7:00pm: Uncorking a bottle of red wine, I sit down to enjoy a viewing of High Fidelity. Chase is at his book club. Mike is cooking Key Lime Pie.
8:15: Just as John Cusack recounts sleeping with Marie DeSalle, the fire alarm goes off. Mike and I realize the alarm is going off in the whole building and not just our room, grab our jackets and head outside. A small congregation of people starts accumulating. No visible smoke.
8:30: Four fire engines show up and surround the building; ladders are raised, about 10 firemen go to what we are told is room 409 (we are 309). Chase comes back from his bookclub.
8:45: A woman faints on grass, is treated for shock and wrapped in blankets, ambulence arrives, and is taken away. We are told she lives in 409, was making french fries, started a grease fire and fled the scene. The sprinklers had been on for quite some time. Spinklers spray water. Lots of water.
8:55: Firemen tell crowd that “anyone not in rooms 309 or 209 can go back in”. Profanities are muttered by at least three white males between the ages of 22 and 23. Estimates of how good our day will end up take another exponential step towards a negative number.
9:00: We are allowed into our apartment. The power is out, and there are waterfalls in the living room. Quickly inspecting the extent of the damage, we find no water in any of our rooms, and not over the TV. We quickly get buckets, pans and tubs to fight the rain from above. There is one main artery that’s draining our largest bucket every 10 minutes. We find all the leaks using our single working flashlight (note to self: buy batteries) and try to do some damage control.
9:30: Police take Chase’s information. Building maintenance is on hand, helping us change water and offering what could be construed as a weak precursor to moral support. We accept an offer to stay in thier model apartment in the main building. A towel, shampoo, soap and three cans of Campbell’s Chunky Soup are packed into my backpack.
9:50: As per my Dad’s suggestion, we put garbage bags over all electronics and clear out the TV and DVDs from the living room. Maintenance will be there all night to make sure things are okay.
10:30: The bottle of red wine is reopened at model apartment. Phone calls to various important women are made.
12:15am: Somewhere, in a small apartment complex in suburban Virginia, lying on a bed seemingly too short for 5’9″, someone felt alive.