Oct 27, 2014, 8:23:40 PM
“Great men are forged in fire.
It is the privilege of lesser men
to light the flame.
Whatever the cost.”
– The War Doctor.
Coughing and spluttering, the last sound that Tessa heard before she lost consciousness was the blaring sirens of a fire engine coming to a halt outside her once beautiful home.
The door splintered open to unleash a wave of determined fire-fighters. Her brother, Alan, was leading the charge and did all he could to save his sister. As he lifted her up she faded, her last words “save him, save my baby”.
At the hospital.
“I’m sorry sir. There is nothing more we can do for her.”
“There has to be something! She can’t be dead! She needs to see her child!”
“Sir, there really is nothing more we can do. We managed to save her child and that alone is a miracle, there is nothing more that we can do.”
Fire-chief Alan Waterborne stormed off, unable to handle the traumatic experience of losing his sister but gaining her child. These emotions were not ones that he was accustomed to feeling. It all felt so foreign to him. Three consecutive combustions with flames of a never seen before intensity had pillaged his district and taken the life of his beloved sister. Reckless flames had claimed all the other members of his family. He was the only survivor, him and his newborn nephew.
Alan was distraught, his sister was his hero and now she was dead. Alan felt an emptiness inside him that would not leave him for many years. He devoted his life to raising this baby boy as best he could, to raise this child so that it would be safe from the same flames that caused him so much misery. He had to protect his young, wide-eyed nephew from the evils of this world and not let the tyrant of a father gain custody of this newborn child.
Tears rolling down his cheeks as he gazed out across the emptiness, towards Tessa’s baby boy, Frank. That would be his name. He knew it would be what Tessa wanted. Nonetheless ,he couldn’t help but feel as if some superficial being had laid a curse upon him and at the same time, a blessing.
It was a confusion that never ceased to baffle him; twenty-four years later’ on the anniversary of his sister’s death – the day of his nephew’s birth – he feels those same emotions that were present on that turbulent night.
“And that, my friends, ends your tour here at your local Fire station in Durban North,” said Frank joyfully. The tour group thanked him and Frank departed to his office. Although highly sociable at times in his heart he was a very much a quiet man. Spending time alone was what he enjoyed most, not because he didn’t like the comfort of friends and family but because he felt peace in the warm embrace of solitude. He wondered how he could enjoy both the life of the extravagant local celebrity who saved people from burning fires and be content with his quiet life.
“Almost time for the grand re-opening,” he thought to himself. A lavish party is to be held here at his place of work, the EThekwini Fire Department. It amazed Frank how warm the people of Durban were to his brigade. He carried the burden of a troubled childhood and yet, somehow, he has achieved the Durbanite equivalent of a local celebrity. Maybe this was because his uncle did so much for the community during its darkest days. Alan had led the team of firemen during that period and was credited with saving Durban from an all out war between arsonists that put 237 people into their graves. Respected by the community Alan had earned himself many titles, but Frank would never call him father. Frank was the only person to have seen Alan outside the public eye. Alan was an alcoholic and during Frank’s childhood, he would often come home in a drunken state and unleash his fists on his nephew. A good man when being watched but a reckless one when alone, Alan did not know it but Frank made sure he was never left to inflict harm on any unsuspecting victim like he did to him while he was a child. At present, he had a bodyguard feigning injury in Alan’s apartment in Japan while he was there for the International Firefighters Summit. What Frank did not know was that Alan had left the summit early to be back in time for Frank’s birthday. It was an opportunity for Alan to smother himself in drink and that he would not avoid. He was known to be a bit heavy on the bottle, but what only Frank knew was just how heavy he hit after finishing one.
Waltzing up the stairs a booming voice snaps him back to the thoughts of the present, “Frankie! Your sister’s here to see you.”
“Oh…send her up.” Startled Frank hurried up the stairs and into his office to make it seem as if he had been expecting this visit for weeks. While he rearranged the pens on his table so that they were all parallel to one another.
“He does know I’m not actually your sister right?” with a voice like silk Sasha could open the doors to the heart of any man. Her long red hair and pale skin created a contrast to the sound of her wondrous voice. Sasha Abbot was a woman who had never seen enough sunlight and as a result, her skin seemed to glow a ghostly white. But that had never made a scratch on the friendship that she and Frank had. She was the polar opposite of what the schoolgirl magazine girls looked like. But she didn’t care for such trivialities. When the other girls were swimming and putting on makeup Sasha was reading comics and studying chemistry. She was a realist and never made any strong connections at school apart from the once scrawny little boy who stood in front of her a man, Battalion Chief Frank Waterborne.
“Tonight is going to be amazing,” Sasha said to Frank while she barged past Frank to make herself comfortable in his chair. “You can sit on the other side, see how you like being on the receiving end of your table.”
With a grin he plopped into the oversized green chair that sat empty opposite his desk all day long. “I take it you didn’t just come here to steal my position?”
“Of course not, I want your pay check as well, Sasha joked. “Has everything been prepared everything for tonight’s big bash? Got the food, the drinks, the wine, the band, the decorations, and most importantly, your suit?”
And in the blink of an eye Frank’s smile turned to dust not even attempting to answer he rushed out the door, down the stairs, through the newly floored garage and down the street. He was determined to get to the suit rental shop before it closed so that he would have something to wear tonight. How could the most blatantly obvious part of his opulent birthday bash slip his mind, of all things he could have forgotten how could he not have remembered to get his suit?