captain Stanley and, handing it to Johnny, clambered into the driver’s seat and shut the door. The engine started and the vehicles started their mad dash to the scene.
Pulling up outside the building in question, they could see the scaffolding was 5 stories up, too far for the ladder truck to reach. The only option: come down from the top and rescue the victim from there.
Decision made, the crew grabbed rope and safety harnesses and followed Captain Stanley through the front doors of the building. As they entered, the security guard looked up from his desk. “Boy, am I glad to see you boys! Walt’s still out there on the scaffolding. Suzie – she’s the secretary from Little Tyke Publishing – called and said that he was pounding on their window. Seems the block is jammed or something and he can’t get it to move up or down.” As the guard spoke, he led them to the elevators that would take them to the roof. “Just take this all the way to the top, and then head left down the corridor to the right. The second door on the left will lead you to the roof. I’d head up there myself, but then you’d be treating me. Heights aren’t my thing! No siree!”
With that, the elevator doors closed and they started up the building. “He can’t stand heights, but he works in a high-rise?” Johnny spoke in wonderment.
“Hush, Gage. What’s your game plan, Roy?” Cap’s voice brooked no argument from his younger paramedic, but also failed to rouse a response from the senior man. “Roy?”
Roy, who had been lost in thought – and pain – started at the sound of his name. “Uh, just thinking about that, Cap. Probably the easiest way would be to rappel down, put a belt and rope around the vic, and bring him up. Johnny, you wanna go down on this one?” Roy tried to keep the small note of pleading out of his voice.
Johnny gave his partner a quick once-over. He had caught the silent plea in his partner’s gaze and voice, but kept it to himself. “Sure, I’ll do it.”
The elevator doors opened. As Hank followed his men out, he glanced first from Roy to Johnny. He caught the sharpening of Johnny’s gaze and Roy’s look of unease, but kept quiet. I’d better keep an eye on Roy today. Something’s still bothering him, and Johnny looks like he’s gonna ride Roy all day until he finds out what it is. I’ll need to keep him distracted.
As the men trampled onto the roof, they heard a man yelling. “Hey! Somebody! Help! I’m stuck up here! Get me down!”
Roy and Johnny hurried to the ledge and looked down. Sure enough, a middle-aged man stood on a window-washing scaffolding, holding on for dear life and yelling as loudly as he possibly could. “Hold on, mister! We’re with the fire department, and we’re gonna get you off of there in a minute. Just calm down, okay?” The man nodded and visibly relaxed at the thought of rescue. “Are you hurt?”
The man shook his head. “Nope, just stuck. The block jammed and I can’t get the thing to move. The thought of plunging to the ground on this darned contraption…” The man shuddered at the thought.
Johnny flashed a smile. “Give us a few minutes to get set up, and we’ll have you fixed up in a jiffy.”
Oblivious to Johnny, who was focused on the man, Roy quickly turned from the ledge and the dizzying height. Granted, it was only 8 stories, and he had done higher rescues with ease, but the height suddenly made him nauseous. He quickly pushed himself from the ledge and headed towards the pile of rescue gear the others were sorting through. He lurched a little but quickly regained his composure. He hoped his near-stumble would go by unnoticed.
Cap grabbed his arm. “You okay, Roy? Looked like you were about to take a tumble there.” He looked worriedly at his senior paramedic.
“I’m fine, Cap. Just stubbed my toe,” Roy lied. “I came over to give you guys a hand. The guy says he’s fine, just trapped down there,” Roy replied, having caught the tail end of Johnny’s conversation with their victim.
Lines were quickly set up, Johnny geared up, and Roy’s turnout coat was placed over the edge of the ledge to prevent the rope from fraying on the edge. With a quick thumbs-up and a smirk towards his partner, Johnny eased himself over the edge of the ledge. “Give me some slack, guys! It’s about 30 feet down.” Johnny started “walking” down the building, alternating between calling for more slack and his usual patter with the victim.
Roy watched from the ledge as his partner made the descent. The nausea did not return, for which he was grateful, but that still didn’t do anything about the steady pain that ate away at his gut. His attention was pulled away from his gut, however, at Johnny’s shout that he was safely on the scaffolding.
Roy lowered the second safety harness to his partner, watching as it was placed around their victim and snugly secured. “Okay, Roy, we’re ready to come up!” Roy acknowledged with a wave and turned to the crew.
“Bring them up!” Roy stood by as they pulled up the victim’s line first, assisting the man himself as he clambered over the ledge. Roy helped him out of the safety harness. “Uh, sir, why don’t you have a seat here and let me check you out, just to be safe?” Stanley had already brought over their drug box and the biophone, setting the boxes close to Roy.
“I think I’m fine, but if’n you wanna, sure, why not?” The man acquiesced, sitting down well away from the ledge, sighing and running a hand through his receding hair.
Hank assisted Gage up over the ledge and helped him unhook himself from the safety harness. Johnny made his way over to his partner’s side. “How are you feeling, Walt?” he asked, glancing at the notepad Roy was writing on.
