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The Car is on Fire...

Awoke to a strange sound. Instantly lost my dream. My room was quickly illuminated by high beams. The anxious purr of a revving engine told me that there was a truck parked outside my window. It sat in place, engine slowly winding down until it sounded as if the truck would stall. Then it slowly crawled backwards, lights spinning through my venetian blinds. I heard the jingle of a kitty's collar, which pulled me out of sleep fast. I hoped they were in a safe place while this lumbering beast made its way.
Finally the low rumble crept past and down the alleyway. The kitties were both in and happily dancing around my legs as I got up to use the bathroom. In keeping with our usual morning routine, I went out to the kitchen to sprinkle a fresh cup of food onto their plate.
The sky was dark, reminding me that we're anticipating our first cloudy day in a week of summer sunshine. Looking out over the water, I saw light reflections indicating to me that the sun was either coming up, or our brilliant full moon had not yet set. Looking out towards Bainbridge, I saw the orange reflections of the city, sending soft illumination onto the belly of the low clouds.
But then there was another type of orange cloud - this one moving very fast and upward. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust, but right away I noticed it was a billowing cloud of fire-smoke, rising up from between some houses, about a block away.
I marvelled at the idea of a fire so early in the morning. Then it struck me - I had heard no sirens and the growing column of smoke was now being illuminated by a rather bright flickering of its parent flames - this fire was likely not called in yet.
I stumbled through the dark, feeling for my phone. I'd left it on my bedside table. As I walked back out to the kitchen, my fingers excitedly dialed 911.
After giving them my address, the operator informed me that it was a car fire, and units were on their way. I could see the brightness of the flames now, bouncing off of neighboring houses. My curiosity got the better of me.
I ran in my bedroom and pulled on a sweatshirt and some slippers. I went out into the adjoining street to see a rather impressive lot of flames, consuming a parked car. How odd. What causes a parked car to catch fire?
The firemen were in the process of smashing out windows, so they could more effectively douse the blaze. Once the water was on, the flames were gone immediately. I watched dark silhouettes turn to imagined figures in the pre-dawn grey. The smoke was no longer thick black, but the cool white of fire-squelched steam. Could it have been arson? The ashes of an improperly extinguished cigarette in the ashtray?
As I returned to bed, my mind swelled with the Godspeed You! Black Emperor song, Dead Flag Blues, whose haunting melody is preceded by a hollow voice narrating, "The car is on fire... and there's no driver at the wheel... and the streets are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides... and a dark wind blows..."
As I returned to bed, another commotion drew me to the window. A block away, in the opposite direction, sirens blared as another fire truck was called to a different scene. This one I could not see for the trees and I debated heading out once more to investigate.
But the kitties were settling on the bed and my eyes were too tired to care. Tomorrow I'll take a walk and see what remnants remain of a very curious morning.

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