“The Burning Truth” By: Victor Clevenger


“I carried out three,” said Dorsey, “I think that it was two girls and a boy, but with the long hair and make-up that these kids wear these days it could have been all girls. Shit. Who knows? What did you end up with? I only saw you with two.”

“Fuck, Dorsey, I had two adults and I carried them down the ladder truck from the Eleventh floor; you had three eight-year olds and walked out the front door.”

“Bullshit, they had to be every bit of twelve!” said Dorsey as he sucked down the last swallow in his glass.

It was 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning, and Dorsey sat at the table with Clark trying to relax after the last emergency call of their prior shift; the waitress walked over with a freshly delivered newspaper and tossed it at them, “Looks like you fellas made the front page again.”

Clark finished his glass and then unfolded the paper to read the headline.


“Look,” said Clark, “They got us standing beside the truck again.”

“What’s the caption say?”

Firefighters Dorsey Thurman and Clark Forrest were among the dozens of firefighters called out to battle the blaze Friday night.

“Hell,” said Dorsey, “That makes the seventh time that I have been on the front page, four more and I will have my old man beat; he was pictured ten times.”

“Well, if you count the picture of the casket draped with a flag, then my old man made it fourteen times,” said Clark.

Dorsey and Clark had grown up together running around the firehouse; their fathers were both seasoned firefighters and set both of them on the path to where they were now professionally.

“I miss that son-of-a-bitch.” said Dorsey as he pulled the near empty bottle back out of his coat and dumped the rest into the empty glass.

“I know,” said Clark, “It is hard to believe that he has been gone for two years now; how is your old man doing since retiring?”

“He is still the same stern bastard and still harping daily about me not making an honest woman out of Chasity yet.”

“Are you ever going to hitch up with her?” asked Clark.

“I don’t know, Clark, Chasity is a good woman and she has a good job down at the bank, but she gets overbearing and she is just missing something.”

“I know exactly what you are talking about!” said Clark rubbing his forehead.

“Let’s get out of here,” said Dorsey, “We got the next forty-eight hours off and I got things to do.”

Dorsey finished his drink and they both stood up leaving a few extra dollars on the table. It was now 4:45 a.m. and as they walked out the front door Clark whispered, “It’s all going to be alright, Dorsey.”

“I know,” said Dorsey as he leaned closer to Clark.

They both met each other halfway with waiting lips and rough faces from days unshaven. Dorsey ran his fingers through the hair of his long time secret as Clark moved his lips closer to Dorsey’s neck; he pressed them against it with passionate intent before whispering, “Tell Chasity hello for me.”

“I will babe,” Dorsey told him as they parted ways, “See you Monday.”

Clark lives on the East side of the city and Dorsey lives with Chasity on the upper north end. Clark rides his bicycle for the short ten blocks commute that he has, but Dorsey has to jump a bus for almost twenty-five minutes — thirty to forty minutes on bad days when the bus stops were packed with people.

“I saw you on the late news last night,” said Chasity as Dorsey walked through the door.

“What are you doing up so early?”

“I was waiting on you.”


“Well, considering that your shift ended hours ago, I was starting to get concerned,” said Chasity with a tone of frustration, “Where the hell have you been?”

“Clark and I went to get a drink.”

“You always use Clark as an alibi like I am some damn fool.”

“I’m telling you, Chasity, I was with Clark and he said to tell you hello.”

“I get so damn mad, Dorsey, you lie to my face and act like you don’t give a fuck when you are doing it. Goddamnit, please just be honest with me for once in this relationship; we are adults here!”

“Look! CALL HIM!” shouted Dorsey.

“GIVE ME YOUR PHONE!” shouted Chasity.

Dorsey pulled his phone out and sat it on the table; Chasity picked it up and searched for Clark’s number.

“It is under the F’s,” he told her.

“I GOT IT!” she shouted as it started to ring.

“Clark, its Chasity. Were you with Dorsey this morning after work last night?”

“Yes. We got a drink to unwind a bit; did he tell you that I said hello?” asked Clark.

“Yes, he told me.”

“Okay. Is everything okay? Did he make it home?”

“Yes, he is here and everything is okay; I was just worried about him and checking up on where he might have been,” Chasity told Clark before ending the conversation and hanging up the phone up.


“He verified it, but something feels off. You guys are friends and like brothers; I am sure that all this has been a well-orchestrated plot.”

“Give it up, Chasity; you are acting like a fool!”

“Go to hell, Dorsey! What is her name? Who is this other woman?”





“I am not lying to you, Chasity,” Dorsey calmly told her as he reached out for her hand.

“HA!” she laughed and slapped his hand away, “You spout off some bullshit like that and expect me to believe it? It is a damn lie and you know it! I will figure out who she is, Dorsey, and I will make both of you pay. Lord help you!”

Chasity stormed off towards the bathroom and turned the shower on; she was the Saturday morning bank teller every other Saturday and had to be there at 8 a.m. She was not a typical woman when it came to wasting time in the bathroom; she was in and out. Dorsey sat on the couch for almost twenty minutes as the water continued to run. He decided to go check on her and as he opened the door, the wet, hot, steam rushed into his face.