“Feeling pretty good, now’s my feet aren’t dangling 5 stories off the ground. Those numbers you’re writing down… am I a-gonna live?” Walt asked Roy.
Roy grinned at the man. “Everything appears to be fine. Are you sure you don’t want to go to the hospital to be checked out, just in case?” Roy was pretty sure he knew what the answer would be, but still had to ask according to protocol.
He wasn’t disappointed. “Naw, I’m fine. Just getting over the heebie-jeebies, if ‘ya know what I mean. I don’t need to see a doctor to know I’m fine. Think I’ll stick with you boys until my feet are firmly planted on terra firma, though, if’n it’s okay.” He accepted Johnny’s hand up.
Johnny smiled. “What say we make that happen, Roy? Cap, we’re ready to head down. You can cancel the ambulance.” He handed the biophone to Roy and hefted the drug box.
Captain Stanley and the rest of the crew already had the equipment broken down and ready to be carted back down to the awaiting engine and squad. Retreating from the roof, they crammed onto the elevator for the ride back to the first floor.
The drive back to the station started peacefully, but Johnny couldn’t help but notice his partner’s mood. Something’s bugging him. Maybe I just need to get him to talking. After all, that usually gets him to spill the beans. “So… that went well.” Silence met his remark. “Roy? I said that went well.”
Roy, who had been enjoying the silence, silently groaned. “Yeah.”
A monosyllable. Not what Johnny was hoping for, he tried again. “I mean, the guy wasn’t even hurt. How often does that happen?”
I’m not in the mood for this. “Not often.”
Three syllables. Still not what Johnny was after, but it was an improvement. Still… “So, did you have a good two days off?”
“Yeah. Joanne took the kids to the zoo, and we went to a potluck. I mowed the grass and worked some on straightening up the garage. Otherwise, it was rather uneventful.” Roy hoped that would be enough to satisfy his partner.
Johnny retreated into quiet once again, only to have the silence broken by the loud rumbling of his stomach. “Man, I’m hungry! We still have what? Two more hours until lunch? And Chet’s cooking today, of all things…” Johnny settled into his rant.
With an ease that spoke of long partnership, Roy turned a deaf ear to Johnny’s complaints and settled back in the driver’s seat as he navigated back to the station.
Too bad he couldn’t ignore his stomach as easily. The pains continued and the nausea returned frequently. Food was sounding more and more like a death wish wrapped in foil.
Roy was relieved when he finally pulled into the station. Making the excuse that he needed to update the run logs, Roy split for the quiet sanctity of the Cap’s office, leaving a bemused Johnny in his wake.
By the time lunch rolled around, Roy was thoroughly disinterested in anything even remotely related to food. He was nauseated, and the right half of his abdomen seemed determined to make him miserable, but he was determined to put up as good a front as he possibly can. The only thing that seemed to be working in his favor was the unusually slow day they had been having. Marco was making quick work of setting the table when Roy entered the day room. “Hey Roy. Were you still wanting help this weekend? I think I’ll be free to come over.”
Roy gave the man a wan smile. “Sure. I’ll take all the help I can get. Joanne’s list seems to get longer by the day.” Roy headed for his place at the table and sat down, relieved to be off his feet and sitting.
After a minute, though, he wasn’t sure if coming here was the best idea. The smells coming from Chet’s latest culinary concoction, while normally not bad, sent his stomach churning again. Roy swallowed hard, willing down the nausea. He knew that he had to put up a pretense to just remain in his seat, one that was working so far. Chet’s cooking, however, was threatening to blow the cover on Roy’s act.
“Okay everybody, here is the ‘piece die resistance’,” Chet announced, pulling a pie from the oven and quickly bringing it over to the table, setting it on a trivet he had already set down.
Captain Stanley leaned forward a little and looked suspiciously at the dish. “What is this, Kelley?”
“That, Cap, is called ‘Quee-chee Lorraine’.” Chet beamed at his commanding officer.
Johnny sniggered. “Chet, you need to learn how to read.”
“Oh yeah? I do too know how to read, Johnny-boy!”
“Sure you do! First of all, it’s pronounced keesh. And secondly, who’s this Lorraine? Oh wait. Let me guess. She’s the gal that taught you how to make this… this sissy dish?” Johnny proclaimed with distain.
“Or is she the last girl to dump you?” Marco teased.
“All right, you twits, that’s enough! Chet, cut this thing so we can sample… Lorraine.” Cap’s voice brooked no argument.
Roy watched it all with a combination of amusement and dread. Amusement at the instant ribbing Chet’s creation brought, and dread of trying to eat said-same creation. He had heard of quiche: it ranked up there with cucumber sandwiches and crumpets. In other words, tea party foods.
Roy wasn’t sure what Chet was thinking, making such a dish, but his stomach quickly made the decision for him. Any appetite Roy might have had went out the window, quickly followed by a resounding wave of nausea and pain that sent him quickly heading for the latrine, a strangled “excuse me” trailing behind him. He just made it to the latrine before bringing up the juice and crackers he had nibbled on earlier that morning. He heard the door open and close as he proceeded to lose his meager stomach contents.
