I used a photo that will appear at the end of this post
If there was one thing about firefighting it was that one day was different from the next—one day they could fight a house on fire or handle a multi-car accident.
It was all good and well if no one got hurt of died, but Tom knew that was all part of the job. Which was why counseling was part of his life too. It was wonderful to have a supportive partner like Ben, but Tom rarely talked about the gruesome details of his job at home. He saved that for his co-workers and the shrink.
Tom never knew when a simple call could turn so wrong, so fast.
“Just don’t come near me!” Like right now. A fender bender had turned into a man ready to jump off the overpass, into the freezing Conestoga River. It was March and, just like the cliché, it was coming in like a lion. It was cold, it was breezy, and it had just started to snow. Tom would love to be at home in front of a cozy fire with Ben snuggled in his arms, enjoying a steaming mug of hot cocoa, but here he was trying to figure out how to talk the distraught man out of making a horrible decision.
“Look, mister, it’s okay. Please step back over the railing and we can talk about it.”
“No! You don’t know what I did!” The man had run a stop light and hit the corner of a building. Judging by the slightly crushed hood and minor damage to the dress shop, he couldn’t have been going too fast.
“What’s your name?”
“What does it matter to you?”
“I’d like to know who I’m talking to.”
“It’s Randy, not that it matters now anyway. I’ll be dead in a few minutes.”
“Randy, whatever you did I’m sure it’s not as bad as you think it is.” Tom wasn’t trained to talk someone off the ledge, but he was the first one to find the man after they’d noticed the car door open and the vehicle empty. They’d all searched and Tom was the one to find him first.
“It’s terrible. I lost my job, my girlfriend broke up with me when she found out, and I’m being evicted from my apartment. I’ve got nothing. I’m a big loser. No one would care if I ended things now.” The man shifted position, closer to the edge.
“Take it easy. I care. I don’t want you to jump. Come with me, I’ll help you.”
“Yeah, right.” The man wiped the tears running down his check with his sleeve.
“Randy, I mean it. Please give me a chance.”
Tom reached out to Randy, after a long pause, Tom was relieved when their hands clasped and he was able to pull the man back over the railing and into his arms.
“You should’ve just let me die. Now you’ll probably put the strait jacket on me and take me away to the crazy house.”
“No, Randy, no crazy house. We’re going to take you to the hospital and make sure you’re okay and then you’ll get the help you need.”
“Sure.” Randy was obviously angry. “And what about you? Now that you got me off the ledge, so to speak, you’ll just disappear. Job done.”
Tom had never allowed himself to get personally involved, it wasn’t really the best thing you could do for yourself on a job like this. But Randy touched a chord within him. “I’ll come with you to the hospital.”
The paramedics had come over to take charge of Randy.
“Promise?” Randy asked as he was put on the gurney.
“Promise.” Tom climbed in the ambulance with the distraught man. And rode to the hospital.
They checked him over.Tom stayed with him as long as he could. But he had to get back to the station. A psychiatrist came in and he had to leave in any case.
“Thanks,” Randy said from the hospital bed. They were keeping him overnight for observation.
“You’re welcome.” Tom left the hospital and was very happy when his shift ended and he could go home.
“Ben?” Tom came into their home. Love greeting him as he put his coat away in the hallway closet.
“Hi Tom, how was your day…umph.” Tom had enveloped Ben in a bear hug before the man could finish what he was saying.
“What’s all this about?” Ben pulled back a bit so he could look Tom in the eye.
“Rough day. I had to stop a man from jumping off an overpass. He wanted to end it all.”
“Oh, Tom, is he okay?”
“Yeah, he’s at the hospital right now, they’re evaluating him.”
“More important to me is how are you?” Ben wrapped his arms around Tom and held him.
“I’m okay now, just glad to be home with my honey.”
Ben pampered Tom with a wonderful dinner and dessert. Which consisted of apple pie alamode and a massage and some toe-curling lovemaking.
Afterwards Ben had fallen asleep but when he woke a short time later he noticed Tom was busy on his laptop.
“Looking at anything interesting?” Ben asked him.
“Yeah, I think we need a break from everything. It’s time to plan a vacation.”
“Yeah? Did you have anyplace in mind?” Ben scooted closer to him and looked at a photo Tom had up on the screen.
“I love old buildings, especially castles and ruins. I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland and England. How does this place look?”
“What is this place?” Ben asked.
“It’s the Ballycarbery Castle located in County Kerry, Ireland.”
“Looks wonderful. I’d love to go. “
“You sure?” Tom didn’t know how much convincing he’d need to do on Ben, but obviously none.
“Yep, I’ve always wanted to go see the British Isles too. Hey, while we’re in Ireland. we can kiss the Blarney Stone.”
“Sure, but I’d much rather kiss you instead.” And that is what Tom did.
Here is Ballycarbery Castle.
My fellow Flashers: