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Story ID:752
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Gilboa New York USA
Person:Laura and george
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[The foregoing story is true and happened in the summer of 2002 as related except that the names of the two characters were changed.]


“Now what in the world is going on?” Laura said out loud as she looked at the clock on the bed table. “Why, it’s two-thirty in the morning. What on earth could that be? I guess we’ll put a stop to that right quick, whatever it is.”

Laura got out of bed, slipped into her slippers and headed for the front door of her trailer. She grabbed a broom on the way from the hallway closet. “If that old fool George is drunk again and fooling around with my trailer, I’ll give him what for.”

Opening the front door, Laura could plainly see in the moonlight a large porcupine. He was gnawing on her front steps. She swatted toward the porcupine with her broom and yelled, “Shoo. Shoo. Go on get away from here you little devil. I’ll teach you to go eating on my front steps. Shoo!” The porcupine, startled by all this, beat a hasty retreat.

Laura turned to go back inside and saw a bright flash of light from the corner of her eye. Startled by what she saw as she turned to see what it was, she yelled, “George! George! Get out. Your trailer is on fire.” She ran to her phone and dialed 911. She gave the location and reported the fire.

Laura Scribner, age 78, lived in a trailer in the little town of Hamden. Hamden is on State Highway #10 in Delaware County in the Catskill Mountains in New York State. Her trailer was positioned parallel to Route #10 and George Hayes shared a lawn with her. His trailer was positioned to the right and at right angles from her trailer. He was 72 years of age and was known to have a few too many sips from the bottle now and then. Laura didn’t think much of that and let him know it. George and Laura were actually fond of one another but never let on that they were. They were always argumentative and sarcastic towards one another.

On this occasion, Laura was genuinely frightened for George’s safety and she ran to his trailer after placing the 911 call. She pounded on the door as hard as she could and shouted over and over to George to wake up and get out of the trailer.

“George! George, you old fool! Get out. Your trailer is on fire. Get out of there now, you old fool!”

George suddenly burst out of the door. “Laura, get away from there. Come on. You’ll get hurt. Get out of the way.”

Together they moved away from his burning trailer and stood watching helplessly as his trailer continued to burn. Hamden is a small town in a rural area. They don’t have a fire department of their own. They must rely on other towns nearby, and they have only volunteer fire departments. When the alarm is sounded, the firemen have to leave their homes and drive to the fire house, get the trucks started and, as soon as they have enough of a crew, head for the location of the fire. The response time, at best, is awhile.

When the fire department arrived, they put out the fire. Amazingly, the trailer was intact except for the living room area. It would require a lot of repair, but was not a total loss.

When the fire was out and everything under control, the fire department wanted to find out how this fire had been started and how it was discovered. Laura told her story about the porcupine that was trying to make a meal out of her new front steps and seeing the flames through the window of his living room. She had called 911 and then ran to wake up George so he could escape the fire.

When George was asked what he knew, he was feeling pretty sheepish. George related that there had been some mosquitos bothering. He had put some lighted citronella candles on the end table and laid down on the sofa to watch TV. He believed the citronella candles would keep the mosquitos away. He fell asleep. The next thing he knew, Laura was banging on the door of the trailer and yelling at him to get out.

The candles had burned all the way down and the melted wax had run like water. The wick and the wax continued to burn and the flame got close enough to the curtains to ignite them. Had Laura not awakened him, he would have perished in the fire. If the porcupine had not decided to chew on Laura’s front steps, Laura would never have awakened.

George remarked, “I sure am grateful to that porcupine. He saved my bacon for certain.” Then looking at Laura with a devilish little grin he asked, “Laura, are you going to let me spend the night in your trailer? Mine’s all burned out and I need a place to stay.”

“You old fool,” Laura said, “you lost your living room, not your bedroom. Of course you can’t stay at my place. Sakes alive! I should say not. You’d be having the whole darn town talking.”

The firemen all laughed. “I guess you just got told,” chortled the Chief.

After the firemen left, Laura turned to George and spoke a little more softly. “You can’t spend the night you worthless old coot, but I guess you could come over for some good breakfast in the morning if you’ll mind your manners.”

“I guess I just might be wanting to do that,” George replied with a twinkle in his eye.

“Oh go to bed and let me get some sleep before I change my mind.” Laura went in her trailer and turned out the lights.


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