Stanley was startled to see Roy practically run out of the room. He was suspicious that the man hadn’t been feeling good all day, but was shocked by Roy’s behavior. Johnny had been on his feet, ready to run after Roy, but Stanley somehow knew that Roy probably neither felt like seeing his partner right now or needed Johnny’s well-intended ministrations at the moment. Stanley quieted the men with a glance, told Johnny to stay at the table, and went after his senior paramedic.
Hank quickly found his man in the latrine, following the sounds of retching. He half-decided to turn around and retrieve Gage, but decided to see how Roy was doing for himself before letting the younger man loose with his partner. Wordlessly, he crossed to the sink, pulling out some paper towels and wetting them in the sink. Wringing out the excess water, he waited for the man’s stomach to settle, and crossed over to where Roy sat, handing him the damp towels to wipe his mouth and face with.
Roy had a grateful expression on his face as he accepted the wet paper. Stanley nodded with understanding, crossed over to the nearby bench, and sat down. Roy cleaned himself up and tried his best to will away the pains that wouldn’t leave him alone. He crossed over to the opposite bench and sat down, relieved to be stationary again. Every move hurt; only by being still did some of the pain subside. He could see the unasked question on his captain’s face, and he sighed. How was he to explain what was happening without having Johnny sicced on him? He unconsciously placed a hand over the right side of his abdomen in an effort to comfort his painful belly.
Roy cleared his throat, looking at the man. “Thanks, Cap. I bet you want to know what’s going on.” He waited for Stanley’s nod of affirmation before trying to continue. “Truth be told, I’m not exactly sure myself. I think, though, something that I ate at a potluck dinner last night is not agreeing with me and is causing some discomfort and a little pain and nausea. Chet’s cooking just sent the nausea overboard, is all.”
Stanley looked at the medic intently. “Are you sure, Roy? I’ve waved off John for you, but if that’s not all that’s happening with you, I need to know. You know how many times John’s done the same sort of thing and he’s gotten himself into serious trouble. I don’t want that to happen to you.”
“I promise, Cap, I think that is all that’s going on, but if it continues to get worse, I’ll tell you and let Johnny look me over.” Roy made that last statement with some reluctance, but he knew that Johnny would also provide the best possible care, if he needed it.
Stanley nodded. “Are you still feeling tired Roy?” At the man’s nod, Stanley continued. “Why don’t you go ahead and try to take a nap? I’ll keep the guys out of the dorm so they won’t disturb you for a while. Maybe that will help your stomach issues.” He stood to his feet and stretched.
Roy readily agreed, and thanked the Captain for his concern. Stanley then left to finish his lunch. Roy watched him leave, and then crossed through to the dorm. He lay down on his bunk and was quickly asleep.
Johnny sat at the kitchen table, stewing. Something was obviously wrong with Roy, and Cap had stopped him from going and checking on his partner. And then, Cap had come back, saying Roy was fine and sleeping, and to stay out of the dorm. Johnny didn’t know who to be madder at: Roy for not telling him, or Cap for not allowing Johnny to deal with Roy.
The rest of the crew, while a little concerned for Roy, had quickly picked up on Johnny’s mood and were giving him a wide berth. Cap had retreated to the sanctuary of his office and was working studiously on the unending pile of paperwork that graced his desk. Stoker was giving the engine a good wax job, content in his work. Marco and Chet had retreated to the relative calm of hanging hose.
Suddenly the tones went off. Squad 51, engine 18, respond to 1952 Breckenridge Road, 1952 Breckenridge Road for an overdose. Time out, 1449. Johnny ran out of the day room and over to the squad, hoping to see Roy already there.
Cap had already made his way from his office and to the base radio when Roy came running out of the dorm. Stanley didn’t like the looks of his senior medic, but Roy flashed him a thumbs-up as he hopped into the driver’s seat and accepted the slip of paper with the address, passing it to Johnny. Roy turned on the vehicle and pulled out, heading down the street with lights flashing and siren blazing.
Enroute, Roy could feel Johnny’s sharp eyes watching him carefully, even though the only conversation was Gage calling out directions. Roy inwardly groaned as he realized that, once at Rampart, he would be dragged into a treatment room whether he liked it or not. Johnny was that predictable. His stomach, as if in response, shot a sharp pain through the right side of his abdomen that he had to quickly bite his lip not to let out. So it was with much relief that they received a call to cancel on the run and were cleared back to quarters.
Roy quickly shut down the lights and siren and turned the vehicle around, heading back towards the station. He hoped the relative silence he had enjoyed so far would continue, but it was not to be.
“Okay, Roy, what’s the matter with you? First, you come to work looking like something Henry would have dragged in, you’re late for roll call, and you space out in said roll call. Then, you run out of a conversation with Chet – not that I blame you for that one; Chet’s enough to make anyone want to turn and run. But then you run out on lunch without eating anything. Cap comes back and says you’re tired, says to leave you alone so you can rest. None of that’s like you, Roy. What is going on with you? Maybe you need to go to Rampart.” Johnny was truly concerned, even if his manner was rather abrupt.
