Captain John Smith, who held the reputation for the fire department's worst grouse, opened the locker room door,
and held it open. "Lopez! Kelly! Roll call!" he said. He wore his white captain's hat.
The gleam in his eye gave both Marco and Chet the feeling he had somehow overheard them. They grimaced at each other.
A draft blowing in from under the apparatus floor door only made Captain Smith's presence all the more painful for the
crew as they lined up. Their anxiety over Captain Stanley was palpable. His replacement seemed to sense it.
"I will be working with you this shift," he started. "As you know, Captain Stanley's in the hospital with pneumonia.
We will get by there sometime, if we can."
The unspoken question on everyone's mind was, "When? When can we see Cap?" They craved visiting him
as if they were children. Had Captain Hammer not been available? Surely we can swing by Rampart sooner
rather than later, thought Stoker.
Captain Smith looked at Stoker quizzicly, then returned to his usual stoic expression. He rattled off the morning
duties, and dismissed everyone to their chores. The station's other shift members were in the kitchen, cooking
up a feast for the homeless--their yearly Christmas project. According to Captain Smith, after Johnny and Roy did their
equipment checks, they would help distribute toys at the hospital.
"Maybe we can see Cap then?" Johnny pondered to Roy as the former pulled out the oxygen tank.
"Only after we've seen the kids."
"True. If Cap's contaigous. . ."
"You got it, palie," said Roy as he opened the drug box.
Just thinking about visiting Cap was a relief from the dark cloud that followed them.
On both paramedics' minds were the unspoken questions of: What about the victims they would encounter during the shift?
Would Captain Smith try to block their treatment? He was no friend of the paramedic program, and nearly cost a young
boy his life when he objected to Roy injecting the victim with epinephrine to relieve an asthma attack.
Other paramedics had commented on his ill-will as well. Would the man ever change his mind?
"It'll be interesting to see how he acts today," said Johnny with a nod of his head toward the kitchen.