Now for something completely different! Nothing true about this one, it's purely a figment of my imagination.
His night with the lads had been great. He’d had a skin full, and didn’t fancy a curry with the rest. He stabbed the front door of number 29 with his key in an effort to locate the keyhole; he had to admit he did feel peckish. He walked unsteadily to the toilet, and swaying back and forth, disposed of the last drops of lager. Suddenly, he thought of chips. Large golden chips, smothered in salt with great dollops of brown sauce.
In a drunkard half-hearted voice he called his wife. “Make some chips woman”. There was no reply, and by the time he reached the kitchen, he’d forgotten he’d called her. Hanging on to the edge of the cooker for support, he lit the gas under the chip pan.
“Bloody fat is hard, she ought to bloody well be in here doing this”.
Still muttering and complaining, he slumped down at the kitchen table, rested his head in his hands, and waited for the lard to melt. Ten minutes later he was fast asleep, all thoughts of chips removed from his inebriated mind.
A blue smoky haze enveloped the pan. Suddenly it ignited in a strangely silent way that belied the ferocity of the blaze that followed. Roy slept on. Unaware of what awaited him.
At number 31, all was dark and still. Jock and Margaret were asleep, as was Dodger their dog.
Jock was dreaming he wore a deerstalker hat and was tracking down the Hound of the Baskervilles. The hound was howling as he awoke, Jock was surprised to find it was still howling and barking as he sat up in bed. It was Dodger who was barking non-stop in the back garden, and Jock knew that he must go down and quieten him before some one complained.
He switched on the kitchen light and padded barefoot across the cold linoleum, noticing that they’d forgotten to put the bread away. He picked up the loaf in passing and dropped it into the earthenware crock as he passed by. The back door was soon unlocked and Dodger pushed his way past Jock’s legs without waiting for the door to be fully opened.
“What’s up Dodge”? He crumpled up the dog’s ear in a rough affectionate way, and decided he’d better take a look, just in case.
Jock didn’t expect the scene before him. Roy and Pauline’s kitchen was glowing with orange flames. Smoke rolled and curled through the top of the window, which was slightly open. The curtains were beginning to burn.
For a moment Jock froze. Attempting to put priorities in order, he decided that he must ring 999, call Margaret, and attempt to raise the next-door neighbours in that order. He ran into the hall calling to Margaret as he went. “Margaret, get up! Next door’s on fire!” He dialled 999 and gave the details of the fire to the operator. Slamming down the receiver, he raced up the stairs to waken his wife. Only then, did he realise that Dodger, thinking all this was a grand game, was running beside him rubber bone in mouth, and tail revolving like helicopter blades.
“Roy and Pauline’s house is on fire Marge, and I’m going to knock them up. I’ve called the Brigade”.
Only stopping to make sure Margaret was awake and Dodger was shut up, he raced down stairs and out into the street.
He was amazed to find that everything in Daniel Street looked so normal. Houses were all in darkness, and a couple were walking arm in arm on the other side of the road, occasionally stopping to kiss. In the distance he heard the sound of cats fighting.
Jock raced up the path leading to Roy’s front door. He put his finger on the bell push, holding it there. It didn’t surprise him that it wasn’t working. He balled up his powerful fists and hammered them in a rapid and heavy tattoo on the door. The window on the first floor flew open and Pauline’s face peered balefully round the curtains. “If that’s you Roy, you can bloody well sleep in the front garden! What time do you call this?”
“ It’s me, Jock from next door. There’s a fire at the back of your house Pauline, in the kitchen. You better get out quickly while you can. Check if the landing and hall are clear enough to make it to the front door. If not, go back to the bedroom, close the door, and come to the window. Don’t worry; we’ll get you out. The fire engines are on the way”.
Pauline disappeared, and a few minutes later reappeared at the front door.
Putting his arm around her, Jock led her back down the path and into Daniel Street.
In a very short time the area had come alive. Windows that were so dark and non-seeing ten minutes ago were now winking and blinking in the light. Crowds were gathering, and the courting couple had returned to stand hand in hand on the other side of the street.
The fire engine turned into Daniel Street with sirens screaming and lights flashing, and halted outside number 29.
Jock couldn’t believe the expertise with which the brigade moved.
Margaret, arms around Pauline, was trying to comfort and reassure her.
“Silly bugger,” said Pauline, in a strangely endearing tone, “he’s probably lying drunk in a gutter somewhere. He’ll be home soon. I know he’ll be home soon”. She was still repeating this when a fireman came through to the front of the house. Leaning heavily on him, coughing and gasping for breath, was a sooty, unsteady, and shamefaced Roy, still somewhat bemused about why a fireman should be in his kitchen, spraying water all over his chip supper.