Roy quickly responded. “No, I don’t need to go to Rampart. I’ll be fine. It’s like I told Cap. I ate something at the potluck dinner last night that hasn’t agreed with my stomach. I have a little nausea, which Chet’s lunch sent over the edge. I also didn’t sleep much last night, so I’m rather tired. That’s it. It’s nothing that rest and a decent meal can’t fix. Now would you please drop it? If I need help or to go to Rampart, I’ll let you know, but I’ll be okay.” Roy sighed.
Johnny regarded him with another long look. “Okay, Roy, if you say so. But if you’re putting me off, so help me…” Begrudgingly, Johnny dropped the subject, but he still wasn’t sure about his partner. Something was wrong, and Johnny had a feeling Roy hadn’t told him everything.
They made it back to the station just as Engine 51 pulled out to respond to a dumpster fire. Roy waited with lights flashing, blocking traffic for the engine while Stoker pulled her out into traffic. After the engine started down the street, Roy backed the squad into the bay and closed the doors. Roy made his way back to the dorm and to his bed.
Johnny sat in the squad for a minute, trying to decide what to do. Should he follow Roy and try to get his partner to let him check him out, or should he just hold off; after all, Roy was a big boy and a rather bad liar: if he was hurting and needed help, he’d tell Johnny sooner or later. With that realization, Johnny got out of the squad and headed for the day room to relax.
Roy breathed a sigh of relief as he entered the dorm, only to suck it in again as another sharp pain lanced its way through his abdomen. He had to resist the urge to sink to his knees on the floor as he grabbed the lower half of his right side. As he waited for the pain to subside, he started inventorying his own body.
He was rather surprised at what he discovered. While the nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite could be related to a myriad of illnesses, the location of his pain could be warning of a more serious problem. But, feeling of his own forehead, he didn’t have a fever, and he had only vomited once, so he figured that he could hold off. Even though the pain was bad at times, each sharp pain only lasted a few minutes at a time. Surely he could manage to keep the pain under wraps until his shift ended the next morning. If he still had the symptoms in the morning, he would seek medical attention after he got off work.
Sharp pain having subsided, Roy made his way over to his bed and lay down. It was harder this time to find a comfortable position in which to lie that did not aggravate his aching gut. He finally found that lying on his right side and holding still was the best way to try to stay a little comfortable. After a few minutes, he fell asleep.
Stanley tiptoed into the dorm around dinnertime to check on Roy. He had spoken with Johnny after the engine had returned from the dumpster fire, but agreed that letting him sleep and not bugging him to eat was probably the best course of action for the time being. It was obvious that, while Roy didn’t feel well, he also felt that he could do his job without detriment. Both Stanley and Johnny knew that Roy wouldn’t put himself in a situation where his health would endanger himself or another person. They just had to rely on his judgment and hope he was right.
But as several hours passed without anyone seeing or hearing Roy, Stanley was still concerned enough to check on him and let him know that dinner was about to be ready if he wanted to eat. Cap entered the dorm and made his way over to the medic’s bed and laid a hand on his shoulder. “Roy? Hey Roy?”
Roy stirred under his superior’s touch. Opening his eyes, he rolled over onto his back, and almost doubled up in pain. “Ouch!” He had instinctively brought his knees up, minimizing the stretch to his abdominal muscles, even as his hands had immediately sought out and supported his lower right abdomen. He didn’t notice Stanley until the officer knelt by his side, hollering for Johnny.
“Easy Roy! Easy! Gage! I need you in here on the double!” Stanley kept a hand on his senior medic’s shoulder, trying to reassure the man as he waited for the younger medic to run into the room.
Suddenly, the door to the dorm slammed open, Johnny in point with the rest of the crew not far behind. Johnny took one look at Roy and shouted to his crewmates. “Get my gear guys!” He quickly made his way over to his agonizing partner. “It’s okay, Roy, it’s okay. Where are you hurting?”
Roy groaned. “Right lower… quadrant. Really sharp, stabbing… pain. Off and on throughout… today. Now it won’t go away. Still have my appendix. Nauseated with vomiting… times two. No appetite. Johnny, I think I’m gonna…” Roy ended abruptly.
Johnny knew exactly what Roy meant. “Cap…” he started, and a trash can was thrust into his open hands. He managed to get Roy turned enough and the can in position just in time as Roy threw up what little remnants were in his stomach along with a good quantity of bile. Just as soon as the retching stopped, however, Johnny was right there with the BP cuff, getting vitals.
“Biophone’s all set up for you, Johnny,” Chet announced. Johnny nodded, accepting the receiver from the firefighter. “Rampart Base, this is Squad 51, over. Rampart Base, this is 5-1, over.”
As Johnny established communications with the hospital, Stoker leaned over in the direction of his commanding officer. “Cap, I called in a Code-I and requested an ambulance be dispatched here.”
Stanley gave his engineer a wan smile. “Thanks Mike. I was going to ask you to do that.”
The biophone crackled to life. Go ahead, 51.
