Ray didn’t think about his last name too often, or how it might have colored the path he chose for his career. More specifically, his last name was Burn and his profession was firefighter. Despite having grown up in wildfire country—Southern California—he was the first person in his family to pursue the highly Golden State-centric job title. And when he told his parents that’s what he wanted to be when he grew up, they nodded and smiled, assuming it was just another case in point of a child romanticizing stock “do-gooder” métiers like teacher or doctor. But, in the end, Ray’s determination won out, and he did, in fact, immediately pursue the part by enrolling at the LAFD Training Academy, having already spent his high school years physically conditioning himself in preparation for his acceptance. Putting in the hundreds of hours required to be certified (in addition to his EMT certification), Ray consistently outperformed all of his peers, standing apart in a way that landed him the attention—in more ways than one—of the station’s Fire Chief, Kelly Crendell.
At fifty-one years old, no one could say that Kelly hadn’t put in the work—and then some—to get where she was today. Unfortunately, some of that work went back to what it meant to be a woman operating not only within a patriarchal society, but a highly patriarchal profession. So yes, she did give some blow jobs and beyond in her rise to top of the pole, so to speak (which sounds more strip club-y than fire station-y). And she had no regrets about it, even when the firemen (and they were, indeed, all men) she supervised “managed” to “unearth” a very salacious nude of her that an ex-firefighter named Hal had leaked deliberately—feeling particularly vindictive one night while drinking at home alone and suddenly growing livid at the thought of how far she had advanced her career on his back (or rather, dick). But whose fault was that? Hal ought to have asked himself. He was the one constantly suggesting that if she did him “a favor” whenever they found themselves alone in the firehouse that he might, in turn, repay that favor back one day in his role as the captain (a title she took to calling him every time they fucked; you know, for sufficient erotic measure). And he did, in the end, make good on that vague promise.
Only now, seeing her ascend to a rank higher than he ever could have gotten, was Hal vexed at having given her a leg up (no pun intended). More vexed still over all the attention she was getting during the past month over her “landmark” move to secure an electric fire truck for the station. Announcing that the “debut” of the “rare creature” would be in the heart of Hollywood, where agents and publicists alike were constantly putting out fires of their own as well. More specifically, the truck was set to be revealed at the LAFD Historical Society, per KTLA’s big puff piece on the subject, which Hal, almost a full year after sending out Kelly’s nude to most members of Fire Station 82, was watching on TV while cracking open yet another beer. Kelly was, of course, all too eager to be interviewed, sure to highlight—like the innuendo-making trollop she was—that this unique design had a “tight turning radius” and a “smaller width” than your standard-issue fossil fuel-emitting truck. And that, obviously, the best part of all was that the electric-powered truck would “reduce” emissions. Emphasis on that word, reduce. Hal chortled to himself about what a hippie pinko Kelly was for buying into that electric car bullshit. As if the acts of creating and then ultimately disposing the lithium-ion batteries for them weren’t environmentally unfriendly in their own special manner. There was no way to truly avoid raping Mother Earth with this many people needing to get around on her surface. Something that Hal had made peace with, was even grateful for—because it meant that firefighters would always be in business thanks to the effects of climate change. And with it, the firefighting business was booming.
Although Hal was no longer technically part of it, it gave him a sense of pride to be able to say that he once was. In fact, he was known to grossly wield his former profession as some form of a pickup line in whatever dive bar he found himself in while skulking around Long Beach at all hours of the day and night. Surprisingly, it often worked. It was amazing how hard up for some hard dick a woman could get as the two a.m. hour approached. Their desperation was Hal’s bonanza.
Alas, even being recently laid couldn’t assuage the rage he felt as he watched Kelly appear on that screen in his living room, self-importantly standing in front of the Austrian-built machinery. Leave it to California to get “them thar Europeans” involved in these bullshit “green” initiatives, Hal seethed internally. To him, the “sleek design” made it look more like an RV or an armored truck than anything resembling the once-hallowed model of what a fire truck should be. “This fucking bitch,” he muttered. “De-masculinizing the fuckin’ fire department with this shit.” He gulped down the entire can of beer and tossed it on the ground.
To make the entire bastardization even more of a disgusting spectacle in Hal’s eyes, they kept emphasizing how they were going to hold the grand display of the goddamn thing in Hollywood. In the name of “historical” value by putting on the affair at that museum on Cahuenga. Sure, Kelly might have not had much of a choice as the Fire Chief of that jurisdiction, but it just made the whole pageant all the more grotesque in Hal’s eyes. When Kelly was working for (and under) him at Fire Station 2, she didn’t have the gall to act like she was part of the celebrity cabal of L.A. County. Now look at her, treating Fire Station 82 like some goddamn “public service for the stars” with this extravagant presentation that would, indeed, be drawing in some celebrity cameos, including Angelina Jolie, who fancied herself as good as any smokejumper after starring in Those Who Wish Me Dead. It made Hal so sick to his stomach that he had to turn the TV off and go to bed. Before he did, he decided to send out a different (vintage) nude of Kelly to the boys at her station.
