Stepmother

It wasn't a peaceful day at Rampart. It never is. Dan, T.J., and the other paramedics from the other stations were running back and forth with patients. There happened to be a pileup on the freeway and that turned out to be a mess.

"This isn't a good day today," Dr. Brackett said.

"And the nurse from the Academy will be coming in any minute," Dixie replied. "I'll warn you, Kel, she's young, but she's not a student nurse or a candy striper. Remember that."

"I will. I just hope she shows up soon."

"She will."

After things calmed down, a young woman, maybe about twenty-one, twenty-two years old, walked down the hallway carrying an armload of papers and a briefcase. She couldn't get any help with them, until Dan saw her and made a move. 

"Hi," he said. "I'm Dan."

"I'm Carole," the woman said. "Listen, can you take some of these papers?"

"Sure. Where are you heading for in a big hospital like this?"

"I'm looking for Dixie McCall. I'm the new nurse they've been expecting."

"Really? Uh, don't take this the wrong way, but how old are you?"

"Twenty-two. Why?"

"This'll be a shock to Dr. Brackett."

Dan led Carole to the nurse's station. Dixie was filing some papers.

"Hey, Dix," Dan said. "The new nurse is here. I've got to get back to the station. See you ladies later."

"Bye," Dixie said. Then she turned to Carole. "Carole Parkington?"

"That's me," Carole said. "Sorry I can't shake hands with you, Miss McCall, but my hands are kind of full."

"That's all right. You can put it down and I'll show you around. I had a look at your resume and references. I've got to admit, you had some pretty good ones. So, you studied at Stamford?"

"Yes, ma'am. For four years. I earned my medical degree there."

"Four years at Stamford. That definitely will impress Kel. Come on. I'll introduce you to Dr. Brackett."

Dixie led Carole out of the Nurse's Station and around Rampart. Then they ran into Dr. Brackett in the hallway.

"Kel," Dixie said. "Meet Carole. . . . ."

"I don't have time to deal with candy stripers, Dix," Dr. Brackett said. "I'm waiting for the new nurse."

"I'm the new nurse," Carole said.

Dr. Brackett looked at Carole and then to Dixie, with a look that said "is she kidding?"

"I know she's sort of young," Dixie said. "But she's studied at Stamford."

"For how many years?" Dr. Brackett asked.

"Four," Carole said, feeling a bit intimidated by the doctor.

"Four years at Stamford? When did you enroll? When you were thirteen?"

"No. Doctor, I know I'm only twenty-two, but I can be as good as Miss McCall."

"She's right, Kel," Dixie said. "Just give her a chance."

"Oh all right," Dr. Brackett said.

The next day, Carole was a mess. Every time she came across Dr. Brackett, she choked and didn't realize what she was doing. She accidently crashed the meal carts with the other carts and ran over an orderly with a cart piled with needles, scissors, and other sharp objects. Luckily, everybody had ducked when the collision happened.

"Uh oh," Lynn said. Just to be silly, she pushed the intercom button. "Attention Rampart Employees, clean up on aisle seven."

Dixie and a couple of nurses cracked up. Carole helped the orderly to his feet.

"I'm really sorry, Joe," she said. "I didn't mean to hit you with the cart!"

"S'all right," Joe said. Then he walked off. "MEDIC!" Apparently, a needle had hit him in the butt and that needle was full of novocaine. Joe shortly collapsed to the ground, practically dragging his lower body. Carole groaned. It didn't help matters when Dr. Brackett came with the cart full of the sharp objects.

"See if you can do this right," he said. "Take these up to room three six two."

"Yes, doctor," Carole said.

Carole took the cart and started wheeling it down the lobby. She didn't notice that Mike and his father, Warren, had just walked in and were directly in her path.

"I tell ya, the whole thing stinks!" Mike shouted, holding his left wrist in his hand. "Camille, Reggie, and Jerry are dangerous!"

"Mike, it's not their fault you aren't very coordinated when it comes to dancin'," Warren said. "Now, I think mainly it was your own fault you got your legs tangled up, tripped, and landed on your wrist! It's not my fault you've got long legs! Those aren't my part of the gene pool."

"Yes it is, Pop. All us male Nesmiths are tall. You can't deny the fact."

"Okay, okay. But it's still your own fault, you know. You're just not used to all the dancin', I guess."

"Pop, come on. Dancin's dangerous! And so are half of the choreographers! If my wrist is broken, I won't be held responsible for what I do for the demolition derby."

Carole was oblivious to the whole argument. She was looking down at the cart, making sure everything was on it. Mike and Warren were arguing at the tops of their lungs about who was to blame for Mike's injured wrist: Mike or the Demolition Derby (as Mike called Jerry, Camille, and Reggie). And those two were so engrossed with that, they didn't even see Carole coming. But Lynn saw the entire thing.

"Hey you guys! Look out!" she shouted, but it was too late. There was another collision, and another clean up at aisle seven. Not only did the needles go flying, but the cart bashed Mike directly on the wrist.

"AUGH!" he screamed.

"Honestly, Mike!" Warren shouted, cleaning out his ear. "Elvis doesn't need a wake up call!"

"Oooh, jeez, I'm sorry!" Carole shouted. "Really, I didn't see you two standing there!"

"Watch where you're goin'!" Mike snapped. "You could've killed us!"

