And now, the rest of the story.
The Pony and I saw a plume of black smoke billowing over our Backroads paradise Friday evening. We went inside and looked for Hick, but he was no doubt communing with his goats and chickens. I took up a vigil in the La-Z-Boy to see what developed. Because our large living-room window faces west, I closed the blinds to avoid becoming blind. Hey! I wonder if that's how the inventor named those things!
About twenty minutes later, I heard an uncommon noise, and called downstairs to The Pony. "Did you hear that? What was it?"
"I don't know."
"It sounded like a horn. Maybe your dad is out there on the Gator or the four-wheeler. Go look. And check on that fire while you're at it."
The Pony went out on the porch for a few minutes. "I don't see Dad anywhere. But you must have heard a truck. Because there's dust hanging over the road like a big one just went by." That happens a lot. Hick's buddy has a dump truck, and does freelance hauling. In fact, Hick was one of several in his ragtag crew who took an old Mack truck, cut it down, added hydraulics and a dump bed, and transformed that bargain Mack truck into a money-making implement for Buddy. Hick is a man of many talents. But being around to be found in the evenings is not one of them.
The fire was burning, but no closer, according to The Pony. We were in no imminent danger. The house was not even filling with smoke yet. I descended to my dark basement lair. It was not until later that night that Hick filled me in on the details.
Hick exited his barn and saw the smoke. A fire truck went by. THAT was the noise I heard. The fire engine honky sound. Being Hick, he decided that he needed to hop in the Gator and go investigate. The fire had jumped the gravel road and was about to get in behind Buddy's house. The fire department put it out.
The fire started behind Mergatroid and Myrtle's house. They are former city slickers who bought property right after we moved into our house. They started out visiting on weekends. Buddy met them first. Or rather, his son, then six or seven, met them first. He heard a lawnmower, and went to see who was there. It was Myrtle, mowing her land with a push mower, totally nude, which was a sight that nobody wanted to see. Because I suppose that's what city slickers think goes on down here in Backroads. Like it's all one big back-to-nature preserve. Granted, it's a private homeowners' association. But it's not gated. There used to be a metal bar gate with a padlock, but once people started building and actually living out here, that was taken down.
The problem...well, one of them...with Mergatroid and Myrtle is that they have a bunch of old tires stacked on the back of their property. I'm sure they are saving them for a noble cause, like building a house with insulated rubber walls, or making a fence of them. Or perhaps whittling them down into sandals to sell online as a way of recycling. But old tire piles can spontaneously combust. However, that was not the case. Somebody started a fire.
Not that it was arson. It was most likely an accident. Because not that many people come up in here. And this side is a dead end. Hick's theory is that somebody gave somebody permission to use their land. Like we have given a couple guys permission to bowhunt during turkey season. And the somebody got off that person's land, perhaps hunting mushrooms, maybe dropped a cigarette, and WHOOSH! A tire fire is born.
I don't know who called the fire department. But I'm pretty sure they had purchased a fire tag.