I'm not sure if people post fiction on here as I am brand new to the site, but this is something I posted on another site and I figure what the heck (and yeah, I know my punctuation is off)...
SQUAD 49/LADDER 60
Paul Flannery walked along the narrow street with his hands in his pockets, and his head down. He stopped just short of the three foot long crack in the pavement where the roots from the old oak tree had broken through the sidewalk when he was a kid. He didn’t have to look up to know where he was, but he did anyway.
The ancient cathedral, with it’s weathered spires piercing the early evening sky, always made him feel small for some reason. He heaved a sigh and climbed the steps.
He made his way inside and took a seat inside the nearest confessional. As he sat down, the cover of the small screen slid open.
“ Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been…uh…I guess a couple of weeks since my last confession.”
“ Bull. It’s been a month and you know, it son.”, replied a gruff brogue.
“ Sorry Father.”, Paul sighed.
“ Just don’t want ya startin’ off on the wrong foot, now. Continue, my son.”
Paul sat there, hands folded, unsure of what to say.
Father Daniel waited for him to speak, but when the silence continued, he spoke up.
“ Let me hazard a guess as to why you’re here. Did ya almost burn yer ass again in a fire, Paulie? Because it seems to me, that the only time that you ever darken the door of this church is when ya come face to face with yer own mortality.”
“ Are priests allowed to say ass, Father? “
“ Considering some of the things that other priests have done, I don’t think I’ll be excommunicated for swearin‘. Answer my question.”
“ Yes, Father.”, Paul sighed.” Last night. We had a bad one. There was this little girl…I got lost trying to find her. We eventually saved her and I made my way out, but…
I guess, I thought that I was going to die. I knew I was going to die and I wasn’t sure where I would go if I did.”
“ Where you would go? You mean, as in Heaven or Hell? “
“ Yeah, or Limbo. I mean, I’m not the best Catholic, Father. I eat meat on Fridays, I’ve had premarital sex, I swear, I drink. I’m sort of worried for my soul, here, Father.”
“ Do you believe in the Holy Mother, my son? “
“ Yes, Father.’
“ And the Lord, Jesus Christ? “
“ Of course, Father.”
“ You ain’t such a bad Catholic, Paulie. You rush into burnin’ buildings and risk your life for your fellow man. Yer doin’ the Lord’s work, I would say. I wouldn’t worry too much. Comin’ to mass a few more times beside Christmas and Easter might help, though. Do you have an actual sin to confess? “
“ Well, I guess the swearing and the drinking….and the sex, thing…”
“ Mmm hmmm.”
“ Should I just go with the standard amount of Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s that you usually give me? “
The old priest laughed.
“ What do ya need me for? Go in peace, my son.”
Paul stepped from the confessional as Father Daniel pulled back the curtain and stepped out into the aisle.
“ You know, Paul, we’re havin’ a fish fry tomorrow night. You should swing by, plenty of nice Irish girls for you to meet.”
Paul pulled open the heavy door.
“ Sorry, Father. I have to work tomorrow night.”
“ You know, I can verify that, if I want to.”
“ Okay.”, Paul sighed.” I’ll try to make it.”
The gray haired, red nosed priest winked as he followed Paul outside.
“ That’s a good boy. Have a safe tour, son.”
He watched as Paul descended the steps and crossed the street to the two story, red brick firehouse two doors down.
“ The Night Tour “
A red and white Seagrave pumper was parked halfway out onto the apron.
F.D.N.Y. was marked below one of the rig’s side window’s while SQUAD 49 was emblazoned in gold on the rear door.
Flannery walked through the open right apparatus door where Tower Ladder 60, a newer Seagrave, was parked.
Above the small housewatch cubicle was a large green banner with a picture of a maltese cross with a shamrock in the middle of it. Posted above it were the words:
Squad 49/Ladder 60, Bravest in Da Bronx.
A thin man with a receding red hairline leaned back in his swivel chair in the small office, tossing a baseball in the air.
“ What’s the word, Richie? “, asked Flannery sticking his head inside.
“ Hey, Lou.”, answered Rich McGowan, Squad 49’s chauffer.” Cap and Andy both tapped out, they got food poisoning from that Chinese place, so Fanelli’s workin’ a double and they detailed us some guy from Rescue 6 to take Andy‘s spot. Might be slow tonight. The guys from the day tour said they only had four runs all shift, truck and squad both.”
“ What’s for dinner? “
“ Irish pizza. Ya know, in honor of Fanelli workin’ with us tonight.”
“ Irish pizza.”, Flannery mumbled disdainfully as he headed towards the kitchen at the back of the station.
Irish pizza had become the firehouse’s trademark dish back in the early 90’s when the station’s crew was split evenly between Irish and Italian members. There was an argument one night over what to eat for dinner. McGowan, ever the resourceful chef, decide to create an “Irish pizza” to appease both factions. He baked up several pizzas topped with Italian sausage and fried potatoes, served with Irish soda bread on the side.
Most of the members had tired of the dish, but it was McGowan’s best and he continued to make it.
Flannery rounded the back of the ladder truck and headed into the kitchen where three of his men where seated at the table, laughing about something, while Captain Fanelli leaned forward, barely awake, with his chin resting in his palm.
A muscular guy with short brown hair stood next to the sink sipping a bottle of water.
“ Hiya, Lou. Tommy Warner, Rescue 6. I‘m the detail for your guy.”, he extended a hand.
“ Paul Flannery. Nice to meet ya.”, Flannery, shook his hand as he poured himself a cup of coffee.” What’d I miss, guys? “
“ Tell him.”, laughed Hector Ramos, a beefy Puerto Rican firefighter wearing a blue Squad 49 duty shirt.” Go on, Stewie, tell the Lieutenant your plan.”
Stew O’Brian, a young looking, freckle faced white guy shrugged.
“ I was just tellin’ the boys about a new angle I came up with when I’m you know, dealin’ with the ladies.”, he smiled slyly as he chewed his gum.
“ Do tell.”, Flannery sipped his coffee.
“ Well, I was at the club the other night and I got to thinkin’ how chicks are always playin’ hard to get, right? So I started playin’ hard to get. I just, ya know, sat there and tried not to act interested.”
“ Yeah, and how’d that work out for ya? “
“ Well…nothin’ yet, but I laid a good foundation.”
“ Boy, you got shot down like you always do.”, chuckled Maurice Johnson, a black firefighter and the squad’s forcible entry man.
“ Mojo’s right.”, said Flannery.” You always seem to have some scheme to reel in the chicks and they all end up fallin’ flat. Tellin’ ’em you’re a fireman isn’t enough? “
“ Hell, gets me chicks.”, said Johnson.
“ Me too.”, said Ramos.” Well, it’s how I got chicks before I got married.”
“ I get plenty of chicks, gentlemen.”, O’Brian protested.” I’m just thinkin’ of ways to boost my score a little.”
“ Boost this.”, Captain Fanelli yawned.” You strike out more than Bernie Williams. Maybe they thought you were gay.”
