Humor, Love, Marissa Callahan

The Red Engine Love Letter

(About a 10 minute read)

FROM: Paul Sunstone
TO: Marissa “Free Bird” Callahan
SUBJECT: Don’t Know Subject Yet. What do you want to talk about?


FROM: Marissa “Free Bird” Callahan
TO: Paul Sunstone
SUBJECT: Re: Don’t Know Subject Yet. What do you want to talk about?

Woo me!

FROM: Paul Sunstone
TO: Marissa “Free Bird” Callahan
SUBJECT: Re: Don’t Know Subject Yet. What do you want to talk about?


FROM: Marissa “Free Bird” Callahan
TO: Paul Sunstone
SUBJECT: Re: Don’t Know Subject Yet. What do you want to talk about?

Not whoot me, you ditz! WOO me!

FROM: Paul Sunstone
TO: Marissa “Free Bird” Callahan
SUBJECT: Re: Don’t Know Subject Yet. What do you want to talk about?

Dear Marissa,

Just got interrupted by a phone call. There’s a local election. On the ballot, a measure to allow fire fighters to have more say in their own affairs. Such as which trucks to buy, etc. Currently, mayor and city council decide those things. I’m voting for the fire fighters on this one.

I’m sure I told you I fought fires for a 3 1/2 years to put myself through uni. You might wonder how a non-athlete fights fires.

It’s true I officially changed my religion to lifting weights almost the same week I started. But that wasn’t the reason the Chief kept me on so I could play with his shiny red trucks and awesome other toys.

When I joined the City Fire Department, I thought I was going to meet macho men, Marissa.  I was worried sick I wouldn’t fit in.  But I needed the money for school, and I wasn’t about to pass on the job just to avoid some embarrassment.

Besides, I was in possession of a fulsome three inches of hormone-fueled pussy-pumping pleasure-juggernaut, and I anticipated I would soon become the much admired and esteemed King of the Station’s Showers.

As it turned out, my expectations of meeting macho were quite the opposite of reality, dear.

I met men so competent and tough, they felt absolutely no need at all to be macho about it.  Marissa, they didn’t feel a need to even hint they could carry their own weight both in fires and in life.

And it wasn’t that we were laid-back as a Department either.  Insurance companies rank fire departments for insurance purposes.  The better the department, the lower the community’s fire insurance.

Our department was at one time third in the State.  The Chief, you see, was deep down in his black, smoky heart an aggressive son of a bitch.  We attacked fires aggressively.

(Insurance folks said, “more aggressive than Chicago”, but I never believed that. Chicago took aggression and ramrodded it.  They were the State’s best knights —  the best of those who would be unrepentant fools to don turn-out coats and armored boots and thus ride forth on red warrior horses to slay or be slain by dragons. Chicago was the best).

We were by no means a laid back department.  We attacked the beast from the belly of the beast.  We routinely dragged our lines into the beast’s throat and then down inside it to attack the beast from its own belly.  For awhile at least —  we were third in the State.  You can guess what the competition was like for that slot.

Almost all of the other fire fighters were ex-military, and most of them ex-combat.  Marines outnumbered the other branches.  And all the Marines had done at least one combat tour in Viet Nam.

I was the outlier.  Almost the only one without a service record — for a kind old man who professionally knew my CEO mother — she had once mentored him — had offered to get me an interview — only an interview, but still an interview — with the Chief.

The old man could help me get the job, but he couldn’t help me keep it, the Chief was careful to explain.

“You’re on probation for 90 days.  Then we’ll talk.”

People hear the stereotypes, never hear the truth. I was sure I’d find macho, Marissa, but instead I discovered the toughest guys can be the gentlest guys.  The hardest guys can be the tenderest guys.  The most lethal killers can be the most loving brothers.

Can be. Not always are. But can be.

Men like that don’t accept you lightly, dear.  But they don’t look down on you if you quit.  I learned from those men not to despise, never to despise an honest man.

“Paul, you hear? Art gave the Chief his resignation.  Chief said he could quit immediately.  Sorry, Paul, I know you like him.  Before he left, he said last month’s Walnut Street fire had got him thinking, ‘I’ve got kids to raise. My kid’s need a father.  And I’ve just been screwing around, being selfish, thinking of me and not them.’  I can respect that, Paul.  Don’t you go getting it in your dumb head that Art is any less for having quit, or I’ll need to beat the shit out of your young ass.  You know I can.”

Men like that don’t look down on those not like them, not of their own kind, but they don’t accept you lightly, either.  Roger was the very last to brother me.

