Patrick the Fireman, part 1
I walk into Lollygag with my friends and the hottest guy I have ever seen there is sitting at the bar. He has short blond hair and a square chiseled jaw and he's wearing black eyeliner and black nail polish. Sitting next to him is a bigger guy with dark hair gelled up in spikes, also with eyeliner and nail polish. They must be friends because they are dressed in identical leather pants and white t-shirts. They are also both wearing dog collars and the shorter guy has left the chain dangling down his back. As we walk by them, I have the strongest urge to yank on that chain.
But I don't.
I'm not really feeling on my game tonight. I've spent the day at Sharon and Cyril's house, practicing music and just hanging out. The decision to come to Lollygag was a spur of the moment thing--Cyril talked us all into it after dinner. I didn't have time to change before we left, so I'm dressed in what I like to think of as my Ren Faire lite outfit: a flowy white cotton tunic with an ankle-length tartan skirt and a black leather bodice. Which is fine for hanging around with friends who always dress like extras in a Shakespeare play, not so good for looking hot at a club, even a goth club.
"I look like Snow White," I complain to Cyril as we sit down at one of the tables by the dance floor.
"You look fine," he reassures me irritably for the tenth time since I agreed to come along.
We nurse our drinks for a little while, waiting for the club to fill up a bit more. Eventually all five of us head out to the dance floor, even though it's still pretty empty. I try to forget the fact that I look totally dorky as I do the hockey puck and cobwebs dance along with everyone else.
But then dog collar guy from the bar comes up to me and starts dancing with me. I can hardly believe my luck. It has to be the first time ever a guy that hot has picked me out at a club.
And there's no mistaking that he's interested. We grind on each other and he is all over me. I put my arms around him and finger the chain hanging from the dog collar. His eyes glimmer and he gets this wide grin on his face that sets off little sparks in me.
This time, I don't hesitate--I yank right on that chain, forcing him to his knees, and he is loving it. I put my heel against his shoulder and give a little push. He staggers back but doesn't break eye contact. It's incredibly hot.
I'm feeling so confident, I decide to toy with him. Just as he is getting back to his feet, I turn around and march off the dance floor and back over to the bar. He follows me.
"Buy me a drink," I order and he does. I grab onto his chain and don't let go. For the rest of the evening, I pull him around behind me. He's totally into it. Before the night is over, I've gotten his phone number, scrawled on the inside of a matchbook, and his name: Joe.
"See, I told you, you look fine," Cyril says as we drive home.
I want to call Joe immediately, but I force myself to wait a few days, to be cool. My heart is in my mouth as I dial the phone, nervously fingering the matchbook from Lollygag, but Joe sounds happy to hear from me. We make a date to meet for dinner at a chic bistro in Queenstown, the kind of place with a polished concrete floor and the menu written on a big chalkboard.
It's early in the evening on a weeknight, so we mostly have the restaurant to ourselves. Joe shows up dressed normally this time--jeans and a button-down shirt, no eyeliner or nail polish. If anything, he looks even more hot. He has blue eyes that crinkle up when he smiles, a turned-up nose and a broad grin with white, even teeth. He's pretty short, just a few inches taller than I am, but he's got this boyish look I find irresistible.
As we look over the menu, we make small talk. It feels like this is the first time we're meeting--the music was so loud at the club, we hardly talked at all.
"I don't even know your last name," I say.
"Yes, you do," he says. "It's Joe."
"Huh? So what's your first name?"
"Patrick. But everyone calls me Joe."
"I like Patrick better. So Patrick, what do you do?"
"I'm a firefighter/EMT."
"No way! You don't look like a fireman."
"Why not? Because I'm too short? Lemme tell ya, every time there's something stuck in a storm drain, it's 'Hey Joe, get down there!' I'm, like, the most valuable member of the squad."
I laugh. "No, I was going to say because you don't have a mustache."
He rolls his eyes, looking a little embarrassed. "Actually that's true. You should see the other guys at the firehouse."
I still don't quite believe him so I quiz him some more but he's happy to tell me all about his work. He has an endless supply of horror stories, like the hit-and-run driver who was caught because his car's paint was found on the victims front teeth. I can tell he really enjoys the EMT part of his job too, because he goes into a lot of detail about it, medical details that I can't fully follow but like hearing about. Sometimes he helps out in the ER too if they are understaffed.
I find out that he is twenty-four, so two years younger than I am. The other guy who was with him at the club is Mike, also a firefighter/EMT, and his roommate. They've been best friends since they were kids. They live in a little town across the bay from Raser City called Granite Harbor though, which is a bummer. Why is it that every guy I meet lives so far away?
I fill him in on me, how I finished my useless MA but I'm planning on going back to get another degree that will hopefully make me more employable. Patrick seems overly impressed with this bit of information.
