Safe Haven


          The babies began to pile up. The firehouse had been deemed a “safe haven,” but the firemen only had so many bottles, so many diapers. Soon toddlers, a few grade-school kids were found on the stoop. Then an adolescent; a mother-in-law. People just dropped off whomever they didn’t want—feeble veterans, annoying aunts, co-workers, and old flames, too. All became orphans and cast-offs. It got to the point where the firemen couldn’t slide down their pole without crushing heads. They joked the mass of bodies were a fire hazard. “Har-har-har!!”
          The chief knew he needed to take action. He called the whip in the State House. 
          “Damnit, Teddy, can’t you boys do something?!” 
          “Sorry, Fred-o, legislature’s on break for the May Day recess.” 
          The chief was going to put his foot down, but he was afraid of stepping on someone.
          So the chief asked that the ladder captain to do a study. Why was nobody wanted? 
          A few days later, the ladder captain reported back that things didn’t look so good: according to his calculations, the whole town would be dropped off before he could deduce more accurate figures. The chief proposed that they put up posters which declared: love, kindness, gratitude. The firemen laughed at this idea. “Har-har-har!!”
          The chief was fed up. No one cared. All his public service seemed like so much hooha. He watched a house ablaze in his mind, heard it crack and chortle as its beams came down. 
           “Har-har-har!!” No one gave a fickle, flying—— 
          The chief’s nose scrunched up. The station smelled of soiled diapers and old lady’s perfume.
          “Hmp! To hell with y’all,” the chief said, and stomped off, cracking a few brittle bones on the way. He skulked outside to the stoop, where he could be abandoned to his own thoughts. Whatever passion had kindled in him had been snuffed. The longer he thought about this predicament, in fact, the more the idea seemed sorta funny to him. Before long, the chief started laughing: “Har-har-har!!” He knew no place without some meanness in it.