coming back to the station after a fire, smudged and achy, and
performing all the little housekeeping tasks to get the rescue squad
back in service. We refill the air cylinders for the SCBA, wash out
facepieces, and get our gear back in order. People assigned to the
other units wander by and say "How was the fire?" and I shrug, not
wanting to betray how keyed up I still am about it. I reek of smoke --
not the clean scent of a fireplace but the dank rubbery odor of a
building in danger of going up.
to think about how fire and rust are the same: just oxidization taking
place at wildly different speeds. I know it's a chemical
oversimplification but it's still appealing. It suggests that what I
face as I pull on my mask, crank on the air cylinder, and replace my
helmet outside the burning deli is no more exciting than an old truck
sitting out in the yard and going to pieces over the years. That same
slow, mundane deterioration is simply being compressed into a few
minutes and will be taking place all around me and in the seething air
over my head.
meanwhile, all around us, everything that rusts and corrodes is
infintessimally burning, being consumed in a slow conflagration.
That is the last entry, for now, of the Tales.
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