As I write this from the our front lounge, an ambulance is parked out the front, the flashing strobe lights of a fire truck make me glad I am not epileptic and the barking of our dogs is drowned out by the loud reverberating hum of a water pump.
It's not what you expect on a usually quiet Goondiwindi Street at 6am on a Monday morning. But it makes you appreciate our emergency services just that fair bit more. It's what happens when they come charging to the call, and it's close to home. As in next door.
The first Helen knew there may have been a hint of drama was the barking of our dogs. I vaguely woke hearing her tell Daisy our "eternally teenage" Lab what might happen if she didn't stop. That's fairly usual, so I decided to drop back off and leave them to it. When urgent footsteps and a even more urgent "Darl, there's smoke next door!".
What followed is a blur, it's a hard thing to describe. Which I am going to put down to the mind trying to decipher a host of outside information which pours in demanding a response. I now understand why some people freeze in a moment.
Questions, question, question and all in instance.
"Where's the hose" Where's the smoke coming from? Is it just smoke or real, home-destroying fire? Is it the shed or the house? GOD, it's spreading next door? Where's the bloody hose? Shut the gate or the dogs will get out! - "yeah right, why did I need to think of that? Can't find a hose, where's a bucket, where's the closest tap, bugger the tap, there's a spa full of water, just get it from there? Is that Steve jumping the fence trying to see if the fire is spreading?....Has someone, anyone thought to ring the firies, that seems like it might be a good idea, why has it taken this long to think of. Where are those bloody dogs!...And," sirens in the background..."Sweet, so sweet".
There's a rush, a sense of relief and confidence. "They'll (literally) save the day, they know what to do!" And they do. We've spent pretty much a lifetime watching them in action, from a safe distance, usually, and from behind a camera. And another thought? Where IS the camera? Followed by that sense of, Is that really the right thing to do?" And just as quickly "We haven't even introduced ourselves to the neighbours yet!"
For now there's not much else we can tell you. The Police have inspected the yard. There will be some form of investigation. The firies are packing up and will soon depart. And Fletcher Street will return to its usual Monday. The usual walkers from Kaloma. The usual barking dogs. Mr Hodge, as usual, will soon march by. Marty, as usual, will drive passed in his golf buggy. The postie with soon zip in, followed closely by his own personal hovering magpie which "escorts" him out of the street ..
And there will be little to remind us of our early morning 'excitement' : just a faint hint of smoke, a bitter, acrid aftertaste on your tongue, a large puddle of water may make some consider, "Did it rain last night?", but will soon be gone. The shed is, inside, nothing but a black shell. Our fence is etched in black. But homes and families are safe. Daisy the teenage Lab is finally silent. Samson the Houdini dog escaped but was found. He's already gone to sleep in a patch of sun. Finding the garden hose would be a good idea.
PS Neighbours met, and guess what? We do know them! Feel even worse for not going over sooner now. And NOTE to Coles. Their small daughter lost all her "Little Shoppers" and is devastated...