Liam turned back into his house and let the sliding glass doors close behind him. He grabbed the hanging phone from it's cradle near the fridge and punched in the number of his insurance agent, who answered on the first ring, "Apex Insurance, for all your --"
"Clyde, it's me. Put Enrique on."
There was a pause on the other end of the line. Liam knew Clyde was stalling for time to think up an excuse. Lately his insurance people seemed to be dodging him. This was his third insurance agency this year, and Liam was getting a little sick and tired of the runaround, so he allowed his voice to raise ever-so-slightly as he cut off whatever garbage was about to spew forth from that scumbag Clyde's mouth, "Don't you put me off, you little weasel! I have a goddamn crisis on my hands and I need consultation with my freaking insurance agent! Capiche?!"
Clyde's voice, very calm, very soothing, and away from the mouthpiece, said, "You see, Mr. Ludwyck, Enrique is currently in a meeting and is unable to take your call."
"Is he now?"
"Yes. But I would be happy to take a message if you'd like."
"Why won't you speak into the phone, Clyde? He's right there, isn't he? You're gesturing or something to him right now, aren't you?"
"Letting him know it's me?"
"No, no. I swear, Mr. Ludwyck! He's not even here right now."
Liam tensed his entire body and screamed from the tips of his toes into the phone, "PUT HIM ON!"
"I can't. I'm sorry. I'll tell him you called. Is that what you'd like?"
"What I'd like is for you to put my goddamn agent on the phone so we can discuss my siding bubbling off the side of my goddamn house RIGHT THIS MOMENT!"
"Your siding is bubbling? Can we send an agent to your domicile on Tuesday to make an inspection?"
"Tuesday?! I might not have a house on Tuesday, you idiot! I could very well be living under the overpass right next to you on Tuesday. I want a full team sent to my house immediately for proper documentation before it all goes up in smoke! Now, put Enrique on the line, shmuck!"
"Why is your siding blistering, Mr. Ludwyck?"
"Oh, because the next door neighbor's house is in flames and will probably explode should the fire reach the propane tank in the back -- which, knowing my luck, it will."
"Your neighbor's house is on fire? Really? At this very moment?"
"Of course it is. Why else would I calling you?"
"Have the firemen arrived yet?"
"No. What? Who cares about the firemen? Try to stay with me, Clyde. I am calling about my siding! Now, I need to know that I am covered in light of my crackhead neighbors' penchant for mixing Crystal Meth with rocket fuel or whatever the hell it is they do over there. And don't you dare adjust my premiums because I just said that! I live in a good part of town, I do not live in a dangerous neighborhood. I -- I was just venting a little."
"Wait, did you call 9-1-1?"
Liam sighed and looked to the heavens as if to ask why they insisted on giving HIM the idiots on the phone. Every time. Idiots. He wrangled his fury to the point where he could say, unemotionally, "No Clyde, it's called 'Prioritizing.' You are being kind of useless right now. Please stick with me."
Clyde's voice was suddenly very animated, "What's the address? Tell me! Hurry!"
"Look, I'm talking about me right now, okay?"
Liam rolled his eyes and sighed. He gave Clyde his neighbors' flaming address and peered out his sliding glass doors. Janie lay on the front lawn, sobbing into her hands, but Liam was more concerned about the roof, from which a deathly cloud of black smoke billowed threateningly. "Hey Clyde," he asked, "if their chimney explodes, will that effect my bandwidth? Do you know?"