P.S.I.--An "Emergency!" Story

Author's Notes

Home | Cast of Characters | Soundtrack | Chapter 1--"I Wanna Be With Her" | Chapter 2--As Mike Lay Dying | Chapter 3--The Three Clues | Chapter 4--A Bullet With Her Name On It | Chapter 5--"Beauty Doesn't Belong in the Ground!" | Chapter 6--Cassie Lou Remembers | Chapter 7--The Video, The Ad, and The Interview | Chapter 8 --The Perfect Wife for a Firefighter | Chapter 9--"Win It For Dixie!" | Chapter 10--Angel in Topboots | Chapter 11--"Don't Have a Stroke, Mike!" | Chapter 12--Waterloo | Chapter 13--Retail Murder | Chapter 14--The Mares | Chapter 15--Notes | Chapter 16--A Homecoming--Sort Of | Chapter 17--PSI Means What Again? | Epilogue | Author's Notes | Gemma's E! Vision in the Monastery | Guestbook

As P.S.I. began to unfold here, I thankfully started remembering the circumstances leading to its birth back in the late 1970s-early 1980s.

I mentioned on the homepage something about a high school buddy who was a fellow E! nut.  She would come over every day after school to watch E! ONE with me, and that's when I began to notice "movement" within my writing soul--the stirrings of a new plot.

E! had been taken off the prime time air, which in and of itself was depressing.  Then my thoroughbred trainer friend lost her barn, and moved to a remote area of the county.  We weren't able to keep up with my lessons, and therefore such was ended.  With two recreational outlets cut off, the creativity had to go somewhere.

I had spent most of my E! life either a Johnny or Roy fan (I believe I started with Roy).  I also had in my possession a newspaper magazine with Roy on the front, and the writer stated in the article that they had caught up with Kevin Tighe at the Kentucky Derby that year.  E! and the Derby became inseparable in my mind. 

While watching E! ONE, I had something rather unusual happen--my attention suddenly became fixated on the engineer.  As far as I had been concerned, he was how the engine got to the fire, and that was it.  The plot stirrings were becoming stronger, and I felt my pent up frustration at losing my race riding lessons merge with this new fixation on Stoker.  I was also having "double exposure" pictures appearing over the actual E! ONE programs on the TV screen.

I then saw the story on black background with white letters.  The only way this could be achieved at the time was by either expensive four-color separation printing, or White-Out/white paint on black construction paper.  Neither was an option.

However, a story was being born.  I realized that this new force within was prompting me to introduce something that E!'s writers seemed to not want to do--have one of 51's crew get married.   At first, I thought perhaps Gage would get a break, and this female character who was forming would actually become his wife.  "NO," said the Inner Voice, "She's for Stoker."  When I mentioned Gage possibly marrying to my mom, she said it would ruin the series.

I told my buddy about the inspirations, and we set about scheming.  I decided I would leave the "Johnny and Roy Camp" and go over to the "Stanley and Stoker Camp."   Those two character names started putting themselves together. 

So the Muse wanted marriage introduced to the show--other than Cap and Roy, that is.  We started writing on that theme.  Gage would seemingly prove himself totally insane by buying a racehorse, then do something almost unheard of at that time--put a female rider on the horse.  At this point in the story's history, the horse was a chestnut colt.
The Bee Gees' song "Tragedy" had been out for a couple of years, but at this time I started having writer's visions whenever the song came on the radio.  These visions broke so strongly on the mind's eye that I actually backed up and said, "WHOA!" This was the first of what I've dubbed the "Stoker Videos."   There were three such "videos;" the other two came from another Bee Gees' album, "Main Course"--"Country Lanes" and "Baby As You Turn Away."
Whenever I heard "Tragedy," I'd see our engineer almost going out of his mind with grief.  I couldn't figure it out at first--until I heard the gunshots toward the end of the song.  Ah, now we're getting somewhere.  More of the plot was revealing itself--Gage buys a racehorse and hires a girl jockey to ride it.  They also win the Triple Crown.  The girl was Cap's neice from KY.  She meets Stoker and they marry.  After three years of wedded bliss, she's shot off her horse in a race.  Who's the culprit?  A half-crazed guy jock who hires a hitman. 
I wasn't able to interpret the inspirations directly into English, but they were, essentially: "cut them and make them bleed."  "Why Stoker?" I asked.  "Why NOT Stoker?" came the reply.  I shut up and got back to work.  The Inner Voice began to speak again--Johnny and Roy were trite (overused); Stoker, Chet, and Marco needed more exposure.  Cap and Roy both had families which could be introduced.  We already knew about JoAnn DeSoto.