"Mike, lay off," Warren said. "You go down to X-rays, and I'll meet you there."

"What the heck are you gonna do while I'm in X-rays?" Mike asked.

"Help the nurse clean up the mess, what else?"

"Pop, come on! She can clean up the mess herself!"

"Mike, don't make trouble. Just go down to X-rays and get your wrist fixed up and I'll meet you at the car."

Mike groaned and stormed off to find the X-rays. Carole started muttering under her breath.

"My first day on the job, and already I screwed up," she groaned.

"Happens to the best of us all," Warren said, putting a needle on the cart. "I'm really sorry for my son's behavior. He's twenty-three years of age, but sometimes I think he has the maturity of a toddler."

"The guy in the wool hat was your son?"

"Yep."

"Wow, I mean, you don't look old enough to be a father to someone who's twenty-three."

"I got married when I was young. Now I think I know why I divorced his mother. Eesh, sometimes Mike can be a real pain when he injures himself at a concert or rehearsal or somethin' or other."

Carole and Warren talked for a while. An entire hour went by. Both Mike and Dr. Brackett walked over to them.

"Carole," Dr. Brackett said. "What is taking you so long to get those needles to three six two?!"

"Sorry doctor!" Carole shouted. "I'll take them right away."

She was out of there. Mike was glaring at his father.

"She doesn't look much like the car to me, Pop," he said. "Does it generally take you an hour to help a clumsy nurse clean up a mess that she should clean up by herself?"

"Look, don't cop an attitude with me, young man," Warren said. "I know you get uptight when you hurt yourself, but that doesn't give ya a reason to back talk me or get sarcastic. I know you're old enough to take care of yourself, but I'm still your father."

"So what are ya gonna do? Ground me? Send me to bed without dinner? Pop, for Pete's sake, I only called you because Phyllis had the car and I had no way of gettin' down here! I wasn't gonna ride on Reggie's Harley with a broken wrist!"

"Is it really broken or just sprained?"

"Really broken. Can't do much with it. That ding-a-ling doctor just told me to keep it under wraps. What were you doin', anyway?"

"Talkin'. That's all. What's the big deal?"

"Well, I if I didn't know you better (which I don't, I'm sorry to say), I'd say you were about this close" Mike held his thumb and his index finger about half an inch apart. "To usin' a pick-up line. And it looked to me as if she was young enough to be your daughter."

"Don't push it, Mike. You've been watchin' too much TV."

The next day, Carole wasn't as klutzy as she was the day before. But she did get a little nervous whenever she was around Dr. Brackett.

"Looks like you've got a case of KelBrackophobia," Lynn said.

"What?" Carole asked.

"KelBrackophobia. It's the fear of Dr. Brackett. Even the best of us go through it. But don't worry. His bark's worse than his bite."

Carole giggled. Lynn had such a wacky sense of humor, you couldn't help but laugh. After awhile, Carole was working at the prescription desk with another nurse, Nikki. Carole was filing when Warren came up to the desk.

"Hi," he said.

"Hi," Carole said. "What are you doing here?"

"My son asked me to pick up his pain killers for his wrist. He was too busy to come by today."

"Oh sure. I'll get them right away. What's the last name again?"

"Nesmith."

"Okay. Nesmith . . . Nesmith . . . ah, here it is."

Nikki smiled sneakily as Carole pulled out the bottle of the pain killers from the drawer, and then dropped them.

"Oh jeez," she groaned. "I am so clumsy!"

"I guess you're just still a little nervous, this bein' your first week as a nurse," Warren said. "How much do I owe you?"

"Twenty-two fifty. How's your son's wrist doing?"

"Well, it hurts. That's what he needs the pain killers for. Or so he says. He's under a lot of stress and personally, I don't think he should be takin' the pills. I think he gets high on them."

"I see."

Carole nodded and then caught the name on the bottle. She immediately choked at the name she read.

"Michael Nesmith?" she said. "Your son is one of the Monkees?"

"Yep," Warren replied. "That he is."

"Oh my gosh, I love the Monkees! I didn't even realize it was Mike Nesmith when I crashed into him yesterday!"

"Calm down, Miss . . . uhh, I'm sorry. I don't think I ever caught your name."

"Carole Parkington. You can just call me Carole, Mr. Nesmith."

"Well, since we're on a first name basis, you can call me Warren. And please don't go nuts when Mike comes down to get the cast off his wrist. He hates that."

"I can understand that. I've read famous people value privacy."

"I guess I'd better go now. Should I call here if Mike needs to refill?"

"Sure. He can call, you can call, it doesn't matter."

"Okay. See ya, Carole."

"Bye, Warren."

Warren left with Mike's medicine. Nikki walked up to Carole.

"You like him, don't you?" she asked.

"No, I don't!" Carole shouted. "What makes you say that?"

"You were getting a little flustered when you handed him the pain killers."

"So what?"

"Honey, you were doing just fine until he came along!"

"Nikki, come on. The man is much too old for me, and he's probably married."

"You don't know much on Mike Nesmith's life don't you? His dad and his mom are divorced! And as far as I know, his dad is still single."

"Nikki, come on. He's much too old for me. He's twice my age, for heaven's sake!"

"So what? Carole, come on. I know you like him. You do find older men attractive. I say you should ask him out."

"I've already got a date later this week."

"With who?"

"Dan Jacobs."

