I've mentioned that I am a bit of a writer. I was sitting on my back porch and was sturck by an inspiration (No, it didn't hurt) to write a little something. Check it out and let me know what you think. I don't have a title for it, yet.
Metal tines clash against plates, spearing morsels of vegetables and fish as each occupant of the table consumes yet another meal. The table is beaten, worn down by years of abuse and daily gatherings. He sat quietly in his usual seat, taking in the surroundings and the innocuous conversation that enveloped the table. To his right sat the driver of the truck, a young woman with much talent and promise. Her stature small, but within her chest beat the heart of a true warrior. He grinned at nothing in particular, focusing his attention on his meal as the rest of the crew argued the merits of professional wrestling.
Twenty long years had seen him ascend from a hapless child to the leader of an engine company. It had been a tiring journey, filled with trials and triumphs. The old lieutenant was content; his career had thus far been successful. He had long since stopped counting the fresh new faces that beamed up at the solid metal frame of the fire truck. His mark had been made on many, his knowledge passed along like a solitary torch on a dark winter’s night.
His reflection was cut short, interrupted by the rude chatter of an ancient printer residing near the station door. Before he had set his fork down, the alarm tones rang out. The newest member of the company was already out the door, young and full of energy. And lacking much sense. The officer glanced at his driver, chuckling to himself as she shook her head at newbie’s helter-skelter pace. A booming voice rumbled through the small metal bay, announcing that some unfortunate soul was the victim of fire. The officer steadily removed his boots, dropping them on the floor beside the truck. His smooth actions seeing him dressed and ready to mount the truck before the newbie had even untangled his bunker coat from its hook inside the cab. A throaty roar filled the bay as a choking cloud of exhaust spread thickly from the underbelly of the beast. The lieutenant pulled himself into his seat, listening as his driver grumbled at the newest crew member for taking too long. A whoosh of air and the truck was rolling forward, ready to tackle this impending challenge. Round a corner and the officer could see rolling, thick smoke in the distance. His driver maintained her steady pace; she was patient and well trained. She would deliver the crew to the incident without endangering them. He radioed his observations to the other responding units; disappointment filled him as he heard them chattering foolishly over the radio at the news. Excitement had no place in an emergency, it caused injuries and mistakes.
Onward the truck rolled, stopping suddenly near a heavily smoking house. Years of experience screamed the dangers of this trap. The smoke was heavy, flames licking through the smoke as it forced its way past the open door. There would be no rescue for anyone caught in this hellacious trap; heat and smoke were vicious creatures, leaving no room for humans to survive. He walked patiently around the doomed residence, evaluating the surroundings and dangers. Nothing but time and copious amounts of water would quell this beast.
Dictating his plan into the radio, the officer called for more units. He knew that his driver had already found her water, for the unit had passed a hydrant a scant hundred feet away from the conflagration. As he rounded the corner, he could see his driver hurriedly snapping an immense hose to the side of the truck. Before him lay a rigid hose line, ready for action near the front door. Quickly, he queried a panicky woman standing nearby. Was anyone home, was it her home? The woman trembled, ever so excited by the events transpiring. No one had left the home, she was certain. But, she had already told that to the nice young man in the firefighter suit. The officer started, had the youngest member of his crew entered this death trap? The woman assured him that he had bravely walked right in the front door. Anxiety knotted itself in the pit of the officer’s stomach. He looked at his driver, who had herself realized that something was not right and had begun donning her full turnout gear. Sirens began piercing the air behind him as the officer read the enormous volume of rolling smoke issuing from the front door. Tightening his grip on his heavy axe, the officer yelled for his driver to call for help just before he ducked inside the door. Time was of the essence, and he had none to spare waiting for help. He had to rescue his crew member. The mere thought of losing any of his children tore wildly at his heart.
Boiling air slammed him to the floor, battering his entire body with its vicious claws. Thick, black smoke pushed past him at an alarming rate. He called out, praying that his muffled voice could reach his crew member’s ears in this maelstrom. His fingers brushed against a wall, a lifeline that might just guide him out of this inferno. He called again. Nothing, nothing but roaring filled his ears. The radio crackled crews panicky and searching for him. For an instant he ignored the distraction, had he heard a faint cry? Sliding on his belly, he forced his rebelling body towards the noise. Hopeful, he reached a room that offered some shelter. Exhaustion wrecked his body, his arms now so heavy that he could barely lift them. The heat was destroying his body; even the heavy gear could not protect him. He moved sluggishly, the straps from his air pack biting into his shoulders. The axe weighted down his arm even more; only years of training prevented him from abandoning the tool.
He pulled himself forward, inch by inch, all the while knowing that he had gotten himself into grave danger. Yet, he could not cease his efforts. Not before he found his crew member. Instinct forced him to move, drove him to not give up. Another inch, then another. He called again, this time knowing that his voice would not be heard. Still, he called out as the carpet around him began to smoke heavily. It was the end, he had failed. Wearily, the old lieutenant rested his helmeted head on his hands as the room erupted into flames.
Hours had passed. The truck sat mutely within the walls of the bay, still filthy from its previous chore. No one had the heart to wash its sooty panels. No one could bear walking out to see the empty pair of boots sitting on the floor next to the empty front seat.
The boots sat on the floor, left as testimony to a great warrior and a friend to many. Days turned to weeks, and visitors stopped by just to gaze on the mute tribute. None dared touch the memorial for fear of disturbing its resting ghost. The driver, so newly promoted, wept at the start of each day as she intoned a prayer. She asked for wisdom and strength. Still others remembered the lessons taught by a quiet man, and they spread their knowledge amongst their peers. One old, weary firefighter’s word spread through the community, its wisdom sprouting within young ears.
The hero was lost only in a physical way, but his lessons lived on. A life saved, a career begun, a young firefighter blooming into a professional. All was not lost, for the old firefighter had really touched the world.