I’d been considering taking them out to lunch, but I was going to save that for next week. Good behavior was to be rewarded, not bad. So today we might get to see the Lollipop Man at the Lollipop Stand, if they were on superlative behavior for the rest of the day.
I walked in, put the kids on the seats at the door’s entrance, directly behind me, as usual. There was heavy foot traffic at the door, and if I told them to stand by me, they usually wandered away after about 30 seconds and got under people’s feet. I checked myself in, told Jeremy, the guy at the front desk, “Two for Kids’ Club,” and started to hand him the money. All of a sudden, I heard the fire alarm go off. Was there really a fire? I asked Jeremy where it came from. He smiled slightly, and pointed to the kids. Oh no they didn’t, I thought. I turned around. Oh, yes they had.
Cameron was half smiling. He had this look that I read as, I’m going to pay hell for this, but I am so proud that this drama all happening because of me. I gave him the evil eye that said, you’re right, you are going to get it. I wanted him to be scared. Courtney just looked worried like she didn’t know what was going on. She looked at her brother and smiled too, until his smile quickly faded while he studied my face, and turned into a look of fear. Mission accomplished. She followed his gaze to my face and immediately stopped smiling. I put my head in my hands for a second. By this time, all the personal trainers in the club had come from wherever they were in the building, to the front desk, asking where the owner was, asking if there was really a fire. I read their lips, because it was so loud. The owner wasn’t there yet. All the older ladies came down the stairs and filed out of the club in their swimsuits.
Apparently, they needed the owner to unlock the room with the switch in it, to turn off the alarm. He was the only one who had the key. The firefighters were already on their way. Sweet Jesus. “I’m so sorry!” I mouthed to Jeremy. He just smiled. All I could think of to do was blend in, so I grabbed the kids’ hands, and filed outside with the rest of the, oh, I’d say 250 people who were in the gym that morning. I stood there and gave Cameron the biggest lecture of his life. Talk about punishing him in the moment.
I wanted to just leave the club, right then and there. I was just that mortified. However, it would have been the cowardly way, and that was not mine. In addition, the members blocked in the car, and the fire trucks were coming around the corner. I stopped lecturing Cameron, who was enjoying this too much to care what I was saying. To him, it was all a big party in the parking lot that he had started, and when he heard the sirens, he was even more delighted. I didn’t cry, but I was feeling very anxious. My stomach churned. One engine, one truck, and one ambulance were now parked in front of the building. The fire station was just across the street from my gym, so by the time Jeremy had called them, it was too late. They ran inside, in full gear. Now, I was crying. I couldn’t even tell which one was Hammer.
Five minutes later, I could tell which one was Hammer. He and the guys were laughing as they walked out the door. They held the door open for all of the older ladies, who filed back inside in their bathing suits and towels. Poor things, a couple of them were starting to look a little blue. If any of them caught pneumonia and died from this, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself. Or Cameron. Ever.