Ok, it’s really been interesting revisiting this manuscript because I’d completely forgotten that I’d written it from the perspective of both of the main characters. This sets up a challenge with how I should label each entry going forward. My initial thought was Maya, Maya.2, Maya.3 or something like that. But this is a level of complexity I wasn’t anticipating. Please share your suggestions in the comments.
Disclaimer: Also, since putting this away in 2000, some of the location references no longer exist 🤷🏾♀️so just go with me here and suspend reality.
After battling a four-alarm fire in a warehouse on Halstead, Shannon Reynolds, wanted nothing more than to hit his hard mattress at the station and sleep. Only when he returned the alarm went off again. On days like today Shannon hated his job, what were these people trying to do, recreate the “Chicago Fire”?
This time the call was to 646 North Michigan Ave. and for some reason the address seemed familiar to him. Shannon always used the ride to a fire to think about his life and question how it had gone so far off the path that he had chosen. Why did he feel that he was stuck in neutral? Why couldn’t a well-educated, physically formidable man stand up to his family and live the way he’d always dreamed? Shannon came from a strong family tree, most times too strong for its own good, he often thought. He had always wanted to be different; “try something new” was the motto he tried to live by. He wanted so desperately to break free from the glue that held the Reynolds’ clan together.
For three generations the men in his family followed in the footsteps of their great patriarch Clarence Reynolds, the first black fire fighter in the City of Chicago. Clarence Reynolds feared nothing or no one and it seemed every male born with the Reynolds name strived for nothing less. The Reynolds had become a family to be reckoned with, they were now major movers and shakers in “the city with the big shoulders”. But Shannon was different, as a child he was never interested in politics and could care less how the city ran. He didn’t want to be another Reynolds working for the city of Chicago in any capacity. For this reason Shannon spent most of his life taking special steps to set himself off on a different path. He had to admit that his determination to be so different from everyone else stemmed from always feeling that he never had any control in his life. When he was told to go left, he always went right. So with some planning and a lot of hard work Shannon won a full scholarship to study Youth Development at the University of Chicago and was able to graduate at the top of his class.
Even during those four years he was in school there was always the pull from his family to give up his plans to guide those who were at highest risk, Chicago’s underprivileged and marginalized youth, and come into the “family business”. After all these years, he still couldn’t believe they thought working as a public servant in the city as the “family business”. In turn, his family couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t want to be powerful in a powerful city; to do what? Work with a bunch of brats who thought they knew everything any way.
After enduring four years of pressure, when Shannon graduated he gave in and joined the department. He figured that he’d use the time in the departmant to decide what to do next. When he thought of how things had turned out, how much he had given up to please his family, it always left him with an empty feeling inside.
Shannon was suddenly shaken back to reality, as always, when the truck stopped in front of Crate and Barrel. Now he knew why the address had sounded so familiar to him, this was one of his favorite pieces of architecture. This beautiful structure was engulfed in flames and there were five or six people trapped on the top level. Because of the late hour, Shannon assumed they were employees. With so few people in the store his job would be made easier.
The first thing they had to do was let the police get control of the crowd that was beginning to gather on the sidewalk and in the street. Once that was done they could safely go about putting out the fire and rescue the people who were trapped inside.
Shannon was on the ladder bringing down the last person when he noticed a beautiful woman standing in the crowd crying. He wondered if someone she cared for had been trapped inside or like him, was she mourning the loss of a work of architectural brilliance. But he could only think about this for a moment before he was up the ladder again, this time with a hose.
By the time the fire was out, the crowd had moved on and Shannon was just happy it was over and everyone was safe. He now only wanted to think of his two days off and he planned to do nothing, not even think.