It was only after the firedepartment arrived that the panic hit. The explosion rocked the neighbourhood. Mavis' house went up like a dynamo. I can still see it. It was nothing short of exhilirating. Like a giant pilot light, lit for a moment and then simmering to a red glow of burning siding.
Someone was bound to start asking questions. The panic was a thrill I had not felt for a long, long time. This was big time. It was the titillation one feels f*cking with their parents in the next room. I couldn't contain myself. With my drapes partially shut, I peeked through my living room window as the blaze consumed Mavis' house.
But, didn't it seem queer that my drapes would be shut in the middle of the afternnoon? They were never shut. And the neighbourhood was starting to spill out onto the road. The fire trucks took exactly four minutes to arrive from the moment I walked inside. And then two minutes later, the police. Two fire trucks and three, no, four patrol cars. Sirens wailing. It was a scene. A big scene.
Policeman stood along the perimeter of Mavis' house as a crew of firemen bathed it in a torrent of water An explosion didn't happen everyday. Mavis' body had to burn with the house. What if they started to poll the neighbourhood? I could not tell them that Mavis had called me about a problem with natural gas, that I had been over there. I might has well have put the handcuffs on myself. And why would I be sitting inside while my neighbour's house exploded in flame?
Instinct alone drove me upstairs into the shower. I doused myself with water and threw shampoo in my hair. I threw on my robe and, I must say I am proud of myself, ran downstairs, flung open the door and granstanded an expression of complete surprise and utter horror.
"What's going on?", I shrieked to the nearest fireman. You should have seen this man. No older than twenty five, probably fresh from the academy. I carried on my anguished look while undressing him with my eyes. I made a note to myself to buy this year's fireman calendar.
"Ma'am?, do you live around here?", came a voice behind me that was one cup all business and half a gallon of I'm in trouble, My stomach sank as I turned my head to address my caller.
An older cop. Probably fifty. He had the physique of a dump truck meeting a pear pie. When did my taxpayer dollars go to buying you donuts, I wondered?
I turned myself around, taking a small step back towards the blonde, rippling, hulk of a firebeast.
"I'd like to ask you a few questions", stated the porkbellied trooper.
My heart sank. The panic had turned to terror. This was it. They'd do a forensic investigation and find a stab wound biting Mavis' elderly heart. The cop knew. He knew. I could hear it in his voice.
"This is all too much!", I wailed, as I forced myself to fall into the fireman's arms, being careful enough to allow him a peek at my heaving bosom,
"Ma'am, I will get you some bottled water", said the cop. He wasn't phased. My number was up.
Then, from the corner of my one open eye, I saw the van. The van that read "Peter Gerrard's Heating and Cooling" was pulling up just behind me. The senile old drone had probably called him thirty times and not even remembered.
"No, I'll be fine, officer", I said, squeezing the firefighter's rump as I pulled myself upright, "this is all just so much for such a quiet neighbourhood."