Universal Studios hadn't given me a whole lot to work with where Stoker was concerned.  (I can't work in these conditions)!  So, I figured that if I was going to pull this off, my Higher Power whom I call God would have to 'fill in the blanks,' so to say.  "Observation," said the Inner Voice.  "A lot can be learned about a person by the way they carry themselves.  Just keep an eye on him."
I also started asking other E! fans if they were in Stoker's camp, and come to find out, my buddy's little brother and my mom both were.  As my dad snoozed in his chair, mom said, "Oh, I like Stoker.  He's the cutest--and he's real."  My dad startled out of his nap. 
At about this time, the Louisville TV station which carried E! ONE canceled the same.  I took up the cudgels--and a petition--and visited the powers-that-be at the station.  They said that if more people had my attitude toward the show, they wouldn't have to bump it.  They did promise, however, that if the new show (something called "Every Day") didn't make it, they'd put E! ONE back on.  My friends at school and their friends and families supported my boycott of the new show; it bombed; and E! ONE returned--but not for very long.

Then my buddy's father died.  She was disconsolate and quit school.  Some of the darker parts of the story came from this time.   Then I shelved it until my junior year of college, when a new "soul sister" and I started work on it again.  When I changed majors from nursing to English, I pulled the story out and tried working with it.  The story refused to work with me, and therefore was shelved a few more years.

I could tell that trying to keep the story in its present form was not going to work much longer.  More scenes started coming in fragments, and most of the characters had changed names, including that of the girl jockey's firefighter husband.  However, it wasn't until 1997 or thereabouts that I received the title Murder by the 405 for what was becoming a murder mystery.
We were living in a certain apartment complex here in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina at the time.  I remember very distinctly awakening at 4:05am one morning, to find a shadowy entity standing next to the bed.  This entity identified itself as a male named Bob.  With the eyes of the soul, I could see he wore glasses and 1970s apparel.  Within, I could sense that he wanted me to make note of the time (stated above), and that I was to call this metamorphosis of the E! story Murder by the 405.  Such made sense, due to L.A. County Fire Station 127 being located by the 405 Freeway, and the racetrack is down the street from the station.   The setting for 405 would be the actual station used in E!
The victim--the fire captain's wife--would be a true ghost in 405.  Due to a "sin of omission," as we call it, which actually cost her her life, she is made to haunt the station.   In P.S.I., Brin is a saint.  Mike considers her an angel for obvious reasons.

My apologies if I've confused the reader.  My point in mentioning 405 is that I had to get most of the novel plotted out to be able to write P.S.I.  May not make a lot of sense, but for this writer, that's just the way it happened.  P.S.I. was still in skeleton form when I started writing it this year, and 405's information helped put the muscle, etc., on the body.
How did the horse get changed to a black filly?  I received a signed jockey card from retired rider Mary Russ, and she was shown on "Humbugaboo" in the winner's circle.  Okay, if the horse's owners could come up with such a name, so could I.  "Nellie Belle" and "Belle Starr" came to mind--hence "Nellie Belle Starr."  She simply sounded like a coal black filly with no speck of white anywhere on her.
I also didn't have the title for P.S.I. until the late 1990s.  I got the idea after reading another story with a similar title, but different occupation.  In 2004, I found the Stoker Yahoo fan list, and here I am  now, December 2005, finishing P.S.I.
Below, I have included some pertinent notes on the story which I think may add some color to the individual chapters.

     1             Mike's reaction was based on an extremely vivid dream I
                    had.  Although the "Wail Heard 'Round the World"
                    started with the engineer, he aged into the captain--
                    based on this photo from the '98 Convention
                    http://emergencyfans.com/con98/mikest.jpg and
                    combined with this clip from The Godfather III
                    Scroll down--it's the last one.  I saw this scene
                    from The Godfather III while hubby and I were
                    visiting a fire captain friend at his station in
                    Tennessee.  As this P.S.I. scene unfolded,
                    a perfect rendition of What Becomes of the
                    Brokenhearted was playing as background music.
                    When I say the dream was vivid, I mean just that.
                    I woke up the next morning feeling as if an
                    elephant had stepped on my chest.  I would've
                    posted this to the Stoker Yahoo fan list, but I
                    was in too much pain.

