All in a Night’s Work
In slow motion, like a movie, the baby soars through the air. My body moves with agile stealth as I dive toward the target, capturing the crying infant before it hits the ground. I hand him to the medics and turn to my maiden in waiting. “I will catch you,” I say. “Jump!”
When the alarm sounds, I’m having a terrific dream about dating a curvy hot blond with full pouting lips. It figures, any time I’m able to have a decent dream, something has to interrupt it. But my job doesn’t allow for selfish indulgences like dreams–my job is usually filled with nightmares, but that’s the role of a firefighter, and I knew that when I signed up.
It’s three a.m. and the trucks are in high gear, heading across town to the high-end eastside. A typical house in these suburbs boasts a lawn the modest size of a football field with round-the-clock lawn maintenance. I can barely afford water for my grass, much less a personal botanist.
The house is mammoth and a good three stories. You’d think someone like Oprah might own it for a secret getaway. With lattice covering the bottom of the surrounding porch–real old school, I think it’s Victorian. But hey, I ain’t no architect. If I was, I would like to add this to my resume, though. It’s gorgeous, or at least it was.
As the engine draws near, fire blasts through two windows upstairs, one right after the other, raining glass and miscellaneous burning debris across the lawn. The lower portion of the house has flames dancing in every window. If there is anyone alive in there, they won’t live much longer.
The captain is hollering orders as we tumble from the truck, gathering the fire hose and extending it toward the house. The neighbors are rallying with concern, panic, and even curiosity sketched into their faces. The captain pushes them back, barricading them with his arms until we get the pylons set, roping off the dangerous territory.
“Oh my god, there they are,” a frantic woman says, pointing to one of the higher windows. “My baby, please get my baby!”
“Ma’am, we’ll get your baby, just remain calm,” I say with confidence in my voice. That’s when I see her, the bombshell from my dream, standing on top of the first story rooftop in a large nightshirt flapping in the wind and the torment of the heat. But I cannot allow myself to indulge in manly instincts at the moment; I am the only hope to save this pleading woman’s daughter.
Another burst of heat sends the only remaining window between the girl and the fire through the air. She’s screaming something, but I cannot hear what she’s saying until I see her turn with a bundled up object in her arms.
“Oh my baby,” the woman on the ground repeats, more emphatic than before. That’s when it dawns on me the blond is not her baby, but her babysitter.
I glance around the base of the house with the tendrils of fire lapping at the bricks from the lower portion. “We’re not going to use the ladder this time.” I get the captain’s attention and tell him the only option is to catch the survivors. He doesn’t ponder too long before he agrees. I offer my services and get as near to the burning building as possible. “Toss me the baby,” I say to the woman standing above me.
Her platinum hair whips across her face like strands of hay in Dorothy’s cyclone. But with obedience she moves to the edge, pulls back her arm like Dan Marino and lets the infant fly.
With the baby on safe ground, she leaps with the grace of a gazelle, lingering in the air for an eternity. I see our future, our wedding, our own children–a happily ever after, and she lands with the weight of a leaf’s skeleton.
I lower my head to take in those full, voluptuous lips to see Grandma Moses cradled in my arms with long silver locks, blowing in the breeze. She smiles at me with a toothless grin and hugs me very hard.
“And you saved my momma, too,” the teary-eyed witness says.
As I was saying, my job is usually filled with nightmares, but that’s the role of a firefighter, and I knew that before I signed up.