“ I could see that.”, Ramos said.” I mean you are kind of…ya know…”
“ What? “, asked O’Brian.” I’m a little what? “
Johnson leaned forward.
“ Look, you’re a little too into your appearance, bro. With the hand lotion and the fancy scrubs and shit. All that body spray…”
“ Don’t forget the manicures.”, Flannery added.
Ramos leaned back in his chair.
“ Maybe he’s one of them…metro-homos…”
“ The term is metrosexual.”, O’Brian folded his arms and narrowed his eyes at him.” I care about my appearance. What’s wrong with that? “
“ Oh, nothin’, Sweetness.”, the captain cooed, his hand still propped under his chin.” Hell, I’m plenty tolerant of you types. The department would be proud of me for embracing diversity, I would think.”
“ You guys are too much.”, Warner laughed.
The alert tones echoed through the old firehouse as well as three ringing bells.
“ SQUAD, LADDER.”, called an automated male voice from the loudspeaker.
McGowan‘s voice followed from the speaker above the door.
” Everybody goes! Box 3-5-2-8, Briggs avenue and east 203rd! ERS wit‘ a foreign language speaker! Truck and Squad, both first due! “
The firefighters pushed back from the table and jogged out onto the apparatus floor. The rest of the crew descended the brass poles and quickly donned their black helmets and turnout gear.
As Flannery pulled himself up into the officer’s seat on the squad, McGowan jogged across the driveway with the printout in his mouth, pulling on his turnout coat.
He climbed in behind the wheel and slammed his door.
“ Everybody on? “, he asked, starting the engine.
Ten seconds later, Squad 49’s siren was growling up to pitch as it roared down the narrow avenue. Ladder 60 rolled out of the station and fell in behind them, siren screaming.
Flannery tapped on the keyboard of the MDT for a few frustrating seconds before picking up the radio handset.
“ Squad 49 to the Bronx, K.”
“ SQUAD 4-9, K.”, the dispatcher replied.
“ Bronx, Squad 49, our MDT’s down again, any further info on this alarm? “
“ NO FURTHER INFORMATION TO REPORT, SQUAD 4-9.”
Johnson stuck his head out of the window as they turned the next corner and merged into traffic on the busy boulevard.
“ I don’t smell any smoke.”, he said, waving to several young boys who were running down the sidewalk, trying in vain to keep pace with the racing fire engine.
McGowan was forced to slow the engine to a crawl as a yellow cab pulled in front of the rig. Flannery stomped on the rig’s air horn pedal.
McGowan leaned out of his window and slapped his door.
“ Hey, what the hell? “, he shouted.
The driver threw up his hands as if to say “what?”.
“ Whattaya mean “what”?“, McGowan mocked.” Move that piece a shit right now before I drive over it! “
The cab slowly pulled to the right and the squad and ladder truck rumbled past.
“ Ah, you’re a master of diplomacy, Rich.”, Flannery joked, tilting back the brim of his helmet as he eased back in his seat.
“ Who says this is gonna be a bullshit run? “, Ramos called from the riding compartment, strapping on the harness of his breathing apparatus.
Johnson and Werner raised their hands as did McGowan as he steered the rig.
“ How ‘bout you, Lou? “, Ramos called above the siren.
Flannery peered back over his shoulder at O’Brian.
“ What do you say, Princess? “
“ Gonna catch a worker, Lou. I can feel it in my bones.”
“ Well, in that case, I agree with you guys. It’s gonna be a bullshit job.”
As they rounded the corner onto 203rd street, a Hispanic woman waved at them frantically from the street corner.
The two rigs cut their sirens as they stopped in the street.
“ Squad 49 to the Bronx.”, Flannery called into his mike as he hopped down from the cab of the squad.” We’re at East 203rd and Briggs, 10-20 the box. Nothin’ showin’, citizen flaggin’ us down.”
“ Por favor, ayuda, ayuda…”, the woman pleaded.
“ What’s the problem, ma’am? “, asked Captain Fanelli as he stepped up beside Flannery.
The woman continued to chatter in Spanish and point at the third floor of her apartment building as the two crews gathered around.
“ Que hay? “, asked Ramos, slipping off his helmet.
The woman answered him quickly, then turned and angrily shouted up at the window.
“ She said that her son locked her out and he’s refusing to open the door.”, Ramos replied.
“ Is her son having any medical problems? “, asked Flannery.
Ramos translated and she shook her head no.
Just then, a window above slid open and a shirtless young boy poked his head outside.
“ Hey son, did you lock your mother out of the apartment? “, Captain Fanelli called.
“ Well, what for? “
“ She wouldn’t let me watch wrestling.”
“ Don’t blame her.”, McGowan mumbled.” Shit’ll rot your brains.”
Fanelli scratched at his chubby chin.
“ So what’s the plan here? You’re just gonna keep your mom locked out? We can get a key from the super.”
“ No you can’t! “, the boy shouted back.” The super’s never around! “
“ Son, if we have to break down that door, your mother’s gonna beat your ass.”, Flannery called.
The boy disappeared momentarily.
“ Jose! Ven aqa!!! “, the woman shouted at the window.
“ All right, fellas, get the biggest axe we got! “, the captain called.
The boy reappeared at the window.
“ Okay, I’m sorry, Mom.”, the boy called.” I’ll open the door.”
“ Gracias. Gracias.”, said the woman, shaking hands with the firefighters.” Lo siento.”
“ Squad 49 to the Bronx. We’re gonna make this a 10-37. Everybody’s 10-8.”, Flannery called into his mike.
“ Why didn’t she just call the cops? “, asked Johnson, opening his door.
“ We call police…sometime…they no come.”, the woman explained.” Firemen always come. Always.”
Fanelli shrugged as he and his crew walked back to their truck.
“ She’s got a point.”
As Flannery and his crew climbed back onto the rig, the radio came to life.
“ ATTENTION, SQUAD 4-9, A PHONE ALARM, BOX 3-2-0-6 MORRIS PARK AVENUE AND VICTOR STREET. REPORT OF AN AUTO ACCIDENT WITH A POSSIBLE PIN. SQUAD 4-9, ACKNOWLEDGE.”
“ Squad 49, 10-4.”, Flannery answered as he slammed his door.
“ SQUAD 4-9. PD AND EMS BOTH NOTIFIED AND RESPONDING. TIME 1844, DISPATCHER 256.”
Captain Fanelli closed his door on Ladder 60 and watched as Squad 49 pulled into traffic, siren screaming.
“ What’s for dinner? “, he asked, slipping off his helmet.
Manny Delgado, the truck’s chauffeur pulled away from the curb.
“ Richie said he’s making Irish pizzas again.”
“ Jesus, Irish pizzas.”, Fanelli slipped off his helmet.” On the day tour, we get real food.”
“ SQUAD 49 “
Squad 49 weaved it’s way through the early evening traffic, siren screaming and air horn blaring.
