It wasn’t Cal. I know it happened last night and all is well but I’m still shaking. I caught it just in time. There’s damage but it is fixable.
I better back up because I’m not making much sense when I just read what I wrote.
I got up last night when I thought it was Cal coming home early. I thought he must have dropped his keys or something because usually he is quiet as a cat, first because he can and second so he doesn’t wake up Feena. As I was going down the stairs my phone buzzed and I looked down and indeed it was Cal calling. Rather than answer I flipped on the outside light and then I hear what sounded like a heard of elephants leaving the porch. When I couldn’t see anything through the peep hole I started wondering if Cal was pulling some kind of security test on me so I used my phone to access the little pinhole camera Cal installed out there. That’s when I see flames.
I grabbed the kitchen fire extinguisher – thank you Cal for insisting I get a big one and then teaching me how to use it – and got out through the door and shutter as quick as I could. If I had waited a minute more it might have been too far gone for me to stop. The guy from the fire department said they used some kind of accelerant that busted right through the fire retardant capabilities in the house paint.
While I’m spraying the extinguisher and wondering if I should just give up, run upstairs and grab Feena I heard a horrible crash. The first thought through my head was that whoever took off must have clipped the tree trunk that still hangs out in the road a bit. I was too busy coughing and trying to put out the flames to use too many brain cells on it. Then I heard all sorts of noise from down at the drive and then someone was running around the house.
I look up, my eyes tearing up because while the fire is out everything is still smoking, and see a couple of people with a rifles. I squeal like a blasted old lady, and accidentally shoot one of them in the face with the extinguisher until it snorts empty. For some unknown reason I then throw the extinguisher at the head of the other one, practically fall back into the house slamming the shutters and door shut behind me. I’m up the stairs, grabbing Feena and we’re both half way out the bedroom window before I recognize Cal’s bellow from below telling me it’s OK that the guys – the guys I just blinded and tried to decapitate – are the good guys.
I hope no one thinks badly of me but once I got back inside I slid down the wall and cried doing a pretty good imitation of Feena who was horribly upset at being jerked out of a sound sleep. My heart nearly stopped when something big swooped down on me. Then I smelled Cal’s aftershave and cried even harder.
Anxiously he asked, “Did they hurt you or Feena?”
“Look at me Aria, did they hurt you or Feena?”
I shook my head and let him help me stand up. Completely ignoring the fact that I had also just been close to howling I said, “I need to get Fenna a cup or she’s not going to stop fussing.”
He held her for me while I washed my face that had tear streaks through the soot that covered me from head to toe. When we got downstairs there were strangers out in the yard and I was finally calm enough to pray they wouldn’t go off into the garden and trample anything.
“Dang it Cal, someone tried to set the porch on fire!” I told him as I took care of my hot tempered daughter. I didn’t want to put her down but she wanted her bed and her blankey. I put her back down and then came downstairs and asked Cal, “How did you get here so fast?”
He put his hand on my shoulder and I realized it was to stop me from nervously rocking myself. “Here, let me see that rag; you still have soot in the corners of your eyes.” As he was getting the last of it out he told me, “I was on my way home when the calls started coming in.”
I said, “What calls? I didn’t make any calls.”
Law enforcement officers all over the county, including in the city limits where TPD is in charge, were targeted and hit nearly simultaneously. Last night they thought it was one large organization but this morning, after thoroughly questioning some of those that had been caught in the act, they discovered that it was actually more like a flash mob. If you wanted to play you replied with a txt and you were sent an address. Most thought it was just a prank, never realizing they were hitting the homes and families of cops.
A group claiming to be Constitutional patriots quickly claimed responsibility and they say that this is only the first “volley” of the New American Revolution. The broadcast media is having a field day with it and eating it up but a lot of cops, including Cal, aren’t buying it. Cal says he is pretty sure it is what he calls a false flag event. False flags are meant to deceive and while everyone is pretty sure last night’s terror is a false flag, without proof the investigators are not ruling anything out. And the feds are involved making things into an even bigger Chinese fire drill and getting in the way of the local investigation. Not just the FBI but the DOJ, NSA, and a few other alphabet groups I can’t remember. MacDill is also on lock down as is all other military facilities here in the state.
