Fifty Shades of Batman

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In An Unnamed American City, somewhere near the Gulf Coast, in the Spring of 2006.

Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

“Fire Alarm calling Ladder Two.”

Wellshit…, I thought. We had been inside the grocery store for around ten minutes and had a cart full of stuff. As we did not receive as many calls as Engine Two, we handled the shopping duties as soon as the shift allowed. It was around 11:30am on a Friday. Maybe they just have some info to give us, I thought as a keyed the radio.

“Go for Ladder Two.”

“Fire Alarm to Ladder Two, switch to TAC One for a still.”

I switched my radio to the assigned channel and heard the alert tone. We handed our basket to an employee who wheeled it towards the back of the store. Getting interrupted by calls happened from time to time and the store stuck our cart in the freezer for us until we could return.

“Ladder Two and Medic Seven. Still Alarm. {Address omitted}. EMS call. Unknown emergency.”

My E/O had stayed outside with the truck and he had the engine running and the emergency lights on as we walked out of the door. I climbed into the front of the cab and checked the computer for the call notes. It didn’t give me much. Just that a neighbor called in and said she heard the woman next door calling for help and saying that she was stuck.

“Get outta the way, you dumb mother—-r!” my E/O yelled at a car hesitant to yield as we pulled out of the parking lot.

I flipped on the siren and stomped the air horn pedal as I radioed, “Ladder Two responding to the still.”

Fire Alarm confirmed we were in route and I followed up by asking, “Ladder Two to Fire Alarm, have PD make the scene too.”

Typically, our police department did not respond to our calls unless it was the type of call that they would be at anyway. (Car accidents, crime related injuries, etc). Since this call was for an unknown problem, I made a command decision to go ahead and have an officer or two there just in case we needed them. I operated under the idea that it was better to have help and not need it than to need help and not have it.

We had our headsets on and I listened to my two firefighters in the back talk. One was going into great detail about the various acts, quite gymnastic I must admit, performed by his latest girlfriend the night before. Sometimes I think if the general public knew the kind of stuff we talked about while speeding through traffic on our way to a call, we’d all end up in the Mental Hospital.

I’d only been the OIC (Officer in Charge) on Ladder Two for a couple of months having transferred over from Engine One where I’d been a Lieutenant for a couple of years. (I didn’t put in for it. Let’s just say it was an administrative reassignment). Two days ago, I’d received word that the transfer I did put in for, to the Arson Bureau, had been approved and I’d be starting the police academy in a month. On Engine One, we ran 14 or so calls a shift, in an area referred to uncharitably as “the ghetto”. Station Two protected a more genteel part of town, with residential neighborhoods filled with homes that all looked alike and Karens lurking behind every bush ready to demand to speak with someone in charge about our sirens being too loud, or us having to break windows when their house caught fire. It was a bit of a culture shock to me. Though I’m white myself, I didn’t grow up around many white people and I don’t know how to behave around middle-class white folks. In my two months, I’d managed to rack up a few citizen complaints due to my tendency to speak bluntly, and sometimes profanely

We turned off the main drag into a neighborhood. I reached over and cut the siren off. No need to anger another Karen, even though it was high noon on a weekday. A quick right, followed by a left, and we halted in front of a single-story residence. There were two cars in the driveway. Next door, a woman in a mumu and slippers waved at us.

“Jesus,” I said. “I knew I should’ve ran away and joined the Foreign Legion.”

We climbed out of the truck and I walked over to the good citizen who, I assumed, had been the 911 caller.

“It took you long enough to get here,” she said by way of introduction.

(It had taken us three minutes from the time of dispatch, which isn’t bad at all. But try explaining that to a civilian.)

“Are you the caller?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

I thought she would continue, but she didn’t, so I had to say, “Why don’t you tell me what the problem is.”

“I was doing some gardening on the side of my house,” she said. “I saw Kyle come home. Sometimes he comes home for lunch on Fridays. He went inside. I don’t know how much time passed, but then I heard Hayley calling for help through the window. I walked over and asked what was wrong and she said she was stuck and needed help. She’s not hurt. Just stuck. That’s when I called.”

“Okay,” I said. “why don’t you take me over to the window.”

I motioned my crew to stay by the truck and followed the woman over to the window. I kept well away from her flower beds, but she made a point to tell me not to step in them anyway. When I reached the window, I put my mouth up against the screen and yelled, “Fire Department! Can anyone hear me?”

“Yes!”

I heard the faint sound of a woman’s voice.

“Ma’am,” I said. “Are you hurt? Are you in any danger?”

“No,” she said. “I’m not hurt. But I’m stuck. Can you help me get out?”

“We can, ma’am,” I said. “Tell me your name.”

“It’s Hayley,” she said.

“Okay, listen to me, Hayley. We need to get inside the house. Do you have a spare key hidden anywhere outside?”

“No,” she said. “That isn’t safe to do is it?”

“Never mind,” I said. “We are going to have to force the door. Is that okay?”

“Yes!” she said. “Stop talking and do it.”

Now there’s a girl that knows how to take charge, I thought. When I walked back around to the front of the house, I saw the ambulance and one patrol car had arrived. The two medics leaned against the side of the ambulance watching the house. The police officer walked up to me and I filled him in on the situation.

