“I really wonder if it is possible to watch a fire without deriving a certain fire from it.”
—Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Possessed


5 am this morning after a period of sleeplessness and a dream of the Illuminati trying to recruit me, I heard someone behind the apartments throwing stuff around. I thought they must be chucking garbage. A little while later, after dozing some more, I heard the sound of fire and saw golden light through window. I assumed it was a bonfire but got up to check anyway. The abandoned shed two doors away was burning wildly. I woke M* up and we watched it for a while – a beautiful sight. M* called the fire dept while the fire spread to the abandoned house next to the shed (on the side away from us).  By the time the firefighters had shown up after 10 minutes it was a truly apocalyptic blaze. As we watched, they failed to prevent the fire from spreading to the adjacent building, a dry cleaners (situated between our building and the burning shed). Flames were licking up the corner.

The owner came to rescue his boat. After a while we decided to get dressed and go out and watch. We found out that a guy in an apartment in the second burning building, the one next to ours, hadn’t been able to get his cat out – a black cat who G* has hung out with in the past. I’m not sure how it happened, it seems the guy came out to see what was going on and then the firemen refused to let him back in again. If it had been me there’s no way they could have stopped me. At the time of writing the fate of the cat is unknown, but it doesn’t look good.The police came and evacuated our building. We went in and got G* out, as well as our laptops, my passport and credit cards. We stood around a while out back with the neighbors, watching the firemen fail to contain the fire as it got closer and closer to our building. A neighbor, Travis, a tree cutter with training as a fireman, joked that his daughter (7) could do a better job fighting fire. (A couple of hours before the fire started, unable to sleep, I was writing notes on Taxi Driver, about how Travis Bickle shows signs of being autistic.)


Our apartment is the window on the left, next to ladder.

Long story short, after some deliberation as to what to save, if anything, I went back into the apt and filled a suitcase with books, dressing gown,  letters from kenneth grant, and grabbed my guitar. So now I know the answer to the question, “What would you save in a fire?” (not much). Since it was clear that they’d be at it for quite a while, we came to the bookshop where M* works (bringing G*). M* gave me some solstice gifts. I told her I’d been planning to build a fire for the solstice this year, but that now we didn’t have to. She pointed out a burn in my sweater, right over my solar plexus.

Having gone back to check on the status, the fire is mostly out but the general opinion is we’ll be lucky to get back in today.

Burning down the house!! (The symbolism of the Talking Heads song is destruction of the false identity.)

And this occurred 3 days before solstice, for which the traditon is to light a big fire to call back the Sun. If this was our divinely sent ceremony, it looks like 2014 is going to be a hell of a year.

I’m disturbed about the cat, however – especially since we could have done something to save it, had we known, or even had we been thinking more clearly.

Our prayers go out to the cat, and blessings from the fire zone


Part Two (the Fate of the Cat)

7 thoughts on “Fire!

  1. A spontaneously erupting fire on the night of the Full Moon, Sun aligned with the Galactic Center, and so close to the Solstice…honestly, I don’t think even Stephen King could dream that up! Were you able to move back into your apartment today? I certainly hope so, it must be cold right now up where you are.

    One thing in particular struck me while reading your observations…it seemed as if this fire had a particularly mesmerizing quality to it for those who were witnessing it. Even the firefighters seemed as if they were moving in slow motion, or certainly not with speedy competency. It must have felt both frightening…(want to get away)…and compelling (want to witness).

  2. But cats are canny when it comes to stuff like this. It could have made good its escape long before the humans. At least I keep telling myself this.
    Terri in Joburg, where it is Mid-Summer, almost.

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