As the alarm sounded throughout the station, FireMan gazed blankly at his meal, casually nudging the green peas around his plate. Peas had proven an ideal food for FireMan’s current preoccupation. They were so round. So nudge-able. So conducive to introspection. As the peas rolled around the plate, so tumbled FireMan’s thoughts around the inside of his head.
Had he chosen to eat some non-spherical green fare like, say, asparagus, the contemplation would not have come so easily. The thoughts would fail to tumble, and stagnancy would bear a breeding ground for malaria. And when you had malaria, it was hard to think of anything besides your own impending death.
Also, asparagus would have made his pee smell funny, and, like most, FireMan much preferred the humorless aroma of pea pee. Peas were the superior food for thought, and quickly FireMan’s thoughts turned to superiority.
I’m better than them. Why do I even bother saving them? Every lesser man or woman I rescue from a fire is a slap in the face to Darwin, a step backwards for humanity. Because then those bastards get to live and procreate and create more idiot progeny who burn in their own fires.
Surely, FireMan’s true calling as a superhero was not to save the town’s citizens but to save the entire human race. With his superhuman intellect, he would reason mankind back into the inferno of natural selection, and that meant he would do nothing.
FireMan continued to prod the peas back and forth across his plate as the incessant noise of the alarm bell rang out.
If he didn’t put out the fire, what was the worst that could happen? Those dumbasses somehow survived to fuck another day? Their house would still burn down, and maybe that homelessness will be the hardship those imbeciles needed to finally learn not to leave the stove gas on.
FireMan thought of how terrible losing one’s home would be. Even simple eviction sounded awful, let alone losing one’s house to a fire.
Eviction. That reminded FireMan: rent was due tomorrow, and he had only put out four fires this month.
Shit. FireMan was paid on commission, and he was one fire short of having enough money to make rent.
Damn that Commissioner Jordan and his insistence on not paying straight salaries! But he supposed it could not be helped. That’s what a commissioner does.
FireMan reluctantly got up and headed over to his locker.
He donned his drab yellow jacket, his drab yellow pants, and his drab yellow helmet. Perhaps no one ever took him seriously as a superhero because he never looked the part. Just once he wished he could go out in public wearing a cape and a pair of underwear over tights. Maybe then he’d get some respect.
FireMan slid down the pole from the second floor to the firehouse garage.
“Let’s go, Snowball! We’ve got some dumbfucks to extinguish,” he called, opening up the side door of the Firetruckmobile.
An elderly Dalmatian bounded into the garage and up into the passenger seat. FireMan closed the door and got into the driver’s seat on the other side.
As he went to flip on the siren, FireMan heard another high-pitch whine and turned to see Snowball staring at him woefully, head cocked. “Yeah, I don’t want to go either, buddy.”
FireMan felt bad for the dog. It had belonged to his predecessor, the FireMan before him. But while retired FireMan was probably laid out on a beach in Tampa, sipping a mojito and watching bikini-clad coeds frolic under the sun, Snowball was mired in this dump of a town, putting his life on the line to save the same dickheads that enslaved his species.
Snowball had seen his fair share of fires. He was named Snowball because as a puppy, his fur was white as snow, but over the years, the fires had left their mark. His once perfectly white coat was now flecked with black char spots where the flames had singed his fur. He deserved better.
FireMan tried to cheer him up. “Who’s black and white and can’t speak?” Snowball barked. “That’s right! Silent film star John Gilbert! Wow, you are old.”
They peeled out of the station, siren blaring. Beneath the high-pitched wails, Fire-man heard a faint ringing. He picked up his phone. “Hello? FireMan speaking.”
“Where the hell are you?! You should be here by now! The alert went out 15 minutes ago!” screeched the voice on the other end.
“Easy there, PoliceWoman! No need to shout. I’m on my way.”
“Well, hurry up! People’s lives are at stake here!”