Nikki nodded and she and Carole went back to work. Elsewhere . . . . .

"Did you pick up Mike's pain killers?" Phyllis asked.

"I did," Warren said. "Is he home yet?"

"He should be getting here in a few minutes. You know how the world of television is. Work, work, work."

"I can imagine."

Things got quiet. Phyllis took the pain killers into the kitchen and put them in the cabinet, along with Mike's stash of Advil, Aspirin, Tylenol, Aleeve, Bayer, Nitol (Mike had some problems getting to sleep in the night), Niquill Gel Caps, some prescription drugs he was on, and Phyllis's pills she used when it was that time of month.

"We've got so many pills in here I'm thinking of opening up my own pharmacy," she said. "And we've got more stuff in the bathroom."

"Hopefully Mike doesn't take all those often," Warren said.

"I don't think he does."

Mike walked into the house at that moment, growling and muttering curses. He immediately stormed into the kitchen and began ripping the cabinet apart.

"Looking for these?" Phyllis asked, holding up the pain killers.

"Grrr," Mike said, and he popped two in his mouth and swallowed.

"You're a regular pill popper," Warren said. "Keep that up, and you'll die when you're twenty-seven years old!"

"Grrr," Mike growled. Then he started talking normal English. "Did you see that nurse?"

"Actually, yes," Warren said. "She was workin' at the prescription desk and gave me your pain killers."

"What'd she do? Drop the pills when she gave 'em to ya?"

"Yes. She's new on the job, Mike. You can't expect her to be calm with somebody like Dr. Brackett barkin' at her."

"Eh, that doc's a real ding-a-ling. He simply can't lighten up. That's his main problem."

"I feel sorry for Carole."

"Who's Carole?"

"The nurse. She told me I could call her Carole."

"Did you say she could call you Mr. Nesmith?"

"No. I told her she could call me Warren."

"Pop, the woman is younger than you are. I mean, she's young enough to be your daughter!"

"That's enough, Mike. I don't want to hear any of your analysis on this subject."

Warren left the room. Mike shrugged and prepared to put another pain killer in his mouth.

"And don't take any more of those pain killers until four hours from now!" he called, directly from the next room, where Mike wasn't visible to him.

"How does he do that?" Mike asked, as he put the pills back into the bottle.

By Friday, Carole was doing much better at Rampart. She wasn't as nervous as she had been, and she wasn't intimidated by Dr. Brackett anymore. She and Dixie went down to the cafeteria for some coffee when they had a few moments.

"How was your date with Dan?" Dixie asked.

"Okay," Carole said. "Dan's nice enough but he really isn't my type. I don't think I'm not his type, either. It's strange, though."

"What?"

"I can't seem to get Warren out of my mind."

"Who's Warren?"

"Oh, uh, you've heard of the Monkees, right?"

"Yeah. They're four of Lynn's favorite patients."

"You know Mike Nesmith right?"

"Uh huh."

"Well, Warren is his father."

"You're kidding!"

"Yeah. Nikki thinks I like him. You know?"

"I do. Believe me I do."

"I'd ask him to dinner, but I think he's too old for me."

"Why should that matter, Carole? So the man's twice your age. What's the big deal?"

"Dix, I'm twenty-two and the man's in his forties! Doesn't it seem weird?"

"Come on, Carole. It doesn't matter to me. Things like this just . . . . happen. Why don't you call him?"

"I can't, Dix."

"For heaven's sake, why not?"

"I don't know his number."

Dixie laughed and she led Carole to the files and gave her Warren's number. She called him right away and invited him to her place for dinner. When Mike found out, he wasn't pleased.

"She's too young for you!" he shouted. He knew better than to say his father was too old for Carole.

"So what?" Warren asked. "Elvis was older than Priscilla."

"Only by ten years. You're more than twenty years older than that nurse!"

"Carole. Her name is Carole."

"Whatever."

"And besides, why should you care?"

"Well, what if she's just tryin' to take advantage of an older man who has a rich son? Maybe . . . . maybe she's plannin' to squander my entire fortune."

"Mike, Carole isn't that type of girl. She's a nurse, and a highly specialized one."

"Four years at Stamford sounds kinda fishy to me."

"I've had enough of your mouth. I'm gonna go out with Carole tonight. I don't need to ask for your approval."

Mike scoffed and stormed out of the house. Warren waited until Mike was out of sight before he got into his own car and headed for Carole's place. She lived in the suburbs of LA, in the same neighborhood as Jerry's girlfriend, Tamara. The house was only one story, but it looked like it had lots of room, as Carole lived alone. Warren thought that was a little odd, having a big house all to herself.

"Well," Carole said when he brought it up. "Apartments are just too small for me. I like to have space."

"You've got any pets?" Warren asked.

"No. With my busy schedule, who has time for a pet?"

"Not even a goldfish?"

"My parents don't like fish, my brother is a busier person than I am, my sister is allergic to animals, and my other sister hates everything having to do with nice, sweet, and innocent."

Warren cleared his throat. He didn't really want to hear about Carole's sister at that moment. Carole had prepared spaghetti for the two of them. She also made her own tomato sauce. She didn't use Ragu or Prego. She took some tomato paste and added garlic and other spices to it.

"This is better than Phyllis's spaghetti," Warren said.

"Who's Phyllis?" Carole asked.

