Tuesday night I was sound asleep, a who-done-it novel turned upside-down on the mattress beside me. The bedside clock had just flipped over to 2:30 in the morning and I was starting to hit that really good REM zone where your eyeballs get all twitchy, you have impossible dreams of gorgeous men, adventure, true love and other fairy-tale-type stuff while your body actually gets some much needed beauty rest. Right in the middle of that elusive feel-good zzzzzzzzzz phase my son barged through the bedroom door yelling, “Mom, something big is on fire right down the road!”
I stumbled outside wearing just my nightshirt and stood rubbing my eyes while my sleep-fuzzed brain tried to make sense of the bright orange and yellow flames that were roaring high above ancient oaks and lighting up the bottom of the clouds. Sparks swirled upward like reversed shooting stars. You could actually stand in my front yard and hear the wood snap and pop as it burned, it was that close. At least 15 or 20 minutes passed before we heard a siren. The old home place, whose yard had been fenced in with a pasture a couple of years ago, burned down to its foundations as fireman struggled to dodge panicked livestock and keep the fire from spreading to the neighboring homes.
The next day I met my middle sister and her daughter, who’s husband just happened to be a fireman, for lunch. But this time we didn’t just gossip about our friends and relatives. It seems that Lawrence County has a firebug! An actual arsonist!! I knew that the woods behind my house have been set on fire several weeks ago. What I didn’t know was that a surprising number of grass and wood fires have been deliberately set this year. And a scary number of houses have been torched. Every time in the early morning hours , always unoccupied, and always total loses.
They haven’t been able to get anything on the guy or gal or whatever (must be PC no matter what you know). Granted we’re rural and located in the South, but someone somewhere should know something! We need Lieutenant Columbo or Hercule Poirott or CSI to come help! Where’s a first class detective when you need one?
My friend Karen freaked when I called her about the fire. Her family home is empty, falling apart, and located to the side of her lawn. The same night as the fire she heard a motor and looked out to find a large, light colored car with it’s lights out sitting in the drive of the old house. When they saw her step out on her porch the would-be intruders pulled all the way down past the house, still with their lights out, and attempted to turn around. Bad idea! That drive is rough in the daytime when you know all the ruts and curves! When at last they managed to get back on the road they didn’t turn on the car’s headlights until they were a long way down the road. She looked the next morning and the car had torn up the grass and came close to getting stuck! But all she could think of was her dog, Curly, that’s chained up behind the old house. She’s more worried about him that any property damages!
This is big city stuff. We country folk don’t need or want this kind of excitement! I like a campfire or bonfire as much as the next person, but what is the thrill in burning old homes and grass? The lure of the forbidden? The thrill of dodging the law? Is it sexually or just crazy? All I can say is they best stay away from my house. I’ve got several guns locked and loaded, and a son who will come closer to shooting you than his Mom will. And Karen is a pistol packing Mama from way back that is a dead shot. So Mr. Firebug, you better find a new playground, or you’ll be the one getting singed next time.