Short Stories

Fire Starters

Every year, after the New Years celebrations and subsequent hangovers, we would proceed to take down our highly discounted tree; in a most unusual way. Most people simply take their tree, wrap it up in a couple of trash bags (to prevent a fire hazard) and throw it in a pile with the rest of the week’s garbage out on the curb, and await it’s departure.

We were not most people and would display the exact opposite of fire safety, as well as common sense as it seems.

Our arsonist’s plan each year was to divide and conquer, using the element of scorched earth (learned earlier in our youths during history class in high school.) First, we would get a rusty saw and begin to hack the tree into three sections. We would then listen to hear if the flue was open or shut. Then we would proceed to insert each section of the felled Christmas tree into our fireplace. Finally, we would light a match and stand back.

When the match landed on the extremely dry disassembled tree, it would burst into flames! A sound, not unlike a loud roar from a jet engine, would fill the room. We would then run outside to laugh at the flames that were shooting from atop the chimney. This was all fine and dandy until one apocalyptic eve.

We went through the same procedures: Cut the tree, check the flue, stuff the tree, light a match. . .

This time, much to our dismay, the flue we so unquestionably thought was open, wasn’t. Flames immediate burst outward instead of upward. They climbed the brick-lined wall of the fireplace and set alight the mantle full of postmortem bottles of booze from parties past. The blaze then began to melt the stop sign which was so stealthily appropriated from the good city in which we resided, and began to reach the ceiling.

We had but seconds to locate, and learn to operate, a fire extinguisher. Fortunately, I knew which end to point at the conflagration. The fire was reluctant to extinguish, but finally gave in to my desires to put it to rest.

Our apartment was now filled with smoke, ash, debris, dry chemical from the extinguisher, and a room full of pride-damaged young men. We did act hastily and halted the fury though. Unfortunately, it seems that aquatic life did not like ABC Dry Chemical extinguishers any more than the fire did, as the fish tank and all it’s inhabitants were also brought to an abrupt end on that fateful evening. Needless to say, that was the mortem of our pyrotechnics.