-an Oregon Firebirds romance story-
The Oregon Firebirds are the very best at one thing—saving homes. Finding their own poses problems.
Drew Shaw and Amos Berkowitz could be twins. They laugh like twins, they tease each other like twins, and they’re both wildland firefighting helicopter pilots from the Big Apple and proud of it.
Except Drew hails from New York’s Upper West Side, while Amos prides himself on his Brooklyn heritage.
Julie and Natalie Falcone are twins. And after a season fighting fires as Hotshots the last thing they want to tangle with are the likes of Drew and Amos. But one fire leads to another and then the heat really starts to build.
Enjoy this heartwarming conclusion to the Oregon Firebirds short story series.
“On your tail, bro,” Amos followed close behind Drew’s helicopter. “We’re like stooping pigeons nailing those breadcrumbs.”
“That’s ‘stooping hawks,’ you dweeb. And those are fifteen hundred degree breadcrumbs.” Drew carved an arc and dumped his load of water from the MD 520N’s belly tank. Two hundred gallons sheeted down the front of the already burning house.
“But we’re super brave pigeons.” With most of the burning cedar doused for the moment—what doofus shingled with cedar and didn’t keep the forest cut back from his house—Amos decided to dump his own fifteen hundred pounds of water across the burning trees that had ignited the front of the house in the first place.
“I’m a brave hawk anyway,” Drew Shaw offered up one of his laughs on their private helo-to-helo frequency. “You, Berkowitz, just can’t help following me along wherever I go, like the sad Brooklyn pigeon you are.”
Now that was playing dirty. “Just making way for your monster Upper West Side ego, bro.”
“Yes, some of us are just superior and know it.”
Amos considered a couple of different response ploys, but none of them were going to pan out well. Drew was hard to knock down because he was a dashingly handsome black guy with a big smile and a clean-shaved scalp that shone in the sunlight or in the bars. Maybe he waxed it at night. Amos was always the frumpy Jewish sidekick with too much dark curly hair.
So, he let Drew have the round and focused on his flying.
Thankfully this house and the next had big swimming pools. Amos slid over his chosen pool and lowered the snorkel hose from his hovering helo. He hit the pump switch and sighted along the house’s second-story deck to hold his altitude while he loaded up. His helo could suck up its own weight in water in under twenty seconds.
“Sure I follow you, Drew. Someone’s got to clean up your poo.” The FCC got pissy if you said “s**t” over the radio—or even “pissy” for that matter. Really cramped a guy’s style. What heli-aviation firefighter said “poo”?
It made the rebuttal doubly weak—both late and lame. Drew didn’t even deign to answer. Instead, he just flashed one of those lady-killing smiles at him from where he hovered above the next pool over.
Twenty seconds later, Amos killed the pump switch, and lifted high enough to clear the house and return to its front yard. Sometimes they had to fly five or even ten minutes to find a water source. With those constrictions, the little MD 520Ns were of little use. Luckily this part of the wildfire was moving into a well-pooled neighborhood—bad for the neighborhood, but good for them. Saving houses was what the little helos of the Oregon Firebirds did best.
All six were aloft today, but the wildfire’s front was such a mess that they’d split into three teams of two instead of their more typical two-of-three arrangement. These houses were on large plots of one and two acres, most with little attention to the wildland-urban interface they were creating. That meant that when a wildfire lit up the forest, it had a tendency to light up the houses as well.
The shared command frequency was quiet. After a long summer and most of fall, the Firebirds all knew their task sequence like it had been hardwired into their nervous system. Tank up. Douse each structure (burning or not) to soak it down. Don’t fight the fire to a standstill—wasn’t going to happen anyway at two hundred gallons at a time. Instead, cut a wedge and chase the fire around either side of the structure. Residents might not have to mow the lawn for a while, but they’d have a home to come back to.
As the day dragged on, their banter dragged as well. Which was fine. No point in using it all up before they hit the bar after the no-flying-past-sunset rule knocked them out of the sky. The boss had them on a two-beer limit—which was hard to hit because they also had an eight-hour, from-bottle-to-throttle limit and sunrise still came early. But banter and “I fly a firefighting helo for a living”—especially the latter—went a long way to loosening up the ladies for a night or three.
That he’d picked up Dad’s workout habits didn’t hurt either. Dad had learned the hard way that you couldn’t support a family playing Division II soccer in the US. So he’d gotten into fashion photography, but never stopped with the workouts. They’d sweat together most nights in the basement gym. Mom had given up on him and left long before he became successful at fashion. He was successful in more ways then one. Drew had become used to finding hot women, models, randomly being there for breakfast, often wearing little more than one of Dad’s shirts. Women liked a ripped guy. Something Amos had proved to himself well enough in high school.
That’s how he’d gotten to know Drew—two New York boys both starting Army boot camp at the top of the fitness roster.