(this is essentially what happened…although names have been deleted to protect those who should, by all rights, be publicly embarrassed…if you can dig it)
“Dispatch, show me security check this village.”
And so I’m whistling along, blasting my squad stereo with the soundtrack to ‘Cowboy Bebop.’ It’s an anime TV show I have no clue about, but a friend loaned me the music and it’s brilliant. So I’ve got this stuff making my ears bleed and I’m checking this tiny hamlet at 2:30 this morning, and all is right with my tiny little world.
As I’m headed out of town, I notice some smoke plumes. I turn around to get closer.
It’s actually three smoke plumes and they’re pretty damned big.
“Dispatch, we’ve got some kind of fire. I can’t tell so I’ll be outta the car, taking a look.”
It’s way back in a cornfield that seems just about impossible to get to, so I climb out and start traipsing through the mud. And I mean muddy. Like monster truck muddy. Sinking down damn near to my ankles and having to walk the better part of an acre or two to get to the damned fire and oh, by the way, I had put on my ballistic vest so tight it was like a fucking corset so I couldn’t breath, plus I’ve got some adrenaline going ’cause it’s a HUGE fire and there might be a structure somewhere inside it.
When I finally get back to the car, I radio in and have my dispatcher contact fire dispatch.
“911 fire from police dispatch.”
“911 fire from police dispatch.”
Eventually, my dispatcher had to call the 911 dispatcher on the phone (yeah, that’s a rant for another time, I guess. 911 is too busy to answer the radio?), and 911 calls the fire department.
Three fucking times.
While I’m waiting, watching a twenty mile an hour wind blow this fire all hither and yon, a guy who owns some of the land comes along – having heard me on the scanner – to see if it’s his land.
“Yeah, ain’t mine.”
“Well, that’s good, I guess,” I say.
“Yeah.” A pause. “Mine’s all peat.”
“Well, that’d burn for a while.”
“Yeah.” Another pause. “I guess 911 called the fire chief.”
“Really.” I’m getting a little amped up because I still don’t hear any sirens or see any flashing lights and this village is small enough you know it when a dog on the other side of town takes a crap.
“Yeah. They ain’t coming out,” he says.
“‘They’ being – ”
“The fire department.”
And this is where, suddenly, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 burns into my head. In that book, a dystopian look at where critical thought was headed in America in the 1950’s (how’s that for a little afternoon ‘lite’ reading?), there were firemen. But those firemen actually set fire to books, rather than putting the fires out.
“Not coming, huh?” I say.
“Yeah.” Another pause. “Guess it’s been burning since about 4 this afternoon.”
“I see. Why?”
“It’s on an island, see.”
I frown. “What is?”
“The fire. See, it’s a triangular patch of land and you got’chore railroad tracks on the one side. Then there’s this little waterway on another side and another little waterway on the third side. So that fire ain’t going anywhere.”
“Yeah, huh? Good thing there’s no wind,” I say as the wind blows my long, brunette locks.
(Okay, I made that last part up. But if I’d had hair, the twenty mile an hour wind would have been blowing it.)
He looks at me askance and drives away. So I tell dispatch no one’s coming out. Hell, if the people who live in the town don’t give a shit, I don’t either. That’s how I roll, baby.
But of course I stop at the fire department, and even though they aren’t going anywhere, all these fucking hillbilly volunteer firemen are standing around in their building…with their turnout gear on.
They’re not going anywhere, they’ve said, but they thought they’d dress up anyway!
So I’m standing there, shaking my head in wonder and wondering if, between the twelve of them they have a full set of fucking teeth, and one says to me, “Yeah, so I guess that means you gotta buy breakfast.”
I wanted to say, “No thanks, I’ll pass on your traditional breakfast of raw pig followed by Gramma’s moonshine followed by a healthy session of cow-tipping.” Instead, I climbed in my car, turned my ‘Cowboy Bebop’ back on, and drove to the middle of nowhere so I could do some primal scream therapy in private.
Freakin’ hillbilly firemen. God help me.
This is my thumb…and this is my butt…see how well they fit together….