Overdue Updates

Overdue Updates

Allow Me To Tell You A Story:

This is a real happenstance, not fiction like I prefer. It all went down on Tuesday, October 1, 2019.


The day should have begun like so many before; get up, start a pot of coffee, get on my computer.

Nope, not that day. I didn’t finish something the night before and had resigned myself to do it in the morning instead.  Supplies laid out, I began after finding a movie to play in the background.

About half-way through, I took a smoke break. I had just come back inside and gotten back to it when I heard from (what seemed to be) nearby outside


Reminded me of a shotgun blast from not too far off, including the feeling in the core of my being. If you have ever been somewhat closeby when a firearm is discharged, you know the percussion I reference. It’s like a huge drum being hit right in the middle of one’s chest.

Concerned, I jumped up as another one sounded and I went outside to see if the source was near enough to be seen.

Now, I’m not necessarily a brave guy. I have no complex that says I can take on an armed assailant by myself. I do, however, feel a need to offer assistance if it is within my ability. If someone’s hurt, I will try to help as best I can.

Out front, I looked up and down the street, then went out back and did the same. I could detect nothing out of the ordinary. As I came back toward the front of the building, I started hearing a faint

Beep, beep, beep.

Beep, beep, beep.

The sound reminded me of the backup alarms on commercial vehicles so I dismissed it.

With a final glance out front, I decided to go back inside. When I got to the front door, the beeping got much louder. As I pushed the door open, I recognized it was the smoke alarm and walked down the hallway, still not knowing WTF.

I walked down the hall, past the empty extra bedroom and almost to the entrance to Ma’s room (door’s closed) when I saw yellow flames coming from underneath and the sides.

That’s when both the adrenaline and the expletives kicked in. I opened the door and saw flames through the thick blanket of smoke. So much smoke I could barely see the rest of the room.

The thought hit that I’d seen an extinguisher in the kitchen. Problem is, it’s been here longer than the 8 years we have. I needed to find out if it had anything left to help.

I dashed into the kitchen and grabbed it, slapping off the protective plastic cover and yanking the pin as I rushed back to the problem area, smacking the still beeping alarm off the wall to stop it from sounding in my ears. Depressing the lever, the device spat out a white powder that I tried to spray over everything I saw in flames. Unfortunately, as it was so old, it sputtered and stopped before the job was done.

I threw it aside and dashed back into the kitchen to grab a gallon of filtered water. I hollered at my brother and his response reflected his annoyance at being disturbed. I hollered “HELP” and went back to empty the jug.

Sparks from the outlet right beside the area flashed as my brother came up behind me. When that gallon was gone, I waited for a second and still saw red tongues that wanted to flare back up. Tom went outside to turn off the breakers while I grabbed another bottle and dumped it, too. Even after all that, I needed more water.

Now, let me pause and tell you that I do not do well in most stressful situations. I get flustered and begin making mistakes, which I could ill afford in that situation. Fortunately, the emergency didn’t last a long time, but I still couldn’t think past knowing my room- with my computer, clothes, and all manner of personal items I didn’t want to lose sat right next door. We share the wall in question. So my main thought centered on beating the flames before they beat me… and my brother and mother. We would have all lost stuff we do not care to try to replace or get along without. (I know, kind of base of us, cherishing material things- tell me you don’t.) Bearing this in mind…

I snatched up a deep baking pan in the kitchen and filled it with tap water. That final bit did the trick and the embers went away. I sagged against the door frame and tried calming down. I’ve been in situations before that spiked my adrenaline, not voluntarily, and dislike the after-effects. Using deep-breathing techniques, I attempted to get the old heart thumps to ease off a little. Nothing doing.

Here’s a picture of the area after I got the debris out of the way. I know it’s out of focus and doesn’t show the entire room but it shows the worst of it.

The laptop sat on a metal desk of sorts under the shelving you see on the upper left

Next to that, she had a nightstand (pic shows the back of it- nothing inside burned) with her printer on top

On the door, you can see the shadows of the clothes she had hanging, which we just tossed into a wheelbarrow to transport

One of those items was a dress she just bought- hadn’t even worn yet. The blue case held a bunch of cassette tapes- most of which were ruined.

If you look closely at the laptop, you see two tubes. Those are what’s inside the battery.

One more item; where you see the biggest black mark on the wall, Ma had a bunch of plastic-wrapped packages of feminine napkins she wanted to give away. That’s what caught and refused to go out. She had some shoes underneath that also got destroyed.

I know what some are saying; “That’s not so bad. I’ve burned myself worse with _____.” Well, sirs and ma’ams, all I can say is “It could have been a whole lot worse if situations were a little bit different.” Had I been asleep, or even gone, it would have been out of control. As stated, my brother was home, too, but his room is on the other side of mine and around a couple of corners. He wouldn’t have responded with near enough time. Ma, had she been home, would have freaked, becoming completely distraught and not able to do anything to put out the flames. She might have tried grabbing items to try to save, I don’t know. I’m really glad I was here in those respects but still…

That happened a month-and-a-half ago. The building owner still has some insurance on it so we were able to get some professional help in getting it cleaned up for the most part. They had ServPro come in and remove the burned portions of the wall and carpet and get a lot of the soot cleaned off the rest of the walls, including in the hallway, living room, dining room, and kitchen. They wiped some of the walls in my room a bit, too. (Allow me to say, ServPro has a slogan: “Like It Never Happened.” I won’t go that far but I will say we didn’t opt for the in-depth cleaning it would have taken to get it to that point.)

We have not finished all the repairs needed but at least Ma finally got to go back in there to sleep. We had to get a loaner bed in the spare room for her to use for about two or three weeks. The ceiling and walls have been repainted successfully (a different color) and some of the baseboards. We still have to do the rest of the baseboards and the trim around the ceiling (it looks black in the pic because it hasn’t been repainted yet) but Ma has declared the important stuff done enough for her to move back into it.

I wanted to wait until we had it done to put the ending pic(s) up. No telling when we will get it completed, though. Plus, I have almost 1500 words as it is, which amounts to a short story. My apologies. I tend to ramble sometimes, often giving a lot more information than is needed.

Thanks for visiting and giving this post a glance. Responses can be left on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/john.herres.5


I am a fiction writer;

A creator of larger-than-life heroes of ages gone by;
Great wizards tainted, and those who resist them;

War between interstellar travelers, both on this planet and far away;
Alien races intent on the annihilation of any being not their own,
and weaker ones in need of a savior- as well as the One who becomes their savior.

Clashes with bad people and dangerous places, where only one can survive.

When you get to my writing, sit back, hold on, and enjoy the ride!