This weekend Vince’s bush burst into flame.
Vince is our next-door-neighbor in the quiet neighborhood where I rent a room, not far from the university. I was sitting at my desk, pretending to write (which takes more time than the actual writing) when I heard a loud “BOOM!”
I jumped up and ran to the door. My landlord, Robert, was already outside in the front yard.
There was another loud explosion two blocks down and this time I saw the source. A car full of what looked like (and almost certainly was) teenagers was careening down the road pitching lit firecrackers out the car window. They landed with a loud noise, a small flame, and a lot of smoke. One landed on Vince’s bush and instantly started a fire. The bushes were only a few feet from large pine trees that tower over Vince’s house.
“Call the fire department!!” Robert ordered, and so I did.
Vince was out of town, it turns out, and missed all the excitement. While I gave the operator our address, Robert subdued the flames with several buckets of water and a shovel. Soon, there were just smoking cinders and a gathering of gawking neighbors. It was a lot of excitement for a Saturday morning.
Two nights later, I woke with a start when I heard more yelling and another “BOOM,” in the middle of the night. Milo and Robert’s two dogs all began barking wildly. I heard Robert’s door slam, I jumped out of bed imagining intruders or a home invasion or…. I don’t know what I was imagining. It was the middle of the night, after all.
It turns out it was only Ben, my other roommate. His room is at the far end of the house and he woke up screaming from a bad nightmare. The dream was so bad, it propelled him up and out of his bed and he crashed into his bedroom wall.
“It’s okay! Everything is okay,” Robert said to Ben, then to me, then to the dogs.
And everything was okay, but it’s good to have someone watching out for you.
I remember shortly after I moved to Africa, living alone and feeling ill. I put water on the stove for tea and laid down. I almost fell asleep, then suddenly remembered the boiling water and jumped out of my bed and ran to the kitchen. That’s all I remember until I woke up, looking at the kitchen ceiling. I had a bruise on my elbow from where I hit the granite countertop on my way down and I wondered how things might have been different if I had hit my head instead of my elbow when I passed out. Shortly after, I moved in with Nora, who was also living alone. We agreed it would be better to have someone looking out for us, and I stayed with Nora for almost three years.
Vince got back into town and brought over a bottle of wine to thank Robert for putting out the fire. Robert and I shared it last night while the dogs lay around us. Milo was sleeping and his paws began to twitch, muffled barks came out of his mouth and he got more and more agitated.
I walked over and stroked Milo’s belly. His eyes shot open and he gave me that disoriented look we all have when we suddenly go from battling monsters to realizing that we will be okay after all.
“It’s okay, Milo,” I said, “everything is okay.”
Till next time,