Hellfire

“It’s emasculating in a way. I’m filled with admiration, but there are almost equal parts shame.”

“Some rise so high. Others stoop so low. I’m not putting you in the latter bucket.”

“But you’re not putting me in the former either. Nor should you. There are people that do things that matter. There are those that don’t.”

“Everything matters. Anything can matter. The littlest thing can save a life.”

“We always say that after the biggest things happen. ‘Well, I patted someone on the back the other day who looked really down. Who knows what might have happened… It’s utter bullshit.”

“If you’re conning yourself it is. But it doesn’t have to be.”

“How so.”

“I see a ton of cops in here. I see a ton of firefighters. To a man, they don’t view what they do as heroic.”

“Maybe they make a distinction between glamorous and heroic. There’s virtually zero chance I’ll throw someone over my shoulder today and carry them out of a burning building. Unless one of the girls in Accounting gets pissed, nobody will shoot at me during the course of a day.”

“That’s not your job. Or mine.”

“You’re proving my point.”

“You’re missing mine.”

“‘splain. And shake me a martini so my consciousness is expanded to grasp what you’re saying.”

“Most of their days are just like yours. Completely different, but largely the same. Tedium. Paperwork. Routine. Politics. Bureaucracy. The bullshit the ninety-percent trudges through daily— with the help of Ketel One and the grace of God.”

“I get that, but there’s always the potential for danger and an acceptance of risk. Without much in the way of reward, I might add.”

“You have the potential for risk. Not as much. But it’s very real. A car’s lying on its side on the highway. Everyone files by. ‘Sucks to be them.’ What do you do?”

“I pull over. I jump out. I hop up on it and try to pull him out.”

“And did you act bravely in that situation? In that split-second when you had to act?”

“The car was not on fire. The kid kicked that back window out himself and crawled out. It’s not the same.”

“What if it was on fire?”

“I’ld like to think I’d have still done everything I could.”

“Right. These guys have the training and experience to make that split second decision in a split-split-second. They don’t think. They act. It’s what they’ve been trained to do. What you call ‘braver’ they call muscle memory and reflexes.”

“And…”

“At that moment they’re not thinking, ‘this is my SportsCenter moment. Du nu nu. Du nu nu.’ They’re thinking ‘there are people upstairs and the fire’s coming from the basement. I’ll take the basement you clear the upstairs.’”

“Right. Their instinct is to run in when others are running out. I’m a running out kind of guy. I think.”

“You think. They don’t think. They act. But you acted too at that rollover. You didn’t think. And without any training or skills of any kind you went in when others passed by so they could make a tee time or whatever. If that car was on fire and you did pull the kid out, you’d have been a hero too.”

“If ifs and buts were candy and nuts…”

“Maybe you’re not so different. Not as different as you think, anyway. They’ve just had more at bats. You’ve been on the bench. But when you got your shot, you had a real good at bat.”

“I walked.”

“Others walked away.”

“So I’m not a huge shit stain? I’m just running the course I’m on and may have behaved just like those two facing similar circumstances?”

“Fuck no. You’re a huge pussy. Those are real men. I’m just talking you off the ledge.”

“One more. Make it dry.”



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