Monday, July 7, 2008
Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires..... or Start Them If You Are So Inclined
Late on the night of July 4th, shortly after the conclusion of Greenville's massive fireworks extravaganza, I was invited by a friend, who we will call Mr. T (to protect the innocent, not because he wears enough gold chain to forever vanquish the US debt) to an after party involving more sky explosions. Mr. T's friend Mr. Brown (not to be confused with Quentin Tarantino in "Reservoir Dogs" or the soda, mainly because this is also a pseudonym) had taken a trip up to Shelton, SC, where the largest known supply of pyrotechnics in the free world is stored in a barn-like building the size of the Sears Tower. Mr. Brown came back with a SUV full of enough artillery to reproduce the American invasion of Grenada (yes we once invaded a Caribbean island the size of a thimble, for more look up Reagan, Ronald in Wikipedia). The group then pulled up chairs and sat back to watch Mr. T and Mr. Brown go to work turning the night into a sparkling cornucopia of aerial artwork.
Everything seemed to be going fine for a while. I tipped back in my seat and began to converse with some sort of half-crazed wench who was well gone on the demon rum. Champagne bubbled down the back of my throat as she regaled me with her endless nonsensical babbling. Then, all of a sudden, Mr. T decided he would mix things up a bit by aiming a rocket at the brush fifty yards to our right. Such an action might be considered rash at the best of times, but we are currently mired in a drought of quasi-mythical proportions, and the bushes he fired into were drier than a world without K-Y. Flames immediately shot upwards and panic gripped the group into momentary paralysis. Someone brilliant (almost certainly me and I am taking credit either way) suggested that perhaps we should run up to the host's house and grab a fire extinguisher. This masterful plan quickly took hold and shortly thereafter several folks were dashing towards the conflagration, which had reached a height warmly reminiscent of hell's fiery inferno. Full-fledged disaster seemed imminent. I decided that the best place to view the battle between man and fire was my chair, so I sat back down to take in the action in comfort.
Chaos ensued as the flames flickered higher and our heroes stumbled into the mouth of the blaze.The lines of combat were drawn and it appeared that only one would survive. Soon enough the shouting was over and the extinguisher had blown its foamy load. The brave few who had done battle returned, bruised, scraped, and dirty, but unbroken. The once powerful inferno had been beaten back, tamed like a pathetic zoo animal doomed to spend the rest of its life crapping in a cage.
Everything appeared to be okay, but we had only reached the eye of the storm. Suddenly a bright red firetruck came screaming down the highway with its sirens blaring out the clarion call of impending doom. There was little doubt in our minds that it was our blaze that these men were after - and if we did not think quickly trouble was soon to be an intergral part of our future. We acted fast, starting a small campfire that could be seen from the road. When the fire engine came roaring back in our direction, they spotted us cooking smores over the open flame. Two firemen approached and questioned us about a brush fire that a neighbor had recently reported. Mr. Brown and the owner of the property, Mr. P (not the Pizza company) led the way, claiming they knew nothing of such craziness, while I shoved my shirt well down the back of my throat to avert the explosive guffaws that were brewing in my belly. The subterfuge worked and our two visitors drove their truck away into the darkness of the night. There is surely a lesson that we can all take from this near disaster, but damn if I can figure out what it might be. Only Mr. T can start forest fires?