"My daughter-in-law. Mike's wife. Don't tell her what I said about the spaghetti."

Carole laughed. A couple of weeks went by. Carole and Warren went out at least once a week. Friday, they were going to take Mike's cast off. Warren wanted to go with him.

"Why?" Mike asked.

"Well, because . . ." Warren said, trying to think of a good excuse. Mike cut him off.

"You wanna see the nurse again, don't you?" he asked.

"Mike, for the umpteenth time, her name is Carole."

"Don't you?"

"Okay, okay. Guilty. You've got me."

"Oh, Pop, for heaven's sake!"

"What? What's the matter?"

"What in the world do you see in her? She's got mousy brown hair, the ugliest green eyes I've ever seen in my life, and she's a klutz! Who could like that? Not to mention her mousy brown hair looks terrible when it's up!"

"It looks okay when it's down. Mike, please, I like Carole, and I'm going to continue to go out with her, whether or not I have your permission. Come on, don't you want me to date?"

"No!"

Mike left for Rampart without his father. Carole was hoping she'd see Warren around.

"He's not here," Mike said. "Just get this hunk of plaster off my arm so I can leave. I've got work to do today."

Carole walked over to the desk and paged Lynn. Then she led Mike into the room. Lynn was ready with the saw.

"Let the operation begin!" Lynn teased. "Don't worry Mike. I've removed lots of casts. I've never lost a limb yet."

"I trust you," Mike said. "But not that nurse."

"Carole?"

"Yeah. Her."

"Oh, come on. She's a nice girl."

"Girl is right. What does my dad see in her anyway?"

"Well, she's pretty."

"Pretty ugly."

"She has beautiful, thick chestnut hair."

"Ugly, stringy mouse brown hair."

"Sparkling emerald green eyes."

"Horrifyin' olive green eyes."

"Gee, to you, she's Miss America, isn't she Mike?"

Mike glared at Lynn. Lynn didn't take any notice. She just sliced the cast off of Mike's arm and he was set to go.

"I'm not worried, though," he said, as he left Rampart. "This relationship will never last. Never."

Mike was out of sight and out of earshot. Lynn just leaned by the desk and watched him go.

"Don't be so sure," she said.

Lynn walked down to the lobby. She just saw Mike's car pull out of the parking lot and out of sight. Dixie was behind the desk and saw the whole thing.

"What's with him?" she asked Lynn.

"Oh, Mr. Nesmith is just suffering from a classic case of Datingitis," Lynn said.

"What's Datingitis?"

"That's when your parent's dating someone and you resent it. I've seen it happen to a lot of kids from a broken marriage. I'm sure when Mike's mom got remarried, he resented it then, too."

"I'm sure."

"I feel sorry for Carole. You should have heard the things he said about her."

"What did he say?"

"He said she was ugly, had stringy, mousy hair, and horrifying olive green eyes."

Dixie shook her head. 

A few days went by. Warren would often drop by Mike's house with Carole, but he never said anything nice to them. Phyllis smacked him in the arm many nights.

"I think he resents this idea," she said.

"No kidding," Warren replied. "Oh well. He'll have to get over it. We're gonna come back here after our date tonight."

"Fine. I'll see if I can talk Mike into being nice to Carole."

"Harrumph!" Mike shouted, cutting in on the conversation he had been unable to ignore.

"And that's not gonna be easy!" Phyllis said.

Warren shrugged and left with Carole. A few hours later, they returned to Mike's house. However, they didn't come in right away. Mike wondered what was going on. He opened the door and nearly had a heart attack. Right there on the front porch, Warren and Carole were engaged in a lip wrestling match. That was enough for Mike. His eyes rolled back in their sockets and he fainted right there.

"Mike!" Warren shouted. Phyllis dashed down the stairs.

"What happened?" she asked.

"Mike just fainted," Carole said. "Help me get him over to the couch, you two."

Warren and Phyllis helped Carole get Mike to the couch. Carole picked up a magazine on the coffee table and began waving it back and forth in front of Mike's face. Phyllis darted into the kitchen and returned with the smelling salts. She waved them under Mike's nose. He coughed for a minute, and returned back to life, as it were.

"You okay?" Phyllis asked.

"No," Mike said. Then he glared at his father. "How could you do that?!"

"Do what?" Warren asked. "Mike, what did I do?"

"Well it wasn't mouth to mouth resuscitation, that's for sure!"

"Oh. The kiss. Mike, it's nothin'. Most people do kiss after a date."

"Not with a girl who's young enough to be the man's daughter!"

Mike shot to his feet and glared at his father and Carole.

"You're too old for her!" he continued. "You're tryin' to show her off like a trophy!"

"Hey, Mike, hold on," Phyllis said. "You're being too harsh."

"Phyllis, shut up!" Mike shouted.

"Don't talk to her like that, young man!" Warren shouted. "You're treadin' on thin ice, now."

"I'm not a little kid anymore, Pop," Mike said. "I don't have to do what you say!"

"Maybe this was a bad night," Carole said. "I don't want to cause a fight between you two."

"You just shut your trap, nurse!" Mike growled.

"Michael," Warren said, in a warning tone. "You're still treadin' on thin ice."

"I don't care! And I don't want you datin' her anymore! I don't like her!"

With that, Mike gave Carole a hard shove. She tripped over the coffee table and landed on the floor with a crash. Now, Warren was angry. He grabbed Mike's arm and squeezed it.