“So what if they are? Why should I have to save them? They never try to save me! None of them helped me put out the electrical fire in my kitchen last week when I plugged too many blenders into the wall! Not that those dummies could’ve helped anyways.”
“This again? You’re a moron.”
“The way I see it: the whole world is burning. And me putting out fires? I’m just stroking the flame.”
“You mean ‘stoking’ the flame.”
“No, I mean ‘stroking’. Like, you stroke it and it gets bigger.”
“Are we still talking about fires?”
“What else would we be talking about?”
“What you’re talking about sounds like a penis.”
“I don’t think you know what a penis sounds like, but I’d be more than happy to show you.”
“Ugh, you’re despicable. Just get here ASAP! I’m hanging up now.”
FireMan had to admit: it wasn’t easy being a chiseled hunk of man meat. It was exhausting fending off all of the women constantly throwing themselves at his sculpted abs and firm buttocks. And in that exertion, FireMan only became stronger and fitter and even more desirable. What a vicious cycle it was.
But alas, it could not be helped. FireMan could not simply let his Herculean physique deteriorate. No, he had no such luxury. FireMan had a responsibility to the people to train hard every day, maintaining peak physical condition so that he could look really good for the “Sexy FireMan calendar”. The calendar, which featured twelve sultry pictures of a greased-up FireMan, raised funds for the upkeep of the Firetruckmobile. Among all the seductive sirens beckoning for his love, there was only one his heart truly belonged to, and it was that of his trusty whip, the Firetruckmobile.
The long red fire engine pulled up to the residence-in-crisis, an enormous mansion engulfed in brilliant orange flames, black smoke billowing off the blaze. FireMan and Snowball jumped out.
PoliceWoman approached with a hysterical woman in tow.
“Nice of you to finally join us,” said PoliceWoman sarcastically. “The only reason the fire hasn’t already burned everything to the ground is because the estate is so damn big! I’d chastise you, but I’m afraid if I do, there won’t be anything left to yell at you about! We’ve got two stuck on the second floor! Get on it!”
“My babies! Please save them! They’re all I have!” pleaded the other frenzied woman.
“That’s unlikely,” FireMan muttered, noting the multiple Mercedes parked in the driveway, the meticulously pruned topiary lining the front of the house, and the fact that PoliceWoman had just referred to it as an “estate” rather than as a “property” as proof that this woman had a little more than just ”babies”.
“FireMan!” PoliceWoman scolded, elbowing FireMan in the side.
“Leave it to me ma’am,” FireMan assured, saluting before climbing the Firetruckmobile to access the ladder.
Shit! The ladder was jammed. It looked like he would have to go in from the bottom. But that was no problem. FireMan relished going in from the bottom.
“FireMaaan! Here comes FireMaaan! To saaave the daaay!” FireMan sang with bravado as he sprinted through the front doors of the mansion.
“He’s my babies’ only hope?!” the panicked woman inquired.
“I’m afraid so, Mrs. Cunningham.”
Mrs. Cunningham crumpled onto the floor, sobbing even more theatrically. “My babieees!!!”
Snowball trotted over and comfortingly licked Mrs. Cunningham’s face. She pushed him away.
Inside the house, FireMan tiptoed around burning debris, peering through the smoke for any semblance of a stairwell but finding none. No wonder the babies were stuck on the second floor! There was no way down!
As he wondered how they got there in the first place, FireMan noticed an elevator on the back wall.
Oh, no. Elevators were FireMan’s worst nightmare. They were fiery metal caskets that either took you straight up to heaven or straight down to hell.
Damn these rich people and their opulence. Those lazy asses couldn’t even be bothered to use their own legs?! They couldn’t install one set of stairs?! But what choice did FireMan have. He had to get up. He had to save those babies. He had to pay the rent.
In frustration, FireMan slammed his fist against a column. As he did, the house groaned.
FireMan alertly rolled out of the way as a sizeable chunk of ceiling fell where he had seconds ago been standing. He looked up at the newly vacated aperture. Crisis averted.
