Fire! Fire! Fire!
Everyone in the building was on the move. There were people screaming and running around. It was a five storey building and everyone was trying to get out so it chaos. The fire had started from the basement and was quickly spreading to the other side of the building blocking all entrances.
It’s interesting just how much humans fear death. You could see it in their faces twisted in anguish and desperation. The screams were enough to move even the heartless.The air was thick with despair.
The scene in front of me reminded me of my junkies. It always amuses me to watch them carefully select their syringes, ensuring that they are new and unused. They shoot drugs into their bodies, lacing their blood with chemicals but still, they were very careful not to use an injection that has been compromised.
I stood at a distance rooted to the ground watching the huge orange fireball. It took a minute for me to realize that I was barefooted and in my white nightgown. I could feel my skin tightening on my face due to the heat. I was burning up and wasn’t even in the building. I could only imagine the effect of the inferno on the people in the building.
I thought about all that was getting lost in the fire. I could see the whole building from the distance engulfed in smoke and knew that very little would be salvaged. It was only a matter of time before the entire building was completely consumed by the orange fiery ball.
My apartment stood right next to this building. I saw my neighbors standing on their balconies watching the inferno. Some were already down stairs helping with the efforts to put out the fire. I know that secretly; we were all happy and relieved that our building was not the one that was going up in flames.
Then I saw the first jumper. She was standing on her balcony before deciding to leap from the burning building. I couldn’t understand her rationale. What was better, jumping from the 4th floor of a building or dying from smoke inhalation? which death was more tolerable, painless? She was a young woman; who I had never seen before. However, she reminded me of another young woman who was found in her apartment dead with the syringe still in her arm. They ruled it as drug overdose. She was a good client of mine and I miss her business. However, I didn’t waste time mourning her since we were not related, it was just business. She was just another dead junkie.
I stood there watching death hover over the burning building. My daughter was home, safe and I once again sighed in relief that the fire had not caught up with our building.
People were jostling past me me to get out of the way as they ran with their buckets of water. It’s fruitless; really, their little pails were no match for the in formidable force that was the orange fireball consuming the building. I could imagine the grim reaper floating above the building, pointing a finger on the souls that he intended to reap.
I felt an immediate dislike for these people. They reminded me of the anti-drug crusaders who came in all forms. Some were Bible-thumpers; others were ‘reformed druggies’ former clients and the confused people who were looking for their purpose in life. They were all bad for business but despite their noises, like the fire, they were no match for drug addicts. There is something about my kind of merchandise that guarantees customer loyalty.
Two more people decided to jump and by now the police were on the scene. Guess what they brought, guns and buckets for fetching more water. Again, I stood rooted to the ground unable to stop watching the mayhem. Would more people jump? How many casualties would there be? For me, it was more like a movie so i stood and watched from a distance.
I could hear the sirens from a distance as the huge fire trucks snaked their way to the building. A few more minutes and they ran out of water and joined the masses with the water buckets.
“Why are you just standing there?”
“I’m just minding my business.” I thought to myself.
I don’t know why but at that exact moment the muscles on my face betrayed me and broke into a smile. I tried to straighten my face but the smile wouldn’t go away.
It was chaos all around me, people crying, and children wailing for their parents, blood, and devastation. I had seen this before. The day when my client, the young lady had overdosed, I hanged around her building listening to what the neighbors were saying.I saw her elderly mother overcome with grief. I was worried that my name would come up. The police must have been wondering where the drugs had come from. However, I had always been careful and discreet and it paid off since I wasn’t linked to the case.
I was still watching the fire when suddenly; the unimaginable happened. One minute I was watching a neighboring building burn, the next minute, the fire had spread to my own building. My neighbors were now the ones screaming and scampering for safety. I stood dumbfounded for a second before sprinting into action, my daughter was now stuck in a burning building.
I looked up to my balcony and saw her.Jane, my beautiful teenage girl. She was standing on our living room balcony. I could hear her screams and chocking even from the distance. My house had now clearly on fire, my lovely green curtains were now a glowing orange and black as smoke and flames competed on reaching her. I watch her gingerly climb on the rails. My throat tightened and for the first time I panicked. She kept looking back at the house and then down the five floors that she planned to climb down face first.
My adrenaline had kicked in as i started pushing my way through the crowd. I didn’t know what to do and so I reached for a bucket of water. I tried to push past the police who were now barricading the building but they wouldn’t bulge.
It was simply too late.
I looked up at Jane; devastated, embarrassed at my helplessness. She stood on the rails with her white nightgown flailing in the wind. Behind her the flames roared and cast their tongues out to touch her. She spread arms as if about to fly. For the first time, she looked down and our eyes locked. I looked into her eyes illuminated by the orange flame then I silently watched her let go of the rails.
It was too late for her.
I thought about all the people whose lives I had destroyed by selling them drugs. I remembered the parents of the young people who were left mourning the destroyed lives of their children. Just like when I was watching my neighbors’ house burn, I never used to care. However, when tragedy hit home; I felt the pain of all those people who had been hurt by my business.
Nothing cuts deeper that having your on child die from drugs that you supply. It was never supposed to end this way.