"Ladies," he said to Carole and Phyllis. "Would you mind leavin' the room? I need to discuss somethin' with my son."

"Sure, Warren," Phyllis said, as she helped Carole to her feet. "Would you like some coffee, Carole?"

"That would be fine," Carole said, fixing Mike with the Evil Eye as she and Phyllis went into the kitchen. Mike gave the Evil Eye right back at her. Warren let out an exasperated sighed, squeezing his son's arm.

"Ow, Pop!" Mike shouted. "Let go! You're pullin' too hard! This hurts!"

"Good!" Warren shouted. He finally loosened his grip. "Sit down."

"Fine." Mike sat down on the couch, and folded his arms across his chest. Warren continued to stand.

"I can't believe you did that," he said. "Carole hasn't done anythin' to you! Just because you don't like her doesn't give you the right to use brute force on her!"

"Who cares?" Mike asked. "She's too young for you! You're old enough to be her father!"

"Are you implyin' that I'm old?!"

"If the shoe fits."

"Michael, I swear! Sometimes I think you have the maturity of a three-year-old! Carole happens to be a nice woman!"

"Dad, she's not a woman! She's just a girl! A baby! Just a little girl and you're old enough to be her father! That nurse is nothin' but a little girl!"

"Robert Michael, that is enough! I don't care if you don't like her, I do, and I'm goin' to continue to see her! I don't have to get your permission to date!"

Mike clenched his fists, grinded his teeth, and swung. He hit his father in the eye as hard as he could, giving him a black eye. Right away, he wished he hadn't done that.

"Pop, I'm sorry!" he shouted. "I didn't mean that! Honest! I wouldn't even attempt it if I wasn't so ticked off!"

"Back off, Michael," Warren said, obviously not happy that his own son had given him a black eye. "Just back off. I can't believe you did that."

"But I didn't mean it!"

"I don't care whether you meant it or not. I'm goin' upstairs."

The girls happened to be standing in the doorway. They heard the commotion and wanted to see what was going on. Phyllis was glaring at Mike. Warren led Carole out to the car and took her home. Phyllis looked at Mike with a look that could freeze Hades.

"I can't believe you did that," she said.

"Phyllis, I didn't mean to," Mike said. "I'd never hit my own father like that. Even if he deserved it!"

Something told Phyllis that Mike wasn't really that sorry for punching his father. But she let it slide. Carole told Lynn and Dixie about the date the next morning.

"And Mike hit him," she said finishing up the story.

"Eesh," Lynn said. "If I were Warren, I'd disown Mike by now."

"I hope things cool off between them," Dixie said.

"Well, Mike did call Warren and apologized about the black eye," Carole said. "And Warren forgave him. But I could tell they're still tensions between them."

"Between Mike telling his own wife to shut up, pushing you over the coffee table, and giving his father a black eye, I could imagine some tensions!" Lynn said. "Boy, if he were my son, I'd give him a spanking that'll hurt 'till next Christmas!"

"Lynn," Dixie said, trying not to giggle. "You don't spank twenty-three-year-olds. You smack them upside the head."

"Whatever."

Carole managed to stifle a giggle. Lynn and the nurses got back to work. After that conversation, Carole remained in a bad mood. She went a little too far, once.

"Carole," Dr. Brackett said. "I need you to retrieve some anesthesia for me. I'm about to go into surgery."

"Get it yourself!" Carole snapped.

"Excuse me?!"

At that moment, Carole realized who she just snapped at. Immediately, her face turned beet red in embarrassment.

"I'm sorry, doctor!" she shouted. "I'm just a little angry from the results of my date last night. I didn't mean it! I'll get the anesthesia right away!"

Carole ran into the storage room and brought out the anesthesia. Dr. Brackett took it and glared at Carole. He shook his head and left. Carole had never been so embarrassed in all her life. A few weeks went by. The tensions between Mike and Warren eased. Mike still didn't like Carole and resenting his dad dating her, but he managed to keep his mouth shut. At least until one night. Warren dropped by Mike's house. He had big news.

"Mike," he said. "I have somethin' important to tell you."

"What, Pop?" Mike asked.

"Well, I know how you feel about Carole, and you know I feel differently."

"Yeah, yeah, you're a man in love, huh?"

"Uh, yeah. Exactly. Um, look, son, I don't know how to tell ya this but, uh, Carole and I are gonna get married."

Mike just looked at his father and burst out laughing. Phyllis gave her husband a confused look. Then she looked at Warren and shrugged.

"Ooh, that's a good one, boy!" Mike laughed. "Gettin' married! Ha ha! That's a good joke, Pop! Ha, ha, ha!"

"Uh, it's not a joke, Mike," Warren said. "Carole and I are gettin' married."

"You're serious?" Mike asked.

"Yep. On April twenty-seventh., you'll have a stepmom."

"Pop, you can't!"

"I think I can, Mike. I'm allowed to get married, you know."

"But . . . but . . . what'll people say?! They'll think she's a trophy wife or somethin'! What'll Mom think?"

"Come on, Mike. Don't you want me to get remarried?"

"Yeah. To Mom!"

With that, Mike ran up the stairs to his room and slammed the door. Phyllis jumped up and started to run after him, but Warren grabbed her arm.

"Leave him alone," he said. "He needs to cool off."