They stopped in the intersection behind an NYPD patrol car. A green sedan sat up on the corner of the sidewalk with the driver’s side caved in. Further up the street, two police officers were questioning the driver of a damaged cement mixer.
“ The mixer ran a red.”, a lanky older police officer called as he jogged up to the engine.” Lady’s jammed in there pretty bad. She don‘t look good.”
“ Squad 4-9 to the Bronx, K.”, Flannery called as he hopped down from the rig’s officer seat.” We’re 10-84. Box 3-2-0-6, Morris Park and Victor, we got a confirmed pin, vehicle on the sidewalk. We’re puttin’ the Hurst tool to work.”
“ SQUAD 4-9, BRONX. 10-36 CODE-4, PUTTIN’ THE HURST TO WORK.”, the radio squawked.” BATTALION 5-6, DID YOU RECEIVE? “
“ BATTALION 5-6, 10-4.”
“ Richie, Mo, you guys grab the Jaws.”, Flannery said as he headed for the car.
O’Brian pulled the rig’s limited medical gear and jogged over. Flannery peered in through the driver’s side window to see a young woman with long blond hair leaning forward over the steering wheel, her face covered in blood.
“ Miss? Can you hear me? “, Flannery called.
“ Mmmmm…”, the woman moaned.
He slipped off his helmet and placed it on top of the car.
“ It’s okay. Don’t try to move. We’re gonna help you.”
O’Brian made his way around the front of the car and pulled open the passenger side door. He dropped his bag on the floor as he crawled in to examine the woman.
“ Can ya tell me your name, ma’am? “, he asked, gingerly pulling the hair away from her face.
“ Mmmmm….”, the woman moaned again.” Mmmmm….Molly…”
“ Okay, Molly. Can you tell me what happened? Do you remember anything? “
“ Truck…”, she whimpered, still in a stupor.” Big truck…”
O’Brian glanced over his shoulder at the backseat. There was an overturned laundry basket and a pile of clothes strewn across the seat and floorboard.
Then his heart began to race. He noticed an open coloring book and a spilled juice box on the backseat.
He reached between the two front seats and quickly thrust his hand into the pile of clothes. He felt a small warm body.
“ There’s a kid back here, Lou! “, he called.
Flannery quickly pulled on the rear door handle but the door refused to open.
Warner opened the rear door on the passenger side and crawled inside. He frantically tossed the laundry over his shoulder until he uncovered the body of a little blond girl about six years old.
He pulled off his heavy glove and felt for a carotid pulse.
“ No pulse, Lou! She ain‘t breathin‘! “
He carefully picked her up from the floorboard and carried her out. She was bleeding from her forehead. A crowd had formed on the sidewalk.
“ Oh my God! “, screamed a woman when she saw the big fireman emerge from the car cradling the small girl in his arms.
The electronic siren of the Battalion Chief’s red and white Suburban was silenced abruptly as it stopped in the street a few feet away.
Warner placed her on the sidewalk and quickly tossed off his helmet. He pinched the girl’s nose, formed a seal over her mouth with his own and puffed air into her lungs.
Flannery dropped to his knees and began chest compressions.
“ Come on, Honey. Ya gotta breath.”, Flannery said he pressed on her chest.” Your mommy needs ya.”
Chief Klein and his aide jogged over.
“ Battalion 5-6 to the Bronx.”, the BC called into his Handy-Talkie.” Tell EMS we need another bus forthwith. We have two patients, one is a kid.”
O’Brian slipped a C-collar around the driver’s neck, making sure not to move her head.
“ Sarah…the woman sobbed.” My baby…”
He looked through the rear window to see Warner and his Lieutenant still performing CPR on her daughter.
“ They’re taking care of Sarah right now. Let’s make sure you’re okay. All right, hon? Can you tell me what you remember? ”
“ This…truck…didn’t…didn’t stop…it hit us…”
Ramos knocked on the roof and gave O’Brian a thumbs up sign, letting him know they were ready with the Jaws of Life.
“ Molly? We’re going to have to use some equipment to get you out of here and it’s gonna be kinda loud. Okay, dear? “
O’Brian nodded to Ramos as Rescue 6 stopped in the intersection behind Squad 49‘s rig.
“ Go ahead, Mojo.”, Ramos said as he stepped back.
Johnson flipped down the visor on his helmet as McGowan fired up the generator. It growled loudly as Johnson wedged the blades of the Jaws between the door and smashed metal.
The blades began to slowly spread apart, causing the twisted metal to creak and groan.
“ Breathe, kid! “, Flannery called as he and Warner continued CPR on the little girl.
Warner puffed two more breaths into the little girl’s lungs.
An FDNY ambulance pulled up behind the chief’s unit. The medics pulled their gear and made their way over.
“ What’ve ya got? “, asked an older black medic as he stooped beside the Lieutenant.
“ No seatbelt, looks like she smashed her head against a side window or something.”, Flannery said, still pumping the girl’s chest.” My guy found her on the floorboard under a pile of clothes. Don’t know how long she’s been down. CPR’s been in progress about two minutes.”
His partner, a chubby white guy, patted Warner’s shoulder.
“ All right, we got it now.”
Warner shook his head and continued to breathe for the girl.
“ Buddy, come on. Let us in there.”, the medic protested.
“ Warner.”, Flannery called as he stood.” Let ‘im in.”
Warner sat back on his heels as the paramedics went to work. As they were about to place the mask of the ambu-bag over her face, the little girl coughed.
The two firefighters looked at each other and smiled in relief, the red and blue strobes reflecting on their faces.
A second ambulance arrived at the scene, arriving from the opposite direction, adding to the small traffic jam of emergency vehicles.
The street fell relatively quiet as the generator was silenced. The smashed driver’s door had been pried open with the Jaws.
Ramos and one of Rescue 6’s men tugged hard on the door, pulling it back towards them until it popped off of it’s hinges and they tossed it aside.
The two paramedics, Constance D’amico and her partner Joe Pulaski, hurried over carrying their gear.
D’amico placed her bags on the ground beside the car and leaned in through the opening.
“ All right, we can take it from here “, she said, placing the stethoscope in her ears.
“ Her name’s Molly…”, O’Brian started.
“ I said we got it.”, she replied, not making eye contact with him.” Why don’t you guys just go ahead and concentrate on getting my patient out of here? “
O’Brian took the med bag from the floorboard and climbed back out of the car.
“ She’s got some balls.”, he said disdainfully.
“ Yeah, I know. But watch how ya talk about my new partner, Stewie.”, Pulaski said as he stepped past him and ducked into the car.
“ Frickin’ ambulance drivers.”, O’Brian mumbled as he walked around the front of the car.
“ All right.”, Flannery called as he made his way back over.” Let’s tear the roof off this thing.”
A few minutes later, the sedan’s roof had been peeled back and several firefighters assisted the paramedics as they lifted the woman out of the car on a backboard.
They placed her on a gurney and Pulaski and two of Rescue 6’s men wheeled her to the waiting ambulance, ten feet away.