Cal wanted to stay home – I wanted him to stay home but more because he was exhausted than because I was still scared – but it is all hands on deck. All leaves have been indefinitely cancelled, everyone is to go out and about in body armor (regardless of temperature I might add), everyone rides with a partner, emergency management has been triggered for some reason, and much more. Hillsborough County is under strict martial law. So is Pinellas and Pasco that also saw some of the same violence. All other counties in the state are on different levels of curfew and it is spreading to other states.
Not too many stores were open today. I got through to Dorrie but only after several tries and the line sounded funny, like it had an echo. Josh and her Uncle Darryl are keeping watching the house. It took me a few minutes to calm her down, she was crying because it had scared her when she heard how close the fire had come to getting out of hand.
“Haven’t you been through enough?! It’s not ..”
“Don’t you dare use that four letter word with me; you know how I feel about it.”
She hiccupped a gasp of a laugh the asked, “How can you be so calm?”
“Well,” I said still feeling embarrassed. “I wasn’t at the time. I sprayed the uniform of some poor National Guard boy with extinguisher fluff and then threw the actual extinguisher at another one.”
“You … you did what?!”
“It was dark. All I saw was their guns.”
She tried to choke back a laugh and then we were both giggling worse than when we were in middle school. “I could have just died of embarrassment but they were really nice about it.”
“What did Cal say?”
“Don’t even remind me. He is such a big brother and you know what big brothers are like when they get a scare.” What I didn’t tell her was that there were now several hidden guns throughout the house. They are all out of Feena’s reach – she’d rather walk than be carried these days – and a couple of them are even out of my reach as they are specifically there for Cal who is tall enough to palm a basketball and barely make any effort to put in in the hoop. The boy is broad as well as tall; for me to see around him I actually have to walk around him. He never uses his size against me but it can be irritating nonetheless when he stands between me and something else like a constipated guard dog.
For instance last night, different people kept wanting to ask me to repeat what had happened but that last time Cal put his foot down. I told him that no, it was OK, anything to help catch who did it but he just turned his back and stared whoever it was down while I got to stare at his back. You’d think I was made of cotton candy or something and would melt if someone looked at me too hard.
But suddenly not having to answer questions gave me time to think and suddenly I was trying to run outside only instead I ran into – literally – Cal and bounced off hard enough to lose my balance.
In a worried tone he asked, “What’s wrong?”
“I didn’t think about the animals … or the garden … or my trees … or … oh not … the panels! I’ve got to go check …”
He shoo’d me back in the house and said quietly, “Easy, I’ve already checked. And I threw a tarp over the panels before most of the people out there arrived. No need to explain if they can’t see them to ask about them.”
I relaxed. “Thank you. I don’t know where my head is at.”
That’s when he tried not to snicker and instead said, “If you’d had more time to aim I know a national guardsman that would be asking that same question.”
“Oh you!” I tried to throw the wet dish rag at him but for a big guy he can move fast. Instead of hitting Cal it caught Det. McLeod in the side of the head.
“Oh Lord, I’m so sorry!”
Det. McLeod tried to look stern but then cracked a smile. “It’s all right. It’s good to see you are recovering from your shock.”
I shrugged. “I’ve been through worse.” I blanched and then shook the memory away as fast as I could. Once I was back in the room mentally Cal was standing beside me and Det. McLeod was looking at me in concern.
I shook my head. “Stop it Cal. I’m fine. Or I’ll be fine. I’m not made of glass.”
He said, “I know you’re not but humor me and take it easy for a little bit.”
“I will after everyone leaves.”
Det. McLeod said, “That’s going to be some time. We need daylight to take some of the pictures we need.”
He walked out and I turned to Cal and asked quietly, “Should I make coffee or something? I think we have enough left without having to open a new can.”
“Not the coffee,” he said guarding our supplies jealously. “If they want coffee they can get it from home or at the station. If you want to maybe use that big orange igloo cooler we take fishing and get some ice water fixed up I’ll haul it outside and put it on a bench.”
“What will people use for cups?”
“Everyone carries canteens or water bottles these days. But I mean it, after that I want you to go upstairs and stay with Feena for a while. Underneath that soot you are as white as a ghost.”
Which is just what I did though I didn’t do much but pace around until the wee hours of the morning.
All’s well that ends well … at least for us personally … at least this time. The only thing we have to do is replace some wood on the porch and throw some geraniums in the compost heap. Not all of those attacked got off so lightly.
But what does this all mean? How is this going to affect our future?