The cozy little house I share with my two cats, and a dog sometimes, often smells like bar b q. Sometimes it just smells like fire. That’s because I am barely a man. Well, barely a man in the old John Wayne, dirty hands, can rebuild a carburetor sense. What I’m trying to get at is: I suck at fire. As such, living in a house with a fireplace has been a comedy of slight errors and self clownings the likes of which are, frankly, par for for the course for my life.
My first “fire” took a good 73 minutes and a third of a Philadelphia phone book to get lit. For my efforts, I was rewarded with a billow* of acrid dark smoke wending its way up my ceiling before caroming back into the living room and coating my possessions with a lovely odor of whatever shit wood it is they sell at the Ack-ame. But, I learned an important lesson from this first disaster: open the flue before lighting a fire. My next few fires were uneventful, and I even got somewhat adept at lighting them. With every fire, though, I struggled with some rogue smoke that would work its way back into the living room. I’d check and recheck the flue. It was definitely open every time.
Thus we come to today, the 19th of January in the year of our lord 2010.
I piled some wood and some kindling into the fireplace and got a nice little fire going in record time. But, as always there was a faint trickle of smoke bleeding into the living room. The flue was definitely open. I tried opening a window, just a bit, as I’d had some success creating some sort of air current before.
I grabbed one of the fireplace tools, the pointy one with the hook. I don’t know what this tool is called, so it shall be henceforth referred to as: the thinger. My plan was to grab the flue handle with the hook and give it a good tug, just to make sure it was open. I quickly realized the chances of actually achieving this without lighting my arm on fire were pretty close to nil. I made a half-assed effort to make myself feel better, though. I jabbed the, umm, thinger, up the chimney one last time. As I did so, a black mass tumbled out of the chimney, and I, for the first time ever**, shrieked like a woman and jumped up one foot, ran in place for a second, did that “ewwww” gesture that looks like a slight seizure and dry heaved. It was the charred body of a pigeon.
Then its head fell off.
And I dry heaved again.
Not being sure what the accepted protocol is for rodent disposal, I spent some time staring at the burnt little shit. I thought about feeding him to the cats, but he was a bit overdone. For the briefest of seconds I considered a proper burial. But, that would have been retarded considering how many animals I’ve had genuine affection for that I’ve sent to meet their maker through the porcelain gates of the old commode. In the end it seemed most practical to use the shovel fireplace tool thinger to scoop him into a bag.
I laid the little fellow to rest in some grocery store bags that I daintily tossed into the shady alley outside my courtyard that houses our trash. A fitting funeral, if you ask me.
*this is a noun. trust me, I had to look it up too.