"Think he'll be all right?" Phyllis asked.

"After a few minutes of coolin' off, he'll be fine. Now tell me, what do you think of the idea?"

"I think it's great. You know it doesn't matter to me who you date or anything."

"Thanks. I'll see you later."

"Bye."

The next morning, Carole was found at the front desk, humming as she worked. Dixie walked in a few moments later, and immediately noticed Carole's hand.

"Don't tell me," she said with a smile. "You're engaged."

"Yes," Carole said. "Warren proposed to me last night!"

"That was fast," Lynn said, walking into the hallway. "It seemed like only yesterday you went out on your first date."

"That was months ago," Carole said.

"Oh well. Who cares. Let me see the ring! Let me see, let me see!"

Carole showed off her engagement ring to the girls. They were talking at once, asking when the wedding was, who was going to be the maid of honor, the bridesmaids, so on and so on. They didn't even notice Dan and T.J. walk in.

"Hey, Dix!" T.J. shouted finally. "You've got two impatient medics here!"

"Oh! Sorry!" Dixie shouted.

"We want to know how the heart attack victim's doing," Dan said.

"She's doing great, actually," Lynn said.

"What are you three talking about, anyway?" T.J. asked.

"Carole's getting married," Dixie said.

"Hey! Congratulations, Carole!" Dan said. "So, who's the lucky guy?"

"Warren Nesmith," Carole said. "You know, Mike's dad?"

"Wow," T.J. said. "How'd Mike take the news?"

"Warren told me he wasn't thrilled," Carole said.

"Let's see the ring," T.J. said. Carole stuck out here hand and Dan whistled.

"What a rock!" he shouted.

The others laughed and began talking at once again. Then Dr. Brackett came in.

"Okay, you guys, break it up," he said.

"We're getting back to work, Kel," Dixie said.

"By the way, doctor," Carole said. "Are you busy on April twenty-seventh?"

"It depends. What's going on?"

"I'm getting married."

"You are, huh?"

"Yep."

"Mike's dad?"

"Yeah."

"I'll see if I can clear my calender. I can't be positive I'll be there, but I'll give Lynn and Dix the day off for you."

"Thanks, doc."

Rampart returned to normal. That afternoon, after Carole got off work, she went over to Warren's place to make preparations. She noticed Mike was there, laying on the couch, glaring at the TV.

"Hi, Mike," she said.

"Grrrr," Mike growled.

Carole just ignored him and walked into the kitchen, where Warren was.

"He needs to work on his English," she said.

"He's been growlin' at everybody all day," Warren said. "Poor kid. He just can't accept this fact of life."

"Oh well. Let's get started on this."

"Okay. First of all, we need to decide on bridesmaids, a best man, so on and so on. I'm thinkin' of askin' Mike, but I highly doubt he'll do it."

"I already know Eileen is going to be one of my bridesmaids . . . ."

"Who's Eileen?"

"My sister. You'll meet my family sooner or later."

"You've met mine already. I've got a small one, that's for sure!"

"True."

The two of them discussed the wedding a little more. Mike wandered into the kitchen after awhile for one of two reasons. One, he was starving and wanted to fix up a snack, or two, he wanted to spy on his father. Apparently, he was spying on them. He walked in when they were discussing what song to play at the wedding.

"How 'bout I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone?" Mike suggested.

"Stay out of this," Warren said. Mike ignored him.

"I got a good one," Mike said. "It's an old Bobby Vee tune. It's called Come Back When You Grow Up!"

"I know someone who needs to grow up," Warren muttered. "Mike, please, we're busy. Go watch TV."

"It's much more fun puttin' down the nurse!"

"Mike, I'm about three seconds close to givin' you a knuckle sandwich if you don't get out of here!"

"All right, all right."

Mike left the room and turned the volume up on the TV. Warren rolled his eyes.

"I don't know why I bother with him," he said.

Carole shrugged. They finally decided on a song by Linda Ronstadt called "Long, Long Time." It was one of Carole's favorite songs. When Carole left, Warren went into the den and sat down on the couch.

"You okay?" he asked Mike.

"Yeah, why?" Mike asked.

"Well, you're normally not rude like you were to Carole earlier. What's the matter?"

"I don't want you to marry Carole."

"Why?"

"I just don't, okay?! I don't like her!"

"Why?"

"I just don't!"

Mike jumped up and left. Warren sighed. Mike wasn't making this easy. The next day, Carole invited Warren, Mike, and Phyllis over to her parent's house to meet the family.

"Now behave yourself, Mike," Warren said.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Mike grumbled.

Warren rang the doorbell, and Carole answered it, smiling away.

"Hi!" she shouted.

"Hi," Warren said. He and Carole exchanged a small kiss.

"Bleah," Mike muttered. Phyllis elbowed him hard in the ribs.

"Behave yourself, Mike," she said through clenched teeth.

Carole led them inside the door. Mike had a blank look on his face.

"Mom, Dad," she said. "This is my fiancé, Warren, his son, Mike, and Mike's wife, Phyllis. Guys, these are my parents, Joe and Patsy, and my siblings, Rick, Eileen, and Gina."

Mike took one look at Gina, and his face went to unreadable to completely shocked. Gina was scary. She was eighteen, and she had short chin length neon yellow hair with neon green streaks. She had at least fifteen piercings (including her nose, eyebrow, tongue, and belly button) and wore skimpy clothes.

