The dark night was filled with an air of discord and the shimmering lights of Hollywood’s skyline, normally visible was shrouded in filthy, soot like smoke. It curled spirally toward the sky, as if desperate to escape. The snakelike coils climbed higher and higher over a small street, upon a hill set within the Los Angeles county. The windows of the house glinted as though Christmas lights lay twinkling behind them but the shattering of glass proved to any onlookers who may have been fooled that the glinting had been anything benevolent. The danger was real. The crackling of the flames, munching away at timber, carpets, plasterboard sounded like a hungry monster incapable of stopping any time soon. The silence around the crackling was deafening until a huge red fire engine screeched into the street and six fire officers jumped out, equipping the hoses, the breathing apparatus and getting ready to tackle the fire.
His arms settled around her as they took their seats at another club, this time in Hollywood. The rich decor showed them exactly where they were at. JT had been apprehensive but Caitlin had worked here several times. She’d even managed to get them into VIP. He glanced around them, the strobe lights flashing across people’s faces in different time sets, lighting up a guy here, a girl there. For moments of their lives they were in a spotlight. He sipped on the Hennessy and looked over to the girl who looked exhausted but smiled happily. They’d dropped Callie off at home. Poor puppy had been exhausted. so was her mistress but she needed some down time. “Come on, let’s dance,” She leaned over and kissed his cheek seductively. His hands cupped her cheeks and he stared into those beautiful blue ocean coloured eyes and his lips touched hers softly. As he stood, he lifted her and held her tight. She rested her head on his shoulder sleepily, taking in the fresh scent of his shirt and cologne. “You’re tired mamita,” He kissed her blond hair that shimmered in the strobe lighting. “I know,” She breathed heavily. “Come on, one dance and one more drink.” “Aight, it’s your call, mama.” And letting her go, taking her hand, he lead her through the crowd that almost was moving for them. He had to admit to himself, he could get used to this life. The drinks, the VIP treatment, the beautiful woman on his arm. Glancing at her, his heart pounded and he smiled contentedly.
Coughing fiercely, Lexie stood up in her room. the gasoline had gone off with such a bang. She coughed hard, the smoke burning her windpipe and lungs. how was she going to get out now? She’d been knocked unconscious and now the house was ablaze. Looking around her, searching for a way out, she looked at the window and opened the glass, pulling a knife from her pants. The air outside helped her breathe a little more. She looked at the mesh, feeling imprisoned and began to slash at it. Her brain was messed up. The smoke was impeding on her ability to concentrate. Her hand began to bleed, the ribbons of blood seeping from the place the slashed mesh had cut her skin. Looking away, she continued to slash. A noise bothered her then. A howling. What the hell? She thought she must have inhaled far too much smoke. Slashing harder, she squeezed through the screen and collapsed into the dirt below her window. Spluttering, closing her eyes and listening to the destruction from behind her, Lexie fell into the oncoming blackness.
She felt her head heavy against the car window. The coolness of the glass was soothing against the pounding headache. She knew she shouldn’t have had that glass of wine. JC was rapping along to some hipHop track on the car radio and she smiled to herself. He was everything she knew she shouldn’t want but did want in a guy. He turned off of the freeway and the renewed quietness lolled her into a semi-conscious state. She remained there until she felt JC slam on the breaks and she was lurched forward. “What the hell?” She said a little abruptly. “Fuck!” JC breathed as though something was restricting him. Before she could ask, he was out of the car, engine still running and she heard him yelling. “My girlfriend’s dog was in there!” And instantly, caitlin didn’t care if her head was beating like a techno drum, her eyes burned with tiredness, her body ached, she was out of the car and blindly running toward the noise. She tripped and fell hard onto the asphalt. “Shit!” She exclaimed and arms were around her and she was lifted up and she heard his voice. “Baby, listen to me,” He e was panicked and for something to work up JC meant it was damn right serious. “Where’s callie?” her breath was harsh and her heart refused to slow down. “Caitlin,” He stuttered as he held her to him. “Listen to me.” He was shaking. “Nooooo!” She screamed but he pulled her tight. “They don’t know where she is yet, the fire is so intense. they think it was a gas explosion.” His words were flying all around and her sobs were so fierce that she felt as though they would break her ribs. Her heart was being stabbed with a thousand knives. “I-I shouldn’t have gone,” She wept, big fat tears cascading down her cheeks, he normally calm eyes red-rimmed and irritated. “Why? So you could be burned alive?” The emotion in his voice was wrought with anguish. She couldn’t see it but he stared desperately at her, unhappy Callie had been in there but thankful to any higher being that may exist that she was not in the house when it went up.
