Of Fire and Sundowns.

Just another update, which gets harder the busier my life becomes. One thing I know about my thought log is that I don’t want to be one of those people who never comes back.

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It didn’t dawn on me until mid-week that I had gone my first Halloween without visiting my family over the weekend. I missed that old routine, how Dad carved pumpkins even when no one else wanted to. No trick-or-treaters out our way, we would have the candy he bought to ourselves. Purple streamers hung down from creepy trees and danced in the dark. He would get these cheap-ass candles without any fragrance or fanciness to them but they were hearty as hell and glowed inside the jack-o-lanterns forever.

I could stand in the driveway admiring the glimmering display and not be afraid. That’s the power of a hero.

I got a call from my mom’s cell phone last month, on one random weekday night, as she stood in the front yard waiting for help to arrive.

“The house is on fire,” she said, emphasis on ‘house’ in such a way that was so understandable, to me. Because we couldn’t believe it, because it seemed like something that wouldn’t happen because it hadn’t already happened. I used to sit in my room contemplating my escape route in the event of a fire – what I would save, who I would save. But there had been no need, thankfully, because a house cat is nearly impossible to round up when you need it.

Mom was screaming for everyone to get out, Chris assured her he already was, yelling “I AM out!” though he still sat in his room, eerily calm, properly shutting down his Xbox 360. He found it humorous in the after math, given the order of operations, that haunting fear of the Red Ring Of Death ranked right up there alongside a house billowing with smoke.

This year my father’s eccentricities worked out for him. For as long as I can remember he has taken disposed 5 gallon buckets from behind a local restaurant and used them to catch rainwater, a cheap alternative to investing in a proper drainage system. You look out into the back yard and these tacky, white plastic tubs are positioned all along the edge of the roof, mixed right in with the flowers and lawn furniture.

At the time of the fire Dad had thrown the cellar door open and was hauling those buckets of water into the basement, tossing them on the culprit – the dryer. Apparently there was a buildup of lint between the dryer tumbler and the metal edges of the machine, which got too hot and caught fire. He couldn’t see beyond three feet in front of his face due to the smoke but he continued to empty those buckets.

He kept the fire localized to the dryer. He pretty much saved the house, which entailed burns to his hands and arms along with carbon monoxide exposure – but he’s okay. He’s better than okay, despite what the last few years of retirement and alcohol may have insinuated.

Still a hero. Clearly.