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The thing about the firemen was – and there were very many of them by this point, you understand – I knew exactly why they were there, which made it bad enough, obviously, unacceptable, but still I went on with my day. I bit my tongue. Figuratively, I’m saying this. I hardly ever truly bite my tongue, if you have to know, or just rarely.

Then more firetrucks. I could see them through my mini-blinds which are the things across my windows. The firetrucks were red only more like the red from when I was a kid, not like the kind of red that exists now. There were red firetrucks and then there was the black car and also the men in the suits and ties, who I knew to be arson investigators because I know a government worker when I see a government worker, always.

This was too much.

In my blue pajamas, I ran outside, across to my neighbor’s yard where there were still embers burning. I yelled at the arson investigator – the one who was bald and with a scar – yelled at him, “Okay! Okay! I know what this is. You don’t have to investigate this because I had nothing to do with it!”

Both the arson investigators went blank. They crossed their arms because they are trained to do this, this blankness, I read about it one time in a magazine. One said, “Good morning!” He said, “I’m Bob. And you are…?”

My blood was boiling. I said, “YOU KNOW WHO I AM!!! I know what this is! You people hate me. I had nothing to do with this fire and the neighborhood is exactly the same without this house as before.”

Then I turned and I ran back to my house. I am a very busy man, you know.

The next morning was a perfectly ordinary morning for me because I had nothing to feel guilty about. I was sitting, in my chair, where I always am, and I listened to a song called “Firestarter,” which has a very good beat, by a group called The Prodigy and then there was a knock at my door.

It was Bob. Bob said, “Hi again, Mister Hamid” – I told you he knew who I was – “I’m noticing you have some external speakers blasting a song called ‘Firestarter’ directly at your neighbor’s burned-out house…”

I expected as much. I said, “So this is how it’s going to be? I’m a criminal for playing a song with a good beat?! Lots of people play this song. Why don’t you go investigate them?”

The truth is I was really going now. Ranting and all of that. Bob stood back because he didn’t know what else to do, probably. “Ask anyone about me,” I said. “Everyone says, ‘That Harry, the best thing about him is that he never starts fires!’ In high school, you can look it up, everybody knows, they voted me ‘Least Likely to Ever Start a Fire’.”

I slammed the door. The boom from my door always brings a sense of finality. Bob, knowing the jig was up on his scheme now, yes, I imagined him standing out there with his scarred, bald head hanging down. Tomorrow I would get him to sign a piece of paper saying I was one hundred percent innocent of any fires and that would be that.

But when tomorrow happened, I got another knock. I was playing a song called “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by this person called Billy Joel, just to remind everyone, sort of, you know. But then I got the knock and there was Bob and the other arson investigator and there were policemen as well.

As they dragged me out and away, I said, “What about the people who didn’t buy my house? The other people who put in bids? What about them?” and I said, “I know who you are! You’re not Bob – you’re Mister Ogon!”

I said, “This isn’t even about any fire! This was all a plot to arrest me!” and “If I had burned down that house, I wouldn’t have gotten caught!”

They put me inside their car. It would have been humiliating except for I knew I had done nothing wrong. But the handcuffs must have been extraordinarily enormous, the biggest ever maybe, because my hands kept slipping out.

Comments

  1. This is a fun quick read. It feels a bit chaotic, just like it probably is in protag's head, even though you left out all the in-between parts of just him pacing around in his room and glancing out between the blinds much too often.
    I'd make a joke about his burning desire for a sick beat and strong base, but really, we're above that here.

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    1. Thanks. It started off a purely political satire piece, making fun of the American President's overreaction to a hacking investigation, and eventually, I realized I was being so subtle, that it probably wasn't a political piece anymore.

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  2. Isn't this what you lawyers call "res ipsa loquitur"?

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    1. The thing speaks for itself, kind of.

      I'd just say that I was acting Presidentially. By today's standards.

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  3. Oooooh, I understand. If something bad happens I feel guilty, too. Like when the cookies from the cookie jar are missing. I always think I took them.

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    1. Haha... That's funny. "Did I take the cookies after all? Do I have an alibi if I am accused of it?"

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  4. A highway patrolman passed me coming home a few weeks back and immediately spun around and turned on his siren and lights. I totally freaked, I was convinced the cop had spotted me doing something wrong and was going to pull me over. Of course the biggest problem was that I had no idea what infraction I might have committed.

