Pyromania

September 28, 2010
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Dim moonlight shined down into the dark alley. Rats scampered along and scrabbled through the trash. I crouched beside a smelly trash can, the reek of rancid meat in my nose. I scanned the looming shadows. Nobody out tonight. That was good. Very good.

There was a good, strong breeze, just the way I like it. It whipped through the narrow alley, picking up loose scraps and items and throwing them around in its wake. Wind was my friend. And wind was my enemy.

I crept out into the middle of the alley, furtively looking over my shoulder. I could hear my own soft, rapid breathing. The place was deserted this time of night. Slowly I lifted the pack of matches from my pocket, stepping carefully over to a haphazard pile of newspapers nearby. Perfect.

Drawing out a match, I couldn’t help but grin, a giddy smile plastered across my face. Only for a brief moment, though. I lit the match and knelt down by the papers. The small flame lit up the night, casting a glow over the area. My eyes fixed on it, watched it waver and lick at the air. Then I dropped the match.

I leaped back. The papers quickly caught on fire. The flames greedily ate them, spreading down the pile. Smoke curled into the air, stinging my eyes and parching my throat. I loved it. Euphoria rang through my mind. I was trembling with glee at the fiery scene.

Quickly, I ran out of there, letting the small fire burn. I tucked the matchbox back in my pocket, feeling for the pack of gum and taking a stick. Wintergreen, my favorite. A happy whoop escaped my lips as I ducked into the next alley, laughing as I leaned back against the cold brick wall.

Chewing the gum, standing there, I started to calm down. Reality returned to me, and I didn’t like it. Desperate, I grabbed another match and struck it until I got a good flame going. I was about to throw it down the alley when a hand clamped on my shoulder.

Cold fingers gripped my spine, freezing my brain and sending a rush of adrenaline through my bloodstream. Heart pounding wildly, I turned around to see who was there, brandishing the match.

“It’s okay, kid.” I had to look up to see his face. Thick eyebrows knitted together over dark impassive eyes. A mop of greasy brown hair covered his head. “Just me.” His voice sounded different, not like the graveled tone I knew. It sounded more mature, like my dad. Hastily, I shut out those thoughts, those memories.

“Jobo,” I said coolly, shrugging away from him. He didn’t seem to mind.

“So, whatcha been burning alleys for? Thought you were over that,” Jobo asked. Just because he saved me from the cops one day did not mean he could stick his big nose in my business. He snatched the match from my hand and threw it down, snuffing the fire with his boot. I cleared my throat.

“None of your business.”

Jobo slapped me on the back, nearly knocking me into a trash can. “I thought we were friends!” Yeah, right. I stepped away from him and sighed.

“Leave me alone.” I spit out the gum and fingered another match. Jobo shook his head slowly, sadly.

“That’s cool,” he said, but I knew he wasn’t satisfied. “You really gotta stop with all that fire stuff, Timone.” Angry, I clenched my fists and gritted my teeth. I snapped.

“Shut up.” Then I lit the match and hurled it at the floor, watching him recoil and yell. I threw down another one, then my last.

I disappeared into the night as his screams pierced the air.





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