This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.
The morning spring breeze was cool and crisp against Mike Stoker's face as he stood outside Station 51 and hoisted the flags up the pole. He squinted up into the sky as he worked, noting with satisfaction that the forecast appeared accurate for a change--sunny with a slight cloud cover. A beautiful California day lay on the horizon, which warmed his heart. He hated driving the engine through storms--it was almost as bad as smog.
The engineer was tying off the rope when he heard someone approaching. Turning, Stoker found himself confronted with a pretty young woman with long blonde hair, rose-tinted glasses, tie-dye shirt and worn blue jeans. A black beret was perched precariously atop the girl's head, and a heart-felt if slightly vacant smile radiated from her face. "Can I help you?" Stoker said politely, wondering what on earth she was doing here.
"Hi!" she said brightly. "Is this where Johnny Gage works?"
Stoker nodded, thinking to himself that everything had fallen into place. Only Johnny… "He sure does, but he's out on a call right now. Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Sure!" She handed him the Tupperware container she'd been carrying. "Tell Johnny this is my way of saying thanks for everything! Bye!" She gave Stoker a happy wave and headed back down the street.
"Wait!" Stoker called out; the girl stopped and turned around. "I didn't catch your name…"
"Oh, yeah," she giggled. "Tell him those are from M.J. Bye!" And with that she loped back to her car, a beat-up VW Bug, and headed down the road. Stoker managed to spot a "Grateful Dead" bumper sticker on the back end, but that was about it. Shaking his head, the firefighter popped the container open and peered inside.
"Hmm. Brownies," he muttered. Taking one out, he sniffed it experimentally, decided they smelled pretty good, and took a bite before heading back inside.
"…did not strike out," Johnny Gage was protesting as he and his partner backed the paramedic squad into the station. "She just said she wanted some time to think about the relationship. That is not striking out, for your information."
"Whatever you say, Junior," Roy DeSoto replied, hiding a grin as he shut the engine off. "How much time did she say she'd need?"
Gage frowned as he jumped out of the vehicle. "Well…she didn't really say. But you know, I didn't want to put any pressure on her--that might make her decide she didn't want to keep dating and all, so I figure she'll call in a week or so."
DeSoto sighed. "I wouldn't wait by the phone if I were you." He walked into the day room and headed for the coffee pot. "Morning."
"Morning," Marco Lopez said with a smile. He was standing by the stove, stirring a pot's contents slowly. "Hey, Gage, strike out again last night?"
"I did not," Gage said hotly as he searched the dining area for something to eat.
"She 'wants time to think'," Roy offered.
"Gage struck out," three voices said in unison.
Gage glared at his comrades, but his expression quickly changed upon spotting the huge Tupperware container in the middle of the dining table. "What's this?" he asked, lunging forward.
"A gift from one of your admirers," Chet Kelly said, finishing off his third brownie. "Shouldn't take long for you to narrow the possibilities down, especially when you consider she was young and pretty."
"Yeah, how many of those can there be?" Marco snickered.
"Come on, guys," Gage pleaded. "What was her name?"
"I dunno," Kelly shrugged. "Ask Stoker. He was the one who talked to her."
Gage turned toward Stoker. "Well?"
The engineer looked up. "Well what?"
"What was the girl's name?"
"What girl?" Stoker asked blankly.
Gage looked ready to kill. "The girl who brought the brownies!"
Stoker thought about it, then grinned. "Oh, yeah. I think she said her name was Angie or something. Nice girl. Cute."
"Angie…" Gage frowned and rubbed his chin, running down in his mind the names of the last fifteen women he'd dated. He came up empty. "Man," he sighed. "I don't know any Angies. Well, no reason I can't enjoy one of these things…" He reached for the container, but was stopped by the howl of the alarm. "Man…!"
Squad 51, unknown type emergency at 7315 Compton Avenue, 7315 Compton Avenue, cross street East 73rd, time out 9:10, came Sam Lanier's voice over the loudspeaker. Gage and DeSoto hurried back into the squad and plopped their helmets atop their heads; nearby, Captain Stanley scribbled the address onto a piece of paper and handed to DeSoto, then stepped back. Roy started to move forward, then hit the brakes.
Stanley shrugged. "What is it, Roy?"
"Aren't you going to open the door for us?"
"Oh, that's right!" Cap laughed and hit the switch. "Sorry, guys!" He waved cheerily as the squad rolled out and pulled out into traffic.
As they rushed toward their destination, Gage stared at the piece of paper Cap had given them. "Hey, Roy?"
"Since when does Cap make smiley faces in his 'O's'?"
DeSoto spared a glance at the paper. "Huh. That's weird. You know something else?"