    The cop even pulled up behind me until he was a car-length or two from my bumper. Much to my relief, he quickly pulled into the left lane and hit warp drive passing me by. All that happened in the space of ten to twenty seconds but it bothered me for the rest of the day.

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    1. I'm sure the person in your trunk was disappointed.

      They say that if a cop follows anyone for a mile, they can find some excuse to pull them over if they're really looking for one. Everybody goes over a line a little or follows too close or something.

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  5. You need a better firewall. Or maybe you should drink less firewater. A little fiery speech goes a long way, but if you go too far, you embersess yourself. There is, after all, no smoke without fire, they say.

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    1. This just seems to be the overly-defensive way people respond to bad things happening these days.

      I was going to have my protagonist accuse Bob of being not Mister Ogon, but Mister Огонь, so that the real topic of discussion was more clear. But it works as is.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Oops, I screwed that one up. I'll try again:

      Sort of like the Tell-Tale Heart in reverse?

      -Doug in Oakland

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    2. When I finished it, I thought the same thing! Not that I'm comparing myself with Poe, but it does seem related...

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  7. You have a rather frightening grip on the mental processes of deranged brains. I love it.

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  8. Weird. They voted me Most Likely to Ever Start a Fire in high school. And the sad thing is, I never did. I guess I really was a burn out.

    At least I still have my fire-related puns.

    This is definitely very subtle. I didn't pick up on any of the Trumpisms until after I read your comment to Fang. That ending, though, with the implied tiny hands... I laughed.

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    1. You'll always be hot to me.

      I'm actually really happy that this post has some value even outside its political context. Especially since I don't want to write political posts.

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  9. I've been taught that I am guilty. No one else wants the blame so it is mine by default. Sure, I did it.

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    1. I think that's called being a scapegoat. Sort of like a sin-eater, only different. Poor goat...

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  10. haha stable genius? well that remains to be scene! bwahaha

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    1. OOer, trying to reply on any of Harry's posts seems to require some sort of genius.

      Have to admit that the Drumf has some sort of financial 'genie'. Has not only avoided bankruptcy 2 or 3 times ... but now seems intent on using his 'genius' to screw every penny out of the American populace for himself and 'family' - that he can 'get away with'

      So, what's happeninig in Britain?
      As an Australian view everything in the Northern hemisphere with some sort of wry humour.
      Your politics have been based on 'walls and warfare' since the Romans turned up on Celtic shores .... meh.

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    2. Hi, Bella. Why would someone lie about that?

      I'm a fantastic guitar player - I'll remind you of that every day - so it must mean that i really am. Ask anyone!

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    3. Hi,. Davoh. Everything I know about Australian politics comes from the lyrics of songs by a group called the Drones. This means that I assume some guy named Andrew Bolt is a bad guy, and also that's there's something called Anzackery and also Taman Shud. (https://genius.com/8082290)

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  11. Hm... I might have to stop rethinking my habit of starting my day with "Bodies", by Drowning Pool.

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    1. And yet no one thinks I'm dealing drugs if I watch "Breaking Bad." It's only music that makes people take that jump in logic.

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  12. Well, but it really does have a catchy beat.

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    1. Exactly. If I were playing "I Shot the Sheriff," it wouldn't mean that I'd killed a member of law enforcement. Sheesh!

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  13. So.. when do we get to see Trump arrested?

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    1. I don't know whether I'm supposed to tell you folks about future events. I might be breaking the rules, but... June 21st. Don't tell anyone I told you.

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  14. LOL! I like this one Harry! A fun read! LOL!

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    1. Thanks, Stacy. It turned out better than I'd expected... or feared. Time to plan for the next one now.

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  15. will there be a part 2? "We Didn’t Start the Fire" - a favorite of mine. I don't know if there is a name for this type of song in which the lyrics come at you very quick. R.E.M. did on like that too - "It's The End Of The World". These type of songs do make good drinking songs.
    Oh, you could have told the investigators that had you started that fire it would have been done it in a way that could not be detected.

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    1. Someday, when I'm old and out of ideas, I'm going to write Part 2 to every one of these posts.

      That's not going to start until at least May.

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    2. Ha you should give yourself a little more time.

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