Thursday, March 13, 2008


We arrived back to the station to eat lunch. The bag of burritos was placed on the table, and the guys milled around the kitchen getting drinks. The firefighters took their usual places at the table, just like people do at home. The officer takes his position and the others follow like children. The senior firefighter turns on the television, appropriately selecting the noon news. Not wasting time they quickly began to shovel the food into bodies. Knowing that at a moments notice they can called away from their warm meal. The officer finished and dismissed himself from the table and began to clean the kitchen. Others had partially eaten their meals when the alarm sounded. A few extra bites were taken to ensure that their station was not due. The word structure fire and food was dropped, left behind in piles around the table. Shoes were kicked off their feet as they climbed into their gear. Encapsulating their bodies, not leaving any skin exposed to the elements they were about to endure.

As the ladder truck rolled through the community you could see the smoke rising in the distance. Cars pulling out of their way, for the exception of that one asshole that thinks his day is more important than the ladder truck. Sirens blaring like a small child when his toys are ruined. Air horns blasting, clearing a path to maneuver through. Vehicles begin to part, leaving them like the wake that a boat leaves behind. As the ladder truck rounds the corner the fire insight, smoke billowing. Smoke colors changing rapidly, pushing, chugging, blackened like a steam locomotive building speed.

As the firefighters depart the vehicle, smoke perforates their senses. They appeared like a team approaches the playing field. Sizing up their opponent, ready for the battle of their lives. Approaching the doorway, smoke lay on the floor. Hose leads the way and disappears like a road in to the fog. Before their masks are placed on their faces, they can taste the smoke as it burns their lungs. As if claws had just shred their throat and the blood trickles into their lungs. Masks are on now as they enter the building, listening and feeling their way to the fire. Heat intensifies the closer they get, pushing them down onto their bellies. Crawling beneath the devil, trying to escape his strong hold. Crackling is heard above them, the smoke begins to dissipate as they reach the seed of the fire. Engine company members use their hose, in comparison of the knight using his sword to slay the dragon. And then in the shadows of the orange glow is the silhouette of lifeless man and wife.

Hearts pounding in their chests, and a lumps in their throat. First the woman and then the man, they removed them as fast as they can. Through the smoke and to the lawn, exhausted they came to a rest. Medics rushed to their aid, firefighters pushed aside. Anguish on their faces, knowing the outcome of their sacrifices. Feeling empty, like a ball player missing the winning shot. Hearing sorrow, screams, and disappointment in the crowd that goatherd to watch the game. Knowing that they are the hero's that will get the blame.


  1. I think this is my favorite of all the things you have written so far. You are amazing and talented.

  2. I think you are a very brave man and Liz is a very brave woman. I'm humbled that I am able to read and understand a little of what you go through. I can so understand your need to write.