The Runner Up In Eliza Gale’s Elizashead Flash Fiction Contest

THIS ACCIDENTAL ARSONIST

by Matthew Harris

Both parents (but especially my father – the renown Chemist B.B. Harris and to a slightly lesser extent the late culinary cuisine queen Harmit Harms Kuritsky – the gal whose troth he pledged while holding some bubbling sinister looking flask in hand on their first guinea pig type date) encouraged incurred genetic yen that burned from without the buns of this son!

No matter a bit tentative to experiment willy-nilly (wonka like) with rather explosive materiel, I received truckloads of ammunition (in tandem with benevolent benediction) to foster dare devil and derelict pyromaniac precocity!

Those formative forays assaying, assessing and carefully calibrating this, that or the other liquid or powdery substance found me meticulously measuring and weighing the substances using kid gloves!

Frequent disappointment arose from yours truly as well as momma and papa when the net result (of these early attempts to blend powders and/or liquids) merely fizzled and self extinguished into a near inaudible poof!

Continual practice eventually bore successful fruit in the form of near perfect results!

I do sheepishly admit to (ahem) you that on occasion the outcome went awry! Nonetheless, they prided their potential fire branded wizard in the making with kudos and praise with DYNAMITE!

Practice from indiscriminately creating unpredictable concoctions, these lethally marshaled nonchalant opportunities provided quintessentially random results though usually very wimpy!

As proof positive and proud testimony, they proudly pointed (upward) to the kitchen ceiling. There such handiworks practically covered the entire ceiling with variegated splotches!

Quite accurate to assume that father and mother coached, goaded, and nurtured exploratory ambitions and tried not to stifle (at least consciously or deliberately) my early stage ambition toward a scientific artiste bent!

As a home schooled and (to some extent self taught chemically romanced muralist), I grew up (not surprisingly) in a Unitarian household that paid close attention also adhered to the pioneer spirit!

The near limitless boundaries of life, liberty and the pursuit of understanding an underlying credo, which allowed, enabled and provided one near endless experimentation even at the risk of life and limb.

Aside from nearly burning down the house, immolating myself, occasionally singeing the canine fur of Lady, Schultz, or Socrates, et cetera no frightful catastrophic outcomes occurred thru the milieu of mixing deceptively harmless looking inert raw materials!

Trial and error (quite successful with the latter) via blithely cooking dicey elements forming goulash hiccupping laboratory mishmash practically eliminated any pained regret to take daring risks (such as getting married – ha) in later life!

Despite this favorable and lovable upbringing, my mother (ever the protector and/or proctor of our family and an excellent chef boy r dee to boot) still managed to insinuate (as gently as possible) the necessity to be careful when igniting flammable materials lest some uncontrollable conflagration ensue.

She (mom) did frequently confess to feeling ever so slightly jittery and uneasy with my slapdash amateurish homebrewed pyrotechnics and much preferred to steer my attention toward a safer hobby such as the edible objet’s d’arts i.e., the much more drab field per how to present and aesthetically appealing and nutritious meal.

Fondness to prepare food and pretend to be a faux renowned cook (this confession admitted rather baldly and obviously deduced) actually competed for my most favorite avocation activity and spare leisure time!

In other words, this chap did relish designing his own recipes mainly from leftovers in tandem with unpronounceable multisyllabic organic compounds that filled numerous sized dishes and aged apothecary bottles respectively.

Without question though, the passion plus less riskier factor to combine and potchka dry and wet ingredients together did rank as a considerably safer medium that still allowed, enabled and provided me an equal opportunity to test reactions, than those earlier iterated potentially explosive hazards.

Nonetheless, my cavalier crusading overactive appetite, hunger and thirst to discover causative outcomes (even with purportedly innocuous looking household cleaning supplies or easily acquired inert materiel) nearly witnessed an apocalypse at 324 Level Road on one particular occasion our domicile to become rent asunder into an ashen funeral pyre, yet for the grace of some divine force no family members nor pets succumbed from smoke.

Best for me to sprinkle this expose with the essential highlights and let the reader be amused (and chuckle to her/himself at how she/he possibly conducted a similar antic during their age of innocence and precocious childhood) with miraculous intervention from the pranks of yesteryear.

Although decades now removed from the inferno in question, I can still vividly recall the horrific shell shocked sensation that nearly paralyzed my being and kept me stock still for what seemed like eons.

Mere fractal like fragments just barely recollected upon that indelible frightful charred brush with death!

Unsure even to this day, what exactly sparked the fiery maelstrom. Only vague hypothesis can be formulated quite some decades post that near cataclysmic event!

Perhaps the dial to bake or broil got set overly high. Maybe while the need to use the bathroom could not be deferred one more second, the rising contents inside a pan splattered over the side? This possibly set an eruption in motion?

Anyway after the flames got extinguished even the most hardened and skilled sleuth found great difficulty to pinpoint the source even after spending countless hours sifting thru the scorched rubble. As a result, all fingers immediately pointed at yours truly!

I can still recall with clarity that loud and near deafening boom, which blasted off the oven door. Angry, forked flames shot and spiked out in all directions. Hot embers of fire burst forth with scintillating fascination (including accompanying pops) like some July forth celebration. In addition, an intense heat nearly melted the paint off the walls, but mercifully managed to stay clear of those frescoes ala king!

Fire engines raced, broke windows to rescue and give candy canes to those trapped inside. Thank God I survived!

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