Tag Archives: fire

1844. Boarding the train

Here I am quietly awaiting the arrival of my train and minding my own business. People keep getting too close to me. Don’t they understand that we have been asked to distance ourselves for several meters away from each person? Some people have no regard for public safety or the well-being of others. It’s typical of the modern society in which we live.

It’ll be the same when the train arrives. Everyone will push and shove, and the carriage will be like a can of sardines with as many people as possible stuffed into a confined space. I’ve a good mind to scream out “FIRE! FIRE!” That should set the people running in all directions and I would get the whole train carriage to myself. In fact, I will.

“FIRE! FIRE!”

“FIRE! FIRE!”

Everyone just looked at me like I was a nut case. It didn’t have the slightest effect.

And now I’ve missed my train.

1635. A terrible fire

What a mess! Thank goodness for insurance. The whole house burned to the ground. All the contents have gone up in smoke. At least that saves trying to resurrect smoke-damaged furniture and the like. I’m going to get a hefty sum; and I mean hefty. It pays to insure everything carefully and right. It’s all in the planning.

It happened just over three weeks ago. Thank goodness no one was hurt. My wife had gone for the weekend to visit her mother. The three kids were staying with my parents. And I’d put the dog in the kennels for the weekend (goodness are those kennels expensive!) because I intended going on a weekend hike with other members of the Mountain and Stream Club that I belong to. When I came home the fire-fighters were still quenching the occasional ember that flared up. I’m pretty sure I went into shock.

Of course, the three kids continue to stay with my parents, and the wife with her mother. I’ve been booked into a motel with Mary-Sue. We hope to spend part of the insurance money getting married and building a new place and starting a new life. It was such a relief when the past was destroyed by fire. No more harrowing memories. And the soon-to-be-ex-wife should hopefully be locked up for quite some time for arson. She denies it of course.

1621. A week camping

There’s surely little more scrumptious than a sausage cooked on a camp fire, then wrapped in a buttered slice of bread with some chopped fried onion and tomato sauce. Follow this with a hot cup of tea or coffee made with water boiled in a tin hung over the hot embers. It’s summer! It’s evening! There are a few mosquitoes but the insect repellent keeps most at bay. All that’s needed now is a competent guitarist to complete the spell. A little sing-along and a bit of yarn telling and all is perfect.

Rufus and Trina with their two children had been camping for a week. Twice a man had come along and told them to move, but they hadn’t budged. Apparently they were not permitted to have a camp fire where they were, or to erect a tent. Rufus had used some choice words at the man, which had prompted Trina both times to say, “For goodness sake, Rufus, not in front of the children.” It made little difference; Rufus gave the man a piece of his mind in a way that only Rufus could.

It was nearing the time they would have to move. The camping food supply was getting low, as was wood for the fire. Camping on their driveway after the catastrophic earthquake was only a temporary measure. But where to go?

1597. A meditation on medication

I suppose Eoin’s death could be described as “sudden”. He’d had chronic heart disease for almost thirty years. Modern medication had kept him alive. He dutifully took all his pills every day and there’s no doubt those pills prolonged his life and gave him a reasonably seemingly carefree quality of living. But death came suddenly, as he had always suspected it would.

He was driving along the road, with his wife in the passenger seat. He was not driving fast for he was a most careful man. He quietly said “I’m going” and slumped over the steering wheel dead. His wife, a non-driver, calmly reached over and turned off the ignition key while putting her foot hard on the brake. The car skidded sideways into a service station, hitting three cars that were being refuelled. All four vehicles and the service station erupted into an unbelievable conflagration. It could be said that Eoin went out in a blaze of glory.

Strangely, of the eleven people burned, Eoin’s wife, although she suffered serious burns, was the only survivor. She was able to tell the police the sequence of events once she was well enough to do so.

Who would have thought that after years of faithful pill-taking and after a gentle “I’m going” that his death would cause such havoc? Of the eleven people burned to death, three were fathers of large families and one was a mother of two. One of the newly-created widows was soon after evicted from her house because she couldn’t pay the rent. The finance of one of the victims “did himself in”. Two children died and were mourned not only by their families but by their entire schools. Another victim was a famous novelist on the way to his publisher. He went up in smoke along with his computer and latest novel. It was a terrible loss for the world.

Once she had recovered, Queenie (for that was the wife’s name) was able to grieve and reflect. She couldn’t help but think that it may have been better if Eoin hadn’t taken his life-saving pills in the first place.

1584. On a wet evening

Usually we quite enjoy taking the dog for its daily walk. Being creatures of habit, we seem to cover the same trail, but there’s always a new flower in someone’s garden, or a dead hedgehog on the road that the dog must stay away from, or a bird that wasn’t singing on that branch yesterday, or a car parked in a silly place…

“You’d think they wouldn’t park on the grass verge, dear. People like us walk here with our dogs. Some people have no sense.”

Of course, if it’s raining the walk with the dog is another matter altogether.

“Would you mind taking the dog for a walk on your own today, dear? I’m halfway through preparing dinner.”

And later…

“While you’re wet, dear, would you mind going out to the woodshed in the rain and getting the firewood for this evening? It’s going to be a cold night and I’m half way through peeling the potatoes.”

