We were standing in the kitchen at the time, and I did seem to notice a faint whiff of spoiled food. I looked through the refrigerator and discovered a few slightly suspect items, but nothing major. The Queen inspected the trash and found nothing, so she turned her attention to the pantry. After a few minutes of rummaging, she came across a very ripe sweet potato whose better days were long gone. She tossed it into the trash, which I carried outside to the bin. Problem solved. Case closed.
When I came back inside, I started washing dishes. (Sorry, ladies. I’m taken.) By that time, it was getting late, and the Queen began preparing for bed. I was starting to rinse a plate and wishing I could think of a column topic for the next day when the wife came back down the hallway.
“I need a blanket I left in the dryer,” she said and walked downstairs toward the laundry room.
The next sound I heard was the Queen screaming, “Get down here NOW!” Actually she said it with a lot more exclamation points. The sound of gushing water was coming from downstairs, which made me think one of the inlet hoses on the washing machine had burst.
So I ran downstairs prepared to shut off the water, but there was no water. Instead, the gushing sound was caused by natural gas pouring into the house. There was so much of it that the odor literally knocked me back from the laundry room doorway.
I grabbed Jackie and hustled her back up the stairs and out into the yard, then ran back inside and opened every window and door that I could open. Next, I retrieved the dogs and dialed 911.
Within a few minutes, we heard the sirens of the approaching fire trucks, and moments later our ordinarily quiet street was filled with emergency vehicles, firemen and neighbors. The commotion and flashing lights were almost too much excitement for the dogs, so one of our neighbors, Mrs. Anderson, was kind enough to put them up in her garage as the firefighters went about their business. They immediately shut off the gas, then set up several large fans to circulate fresh air throughout the house. Several hours later, all was back to normal — or as close to normal as it ever gets here at the ranch.
Jackie and I simply cannot praise the members of the Kingsport Fire Department enough. They worked quickly and calmly and kept us informed about every step they were taking. The city is blessed to have such professionals looking out for the safety of its residents. As the young people would say, those guys rock.
Once all the excitement was over, the Queen and I inevitably started thinking about what could have happened. The fact is, if she hadn’t decided she needed that blanket, we would have gone to bed unaware that the bottom of the house was rapidly filling up with gas. Usually I tease her for being cold-natured, yet her cold nature is the very thing that kept us from becoming Earth’s two newest satellites.
They say that God looks after children and fools, which is a good thing. After all, that means I was doubly covered.
Roger Davis is a Kingsport Times-News columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.