Continuing from yesterday's post: The storm was still raging and the broken gas pipe still hissing...
Since you already know about my problem with magical thinking, you won't be surprised to learn that I convinced myself that the gas somehow wouldn't explode if it couldn't see me while I used the phone. I rushed to the other side of the house and turned my back toward all the chaos and called 911 (see why you shouldn't use a phone in the vicinity of a gas leak). I don't think that I have ever been in such a state of fear (As I learned in my public speaking class, my mouth goes totally dry when I'm really scared and I find it hard to talk), but I managed to make myself understood and was even able to remember my name and address. The operator told me to grab the animals and get away from the house.
Getting the animals out felt a lot like this
I found two leashes and the snapped them on the big dogs. Telling the two little dogs that I would be right back (I hoped), I closed the door behind me and took off for the neighbor's house across the road. Although I'm normally a quiet person, not given to much shouting, I started screaming, "Joe, help me!" at the top of my lungs when I got near the house.
Joe's wife, Wanda, peeked out the door as we came barreling toward her, all of us soaked and some of us terrified and me still screaming. She started to say something like, "No, no dogs in the house..." when a part of me that I didn't even know I had in there told her to take the dogs, put them in the bathroom, stay inside because there was going to be an explosion, and that I was coming back in a minute (I hoped) with more dogs. This is a woman I hardly knew, and I was moving our acquaintance up several notches all at once, but she saw my terror and grabbed the leashes.
Sloshing pretty fast for a lady my age back over the road and through the puddles in an outfit meant for hanging around alone on a hot day in front of a fan with no witnesses, I got back to the house. I had a moment where I thought I might be able to gather up the cats and stuff them into a carrier, but they were all hiding. It felt terrible to leave them behind, but I was betting on their resourcefulness and left a door open for them to get out when the house blew up. It wasn't a great plan for their immediate future, but it was the best I had.
The two little dogs were most willing to be scooped up and tucked under my arms. I almost left without my cell phone (I will never wear shorts without pockets again), but grabbed it on the way out the door and went back through the puddles and away from the house, this time noticing that the emergency guys had already gotten there in record time and were blocking off the road. Scared as I was, I had a big fashion realization: Their hazmat outfits were a lot more suitable for the occasion than mine.
I got back into Joe's house, dropped the dogs, and begged for a glass of water so I could talk and explain myself. My poor neighbors. Their house doesn't have much of a view in my direction and they had no idea what was going on.
You know, other people might be able to tell this story in 25 words or less, but I guess that's just not in my nature. There will probably be more tomorrow. And lots of pictures, of course.
Bertie's outfit was also a lot cuter than mine