“Nardo, what am I looking at here?”
“Couple, married. He's hogtied to a dining chair and dangling from the roof over here, on this side – and she, well, I don't think I have to explain it, Sir – but she's dangling from the roof off the other end of the rope on that side.”
And she was. Tied and bound to a children's wooden hobbyhorse, calico, with hearts and something that looked like red bursts of flowers… she was mostly naked except for the charred remains of Bo-Peep Halloween costume.
“It's her blood, sir. Oh wait, they're at it again.”
“You son of a bitth!” She lisped over the second story aluminum gutter, getting her chin up over it, lifting herself, ass-skyward, with her neck and enough hatred to do such a thing.
“He needed braces! You moaned about the braces – I got your God damned braces!”
The second engine company arrived as the fire flared up around the tightly knit hedges surrounding most of the house.
“Sir, The first engine company was nearly completely incapacitated when the garage exploded – oh, here comes...”
“I'll kill you! And Irene, when we get down, I'll kill the both of you, all three of you!”
“He's talking about the in-laws, apparently they don't see eye to eye on many issues. The children are a sticking point.”
“Let her be! She had a baby! Let her be, she's depressed! Let her be, she's having a – Christ on a stake! Some-one of you schmucks pull a gun and just shoot me in the head! For the love of Christ!”
“Sir, I can do that for him.”
“Put that strap back on your holster, Sergeant..”
“Are we leaning something here?”
The words skidded over the rooftop, echoed into the early morning sky. “ We should be learning something!! Growing somehow! Try something new! What a jackass!”
She replied, “None of this is me! This is all you! I am none of this! All yours! Where the hell is Gary! Why haven't you assholes gotten us down yet! I can't feel my fingers, and the blood is running up into my eyes and my head…”
“Sweet Jesus! Do you hear it, complaining! Even now! Like this, with her panties on fire! Hanging from the roof! Never a space, never a god damned space for even a second!”
“Nardo, who’s Gary, and why haven't we cut them down yet?”
But the answer to the second question came as two Channel Six News vans pulled up and large cash transactions were immediately conducted. Equipment rocketed into tripod ready action on the street in front of the now flaming home.
“Yeah, that's not right.”
“Oh! Oh yeah! Here she goes!”
“That's it, turn it all around! Go ahead! Like anyone – ANYONE - will believe you! Just shut up! SHUT your pie-hole!”
“Oh god, I'm losing blood! Get me down! I think I'm gonna pass out!”
“Ok, that's enough – get them both down.”
But no one moved.
“You hear that? Me? Always the same! ME!” It came with tears over blood.
The flames took to the white painted siding. They warn you not to paint it… Pink flames, almost quaint against the white siding and the green lawn.
The neighbors had been barricaded at a safe distance, children sent off with the more sensitive adults to avoid having to carry this burden, question this horror and its coming to be.
Barry was in the crowd. He didn't have the guts to step up there, step into that… whatever that was, and claim ownership as their couples therapist. Nope, not a chance. He found himself blending into the crowd.
They turned their heads up to the scene and then away as waves of nausea danced over waves of delight and despair. Delight because everyone in the neighborhood hated those folks, and despair because each and every one of them had the same thought – there but for the grace of God…..