Monday, August 9, 2010

Hot Hot Heat


My house smells like a giant cigarette box.

My parents are in town, and last night my mom woke me up at around 11:30 to tell me there were several fire trucks outside and that they were shining their spotlights at my house. Awesome.

I got up and looked outside, and sure enough, she was right. (Not that she would lie or anything; I was just hoping I’d get out there to find that she’d had a particularly lifelike dream so I could go back to sleep.)

I was pretty sure our house wasn’t on fire, ‘cause I feel like they would have at least rang the doorbell to give us a heads up. (Rang? Rung? The Texas public school system has failed me yet again.) My first thought was that it was Sergio’s house, and I was really worried, but when I saw the smoke billowing out of the upstairs window of the Crackhouse, I breathed a sigh of relief. No one was in there; the whole place was boarded up when it was condemned.

Judge me if you will, but I couldn't help but get a little excited at the idea that they might finally be forced to tear the place down. Don't get me wrong; I feel for the owners. I really do. But they had to have known those kids were paying them with dirty money (not the sexy kind), and yet they repeatedly chose to turn a blind eye to what was going on over there, so I can't say I'm surprised that it all went up in flames. Terrible pun intended.

By the way, wanna know the worst possible way to wake your husband up?

“Um...honey? The house next door is on fire.”

I know I should have phrased it differently, but I was tired and irritated that there were so many flashing lights coming in through my windows when all I wanted to do was go back to bed. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much all I ever want to do.

After uttering a few choice words, Gary quickly got dressed and then went outside with my dad so they could do whatever it is men do in situations like these – chit-chat with the firemen...discuss arson theories...I don’t know. That’s really not my area of expertise. I can tell you that what women do is watch through the window as some burly firemen (and one burly firewoman) use an axe to break down the side door, and then send all their friends a cryptic text message mentioning a fire and hinting that their lives are probably in danger, but that it’s totally nbd.

I camped out on the couch for a while, occasionally suggesting to Gary that we go back to sleep since it looked like the firemen had a handle on things. He wanted to stay up in case they needed to ask us any questions. As a rule, I like to let Gary handle all our PR. He’s the likable one, and unless they wanted my opinion on whether or not the landlords had it coming for ignoring our many complaints over the months (yes), I knew I'd be of little use to them, so I went back to bed.

I woke up this morning with a headache, a stomachache, burning eyeballs and a serious case of ashtray mouth. There were still a few firemen hanging around outside, and Gary spoke with the fire marshal on his way to work. He said they still hadn't determined the cause.

By the time I got home for my lunchbreak, all the emergency vehicles had gone and things had calmed down. From the outside, the house bears almost no sign of a fire, except for the jagged axe marks outlining the hole where the side door once was, and the smell, which can only be described as that of a recently doused campfire laced with methamphetamine.

Here are the facts:

1. The roof was not on fire, suggesting that lightning was not the cause.

2. All electricity has been shut off in the house for months, so an electrical fire is also not likely.

3. Those crackheads were pissed when they got kicked out.

Now I’m not necessarily saying I think the former tenants are responsible for the fire...but that’s exactly what I’m saying.

That brings me to the obvious follow-up question: Could our house be next?

I've been thinking it over all morning, and I'm gonna have to say no. I've dealt with enough crackheads in my time to know that they are unstable and unpredictable, and for that reason we were always careful to avoid direct contact. While Gary did have to speak sternly to them a couple times about their general volume, he also lent them his gas can once...which, in hindsight, might not have been such a great idea, seeing as they seem to have developed a penchant for setting buildings ablaze.

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