"I could swear there wasn't anything in that pot Marco was stirring…"
One call and quick trip to Rampart later, the paramedics headed back to 51. "Man, that was sad," Gage said, staring out the side window.
"Imagine someone drugging a poor old lady like that," DeSoto agreed, stopping at a red light. "Good thing we got there in time. She could have had a serious heart attack."
"I hope they catch whoever did it and let us know," Gage said fiercely. "I really wanna know who put the Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy's Ovaltine…" His voice trailed off as he stared ahead. "Roy…do you see water flying over the street?"
"Yeah…" DeSoto frowned as he passed the last light before reaching the station. The instant the station came into view, though, he pulled over to the side of the road and slammed on the brakes. "John…please tell me you aren't seeing what I'm seeing."
Gage rubbed his eyes and squinted ahead. "Are you seeing Marco and Chet firing the reel hoses at the refinery? In their underwear?"
"Sorry. That's what I'm seeing."
"I was afraid of that." DeSoto put the squad back in gear and flipped the sirens on; they roared forward and pulled into the station. Lopez and Kelly tried to wave, but the pressure from the hoses forced them to keep a tight grip. "Hey, Roy! Gage!" Kelly called. "Come on! Let's go two-on-two, best four out of seven!"
"What in the blazes are you two doing?" DeSoto demanded as he jumped out of the squad. "Where are your clothes?"
"Inside," Lopez said nonchalantly.
"We didn't want to get 'em wet," Kelly explained.
"I do not believe this…" Gage scratched his head.
"Come on. Let's get them inside," DeSoto ordered. It took a few minutes of not-so-gentle persuasion to force the firemen to drop their toys and follow, but the paramedics managed. "Where's Cap?" Roy demanded as they entered the day room. "I can't believe he'd let you…oh my God."
Captain Stanley was sitting on the floor, surrounded by a wobbly chalk pentagram. Beside him sat his dress cap, a sweat sock stuffed in a way to make it look vaguely like a doll, and a photo of Chief McConikee. A lit candle sat directly in front of him, and he was swaying back and forth, eyes closed, chanting something under his breath that sounded eerily similar to "eeny meenie chili beanie".
"Oh, man," Gage breathed.
"What is he doing?" DeSoto asked resignedly.
Cap opened his eyes. "Voodoo," he whispered. "I'm gonna get him before he gets me." Before their horrified eyes he dumped the sock and the photo into the cap, then placed the cap directly into the candle flame. It ignited spectacularly, almost singing Cap's fingers in the process. Gage lunged forward and grabbed the extinguisher, putting the miniature inferno out before it could spread.
Cap stood up slowly. "That wasn't nice, John. I'm going to have to put you on report."
"You do that, Cap," Gage said, gingerly picking up the hat's remains and putting in the trash.
"On second thought," Cap said thoughtfully, "Maybe I should just give you a spanking instead."
"WHAT?" Gage screamed.
Meanwhile, DeSoto had spotted Stoker hunched over the phone. As he approached the engineer, DeSoto could just make out what he was saying: "Hey, Sam. Where's our pizza? I called you twenty minutes ago and it's not here yet! Thirty minutes and it's free, you know!" He giggled maliciously and slammed the phone onto the receiver, then picked it up and dialed another number. "Hi, this is LA County Station 51. Is your refrigerator running? Oh yeah? Then why aren't you trying to catch it?" Down went the handset again, but this time DeSoto stopped him from making another call.
"I don't believe this," Gage said as he pushed Lopez and Kelly onto the sofa, then set to work on Cap. "They're acting like idiots!"
"Not quite," DeSoto muttered. "Go get the B.P. cuff and the biophone out of the squad. And whatever you do, don't eat any of those brownies." He fished his miniature flashlight out of his pocket and popped it on, peering into Stoker's slightly bloodshot eyes.
"Let's just say I've got my suspicions," DeSoto replied.
"Sounds right to me," said Dr. Mike Morton. He was standing at Rampart Hospital's paramedic call station, studying the vital signs DeSoto had been relaying to him. "Classic symptoms, like you said. They're stoned."
Back at the station, Gage was glancing over at the now-sealed container of brownies. "Man," he muttered. "Why on Earth would someone want to give me hash brownies?"
"Good question," DeSoto said. "Stoker said the girl wanted to thank you for something. I don't remember any calls with a cute blonde in the last few weeks. You been working any overtime?"
"No…" Gage began, then his face brightened. "Wait. That Grateful Dead concert two weeks ago."
"You worked a Deadhead show?" DeSoto said, incredulous.
"Yeah, well," Gage shrugged. "I needed the money to pay my hospital bills." He stood up and headed for the exit. "I'm gonna check the logbook and see if anything jumps out at me. Be right back."
