The smoke detector’s klaxon awakened us. I gathered our daughter Esfir as my wife grabbed her phone and threw on a robe and slippers. We hurried to the front door. Flames engulfed our exit. I shoved the panic that leapt to my throat down into the pit of my bowels declaring calmly, “Go out the back.”
The rear exit was clear and I grimaced as my bare foot stepped on something sharp as we trotted through the darkness to the front sidewalk. Our doorway was engulfed in flames, our frame of olive branches a blazing beacon in the night sky.
Azar declared, “I’m calling 911.” I nodded assent while placing Esfir’s hand in hers. “What are you doing?!” Azar asked, fear in her voice.
“I’m only grabbing the garden hose,” I said. “I’m not going in.”
Her nod of consent accompanied by her moan of terror and our daughter’s sobs caused my jaw to ache from clamping my mouth so tightly. “Be a man,” I remonstrated myself, aghast at my terror.
The approaching sirens grew in intensity far faster than my trickle of water retarded the flames. Seemingly before they had stopped, firefighters erupted from the truck. I felt a firm hand on my shoulder. A man said to me, “We’ve got this. Go to the ambulance. Your wife and daughter are there.”
I looked at him wild eyed. He shook his head in reassurance. “No. They’re fine. Go. Let us do our job. They need you.” I went.
A police officer stood by the ambulance. “Mister Sharett?”
“Yeah. I’m Moshe Sharett.”
“Officer Davies. Are you alright?”
“Well we’re alive and it looks like they’re going to save the house, so I guess that’s a yes.”
“Yes, sir. We’re here to help,” he said calmly, adding with more force, “I’m here to take a report.”
“A report?” My voice dripped vitriol. “You mean like last week when I reported the MAGA graffiti that had been spray painted on our door in bright red letters? The door we finally repainted after the letters were still visible no matter how hard we scrubbed? That kind of a report?”
“Mister Sharett, we filled the report and are working the case.”
“The case the investigating officer said was likely just teenagers?”
“In light of tonight’s occurrence we’ll be refocusing our investigation.”
“‘In light of?’ What is that, a joke? You think this fire is funny?”
“No, sir,” he replied, shaking his head. “I think you’re being terrorized and it’s my job to gather information. Can you please tell me what happened?”
I exhaled. “There’s not much to tell. Smoke detector woke us up. Front door was engulfed in flames. We called. You came. Sorry I was short. Last cop really brushed us off.”
“Listen, let me check on my wife and daughter and come right back, okay?”
“Yes, sir. That’ll be fine. We’ll catch these guys.”
I nodded and went inside the ambulance where we three held one another with all our might.