“Incoming.” I sat on the couch cradling my thirteen-week-old puppy.
BOOM, crackle, fizzle.
Neil and I were going out to New Year’s Eve dinner in Brentwood, and I’d be leaving puppy Heidi for a while.
I had just taken her out to potty, when I heard a thunk, and a mortar went off, spearing high into the sky over Wades Grove, with beautiful colors sparkling and cascading down, all accompanied by a boom loud enough to rock the earth I stood on.
Too big for a neighborhood, I thought. Houses too close to each other for this.
The puppy writhed and wiggled and screamed. I put her down, and she ran to a corner between the fireplace and back wall and tried to burrow herself into the ground.
“She was digging a foxhole,” Neil said. He’s a Vietnam veteran who spent a lot of time in foxholes yelling, “Incoming!” I edited his book last summer about the war and remembered some of the lines:
“Then I heard the whump. Then another and another. Mortars firing. Incoming. Be on our heads in seconds. I yelled . . . ‘Incoming! Getcher ass in the hole!’ Others in my platoon were now yelling . . . A mortar round exploded behind me . . . More mortar rounds exploding, more whumps of incoming. Big explosions . . . Tracer bullets spearing red lines through the blackness both directions from M16s and AK-47s. Flashes of explosions.”
It was like we were at war in Wades Grove.
The puppy refused to go outside the rest of the evening. I tried to take her a few times, and when I neared the back door, she screamed and writhed in my arms. She kept looking up at the ceiling, like something was going to fall and harm her. Neil, a teddy bear of an old veteran, watched and understood how she felt. We were both saddened because a tiny, happy, well-adjusted puppy will carry some PTSD with her for hopefully not too long.
I’ve heard others talk about how their dogs were deathly afraid of fireworks, but I’ve never seen anything like what I experienced the last day of 2015. My previous cocker spaniel was sixteen and deaf for three years, so she slept right through every fiery-celebrated holiday.
Fireworks are legal in my town. It doesn’t matter that some of the houses in neighborhoods are ten or fifteen feet apart. Your neighbor is allowed to shoot mortars and rockets that land in your yard or on your roof. Some of the warnings on those rockets even talk about re-ignition.
I love fireworks. I go to planned celebrations, and I’m there on the sidelines if and when neighbors are shooting off fireworks safely. But I’ve been a little nervous since in my previous neighborhood, where fireworks were not legal, several years ago someone a distance away shot off a big, fat rocket that stuck five inches deep in my front yard only five feet away from my porch and roof. I tried to pull the stick up and could not. “I’m calling the police,” I told my husband. “If this had landed a few feet shorter, we’d have the hose out trying to extinguish a fire right now, and we’d have roof damage that somebody would have to pay for. This is too much.” He agreed, and he never agreed to anything that was over the top. The policeman struggled a bit to pull the rocket stick up, then drove in the direction of the shooters. Not sure who they were or if he ever found them.
This morning, I found a Fire Dragon 8-oz. rocket in my driveway. Nobody on my street was shooting fireworks. It came from afar.
No wonder my puppy was afraid. It was in her yard! On her property!
There are some fireworks appropriate for neighborhoods and some that are not. The problem is that sometimes people don’t know the difference. Laws happen because people aren’t smart enough to determine which is which or responsible enough to make good decisions.
And they put their neighbors at risk.
I wonder who is going to clean all this up and return the sidewalk to normal.
I hope one day soon our mayor and aldermen will get up with the times. It’s no longer the day of firecrackers and those little fizzly, sprinkly sticks of fire sparks. It’s war, with mortars and rockets and big stuff.
I’m for pretty, but I’m also for safety.