Thursday, 14 March 2013

Abe




Abe was having a bad day, again...

It was about midnight as he walked down the short flight of stairs from the ‘Watch’ room on the first floor of the old Fire Station in Asfordby Street, and he was in a foul mood.

Slamming the door behind him as hard as he could, he was in no mood for stupidity again, tonight.

His feet sounded loud against the worn brown ‘lino’ which covered the wooden stairs, and his fire boots echoed with every slow, deliberate, careful step.

Reaching the door to the middle room, adjacent to where the pump was normally parked up, he pushed the door inwards and strode into the brightly lit room.

The two men, writing up their notes and having a brew, were obviously startled, and visibly horrified as he opened the door and walked in.

“Don’t know what you two have got to be scared of? It’s only me. Who did you think it was?” as he walked through to the door opposite, which would take him through to the rest room and kitchen.

Neither man spoke. They just looked at each other, and probably thought of leaving, judging by the way they gathered their papers together. 

“What have I done now?” he wondered.

That really annoyed Abe. 

Why couldn’t they just have the common decency to say hello. He was getting more and more disgruntled with the way he was continually ignored. 

It hadn’t been like that when he knew all the crews, and his own crew members had been the life and soul of the party. It had been a while now since they had been replaced. And now there were Coppers there.

“This new lot; they’re all ignorant, without exception” he mumbled. “Don’t know how to talk to people, this generation” he said to himself. 

One had recently once stood in his way and wouldn’t move. Never spoke, but still stood there, almost as if he wasn’t welcome. Abe had to walk round him.

“So you don’t like Firemen, get used to it” he moaned.

It was his workplace as much as it was theirs, so share and share alike, that’s what he would have preferred, just like the old days.

Last night, he had stayed in the mess room until about three in the morning as there were no calls, and the whole station seemed quiet. He was the only one up and about, from what he could make out.

He was ready for a leg stretch, and didn’t want to disturb anybody, so he had removed his boots and tiptoed downstairs instead.

When he went through to the kitchen, to see what was in the pantry, there was just one of the Coppers, all on his own. The others were obviously out at a job, and there was no sign of the pump. He must have slept through it, just like he always seemed to these days.

The minute he walked through the door, the poor chap on the other side was so surprised, that he ran out of the room, and straight out of the front door; didn’t even stop to turn off the lights. 

“Looks like you’ve seen a ghost” Abe had joked

This seemed to be happening a lot these days. Nobody stayed around for long when he came down. 

They were always ready to talk to each other though, complaining about him and his ‘strange’ ways.

“Did you hear him last night, half past two, slamming doors and banging on the stairs?” one had asked his mate. 

“If they don’t do something about it soon, I’m going to ask to go back to Charles Street. It’s him or me. I can’t stand it here.” said the other.

“Why can’t they just tell me to my face, and let me explain, then they might understand? But ignoring me, or walking off when I try and be friendly, it’s just downright rude” Abe thought to himself, which he did a lot of recently.

About four o’clock that morning, the front door opened, and in walked one of the regulars, and he had another new bloke with him. Abe waited patiently to be introduced.

“So, you’ve never been up here before then?” said the regular.

“No, it’s my first week in the job” replied the new bloke.

“Well, you may find that this is not a place you would want to work, as most of the time there will only be you, or perhaps two of you, and it’s not a place to be on your own, not at night” said the regular.

“Why’s that?” asked the new bloke.

“Years ago, this used to be a fire station, as well as a Police Station. Their bit was over the far side, where the bikes now live. In 1937, one of their Station Officers, a man named Hincks, died here. All sorts of stories about him being taken ill and falling over, but whatever the reason, he fell over and died upstairs, and it wasn’t until his crew had left that they realised what had happened” said the regular.

“And he’s never left the place. Not every night, but most nights, you will hear footsteps on the floor above, or doors opening and closing, footsteps on the stairs. If you go down through the old cells to the locker room, it’s like a mortuary – freezing, even on a summer’s night. I’ve seen hard men run off from this place, just at the thought of old Abe” he continued.

Abe shook his head and walked back to the door to the stairs, throwing it open in another fit of pique, much to the Officers’ consternation.

“What chance do I have, when that’s how they talk about me?



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