DeSoto shook his head tiredly and glanced over at his now-placid comrades, then returned his attention to the biophone. "So what do we do, Doc?"
"Well, given the approximate time frame you've provided, I'd guess that their euphoric period is entering the final phase. They should be getting hungry and sleepy before too long. I'd suggest ordering a few pizzas and getting them to take a nap after they've eaten."
"Sounds like my kids."
"Good analogy. Call me if you need help." DeSoto hung up the phone and regarded the other firemen. Cap was still sitting on the floor, swaying slightly to some inner beat as he cradled the remains of his hat in his lap. Stoker, Lopez and Kelly were sprawled out on the couch, happily mesmerized by the TV set. There was no way these guys could work in this condition; sighing to himself, DeSoto went over to the phone and called Dispatch.
He was startled by the anger in Sam Lanier's voice. "Damn it, Stoker, you call me one more time about a god-damned pizza…"
"Sam. It's Roy DeSoto."
"Roy? What the hell is going on out there?"
DeSoto smiled tiredly. "Long story. I need you to take 51off-duty for the rest of the shift, Sam. I'll explain why later."
"Okay." DeSoto could hear the dispatcher making some notes. "What about the squad?"
"Well, John and I are fine, but we can't leave the station."
"Roy, we're stretched kind of thin right now…"
DeSoto pondered the situation. "Let me get someone to come in and spell us. That'll free us up for calls."
"Sounds good," Lanier replied. "And I can't wait to hear this one, Roy."
"It's a doozy…" DeSoto hung up the phone, glanced over at his co-workers, then dialed a second number. "Pagnozzi's? This is 51. I'd like to order three large pizzas with the works…"
Stoker looked up, his eyes bleary. "Don't forget…they didn't deliver in thirty minutes so we get 'em free."
* * * * *
"I think I found something," Gage said as he returned to the dining area. He set the logbook on the table and pointed to an entry. "Twenty-year old girl passed out from heat exhaustion, among other things. I put an IV in her and rehydrated her. I think she was blonde."
Despite the situation, DeSoto had to smile. "You can't remember what a pretty patient looked like?"
"Hey, there was a lot going on," Gage said. "And a lot of that funny smoke, too. I like to floated home that night."
"So what's her name?"
Gage slid his finger across the page. "Let's see…here. 'Mary Jane Reefer'. Oh man…"
"Must have been quite a bit of that funny smoke."
"Oh, hush." Gage shut the book and sighed. "So what have you been doing?"
Roy tossed a large plastic bag his partner's way. "Here're the engine's keys from Stoker and Cap. And everyone's car keys while I was at it."
"How'd you manage that?"
"I gave 'em each a cookie." Just then the squad alarm went off; at the same moment Craig Brice came striding into the day room. He looked slightly startled at the rousing cheers his entrance generated from the stoned firefighters, then turned around as Gage and DeSoto shot past him toward the garage.
"Hey! What's going on?" he demanded.
"We'll explain later!" Roy hurriedly copied down the information coming over the speaker, while Gage tossed a plastic bag into the squad before jumping in. "Just keep an eye on things 'til we get back, and don't let them out of your sight!" Brice opened his mouth to protest further, but the squad had already roared away. Sighing, he turned around to regard the happy crew of Station 51.
"Hi," he said uncertainly. For some reason the firemen found this utterly hilarious and all but fell on the floor laughing. Shaking his head, Brice headed over to the dining area and sat down, wondering what the hell was going on. The reel hoses were sitting outside in disarray, Captain Stanley's hat was a charred clump of tattered remains, Lopez and Kelly were sitting around in their underwear…
A container on the table caught his eye. Brice pulled it over and idly popped it open; the smell of freshly baked brownies wafted up. His stomach growled loudly, reminding him that due to DeSoto's frantic phone call, he'd skipped breakfast this morning. Well, one brownie surely couldn't hurt, and no one would miss it.
A bit chewy, he mused a moment later. Taste was different, too, but all in all it was pretty good…maybe he'd have another…
* * * * *
"How are they?" Morton asked as the weary paramedics stepped out of ER Room 3 with him. They'd just brought a sixteen-year-old girl who'd fallen off a balance beam and cracked her head but good. To make matters worse, she'd taken one look at Johnny, smiled dazedly and yelled "Cup check!" while grabbing a rather personal part of Gage's anatomy. John had insisted that Roy accompany her to Rampart.
"Last we saw, happy as clams," Roy said as he headed for the nurses' station and a much-needed cup of coffee. "We turned on the TV and…" he snapped his fingers "…everything got quiet just like that."
"Hash is like that," Morton nodded. "I've seen a lot of similar cases. The worst should be over, especially since you got rid of the rest of the brownies."
"The rest of the brownies…" Roy echoed. He turned toward Johnny, an uneasy expression on his face. "Did you toss the brownies in the dumpster?"
