In my sunset years, I opted to become a volunteer firefighter, the oldest rookie in the known history of the Southampton, NY, Fire Department, protecting greater Southampton, on Long Island’s East End, since 1881. At 68 years young, I whipped through the classroom stuff and survived the...
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All the next day, I am groggy. Only then do I realize what a blow the cold had delivered. That hour and a half of exposure wracked me like a full-body concussion. As it happens, I am up early to take the 6:30 Jitney to Manhattan. On the way to the bus station, something impels me to go see the wound I experienced only from a distance. I veer my Jeep a couple of blocks out of my way and turn up Hillcrest, peering for the remains of all that action. In the pre-dawn darkness, it’s surprisingly hard to locate the right house. The first time, I drive past without recognizing a thing. Turning around, I finally pick out the place. The shell of the building still stands, like an empty carton. I see a security SUV in the driveway, nesting back in the shadows. I shiver at the sight of the charred, empty home where fire and smoke stole an old man’s life.