Monday, December 14, 2009

Mystery Alarm, Part 3

A few days ago an alarm went off in the house and we quickly reached a point of desperation about what to do and how to turn it off. Our security system here is wired into the smoke detectors, at least some of them--I'm still not sure how it works.

Once I left some popcorn in the microwave too long. It sent a cloud of smoke into the kitchen and then tripped the loudest alarm I've ever heard. In no more than 2 minutes a huge fire truck pulled up out front and several men in yellow coats descended on the house, big axes in hand and with a righteous sense of purpose, ready to smash everything to bits.

Those firemen had a particular gleam in their eyes--I'd seen the look before. Years ago, out in the remote woods of Arkansas, we staged a big party for about 100 normally benign individuals who began drinking before noon and who, by 7 p.m., were starving because the pig (which was being roasted in a pit nearby) was still not ready, and who then began to morph from modern human beings into their prehistorical ancestors, wandering through the woods with a glassy-eyed determination to eat raw strips of flesh (pig or human, alive or dead). A crisis was averted when my friend (the cook) was able to cut away a chunk of meat (pig) that was reasonably done.

The firemen at my house were in a similar state (fire: bad) and were not in a mood to talk or to even examine the burnt and smoldering bag of popcorn that I held up, even though it did seem to explain the situation. We've got to go inside, sir, the captain said to me without slowing down, glassy-eyed, holding his ax like a Celtic warrior descending on the Viking stronghold at Annagassan. OK, then. We looked around the house, no problem, and the spell was lifted. We all had a nice talk outside afterward.

But this alarm in the living room was not loud at all and no fire trucks were coming. I climbed one more step on the ladder and noticed that the alarm did not seem louder even as I approached it.

More later...

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