Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tony

Seen in Evanston at about 2:30 p.m. on November 20th, 2012

Tony was the first off the truck. He shielded his eyes with his right hand and looked up at the brick office building. He didn't see any flames. A chubby man ran up to him.

"I'm Max, the owner. Everybody's outside, I think. I guess it was a microwave on the third floor..."

Tony sighed. "Right. Thanks. I'll let them know." He turned back towards the firetrucks and approached Ethan, who was in the middle of pulling on his helmet. "Just a microwave, I guess."

Ethan grinned, which made his chiseled jawline seem even more chiseled. "No shit. I knew we didn't need five trucks." Tony didn't answer. "Well, I'd better go check it out. Hey Jacky-boy, you ready?"

Jack came out from behind the truck and walked towards them. He was carrying an axe. "I was born ready. Let's do this."

Jack and Ethan headed into the building. Tony watched them go while rubbing his sweaty, bald head. Jack and Ethan looked like firefighters--handsome, strong, trim, fearless. Sometimes Tony thought that's why people like them became firefighters, because they fit the stereotype. He imagined Ethan as a younger man, maybe twenty, smiling at himself in a mirror. "I was born ready," he might have said to himself. "I was born to save them. Flames could never burn a man like me. They will balk at my beauty."

Tony realized that Ethan probably never said this. Still, he couldn't help but think that some part of it was true. Jack and Ethan became firemen because they looked the part. Tony because a fireman because he wanted to save people. He wasn't particularly smart, and he wasn't particularly good looking. He figured that if he could help people, he'd feel better about himself.

Of course, most of the time he wasn't really helping people. Most of the time it was just like this--some dumbass put a fork in the microwave. Some punk kids made a prank telephone call. One time an old lady called because her cat was stuck in a tree. Literally. He thought that only happened on TV. Maybe that's why the old lady thought it was okay to call them. Fuckin' TV.

Tony hoped that he'd die on the job someday. It'd be a real fire, a bad one. They'd try to hold him back. "No, Tony! Don't be crazy!" But he would break free and run inside. They would see his silhouette in the flames, and then he'd be gone. Later they'd find his body, his charred lungs still filled with smoke. Maybe they'd just find his bones. Everyone would talk about how brave he was, even Jack and Ethan. Everyone would realize just how much he was worth.

Yeah, so my office building caught on fire yesterday. Like the story says, it was just a microwave. We all had to wait outside for 45 minutes while they cleared out the excess smoke, so my boss bought us coffee. Still, more excitement than we usually have at the office It's the only time I've heard fire alarms when it wasn't for a drill.

Tonight I'm going to see the always-fabulous JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound with Gena. Tomorrow I probably won't post due to the holiday. I hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving! 

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