Flannery and his crew stood a few feet away from the car, gathering up their equipment.
D’amico picked up one of her bags and glared at O’Brian.
“ What? “, he asked, self consciously.
“ You’d better not call me an ambulance driver again, you caveman.”, she spat, slipping the bag over her shoulder.
“ Relax, sister. I was just bustin’ your balls like you were bustin’ mine.”
“ It’s bad enough you guys interfere with our patient care, but we don’t have to listen to that kind of crap.”
“ Interfere? “, McGowan shot back as he closed a compartment on the side of the squad.” If it wasn’t for this CFR bullshit and us “interfering”, you guys’d lose more people than ya do, since we beat ya’s in more than half the time.”
Flannery leaned against the ambulance, quietly taking in the scene with a half smirk on his face.
Ramos tucked his helmet under one arm and pulled off his gloves. He nodded towards D’amico as she stepped into the street.
“ Damn, that chick sure hates firemen.”
“ Get away from my bus, Paul.”, she said, not looking at him as she headed for the back of the ambulance.
“ Well, I don’t think she hates all firemen.”, said Johnson as he unsnapped his coat.” Just certain ones. Huh, Lou? “
Flannery scratched his head as he offered a sheepish grin.
Chief Klein stepped over as the ambulance pulled away, siren screaming. He was a stocky, good natured man of German descent, with bright blue eyes and closely cropped gray hair.
“ Was that Connie? “, he asked.” When’d she transfer back to the Bronx? “
“ Uh, got me, Chief.”, Flannery replied.” Well, we’re gonna take up, so…”
“ Man, she’s got an ass on her. I mean, If I wasn‘t married and I was twenty years younger. Hell, even if I was married. I mean…uh…no disrespect, Paulie.”
“ No problem, Chief. We haven’t been together for a while.”
Klein slipped his white helmet back on and pulled it lower over his eyes.
“ Yeah, well. See you boys at the next one.”, he said as he keyed the H.T. mike on his chest.” Battalion 5-6 to the Bronx. Box 3206. All units are in the process. 5-6 is 10-8. Ya got another run for us? “
Flannery turned to see his men staring at him with knowing smiles.
“ I bet that kitty’s got claws. Huh, L.t.? “, O’Brian smirked.
The rest of the men broke out laughing.
“ Why don’t we got to the store, huh? “, Flannery stifled a smile as he waved for them to get back on the rig.
“ LADDER 60 “
Ladder 60 rolled through traffic. It was a mild autumn night and they cruised with the windows down.
“ Anybody know what the difference between a yam and a sweet potato is? “, Captain Fanelli asked his crew.
“ I think they’re the same thing, Cap.”, Jerry Pike called from his seat in the riding compartment.
“ Not so, Jer, my good man. Not so.”, Fanelli replied.” Ya know how I found this out? “
“ How’s that? “
“ Because my better half sent me out last night to pick up some yams for dinner. I, who am in no way culinary inclined, brought home sweet potatoes thinking they were the same thing. My wife was not happy.”
The rookie of the crew, Brandon McCoy, leaned forward in his seat.
“ What happened, Cap? ‘
“ I said she was not happy, Probie. Weren’t you listening? “
“ Well, yeah, Cap. I was, but…”
“ She throw somethin’ at ya again? “, asked Marco Rossi, talking over the younger firefighter.
“ No. Not this time, thank the Good Lord.”, Fanelli replied.” My wife has an arm like Clemens and she don’t miss. A sweet potato would’ve hurt like hell.”
The radio squelched loudly in the cab.
“ ATTENTION, LADDER 60, RESPOND, EMS 9-1-1 ALARM. BOX 3-5-1-5, 1-2-8-5 VALENTINE AVENUE AND EAST 199 FOR A REPORTED PERSON TRAPPED. LADDER 60 ACKNOWLEDGE.”
Fanelli picked up the handset as Delgado hit the rig’s siren.
“ Ladder 60, 10-4.”, he replaced the handset and slipped on his helmet.
“ EMS 9-1-1 ALARM, Box 3515.”, the dispatcher replied as she repeated the important details.” BATTALION 5-6, YOU WILL HAVE LADDER 60, ENGINE 8-5 AND RESCUE 6 RESPONDING WITH YOU. 1902hrs. DISPATCHER 155.”
” Buckle up, gents.”, Fanelli called over the siren.” Senor Delgado’s drivin’. Hit any more forklifts lately, Manny? “
“ One time, and I never hear the end of it.”, Delgado sighed, pulling into the fire lane.
“ You boys ever seen the right fender of a fire truck opened like a tuna can? It’s an ugly sight.”
Delgado guided the tower-ladder around a coulumn of stopped cars and pulled to the curb in front of a Burger Boy restaurant.
An Indian man sporting a turban, tie and short sleeve dress shirt met the firefighters as they stepped down from the truck.
“ I am the one who is calling you.”, the man said as he led them across the patio in front of the fast food store.” I am manager.”
“ What seems to be the problem, sir? “, asked Fanelli.“ We received a report about a man who was trapped.”
“ Yes. The fat man, he is inside my window and I want him out.”
“ The fat man is in your winodw? “
“ Yes, yes! Look! “
They rounded the side of the building to see a large teenager about 300 lbs., leaning out of the window, looking extremely uncomfortable.
“ Ya all right there, kid? “, asked Fanelli as Battalion 56’s Suburban pulled into the side driveway.
“ I just leaned out to give this guy his change.”, the young clerk sighed.” And…I couldn’t get back inside. I got stuck. That’s when Mr. Sangwar called 9-1-1.”
“ Get him out of my window! “, the manager called.” This is very bad for my business! “
“ All right. Calm down there, chief. We’ll get ‘im out.”, said Fanelli as he motioned to his men.” Jerry, you and Dolan and Rossi go in there and see what it looks like from the other side. Manny, why don’t you go grab the aid kit to be safe.”
Chief Klein and his aide, a spectacled man named Bellhorn made their way along the line of stopped cars in the drive-thru lane.
“ Frankie, long time no see.”, the Chief said as he walked up.” Whattaya got? “
“ Kid leaned out too far and jammed himself in there, Chief.”, Fanelli replied.” How’s the wife? “
“ Aw, same old, same old. She‘s elevated nagging to an art form”, Klein sighed as he eyed McCoy.” So, Probie. How would you go about getting this gentleman out of his current predicament? “
“ Uh, well…”, McCoy stuttered.” I um…I would…”
Fanelli slipped off his helmet and motioned for him to move it along.
“ Come on, Probie. We can’t fire ya for comin’ up with the wrong answer.”
“ Well, not…yet.”, the Chief added.
“ Yeah. Not yet. So come on.”
“ Uh, well. I’d use a Halligan.”
“ A Halligan, Probie? “, asked the Chief.” And do what with it, exactly? “
McCoy stepped forward and shrugged.
“ I’d, ya know…bust out the glass and pry the frame loose ya know? And…and then, we could snap off the frame from around him.”