“Rampart, we have a Code-I, a 34 year old paramedic complaining of abdominal pain that has located in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. Patient also complaining of significant amount of nausea with vomiting times three. Also complains of loss of appetite.
“Vitals are: BP 148/90, pulse 136 and thready, respirations 24. Patient appears to be in extreme pain, Rampart.” Johnny waited for the orders he knew were coming.
51, does patient have rebound tenderness of the abdomen? Also, is patient febrile?
“Stand by, Rampart.” Johnny set the handset down and looked at his partner. A thermometer already stuck out of Roy’s mouth, thanks to the smart thinking of Marco. “Sorry Roy, but Rampart wants to know.” Johnny quickly but gently palpated Roy’s abdomen, bringing about the expected painful response. Johnny apologized again, and removed the thermometer from Roy’s mouth.
“Rampart, patient has rebound tenderness to right lower quadrant, and oral temperature of 102.7 degrees.” Johnny shook his head as he shook the thermometer down before handing it back to Marco to wipe down and store back in its case.
Acknowledged, 51. Start IV of Ringer’s Lactate, TKO. Administer 5mg Morphine IV, and transport as soon as possible. Has an ambulance arrived at your location?
Mike, who had left the dorm during this conversation, stuck his head back in the room. “John, the ambulance just arrived. In here, fellas.”
“Uh, that’s an affirmative, Rampart. They just arrived.” Johnny set down the handset and quickly started the IV. He administered the pain killer to his friend and colleague, and moved out of the way of the attendants. “Be careful. Rampart thinks he might have a hot appendix.”
Roy was carefully transferred from his bed to the gurney, strapped in securely, and wheeled out to the awaiting ambulance. Stanley walked beside him. “Roy, don’t worry about a thing. I’ll go call my wife, and she’ll make sure Joanne knows and has both a babysitter and a ride to the hospital. You just get to feeling better, alright?”
The crew watched as Roy was loaded into the ambulance. Johnny hopped in with the drug box and biophone, the doors were shut, and the ambulance pulled away from the station, sirens blaring.
Roy moaned during the entire trip to Rampart. The movement of the ambulance plus the bounces over rough spots in the road kept his abdomen in excruciating pain, and the morphine wasn’t helping. He felt like a genuine fool, waiting this long to get help. I get onto Johnny when he does this, but then I go and try to hold off until shift end. I can only pray that my appendix doesn’t burst before they can remove it. He glanced over at his partner. Johnny’s look of extreme concern was enough to sober any person. And just think what I’m putting Johnny through, he mentally scolded himself. I should know better than to do that!
Johnny silently urged the ambulance to go faster as he listened to Roy’s moans of pain. Glancing at his friend-and-partner’s face, he quickly looked back at the IV line, checking it to make sure it was flowing well. He took another set of vitals, noticing the slight increase in BP and pulse. Roy’s body was nearing a crisis stage; if he didn’t get to the hospital soon, that hot appendix of his would burst.
Johnny breathed a sigh of relief when he felt the familiar turning and backing of the vehicle. They had gotten here safely! And not a moment too soon: Roy’s color was continuing to deteriorate. The back doors flew open, and the attendants stood ready to pull the gurney out of the ambulance. Johnny grabbed the IV, setting it down just above Roy’s left shoulder, and grabbed the rest of his equipment as the attendants removed Roy from the ambulance.
Doctors Brackett and Early were waiting just inside the door. “Let’s take him to three,” Dr. Early ordered.
Roy was quickly moved into the examination room and transferred from the ambulance gurney to the gurney in the room. Suddenly, Roy gave a yell and drew his body up, clutching his abdomen, sobbing.
“Dixie! Get surgery on the line and tell them we’re coming up now! Carol, administer another 5 mg of Morphine, and have some more on hand in case that doesn’t work. Roy, hold on. We’re gonna get you up to surgery in a few minutes.” Dr. Early took ahold of the medic’s hand as Dr. Brackett called out orders.
“Doc? My appendix…” Roy asked weakly.
“I think your appendix has probably just ruptured, Roy. Don’t worry. We’ll get everything cleaned out in the OR, start you on some antibiotics, and you’ll be just fine.” Early looked up as two orderlies came in through the door with a stretcher.
“Will you do it, Doc?” Roy asked.
Early glanced at Dr. Brackett, who nodded. “Sure, Roy. I’ll do it.”
Roy nodded. “Johnny?” He stretched a hand towards his partner.
“I’m right here, Roy. What do you need?” Johnny caught his hand.
“Just wanted to say sorry. Do me a favor? Tell Joanne and the kids that I love them, and will see them later. Tell them not to be scared.” Roy was carefully lifted from the gurney to the stretcher.
Johnny watched as his partner was transferred. “Sure, Pally. We’ll be here waiting for you.” He turned to Dr. Early. “Take good care of him, Doc.”
Dr. Early smiled. “Of course I will, John.” He followed the stretcher out the door, flanked from behind by Johnny. Johnny watched as the small procession headed for the elevator, got on, and the doors closed behind them. He stood there for a moment before slowly turning and making his way back to Dixie’s desk, where the nurse was working on her charts.
