My house in Vicksburg is for sale and I’ve got contractors going in and out refinishing, painting, fixing, sprucing, trimming, replacing, and cleaning everything I can think of and/or afford in hopes of making the house nicer than it ever was while I lived in it so that someone will walk in the door and beg me to let them pay me a trainload of money for it. Isn’t that a little depressing that I’m making my house nicer so that someone else can enjoy it?

Well, Tuesday night, I was enjoying a dinner in Brandon of microwaved frozen taquitos partially defrosted by dad when my phone notified me that a security camera in my house detected some movement. So, I opened the app on my phone not expecting much because the lights or reflection of the sun from cars outside set the camera off quite often, and the contractors go in and out from time to time. Whenever the camera’s video feed finally popped up, I could hear a fire alarm going off, but once again, I wasn’t too worried about it because they tended to do that from time to time for no apparent reason.

I called my buddy who lives up the street and asked him to stop by my house on his way home to check on it and slap at the fire alarms to shut them up. He said he would, and I went back to my cardboard wrapped, partially molten hot, partially frozen Texican food stick.

A few seconds later, my phone notified me of more motion in my house, and being a little bit more concerned about that interruption, I checked the video feed again. This time, everything got very real in a bad hurry. I realized that it wasn’t just one smoke alarm going off in the house, it was all of them. Also, the motion being detected wasn’t the reflection from a car windshield on the wall, it was smoke.

I yelled, “My house is on fire!”

For a split second my brain produced a confusing blast of gumbo glop goo that I struggled to shove aside so as to take action before my house, that I am trying to sell, burned to the ground. When my thoughts became clearer, I remembered that I had Vicksburg PD on my speed dial thanks to a few homeless guys I’d tried to help by giving them money and food, who decided that my generosity should also include a Honda scooter and a lawnmower without waiting on me to offer them up. So, I dialed the Vicksburg Police and explained my situation frantically with a tone and volume indicative of my heightened level of concern. The young lady that fielded my call transferred me over to the Warren County 911 dispatcher who took my info and dispatched a big flashy truck to my house.

I immediately called my buddy and gave him the deets before frantically grabbing my keys and getting my car pointed west. Of course, when I got buckled in, my car was out of gas and it was 5:00, so the gas pumps and the roads were jammed. My adrenaline was pumping like race gas in a top fuel dragster (Check this out) as I flogged my Honda like Marshall Rooster Cogburn’s horse as he tried to get the snake-bitten Mattie to a doctor. (If he’d been in my car, the horse wouldn’t have died and Mattie might have been able to keep her arm.)

After circling a gas station twice on two wheels, Bo and Luke Duke style, I finally slid to a stop at a petrol pump, sans car horn tooting Dixie, as someone was driving away. I deployed the debarkation ramp and sent Dad scampering away to do his best NASCAR pit crew impersonation as he injected a fresh supply of go-go juice into my little black racecar.

While I sat there nervously trying to will the fuel into my car at a much faster rate than the physics of hose diameter and sump pump pressures would allow and with Sturgill Simpson serenading me, singing about reptile aliens and stacks of turtles, my radio started ringing. Then, after two rings, it auto-answered the call and a fire department dispatcher proceeded to tell me that the firemen were at my house and they could see smoke through the windows, but there were no flames. She asked if there was a key hidden somewhere that they could use to get into the house, and I told her how to get in without any ax play.

With that little bit of assurance that nothing was on fire, my adrenal gland went from threat level red to threat level yellow. My knees felt like they were made of calf slobber, and my eyes were as dilated as a meth-head on a 9-day bender. But, I was marginally calmer than I had been 3 minutes before when I was planning my route through the 5:00 South Jackson traffic fustercluck.

Two minutes later, after rolling down the window and letting Dad in on the current sitch, the nice dispatcher called back and said that everything was fine. She then asked me if I’d gotten a notice in the mail about the city testing the sewer system for leaks by filling the system with smoke. Of course, I hadn- Yes… Yes, I had, come to think of it. That was the blue card that said NOTICE at the top, something about sewer and smoke, and that I threw in the trash without reading any further. I thanked the nice lady and told her to tell the firemen how much I appreciated their fast response to the smoke coming out of my toilets. (Not the first time my toilet has been left smoking, though…)

I was drained physically and emotionally and couldn’t decide if I wanted to laugh, cry, or take a nap. So, I went across the street and got my car washed before going back to my parents’ house to finish the tepid food sticks I’d abandoned in the chaos.

The moral I think everyone should take from my stressful experience is that you should always read your mail because you never know when you might unnecessarily call the fire department to investigate a house full of fart smoke masquerading as a real fire.

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