A burning timber crashed down. Skleric jumped to his left to escape it. The timber missed the fallen firefighter covered by debris five feet away. Skleric saw the man's helmet poking out. It had a New York baseball decal on it. Dubinski. Skleric scrambled over.
Ten minutes later, watching the paramedics load Dubinski into the ambulance, Skleric reached up reflexively and touched the side of his own helmet, where the other New York team's logo was covered in ash. Personal decals were against regulations, as their captain reminded the two of them, with a weary shake of his head, almost every day. Skleric flashed back years before, when his dad told him their team's colors, orange and blue, represented one color from each of the two teams that had abandoned New York and sauntered off to Fruitcake Land on the West Coast.
Just the day before, Skleric and Dubinski had gotten into it again at the firehouse. "You guys have two World Series," Dubinski had said. "You've got '69, which was a frickin' fluke, and '86. That's it. We've got 27, baby. Count 'em and weep."
"You dumb Pollack," Skleric had shot back. "You've got rich fat cats. Those are your fans. We've got real people."
"Look, you dumb...I don't even know what you are. What kind of name is Skleric?"
"American," Skleric had said.
As soon as he got off shift the next day, straight from a fire and still in full gear, Skleric went to the hospital to see Dubinski. He sat in a chair next to the bed, helmet in his lap.
"You saved my life, you jerk," said Dubinski.
Skerlic snorted. "Yeah, well, that was easy!" He fingered the baseball decal on his helmet. "Watching the Mets lose to the Yankees last night, that was hard."
(Word count: 300)