So I ignored them, the clamouring firetruck outside and the screeching fire alarm shaking the building. For I was writing, and could not be incommoded.
I could, however, spare a glance out the window, and so I did. Hm. Yup, the firetruck had stopped right at our door. That was okay, though. I was living in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and blaring firetrucks were part of the local soundtrack. For some reason they’d often hurtle down the town’s few streets only to brake before our doors, but each time I’d flee the scene of seemingly impending disaster, I’d reach the ground floor only to watch them drive off into the distance. With, mind you, nary a fire in sight.
So you begin to understand how this particular evening, perched comfortably before my laptop with a hot cup of coffee at my lips, I was in no mood at all to rush downstairs in some sort of panic.
This said, my firemen were acting somewhat atypically. To whit, rather than leaving the scene of the non-fire with their usual screeching grace, why, they had taken the time to don full hazard gear and were presently occupying themselves by running into my building with a huge ass hose.
This is the official terminology, by the way. Huge ass hose.
“Hm.” I tapped a finger on my lip. “They do seem to be taking themselves awfully seriously today. I wonder…”
And then I flew into action.
I do not panic in the face of emergencies. I was calm, cool and collected. Clearly there was a fire or a firefighting party, and I’d best get me out, and rather quickly if I might.
I dashed into the bedroom and collected the essentials. A sweatshirt, my keys, my lip therapy, moisturizer, our cordless phone, and the Blockbuster movie due that night. See–a most composed and competent me.
I ran to the door and opened it. But two doors down an entire team of firefighters prepared to kick down a door.
“Gack!” I said.
Burly and grim faces turned to me.
“Get in! Get in!” they shouted.
“Meep!” I responded, shutting the door on my own nose in my haste to begone.
“Get out! Get out!” they yelled.
“Which is it?!” I screeched (calmly).
“In or out, you choose, but now!”
Well, I have to tell you, THAT was an easy choice. Out I hurtled like a hobbit late for a lunch date. Down the stairs I leapt like Aragorn after an orc. (Can you tell what I spent last night rereading?) Out the door I smashed like Boromir after The One Ring. (Okay, that was unfair.) And then I was out in the cold air.
A crowd had gathered. Like blithering idiots, they’d assembled right at the foot of the building. I moved away rapidly. Moments later the window was shot through by the fire hose. Glass flew across the street, and dark smoke billowed out. Still moving away, I tried to use my cordless phone.
Yeah. Who’s the blithering idiot, you’re thinking. (‘Ruth,’ your internal voice answers helpfully.)
Needless to say, it wasn’t working. I wouldn’t be able to let my roommate know we’d had a fire and that the street was congested. Oh well. I switched off the phone, a redundant act. And then I saw him through the crowds, pushing his way towards me.
We met in the middle of the street. For a moment we looked at each other in silence, the plume of smoke hanging over the road.
“Did you bring the video?” he asked.
Great minds think alike.
It was a week later that I realized that in my cool, calm and collected haste, I’d returned the wrong video.
No worries. 🙂