"Eecchhh," Mike said, under his breath. Then he turned to Carole. "Your sister is scary."

"Ha," Carole whispered to him. "You haven't seen her bedroom. And don't go up there alone with her, or you might be sorry."

Mike knew what Carole meant. So, he stuck close by Warren and Phyllis. Carole's parents were nice, and so were Rick and Eileen. Gina basically staid in the chair and checking her nails over and over again.

"So, uh," Phyllis said. "Are any of you gonna, you know, bail out of the wedding?"

"Duhhhh," Gina said. "I hate weddings. They're so . . . . you know, goody two shoes. They're not wild enough for me. Yo, Nez, how 'bout you and me go upstairs and take a walk on the wild side."

"No," Mike said. "I'm gettin' outta here."

The others shrugged. Warren and Phyllis followed Mike out. After a couple of weeks, Warren told Mike that he wanted him to be the best man.

"I don't know, Pop," Mike said. "I mean, I don't like Carole, and you know that."

"Mike, please," Warren said. "I don't want to hear this again. If you don't want to do it, fine. I'll ask one of my other friends. I just thought you'd might like to be part of the wedding, that's all."

"Well, okay. I'll do it. If you really want me to, I'll do it."

"Thanks, Mike. You know this means a lot."

Mike nodded. Carole told Dixie about her plans while Mike had called his friends and invited them to the wedding.

Finally, it was the big day. Mike acted like he was going to a funeral. A friend of Reggie's, Kenny Donaldson, was taking pictures. He was, after all, a professional photographer. And since he was a friend of Reggie, and Reggie was a friend of Mike and Phyllis, he was working for a reduced amount that day.

Every time Kenny took a picture, Mike looked like he swallowed a lemon. Lynn noticed it right away.

"Gee, Mike," she said, sarcastically. "Please, try to contain all your excitement and happiness. I think you look a little too happy, you know?"

"Grrr," Mike growled. Kenny let out an exasperated sigh.

"Mike, come on," he said. "This is a wedding, not a funeral. Smile!"

"Grrr," Mike growled once again.

Kenny just sighed and took pictures. He got Mike, Dixie, Carole's sister Eileen, and some friends of Warren and relatives of Carole who were in the wedding together and took pictures. Mike, however, wouldn't lighten up. He kept glaring at the camera.

"Mike, come on!" Eileen shouted. "This is your father's wedding!"

"Yeah!" Lynn shouted.

"Smile for us, Mike," Dixie said. "Let's see those pearly whites of yours."

"Grrr," Mike growled.

"If he keeps that up, we might as well send him to live in the forest," Dixie said. The others laughed. Mike growled.

Finally, the whole thing got started. Carole's niece was the flower girl and she came down the aisle first. Then came Dixie, and Eileen. Warren, Mike, and a friend were already at the alter. Reggie was filming the entire thing with his camcorder.

"He looks like he sucked a lemon," Micky whispered.

"No kidding," Reggie said and the two of them giggled.

"Here Comes The Bride" blared from the speakers, and Carole and her father came down the aisle. Mike rolled his eyes and snarled. Warren was standing close enough to him at this point, so he kicked him in the shin.

"Ow!" Mike whispered loudly.

"Shh!" Warren hissed.

Mike sighed and pulled himself together.

"Dearly beloved," the minister said. "We are gathered here today to join this man and this woman blah, blah, blah."

No, the minister didn't really say that. It's what it sounded like to Mike. He didn't really want to be at the wedding, but he didn't want to make his father angrier with him.

"If anyone knows of any reason why these two shouldn't be wed," the minister continued after a few more blahs, "Let him speak now, or forever hold their peace."

"Yeah, I've got a rea--" Mike started. Before he could get any further, Warren kicked him again, harder than the first time.

"Oowwww!" Mike screeched.

"Shh!" Warren hissed. "Can't you behave yourself for once?!"

"I could if you stopped kickin' me!"

"Then stand still, keep your mouth shut, and behave!"

Mike saluted and froze. Reggie and Micky were stifling giggles.

"We ought to send this one to America's Funniest Home Videos," Micky said.

"Wait'll Jerry sees this!" Reggie laughed.

The wedding went on. We had your basic "do you --insert name here-- take --insert name here-- to be your lawful --insert husband or wife here-- for as long as you both shall live" and all that jazz. Mike behaved himself very well, at least until they got to the end of the wedding.

"I know pronounce you man and wife," the minister said. "You may now kiss the bride."

Warren and Carole kissed. Mike groaned, rather loudly, I might add.

"Oooh," he said. "Now it's official."

Warren managed to kick Mike in the shin (once again) without breaking away from the kiss. Micky found that hilarious. The reception wasn't so much.  Mike basically downed champagne every chance he could.

"Aren't you worried about liver damage?" Davy asked.

"Nope," Mike said. "I'm as healthy as a horse."

Davy rolled his eyes. Finally the entire wedding was over. Mike still wasn't happy about it, and he probably never would be. At least he didn't have to see Carole for a whole week. She and Warren were going to Palm Springs for their honeymoon. When they got back, however, Mike began complaining about Carole.

"She's too young for you!" he shouted to his father.

"You've mentioned that at least ten thousand times in the past few months," Warren said. "Mike, come on. Give her a good sportin' chance."

"No! I won't! I refuse!"

