13) Fire and Water

By Manuel Royal
May 28, 2020 · 291 words · 2 minutes


[Gretel Bosch; fourth entry.]

May 28, 2006

I would guess there's a certain official embarrassment present whenever a fire station is burned down by arson. (And how often can that possibly happen?)

Of the town's three qualified arson investigators, two died inside the Diluvian Street Firehouse. The third, Dirk-Pieter Blackgall, declared it an accident, and released a report presenting what some felt was an implausibly complicated narrative. Then-Mayor Calliope Geert called it "a bizarre fantasy describing a whimsically sustained and politically convenient freak accident". (But only in her private notes, which I've got in front of me.)

Since it's just me and me here, I'll never bullshit, lie, evade or prevaricate on these pages. I'll probably never be entirely sober, either, unless they stop making Scotch.

So this isn't verified fact, just my private theory: I think Blackgall arranged for a small fire in the lockers at the station; some simple timing device. How would he know a trainee would unlimber the nearest hose instead of using an extinguisher? No idea. But I'm close to 100% that the main fire was ignited by six kilos of sodium hydroxide pellets reacting exothermically with the water. I think it was six. That's the figure I remember.

I was already packed for my vacation, but forgot all about the Paris catacombs when I heard about the fire on the radio. I could hardly wait for Dorn to do his autopsies and let me collect the bodies (most of the guys at Diluvian were pre-arranged with us; Bosch & Sons always gave a great discount to firehouses).

DFD Lt. Briden still had a tempered glass butt plug in his half-cooked rectum when I got him. I think that's when I began to suspect M.E. Dorn was getting sloppy in his old age.

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