Fanelli stroked his chin.
“ What’s our most important job after saving lives, kid? “
“ Put…put out fires? “
Fanelli looked at the Chief and then back at the rookie.
“ Save property, son. Save lives, then property. So, before we go bustin’ up the side of this man’s fine eating establishment, what do ya say we try somethin’ with a little more finesse? “
“ Uh. Okay, Captain.”
Pete Dolan, the sixth man on the truck, peered through the glass above the young man.
“ Any luck, boys? “, Fanelli called.
“ Nope, Cap. He’s jammed in there pretty good.”, Dolan called back.
“ Oh man.”, the young man in the window moaned as he lowered his head.
“ Hang on there, son.”, said the chief.” It’s not as bad as all that.”
Engine 85 stopped in the street. As the firefighters crossed the patio, Rescue 6 stopped at the street corner.
An ambulance pulled into the driveway beside the chief’s unit. Soon, there were ten firefighters and two EMT’s standing in the Burger Boy drive through.
Fanelli felt bad for the victim, who was almost near tears at this point.
“ Oh man. Oh man.”, the boy said, his voice wavering.
“ Hey Dolan, they got any cooking oil in there? ”, Fanelli called.
He could see Dolan’s gloved hand holding up a large jug of vegetable oil.
“ Let’s give it a try.”
Dolan unscrewed the cap and began to pour the oil over the young man’s back and sides.
“ This feels gross.”, the boy said in disgust.
“ I know, son.”, the Chief replied.” Imagine you’re in Tahiti and uh…they’re hula girls rubbin’ suntan lotion on you.”
Kieran Boyle, Rescue 6’s captain, walked into the kitchen where Pike, Dolan and Rossi were standing.
“ Well, I don’t know what ya need us for.”, he said to his men.” How many firemen do we have here, exactly? “
“ Uh, in here? Nine, Cap.”, Rossi replied.
“ And uh, about ten out there.”, Pike added.
“ Well, all we need is some clowns and a lion and the circus would be complete.”, the captain mumbled.
“ Come on, Cap.”, Pike whispered back.” Think of the great P.R. this’ll give us. New York’s Bravest rescue frightened teen. I can see it now.”
Boyle smiled back insincerely.
“ Well, if that doesn’t stop ‘em from shuttin’ down firehouses, I don’t know what will.”
Dolan set down the jug. Oil was dripping from the young man’s back and running down the wall.
“ Go ahead and try to pull ‘im out! “, Fanelli called.
Pike and Rossi both gripped the young man’s shoulders and pulled backwards. At first, he was still unable to move. Fanelli and Delgado both pushed the teen’s shoulders from the other side.
Suddenly, he slid back through the window and landed on his backside.
“ Ya all right there, kid? “, asked Pike as he wiped an oil soaked glove against his turnout coat.
“ Yes. Yes, sir. Thank you.”, the boy said as they helped him to his feet.
“ Why don’t we take ya out to the EMT’s and let ‘em get a look at ya.”, said the rescue captain as he led the boy outside.
Dolan stared at the pool of cooking oil on the floor and rested his hands on his hips.
“ What happened to the good old days when all we handled was fires? “, he sighed.
“ Box 3542 ”
The aroma of baking pizzas wafted through the the apparatus floor of the old two story station.
Squad 49 sat in the left hand bay, with it’s second piece, the Hazmat van, parked behind it.
Ladder 60 was parked beside the engine in the right hand bay. The doors were open and a cool breeze drifted between the rigs.
McCoy stood just outside of the house watch, staring at an old photograph on the wall of the World Trade Center, overlooking the water with the sun shining between the two towers.
McGowan stepped down from the cubicle smoking a cigarette.
“ Pisses ya off, don’t it? “, he said, exhaling a cloud of smoke.” Does me, anyway.”
McCoy nodded, not taking his gaze from the picture.
“ 9/11. That’s why I wanted to become a fireman.”, the young firefighter said quietly.
“ Yeah? Joined up to be a hero, huh? “
“ No, Sir. My dad worked in the south tower. The Brothers got him out before they came down. I don’t care about being a hero. I owe those guys. I just wanted to carry on for them.”
They both stood there for a moment, quietly staring at the picture.
“ …asked me was I hired…wages I required…”, a voice sang from the street.
They stepped out onto the apron to see Father Daniel stumbling across the street from the cathedral.
” I was almost tired of the rocky road to Dublin…”
“ One two three four five! “, McGowan sang in unsion with him.
Fanelli had been sitting on the front bumper of the squad, smoking a cigar and Johnson and O’Brian were tossing a football back and forth in the street.
“ Father Daniel. Startin’ the weekend a little early, are we? “, asked McGowan.
“ Just wanted to come by annnnnd see how mmmyyy lads are doin’.”, the old priest slurred, swaying slightly as he sipped from a mug.
Fanelli stood up and strolled into the street, hands in his pockets, still puffing his cigar with an amused expression on his face.
“ Whattaya got in the mug, Father? “
Father Daniel drained the mug and turned it upside down.
“ Well…nothin’ now…”, he stared at Fanelli as if he had appeared from thin air.” Francis! Workin’ the night tour? My God. Why, I haven’t seen you since…”
“ The day tour, Father. I’m workin’ a double. Remember, you came by here this morning and chewed out Polish Johnny for testing the truck’s siren during your meeting with the cardinal? ”
“ Ah, yes. Cardinal wasn’t expecting that.”, the old man chuckled.” Almost soiled his knickers.”
“ I think we got a pot of coffee on.”, McGowan offered.” Ya wanna come on in and have a cup with us, Father? ”
“ Depends. Whattya boys havin’ for dinner? I smell somethin’ cookin’.“
“ Irish pizzas.”, Flannery said as he walked out between the two rigs.” We’re gonna have plenty.”
“ Eh. I belive I’ll pass, boy-o. But I thank ya for da offer.”
“ Why the hell does everybody turn their noses up at my pizzas? “, McGowan asked, flicking his cigarette to the ground.
“ Because, Rich. Those aren’t pizzas.”, Fanelli said, pointing at him with his cigar.” Those are an affront to God. Being of full Italian heritage, I feel comfortable saying that without fear of divine retribution.”
“ Now…”, the priest belched.” Don’t blaspheme, my son.”
“ Father, he puts potatoes, corned beef and sausage on the damn things. With no sauce! No gravy, whatsoever.“, Fanelli exclaimed.
“ Quit your bitchin‘! “, Johnson called as he fired a long spiral pass to O’Brian.” How do ya think I feel? When you gonna serve some soul food? Some collard greens? Hot links? Somethin’ like that? Ya know, black people food? “
“ Yeah, we gotta change the menu a little.”, said O’Brian, tossing the ball back down the street to him.
“ Ya know what? “, McGowan called as he walked back to the house watch.” If ya don’t likes my cookin’, then why don’t one of you do it? “
Father Daniel placed a hand against the brick wall of the firehouse to steady himself.