"Fine. Do what you want. I know you don't like her because you think she'll probably turn out like Bette's new husband."

That stopped Mike short. He turned around to face his father.

"How . . . . how do you know that?" he asked.

"I've talked to Bette about it, Mike," Warren said. "I know you don't like Robert Graham, and I don't blame you."

"Yeah. Mom has weird taste in mean. The ones she married are snakes in the grass."

"Watch it, buster."

"Sorry, Pop. But we've made peace. I've forgiven ya for walkin' out on us. However, Robert Graham is slime. Plain and simple."

"Carole isn't. Just get to know her, Mike. You'll see she's not all that bad."

"That doesn't change my mind, Dad. Sorry."

Mike stood up and left. Warren sighed. It would probably take some time. Maybe someday, Mike would get to like his stepmother.

Two weeks went by. Mike was driving along LA, trying to get to work on time. So was Carole, at the exact same time. Mike happened to look out the rearview mirror and see her behind him. He growled and pushed his foot down to the floor. He didn't want to be anywhere in the near viscinity of his stepmother. Carole groaned when she saw Mike pull away so fast, so she stepped on the gas as well.

"I'll make him like me if it's the last thing I do!" she shouted.

Mike noticed that Carole was catching up to him. So he pushed the gas pedal clear to the floor and he took off like a shot, failing to notice the red light coming up. Carole slammed on her brakes before she made it to the light. Mike turned around and saw that Carole had stopped.

"Ha!" he shouted. "You've got to get up pretty early in the mornin' to outsmart me, Nursie-baby."

Mike wouldn't have been so cocky if he realized he was about to run a red light. He made it to the intersection just as another car came zooming in. The driver was about to slam on his brakes, but it was a little too late for that. He collided with Mike's car with a loud CRASH! It shortly became a pile-up after that. Carole got out of the car and called Dan and T.J. They arrived about twenty minutes later and pulled everybody in the wreck out of it. Hardly anybody needed to go to Rampart, until they got to Mike.

"Wow," T.J. said, looking at him. "He's a mess."

"We'd better get him down to Rampart fast," Dan said.

"Put him in my car," Carole said. "I'll handle this."

"But Carole . . ." T.J. started.

"JUST DO IT, WILCOX!"

T.J. almost jumped a mile. This was the first time he had seen Carole blow her stack. He and Dan put Mike in the back of Carole's car and she sped off. She made it to Rampart in less than five minutes (and Dan and T.J. were surprised she didn't get a speeding ticket). She got out of her car, ran inside the hospital, and returned to her car with a gurney. She put Mike onto it and wheeled him inside for X-rays. Lynn and Dr. Brackett weren't around, so she had to do everything herself, even though it was against all regulations. She took about a dozen X-rays and realized Mike had a punctured lung.

"Looks like I'm gonna have to do emergency surgery," she said. "No problemo."

Carole prepared Mike for surgery that very minute. She had a feeling Dr. Brackett would have her head for this, but Mike's life was at stake, here! She threw on a scrub and went directly to the nearest operating room.

Carole got right to work. She didn't even use any assistants for this one! She did everything herself. It wasn't easy, but after awhile, she was finished. She rushed Mike into a room and relaxed, taking the surgeon's mask off.

"Whew!" she shouted. "I'm glad that's over with."

"What's over with?" Lynn asked, coming into the room. "Oh, were we in surgery?"

"Well, kinda."

"Dan and T.J. were just here and they asked Dix and me about Mike. Want to tell me what happened?"

"Sure. Mike and I were on the same road this morning, he tried to lose me, and he ended up in an accident with a punctured lung after I took the X-rays, so nobody was around and I fixed him up, and he should be fine now."

"Uh huh. Well, even though Kel's gonna have your head, good for you!"

"Thanks, I think."

Lynn giggled and she sat down next to Carole. Mike woke up after a little while, and he was utterly confused.

"What happened?" he asked.

"Long story," Carole said. "We'll tell you."

Carole went through the story again. Mike nodded and clicked his tongue against his teeth.

"So you're tellin' me you, a nurse, pulled off a surgery by yourself with nobody else in there?" he asked.

"Sort of," Carole said.

"Man, are you one crazy woman."

Lynn and Carole laughed. Dr. Brackett walked in at that moment.

"I heard what happened," he said. "For one thing, Carole, I'm disappointed."

"Disappointed?" Carole asked.

"Yes. This was basically a job for the doctors. You don't have any authority to perform surgery!"

"Now wait a minute," Mike said, sitting up. "That woman saved my life and you're gonna growl at her?"

"Why not?" Lynn asked. "You do all the time."

"That was different," Mike said. "That was then, this is now. You can't talk to my stepmother like that, Dr. Brackett! What if you were out there in my position? Think about it!"

"Mike, please," Dr. Brackett said. "I don't want to hear anything out of you."

"He's right, though, Kel," Lynn said. "Carole did save his life. If she had waited for authority, Mike surely would have died."

"Well," Dr. Brackett said, looking at Mike and then at Carole. "I guess I can give you some Brownie points for saving a life. Even if it is the likes of this guy."

Carole laughed and turned towards Mike.

"Still hate me, Mike?" she asked.

"Not anymore," Mike said. "Not after what you did for me."

Carole smiled and gave Mike a hug. Mike put his arms around Carole and did the same. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

The End