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                                     Putting out the Fire

Simon lept out of the old broken down, yellow taxi. He briskly walked behind the cab and popped open the trunk which contained his two old leather suitcases. He lugged them out of the trunk. Each was very heavy, weighing in at over 15 pounds. Simon dropped them with a thud on the cracked and overgrown sidewalk and took out his leather wallet.

“How much do I owe you?” Simon asked the cabby through the half open window.  

“From Springfield to Champagne is $39.84!” the cabby answer back. He had a gruff voice that sounded a little like Simon’s uncle Sal who lived by the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina. Simon paid the driver his money and turned to face his new home. It was a  red victorian style house that was built in 1856. It had been refurbished six times on the interior since then, but the front of the house was the same. Simon picked up his suitcases right as the taxi drove off with a sputter and a few clunks. Simon heaved his things into the house. The places inside was quite modern with a microwave and 50” flat screen TV that Simon knew would eat up a fair amount of his down time. His bedroom was on the second of three floors. He groaned at the fact that he would have to drag 30 pounds of clothes and old family mementos up the stairs. The stairs were made of oak wood which didn’t match the robins egg blue colored walls. After Simon finally managed to pull the up the stairs he was quite drowsy. He pushed the suitcases into his bedroom which only contained a bed, a dresser and a closet. Simon lay down on the bed. He sank into the cool, white sheets and was asleep instantly. When he awoke from his well needed snooze he decided that it was finally time to unpack his suitcases. He quickly unpacked everything and placed it in what would be its new home.

After Simon unpacked he walked down the wood stairs into the kitchen. He shoes made a clicking sound like the ones that tap dancers shoes make. He went to the fridge which opened with a squeak. He looked into the fridge for moment before closing it. His fridge was empty except for the pull out shelves and drawers, which of course were not edible. Simon needed to get to the grocery store downtown on Main street.

He pulled on his leather coat that had been first owned by his father when he was the same age as Simon, but that was over 40 years ago. The coat now had faded spots and there were patches where pieces had been torn away.

It was about about a 15 minute walk from his new abode to the grocery store. He walked into the store and grabbed a metal hand basket with blue and yellow plastic. Simon grabbed only a few things for he had no way to get home except for walking and he didn’t want to carry and heavy bags for he had done he fair share of that today. Once he retrieved the items he needed he proceeded to the 15 or under checkout line where he requested for two bags, one inside the other to keep them from tearing on his way back home.

He left the store with grocery bags in hand and began walking down the old gray concrete. He started whistling “Rise of the Valkyries” when multiple sirens pierced the air. They were close by and it gave Simon goosebumps and shivers. Sirens always did that to him for the thought that someone near him was hurt, dead, our losing things very precious. The sirens continued to grow closer and loud. Simon turned around to see two bright red fire trucks speeding down the street. They were followed by a white and blue ambulance and two shiny black police cars followed the other emergency vehicles. Simon started to run down the sidewalk. As he continued running he realized that he was nearing his house. He turned down his road with his heart in his throat praying that all the commotion had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with his brand new house.

His heart dropped, for the 1800’s victorian house he had bought for himself and for his future family, was fully engulfed in orange, yellow and red flames. Simon fell on to his knees and watched from afar as firemen struggled to stop the destruction of his abode. He looked up at the dark gray smoke that was billowing up from the fire. Everything became a blur for him. He looked around and he saw his life flashing before his eyes. These weren’t just any memories because they were the ones from the photos and memorabilia which he had place upon his dresser only mere hours before hand. The ones that were now turning into ash.

It took the firemen another half hour to finish off the blaze but by then the home had been burned to the ground. He walked up to the charcoal and scorched metal that was his home for almost six hours. Now he had nowhere to live for the time being. Tear began to run down his pale cheeks. The tears came faster and faster. He wanted to stop, but he couldn’t stop. He covered his face in his hands and kneeled down to the ground. Simon began to take deep breaths to calm himself. His nose became a bit runny and every so often he made a noise like a person trying to breathe in twice at the same, but the tears had stopped for the time.  

Hours later when Simon managed to pull himself together a bit, he proceed around downtown to find a payphone. As he walked through the streets of downtown Champaign he overheard multiple people conversating a massive house fire close by. Simon tried to block out the conversations, but they seemed to follow him down the busy streets of the city.

He was unable to find a payphone until he entered Urbana, the twin city of Champaign. He plopped two quarters into the slot and dialed his insurance company. The phone rang for a few seconds before a pre recorded male voice spoke out. giving him his options. He pressed 3 and the automated voice response was the typical please hold. Simon pulled more quarters out of his pocket and fed them into the slot. Quickly a female voice this time not pre recorded answered.

“Hello, thank you for calling the home insurance branch of Ryan and William how may I help you?” she said sounding cheerful.

“Hi, my name is Simon R. Floyd I’m calling because my house just was just mowed down by a fire!” Simon replied wearily.

The ladies quickly voice went from happy to sadness. “I’m sorry about that sir!” she said. He continued the conversation until he had his work out all the painful details. He put a few more quarters into the machine and dial his friend Ray who he lived with back in Springfield. He once again forced himself to retell and relive the devastation from earlier.

Ray promised to pick up Simon in few hours. He requested that Simon find somewhere to stay for the next few hours, like a diner or a hotel lobby. Simon solemnly strolled down the sidewalks, which was a dark gray which portrayed how he felt inside. He was homeless until Ray could get his 2007 Honda over to Champagne.

Simon found a small diner in downtown Urbana to bunker down in for the next few hours. He plopped down at the counter and ordered a large cup of coffee. He remembered that he had left the food from the store on the sidewalk. He kind of wished he had remember it. His coffee arrived a few seconds later and gulped it down.

At about 9:30 Ray pulled up outside of the diner. Even though Simon hadn’t told Ray where he was, he still somehow managed to find him. Simon felt like throwing up, not fully because of his house burning but the 21 cups of coffee were also contributing. On his way back to Ray’s place he threw up twice in a plastic bag from Bargain Shopping.

When Ray reached his apartment back in Springfield and let Simon inside, Simon buzzed the insurance company once more to see when he could receive his claim. A man informed him that he would receive his claim the next morning. Simon spent the night asleep upon the couch.

The next morning Ray took Simon to collect his claim and figure out more details. Simon spent the next few days at Ray’s house, sleeping on the couch. Months passed and Simon bought a new house. This time it was in Denver, Colorado, about 15 minutes from the Denver International Airport. It was a nice house, a little smaller than the last but still a big house.

Even though he had bought the new house and left the state, everything he lost in the fire would haunt him forever and ever. Simon learned  just to except the fact that it was all gone, but that never fully worked. There was always a part of him that cried out, wondering why this had to happen. Life moves on and so did Simon.





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