And still later…

“Goodness! Five o’clock already! Could you pour me a little wine, dear, when you’ve finished lighting the fire? I’m halfway through stuffing the chicken.”

And round about dinner time…

“What a miserable night, dear, so wet and cold. Would you mind popping out? I thought we could get take-away.”

1551. He who catches none

(The closing sentence for this story was suggested by Nitin of Fighting the dying light. If you want to join in the fun of suggesting a future closing sentence for these stories, click here for a peek as to what’s what.)

It had been (at last!) one of those cooler evenings after a long insufferable summer. Wallace and Blanche sat on their verandah. Dinner was over. The dishes were done. A bit of moon hung somewhere in the night.

“What is it you wanted to tell me?” Wallace asked.

“I’m pregnant,” said Blanche.

“Ah! Petit à petit l’oiseau fait son nid.”

Wallace and Blanche had been married for just over a year. They had tried furiously and frequently to make a baby. All to no avail – until now. It was the perfect revelation for a perfect evening. They simply sat arm in arm and looked at the moon. No words were necessary.

* * *

That was the memory that overwhelmed Wallace as he drove home after the funeral. Blanche and three year old little Rudolf were gone from his life. He had tried to save them both. The fire in the upstairs bedrooms spread faster than he would have thought possible. He had dashed to Rudolf’s room. As he passed the door of the main bedroom he paused to wake Blanche. He shouted. “Wake up! Wake up!” He sped towards Rudolf. Too late. If he hadn’t paused to wake Blanche, perhaps he could have saved Rudolf. He raced back to Blanche. Too late. Hell was on fire. Blanche and Rudolf were lost. All was lost. If only he had tried to save one, and not both.

* * *

Wallace sat on the verandah of his partially burned house. He sat there for two hours and watched the sun fade. He sat in the dark. He would never want to live there again. Blissful memories now pierced like a spear through his heart. He went inside to get two things: Rudolf’s toy truck and a beautiful seashell that Blanche had once found on a beach. That was all he would keep.

He walked out of the house, listening to the crickets and watching the moon weave her little web of light, and bathed in both beauty and regret, said, “Qui court deux lièvres à la fois n’en prend aucun.”

1543. Southern winter solstice

Jakob was cold. It had been a frigid winter. Jakob didn’t have much money and was out of firewood. The fireplace lay dead. The freezing outside wind seeped through the cracks in his window frames. He had covered the cracks with tape, but the wind still found a way. He was wrapped in clothes and blankets. He simply could not get warm.

Jakob had stayed up all night. Not even the bed had warmed. Jakob turned on his oven to high and opened the oven door. At least the oven heat should warm things a little. And it did. At least it did until the electric bill arrived and he couldn’t pay it. Then the electric company turned the power off.

It had been a freezing night. Utterly freezing. Jakob knew he would die. He sat in a chair and waited.

The new day dawned sunny and warm.

Poem 90: Blue

Kingfisher waited near fish-filled stream and flashed blue fire.
Distant thunder grumbled to a scream and flashed blue fire.

A welder melded into shape tough unbending steel;
this artist’s arc launched one steady beam and flashed blue fire.

The frantic horse’s metal shoes on stony gravel
broke the silence of the morning’s gleam and flashed blue fire.

Massed irises turned their heads towards the rising sun;
yellow, purple, peach, rose, white, and cream, and flashed blue fire.

And Bruce, patience at an end with this and that and things,
saw this growing mound of stifled dreams and flashed blue fire.

(This is my final poem on this blog – at least for the time being. I’ll still post the occasional poem hopefully, but a poem a week is a bit much! I shall be concentrating on putting out a story a day until the 1500th story is reached!)

Poem 78: Fall evenings fall

Fall evenings fall so soon;
the windows closed by noon, shut tight;
the curtains drawn lest light
too weak invades the brightly lit
and cheerful space. Flame flits
in hearth to warm, uplift the heart,
with smell of soup, jam tarts,
fresh bread, all a la carte fireside
dinner. Yet TV guides
demand the day’s world-wide newscast.

A bomb kills over there,
eight soldiers die somewhere, and far
away fancy film stars
rant, silken voices jarred with beeps.
A drug-drugged druggy weeps;
some politicians speak about
corruption. Stamps and shouts
and blood and hurts and pouts invade
the family room. Love fades.
Fall evenings fall. They’re made for guilt.

1270. A lonesome birthday

Devon lived alone. It was the depth of winter, and it happened to be his birthday.

Devon had meticulously planned his solo celebration. He made a steak and kidney pie (his favourite but he reserved it for special occasions) and a lemon and honey cheesecake (his favourite but he reserved it for special occasions). To go with it, he had purchased a big can of Trappist Lager (his favourite but he reserved it for special occasions).

The log fire was blazing. Devon laid his pyjamas, slippers, and dressing gown near the fire so they would be warm and cosy when he got out of the shower.

In the shower he sang “Happy Birthday to Me” at the top of his voice, dried himself and walked naked (who cares when one lives alone?) to the fireplace.

SURPRISE! SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! shouted everyone.