"No," Gage shook his head. "I didn't have time. I thought you were going to do it." His eyes widened. "Oh, man. Brice is there…he doesn't know…"
Roy headed for the nearest phone. "Brice wouldn't do that," he said, more as a prayer than a statement. "He wouldn't…" His fingers raced through the number for 51; he muttered "come on, come on" as the phone rang. A click made his heart jump. "Hello?" came a familiar, though somewhat lethargic voice.
"Mike?" Roy said as calmly as he could.
"Yeah, it's Roy."
"Pizzas came," Stoker said happily. In the background Roy could just make out an odd noise. "They were really good, too. Thanks for ordering them, Roy."
"No problem. Say, Mike…could you put Brice on?"
Stoker giggled. "Can't. He's in the middle of a set."
DeSoto winced. "A…set."
"Oh, yeah. Listen!" Stoker was obviously holding the phone out toward Brice; the noise was now unmistakable. DeSoto listened for a moment, then handed the phone to his partner.
"Oh, man," Gage breathed.
"My thoughts exactly," DeSoto nodded.
"What's going on?" Morton asked.
"No time to explain, Doc," DeSoto said as he hung up the phone. Gage was already running toward the E.R. exit. "We'll be in touch."
* * * * *
They made it back to 51 in record time. All but leaping out of the squad, Gage and DeSoto raced through the garage and burst into the day room. What greeted them froze them in their tracks.
Their comrades were seated around the dining table, cheering enthusiastically as Craig Brice shook and shimmied above them. A stirring spoon served as an impromptu microphone as he bellowed off key:
"You ain't nothin' but a
Just a cryin' all the time
You ain't nothin' but a hound dog
Cryin' all the time
Well, you ain't never killed a rabbit
And you ain't no friend of mine…"
DeSoto stared at the tableau, his jaw slowly falling open. "Oh, my God…" In response, Brice cut loose with a particularly suggestive wave of pelvic thrusts. "Oh, my God…" DeSoto repeated. He turned toward his partner, only to find Gage had retreated back into the garage. Unable to think of any better course of action for the moment, he followed suit.
He found his partner a moment later; Gage was digging purposefully through his locker. "What do you think?" DeSoto asked.
"Well, I think you'd better get in there and get those brownies, for starters," Gage said, his attention still focused on the contents of his locker.
"Uhhh….yeah. Good idea." DeSoto started toward the door, then turned around. "What are you doing?"
"Looking for something." Gage abruptly straightened up, his face beaming with triumph. "Found it!"
DeSoto took one look at what was in Gage's hand and shook his head. "No, Junior. You can't do it. I won't let you."
"Aw, c'mon, Roy. It's Brice."
"Even Brice doesn't deserve that."
"The hell he doesn't." Gage smiled evilly and shut his locker door. "Come on."
"So what happened then?" Dixie asked.
DeSoto sipped at his coffee. "Well, we got hold of the brownies and put 'em in the squad, then we called Bellingham and filled him in. He came down and took Brice here."
Gage grinned. "I talked to Morton. From the blood work, he figures Brice had to have eaten at least five of those brownies--on an empty stomach, no less. Must have hit him like a ton of bricks."
"Anyway," DeSoto continued, "we called the Chief and explained what happened. He took 51 off duty the rest of the shift, and we basically baby-sat everyone until the stuff wore off. We gave the brownies and the container to Crockett; he said he'd try to run it down, but it probably won't go anywhere unless the girl has priors."
"And McConikee's got a new policy in effect," Gage jumped in. "No food gifts are to be accepted from strangers from here on in."
"So, other than a lot of red faces and Cap's new headwear, all's well that ends well," DeSoto finished. He lifted the cup to his lips and took one last swig.
"Wait a minute," Dixie said. "You said Johnny got something from his locker. What was that all about?"
DeSoto rolled his eyes as Gage beamed proudly. "I found my camera," he declared.
"Oh, John," Dixie said disapprovingly. "That was low, even for you." She leaned forward, eyes bright. "Got the pictures back yet?"
In response Gage whipped out three pictures from his pocket. The first showed Brice in his glory, standing on top of the dining table in a classic "Young Elvis" pose. The second had Bellingham and DeSoto pulling the reluctant paramedic down from his impromptu stage. The last one was a shot of Bellingham half-pulling, half-dragging Brice to his car.
"Oh my God," Dixie breathed, trying hard to keep from laughing. "Poor Brice."
Gage took the pictures back and tucked them into his front pocket. "I'm gonna enter that last one in the next paramedic newsletter photo contest."
"You are?" Dixie asked.
"Yup. I've even got the caption." Gage's grin broadened. "'Elvis has left the building!'"