Christ Zig, what did you do?

by

12/22/2005

2300 Southern Boulevard bronx ny 10460

Neighborhood: Bronx, Outer Boroughs

Christ Zig, what did you do?

Whenever I’m asked if the fire department had an effect on my personal life, those six words explode into my brain.

It’s a beautiful summer Sunday afternoon in 1977 at the Bronx zoo with my wife and three kids. The kids are riding a camel and shouting what all exicited kids shout, “Look at me Daddy” when my wife pokes me in the ribs and says disgustedly, “Is it really that horrible being with your family?”

What are you talking about?

She then tells me how I look like I would rather be anywhere other then here with them.

What she dosen’t understand is, I am not there with them. I am twelve hours earlier in the public hallway of a burning tenement, kneeling on a dirty black and white tile floor about to start CPR on a frail old woman who I have just dragged out of a burning apartment.

She is so skinny and so old: the area around her mouth and nose is painted black with the thick wet snotty soot of someone who has breathed their last in a fire.

I’m twenty seven years old, in the best shape of my life, fast and strong.

Right now, with the adrenaline pumping I kneel by her side and position my hands on her chest while Eddie gives her the three breaths that start CPR. My turn. The compressions have to depress her chest two inches to be effective. I rock back and then foward and down.

The unmistakeable sound of her ribs breaking seems to echo off the walls and as her chest collapses, I swear to god that I feel her breastbone touch her spine.

I hear Eddie say,”Christ Zig, what did you do?”

If she wasn’t dead yet she certainly is now.

“Look at me Daddy.”

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