By Billie Blowfish
Ralph stood watching the flames lick up to the windows and rafters, sirens blaring and firemen running in and out of the building. The fire marshal approached him, “Was there anyone else in the building?”
He hesitated; how do you tell the authorities that the reason for the fire is all part of a magic trick? Whether Ralph says yes or no, he is lying. So, he said, “Uh, well, yes and no.”
Mr Fire Marshal did not like that, “Son, this is no time for jokes, is there anyone in else in that building?” Ralph decided to rather sound crazy than risk that idiot Houdini-wanna-be’s life. Even if Ralph felt like kicking his ass as soon as he is back.
“There was someone in there before the action started. He was in the middle of the building suspended from a chain in a straight-jacket and…” Ralph’s voice faltered as the policeman stood closer looking very suspicious. “No, no it’s not like that. I didn’t tie him up, well I mean I did. He needed my help, but.” Ralph sighed as he realized he is digging himself into a hole. He always seemed to be digging himself into or out of sticky situations anytime he was around Sean.
“Why not start your story from the beginning?” The cop got his pen ready. Seriously why don’t they just record conversations, surely it is more accurate? Ralph took a deep breath and said, “Sean McCreedy was in there with me. He is a magician, or he calls himself an illusionist, he does things like that guy that floats, what’s his name, David something, um, “Copperfield?” The fire marshal looked sceptical, the cop looked angry and sceptical. “Yes, David Copperfield.” Ralph looked at them pleadingly, knowing full well he sounds like a loon. Before Ralph could carry on there was a deafening explosion, followed by the most insane fireworks display this side of the Lord of the Rings.
For a few minutes the accident site turned into a cartoon, with fire marshals, cops, bystanders, EMS all ducking for cover, zigzagging away, some guy was even swatting the smaller fireworks away with a pipe, using a dustbin lid as a shield. Ralph chuckled to himself as we backed away from the chaos the explosion caused. Making sure that everyone’s attention was very much NOT on him, he turned and ran from the scene.
He ran for a good few minutes. It was the most flat out sprint a slightly overweight non-sportsman could run without passing out or twisting both ankles. Right before he fainted, he slowed to a less powerful power-walk, trying not to sound like those pool cleaning pumps when they suck in air.
In the distance he could see Sean’s car parked next to the building where he had planned this whole illusion, they had carefully planned the whole thing, scoped an old building away from other buildings to minimize damages, the only thing they didn’t discuss was where the heck they would meet up after Sean Houdini’s out of there. Oh yes, and of course, Ralph didn’t know about the fireworks. Sean and his damn dramatics probably snuck them in without Ralph knowing. Ralph kept thinking, ‘if Sean is in there, I’m gonna kill him’
Ducking behind the slab covering what used to be the door Ralph went into the building. As his eyes adjusted to the dim light, he saw Sean, leaning over their plan table holding the chain he was tied up with in his hand examining it intently. Ralph balled his fists and walked up to him, “FIREWORKS, in a building you knew we were going to light on fire?”.
At that Sean burst out laughing, he was laughing so hard that when he tried to talk it came out in instalments “…didn’t…wasn’t…bloody brilliant…planned…” Ralph started to chuckle as he remembered the scene right after the explosion, but then he composed himself and turned to Sean who was wiping tears on his sleeve.
“Oh, that was bloody brilliant, I thought the fireworks was your doing.” Sean was scrolling through his phone as he spoke and then put the phone to his ear. Ralph could never understand Sean accent when he spoke to another Irishman, it was all gibberish with a strong peppering of profanities. Ralph inspected him, stood closer and sniffed, he didn’t even smell like smoke, no singed hair, no burnt skin. How is that even possible? He looked around, saw the straight jacket on the side, the chain Sean was holding when he came in. All looked fine, as if he wasn’t even in the building.
“Well turns out that there building was a fireworks factory, talk about luck of the Irish” Sean started to pack all the tools and things up. “How do you know that, and how did we miss that before?” Ralph was still baffled by the escape from the building, “and how the heck did you escape? Nothing even smells like smoke” Sean winked at him and smiled. “Hey, someone could have died, YOU could have died, and we are probably going to jail for that fire.” Again, Sean just smiled as he was packing away the last few things.
Then Sean’s phone rang, he answered said a few gibberish words and hung up. “Well, lets go see what the damage on my building is”. Ralph blinked, “Wait, what? YOUR building”. Sean laughed again, “Yes, I just bought it, can’t go to jail if you burned your own building. I think after this debacle I will fire myself however, metaphorically speaking that is.”