“ So, Francis, me boy. What are we gonna do about our young…Lieu…
Lieutenant…over here? How old are ya now, lad? “
“ 32, Father.”, Flannery replied, folding his arms as he braced for what he knew was coming next.
“ My God. 32 years old? Really? And the dear boy is still single. Can ya believe that, Francis? We…we must…do somethin’ to rec…rectify this, don’t you think? “
“ About that.”, Fanelli clenched the cigar in his teeth as he draped an arm around the younger officer.” Guess which certain lady paramedic has transferred back to our beloved borough? “
“ Who…who’s that? “, the priest hiccupped.
“ Constance D’amico. That’s right, Padre. The fine catholic girl that our little Paulie was so crazy for a few years ago. She’s back in our battalion. Why, when Paulie here saw her climb out of that bus, I bet his little face just lit up. Did it, Mojo? Did it light up? “
“ It did, Cap.”, Johnson called as he strolled over.” Like a Christmas tree.”
Flannery lowered his head. This wasn’t going to die anytime soon.
“ We’re just friends now. That’s all.”
“ Nonsenssss.”, slurred Father Daniel.” Connie was such a nice girl. Ya deserves a nice girl like dat, Paulie. Why…why did you twos ever break up in da first place? “
As Paul opened his mouth to speak, the two alert tones sounded along with the clanging bells.
“ SQUAD, LADDER “, the automated voice called followed by McGowan’s voice over the intercom.” EVERYBODY GOES! PHONE ALARM, BOX 3-5-4-2, 3-1-3-3 ROCHAMBEAU AND EAST 206 FOR A FIRE IN AN APARTMENT BUILDING. SQUAD AND LADDER BOTH FIRST DUE! “
“ See ya, Father.”, Flannery said as he jogged back inside followed by Johnson and O’Brian.
Fanelli led the priest over to the small bench outside of the station.
“ Have a seat, Father. We’ll be back in no time.”
“ Thank ya, boy-o.”, Father Daniel said, easing himself onto the bench.” I’ll say a prayer for ya’s.”
He watched as a few seconds later, the squad and truck turned into the narrow street, then roared around the corner, sirens screaming and air horns blaring.
“ We got 79 Engine rollin’ with us on this one.”, Flannery called over the squad’s screaming siren.” Keep an eye out, Richie.”
“ I always do, Lou.”, McGowan replied as he glared at the van in front of them that refused to pull to the right.” Move it asshole!!! “
In the cab of the ladder truck, Captain Fanelli looked over his shoulder as he buckled the straps of his breathing apparatus.
“ Remember Probie, you’re on the inside team with Me and Rossi. What’s your position? “
“ Irons, Captain.”, the rookie responded, pulling on his Nomex hood.
“ Good. Stick right with me, ya got that? “
As Squad 49 approached the next intersection, a cab whizzed past, forcing McGowan to brake suddenly.
“ Son of a bitch! “, Delgado shouted as he quickly stopped Ladder 60 just a few feet behind the engine’s tailboard.
The intersection cleared and they continued on.
“ Jesus, I gotta start packin’ clean underwear in my bunker gear.”, Fanelli sighed.
Thirty seconds later, they arrived in front of a six story apartment building on Rochambeau. Thick black smoke billowed into the night sky out of two fifth floor windows.
“ Squad 4-9 to the Bronx, K.”, Flannery called into the radio as they rolled to a stop.” Transmit the 10-75 at Box 3-5-4-2. We got heavy smoke from the fifth floor of a six story, occupied multiple dwelling. H-type apartment building 50 by 100. We‘re stretchin’ a line.”
“ 10-4, SQUAD 4-9.”, the dispatcher called.” BRONX ANNOUNCING A 10-75 FOR BOX 3-5-4-2, 3-1-3-3 ROCHAMBEAU AT EAST 206 FOR A FIRE IN AN APARTMENT BUILDING. SIX STORY, H-TYPE MULTIPLE OCCUPANCY DWELLING, 50 BY 100. SQUAD 4-9 STRETCHING A LINE. TIME 2004. DISPATCHER 150.”
As Fanelli and his crew climbed down from the truck, a young black woman’s face appeared through the billowing smoke.
“ Help us! “, she screamed.
“ Stay there! We’re coming to get you! “, Fanelli called up to her.
The woman disappeared, then returned a moment later, clutching a small child in her arms.
She held the baby at arm’s length, which was kicking and squirming fitfully.
“ Don’t! Don’t do it! We’re coming! “, Fanelli shouted.” Christ, Manny! Get the basket up there! “
As more smoke continued to boil from the window, the woman began to cough, forcing her to lose her tentative grip on the child. The baby slipped from her grasp and plummeted towards the sidewalk below.
McCoy dropped his helmet and rushed forward.
The baby landed in his arms. He clutched the child close to his chest as his momentum carried him forward and he slammed into the wall.
He stared down at the screaming child.
“ Probie! “, Rossi called as he hurried over.
“ I…I think she’s okay.”, McCoy said as he looked up at him.
“ Nice grab, kid.”, the older fireman said.” Now give the kid to that cop over there, we got more work to do.”
The woman swung a leg out of the window.
“ Goddamn it, lady! stay in there! “, Fanelli shouted angrily as the truck’s stabilizers were lowered to the street.
Flannery led O’Brian and Johnson into the building as frightened residents ran past them.
“ Well, here’s the worker you were talkin’ about, Stewie.”, Johnson said as he followed his Lieutenant up the stairs.
O’Brian nodded as he dragged the hose over his shoulder..
“ Told ya I felt it in my bones.”
Battalion 56’s Suburban rolled up onto the curb and Chief Klein and his aide quickly stepped out as Warner stretched a length of hose off the back of Squad 49.
Engine 79’s red lights flashed in the distance as they approached.
A few seconds later, Fanelli followed Flannery inside with McCoy and Rossi behind him.
“ Think the probie played football? “, Fanelli called over his shoulder.
“ How’s that, Cap? “, asked Rossi.
“ He’s got hands like Jerry Rice, this kid. Maybe we should sign you up for the team, McCoy.”
“ Actually.”, McCoy balanced the irons on his shoulder.” I did try out for the Jets before I took the test.”
When they reached the fourth floor landing where Flannery’s crew stopped to mask up and call for the hose line to be charged, the truck men paused to also slip on their masks.
“ All right, fellas. Here we go.”, Fanelli said through his mask as they climbed the stairs.
As they reached the fifth floor hall, they were met by a crackling wall of dark orange flames.
“ Ladder 60 to Battalion 5-6.”, Fanelli called into his radio, holding the mike to his mask.” We’re on our way up to the sixth floor to check for extension. We have heavy fire on the fifth floor. We’re unable to search the fifth floor or reach the fire apartment.”
“ Battalion 5-6 to Ladder 60, 10-4.”, Chief Klein’s voice crackled back.” Your boys are makin’ the grab right now through the window of the fire apartment.”
