"Marco, have you seen Mike?" Johnny asked over the telephone from work.
"No. I really should call him. I've just been covered up."
"He's not answering the phone or returning calls."
"Maybe Chet knows something. You were lucky to catch me when you did. I've got to run."
Johnny called Chet. He hadn't seen or heard from Mike, either.
"Have you talked with Hank lately?" Johnny asked, feeling weird at calling his former captain by his first name.
"The Stanleys are in Fresno visiting her people. I don't know when they'll be back, or how to get in touch with
them," said Chet. "I've gotta run."
Johnny hung up with a great sigh. Something was wrong; he could feel it. He found Roy at work.
"I'll see what I can do tomorrow," said his former partner.
The nagging feeling tugged at Johnny's gut for the rest of his shift. He would've gone over to Mike's with Roy
had it not been for their being shorthanded.
Roy was apprehensive as he approached Mike's house the next morning, and prayed he wouldn't be greeted by a stench.
Now that everybody had gone their different ways, they'd fallen out of touch with each other--perhaps to Mike's peril.
Roy knocked and called the man's name. The feeling of urgency was growing. After a few more knocks, he decided
to check the windows.
Peering through the parlor window, Roy thought he saw--through the sheer curtains--Mike on his right side on the floor,
his back to the window. Roy rapped on the window, but the man didn't move.
Fighting panic, Roy knew he had to break in. He retrieved his paramedic bag from the trunk of his car, then kicked
the door in.
"MIKE! ARE YOU OKAY?" he exclaimed as he ran around the corner. The man was red, and a stream of possible
ailments ran through Roy's mind. He turned Mike to his back and noticed he was hot. While checking his carotid
pulse--he had one--Roy could tell Mike was burning with a high fever. The lack of sweat was a bad sign--dehydration.
His hair was ungroomed, and it looked as if he hadn't shaved in a couple of days.
Roy also noticed the man's shirt was unbottoned halfway down. He wore jeans and loafers, and held Brin's
ring on a chain in his right hand. Upon inspection, Roy found redness and blisters on Mike's chest. He
checked the man's throat--white spots. Mike still hadn't cracked an eye to look at him, despite his constant
calling to him.
Roy ran to the den and called the fire department. Mike needed an IV in the worst sort of way. The blisters
on his chest puzzled Roy, but he had to trust his instincts--Scarlet Fever. Rare in adults. With Mike being so
depressed lately, his immune system was being suppressed. If the strep bacteria had migrated to his chest already, it
was in his bloodstream. Time was against them now; his heart was at great risk. Roy donned gloves and mask,
as the illness was highly contagious.
Roy took Mike's head in his hands and called his name while gently tapping his cheek. When that didn't succeed
in rousing him, Roy checked his eyes. They were bloodshot, but the pupils were equal and reactive. Apparently,
he hadn't hit his head when he landed on the floor. Roy could tell from the look in Mike's eyes that the man was waaaaay
deep down inside of there somewhere.
Roy set about placing Brin's ring on Mike's little finger; putting the chain around his wrist; then taping the items
to the man's finger and wrist.
When the paramedics and ambulance arrived, Roy warned them about wearing gloves and masks, then set about repairing the
front door. Sid from next door lent a hand. As Mike was being taken through the door on the gourney, he came around
long enough to give Roy the house key--and the alarm code, which was Brin's birthday.
After Mike was seen in the ER at The Pavilion, he requested a transfer to Rampart. Dr. Brackett said he could
be in the hospital up to a week or more, depending on how he responded to the antibiotic.
Roy phoned Johnny from Rampart. "Your Native American intuition working overtime on that one," he said.
"What was wrong?" asked Johnny.
"Strep that had gone into Scarlet Fever. I had to break into his house--saw him passed out on the floor."
Johnny whistled. "And him with a heart condition. He's gonna be one sick man. We've got to stay in
contact with him more after this. I'll tell the others."
"I've got to get home. JoAnn and I were supposed to be going to a parent-teacher conference this afternoon."
Dr. Brackett rounded the corner as Roy hung up the phone. "That was some slick detective work you two did," he
said. "Can we talk?"
"Maybe for a few minutes," said Roy. "I'm really needing to get home. I also wanted to stop in and see Mike
before I left."
"I'll be brief," said the physician. The two walked into his office.
"I'm more than a little concerned that Mike has been left alone so much," he started as he sat on his desk. "He's
going to be a very sick man for a few days, until we know if the antibiotics and fluid infusion work. With his fever
being so high, and for us not knowing how long it was that high, I'm having a difficult time with a prognosis right now."
Roy couldn't help but feel guilty. "We all got promoted . . . went our separate ways. Now everyone is taking
more specialized training for their new jobs. . ."
Dr. Brackett held up his hand. "I know. Believe me, the ER knows you and Johnny are no longer with us."
"Can I see Mike now?"
"Sure," said Dr. Brackett. "I'll take you there. He's in ICU."
"Because of his heart."
After a few stops in the ER hallway for Dr. Brackett to answer questions, they were finally in the ICU. Mike seemed
to be resting comfortably with the head of his bed halfway up; two IVs; and a nasal cannula for greater breathing ease.
He wasn't quite as red as when Roy found him.
Roy withdrew the man's house key from his pocket, and handed it to the attending nurse, who promised it would be well-cared
"Has he moved any?" Dr. Brackett asked the nurse as he pointed to Mike.
"He opened his eyes when they were moving him to this bed. Other than that, no," she said.
"Call me if he moves," said Dr. Brackett.
"Yes, Dr. Brackett."
If only they could have seen the tears rolling down Mike's cheeks when everyone turned their backs to him.
Mike halfway knew where he was and why, and couldn't remember when he had felt any worse physically. If there was
ever a time when he could've cared less about life, it was now. The last thing he could recall before ending up in the
ER was his screaming, crying, and beating the bed after Mundelein had left. Mike had cried himself to sleep, then woke
up feeling drained. He knew something was wrong when he saw the fever haze in his vision.
So they found him in the parlor; he had no idea how he got there. He had seen Brin in what he thought
were dreams, telling him that help was coming and she was with him. He had to remove her ring because of whatever
had broken out on his chest. He could see that Roy had made sure the ring stayed with him; it barely
fit on his little finger. Thanks Roy; much obliged.
Let the angelic Brin explain it all to you. . .