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An Emergency Story by



“We met at The Broken Spoke Restaurant and Lounge

On the inside of a matchbook that was layin' on the bar

And a fire started burning somewhere in my heart…”

John Gage looked on, flames shooting from the roof, engine companies following each other in. For a brief moment he was in that fire, doing the things he was taught to do. Moving around, the cold steel brought him back to reality. He was handcuffed, in the back of a patrol car. He was the one whom brought out the second alarm assignment.

Getting off duty was one of the hardest things he had done. The fire had been terrible. Many displaced families scrambling for safety. Many rescues had him running in and out of the building, the adrenaline keeping him calm and focused. Returning to the station he had hit rock bottom. He was so tired he could barely think.

He didn’t even change clothes. He got into his Land Rover and headed home. As he passed the neighboring houses life seemed normal. Closing in on his driveway he noticed his wife’s car missing. He pulled into the paved parking space.

Getting out he walked to the door. Opening the door, the hallway was bare. An echo of the steps he took radiated through the barren house.  Looking down he noticed a faded book of matches lying on the floor. He picked them up. A very plain message was written on the cover, Broken Spoke Restaurant and Lounge.


“…But today when I came home, my key was hollow in the door

And there was nothin' but a worn out book of matches on the floor

You took the bed; you took the dishes and the car

And you broke my trust, and you took advantage of my heart

And you left me there, with empty rooms, and walls with holes and scars and scratches

At least you left the matches

The color's old and faded; the cover's worn and stained

But I can still make out the numbers and the heart beside your name…”


It had been one of the few times he had been on a blind date. The guys at the station were always teasing him about finding the right woman. Sitting at the bar he saw her walk in. The room stopped as they locked eyes. He knew in his heart she was the one. Not a spoken word and he knew this was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

She sat down unsure if whom she’d meet. John walked over to the young lady and asked her name. She simply said “Sarah”. They both began to smile and shook hands. John took a seat beside her and ordered drinks.

Long into the evening they shared their most imitate thoughts. Losing track of time the lights came on, closing the bar. Grabbing a matchbook Sarah wrote her name and number on the inside cover and gave it to John. Walking her to a cab neither one knew what their lives would entail. One little matchbook changing their lives.

Almost a year later John and Sarah graced the Broken Spoke with their wedding party. Two people had spent almost an entire lifetime alone were now walking through life together. She embraced being John’s wife to the fullest. She was proud to look at a man whom put his life on the line for others. It was also one of the things she had grown into regretting about their life.

While they were apart they were two totally different people. Finding the courage she waited until John left. She began packing her things. As she decided what to keep the movers arrived. In just a few short hours she was gone. Sitting in her car almost driving away she noticed the book of matches lying in a box.

Taking a deep breath she opened them. Only one match had been lit. Remaining were a faded name and a number. She walked back to the house as the movers removed the last of the contents. Walking into the open door she threw down the matchbook, and closed her eyes. A brief moment later she and the truck were just a memory.

John had parked the Land Rover into the back lot of the Broken Spoke. He had been trying to call every number that he could. There was no answer. She was gone. Making one last call in the lobby he walked into the bar. He had a seat and began drinking.

As the patrons came and went he kept telling the story showing the matchbook. Thinking he was just another drunk they didn’t believe him. Grabbing a bottle from behind the bar he began pouring it from each side of the bar to the other. Everyone stopped and began looking at him. Striking the matches he threw them onto the wet bar. Flames engulfed the entire bar.

“…Until tonight they'd only lit a single cigarette

Now one by one I'm striking them to help me forget

And everybody at The Broken Spoke, well they all thought my crazy story was a joke…”

Everyone began to panic and made their way outside to the parking lot. John walked out and stood also looking at the building. His instinct had been to make sure everyone was out. Not this time. He just stood staring into the building.

“…Now they're all out in the parking lot, staring at the smoke…”

Without giving up a fight the police placed him in handcuffs and into the back of a patrol car.

“…Baby all that's left of our love now is ashes. Thank God you left the matches.”


Posted to Site 02/14/13

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