Outside, Delgado had raised the tower ladder and it was carefully being extended towards the open window with Pike and Dolan in the bucket.
“ I don’t wanna die! “, the woman screamed, still straddling the window sill.
“ You’re not gonna die! “, Dolan called as they drew closer.” Just hang on! “
“ I can’t breathe! “, the woman called as she momentarily disappeared in the smoke.
When she reappeared, they were only a foot below her perch.
“ Come on, step down into the basket, hon.”, Dolan said, reaching up for her.
The woman glanced at the street below, then tightened her grip on the window frame.
“ I’m scared! “, she cried.
“ Come on, miss…”, Pike reached out for her and she slapped at his hand.
“ No! I’ll fall! “
“ For Christ’s sake, lady! “, Dolan growled.” Grab her, Jerry! “
Pike wrapped his arms around the woman and Dolan pried her hands loose from the window frame. The woman continued to scream as they pulled her down into the basket.
She collapsed into their arms, sobbing.
“ Is there anyone else in your apartment? “, asked Dolan as they were lowered down to the street.
“ My…my husband…he’s still inside…”
“ 60-Bucket to 60-Truck.”, Dolan called into the mike on his chest.” The lady reports her husband is still inside the fire apartment.”
“ 60 Truck, 10-4.”, Fanelli answered as he and his men helped lead several residents down the sixth floor hallway.” Shit! There’s no way we can get in there.”
Flannery and Johnson reached the top of the fifth floor stairs humping the charged 2 ½” hoseline.
Johnson opened the nozzle and unleashed a stream at the flames, creating a cloud of hissing steam.
“ Marco, help the rest of these people down the back staircase, there.”, Fanelli said as he tugged on McCoy’s shoulder harness.” Probie, you come with me.”
They jogged back down the fifth floor hall to where Flannery and Johnson were crouched, pouring water on the fire.
The heat had grown in intensity within the last few seconds.
“ Did you hear that, Paulie? We got a person in the fire apartment! “, Fanelli shouted.
“ Yeah! “, Flannery shouted back.” But this fire’s a bitch! It ain’t layin’ down! You guys ain’t gettin’ in there! “
“ 60 Truck to 60-Bucket.”, Fanelli keyed his mike.” We can’t get to the fire apartment! You’re gonna have to make another grab through the window! “
Dolan and Pike handed the sobbing woman down from the basket to two of Engine 79’s men.
“ 60-Bucket, 10-4, Cap.”, Dolan called into the H.T.’s mike on his coat as he pushed Pike back into the basket.” Take us up, Manny! “
Delgado manipulated the controls and raised the tower ladder again, extending it back towards the fifth floor window.
“ Better mask up.”, Dolan said as he pushed back his helmet and slipped on his mask.
Pike elbowed him as he did the same.
“ Why do you always tell me what to do, Pete? “, he called as they approached the window.
Dolan reached out through the black smoke to feel where the window frame was and keyed the intercom on the basket.
“ Stop it right there, Manny! “
He unbuckled his safety harness and pulled himself up.
In the hallway, the heat had grown unbearable and was penetrating the firefighters’ turnout gear. There were loud popping and creaking sounds all around them.
“ Ah shit! It’s gonna flash! “, Flannery shouted.” Close the line! We’re gettin’ outta here! “
As Dolan set a boot down into the apartment there was an explosion. He tumbled inside as a fireball exploded over him through the window. Pike ducked in the basket as hot flames licked over him and debris sprayed against his helmet.
The firefighters in the street below ducked for cover as flaming debris rained down on them.
The firefighters in the hall were knocked backwards as flames filled the hallway.
Flannery stayed low, pressing his mask to the floor.
“ YOU GUYS ALL RIGHT? “, he shouted through his mask.
“ I’m good, Lou! “, Johnson called back.
“ Me too! “, Fanelli called, crawling along the floor.” Probie? Where are ya? “
“ McCoy! “, Flannery shouted.
Johnson swept a hand in front of him and felt a leg.
“ I got him! “
McCoy lay on his back, stunned. Trying to comprehend what had just happened.
“ You okay or what, kid? “, Johnson called.
“ Yeah. I’m good.”, McCoy replied as he rolled over onto his knees.
O’Brian climbed the stairs to the fifth floor, followed by Engine 79’s crew with a second hoseline.
“ Jesus, what happened? ”, he called.
“ She flashed on us! “, Fanelli called as the four men dragged themselves down the hall.
“ Ladder 60-Bucket, Battalion 5-6.”, Chief Klein called.” Come in! Do you read me? “
“ 60-Vent! “, Pike called back as he unclipped his harness.” I’m goin’ in, Chief! “
“ Battalion 5-6 to the Bronx, I got a fireman trapped in the fifth floor fire apartment! “, the B.C. called into his radio.” Get me an ETA on my Rescue and transmit a second alarm! “
“ Ladder 60 to Battalion 5-6.”, Fanelli called into his radio as they stumbled down the stairs.” Confirming I have a man trapped in the fire apartment? “
“ BATTALION 5-6 TO LADDER 60, 10-4.”, the chief’s voice called over their radios.” YOUR VENT MAN WENT IN TO GET ‘IM.”
“ Aw, Jesus, no! “, Fanelli exclaimed as he started back up the stairs.
Flannery grabbed him.
“ Ya can’t get back up there, Frank! They’ll get ‘em out! Come on, we gotta get outta here.”
Pike dropped down into the burning apartment from the window.
“ Pete! “, he called.” Dolan! “
He followed the piercing sound of Dolan’s PASS alarm.
“ Pete! “
“ Yeah…I’m okay.”, Dolan replied from somewhere in the darkness.
Pike dropped to his knees and searched through the blackness for his fellow firefighter. He swept his hand out in front of him and it seized on an arm.
“ I found the guy! “, he shouted as he dragged the man’s body back towards the window.
Dolan bumped into him and knocked him over.
“ Great! Let’s get the hell out of here! “
“ 60-Bucket to Battalion 5-6.”, Dolan called into his radio.“ We’re okay and we’re comin’ out with a 10-45.”
“ Battalion 5-6, 10-4.”, Chief Klein replied.
Fanelli and Johnson exited the building, followed by Flannery, McCoy and O’Brian.
D’amico and Pulaski hurried over from their ambulance with their gear.
“ We heard there was a fireman trapped.”, said D’amico urgently.” Are you guys hurt? “
Fanelli ripped off his mask and dropped his helmet as he expectantly watched the fifth floor window.
“ Not us. Up there.”
Pike stepped down into the basket. Then Dolan appeared and handed the lifeless body of a young Hispanic man down to him.
He climbed into the basket amid cheers from the crowd of onlookers below.
“ Oh thank you, Jesus.”, Fanelli gasped to himself.
The four firefighters looked at each other and laughed at their good fortune.
D’amico glanced up at Flannery as they went back to work.
“ How are you? “, she asked.
“ Couldn’t be better.”, he said as he turned and headed back towards the building.
