P.S.I. Part III -- Without Betsy . . .And Others

Chapter 5 -- The Fire Pole

Chapter 1 -- Stomping, Snorting Buck
Chapter 2 -- Pele or Meowzie?
Chapter 3 -- "High Tide"
Chapter 4 -- Three Phone Calls
Chapter 5 -- The Fire Pole
Chapter 6 -- "She's Got You Spoiled, Doesn't She?"
Chapter 7 -- Heartbreak Hotel
Chapter 8 -- Kentucky Christmas
Chapter 9 -- Betsy's Estate
Chapter 10 -- Alone With a Madwoman
Chapter 11 -- "Why, Ettie, why?"
Chapter 12 -- Three Starbursts
Chapter 13 -- Weep No More, My Lady
Chapter 14 -- 'Betsy's Revenge'
Chapter 15 -- The Geoff Papers
Chapter 16 -- The "Wedding Portrait"
Chapter 17 -- Silence Requested


The next day at work, during the morning equipment checks, Mike explained his crazy previous day to everyone.  They were stunned.
"If only we had known," said Johnny, then he checked the reception of the Biophone.
Mike absentmindedly handled some equipment in a drawer next to the pump panel.  Johnny pulled out the drug box.  Marco sat down in a jumpseat, facing Mike and Johnny.  "Even if we had known, there wasn't a lot Mike could've done about it, considering where we were at the time."
Mike shrugged.
"Those of us on the outside could've done something, though," said Johnny.  "We've got enough contacts. . ."
Mike replaced the items in his hands to the drawer; closed everything tight; and walked toward the locker room.
Marco and Johnny looked at each other and grimaced.  "Ooops," they both whispered.
Cap came around the back of the squad.  "Where's Stoker?"
"I think he went to the locker room," said Marco.

Cap found Mike at his locker.  The door was open, and at first, Cap thought his engineer was coming down with a cold.
"If you're germy, you don't need to be here," said Cap.
Mike closed his locker door, then wiped his face.  "Sorry."
"A quarter of a million people are depending on us, Mike, c'mon, what's wrong?"
"You've not heard about yesterday, have you?  Did you know about all of Betsy's trouble with that . . .thing. . .she had been engaged to?"
Cap looked as if the wind had been taken out of his sails.  "No, not until just recently.  Is there any way we can talk about this later?  It's too emotionally charged for work.  If you can't pull yourself together, I'll have to request another engineer."
"What about yourself?  Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," said Cap, waving him off.  "Just tired."

They had barely finished their equipment checks, roll call, coffee, and morning paper reading when the one call that would keep them occupied for the rest of the shift came in: a guns and ammunition store fire.
They were the first on-scene, and as Cap was doing his size-up, the side of the building exploded, sending him flying into a trash pile.  No sooner had Johnny and Roy escorted him to the other side of the squad than the whole building started exploding like a fireworks show.  Mike dove for cover on the other side of the engine with the others.  Keeping his head down, he wept as he remembered this particular incident in his dream.  Betsy was as gone as Brin was, but he wasn't the Captain, and he wasn't reaching for his gear.  Fortunately, Battalion 14 had arrived and had started barking orders after Cap had been injured, so Mike was off the hook until they were released from the incident.
Johnny managed to get a call in to Rampart to check on Cap before everyone left the next morning.    However, everyone had plans, and no one was able to actually visit him.  Mike didn't like the feeling he had, but there was nothing he could do about it.  He was afraid Cap would be feeling abandoned.

The phone was ringing when Mike walked in the door the next morning.  Betsy's mom.

"Would you be interested in a fire pole?" she asked.

What am I going to do with a fire pole? he nearly said, then remembered he was about to sign papers on a new house.

"Sure, why not?  It'll fit."

"I'm really sorry if I upset you the other day.  That wasn't my intention."

"That's okay.  Have you spoken with Cap, I mean, Hank?"

"Oh, no.  Is something going on at Hank's?"

"Something's going awry with his wife.  We're not sure what it is, but he was somewhat emotional yesterday morning at work, then he got hit by debris after an explosion.  He had to go to the hospital, and they kept him overnight for observation.  I'm not sure what happened after that because we were on overhaul."

"What on earth exploded?"

"A guns and ammo store.  Hate to cut this short, but my realtor's supposed to be getting in touch with me this morning."

"I'll call Hank.  Bye."

Meowzie was rubbing up against his legs.  "Hey, girl," he said.  "You must be hungry."  He kept kibble in a dish for her when he was at work, and fed her "wet" food when he was home.
A knock at the door.  The realtor.
"Is this a good time?" he asked.
"As good a time as any."
"You look exhausted," said Ham.
"We were out all day and night on an ammo store fire."
"I heard about it on the news.  Some fireman got injured."
"My captain."
"Oh, I hope he's okay."
"Cuts and bruises."

As the pair settled in at the kitchen table to make plans, the phone rang.  Cap.
"I really hate to impose, but my wife seems incapable of picking me up from the hospital, and, quite frankly, I'm scared to go home with the way she's acting."
Mike looked up at Ham.  "We can postpone this to some other hour or day," said the realtor.
"Cap needs me to pick him up from the hospital, and there's other issues at hand, also."
"Not a problem.  You just call me when you're available."
"Yeah, Cap, I'll be there in a few."
Mike fed Meowzie, then saw both himself and the realtor to the door.  Once back to the apartment, he offered Cap his own bed.  "It'll be more comfortable than the couch," said Mike.

Brin's back?