    2              I had no idea that Mike would sink so low.  With my
                    being a fan, it was heartrending to watch.
                    Cassie Lou is the name my mom wanted me to use
                    for the girl jockey.  However, writer's intuition told me
                    to hang on to the name.  Came in handy here.
    3              I was writing P.S.I. during the 2005 hurricane season,
                    hence the reason for the Posse members' names.
                    There really is a healer priest in the Oakland area.
                    However, he belongs to a religious order, and is not
                    a diocesan priest, as our character is.
    4              Our "FloJo with a badge" here is named for Peaches
                    Shorts, a little black girl from Birmingham, Alabama,
                    who never saw her 16th birthday--she was kidnapped
                    and murdered.  Her perp was never brought to justice.
    5               "George Welles" was a real criminal who perpetrated
                    a murder in broad daylight at my collegiate alma mater.
                    He shot fellow senior Opal Sturgill three times in the
                    chest in front of Lincoln Hall, the administration
                    building.  For whatever reason, he managed to escape
                    The Stanley residence does exist, but belongs to the
                    family of a high school classmate.  If visiting
                    Bardstown, and wanting to see the house, please
                    respect this family's privacy.  Thanks.
                    The funeral home referenced here is Mann-Greenwell
                    on South Third Street.  My buddy's father was buried
                    from there.
                    "Joe's Place" was actually Hurst's Restaurant, which
                    my family frequented on a regular basis.  The
                    restaurant has since moved to KY Hwy 49, and is
                    located next to the Sportsman's Club and down
                    the road from Heaven Hill Distillery.  The former
                    restaurant is now a shop called "The Pink Canary."
                    The tone "heard" here actually is the monitor tone for
                    the Bardstown Volunteer Fire Department.  I not only
                    knew dispatchers personally, but we also had a scanner
                    which I received for my birthday in 1978.  (The night
                    dispatcher once commented, "I have more listeners
                    than WBRT.")  I also met my first volunteer firefighter
                    boyfriend around the same time.  (He's the usher/EMT
                    who tends to Welles).
                    WBRT is our local radio station.
                    A bit of explanation is required for "cathedral."  The
                    church is presently known as "The Basilica of St.
                    Joseph Proto-Cathedral."  However, we locals always
                    called it either "St. Joe" or "the cathedral."  The church
                    has not been used as the latter since the late 1800s,
                    when the bishop's office was moved to Louisville
                    --hence the reference to the Archbishop of
                    Louisville.  In high-profile cases such as Brin's, the
                    archbishop would certainly attend and be the main
                    celebrant of the Mass of the Resurrection.
                    Welles' reaction came to me when hubby brought up
                    the live version of "Gasoline."  I felt Welles' speeding
                    heartbeat on the drummer's lead-in.  (See link
                    below at Chapter 13).
                    The first time I heard "Without You" was at my sister
                    and brother-in-law's apartment a few miles from
                    Churchill Downs.  This was around 1972, when the
                    song first came out.  What scared me the most about
                    listening to it were the pictures that kept popping
                    up on my mind's eye when the song was playing--I
                    kept seeing a dead female jockey.  Scary, to say the
                    least, especially for a nine year-old.  I had forgotten
                    about the song through the years, but was reminded of
                    "Without You" while writing this chapter; we were
                    driving by our local fire station 11 when the song came
                    on the radio.

