Where they discuss the not-so-usual suspects – including you and you and you and you and and you and you and…!
Albert G. Keene, carpenter, had planned
to move his young family south that very day,
to sunny California, a more prosperous land,
and a lot warmer. He transferred a vast array
of their household belongings from the dock
to the Alameda, within a circle traced in chalk
by the captain, as the boundary of their estate.
The family pump organ was the only freight
left on the wharf. The cautious captain feared
the approaching fire and tarred timber
of the dock like the long fuse of a bomb for
his ship. A window of mere moments appeared,
so Keene began pulling the organ up the plank—
the captain had signaled. The organ fell. Sank.
Most possessions stacked on the docks
were lost to the flames. A few were able
to be loaded onto ships, whose decks
were heaped high with luxuries like rubble.
As if on cue, the ships weighed anchor
and backed into Elliot Bay, passenger
and crew alike crowding the gunnels
to watch buildings turned into funnels
of smoke. Special mention, nay, rhymes
are required for Captain Edward Quinn
of the schooner Teaser, who rescued ten
crates of books owned by The Seattle Times.
As for those belonging to The Post Intelligencer,
Go ask the flames if you want an answer.
On the west side of Front Street, flames
were temporarily retarded by the walls
of the Safe Deposit Building. On James
Street the fire shrinks and then even stalls,
but the pause is short. A pitiless wind
rose. Dancing orange demons grinned
in expectation before licking the glass
windows and fittings made of brass.
They soon leapt over to Gordon Hardware,
where the roar of their maws was punctuated
by tons of cartridges exploding, unabated.
Civilians dove for cover, said a prayer
and more, then waited in awe and wonder
as all the ammunition boomed like thunder.
While discounting several rumors of death,
The Post Intelligencer was obliged to report
several casualties related in good faith:
An unknown man, trying to stop the fire short
of the trestle of the Oregon Improvement
Company, was struck by falling timber and sent
swiftly into the fire. Fireman Derby rushed
into the San Francisco Store and was crushed
by falling walls. Two blokes, looking tough,
were seen dashing into the Wa Chong
Co. for plunder amidst the pillage … wrong
place, wrong time. Already in flames, the roof
fell the moment they entered. He sendeth rain
on the just and the unjust—but there is no rain.
Brian Jobe, author of Bird’s Nest in Your Hair, was born on this date in 1964. Jobe studied Classics at the University of Washington and at the University of California at Santa Barbara. His writing was published at National Review Online, Korrektiv, Letter X Magazine, and Dappled Things. He lived in Seattle most of his life, with brief sojourns in Japan, Boston, and/or Hell. Bird’s Nest in Your Hair was the first of seventeen novels he published before his life came to a dramatic end when he drove a fortunately empty articulated Metro bus off the Ship Canal Bridge. Jobe was ninety-nine years old at the time of his death and it is believed that the accident was precipitated by the receipt of a text message from Steven Spielberg offering to purchase the rights to adapt Bird’s Nest to the big screen. (Yes, they still had text messages and movies back in 2064 and Spielberg was still going strong due to the supplement situation he had set up for himself.)
Bird’s Nest in Your Hair by Brian Jobe: a novel about bartending, old-time religion, and the twilight years of commercial pornography. Plus, poetry!
… when firemen pried up planks from the sidewalk near the north end of the block, intense heat drove them back. The basements of buildings were roaring furnaces …
Jacob Furth, dressed in tails and top hat,
was hastening across Western Avenue
when he saw smoke rising around a slat
near the curb. He hailed a fire crew
busy hauling hoses toward the dock
at Pier Two, then knelt on the boardwalk
to get a closer look. Felt the plank
for heat. As the firemen began to yank
loose the boards, Furth stepped back
to survey the entire block. Up the street
there was a shout, then a blast of heat
as the firemen fell back, their faces black
with smoke. Furth stepped forth … nervous …
the basement itself was a roaring furnace.