Dixie smiled wanly as he approached. “Hey. He’ll be okay. Dr. Early is one of the best, as you should know. He’ll be up and about before you know it.” She pointed to a stool next to the dejected paramedic. “C’mon, Johnny, sit down. Have a cup of coffee.”
Johnny sat heavily on the chair. He accepted the proffered coffee cup and sighed. “You know, I knew something was wrong when he came in to work this morning, but I ignored it. I mean, I should have done something! Bugged him until he told me, made him come here after we got cancelled on that run, something! But no, I let him tell me he was fine, that nothing was wrong except a little indigestion.” He set his coffee cup aside and hung his head. “I screwed up, Dix. I screwed up and my partner’s life may be on the line.”
Dixie rounded the desk and stood beside the dejected medic. “Now, Johnny, that’s not the case here and you know it. You did everything you could for Roy and he’s in the best of hands right now. Beating yourself up over this won’t help him in any way, shape or form.” She smiled and patted his shoulder before changing the subject. “By the way, has Joanne been notified?”
Johnny’s head came up at that. “Joanne! Yeah, yeah, the Cap was going to call his wife and then notify Joanne. She’s probably on her way now.”
Dix nodded. “She’ll need someone with her, John. Can you do that, or should I ask one of the nurses to sit with her?” She peered at him intently, quietly gauging his ability to do it.
He met her look with a steady gaze. “I’ll do it, Dix. I owe him that, and I promised.”
Joanne rushed into the ER, crying. Johnny looked up as she entered, catching her in his arms and holding her as she wept. He guided her to a chair as she struggled to get her emotions under control. He nodded to Emily Stanley as she waved goodbye, seeing he had things under control.
Joanne finally looked up, hiccupping occasionally as she dabbed at her tear-streaked face with a tissue Johnny had provided. “I’m sorry, Johnny, I’m crying all over you.”
He gave her a glimmer of his crooked grin as he handed her another tissue. “It’s okay, Joanne, you’re entitled.”
“How is he? What happened? Nothing really registered after they told me Roy was here.” She stopped to take in Johnny’s appearance. “You’re still clean, so it wasn’t a fire-related accident was it?”
Johnny chuckled a little. “I do bathe occasionally, you know.” His tone then grew more serious. “Roy hasn’t felt well all day, I guess. He said that something he ate last night disagreed with him, so we left him alone, letting him rest. He wouldn’t let me look at him,” he protested, seeing her expression go from one of concern, to agreement, to disapproval.
“Cap went to check on him this evening, and Roy doubled over in agony. He had rebound tenderness to his lower right abdomen – that’s pain that happens after you let go pressing on the belly, right here,” Johnny explained, demonstrating what he meant. “He also had a high fever. All signs of appendicitis. I had hoped we had him here before his appendix would try to burst, but that happened just as we wheeled him into the ER.”
Joanne drew a shaky breath. “He was complaining of a stomachache last night, but said he was okay when he left the house this morning to go to work.” She looked around the waiting room as if searching for her husband. “Where is he right now, Johnny?”
Johnny cleared his throat. “Dr. Early has him up in surgery now, removing his appendix. But there’s more, Joanne. Roy’s almost certainly got peritonitis. That’s an infection in his abdominal cavity. The infection that caused the appendicitis spreads when the appendix bursts. He’s gonna be pretty sick for a while.” He drew her back towards his shoulder as she started crying again.
He breathed an inward sigh of relief as he saw Dixie heading their way. He may be a chick magnet – or repellant, according to Chet – but he was never very good when it came to a crying woman.
Dix had assessed the situation from down the hall and came to bail Johnny out. “Hey, Joanne. Why don’t you come with me? We’ll get a cup of coffee and find a quiet place to wait until Roy’s out of surgery, all right?” As she put her arm around the weeping woman, she saw the same look of hopeful desperation in Johnny’s eyes as were in Joanne’s. “C’mon, Johnny, let’s grab a cup of coffee.”
He shared a long look and then nodded. “Yeah, I think I could use a cup.” He got up and followed them to the doctor’s lounge. He poured three cups as Dixie made Joanne comfortable on the couch, encouraging and comforting as she did so. He smiled at her easy manner. He could see that Joanne was quickly responding to the other woman’s ministrations.
“Here you go, Dix, Jo.” He brought the cups over and passed them out, pausing to take a swig from his own cup. “Dix, Roy’s been upstairs what? An hour or so, now?” At her nod, he continued. “How much longer, do you suppose?”
Dixie took a swig of her own coffee before heading to the sugar supply. Morton must have made the coffee – it was overly strong. If she didn’t add something to sweeten it, she would have a killer headache before the shift was over. “You know how many variables come with the territory, John, but I would give them another hour or two before you get too antsy. It can take a little while trying to clean out as much infectious material as possible.” She cautiously tasted the coffee and made a face. I’d be better off just making a fresh pot. It’s easier than finishing this shift acting like I have a hangover. She dumped the pot and started a fresh one to percolating.