“Are you okay?” asked Dorsey.

“I am fine, just showering so please leave.”

Dorsey obeyed her request and shook his head as he closed the door back shut behind him; he took his seat back on the couch and after another twenty minutes Chasity walked back into the room completely dressed.

“I only have to work until noon,” she said, “Tonight, can we please go out on a date or do something special like we used to do? I need it, Dorsey.”

“Yes, that sounds nice,” said Dorsey.

Chasity leaned down and kissed his cheek before walking out the front door; once she was gone, he quickly redialed Clark’s number.

“Hello,” said Clark.

“She knows.” Dorsey told him.


“She just pushing my buttons and it came out.”


“She called me a liar and swore that you are just covering for me.”

“Covering for you how?” asked Clark.

“She swears that there is a woman involved.”

“Wow,” said Clark with a laugh, “What are we going to do?”

“I don’t know babe,” said Dorsey, “My mind is just rattled right now. I want to see you though. Can we do lunch?”

“Absolutely. I would love that,” said Clark, “Meet me at our spot around noon.”

“Ok. I love you.”

“I love you too, Dorsey.”

Clark hung the phone up first and Dorsey tossed his phone back onto the table. He went to see if the old water pipes still held any hot water; it was warm enough and he stripped naked.

“I AM STILL A MAN! RIGHT? I AM STILL A GODDAMN HERO!” shouted Dorsey at his reflection as he stood looking at himself in the mirror.

“Of course I am,” he answered himself with a smile and a wink from his beautiful hazel eyes — Clark has hazel eyes too, Chasity’s eyes were green and they refused to see all the signs that were before them; Chasity’s eyes were fighting for love.

Chasity returned home around 12:30 looking for a better afternoon that what her morning had presented her, but all she returned to was a note on the table that read

Meeting Clark for lunch baby be back soon.

“THAT SON-OF-A-BITCH!” shouted Chasity.

She quickly changed out of her work clothes and grabbed her handbag to head downtown in search of Dorsey; she had no idea where he would be, but with another woman was her furious assumption.

Chasity walked up and down several block in the area around the fire station where she knew that Dorsey frequented; there were a few small diners that kept busy from the lunchtime crowds. Chasity looked into the window of the first diner that she came to, but no luck. She looked through a couple more windows before she found what she was looking for.

Dorsey’s hand was sitting up on a table and another hand was embracing it; across from Dorsey was exactly what Chasity had feared… another woman… a stranger.

That lying piece of shit, mumbled Chasity under her breath as she stood there on the sidewalk infuriated, looking at Dorsey sitting at a small booth inside. She looked for Clark, but he was nowhere that she could see from the restricted view that she had.

She is so young and pretty, Chasity continued mumbling to herself as she weighed the decision to just walk away, or go inside to confront them.

You know the truth now, Chasity told herself. Just walk away.

She had almost convinced herself to do so, but something was stopping her, it was the smile and the gleam that she was witnessing in Dorsey’s eyes; it was the same look that Chasity had been begging Dorsey to show her again. That was the last straw.

Chasity grabbed the tarnished doorknob to the diner’s front door and turned it, she walked inside, then stopped to compose herself; her vision of the booth was still slightly restricted, but as she started stepping towards Dorsey, the strange woman stood up — Chasity was stopped with confusion as she watched the woman smile and walk towards her.

“Is it just you, ma’am? Would you like a booth, or a table?” asked the strange woman.

Chasity nodded her head as she looked past the woman to see that Dorsey was still sitting with his hand embraced by another’s; she stepped to her right and finally got a full view the booth. Clark was wedged tight against the wall and slumped down; he was smiling back across the table and Chasity’s whole body became warm and flushed. She closed her eyes and shivered as if she had just had an orgasm; an orgasmic feeling of anger had just consumed her. She stood motionless as every sound around her seemed to silence, she gazed at the unfaithful soul that she has loved for almost four years as he continued caressing the rugged hand of another man with his fingertips.

He was telling the truth, said Chasity as she started stepping backwards towards the front door.

“Excuse me, ma’am?” said the strange woman.

“I have to get out of here,” Chasity told her; she continued moving backwards through the door into the afternoon with tears falling onto her cheeks.

Chasity was furious, but the further away that she walked brought a twisted smile of comfort to her face; she knew that the man she loved was in love and she wondered that if a happy-hate would heal a heart faster. She didn’t know for certain, she simply just hoped that it would — nobody knows the answer to that question for certain.


It’s purely a matter of individualism.

With guts full of grit, Victor Clevenger spends his days in a Madhouse and his nights writing poetry and short stories from the kitchen table of his ex-wife’s home. He has self-published three collections of work, Broken Bottles and Bus Fare, Pill Bugs In The Bathtub, and Building Bird Nests. Selected pieces of his work have been accepted for publication with the Chiron Review and published in the online magazines Eleventh Transmission and NEAT, as well as in anthology collections published by Lady Chaos Press.

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