He shoved the policeman toward the doorway. Reyes’ flailing movements set off another shower of sparks, this one larger and more volatile. Flames licked at the corner of the flat.
“Out! Everyone out!” Reyes yelled, racing toward the fire extinguisher.
Deacon watched the flats around him flicker with flame, wondering if he could make it through. He had to. Taking a deep breath, he set his crutches down, swinging his body as far as he could. His landing was none too soft and he created another flurry of sparks, setting more of the flats on fire.
People screamed, running wildly for the exits. Deacon could hear Dino trying to get them outside without incident. The police officers helped him, taking a head count. Reyes ran back with the extinguisher when suddenly Deacon was surround by fire.
Deacon could hear Kacy screaming his name. With a surge of energy powered by fear, he threw himself through the wall of flames, landing with a crash on the floor at Kacy’s feet. His pants smoked and his shoelaces danced with fire. Reyes activated the extinguisher, hitting his feet, then he directed it at the billowing flames.
“Get him out!” Kacy’s voice hovered on the edge of hysteria.
Deacon yelled at Kacy. “Both of you, out!”
“Not without you!” she screamed.
Deacon roared, hauling himself to his feet. One of his aluminum crutches was bent from his impact, the other still held him. He leaned on it, fighting for balance.
“Go, Kacy! Out! Reyes, we can’t do this ourselves. Get out! I hear the fire engines now.”
Grabbing Reyes by his shirt, Deacon yanked hard, nearly knocking the detective off his feet. Together, the three of them struggled out the door, the other two supporting Deacon’s weight.
Fire engines screamed up, pulling out hoses. They did their best to put out the fire, but it was too late. The old building was done for, gutted by fire. Slowly, painfully, like a dying animal, it seemed to swell upward, then sink to its knees in defeat. The fire department strove then to keep the flames from spreading to the buildings next door while Dino and the others watched their joy go up in smoke.
Kacy was in shock. The paramedics checked her for smoke inhalation. She neither moved, nor spoke until Deacon walked up. She took one look at him and slapped him across the face so hard, he saw stars. The next moment she was in his arms, crushing him to her chest, kissing him furiously.
“Don’t you ever do that again, you bastard!” Her accent flared with her emotions. “Don’t you dare, ever scare me like that again! Deacon, oh, Deacon! If I’d lost you too!”
She couldn’t say anything else, just wept hysterically, saying his name over and over. Deacon sat in the back of the ambulance with her while they checked the others. Only Deacon and Reyes were slightly singed, neither was seriously hurt.
Dino stood watching the last vestige of his dream fall to ashes, eyes dry, face pale beneath his tan. Edging toward him through the crowd, Deacon saw Obi approaching from the florist’s parking lot, looking on. He didn’t seem exactly dismayed or even concerned, but interested as if it were an amusement park ride or freak show. Deacon intercepted him before he got far. An odd smile played at his lips as he watched the last flame quenched in water.
“Man, that’s awful, Dino! If I can do anything to help out….” His statement was cut short by Deacon’s approach.
Dino didn’t want to talk, and Deacon didn’t think the kid really had much of any worth to say.
“Thanks, Obi, but I don’t think Dino feels like talking.”
“Wow, I mean what’s he gonna do now?” The streetlights glittered off his glasses.
“No idea. It’s not something he wants to decide right now. If you’ll excuse us, we’re going to go home. I suggest you do the same.”
Kacy sat in Dino’s car, half asleep, but calm. Dino drove home automatically, hardly paying attention to the traffic lights. He carried Kacy into the house, set her on the couch and bid a sullen farewell to Deacon.
A car pulled up just as he was walking out the door to head to the main house. Cindy got out. She was torn between tending to Deacon, who looked much the worse for wear, and looking in on Dino. Deacon waved her away, assuring her he was fine.
“Deacon?” Kacy called him from the living room.
He walked back in, limping on one crutch. She was smeared with soot, her hair sticking out randomly all over her head. He figured he must look even worse. Forcing a smile, he collapsed next to her.
“Well, you’re no oil painting, but you’ll do,” he said, leaning in to kiss her.
Her smile was faint, but steady. “You look like death on a hot plate,” she quipped in response.
“We’re a pair, aren’t we? Poor Dino,” Deacon said, shifting to a more comfortable position.
They said nothing for some time, sitting in silence.
“What’s he going to do now?” Kacy wondered sadly.
Deacon shrugged, staring at nothing. with fixed interest.
“I know what I’d do,” Kacy remarked, bitterly. “I’d not rest till I put the bastard behind bars!” Her accent was so strong, Deacon could hardly understand her, but the implication was quite clear.
“How are they going to catch him, Kacy? Everything is gone, every bit of evidence.”
“I don’t know. I’m just so frustrated, I can’t stand it. I can only imagine how Dino is feeling. Do you think we should go over? I hate the thought of him being alone.”
©2021 Dellani Oakes