Dixie McCall to the nurses’ desk. Nurse McCall to the nurses’ desk, please. Dixie glanced up as the page went across the speakers and sighed. “Sorry but I’ve got to go.”
Johnny just nodded. “I’ve got her, Dix. If you hear anything…”
“Don’t worry. You’ll be the first to know.” Dixie headed out the door.
Johnny and Joanne settled down to wait for news. Joanne sat watching Johnny, who was uncharacteristically sitting silently, staring into space. This is a different scenario, I must admit. Usually I’m sitting and waiting on word as to if Johnny’s going to pull through, not how my husband is doing. Joanne wasn’t too thrilled with this alternative either. Shifting on the vinyl couch, she settled in to wait.
Joe Early trudged towards the doctor’s lounge, running a hand through his white hair as he stifled a yawn. He turned as Dr. Brackett called his name, waiting for the younger man to catch up. “You look beat, Joe. How about a cup of coffee?”
“You spoke my mind, Kel. I was heading to grab a cup before finding Johnny.” He held the door open, letting Brackett enter the room first.
He was mildly surprised to see the paramedic and Joanne in the room, but quickly realized this was the natural spot for them to migrate to. It would be more comfortable, private, and a sure-fired way to catch someone with information on their friend and spouse. Just like a lion stalking a watering hole for signs of a thirsty antelope, Joe thought ruefully. In this case, the coffeepot for a thirsty, tired surgeon.
Both Johnny and Joanne came to their feet as Early entered. They stood, waiting for the prognosis on Roy’s condition, Joanne holding her breath, biting her lower lip.
“Bet you’re wanting a report. Why don’t you sit down?” Joe suggested kindly. He waited until Joanne had perched back on the edge of the couch, and pulled up a chair from the table to sit across from her. Kelly Brackett handed him a cup of coffee and sat down at the table to hear the news for himself. “Thanks Kel.” He took a sip of the fragrant brew and sighed appreciatively.
“Doctor, is Roy… is he…” Joanne couldn’t force out the words. She gnawed at her lip as her hands dug into the material of the couch cushions.
Early gave her a kind smile. “He’s going to be just fine, Mrs. DeSoto. His appendix had burst before we got him up to surgery, but I removed it easily. The main problem he’s facing now is peritonitis from all the pus that drained out when his appendix ruptured. We cleaned out his abdominal cavity as good as we could, but peritonitis is pretty much a given any time we have a rupture. But, we started antibiotics even before I started operating, so we just need to give him a few days and that should be cleared up nicely. He was drifting in and out of consciousness when I left him in Recovery. He’ll be in a room in a couple of hours, but won’t be up for visitors until tomorrow morning,” he said, anticipating the question.
Joanne breathed a huge sigh of relief. “Thank you, Dr. Early. When can I see him tomorrow?”
Joe laughed. “Tell you what. I’ll let you have a couple of minutes with him tonight, and then visiting hours start at 8. Will that work?”
She flashed him a grateful smile. “That’d be great. Thanks so much.”
Joe got to his feet, draining the last of his coffee. “I’ll take you up there myself. See you later, Kel.” He nodded to the younger man, who nodded back. As Early escorted Joanne to the door, he turned to look at the paramedic who still stood by the room’s couch. “Coming Johnny?”
Johnny, who had been deep in thought, looked startled, then relieved. “Sure thing, doc!” He scrambled for the door and followed the doctor out the door.
Brackett looked at the closing door and shook his head. With that, he gathered up the empty coffee mugs and carried them to the sink to rinse out.
Roy groaned as he shifted in the hospital bed, searching for a more comfortable position. Man, what he’d give for a few minutes of unrestricted freedom. Three days in the hospital recovering from surgery, and if it wasn’t the monitor wires tangling themselves in knots, it was his IV trying to tie itself around him like an anaconda. Then there were the hospital gowns. The patterns on them were ugly, not enough privacy in back, and not long enough to make you feel like you weren’t going to expose yourself to the world.
Sheesh, Gage. How do you put up with this so frequently? All I want is to go home, put on a pair of sweats and settle into my Lazy-Boy.
A sudden knock on the door drew his attention. He smiled as he saw his favorite nurse in the doorway. “Come on in, Dixie. How are you doing today?”
She studied him for a minute. “I’m doing well, especially to see that you’re doing better than you were a few nights ago. But I might ask you the same question.”
“Definitely feeling better than when I was brought in, but…” He let the statement drop, not having intended to toss in the “but”.
“But you would rather be home in a comfy chair instead of lying around in here, right?” She laughed at his nod. “I hate to say it, Roy, but that’s what Johnny told me this afternoon when I asked him.” She trailed off, albeit too late.
Roy’s gaze sharpened as he honed in on what she had just said. “Johnny’s hurt? What happened? How is he?”
Dixie sighed. “He’s fine, really. Kel wanted to keep him here for observation, just in case. And,” she paused as two orderlies with a gurney opened the door, “he’s your new roomie for the night.” She let the men by and watched as they assisted a disgruntled Gage to the other bed.