     7             The video presented itself while I was listening to the
                    song in question.  The ad evolved from research we
                    did for one son's presentation.
                    The interview scene was supplemented by one from
                    what I've come to call "Promoted P.S.I."--where
                    Stoker is a captain.  I was having a lot of problems
                    with him being presented as one or the other while
                    writing P.S.I.  I was looking through the E! Fest
                    photos when I saw him wringing the daylights out of
                    some kind of cloth in this particular photo.  Mike was a
                    bundle of nerves, and sheriff's deputy Vince had been
                    promoted to detective.  I heard him say, "We'll find who
                    did it, Mike.  This is personal."
     8             One of the original chapters of the story.  Brin's
                    corvette is deep jade green metalflake.  Mike's classic
                    "Can we elope?" came from a scene from Little House
                    on the Prairie.  Mr. Olsen was about to go on a trip,
                    and his annoying wife asked if he would miss her.  He
                    mumbles under his breath, "Like a crutch."  She asks
                    what he said, and he says, "Very much."  This
                    particular scene kept repeating itself until I caught the
                    clue that I was to change it around for P.S.I.
    9              Another original chapter.
                    Brin probably hasn't had enough time to recover fully
                    from her injuries.  At least that's the impression I
                    I knew that Dixie hadn't died at this point in time in
                    the real series.  However, the story inserted her dying
                    here, so I had to work with it.  Johnny also needed a
                    lesson in equine psychology.  He was his filly's
                    favorite human, therefore, his emotions were going
                    to take a toll on Nellie.                   

   10              Yet another original chapter.
                    Some of what Brin tells Mike is based on my own
                    experiences with grief--drawn mainly from when hubby
                    was deployed to Iraq for Gulf War I.  We wives were
                    "mourning the living dead," so to say.
                    I, also, was blessed with the visitation of a deceased
                    friend.  Whenever she visits, she always comes in light
                    and brings consolation.  When she visited while I was
                    writing this chapter, she said, "He wouldn't be having
                    such a hard time if he'd just pray." 
                    I have to apologize to the reader for rewriting world
                    history.  I honestly thought I had seen November 18
                    as the date of the Jonestown Mass Suicide in Guyana.
                    I "wrote myself into a corner."  Again, my apologies.
   11              Joel Maher didn't exist until I heard the Bee Gees' song
                    "Massachusetts."   The name "Maher" came from a
                    t-shirt worn by hubby's best friend who had worked a
                    geological job with a firm by the same name.
                    The idea of exchanging notes through a textbook came
                    from personal experience.  I communicated with my
                    first volunteer firefighter boyfriend that way in the
                    early days of the relationship.
   12              Welles' reaction to the skeleton was developed during
                    my college years with my "soul sister."  The idea of the
                    spider "infestation" was from one of my sons' doctors'
                    offices around the same time the chapter was written
                    this year.
                    The chase scene was inspired by Enter the Haggis'
                    "Gasoline."   If the reader wishes, they may go to the
                    band's site,
                     Click the second (play) button on the grey box on the
                     Casualties of Retail picture.  The sequence was as
                     2:42     George runs. . .gets horse
                     2:49     jumps fence . . .Posse pursues
                     2:58     Cassie Lou pulls rope out
                     3:05     Gotcha!
                     3:13     V for Victory
                     The chapter was titled "Waterloo" for the ABBA song.
                     The song's lyrics were most appropriate.

  13                Chapter title derived from "Casualties of Retail," 
                     "Gasoline" always seemed to express the story's plot.
                     The melancholic melody of ABBA's "The Winner Takes
                     It All" is particularly fitting for the chapter's closing
  14                Mike's dream of the Tavern fire is accurate.
                     Another of the "Stoker Videos" is included in this
                     chapter.  From the time he leaves the farm to the
                     mare's "hug" came from the Bee Gee's "Country Lanes."
                     The monitor tone "heard" in this chapter belongs to
                     the Springfield Volunteer Fire Dept. in Washington
                     County.  As far as I know, there is no "Sedgwick

  15               Has to be one of my favorite chapters.  From Dixie's
                    message to Mike's flashback of meeting Brin, there's a
                    lot of information revealed.
  16               Welles' and Ramsey's deaths came to me on the waves
                    of Enter the Haggis' "Twirling Toward Freedom," which
                    is the fourth song on their website's sampler.
                    "But my program's on!" actually happened, and
                    somewhat modified for our purposes here.  I was
                    visiting a firefighter/dispatcher friend at work when the
                    call came in.
  17               The third "Stoker Video" is in this chapter.  Sid and
                    Suzie didn't exist until this writing.  "Main Course" was
                    one of the Bee Gees' best-selling albums.
Epilogue         Picking up where "The Greatest Rescues of Emergency!"
                    left off.  Please reference the "Vision" page on this site.