One night I did something — not worth recounting here — that decided him in my favor.  That’s when he got out his Viet Nam photo albums, ostensibly to prove to me he’d seen a lot of mud.  “Paul, you cannot imagine how much mud there was in Nam. You just can’t.  You have never seen anything like the mud we lived in in our fire bases in Nam.  Look at this one! Do you see anything but mud in that photo?”

I learned from those men that combat vets almost never talk about battles.  They’ll talk about the beers they drank, the whores they fucked, the buddies they had — even the mud — but almost never about the combat they’ve seen.

Mostly only macho men tell you about their battles.  Macho men and liars who read their stories in novels, or who saw their stories on screens, but who were never there themselves.

I got my job — and I kept it — and I eventually earned my wall plaque of appreciation upon retirement.

The esteemed, solid walnut plague that the guys always hand-made because they didn’t trust shoving you, or any other retiring brother, off into the world with some cold, factory-made plaque.

I held my job down because I somehow managed to keep my head when wading into smoke, trying to find the fire in the smoke before the fire found me. At least, that was the biggest thing, I think.  I somehow kept my head.

Some strange thing would take it over, turn it razor cold, and run it at a blitzing nine thoughts a second.  Take in and process everything in an instant.  I somehow kept my head and I’m not sure if that was me or if that was “it” — whatever it was.

Not saying I kept myself properly macho. Not saying that.

In fact, there was a job opening for me precisely because the Chief thought the guy before me was a wee bit too macho. By “too macho”, I mean “any degree at all macho.”  The Chief thought the guy would get himself killed  Or far, far worse — someone else killed.

You know, killed by being fearless and all.  Killed by feeling a need to prove something about himself. Killed because he was just too damn macho to admit he almost shit himself the night he forced his mortal flesh forward, dragging his line towards twelve feet of white flame hot enough to start draining the strength from your belly three yards out, leaving you without much more than your snarling will to live — assuming the heat doesn’t sap that, too.  The fool couldn’t admit to a wee measure of feeling scared even then.

I have read in a fire fighter’s magazine that the oldest fire fighter’s proverb in America is “Never fight fire with your ego.” I kept my job by following that wisdom to the hilt.

Or as we used to say, “I stuck to the line”. The hose line — your one way out of a burning building when you absolutely must retire, and the smoke is too thick to see which direction you should then crawl in.  I stuck to the proverb’s wisdom like it was my line.

Although it helped a lot  — it help a lot to keep my job — that I was damn good looking. The Chief wanted a front man, you see, for the Department’s public image campaign. Someone impressively sexy in an endearingly shy and modest sort of way to wow the taxpayers into overlooking the expenses of keeping our toys new and up to date.

In my good looks, the Chief saw his best shot ever at securing that third lead attack truck he’d always wanted but — until he first laid eyes on me — he’d never had a clue how to get.

It all slipped out, Marissa, the day the Chief promoted me to a team leader.  Instead of saying, “Congrats, Paul”, he said, “Congratulations, Attack Three”, shook my hand, and never noticed his mistake.

I secretly felt sorry for my 30 brothers.  Felt sorry for all of them, Marissa.  As it turned out, I had the shortest hydrant of them all.  And in truth that dispirited me for awhile. But then it came to me — the awesome truth dawned on me, I was better looking than all of them.  That left me feeling so sorry for my brothers.  I’m like that, you know.  I care for people’s feelings, and especially if they’re my brothers.  I care.

My dear, dearest Marissa!  I have been politely ignoring it up until now — but are you aware you’ve been gushing down there like a two inch and half hose under 600 psi for the past seven minutes?

Surely you are in desperate need of being hooked to a hydrant!  You cannot possibly be carrying a seven minute supply of water when a I know for a fact you have a mere five hundred gallon tank in your belly, for you are a glossy red attack engine — beautiful to behold, comely and flashing of lights, and moaning and wailing of sirens — and 500 gallons at 600 psi is no more than a five and half minutes supply. Do the math!

You need a hydrant hook, babe.

Yet worry not! I’m here to hook you.  I’ve got your back (By the way, what’s your departmental policy on butt sex?)

I can feel the hose from your support pumper fully charging even as we speak.

How about it? Want to knock down that fire inside us both?


FROM: Marissa “Free Bird” Callahan
TO: Paul Sunstone
SUBJECT: Re: Don’t Know Subject Yet. What do you want to talk about?


6 thoughts on “The Red Engine Love Letter”

I'd love to hear from you. Comments make my day.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s