Author's note: The following fic' is a sequel to "Semi Conscious".
Because that KXLA traffic helicopter had managed to capture the whole horrific thing on film, Squad 51's runaway semi rescue received national attention.
One famous person had been particularly impressed by what he'd seen on his television's screen.
Hank Stanley stepped up beside John Gage's bunk.
The young fireman had gotten hurt that shift, and the doctors had relieved him of duty. In fact, due to the serious nature of his injury, the paramedic had been placed on extended medical leave.
The Captain stood there, silently studying his peacefully sleeping crewman. The poor guy had been groaning in pain half the night and Hank really hated the thought of having to wake him. If only it weren't headquarters that was calling. "John? JO-OHN!"
John heard his Captain calling his name and forced his bleary eyes open.
"I hate to disturb you. But headquarters is on the line."
"Headquarters?" Gage repeated and attempted to prop himself up on his elbows. His face immediately filled with a grimace and a few involuntary 'gasps' and 'groans' escaped from between his tightly clenched teeth. The paramedic's respiration rate gradually returned a bit nearer to normal and his pain-filled eyes eventually reopened. "Headquarters is calling me-e?"
His Captain nodded.
John looked even more confused. "Did they happen to mention what they want?"
"Nope. But it's a pretty safe bet that it has something to do with what happened yesterday afternoon."
Gage gritted his teeth once again, and then made another valiant attempt to raise the top half of his badly bruised torso up from his bunk. Once more, the hurting fireman failed to accomplish his mission. He collapsed back onto his bed and then locked gazes with his concerned Captain. "Could you talk to them for me, Cap?" he implored, sounding every bit as pitiful as he looked.
Hank rolled his eyes, but then obligingly crossed over to the dorm's reading desk and snatched up the extension. "Ye-es. This is Captain Hank Stanley. Fireman Gage is currently unable to come to the phone. However, he has given me permission to speak in his behalf." Stanley listened in stunned silence for a few seconds and then dazedly placed the palm of his left hand over the receiver's mouthpiece. "It's Chief Dalbert…from Public Relations. He wants to know…if you would be willing to appear on…The Tonight Show."
Johnny's sleepy pain-filled eyes suddenly snapped fully open. "The Tonight Show?"
"That's what the man said," Stanley assured him, sounding equally amazed.
It took awhile for Gage to gather his senses. "Just me?"
"Just him?…" his Captain queried. "Just you."
The fireman was tremendously disappointed to hear that. "Do I have to do it?"
"Does he have to appear?…The Public Relations people seem to think it's a wonderful opportunity to present the department in a positive light," Hank obligingly relayed. "But the final decision is yours."
The paramedic promptly heaved a painful sigh of relief. "In that case, I respectfully decline to…appear."
The Captain passed his crewman's reply on to an extremely disappointed Chief Dalbert. He then concluded his message relaying with headquarters and quickly left the room.
Gage slowly raised his left wrist up in front of his face and gave his watch a blurry glance.
It was only 07:15. His ride home wouldn't be leaving for another forty-five minutes yet.
Johnny snuggled up under his blanket and then tried very hard to slip back into blissful, pain-free slumber.
Less than five minutes later, the paramedic's boss reappeared by his side. "John? You've got another phone call, pal."
Gage groaned and forced his bleary eyes back open. "Cap, could you please just find out who it is, and then tell 'em I'll call 'em back later?"
Instead of complying, the Captain extended a helping hand to his hurting crewman. "I think you're gonna wanna take this one," he confidently predicted.
With a minimum amount of moaning—and the fire officer's kind assistance—the paramedic was finally able to remove his stiff, unbelievably sore self from his bunk.
He limped over to the dorm's extension phone and then rather slowly, and reluctantly, reached out to pick up its receiver. "Station 51. This is Fireman Gage…" Fireman Gage's sleepy eyes widened in surprise and his bottom jaw dropped open. "Johnny who-o?" he asked, when he'd finally recovered enough to be able to speak again.
The Captain grinned and then went strolling back out into the parking bay.
Hank was not surprised to find the rest of his crew waiting there for him in the garage.
"Do you think it really is 'Johnny Carson' on the line, Cap?" Chet Kelly wondered.
Stanley shrugged. "It sure sounds like him."
Several anxious minutes passed.
Finally, their friend came limping out of the dorm, dressed in his civies. "Cap, could I speak with you for a moment—in private?"
"Certainly," Stanley assured him.
Kelly watched wordlessly, as the two men disappeared into the Captain's office—and then closed the door on the rest of them. "Guess now that Gage is busy 'hobnobbing' with celebrities, he doesn't have time for us 'little people'."
The 'little people' were forced to grin.
Several moments went by and the firemen found themselves slowly gravitating toward their Captain's closed door.
Suddenly, the portal opened back up and Stanley stepped out into the garage. "Gentlemen, may I please have your attention…" Hank waited until the 'gentlemen' had all gathered around before continuing. "I have just been asked to make the following announcement. Anybody interested in being on TV, should report back to the Station by 13:00 hours this afternoon—in their dress uniform. It seems that Mr. Carson is sending The Tonight Show limo over, to pick us all up."
"Far out!" Chet Kelly exclaimed. "I've always wanted to ride in a limo."
"Hey," Marco Lopez's mustached face suddenly lit up, as well. "Think we'll get to meet some movie stars?"
Johnny remained a bit mystified by it all. "I still can't see why he wants us there so early. The dang show doesn't even start til almost midnight."
"The Tonight Show 'airs' around midnight," Mike Stoker informed him. "I read, somewhere, that the taping is actually done in the middle of the afternoon."
His paramedic friend remained somewhat puzzled. "Well, then shouldn't they call it 'The Today Show'?"
"There already is a 'Today Show'," Roy reminded him.
Johnny's right eyebrow arched. "Oh yeah? And when do they tape that? Around midnight?"
DeSoto completely ignored his sarcastic partner. "The Tonight Show! Can you believe it? I can't wait to tell Joanne! She loves Johnny Carson! Think I'll be able to get her his autograph?"
His partner looked appalled. "Ro-oy, I told you. That's not coo-ool." His face suddenly filled with even greater alarm. "And don't even think about pulling what you pulled the last time—with Vic Webster!"
"Say, thanks for reminding me," Roy said and gave his helpful friend a smug smile and a slap on the back.
"Ou-ouch!" Gage yelped in agony.
"I must admit," DeSoto thoughtfully continued. "That was pretty dang cool!"
"Cool for you, maybe," his still-grimacing buddy grumbled beneath his breath.