And Other Stories
Written By: Douglas R. Brown
Published By: Epertase Publishing
Reviewed By: Melissa Minners
When the holiday season comes along, I like to find a new book, movie or soundtrack to add to the various favorites I watch and read around this time of year. One of my favorite tales is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. There are tons of remakes and re-imaginings out there, but none like the one advertised in A Firefighter Christmas Carol and Other Stories by Douglas R. Brown. Reading a brief summary, I just knew I had to check it out.
Elliot, a burned-out fireman and paramedic, is about to embark on a Christmas journey like none he has ever experienced before. Working overnight at Medic 22, Elliot, much like Ebenezer Scrooge, gets his first visit at midnight. It’s his long-dead former partner, Jimmy. Much like Elliot, Jimmy was feeling the effects of PTSD, something every first responder goes through, but none likes to talk about. One night, severe depression caused Jimmy to take his own life. Now, he’s back to warn Elliot that if he doesn’t face his demons, Elliot is doomed to end up like Jimmy. Like Scrooge, Elliot doesn’t believe him, but the visitations he gets over the next few hours are enough to cause him to see the light.
A Firefighter’s Christmas Carol is a brand new twist on an old classic. Being a firefighter and paramedic himself, Douglas R. Brown knows a thing or two about demons. He, like his main character, suffered from PTSD. Many people think that first responders go out there and do their job, hardened to the effects of the misery they see, but those people will be wrong. First responders go through the ringer, responding to calls at all hours, seeing all sorts of horrific things…heart wrenching experiences that most average folks couldn’t handle. But first responders are expected to push through these things and get the job done. In fact, many won’t even acknowledge the aftereffects of the damage caused by PTSD.
We lose to many good first responders to their demons. This story is one very special way to address that issue and make it known to those first responders that they are cherished and important members of our society. They are family members and friends and all-around good people who deserve so much more than the suffering they go through. Douglas R. Brown knows this, and he expresses it beautifully both in his Introduction and in A Firefighter’s Christmas Carol.
Of course, that’s not the only tale in this book – just the longest and the most emotionally charged. The rest of the book proves that Mr. Brown has a tremendous flare for the shocking and horrific. There is Janitor, a tale about a night janitor who realizes that the building he cleans is occupied by someone he doesn’t really want to get to know. There’s CatchTime, which asks one very important question: how well do we really know our loved ones after all? There’s DOA, a story about a young paramedic with some rather strange abilities.
Douglas R. Brown is a gifted writer, descriptive enough to put us in every locale he writes about. His knowledge of the ins and outs of a firehouse and paramedic crew ads to his short stories, lending them more credibility outside of the supernatural elements. I could picture everything that Brown wrote about in my mind’s eye – that’s the sign of a great writer. I loved all of his tales, but A Firefighter’s Christmas Carol resonated with me most and that’s the one story that will cause me to recommend it to all of the first responders I know. It’s a great rendition of A Christmas Carol with an equally important message to impart. Well done, Mr. Brown, well done!