I updated this post a few hours after I wrote it, so if you're keeping up with me pretty fast, read it again--bonus silliness!
Yup, this is Louisiana proud. What you are seeing is an admittedly poor picture taken via my phone's camera, snapped (or rather 'captured') this New Year's Eve about three miles from my house. Leaving the house to go to a friend's party, we see a massive fire around the bayou. At first we thought it was just a big bonfire, but as I watched it I realised it was a house burning--the body of the flames were almost square, and the flames reached much higher than anything I had ever seen before. The worst part was that it lit the bottoms of the clouds up, so there was an eerie orange glow around it all. There is almost nothing but empty dry fields filled with old dry cotton and soybean stalks between us and there, as well as some very big and very pretty houses belonging to childhood friends over there, so fearing the worst we drove over there as fast as possible, to make sure it was contained or being attended to.
Arriving, we found a surprising lack of fire trucks or emergency vehicles, even though the fire was in full blaze. There were, however, dozens of cars as well as two of those huge inflatable jumpers in the front yard, an Alexandria police cruiser, and some tee-total f**king idiot who decided that this year it wouldn't be enough to pile some old pallets or maybe a dead tree up for a bonfire. This year he decided to burn:
His entire BARN was ablaze, and when I say "ablaze" let me tell you here and now that the picture I snapped did it NO justice. Standing a good 100' from it, you can see the fence between his yard and the street where we parked, you could FEEL the heat, and the flames were licking as tall as the pecan trees it was dangerously close to. Look carefully at the picture; on the left you can see some sort of little dry fruit tree or something with branches right up against the flames. The fire was so bright you could see it for MILES, and up close it out-shone the car's headlights, and flickered horrible lights in the dark. I could just make out against that horrible dark orange-red light a long series of black lines, which I finally realised were the planks making up the side of the building. You could just make out, between the flashes and flickers and the horrible roaring the black skeleton of the building's frame turning to ash.
Fire is such an underrated thing--we don't have fires like the ones that occurred a hundred or more years ago, when fire stations were a few voluneers and two horses with a one hundred gallon tank on a wagon, or a bunch of neighbors, a water well and a bucket brigade, when the risk of fire wasn't just to one house but to the entire town. I think at times that we're rather too jejune about it, not too worried, and fire on the television is never a desperate horrible devouring thing. I've caught my yard on fire several times in the past few decades, entirely by accident, and have once almost caught a neighbor's cotton field filled with ripe unpicked tinder-dry cotton afire, and each time it was a blood-curdling primal fear that instantly unrolled in my guts--the fear that this licking orange thing that gives us pleasant warmth in the fireplace could, with a good gust of wind and a run of dry grass turn into a massive, out of control killing thing. Seeing that building burn--"burn" is such an empty word for it--it was CONSUMED by fire, and the fire was a roaring Thing that was looking for any opportunity to get free and run wild across the fields and houses nearby--it made me cringe deep inside my guts to see it, that primate that hunches in the back of my skull screamed and beat his fists on his prison walls, while the rational parts of me tried to imagine the heights of folly and foolishness that some backwater shit-kicking toothless mouth-breathing Confederate-flag-flying redneck thought would be a good New Year's trick to pull for his friends.
Their neighbors seemed pretty pleased, too, standing in their yards staring with (I can only assume) hatred and horror at their neighbor's blind, cruel stupidity. I think that if the backwater shit-kicking toothless mouth-breathing Confederate-flag-flying redneck that lives next door had pulled a boner like that he would have spent his New Year's Eve in a jail cell medical ward, after his outraged Machivellian pacifist primate next door beat the ever-loving trash out of him with his own skull.