FireMan shimmied up the column and grabbed hold of the floor above, hoisting himself into the second story. He heard muffled cries coming from the room adjacent.
He dashed in and, to his amazement, found two of the largest babies he had ever seen. They looked 24 years old, not 24 months. To add to the weirdness, the two adult-sized babies were both bound and gagged.
Kids these days are into the strangest things.
There was no way, these were the woman’s babies. As FireMan turned to leave the room to look for the real, baby-sized babies, a small explosion violently shook the room.
There was no time; these babies would have to do.
FireMan slung a large infant body over each shoulder and leapt out the window, crashing loudly into a squirrel-shaped shrub down below. Mrs. Cunningham looked on, stunned, as FireMan sprang up, ran to her, and delivered her the very adult-like babies.
“Here you go! Now to put out that fire!” said FireMan, grabbing the firehose off the Firetruckmobile. “Snowball, find the hydrant!”
Snowball exited the driveway and scampered around the corner. FireMan pursued. Halfway down the block, he spotted Snowball, leg up, urinating on a bright red fire hydrant. Good ole, Snowball. FireMan hooked up the hose and ran it back to the mansion. Catching sight of the confusing new scene transpiring there, however, he backtracked and hid behind a nearby tree.
PoliceWoman, gun drawn, stared down Mrs. Cunningham who held a knife to one of her baby’s throats. Upon closer inspection, Mrs. Cunningham was not Mrs. Cunningham at all. Snowball’s earlier face lick paired with the heat of the raging fire and the resulting perspiration had caused much of Mrs. Cunningham’s makeup to run off of her heavily-caked face. Before long, her true identity was revealed as her entire face slid off and hit the ground with a thud. Mrs. Cunningham was actually retired FireMan!
“The jig is up, FireMan. Drop the knife and let the real Mrs. Cunningham go,” PoliceWoman requested.
“Nuh-uh! You’re gonna let me walk outta here, or the lady gets cut!” old FireMan threatened. “I don’t know how that numbskull saved these two from that trap I set for him, but I’m not paying for it. I didn’t take over this mansion, replace the staircase with an elevator, and light it up just so I could get thrown in the slammer. I’ve still got unfinished business. That Commissioner thinks he can replace me with a younger, cheaper model?! He’s gotta pay!”
The revelation that his vengeful mentor was actually responsible for the fire filled young FireMan with remorse. He had wrongfully assumed the dim-witted inhabitants were to blame. Maybe there was hope for humanity after all. Maybe one day there’d be a world where people were killed exclusively by arsonist-started fires. But first, he needed to make it up to the Cunningham’s.
“You want payment, old man?” FireMan asked, jumping out from behind the bush. “I’ll pay…with water!”
With two measured blasts of the firehose, FireMan knocked the knife from his predecessor’s hand and shot his legs out from underneath him. Retired FireMan fell hard to the ground, slamming his head against the pavement and losing consciousness. PoliceWoman ran over to apprehend the disgruntled ex-hero.
“’I’ll pay with water?’ That’s the worst line I’ve ever heard,” said PoliceWoman as she placed handcuffs on retired FireMan.
“Well, I don’t get paid for my lines,” responded FireMan. “If I did, I’d be Tony Montana.”
“And what do you get paid for, Scarface?”
“I get paid to slide down poles and put out.”
“You sound like Kandi from down at the strip club.”
“I don’t think you’re familiar with the sounds of Kandi. Fortunately, I am. And I’d be more than happy to show you those sounds.”
“Ugh. Just go put out the fire.”
As FireMan doused the flames, the big Cunningham babies gazed forlornly at the charred skeleton of what was once their home. Then, turning to one another, they smiled and tightly embraced. Witnessing this, FireMan was overcome with emotion. So much happiness welled inside of the brawny hero that he began to tear up. Thank God I have somewhere to live next month.