Steve’s words were pounding through my head. This was getting more complicated and dangerous as time went on. I was dog tired from all of the activity during the day. I mixed a gin and tonic for myself and started to watch the eleven o’clock evening news. The local news featured weather, sports and an assortment of misdeeds in town and in the suburbs. There were stories about what the next legislative session had in store and some interviews with talking heads. Funny, I have never been a fan of talking heads on any level. Most often what they say is trite and their predictions are never really on target.

I was ready to end my travails for the day. I checked all of the doors on the first floor and made sure that all of the windows were locked. I walked up the stairs and into our bedroom. I had decided that I was going to take a shower and go to bed.

The shower was a god send. I stayed in it for too long a time, so that my hands looked like prunes. I finished my ablutions and slipped into bed and was asleep in a few moments. I don’t even remember covering myself. I must have even not taken off my specs.  I usually wake up a couple of times during the night. It’s kind of something that happens as one gets older.  I awoke sometime about 3:00 a.m. I went to the bathroom and I peed. As I was leaving, I thought that I smelled something. Margaret has said that “smells are my life.”

As I walked towards my bed, I sat down on the mattress and tried to clear my head. I definitely smelled something strange. At that moment it smelled like rubber burning, which is a distinctive smell. My mind cleared and I put on my bathrobe and headed down the stairs to the first floor. As I reached the bottom, I was grabbed by my neck and my arms were pinioned behind me. I tried to cry out, but to no avail. Someone was clamping my mouth shut. All of a moment, something hit the back of my neck. I fell to the floor almost unconscious. I heard sounds around me and the smell of things burning were now in evidence. The front door opened and I heard the sound of feet running. I lapsed into a twilight sleep, not exactly awake and not entirely out on my feet.

I realized in my fog that there was a fire in my house. I got on my knees and looked around. It appeared that everything was in flames. I tried to move forward on my knees. I moved toward the front door. With a supreme effort, I got onto my feet and shuffled slowly toward the front door. By the time I reached the door, I heard fire trucks somewhere nearby. I stumbled and fell on the grass in front of my house. I felt that I had to get far away from the fire.

I vaguely saw shapes of people standing on the sidewalk. A few of them approached me and helped me to get further from the house. The firemen arrived soon after. They did the best that they could to stop the fire before it engulfed the whole house. They were not successful. After all of my years creating a home for my family, it was now in ruins.



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