Thursday, September 22, 2011

How To Set A House On Fire


Because my last post, The Orange by Benjamin Rosenbaum, got more hits in twelve days than any of my other posts have EVER gotten (I'm not hurt, no, not at all)... here's another short story that I love. Award-winning short film adaptation above, original flash fiction below.

How to Set a House on Fire

Before you light the gas , light a cigarette under the old red maple in the front yard, under the hunter’s moon, and take a last look. Before this, walk through the ranch house with a miner’s lamp and pesticide sprayer topped off with high-test racing fuel. Before it was your house it was your father’s house and before it was your father’s house it was his father’s too. Before foreclosure on the family farm, before the new highway. Spray the gaps in the oak floorboards and get into the heating ducts, hit the horsehair plaster and take out electric sockets, then run a heavy gas line out to the barn. There is the combine. That is a backhoe. At one time chickens lived here. Before leaving, make sure the hay bales drip with fuel. This was feed once. On your way toss your house keys into the water well. Before doing anything else, make a wish.

After filling the birdbath next to the old red maple with the remaining octane, call Herm up at the fire station. After he gets on the line tell him to come over and bring a truck or two– with a crew. There’s not much to see now, really. After he asks why, tell him. Tell him how the fire line went from where you stand to the well and then zigzagged to the barn, and after the farm equipment blew to the sky tell him how the furnace did the same. A chain of events, explain, a chain of events. After the windows kicked out there wasn’t much anyone could have done. And after Herm asks if you would do it all over again, tell him you would. But come anyway, Herm. Tell him that.

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