“We’ve got something!” A man’s voice called and caitlin pulled herself away from JC but he caught her arm. He’d seen what they were carrying. “It’s not her,” He stroked her hair and pulled her to his side. “It’s Lexie,” His voice was leaden and he couldn’t truthfully have said he was sorry to see her lifeless lying on the stretcher heading for the ambulance. The hatred he felt for Lexie was real and rawer then ever. caitlin, beside him felt sick. “Is she…?” She gripped his arm to steady herself. He shook his head absent -mindedly, forgetting she couldn’t see his gesture. “JC!” The pitch was high and threatening to fall over the threshold of willpower not to sob again. “No, she’s alive,” He said holding her tightly. The silence grew between them like a river stretching for miles. She cuddling him tightly, his eyes wandering over the hoses and flames that refused to die. Then he saw it. On the roof. A limp figure of a golden dog. “Up there!” he yelled with such force, Caitlin jumped a mile! “What?” She grabbed him hard and he broke free and grabbed a fire officer nearby. The man looked up, confusion on his face. His eyes staring in bewilderment. “Up there,” JC repeated and the man’s eyes followed to where JC pointed and within a flash the man had slung a ladder across his broad back and was heading toward the house. JC watched with anticipation. He could not answer Caitlin’s pleas to know what was going on. He watched as the fireman lifted the small allow dog and began down the ladder with her across his back. “Have they found her? My Callie?” caitlin cried, yanking on his t-shirt. As the man approached, gently holding the dog who was barely breathing, JC ran to him and took her into his arms. “Callie-Cals,” tears streamed down his dark chocolate cheeks. “Callie, wake up!” “She needs a vet,” the man looked sadly at JC’s display of emotion. His pity vanished and he looked in control again as he said, “There’s an emergency animal hospital on Applewood.” JC nodded, took the golden dog to the car and yelled over his shoulder. “Caitlin, in the car, come on, we have to get her to a vet now!” He watched as she almost ran toward his car, jumped in and he lay Callie on the backseat, covered her with a sweater and jumped into the driver’s seat and headed toward Applewood, aiming to not hit any potholes yet speed all of the way.
The coldness of the nurse putting monitoring pads on her was what woke Lexie in a bright room at Glendale general. Her eyes flicked and she coughed hard as though she’d never get the smoke out of her lungs. “Lay down, Miss,” The nurse ordered. “You’ve been in a fire. You have suffered great smoke inhalation. I need to check for burns,” she attempted to grab Lexie’s arm but the girl smacked it away. “I’m fine!” She stood on shaking legs. “Ma’am, please, you’re suffering from smoke inhalation. Your body is not getting enough…” “Shut up!” Lexie screamed hoarsely, grabbing her boots, feeling nauseous and heading toward the door. She had to get away. They couldn’t know she was there. Walking down the hallway, feeling as though she was drowning in water, unable to breathe, she held onto the white, washed walls, trying to catch her breath but the blackness came again.
He held her hand tightly as they waited in the quiet waiting room. Callie had been taken to see a vet, what seemed like hours ago. He glanced down at the blue and white tiled floor. The white glaring up at him, so pristine, unlike the golden fur that had been clotted with smoke. She’d felt so heavy and so limp. He’d been terrified she’d die on the backseat of his car. The pretty blue flowers looked like forget me nots. It reminded him of a rhyme his grandmother’s sister in law from Ireland had once taught him as a child. “Forget me no, forget me not, You will always love me, and never stop, In my heart you’ll forever be, like the pretty blue, forget-me -nots in the cemetery.” His heart flooded with painful memories of Aunt Grace’s funeral when his grandma had done the eulogy. Her brother’s wife had moved from Ireland when she was a girl and there had been outrage from some about the interracial relationship, but not from his grandmother. She had loved Grace for the kind woman she had been and JC loved the silly things she had told him while he sat on her knee. But that poem haunted him now. Callie had little flowers on her blanket that looked like these. He swallowed the lump in his throat and turned to look at the hunched figure beside him.
“Don’t,” She raised a hand knowing he was going to ask her if she was OK. He sighed and knew it was not the right time. She just wanted to know. callie had been more than her mobility aid, she’d been her best friend. This was going to hurt harder than anything if callie should happen too… he couldn’t finish that thought.
A door opened down the hall and Caitlin lifted her head expectantly while JC squeezed her hand. “Miss Dawson?” The tall, red-headed man asked the waiting room even though they were the only two there. “Callie is in our intensive care unit. She’s suffered burns and smoke inhalation. She’s also sprained a paw. We’re going to keep her in.” “Do whatever you can,” Caitlin sobbed and he nodded. “We will call you first thing in the morning on your cell phone and let you know her progress.” Nodding and exchanging a look with JC, the vet left and JC hugged her tightly. “Let’s go, mama,” He stood and pulled her gently to her feet.
Rose Carter, sat listening to old blue eyes, humming while squinting to knit a hat for a little girl born a few days earlier. She had always knitted for the local babies and children. Slowly, people were not as grateful but she still did it. Hearing her grandson’s car pull up, she sighed a sigh of relief, knowing he was home safe. As she looked up, her ageing eyes adjusting as the street light spilled across her living room as the door opened, she was suddenly worried. His new girlfriend, the nice white girl from LA was shaking and obviously very upset. He hugged her and she retreated upstairs, tears streaming. Her grandson took a deep breath and turned to his grandmother. “Should I start on some of these for you?” She lifted her knitting needles humorously. “No, big mama,” He sat heavily in the chair nearest to her. “Caitlin’s house caught fire tonight. Her dog was in there. Can she stay here for a few days, maybe weeks?” Rose felt her heart sink. Nodding slowly, the wrinkles at her neck shaking slightly, she opened her mouth to speak and thought better of it and stood to go to the kitchen. JC was left with his thoughts. His mind would not stop racing but he knew she needed him to be there for her, not trying to solve the mystery.
Caitlin leaned against the toilet bowl, her stomach retching. Callie could die. What had happened? Had she left her straighteners on? What had gone wrong. Felling his arms around her and his huge hands brushing her hair back from her face, she sobbed and felt safe in his presence once again.
He lifted her into his arms, carried her to his room and lay her down, handed her a vikadin with a tea his grandmother had made with brandy in it and soon she was lay sleeping, the moon lighting up her paper white face. He sighed and rested his head, allowing dreams to overtake the nightmare of reality.