So yesterday, at around 4:15 p.m. on the East Coast, I was taking a leak and heard a fire alarm going off in the building where I live. This is a common occurrence since everyone cooks in the building, but I went to check it out anyways.
One floor below, the alarm was chiming in this dude’s apartment. I knocked, and heard a rustling, so I figured someone was home, and probably just dealing with a burning meal. How wrong I was.
About a minute later, I couldn’t just ignore the alarm. I had to go investigate further. The second time I walked up to the guy’s door, smoke was coming out of the top crack near the doorframe.
“Anyone in there?,” I yelled as I started pounding on the door, pushing it in slightly with each blow. As this happened, as the door jutted forward, I could see the orange glow of what was obviously a fire. I yelled at the top of my lungs, “Everybody get the fuck out. Fire, fire!”
I’m not sure if you have kids or own expensive shit, but up and until that point, I had never ever thought, “Hmm…if this place catches fire, what do I grab as I am running out?” Never. As it turns out, the answer, my friends, is my computer, my hard drive, and my cat.
I didn’t grab up the three shelves of straight black metal I have in my house. I didn’t snatch the drumsticks I had caught at those Faith No More, Guns N’ Roses, and Deftones shows all those years ago. I didn’t look for my keys or my old photos. Hell, I didn’t even think about the box of old concert tickets I have.
In that moment, knowing an apartment in the building where I hang my hat was ablaze, I grabbed three things, other than my jacket and phone, which I had already used to call 911 in the frenzy of it.
My cat, Jezebel, was not being cooperative. Long ago, she cut a hole for herself in the box spring of my bed, and likes to hide there. Yesterday, as I was rushing around my apartment in a calm panic, she was in her spot.
“I’m not dying for you, Jezebel,” I screamed at her. I flipped my bed over, and started tearing the cloth from the bottom of my box spring until I could reach her, and she ran. Into my living room. I chased her, dug her out from another hiding place, and tossed her into her carrying case.
With my cat and my hardware, I left my apartment, entering a hallway that was now flooded with white smoke. I couldn’t see shit. I live on the top floor, and could hear the people who live next to me screaming as they ran down the stairs. They were going to be fine.
I started to descend. As I walked by the apartment containing the blaze, I could see sun-colored flame spit out from all around the door. It looked the like entrance to hell. I stopped to bang on the door of the apartment not on fire on the third floor, realizing I had parked behind that neighbor’s car in the morning and then remembered it being gone when I left for work. So he’s not here; he’s in work.
I made it to the second floor. I screamed, “Get the fuck out! Fire!” I banged on both second floor doors. The old lady who lives with her husband was shaking with fear; her husband was at the store, she told me in her broken English, and I just told her to get out. I knocked on Sheila’s door; she’s a writer who lives next to the old couple. She’s never home, dude. I knocked a bunch, I yelled, but got no answer. I had to get out.
A family of three — an elderly mom and her two crazy, dysfunctional, fruity, semi-retarded adult sons — lives on the first floor. I hate them, so I just ran out the building. Luckily, one of the sons — who smokes in his underwear in the hallway and whom I want to bludgeon with a crab fork — was already outside, sucking on a Marlboro.
“What’s happening?,” he said in his fruity voice.
“The fucking building’s on fire you dumb motherfucker — look!” I pointed to the third floor; smoke was now slipping through the cracked windows and the blinds were drooping — melting from the intense heat.
“Go get your mom asshole!,” I yelled to him. He ran inside…to get his cigarettes. His mom was already at the store buying dinner for her deadbeat sons.
The fire department came fast, and within minutes, were charging inside to extinguish the conflagration. They busted out windows; streams of water shot into the street and onto nearby houses. People were shooting video with their phones. I was on the phone with my folks. It was a fucking scene.
Five hours later, I was let back into my apartment to grab essentials, like my car keys and my toothbrush and clothes. It’s sad to say, but the Gun Shy Assassin training compound smells like a chimney’s asshole. While not scorched or otherwise damaged, my building is fucked. The hallways are soaked, the walls, gutted. Life is going to be weird for a while, I guess.
I hope this shit never happens to you or anyone you love. That fear of the unknown is fucking agonizing, but the relief of finally seeing my pitch black apartment still intact was fucking dope.
I am not seeking sympathy. I just had to vent here folks. That said, we do have two cool tee shirts we’re selling…