In Case of Fire

A fire hydrant at night.

It stood watch over it’s corner, counting the flurry of commuters passing it by. The brick and asphalt that it sat on was coated in water mixed with oil and fuel that reflected the light from the street lamp above.

The bricks were being forced up by the roots of the tree. They were only set in sand, and were susceptible to upheaval. The bricks were spotted with pock marks and the remains of chewing gum. A few leaves were held in place by the suction of the surface moisture.

The hydrant itself had been painted and repainted over the years. It was currently a muddied green. It’s base was thick and topped by eight heavy bolts. The bolts had to be heavy to hold back the rush of water that pushed to get out.

This hydrant hadn’t been used in case of fire in decades, but wore a brooch that certified that it was in good working order per this summer’s test. It was an especially important hydrant that was ready to protect the three-story red bricked box on the corner. The old school building was one and a third centuries old. Its huge double hung windows were topped by another arched pane. They had been bricked over with newer bricks that looked pink in contrast to the deep red of the old bricks. Better bricks than broken glass.

Nobody wanted that old building, despite it’s prime location across from a swanky hotel and even swankier retail. Any new owners were subject to the heavy hand of its immediate neighbor, the U.S. Secret Service. The fire hydrant stood vigil for them, too.

In the meantime, late at night and early in the morning, big city rats would cross the same paths that pedestrians scurried over during the day. Sometimes a wayward conventioneer would steady themselves on it before they crossed the street back to their hotel. The occasional meeting between the city rat and its country cousin would be exaggerated to monstrous proportions over a coffee, cheese omelette and headache in the morning.

 

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