Friday, September 12, 2014

Life with Pets: Fire! - A One-Act Play

Most Sundays with the Three-Juju house are uneventful - and thankfully so - but this particular Sunday has Juju at work and THREE at home, resting on the couch and reading a Star Wars expanded universe novel after an exceptionally long and frustrating week. Or, at least, trying to rest. BITSY and KITKAT continue their Forever War, staring at each other and growling in the kitchen, and BINA, who has just recovered from a kitty cold, has deemed it necessary to bat at Three's face in order to get his attention. ZOLA, as usual, looks forlornly up at Three, her head resting on the edge of the couch. There is a distant beeping that sounds very similar to a fire alarm going off in the upstairs apartment, as it has been for about fifteen minutes. 
THREE: (irritably) That thing has been going off for a while now. I wonder if it's activated by shower steam, too.*
BITSY: I don't like high-pitched, repetitive things. It's why I attack your phone every morning when the alarm starts.
ZOLA: Mommy would pay attention to me.
THREE: I'm going to go get her from work in a few hours. You aren't going to die from a lack of affection.
ZOLA: I am skeptical.
BINA: Pet me?
KITKAT: (hiss) Small Furry.
BITSY: (hiss) Tyrannical Not-Friend.
THREE: Guys, stop being jerks. Just ... go ... do something else.

Suddenly, thick billows of smoke starts to pour through the vents, and Three's eyes widen as it engulfs the whole room. The cats squint their eyes and then collectively bolt, while Zola stares at the floor.

THREE: Holy. Shit. There's a for-real fire!

He leaps up just as an authoritative knock pounds at the door, nearly takes the whole thing down, and when Three opens it frantically, FIREMAN #1 in full gear pulls him out of the apartment.

FIREMAN #1: Get out of there!
THREE: Wait! I have animals in there! That thing has been going off forever and you just NOW get here??! Zola!!!
ZOLA: (just realizing the situation is sort of crazy) WHAT. IS. GOING. ON.

The terrified puppy backs up into the kitchen and cowers in the corner next to the fridge. FIREMAN #2 enters the apartment, also dressed in the suit and mask, and lurches toward Zola.

THREE: (from the door) You're scaring her! Let me call her, please.
FIREMAN #1: You can't go back in there.
THREE: I didn't say anything about going back into the Smoke Room. Just let me call my damn dog.
FIREMAN #1: Go ahead.

Three stands directly outside the door and crouches down to where Zola can see him. The second fireman is surveying the scene, doing something fireman-y.

THREE: Hey, Zola, you wanna come outside? You can go potty. And there are tons of people out here. All the neighbors and some nice fireman who aren't in those scary suits.
ZOLA: I don't believe you.
THREE: Come on, Zozo-bean.
ZOLA: ... Okay. (crouching nervously as she slinks toward the door and to Three's voice)
THREE: Good girl. Keep on coming.

Zola finally makes it to the door and happily leaps up to put her front paws on Three's knees. From inside the apartment, Fireman #2 calls to his compatriot.

FIREMAN #2: Fire didn't spread into here, so we're good. Just really smoky in here. Air quality's probably not so good.
FIREMAN #1: Good assessment. Well, the fire upstairs has been contained, but nobody can go into their homes until we test the air.
THREE: Great. Because getting sleep today was not at all in my plans. Fuck this week.
FIREMAN #2: (coming out of the apartment) Hey, I broke your phone.
THREE: Great.
FIREMAN #2: And one of your cats bit me when I tried to get her out from underneath the bed. The little white and gray one. The air isn't as bad in the bedroom as it is in the living area, so they should be safe until the smoke clears out.
THREE: And yet I'm still out here. (sighs)

Nearly the entire building had been evacuated into the parking lot, so all sorts of people, adults and children alike, are standing a standard 20 feet away from the building. With Three on her heels, Zola barrels through the crowd, stopping at every person to receive pets and belly rubs (except from the lanky old man who looks like a skinny Santa Claus), and even the other firefighters are getting in on the fun. 


FIREMAN #3 exits the upstairs apartment and somberly takes off his helmet. 

FIREMAN #3: I found the culprit. It's beans. Whoever lives here burned their beans. And their stove. (shakes his head) And I broke their door. With a battering ram.

After a few hours and open windows, the air clears enough for the tenants to go back inside. Three and Zola bid farewell to their neighbors, and as the door shuts, Three responds to a text from Juju on his cracked phone.

THREE: Well, it smells awful in here. Will you behave and not bark at random noises if I leave the window open?
ZOLA: Yes? No? Maybe? I don't know.

Three shrugs and locks the door behind him.

THREE: Do you think I should try to get the cats to come out?
ZOLA: I'm not so sure that's a good idea. Bitsy bit a fireman. He was nice. He gave the best scratches.
THREE: Well, maybe they're hungry?
ZOLA: Hungry? I like that word!!
THREE: Not you, Zola. The cats.
ZOLA: But you said hungry!! Actually, it kind of smells like food in here, anyway! IS OUR APARTMENT MADE OF HUNGRY NOW???

Three rolls his eyes and cracks the bed-closet door open. None of the cats are in sight, so he gets on his hands and knees to peer under the bed. 

THREE: Guys?
BITSY: I have no issue with biting you. The Big Yellow Not-Friend felt my wrath.
KITKAT: Go away.
BINA: Everything is horrible? It smells funny in here and there was black air and I'm stuck under here with these two?
THREE: But it's all over. The fire was put out upstairs and there's no more smoke.

Three's cell phone begins to ring, so he reluctantly goes to answer it. He is expecting that Juju is possibly calling to check and see how things are progressing, but as it turns out, it's his mother-in-law.

THREE: Hello?
THREE: So Juju texted you, I see ...

The End.

* While I was in the middle of the shower, the fire alarm went off because of the steam. I stood there in a towel, trying to wave off the steam, and screamed, "YOU ARE YELLING AT ME FOR DOING THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF A FIRE." Three thought it was hilarious; I did not. That thing is obnoxious.
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