"Wow, so you're, like, super smart!"
"No, anyone can get a degree if they stay in school long enough," I say, repeating something a friend in College Town once told me before I started grad school.
He laughs, but still seems amazed in a way that makes me a little uncomfortable. An MA is nothing. I've spent enough time around other grad students to know it definitely doesn't mean you're smarter than anyone else.
As we make our way through dessert, he says suddenly, "I think you should go out with me. Know why?"
"Because I've got a great big tongue and I know how to use it."
If anyone else said this, it would come off as creepy and gross, but he says it with such boyish earnestness, I find it really sexy. And he's got the goods to back it up. He opens his mouth and unfurls what is the widest, flattest tongue I have ever seen. It covers his whole lower jaw. I'm impressed.
"You're on," I say. "You know, when I first saw you sitting at the bar, I so totally wanted to yank on your chain right when I walked in."
His eyes get big. "Oh man, I wish you had done that!" Now I really wish I had too.
We talk more about sex--despite the nail polish and the dog collar, he's still kind of a novice at the SM and goth scene. He and Mike only recently worked up the nerve to check out clubs in Raser City.
I can't bring myself to tell him that I'm a devotee--who knows that word anyway? But I do tell him I have a medical fetish, which is also true. We talk about casting websites I've been looking at recently. I was really into casts when I was a kid, but I've recently discovered it's also a pretty common fetish. Related to being a devotee, but not exactly the same.
"Oh hey, there's tons of casting supplies at work," he says. My eyes light up.
"Could you teach me how to wrap a cast?" I ask. He agrees enthusiastically.
Oh my god, I think I'm in love.
I don't want to mess things up with Patrick by moving too fast. This could be a real relationship, not just a kinkster friends with benefits deal. So despite how hot I am for him, I don't invite him back to my place after dinner. We make plans to meet again, but the night ends with a quick kiss after he drops me off at home.
I've never been the kind of girl who fantasizes about firemen. Or cops or any other alpha male types. Mainly because most of my fantasies involve guys with various disabilities. But suddenly I start to get the appeal.
"All firefighters are insane," Cyril states flatly when I tell him about my date with Patrick.
"What? I thought they were heroes! How can you say that?" I'm a little hurt. Patrick is the most normal guy I've met in years. Maybe ever.
"Think about it. They run into a fire. Normal people run away," he explains like I'm a child.
"But that's just their job!" I protest.
"No, they choose that job for a reason. I've met some firefighters and they all have serious issues," he warns me.
Whatever. That sounds like rank prejudice to me. Besides, Cyril is a fine one to talk about mental issues.
For our second date (although to me it feels like the third), Patrick picks me up at my apartment and takes me out to dinner at an Italian place downtown. I know nothing about cars, but he's got some sporty little number with a stick shift. As he's zipping across lanes on the way downtown, he tells me that his father is a retired NASCAR driver. Actually, he qualifies that--adopted father.
"They said my biological parents were students at Lester State," he says, as I watch the campus whizzing by. "They adopted me right after I was born."
"Um, that's good, right?" I'm not really sure what to say to something so personal.
"Yeah, I guess. They gave me a better life," he says tonelessly.
There's an awkward silence for a few minutes, until he goes back to talking about his work. Suddenly he's animated and excited again.
Patrick explains to me that there are two kinds of ambulances: the ones funded by the city and run out of firehouses (like where he works), and ones run by private companies. Patrick has nothing but contempt for the private ambulances, which are staffed by poorly trained EMTS. Over dinner, he tells me a long story about a particularly horrific case. A guy fell at home and broke his leg--a compound fracture, with the bone actually protruding. Rather than taking him straight to the ER, one of the EMTs tried to set the fracture himself, but screwed up and severed a vein. Now the guy's in danger of bleeding out. Realizing they're in big trouble, the EMTs finally loaded him into the ambulance and took off, but on the way to the hospital, the driver hit a tree.
"Oh my god," I say, setting down a forkful of spaghetti. These stories make me a little dizzy--I have always hated gore. But they also inspire a kind of morbid curiosity. "So what happened to the guy?"
"He died! Can you believe that shit?"
"Jesus! That's horrible! He died because of a broken leg? Man, that's messed up."
"No kidding. Don't ever get in an ambulance run by A*** Services."
I consider this bit of useful advice, but really, if you're lying bleeding in the road, what are you going to say? No, go get me a real ambulance?
"So what's the fastest you've ever driven?" I ask, changing the subject slightly.
"Oh man, this one time, we had a three year old in cardiac arrest. I didn't even look at the speedometer. I just floored it, and we were like zoooom!" He gestures with his hands, sliding one against the other as if he were taking off.
"So what happened?"
