Citizen Pyromaniacs


Where I come from, we have an annual tradition of burning everything.

We call it the Fourth of July, and it’s symbolic of something, or maybe many things, but whatever that symbolism represents is up to debate. Could be death, could be destruction. Could be symbolic of burning money. It could even be symbolic of freedom. You decide.

Whatever the metaphor is for the Fourth of July, the Fifth of July is just as important, maybe more so. The Fifth of July is when we rebuild. You see. This is why the United States are so strong. We unite in burning it all down, and then we unite in rebuilding. Figure that out. We take pleasure in destroying things, and we take pleasure in putting them right again. If you can’t wrap your mind around it, then you’ve probably never experienced a bonfire. A bonfire is where you pile everything you can get your hands on and throw it on a fire. The goal is to see how high you can get the flames. When it’s all over, the Green Thumbs come and collect the ashes. They claim ashes help the garden grow.

The goal of the Fourth of July celebration is exactly that: trying to see how high the fire can go. Oh, sure, we could talk about history and the Chinese, who invented fireworks, but that really wouldn’t catch the spirit of this idea that I’m trying to get across. For instance, people of the world, did you know that it’s unlawful for anyone in the USA to NOT set fire to something on the Fourth of July? You probably didn’t know that. It’s illegal not to burn.

For my personal flame taxation this year, I chose chicken. Now, to get the flames on the chicken just so, I soaked them in an oil for a few hours prior to adding heat. Heat and oil, as you know, makes a cool looking flame that momentarily engulfs the chicken. Before I go any further, please understand that the chicken was not living when I applied heat. It had been butchered elsewhere earlier. But yes, I seared chicken over a fire, so I’m a compliant citizen. The fire doesn’t have to burn down a field, or a forest, though some Americans seem to enjoy doing that. Some will even burn down their own house. Now that’s loyalty!

Never mind that, the important thing here is that you understand what we do the next day. As an example, my drone neighbor. He was flying his drone around last night, and it was dodging fireworks, supposedly taking video of the night. It was really fun to watch as he shot fireworks at his own drone. I’m not sure if he was trying to perfect his aim, or trying to hone his flying skills, but either way, it was entertaining for the rest of us to watch. And he must not be a very good shot, because I saw his drone out today, this morning even, flying over the battleground with all the shells scattered across the streets and fields. He flew his drone over the scorched earth. He flew his drone over the Volkswagen bus that someone “accidentally” caught on fire. He flew his drone over the grass that was only partially burned because someone last night was prepared with a bucket of water. And he flew his drone over Eddie’s garage which burned down last year, but Eddie wants to make it bigger and he doesn’t have the money, so it hasn’t actually been rebuilt—yet.

When we clean this up, it’s going to look like a place to live.


Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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