I had been an accountant, mechanic, bondsman, pizza maker, and a mail man. You might say I have worn many hats over the years. But my last job was an accountant with Smothers and Jensen’s.
The money was good and benefits; don’t let me get started on the benefits. I guess that is what I miss most about that job, money and the benefits. Oh, they were sorry, down right apologetic, up until the point when they came to my office to hand me my pink slip. I can remember the two guards that walking me out of the building. It was funny that I had seen the same scene in the movies more than once.
On the rolls, of unemployed once again; they give you just enough to buy a gun and a few bullets each week. Guess they want you to have to make a choice rather to pay a few bills, feed your family or kill your self. The later would save the government money in the long run.
So every week I choose to feed my family. The last time I was on unemployment we lost the car. I loved that car, but I love my daughter and my wife more. They meet me at the door each night, even if I am late. I stayed out late a lot in those days. Turning in applications and stopping at a Tim’s Throat emporium for one more drink on the way home.
I know what you are thinking, I was just an out of work bum, but that isn’t exactly true.
I had started a new job, that no one knew about. I was a sandwich artist. I worked for this sub shop. Well, I was in the training stage of working for this sub shop. I know it doesn’t pay like my accounting job did and there aren’t as many benefits, but times are tough out there and we do what we can do to make a living.
Also, my unemployment benefits ran out the week before and I didn’t have the heart to tell my family we were going to have to move again. I applied to this little shop in the middle of the suburbs so no one would know who I was behind this counter. Was I embarrassed, yes. Did I feel like a bum, yes. Did I want a drink on the way home in those days, yes.
I felt too large to work in a sub shop. That’s funny, I don’t mean that I am too important for this job. I mean that I am 6 foot tall and everyone else that works here is 5 foot tall and just out of high school. I am twice the size of the biggest guy and that is my manager. He is patient for a man of his age. He had showed me several times that week how to make the Mamba Bomba sub, but it alluded me, and there was that roaster. It was 520 degrees of pain. I would give way to the smaller employees and end up leaning against the metal side of the stove. I had a burn on top of a burn and that only my first day.
“Lunch time,” my manager called out from his office. Both pointing and looking at me.
I stepped out of the sub shop and into the street. I could remember that all I wanted for lunch was a cigarette and a beer, but did I have time.
I sat in my car; it is an 80’s ford tempo. The smell of plastic is its biggest downside. I guess that’s what I get for loosing my job so many times. The smell wasn’t the same that day; there was a smokey smell in the air. I found myself getting out of the car and looking around. That is when I saw it, smoke coming from the sub shop.
I ran to the door were a crowd of twenty people were standing looking in. I wore the bright red shirt of office. But saw no others. “Were they still inside,” I remember thinking.
“Those kids!” I said aloud.
I started for the door but two men stopped me, pulling me back. I could feel my muscles coming into play and the rage. I pushed the little one to the ground and then raised my large fist to the bigger one. He backed away saying, “It’s your funeral.”
If I had paused just for a second, I would have thought of my family and stopped myself. But I intended on saving those kids. Even the manager was only 10 older than my own child.
I pushed back through the crowd, the windows were black with smoke and heat from the fire could be felt ten feet from the doorway. I pushing the door in with my foot to avoid burning my hand, as the door opened the flames inside increased ten fold but it didn’t matter the door closed behind me and the flash over subsided.
I leapt the counter and fell down to the floor, between the counter and the chopping table. I fell back into what I was looking for, more than once that fire extinguisher had almost took my knee cap off. I raised the canister pointing into the base of the flame. The heat from the fire was so intense; I closed my eyes.
I had held my breath until that moment, I needed to breather. I put my mouth into that red shirt and took what I thought was my last breath, I passed out.
A few hours later, I woke up in the hospital. It must had looked like a zombie movie as I started to come to life. I flailed my arms in front of me and started to get raise up. I felt the hand of someone on my chest.
“Sir, you are at Greenleaf General and you need to get back into bed and calm down, your wife is on the way and knows everything,” ordered the voice of a nurse or was it a doctor. I am still confused at this point. They had wrapped my face with bandages and I must have looked like a ruddy mummy.
“Mm, Mmm, amm. M?” I heard myself say, what I was trying to say was, what about my crew, those kids, but the nurse or doctor was no help.
“You are at Greenleaf General, you have been in a fire and you need to remain calm.”
“Mmlm,” I managed to get out.
“Your burns are not that serous but you inhaled a lot of smoke in that heroic stunt of yours,” she said.
Heroic stunt, that was what she said. Did I save someone? Was my crew okay? With more questions than answers, I pass out one more time.
Later, my wife showed up and held my hand. She was concerned about me. I must have looked awful.
“You work at a sub shop?” she asked as she ran her hands a crossed the remains of my red uniform.
“mm, MMM,” I muttered the answer. There was no use lying to her about it now.
“They’re calling you a hero,” she answered.
“MMm?” I answered.
“Yeah, the door was blocked from someone parking the dumpster a crossed the back exit. So they ran into to the walk-in freezer. If you hadn’t put the fire out they would have died. By the time, the fire department got there to sort it all out, they found all of those other employees alive, but passed out from the lack of oxygen. They all so say the place would have burnt to the ground if it wasn‘t for you.”
“mmh?” I asked.
“What? Sorry, I didn’t get that,” she asked. “Well, anyways it is all over the news and Mr. Smothers called and told me, you can come back to work anytime. He always needs one more hero accountant.”
“I feel asleep at that point. The kids were safe and the news was out. I had been offered my old job back. I felt great,” I said.
“Then why do you still work here at the sub shop?” as the man in the suit.
“Because my good man, I would rather be a hero sandwich artist than a Bum of an accountant, Would you like your Mamba Bomba toasted or un-toasted.”
The above short story is to be considered copyrighted. I am the author and kept all rights to the above story. Unlike most of the material on my blog it a fabrication of Fiction. I wasn’t told the story. It is not meant to be about anyone in particular and should be considered a product of my imagination. The author doesn’t not smoke or drink in excess. He has also held the same job for 20 years. So if you like fiction and want to read more of my works of fiction you can go to http://lettersfromtheverse.blogspot.com read the posts from the beginning and you should be able to figure out the storyline. You can also catch me on Facebook, under the name, Letters from the Verse.