She watched him leave, then turned her attention to the patient in Ladder 60‘s basket.
Squad 49 slowly backed into it’s spot on the apparatus floor. Flannery and his crew wearily climbed down from the rig as the air brakes hissed.
“ Hope my pizzas are still okay.”, McGowan said as he pressed the button to lower the apparatus door.
“ Richie, those things will never be okay.”, O’Brian said as he closed his door.
“ I got somethin’ for ya, Stewie.”, McGowan said as he reached into his pocket. He pulled his hand back out and gave O’Brian the finger.” Yeah, there it is. That’s what I was gonna give ya.”
The six men laughed as they ambled into the kitchen.
“ Any word on the husband? “, Johnson asked as he took a stack of plates down from the cabinet.
“ We just called. Doc’s say he’s critical, but he should be okay.”, Dolan replied, sipping a glass of soda.
McCoy sat at the table wearing a gold cardboard crown.
Flannery slipped the strap of his radio holster off and tossed it onto the counter.
“ What’s with the hat, Probie? “, he asked, taking a seat.
“ Oh, that’s his crown.”, Fanelli replied, biting into his pizza.
“ What’s that writing say? “, asked Warner.
Fanelli slapped McCoy’s shoulder.
“ Come on, Probie, what’s it say? “
“ It…it says Super Probie.”, McCoy quietly grinned.
“ That’s right.”, Fanelli said, wiping his mouth with a napkin.” He’s the Super Probie. Kid made it through a flashover without cryin’ or pissin’ himself. He rates at least a funny hat in my book.”
“ Well, I think if anybody gets an award, it’s old Jerry over there.”, said Ramos, picking up a slice of pizza.
Fanelli slapped the table.
“ That’s right. I almost forgot. Pikey did save Peter Dolan’s sorry behind, didn’t he? “
“ Sorry behind? “, asked Dolan taking mock exception.
Fanelli raised a hand.
“ I’m sorry. Lame ass. Is that better? “
“ Thank you, Frank.”, Dolan smiled.
“ Well, look who’s eatin’ my Irish pizzas.”, McGowan said, pinching Fanelli’s cheek.” Ain’t so bad, are they, Cap? “
“ Look, I’m hungry as hell. I’d eat my wife’s cookin’ at this point.”
McGowan made a plate to bring to Rossi who was now on house watch..
“ Admit it, you bums loves my cookin’! “, he called from the apparatus floor.
“ Well, I have had worse.”, said Warner.
“ Where? “, asked Delgado as he walked back into the kitchen.
“ Okay…maybe I haven’t had worse.”
Just as they began to relax, the high low tones sounded.
“ SQUAD, LADDER.”, the speaker called as three bells rang.
“ EVERYBODY GOES…“, Rossi began.
“ I knew it.”, Fanelli sighed as he tossed down his slice and pushed back from the table.
The firefighters quickly filed out of the room onto the apparatus floor.
Flannery shoved half a slice of pizza into his mouth before snatching up his radio and jogging after the others.
The next morning, the two crews got dressed and prepared to go their separate ways as the day tour officially began.
Flannery and Fanelli walked along Ladder 60 and through the apparatus door into the bright morning sunlight. The balmy night before had given way to a crisp morning.
Fanelli wore a Yankees cap and brown jacket. He tucked his hands into his pockets.
“ Damn. All of a sudden fall just seems to jump on ya, don’t it? “
Warner walked between the rigs wearing an overcoat.
“ Lou, Cap.”, he nodded.
“ How’d ya like workin’ with The Bravest in Da Bronx? “, asked Flannery.
“ It was…interesting.”, said Warner.” I won’t forget the Irish pizzas. I’ll have to tell the guys at Rescue 6 about them.”
“ That’s right, son.”, said Fanelli.” Spread the word. Warn everyone.”
Warner smiled as he shook their hands.
“ I’ll see you guys around.”
They watched as he headed down the street towards the elevated train station.
“ Ya know, somethin’, Paulie? ”, said Fanelli as he rolled back on his heels.” I had fun ridin’ with you guys. Great bunch of fellas ya got here. Even Richie.”
“ I heard that.”, McGowan said as he walked out of the station.
“ Ye hear Goosen got promoted? “, Flannery replied.“ Spot’s open on the ladder.”
“ Do tell? I’ll have to consider that.”
A tall, muscular woman sporting a bright red wig sauntered around the corner wearing a yellow top, pink hot pants and high heels.
“ Aw, Christ. He’s out early today.”, Flannery mumbled.
She stopped in front of the firehouse and smiled, flashing two gold front teeth. She had a square jaw and the slightest bit of stubble.
“ Hellloooo firemans.”, the woman called in a high pitched Puerto Rican accent.
“ Well, Inez! “, Fanelli called, not leaving his spot near the apparatus door.” If it isn’t the prettiest she-male hooker in all of the Bronx. How are you, dear? “
“ I ain’t no hooker, Frankie! “, Inez called back.” I’m a business woman. You better recognize papi, okay? “
Fanelli threw up his hands.
“ My mistake. What brings you out so early this morning? “
“ Gotta pick up my check and then I’m down for some shopping. I need some new pumps. Gotta get my ass over to Hunts Point after that.”
“ Isn’t that government check supposed to be for stuff you really need? “, asked Flannery.” You know, like food and rent and stuff? “
“ But I do need those shoes, papi. They a business expense, you know? “
“ Makes sense.”
“ Okay. I see you babies later, I gots to catch da bus.”
She tossed her hair with a flourish and trotted on down the block.
“ Yeesh.”, Fanelli said quietly.” Did his adam’s apple get bigger? “
“ Like a goiter.”
The front door to the cathedral across the street opened and Father Daniel stepped out. He waved at them, then pointed to the large banner above the door promoting that night’s fish fry.
“ Remember, Paulie! “, he shouted.” You’re comin’ tonight, aren’t ya? “
“ Wouldn’t miss it, Father! “, Flannery shouted back.
The priest smiled.
“ That’s a good lad! “, he called.
Fanelli elbowed him.
“ Yeah. Maybe you can bring Connie.”
“ Shut up.”, Flannery grinned.
The tones sounded followed by the ringing of the bells. They watched as the run was announced and the firefighters slid the poles.
“ Allright. I’ll see ya around, Paulie.”, said Fanelli as he turned and started up the sidewalk.
“ Yep. See ya.”, Flannery waved as he crossed the apron and headed in the opposite direction.
The rigs both started with a growl. Squad 49 rolled down the driveway and turned right, gaining speed as it’s siren wailed up to pitch.
Ladder 60’s air horn sounded twice before it’s siren started up and the rig chased after the pumper ahead of it.
The two rigs weaved their way through the morning traffic as a cloud of black smoke rose in the distance.
The firehouse’s red apparatus doors slowly rolled down behind them.
In gold script across the top of the doors read the words: Squad 49, Ladder 60. Bravest in Da Bronx.
(Author's note: This story could not have been what it is without the much appreciated help of James Raftery)