Sunday, March 13, 2005

Fire

Hepcat and Smartmom watched "Before Sunset" with Groovy Aunt and Bro-in-Law over at their place. The film is wonderful; a non-stop conversation between two ex-lovers as they walk around Paris. The steadi-cam operator deserves an Oscar for his camera-roll length takes of the two actors talking. He had to do a lot of backwards walking. Tres incredible.

When Hepcat and Smartmom walked out onto Prospect Park West after the movie, the sky looked smokey black and misty. As they turned the corner onto First Street they smelled smoke and Hepcat spotted sparks coming out of a manhole. There was a distinct rumbling sound mixed with tiny explosions. They immediately called the Fire Department and within minutes all the Park Slope companies were in attendance.

It seems that the salt that the city spreads on the streets to melt the snow not only rusts through automobiles and bridges but also seeps into the manholes and causes electrical shorts. Sometimes the result is stray voltage like that which last year electrocuted to death the woman in the East Village walking her dogs, who coincidently went to the same high school in California as Hepcat. Sometimes the saltwater in the manhole leads to an electrical fire or an explosion like the one that destroyed a car and blew out windows on the same Brooklyn block a decade ago.

The smoke turned black and the rumbling got louder. First Street residents poured out of their brownstones. A friend came out onto the street in a vintage fur coat with a glass of wine wine and a cigarette and asked them what was going on. "I thought the kid down the street was drumming. That's why I came out..."

They explained what they knew as others joined them. The crowd looked on nervously as the firefighters figured out what to do: they seemed to be waiting for Con Edison to turn the electricity off. Smartmom wondered which of the firefighters had been at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Squad 1 lost eleven men that day, including one of her friends. She imagined that they looked much the same as they did early on 9/11, as they got ready to to save lives and property, not sure what they were getting themselves into.

The firefighters went about their business with precision and competence. Smartmom told Hepcat to go home and get his camera but he didn't want to. He's been working on a series of photographs called: Earth. Water. Fire. Air. and he hasn't figured out Fire yet. Smartmom thought pictures of the firefighters might be just the thing. But that's why she's a writer and he's a photographer.

Smartmom went home to relieve their babysitter, Beautiful Smile. Hepcat stayed behind, interested to see what was going to happen next. After about an hour Con Edison had not appeared so Hepcat came home, leaving the firemen watching the smoke, listening to the rumbling, and waiting.

1 Comments:

At 7:14 AM, Blogger Little Light said...

Your story about your friend with the fur coat, the wine and cigarette is classic!

 

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