I walked up the steps carrying the axe, Bradley followed with the hose. The west wing of the 3 story office building had had been only partially engulfed in flame when the firemen arrived. Captain Woodward shouted orders and the men went to their assigned duties. Within minutes a tanker, 2 ladder trucks and 2 supervisor's vehicles were parked in front of the building. 3 police officers were moving the crowds back from the scene. The draw of the fire appealed to those with voyeuristic tendencies. The ghouls were hoping to see victims with sheets covering burned and bloody bodies. Today they were to be disappointed. Maybe.
Bradley and I were assigned to the first team, making sure the East wing of the office building was clear. Dave and Tom were assigned to second team to cover the West wing, first and second floors currently engulfed in flame. Working the top floor we were joined by the second team.
Fire will hit the 3rd floor in a few minutes. We have time, who has the cards. We entered the offices of Dingle Birth and Bath Law offices. The manager's office was just getting toasty, the nylon rugs just beginning to smoke. Soon they will be sticky.
Tom the rookie had a questioning look on his face. "What the fuck?"
"Sit down rookie. The game is draw poker, nothing wild. $20 ante. First to leave pays everyone $20. Second to leave pays the remaining $20 each. Third to leave pays the winner $20. Winning hand takes the pot." I said. He sat.
Bradley brought over 2 additional chairs to the oak table. Dave dealt the cards.
I got a pair of 7s, jack high, I drew 3 cards. The curtains in the next office began to burn.
Rookie Tom was looking at his cards, but was not concentrating on the game. "Wakeup rookie, how many cards?"
"Are you nuts? The building is on fire? Give me 3." The rookie said, getting nervous. Smoke was getting stronger in the room.
"I'll take 3." said Bradley. The temperature has risen to 120F in the last few minutes. He started coughing and started his Smith air pack.
"I'll take 2." Said Dave.
"Open for $10." I said. My draw was shit.
"See your $10. " Said Tom very nervously. His shoes were sticking to the carpet.
"I fold. See you in hell." Bradley coughed some more, got up and left, keeping low where the air was cooler.
"He always was a pansy, See you and raise $20." Dave said as smoke rose from the carpet at their feet and light from a new fire reflecting from the next room.
Tom and I both called. Dave was the winner with a pair of 10's. We got up to leave. We kept low as the heat was rising rapidly. Down 2 flights and we were back in the cool air. Felt like entering a deep freeze.
"All clear captain." I said as we neared the ladder truck.
"Get some water. You were in there longer than you should be." The captain remarked.
I walked over to Dave. Paid him the $30 bucks.
"Rookie did alright. Except he forgot the cards."