“Do you think someone is keeping her captive in there?” he asked.

“Uh…no,” I said. “If you were going to hold someone hostage, would you let them talk to the fire department through the window?”

“What if the kidnapper is taking a nap or something?” the officer suggested.

I looked at him for a moment and then turned away to my crew. I yelled for them to grab the irons off the truck and then we met at the front door.

“Take it,” I said as I stepped aside. My two firefighters made short work of the lock and the door swung inward. Perhaps I should’ve sent the police officer in ahead of us given that I didn’t know what I was walking into. But this was in the days of when I thought I was invincible, which I continued to do until the night I found out I wasn’t.

“Fire Department! Where are you?” I yelled as I stepped into the foyer. The furnishings in the house were nice, much nicer than I was used to seeing inside the myriad of houses I’d been in on the job. The place was clean too. It smelled like pine or Glade Air Freshener.

“Back here!” came the reply.

I turned the corner and saw that a short hallway dead ended into a door. From my memory of the exterior of the home, I knew this would lead to the room where Miss Hayley was stuck…though in what or by what remained to be seen. When I reached the door, I paused for a moment, my hand on the doorknob, and took a deep breath. Then I pushed it open.

Nothing in my academy training or the years I had spent on the job could have prepared me for the sight my eyes beheld. The room was a small, obviously not the master bedroom. There was a desk along the right wall and there was a bed directly beneath the window from where I had made verbal contact with my victim. There was a low hanging ceiling fan as well. Oh, and my victim? Miss Hayley was a young blonde woman in her mid-twenties. She was a natural blonde. How did I know that from my vantage point in the doorway?

Well, Dear Reader, she was spread eagle with her wrists and ankles handcuffed to bed. Naked. Butt naked.

“Um, don’t worry ma’am, we’ll get you free in just a second,” I said as I turned to face my crew who were busy trying to peer over my shoulder. “One of you dipshits go grab me a towel or blanket. Or robe. Something. And tell Officer Donut to get his ass in here. We need his handcuff keys.”

“No! I’m fine!” Hayley insisted.

You certainly are, I thought before I banished such unprofessional ideas from my head.

“The key is on the desk,” she said. “I don’t need help. He does.”

“Who does, ma’am?” I asked. It was then that I noticed a few drops of blood on the bed in between her legs, around the level of her knees.

“Kyle! My husband!” she insisted as she jerked her head towards the wall to the left (from my position) of the bed.

I walked over and looked down into the narrow space between the bed and the wall. I found Kyle. He was unconscious and bleeding from the head. He was wearing a Batman costume. I mean, complete with cape and everything. It was a nice costume.

As Officer Donut unfastened Hayley from the bed, I had to figure out what we were going to do with Batman. There wasn’t room to get to him, so we were going to have to move the bed. But we knew he had a head injury and I had to take into account that he might also have suffered a neck or spine injury. Batman was laying on his right side, with his back facing the bed. I had an idea.

“Look guys,” I said, “lets see if we can wedge a backboard in there behind him. We’ll use that to keep him in this position while we move the bed. Then, I can squeeze in there and hold his head in place while we roll him onto his back. Anybody have a better idea?”

No one did. Officer Donut and the two medics pulled the bed back as we slid the backboard in between Batman and the bed. Then, I held his head while we slowly rolled him over onto his back and then slid him out from beside the bed. I accepted a c-collar from one of the medics and put it around Batman’s neck. He was starting to wake up.

I slapped a dressing on the gash on his forehead. It was going to need some stitches and he’d have a hell of a headache in the morning, but I figured he’d be fine.

“Is he okay?”

I was kneeling down when I heard Hayley’s voice behind me. I turned and looked over my shoulder to tell her that he would be, and I noticed that she was still naked. And I was eye level with her…well…you know.

“I thought I told one of you assholes to get her a blanket or something,” I said to my crew.

“It’s okay,” she said. “I’m fine.”

You know, if I wrote my firefighting memoirs, I would call it A Thousand Naked Strangers. But there is already a book by that title. Batman was able to tell me his name (Kyle), where he was, and what day it was. His pupils were equal and reactive. I stepped back and let the medics take over. They loaded him on the stretcher and wheeled him away. Hayley said she would follow them to the hospital. I suggested she get dressed first.

Before we left, Hayley told me what had happened. Kyle had “attached” her to the bed and went into the other room to change into his Batman costume. When he re-entered the room, he sort of fluffed his cape and went to dive onto the bed. He misjudged his jump and went head first into the ceiling fan which then deflected his path and sent him onto the floor instead of the bed.

I figured we’d all be laughing about this around the station for months to come. But, Dear Readers, there is an even funnier postscript to this story, but I’ll have to save that one for another day. Note, Dear Readers, that the subjects of today’s tale were trend setters. This happened before the whole Fifty Shades of Grey thing. After those books came out, calls involving handcuffs increased.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

L.H.

One thought on “Fifty Shades of Batman

  1. Holy heck of a handcuff hardship, Batman! *Mr. LH: I enjoy your writing, so much! Someday a collection of your Ghost blogs in book form? We can hope!!🏆. Mrs. K😊

    Liked by 1 person

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