He smiles, his eyes crinkling up and deep creases appearing around his wide mouth. "She's fine now. I still see her around." Granite Harbor is a small town, the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else, and he's lived there his whole life, so that's not surprising. Watching him talk with pride about his work, seeing his blue eyes shine as he tells the good stories, the ones with happy endings, it's easy to see him as a kind of civic hero. How could what Cyril said be true?
But because I have a bad habit of blurting out whatever's on my mind, I ask him anyway.
"So my friend Cyril said all firemen have issues," I say, expecting him to refute it, but instead he just shrugs.
"Firefighters have the highest divorce rate of any career," he says seriously, like he's warning me. But instead all I can think is, oh my god, he's thinking of a relationship with me!
"Then it's true that all firemen are really pyromaniacs?"
He laughs in a kind of embarrassed way. "Well, duh. Some guys out of a different station house in Granite Harbor went to jail last year for setting a fire. They got bored of having nothing to do so they set fire to an abandoned house then came back with the truck to put it out."
"Yeah, they were really dumb to think they wouldn't get caught. Like, the first thing we're taught is how to recognize arson. But really, fires don't happen that often. Most of what we do is sit around the station."
After dinner, Patrick drives me home. Because it's dark, and because he's a gentleman, he walks me right to the door of my apartment at the back of the house. I know I should play hard to get, string him along for more sexless dates before inviting him in. But god, I'm so turned on and I want him so bad. And the whole game-playing, wait x number of dates thing seems so pointless. If he doesn't respect me already, how many days do I have to wait before he does? What is the proper amount of time to wait? If we both want to do it, what are we waiting for anyway?
He gives me a kiss that gets hotter and hotter the longer it goes on. Finally I come up for air.
"Would you like to come in?" I ask. He grins.
"Oh wow, this place is so cool!" he says, standing in the middle of the room, taking in my tiny one room apartment--the deep blue entry, the chocolate brown walls with the gold leaf pattern, the Pre-Raphaelite posters on the walls.
"Thanks. I like it," I say.
Because there is no sofa, only a bed and a desk with a single chair, we sit kind of awkwardly on the floor. But then he grabs me and we start kissing again, more roughly this time. I push him down and kiss him hard, and he responds by flipping me over, so now he's leaning over me as I lie on my back. For a moment, he just stays like that, looking into my face, that deep, long gaze you only do with someone you're about to have sex with. I stare right back at him the same way.
Suddenly, I realize that he doesn't have two blue eyes as I had assumed. The left one is blue, but the right is green, and the pupil isn't round--it's shaped like a keyhole.
"Hey, you noticed," he says, laughing and sits back on his heels.
I sit up too. "What happened to your eye?"
"When I was eight, I was trying to hang a poster on my bedroom wall, but when I went to hammer in the tack, it flipped back and went right in my eye."
"Oh my god!"
"Yeah, the doctor managed to save my vision, but because of that I wasn't allowed to play any sport where there was a chance I could get hit in the face with a ball or anything. It might've messed up my eye. That's why I did gymnastics and skiing."
"Cool! Show me some flips!" I insist. He had already mentioned the gymnastics over dinner, now I want proof.
"Ok, move out of the way." I scramble up on the bed. Patrick kicks off his shoes, then positions himself in one corner of the Persian carpet as if it were a gymnastics mat. He does two forward flips, one after another, lands neatly in the opposite corner, then does a few more tumbling passes, never moving off the carpet.
It's impressive, but I can't stop thinking about his eye. He could have been blind in one eye, maybe even in both. Without proper treatment, a puncture wound to one eye can spread to the other eye too; it's called sympathetic blindness.
In reality, I know Patrick's vision is better than mine--he doesn't even need glasses. I usually wear contacts. Without them I'm so nearsighted I can barely see the biggest letter on the eye chart. But something about that story and the look of his mismatched eyes hits my dev sweet spot. Now that I know, I can see it clearly even across the room. I can't believe I didn't notice it sooner.
His tumbling routine finished, Patrick joins me on the bed. He's breathing hard, his cheeks flushed. I tackle him and we wrestle like puppies, rolling around and around in the bed. I love that he's not much bigger than I am; it makes me feel like our bodies fit together perfectly. But he's much stronger than I am--wiry, with hard, lean muscles. After a few minutes of letting me have the upper hand, he tosses me down and yanks open the button fly on my jeans with his teeth.
He was not kidding about knowing how to use that giant dog tongue. I let myself go, and it feels incredible. I do my best for him in return, even though I don't think I'm that great at giving head. But he seems satisfied.
So much for waiting.
But maybe Patrick is taking this seriously anyway, because he doesn't make excuses and run out the minute he gets off. No, he sleeps over the whole night. In the morning we go out for breakfast before he drives back to Granite Harbor. I get pancakes with strawberry syrup. I swear nothing has ever tasted so good.