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Partners by Brian Panowich

This week we learn about putting out fires with gasoline ...

Welcome the glorious return of Mr. Brian Panowich

Partners by Brian Panowich



“You can start whenever you’re ready Lt. Stevens.”

“Okay. That motherfucker was aping ass….”

“Maybe a little less colorful language.”

“Fine, Whatever. The fire started in the A-B corner bedroom and had gotten through the firestops. It was sweeping the attic by the time we got there. The house was fully involved. Engine 17 was seconds behind us with the water, so Allen…”

“You mean Firefighter Parsons?”

“Yeah, that’s what I said. Allen. We laddered the roof to start ventilation. I was the first one over the ridge so I worked my way to what I believed was the ideal place to start the cut.”

“Did you sound the roof?”

“Of course I sounded the roof. I’m not a first year fireman. It was spongy in places, but I believed it would hold.”

“You believed it would hold you?”

I believed it would hold us. What is this? He was my goddamn partner. What are you trying to say?”

“Calm down Lt. Stevens, I’m just trying to clarify the facts”

“Right. Well, these are the facts. Two experienced firemen when up on that roof to do our job, no different than any other day, but on that particular day, I was the only one to come down. I have to live with that. I have to live with watching my best friend fall into a furnace and burn to death. I have to hear him screaming every night for the rest of my life. I had to be the one to tell his wife, a woman I’ve known and loved for 10 years, that her husband was dead. She’ll never forgive me. And now I have to sit here and listen to some smug prick second-guess my actions on the fireground. You can take those facts and shove ‘em up your shitter. I have a funeral to attend.”

***

The city really takes care of one of their own.

When we die, anyway.

Nobody gives a shit until there’s a tragedy, but then it’s a ticker tape parade. Firetrucks covered in American flags. Dress blues. Honor Guard. The works. Allen Parsons died a Hero, and the city gave him a hero’s funeral.

Trish was a wreck. She did her best to hold it together, but when the Chief handed her that folded flag, she crumbled. I wanted to hold her. To make it better. But I couldn’t. Not yet.

***

Of course, I didn’t think it would take this long. It’s been six months since Allen’s funeral. Six months, and still this bitch can’t let him go. I tried to tell her how he really was. I told her about the whores he kept on speed dial, and the disrespectful way he talked about her. I tried to make her understand that I didn’t really kill him. I just didn’t warn him. I did it for her. For us. But it doesn’t matter now. I’m pretty sure she stopped breathing. The gag and the snot I suppose. I know I didn’t cut her that deep.

This isn’t how I wanted it. I didn’t want to go to prison for this bitch. That’s what you get for doing someone a favor. At least my partner died a hero. He would have never gotten that on his own. I gave him that, but I won’t hold my breath waiting on a thank you.


Brian Panowich is a fireman. But not the kind who would kill his partner, and try to bang his wife. He’s got a bunch of stuff floating around out there in the ether. Some of it’s worth reading. His latest book is a zombie epic he co-wrote with some dude named Ryan Sayles. It’s pretty good. You should go buy it.