“Aw, c’mon Dix. I can rest just as well at home as I can here… better, actually! I’m fine, I tell you! A little headache and you guys want to make it out to be something that’s gonna send me to my grave in two seconds!” He settled in a huff, trying to arrange the pillows, covers and settings on the bed to his comfort. For the moment he ignored the man in the bed next to his.
Dix raised her eyebrows in Roy’s direction and exited the room, hands in her pockets. I’ll leave those two alone for a while, she thought. Even though I wouldn’t mind being a fly on the wall for this one!
Roy gave his partner a couple of minutes to stew before deciding that listening to Johnny’s version of what happened was better than just worrying about what he didn’t know about.
Johnny was still oblivious to the fact that he had a roommate and was still punching the pillows into order when he heard a voice directing a question towards him. “What’re you in for, partner?” Great. Not only am I stuck here, but I have a roommate, and he wants to talk. Suddenly the question sunk in, especially the word “partner”.
Spinning around in the bed, he found a concerned Roy watching him from the other bed. A spinning Roy, as the room shifted in front of his eyes. Johnny fought off the sudden wave of nausea that the movement caused. What he couldn’t hold back was the moan that unwillingly escaped his lips. He closed his eyes for a minute.
Cautiously opening his eyes, he saw that Roy was sitting up in bed, clutching his side, clearly about to get up and see about his friend. “No, Roy, I’m okay. Just moved too fast and got dizzy, is all. I’m fine, honest!” he protested. He could see that Roy wasn’t placated in the least, but at least the other man settled back into bed.
“Yeah, you’re fine. That explains why you’re here enjoying Rampart’s hospitality for the night. You might as well spill the beans before Chet shows up and tells his version.” Roy gave his partner a significant look.
Johnny sighed, and launched into storytelling mode. “We had this trench rescue out on 23rd and Cook’s Pointe. A couple of workers had gotten trapped when the thing started caving in on them. One was pinned by this really large rock. Cap decided that we should try to use a sledgehammer to break it up enough to remove it. I was down with the victim, trying to keep him calm and keep oxygen on him, y’know? Well, Chet was above on the rock, hammering to beat the band, when – you’re not gonna believe this Roy! The hammer head came off the handle. I, uh, caught it with my helmet.”
“What he means is that it dropped him like a rock.” Hank Stanley stood in the doorway, shaking his head at his youngest paramedic. He entered the room and pulled up a chair, sitting down between the two beds. “How are you doing, Roy? Going stir-crazy yet?”
Roy glanced at his partner and then over at his CO. “Doing better, Cap, doing better. Can’t wait to go home, though. So what happened then?”
Hank glanced at Johnny, who was steadily avoiding the man’s gaze. “At least he was wearing his helmet this time. He was out for about ten minutes. Dwyer just about had Gage out of the hole when the shoring came loose again, this time burying both him and John. So by the time we got him out, he was unconscious and had a bruised shoulder. Dwyer’s fine, just bruised, tired, and released back to duty so now I’ve got to get a replacement for Johnny, here.” The man heaved a heavy sigh of frustration.
“Listen, I’d better get back to the station. If you need anything while you’re out, and I do mean anything, give us a call, okay? Good to see you’re doing better.” Hank hauled himself to his feet and said his goodbyes, leaving his paramedic team to themselves in the room.
“Okay, so what did the doctors say was wrong with you?” Roy wasn’t about to let Johnny off the hook until he heard the end of the matter.
“My right shoulder is banged and bruised, but that’s the extent of that. And I have a mild concussion. Good thing I wore my helmet, huh?” Johnny looked at his partner, trying to gauge his reaction.
“I’d say that’s putting it mildly, Junior,” Roy responded dryly. Gage and his nine lives, anyway! Or was it more like 900? Some days Roy couldn’t be sure.
Johnny flashed Roy one of his famous grins and settled back in his bed. Roy may be a worrywart, but he was the best partner a guy could ask for.
Three weeks later… Marco looked up anxiously as the door to the locker room opened, only to be disappointed when Chet entered the room. As he listened to the man chatter on, he kept a good eye on the door. Finally it opened, revealing an animated Johnny Gage and a long-suffering Roy DeSoto.
“Roy! John! Great to have you back! How are you feeling?” Marco couldn’t help himself. The members of C shift, having hung around to welcome their coworkers back, quickly joined them.
As the others crowded around the duo, the questions and answers swarmed so thickly Captain Stanley thought he’d stepped into a bee hive. “People, people!” The noise quickly quieted in the locker room. “I do believe that roll call is supposed to start in 5 minutes. You might want to get changed,” he added, looking at Roy and Johnny, who were still in their civilian clothing.
The pair quickly changed as C shift filed out and to their vehicles. A shift hurried out to the bay, where their Captain waited to start the shift. “Nice of you gentlemen to show up. Can we get on with this?”
“Sure, Cap.” Johnny grinned, glancing at Roy. Roy returned the look with a grin of his own.
Hank paused. “By the way, boys, glad to have you back.”
Roy smiled again. “So are we, Cap, so are we.”