I am so excited to be selected for a second Boys Behaving Badly anthology with Delilah Devlin! This one is near and dear to my heart. For over a decade, I was a paramedic/firefighter in the urban jungle of Atlanta. When I saw the call for submissions for this anthology, I knew I had to enter. I had so many stories to share. But, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I abandoned several stories before I finally found my stride in “Crossing the Line”. I struggled to find the balance between fact and fiction, and it brought a lot of long-forgotten emotions boiling back up to the surface.
I was surprised how much I missed the firehouse and the guys as I went on my stroll down memory lane. The camaraderie in a firehouse rivals any family. I loved my guys, and on the days that I wanted to be anywhere but there, I still looked forward to seeing them. I knew their kids, wives, girlfriends, and boyfriends. We cooked dinner every night and slept in one great big bunk room. You can’t help but get close. I knew who snored, who talked in their sleep, how they liked their coffee, and who I could count on to have my back when the chips were down. They were my brothers, and I miss them.
I get asked a lot about station house romances. Oh yeah, they’re a thing. I never had one in my own house (that’s never a smart move), but I married a guy from the neighboring station! I had known him for years, but when I got stationed in the same battalion and started bumping into him on calls, the attraction that was there had a chance to grow into something more. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was imagining things. He was a nice guy, doing nice guy things like holding the door, bringing me a Gatorade after a fire, and helping me clean up the truck after a bad call. Surely, it was nothing more than that.
Then, in the wee hours of the morning, the battalion was called out on a house fire. We could see the flames from the station, and everybody’s heart started to go a little faster. Middle of the night fires tended to be tragic. Smoke detectors really do save lives! Fortunately, on that night, the fire was in an abandoned house, and no lives were in jeopardy. Unfortunately, the house, which was still under construction, sat down at the bottom of a hill, and it had been raining steadily for days. The lot had turned into a sea of red mud.
The roof and three out of four sides of the structure were blazing. My crew was assigned the backside of the house, which meant we had to cross the ocean of mud. At first, we made pretty good progress, but as we got to the rear of the structure, the mud swallowed my leg and refused to let go. Other companies had begun the attack. Water cascaded down on the fire, slowly filling the area until a pond began to collect on top of the mud. With the guys’ help, I managed to pull my leg free, but my boot was forever lost to the sucking mud. We sought higher ground, I borrowed a boot, and we got back to the fight. Finally, we got the blaze under control, and as the sun came up, we began the long process of cleaning up. Mud covered everything from hoses to firefighters.
As we were packing up, I realized I had lost my face mask, part of our breathing apparatus. It had been clipped on the front of my harness as we’d approached the house, but somewhere in the slog, it had gone missing. My stomach clenched. It was an expensive piece of equipment, and on top of my boot, the logistics officer was not going to be happy with me.
My crew reassured me they weren’t going to take it out of my paycheck, but my captain sent me to look for it. Suddenly, the rest of my crew had lots of other things to do that didn’t involve going back to the mud pit to look for my lost mask. Resigned, I skirted the worst of the mud in my mismatched boots and started to hunt. I soon had company. I smiled at the man who would become my husband as we waded through the mud in the early morning light. (We found the face mask by the truck. It had fallen off before we’d even got started!). I figured any man who would willingly crawl through mud to help me was worth getting to know a little better. He took me to breakfast, and I’ll leave the rest to your imagination!
My time on the streets of Atlanta adds depth to my stories. My experiences taught me that I could do more and go farther than I had ever dreamed. I weave those lessons throughout my writing. “Crossing the Line” is a blend of fact and fiction, but I’ll leave it to you to sort out which is which!
To find out more about me, visit my website acdawn.com and like my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/A-C-Dawn-2317750851796803! I’ve got lots more stories coming for 2020!