A(nother) Year in Seattle
Sunday – November 16, 2059 – Heart of the fire
Fire, burns, smoke inhalation, heat prostration, sheer exhaustion– we had it all… and tons of it.
I rode in last night. There was no worry about not finding the fire, it lit up the night sky drawing us all to it. Fire teams formed a border, trying to contain the fire while the rest of us set up a command post and evacuation center.
Lone Star commandeered three school buses for us to use as mobile triage units– and they came in all too handy. If we have to deal with things like that– its great to have the equipment but I’d much rather not need it.
By the time they’d contained the fires, we’d treated and or evacuated seventy-five people. After the containment, we had a lot more firemen to treat. Things finally slowed around dawn, when we could see the full range of damage done.
The heart of the fire centered on an old warehouse. The stench of chemicals and remains of personal items told the story. Squatters trying to keep warm started a small fire. It should have been contained and would have too– if the building hadn’t been a processing plant for god knows what chemicals and drugs.
The place was an accelerant laden tinderbox. The people inside didn’t stand a chance.
We’ll have the full report tomorrow– but for now… a hot shower and a warm bed…
Monday – November 17, 2059 – After the fire, the fire still burns
Yesterday– after the fire… I should have gone home, rested but– I couldn’t help but think about the victims. They were home, such that it was. It shouldn’t be like this.
I found myself at the Sunday Mission– I’d cleaned myself off as much as possible, but… there’s something about smoke that just seeps into your skin, fills your pores. It permeates everything about you and you never really become immune to the scent.
Lighting a candle– I just lost myself in the flame. There were children in that building and–
They never had a chance.
I thought about that a lot. This morning we had the full report– age… time… just the right confluence of circumstances. There was nothing any of us could have done to change it, but there is something we can do to prevent it– if people will let us.
The problem is– I know the brass will never approve and the city fathers? No, this is something that’s going to have to be done on the QT– but it will be done. If people are going to be forced to live like this, the least we can do is give them a fighting chance.
Let’s face it– ‘the man’ isn’t going to approve of identifying buildings as ‘squatter safe.’ And even if they did, could you imagine the lawsuits if they were proved wrong.
Hell, some of the warehouses and squatter sites are in better shape than some of the surrounding tenements. At least we inspect those buildings.
I just don’t want another night like last night– ever.
Tuesday – November 18, 2059 – Motivation
It feels kind of strange starting an underground movement. Strange and yet satisfying. It’s amazing how many people are volunteering to help. Even the brass is in on a limited basis.
Their reasoning is– a) if it doesn’t cost them anything b) if the city council doesn’t complain and c) if we’re inspecting more buildings for fire hazard, our jobs are made easier then go for it.
Especially if a) and b) are true. Then again, they have to keep the council happy since they’re the folks who award us our contract.
It was interesting. Go to a call– pass a fireman a note. Take another call– another note. What surprised me was when a Lone Star officer handed me a note. I was not expecting that. Guess I need to work on the clandestine thing.
I felt like I did when I was a kid– managing to pull something over on my big brothers… At least that’s how I felt with the brass.
The people in these areas– they were a different story. They didn’t want us there. We were a threat to their wold order. If we approved or condemned buildings– it was only to help the owners buy and sell the buildings– to change them and evict them from their homes. We couldn’t possibly care about them.
The first few buildings were the hardest. Any advice we gave… any comments we made to ourselves that were meant to be overheard were all part of a plan to endanger them– threaten them with the very things we were trying to prevent.
I guess when you’ve been kicked so many times– you kind of expect it. After a few stops, I saw something else that was needed– but that will need sponsors and a more organized approach. I’m going to have to talk to Trina and Mario on this one– but these people also need medical attention, and a sick call might be the thing.
It’s going to be a lot trickier since the benefit to the city is murky… there’s no financial gain… no political gain… only humanitarian and that’s a lot harder to sell to the accounting types controlling the city’s purse strings.
