Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Door 15

Jack stood in his back yard, shivering in the rain. There was a pile of burnt matches by his feet. The completely undamaged Doorway rested in the grass, soaking up the rain.

Trying to burn up the Doorway, in a driving winter rainstorm, with stupid, tiny matches that burned for about five seconds, tops, was perhaps one of the worst ideas Jack had come up with in a long, long time.


"Let me have the green one," Jack said.

"How old are you?" the guy behind the counter said. He wore a bright red shirt with a "7" on it. The shirt had an impressive collection of stains on it. Beside him, there were about 20 varieties of hot dogs spinning around in a fancy rolling cooker. Jack looked at the guy's filthy shirt again and figured he'd order food from the guy about the same time he'd let him perform a heart transplant.

"What's it matter how old I am?" Jack asked. "It's a stupid lighter."

"I could get in trouble," the guy said, smiling. "What if you go and burn the school down?"

"Then I'd get a vacation. Just sell it to me already."

The guy giggled. He actually giggled. Perhaps he thought about burning the school down himself.

"Five bucks," the guy said.

"It says ninety-nine cents right there!"

"I say five bucks right here."

Jack nodded. "Fine." He dug in his wallet and threw a ten on the counter.

"Thanks." The guy put the bill in his jeans pocket and leaned back against the wall.

"Where's my change?"

"Take two. It's a special sale. Today only."

And he giggled again.


Jack stood in the garage behind his house. He didn't exactly want to start a fire in here, there were plenty of flammables around, but it was still raining outside and the Doorway was wet enough as it was.

He cleared a space in the center of the floor, pushing bikes, folding chairs and a lawnmower out of the way. He stood the Doorway upright on the floor and pulled one of the lighters out of his pocket. Jack cranked the lighter wheel with his thumb and turned the flame up as high as it would go.

It wasn't a very big flame for a five dollar lighter.

Jack held the lighter against the open door marked with a "3." The flame quickly made a black mark against the wood, but didn't seem to do much else. Jack held it against the Doorway until his thumb started to burn from the flame - Jack figured it had been about 20 seconds.

It hadn't even scorched the wood.

Jack rummaged around the garage until he found some old newspapers under an engine part. Jack wasn't even sure what the engine part was - a carburetor, maybe - he wasn't very good with cars. But the newspaper was soaked with oil.

Jack crumpled up the paper and stuffed it into the number three compartment. Then he lit it.

The paper burned hot, but it burned very fast. In about ten seconds, the paper was reduced to ash.

The Doorway was no worse for wear.


Jack held the butane torch in his left hand. He held the lighter in his right.

He was extremely nervous.

Jack had watched his Father use the thing once or twice. He was even pretty sure he had seen him light it. But had he ever really been paying attention?

Not likely.

On the side of the torch, there was a white box with bold black and red print. The box was about six inches tall. About a half-inch of the box held instructions on how to use the torch. The other five and a half inches was warnings on how to avoid killing yourself. It mentioned the flame could reach up to 2000 degrees.

Jack was not filled with confidence.

He had placed the Doorway up on a workbench, leaning against a cement wall. He wanted to be able to stand up straight when he was using this thing.

Taking a deep breath, Jack turned the knob on the butane torch, hearing the gas hiss out. He flicked the lighter and ever so slowly, brought it up to the gas.

The flame ignited suddenly, bright blue, causing Jack to jump and drop the lighter on the floor. He stood and stared at the flame for a moment, transfixed, until he remembered what he was supposed to be doing. Jack adjusted the flame, causing it to thin and turn white-blue.

Jack put the flame against the Doorway and waited for it to burst into flame.

And waited. And waited.

It was unbelievable. Impossible.

The Doorway turned black under the flame, but would not burn.

Jack set the torch on the work bench to take a closer look. The Doorway had a fairly large section, covering three or four doors, that had blackened, like they had been in a fireplace for years, and the metal hinges were dull and gray, with thin cracks running through the soot, but there was no structural damage.

None at all.

Jack stepped back, shaking his head. He glanced back up, needing to examine the Doorway once more, just to set his mind at ease, when he noticed the garage was on fire.


Well, not the whole garage, but there was one wall that was going up pretty good. Jack saw that he had placed the torch a good foot away from a pegboard rack that his Father used to hang tools, but apparently a foot wasn't enough. The pegboard, the tools on the pegboard, and the wall behind the pegboard, were all burning.

The Doorway, leaning just beside the burning pegboard, was not.

Jack turned in a circle, searching for the fire extinguisher that he knew his Father had out here. He didn't see it. He did another turn, forcing himself to go slow and search for it.

No extinguisher.

Jack ran outside the garage. He searched the backyard for something, anything. He saw the water faucet, but the hoses were put away for the winter. There was nothing else back there.

He sprinted around the side of the house. There was a small, plastic swimming pool in the lawn, the grass growing long around it. His dog used to use it as an outdoor water dish - no one actually swam in it. Now it was half-full with rainwater, mold and moss. Jack got a grip on it with both hands and tried to lift it up. He couldn't budge it - it was too heavy. Jack stepped on the side of the pool, sloshing gallons of water out, soaking his shoe. After it drained for a few seconds, Jack tried grabbing it again. It was still heavy, but Jack could just get it lifted. He had to lean back and hold it against his body to keep from spilling it. The pool splashed cold, stinking water over his face and chest.

Jack shuffled across the lawn with the pool, gaining momentum as he hit the garage door. He was almost running with it as he went across the garage floor, tipping it up to dump it on the wall.

Jack meant to throw it against the wall, trying to get the water all the way to the ceiling, where the flames were starting to lick, but his wet foot slipped on the smooth concrete floor and he fell flat on his back.

Rubbing the back of his head, Jack slowly turned over onto his stomach.

Hey, Jack thought, there's the fire extinguisher - right under the work bench.

Jack grabbed it and put out the fire.


This was going to be an interesting one to explain to his Father.

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