Ray was the one to tell Kelly about the latest lurid photo of her. It made sense, since he was lying right beside his boss smoking a post-coital cigarette on the floor of her office when he got the blast in a text. Looking from the photo to her current state of nakedness next to him, he commented, “Your body still looks this fire though… if you’ll excuse the word choice.”
Snatching the phone from him to see what he was talking about, Kelly was horrified to glimpse this newest image of her twenty-something (probably just a little older than Ray was now, at twenty-three) physique in such a candid pose. Earlier in the day, when a brief sense of dread had washed over her, she should have known to trust it. She should have known that Hal would never let her have her moment without being reminded that he felt he was somehow “owed.” Even if all of her dues and debts were paid long ago, not just to him, but every other LAFD power player. The ones she had to capitulate to over the decades in manifold fashions. But like, literally, fashion played a big part in it all as she pretended to fetishize wearing firefighting gear while getting “seduced” (but more likely, doing the seducing) in the garb and then sensually taking it off to be plowed against one of the trucks (in her mind, it was a fire fuck not a fire truck). She also pretended to make a big deal about her lipstick color—“Fire Engine Red”—while she slowly applied it off the clock in front of men like Hal. It was cheesy, but it worked. Sent the right men into some sort of frenzy over wanting to give her “the world” a.k.a. power at the fire station.
Some men would say she didn’t play “fair” to get to where she was. To them, she would remind that no man ever did either. And she would have thought, by this point, that Hal was capable of getting over his ego and at least mildly appreciate that she really was the best of the best when it came to the art and hustle of running an effective firefighting operation. Something she never learned from him, lazy and entitled motherfucker that he was. That’s why he could never go any higher that his middling captain position, which he was eventually removed from anyway because of his overt drinking problem.
These thoughts raced through her mind as she stared from Ray’s stupid, titillated face appraising the photo and then back to the photo itself. Kelly sighed. “Well, I guess he’s won. If the intent was to not only shame me, but take all the focus off the electric fire truck unveiling tomorrow, he fucking succeeded.”
“Babe, you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. You’re too hot to handle in this picture.”
She rolls her eyes. “Yeah, and now I’m a dried-up old crone in comparison, right?”
Ray smacks his forehead with his palm. “No, I didn’t mean that. I’m just saying he can’t humiliate you, whatever age you’re seen naked at. You’re beautiful.”
Kelly tried not to openly grimace. She knew the risk of getting sexually involved with someone so much younger. That risk being, primarily, that he would annoy the shit out of her with his grandiose expressions of affection when all she cared about was being dicked down right. And no one could deny that Ray was certainly adept at that. She only wished he would shut up more often before and after the railing. But as it is said: you can’t have everything. She did, however, oh so wish she could have had the “everything” of being allowed to enjoy her big “premiere,” so to speak of the electric fire truck without having it overshadowed by this kind of debasement on the part of some sad little man who simply would not let go of the past.
At first, she almost let it bring her to the brink of tears before she decided to choke them back and say to herself, No. I will not be taken down by this geriatric lush. I will get fucked again instead. Ray was always game to deliver when the signal was given. And it was given over and over again throughout the rest of the night as their acrobatic antics led them to the top of the electric fire truck itself. She wasn’t sure if it was the orgasm or possibly hitting the back of her head on the truck, but either way she suddenly felt as though she had blacked out and couldn’t be bothered to wake up until the following morning, same as Ray, who serenely stretched his arms as the sun suddenly beat down on both of their faces. But it was nothing compared to the beatdown of tittering judgment that they could hear all at once when the camera crews and other assorted firefighters started to trickle in as scheduled for the unveiling, which had presently unveiled something else entirely. That—gasp!—L.A.’s only female Fire Chief was getting pleasured. And we all know women cannot be seen having pleasure of any kind, let alone sexual.
As it turned out, Hal sending the additional nude achieved an even more humiliating effect than he had planned on. For had he not done so, Kelly never would have felt reckless enough to keep fucking the night away with her firefighting boy toy the way some people choose instead to drink it away. And getting caught with bottles of alcohol surrounding her would have been perhaps less damning. Might have led to a mere slap on the wrist as opposed to a full-on “dismissal.”
If only she could be happy with Ray’s dick alone, because he still “popped into” her apartment every so often in lieu of having their “sessions” at the station. But these days, being around him just made her depressed. Reminded her of a time when she had a career of her own (before “daring” to throw it away for the sake of ephemeral pleasure). Especially since Ray was about to be announced as the replacement Fire Chief despite 1) having so little experience and 2) also being caught on top of that electric fire truck.