Mr. February spoons a mouthful of cornflakes, ignoring a trickle of milk that slips from the corner of his mouth, filters through his goatee and then drips onto his lap.
“Nothing burns in this fucking town man, nothing! When was the last fucking fire? I’ve it in good mind to hire…”
He interrupts himself with the next spoonful which obliviously to Mr. February, goes similarly awry - the way it does every spoonful of every morning during the delivery of the same monologue. He will, in a few moments take his feet off the table, stand up- empty bowl in hand- and curse as the cold milk moves from his crotch, down his legs and into his boots.
“…a fucking flamer to run around torching stuff for us to put out.”
In just over a year from now, Mr. February will die- falling out of a mulberry tree whilst retrieving a Frisbee that is two branches above the cat he has already rescued. He will posthumously maintain his Mr. February title until the calendar is reshot the year after.
The station is immaculate. There is a military buzz to the way the place is kept and run. This is no coincidence. Retired army captain, Mr. October likes to say that his years in the force armed him for life. He doesn’t really have the body (anymore) for his month in the calendar, but does it anyway ‘for a laugh’; oblivious to the resentment this builds in the station. Bream Carter has well defined abs and is naturally tanned and not so secretly hankers to be one of the twelve.
“Look at him! Like a peeled prawn. Ugh! Mary, could this ever turn you on? Would you shag him?”
Bream Carter will have to wait two years and will then be disappointingly non-photogenic. Mr. October will put a paternal arm around the crushed new Mr. February.
“Never mind son. Remember, it’s just for a laugh!”
As much as February irks Mr. June, he is absolutely right. There hasn’t been a significant fire for almost a year now. The team spends their seemingly endless days polishing mostly red and white metal and getting very much on each other’s nerves. Mary, the receptionist sits remarkably alert- poised above the phones as if not get startled should they actually ring. June watches February as he removes his feet from the table and stands up from his breakfast.
“Fuck! Every fucking time! Bream, fetch me another pair of socks, will you?”
On a freezing December day-roughly four years from now, Mr. June will attempt to play down heroism when he is mobbed by the national media for single handedly saving every student from a conflagration that engulfs their fourth story classroom. He will be permanently facially disfigured and although sportingly offered June again by an irritatingly jovial Mr. October, will make no further appearances in the calendar.
A HERO IN HUMBLE CLOTHING
When Mike Driver, 42, an off duty firemen, returning from taking his own kids to school looked up and saw leaping flames and black smoke billowing from the windows of a fourth story school window, hesitation was not on the cards… up the drainpipe…third degree burns to the face…police have not ruled out arson.
Bream Carter brings Mr. February his socks and then sets about polishing one of the stations beautiful engines. October sees over the allocations of various tasks and then sits at his desk. He lazily flicks through the months. These are his boys and he loves them- each and every one.
Mary swoops down on the receiver:
“Calm down sir! I need you to tell me your address. I need you to speak slowly and carefully. We will be there sir. I need you to tell me your address slowly and carefully.”
As January to December and Bream Carter settle into their chores, this Sunday morning is ignited. Mary’s call to action over the intercom and the violent alarm that peels at unimaginable decibels let it be known. Today… here…now… at this time…in this town…for these men, there is a fire.