I am flexing my literary muscles this morning. Based on a true story, from an incident which occurred this morning, I wrote a piece in twenty minutes. There is a warning on this piece for inappropriate language. I believe it is the first time I have used this particular device, but consider it nothing more than that. At the end, I pose a question, which I encourage you to answer in the comments. Feel free to say anything you choose, including your opinion of my use of the eff word. I value your opinions.
Flame on, Johnny
The first inkling that something was not right, was the faintest of ticklings, within the six inch stovepipe. If something is not right, then it must be wrong. My head swiveled around as I surveyed the scene. I had been so organized this morning, I had taken the time to empty out the ashes on our kitchen wood-stove, because it allows oxygen to better circulate within the confines of the stove, thus generating additional heat. It is not a conventional stove, actually being a Superior wood-burning kitchen range, from the 1920’s. The only noticeable difference is that the fire box is much smaller than that of a conventional wood-burning fixture.
The second hint, before I could even react to the first, was the acrid stench of the stove pipes having been ignited. It’s called a chimney fire. The first time it happened, back in 1985, I called 911, as the flames danced twenty feet above the roof of the house. Out of sheer desperation, never having confronted the situation before, I hauled five gallons of water up to the roof, knocked the bonnet off with a slippered foot, and dumped the water. I limped around for a week with bruised toes. Better bruised toes, than ashes.
I have heard that this is not the correct way to address a chimney fire, because water and creosote are not supposed to be bedfellows, but it worked. Maybe enough of the icky black substance had already burned away, before I dumped the water. In either case, I called 911 back, and spoke with the head honcho, who listened to what I had to say. He was weighing the thought of the drive from Laytonville more than five miles up Bell Springs Road, with that of his responsibility, should my house end up burning to the ground. He asked me questions; I supplied answers, and he decided that his crew could skip the trip. After all, if there were any doubt, would I be willing to take a chance? They went back to bed, before the warmth that had built up in their respective berths, could cool.
Now, as my dawning awareness dictated, I saw with dismay, that the stove pipe was already starting to assume a faint glow, as the inside of that cylinder, became a roaring inferno. I grabbed a flashlight, and headed outside to assess the progress of the beast, now raging within my kitchen. This particular demon was beginning to assume more grim proportions, as the tickling whisper, became more insistent, sort of a gravelly scratch. Tiny fragments of incinerated creosote, began to tinkle merrily within the conflagration, obviously delighted at the turn of events, which freed them from their sooty prison. That sound brings sheer, unadulterated terror into my soul.
I did not need that flashlight. The bonnet was a buzz of activity, only there were no bees. I saw a glowing snow cone of crimson. There was also a lot of orange. The darkness outside hid the smoke, and made the whole thing resemble an attraction at Disneyland, as though I might start to ooh and ah.
Visions of searching through charred ruins, for any vestige of normalcy, surged into my mind, as overwhelming as a panic attack. It wasn’t, because there was no crowded venue, and there was no claustrophobia, just the sure knowledge, that I was about to lose it all. Ruing the instant I added that stupid empty, round Morton salt container to the fire, I wondered how one insignificant bit of cardboard could initiate such a savage. But it felt like a fucking panic attack, and that’s all that matters.
My heart raced. My pulse resembled white water frenzy. The sweat had already begun to form on my forehead, as the turbulence within the glowing stove pipe, infused the kitchen with a furnace of radiating warmth. I do not honestly know, if the heat from my face was any less intent, than that emanating from that blistering hot pipe. What had I done?
Do I call 911, and drag them out of bed, for what may turn out to be a candle in the wind, or do I take a chance? Just how lucky am I feeling this morning? What do you think?