My Dad, the Pyromaniac

My Dad, Charlie B., was a pyromaniac. I have seen him set brush piles on fire while it was raining.

About the time Texas Grandma and I got married 35 years ago, Dad lived in a small wood-frame shack which had been a church in the last century. (No, the one before that.) He had it moved to his property, where we live now, and remodeled it extensively. It was so old it had square nails, 10’ ceilings, and a corrugated sheet-iron roof. Dad decided he wanted 8’ ceilings, so one day he walked around it with a chain saw and lowered the roof two feet. I went to work that morning, and when I came home, his house was shorter. Amazing.

I have on multiple occasions helped Dad drag a burning mattress out of the house, which he had set on fire while smoking in bed.

I gave him a fire extinguisher for Christmas one year, and it didn’t last two months.

His little shack was heated in the winter by a cast-iron wood burning stove, so inside his house it was always smoky, especially since both he and Mom were heavy smokers. If the fire was out, sometimes he would start it with the help of a little gasoline. So one winter, I gave him a little two-gallon gas can as a gift. His stove looked like this:

Anyway, later in the winter, I came by to visit for a bit. I noticed, over in the corner, a strange spherical object, red on one side, galvanized on the other; it was the gas can I had given Dad. So I asked him what happened to it.

He said, “Well, I thought the fire was out, so I was going to light it. I poured some gas in there, and I guess it was still lit. It flared up a little.”

An understatement. Picture a nice, two gallon red gas can, round, with a flat galvanized bottom. Rendered into a spherical shape by the explosion. “It flared up a little.” Right.

On another occasion, I was visiting, and I happened to open the refrigerator to see if there was anything to drink. There was a smoke detector in there, on the second shelf. I asked Dad why he had a smoke detector in his refrigerator. He said “Well, it kept going off, so I put it in there.”

I guess that worked. And if anybody ever set fire to the lettuce, they’d certainly hear about it.

True stories.


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2 Responses to My Dad, the Pyromaniac

  1. Ali says:

    I’m trying desperately to come up with something appropriately witty and clever to reply with, but the truth must out. . .

    I can’t find words!

    Well, that’s not entirely true.

    The words I keep finding are, “It all makes sense now. . . “

  2. J says:

    My smoke detector is currently under a pile of DVD cases.

    I remember that cast iron stove. There were rocks or something under it, if memory serves. I used to play in them with the fire poker. In between skip-bo games, of course.

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