Wednesday – November 19, 2059 – Have tape, will gum up the works
Sometimes… sometimes I really want to hurt someone. Its amazing how quickly news travels. The bean counters liked the free inspection idea– it saves them money on call outs, but the sick call case– oh no.
Providing free medical care to the SINless would only encourage more of them to come to our city. We were given a go-ahead on the inspections as long as we didn’t provide sick call. At least it cemented our rights to the inspections… but there’s got to be something…
I was informed that as an employee of Citywide, contracting with the city– that if I supplied any medical care outside my area of expertise– lawsuits would be in my future.
I can’t help there… but I know people who can.
Funny that it took something as destructive as that fire to open my eyes, get me started again. There’s a lot of work to be done in this City. We just need to make people aware of it.
Thursday – November 20, 2059 – Sign of success
Well, I know the idea of inspecting buildings and determining what’s safe is a success now– someone else is claiming responsibility.
I stopped by after work to see about pitching in, and the media was all over the place– and none other than Rodger Aims, our own activist who never seems to do anything, was standing in front of them telling them all about his project, and how we owed it to the dispossessed.
I don’t know if this bodes well for our little clandestine plan or if it’s a death knell. All I do know is it needs to be done… and we are going to do it.
Several of the guys were standing on the sidelines watching in disbelief as this glory hound– waiting for me to do something… say anything. I just looked at them and shrugged.
I finally suggested that we just ignore him and get to work. That was that. We didn’t help, didn’t comment one way or the other. We just went in and checked things out. And then, he tried to stop us on our way out, to ask for a report on the building’s status.
We just looked at him for him a few minutes and walked on.
It felt good.
Friday – November 21, 2059 – Balancing Act
People have a strange idea of what ‘fun’ is. Me… I like a nice quiet evening with family and friends–good food, some music and I’m happy. But man., I don’t know what it is…
People drink and party to excess, filling their systems with chemicals and poisons until pain and common sense are things far removed. Believe me– that is the recipe for disaster.
Add in the general population of Seattle and you can understand why we sometimes dread Friday nights. The worst one was the guy who decided to bungee jump… only he didn’t have enough mental faculties left to actually measure the cord and calculate the effect his weight and the height would have on it.
It wasn’t pretty. There wasn’t really that much I could do. We got him stabilized but… I don’t know if we were really doing him a favor.
I ended up taking a second shift when Martinez got clobbered by a drunk driver. Part of me wanted to go in with him– stay there at the hospital with him, but we needed people on the street.
I checked in on him several times during the night, but it wasn’t looking good. Somehow I found my way to the chapel. It was dark, which suited my mood.
Sometimes it seems like we’re fighting a losing battle. Sometimes I think we should let natural selection take its course– I mean… if we did– Martinez wouldn’t be in surgery, I’d be at home…
The self-pity didn’t last long– it never does. But its there. I just don’t have time to let it take over. I was on another call within fifteen minutes.
By the time I got back– Martinez was in recovery and I was in better control of my emotions. At least my more destructive ones.
When I got home, I found all the reason I needed as Bri came running to me. The sparkle in her eyes, the sheer joy in her laugh.
Sometimes I think I’ve lost that feeling– but other times… other times I can’t help but hold it in my arms and join in.
Saturday – November 22, 2059 – Sweet dreams
I had planned on spending time with Bri this morning, but I was so tired from the double shift it was all I could do to have breakfast with her. I probably would have tried to stay up if Mrs. Walker hadn’t sent me off to bed.
I think this amused the little hellion– seeing her mom being told to go take a nap.
I was drifting for a while and I’m not quite sure when I actually fell asleep, but the dream was so real that I just snuggled into the covers and revelled in it. In the dream Case was with me, holding me as I slept– only it wasn’t a dream.
Case was sleeping beside me– holding me. He’d come to wake me up and fallen asleep instead.
I could tell he’d been through a lot– we both had, but we were together again and sometimes, that’s all that matters.
Copyright 2000 M.T. Decker