February 4, 2018

The Night of Shattered Fire

 

So anyway. The entire Strand famed up in ruins. The beachhouse that housed the sailboarder's club was a pile of embers. The meeting hall for the Parlor 33 1/3 of the Native Sons of the Golden West was laid into ashes and the Angry Elf's gang ran hither and thither stealing and looting from the burning buildings, entirely at liberty to do so since the call had gone out to collect all able-bodied citizens to assist with the common disaster. And of course, the Angry Elf gang took this golden opportunity to torch businesses that were wonting in payments, aided with flagons of kerosene. They laughed as they destroyed lives.

The Native Sons parlor collapsed in flames. Next was the Old Same Place Bar with its leather snug as Dawn and Padraic ran out with such things as they could save. The beloved bar with its stained glass windows and its plush stools and the long redwood bartop that had withstood centuries of drams and pints burned before the eyes of the helpless Padraic.

The old man box elder erupted into a tornado of flames, igniting the Island-Life offices and creating a firestorm whirlwind. Rats fled hither and yon. Satan had let loose his only friend to ravage the little town with tremendous whips of fire.

Don Erizo and Dame Herrisson fled from the flaming shrubbery near the College and were smashed flat by automobiles on the road, as was to be expected.

But that is not what happened.

Such destruction is characteristic of an hack, a ne'er do well. An aesthetic simpleton who does not care about his readership.

What happened was far more elegant.

The Angry Elf gang did in fact ignite a fire, but this was not the cause of the mass migration that took place

Remember that some citizens of the Household of Marlene and Andre had been mucking about the Howitzer yacht with its dingy that normally was kept hung in the ship's hoist crane, but during dry dock was set down into the marina, which allowed the boys all sorts of hijinks and capers, using up gas as they piloted the small craft all around the Bay when done with chipping and sanding and painting the larger vessel's hull.

One day Pahrump, Jose, Javier, and Martini and Denby were down in the dingy, making plans for a foray out to Angel Island.

Down below the floorboards of the Household the rats scurried around the old, decrepit furnace that had been let to decay during the Howitzer's possession of the property. On this evening, one brother rat ran across the wires near the igniter and caused an arc that killed him instantly and also started a small fire among the bodies of all his bretheran who had died a similar way for years, and who had dessicated over time into flammable tinder.

Meanwhile the boys set out on their skiff towards Angel Island and were dismayed when the engine cut out, leaving them to drift in the middle of the Bay. No one had thought to fill the gas tanks during their various shenanigans over the the past month. The day faded into night as they drifted, nibbling on crackers and swilling cheap jug wine until the sun sank behind the Golden Gate in flaming rooster tails. The night filled with stars and the moon was swelling to the first full moon of the year, a moon that was destined to be both a Blue Moon and a Blood Moon, which is a rare occurance indeed.

Up in the bedroom Marlene and Andre together examined the letter from Howitzer and Marley LLC, which stated the rent was to rise another impossible fifteen hundred dollars starting next month. This was disaster for the small community packed into the one bedroom cottage. There was no way they could pay that.

they climbed into Mr. Howitzer's yacht

"Where the heck is everybody, " Andre said even as both he and Marlene smelled smoke and burning. He and Marlene ran out with little Adam and Snuffles and watched as the house seemed to come alive, begin to breath, expanding with an inhale, then contracting with the sound of cracking boards. The house swelled out again, then, abruptly exploded. The three ran to the Marina along with Sarah and Tipitina and Piedro. There they climbed into Mr. Howitzer's yacht. There they were when the big fireworks warehouse shook the Island and the makeshift drydock gate collapsed, letting in the seas, even as the main drydocks gates gave way by design on sign of earthquake.

Millions of gallons of saltwater poured in from both sides, battering the fragile house of cards built by the lazy Depuglia brothers. The Howitzer yacht, shuddered and abruptly detached itself and slid backwards into the water of the Bay. Festus came scampering along and lept with a super-hamster leap onto the decks, crying out, "Don't leave me guys!"

Even as the Editor looked at his own rent increase, which was as obscene as all those experienced all around the island, the Angry Elf, who was named Neal, set fire to an Audi outside a recalcitrant business on Park Street. The Audi burned with calculated intensity meant to intimidate and cause fear, but suddenly popped with an explosion that sent embers into the row houses there near the narrow alleys named after tree varieties. Houses along Willow caught fire, followed by Elm and then Walnut, where the old majestic box elder ignited.

This could also be a possible ending...

The Editor sat at his desk, the Offices strangely empty. Where had everyone gone? He felt the old war wounds, relived the firefight. He closed his eyes and leaned back as if to sleep a while, despite this pain in his chest. He was a new recruit standing on a train station about to go somewhere. This could also be a possible ending....

The eyes close and the heart simply stops and then one is done with this life. They would find him slumped over his desk the followihng morning, his lips blue and eyes wide open. But then a loud pop awoke him from this reverie. Outside the windows, an orange glow and embers flying. His people were in trouble and he had to save them.

The Editor grabbed a bag and stuffed it with backup hard drives and paraphernalia and slung that over the ship's oar that had been given him by the staff as a birthday present. He ran outside and down to the water with Rachel and Festus. There they found a rowboat and set out from the Marina as the flames rose higher behind them.

Wootie Kanootie's moose herd, frightened by the commotion and the sirens broke loose from their pen and ran about as the sirens wailed and the sparks flew up into the heavens. The herd found themselves hemmed in by the fire engines and the fire itself so they plunged into the Bay en masse and set out to cross it to some sort of unknown safety.

All of this took place as the moon swelled. The various small boats floated without direction and the moose herd, led by the always wayward Eunice, swam for dear life as the fog rolled in over the Bay, heading for some imaginary refuge in the mist as the powerful tides carried them toward the Golden Gate and the shipping lanes.

Pedro awoke in the early hours to see the horizon to the West aglow and the sound of sirens. He roused the entire Almeida family and told them to get ready to evacuate the place. Racoons, who had been circling the chicken pens scampered away in terror.

Mr. Sanchez went to the window to see flashing lights and ambulances and firetrucks rushing past down below on Santa Clara and went to awaken Ms. Morales.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and died between the smoldering embers of the once stately Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds through the murk to an unknown destination.

 

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