The firetrucks took so long to arrive. The police were there first, and then more. Then an ambulance, all useful in a peripheral manner, but after the breaking down of an apartment door by the former, accompanied by dramatic and loud poundings and some screaming, there was not much they could do except wait like the rest of us.
The neighbours looked out their windows or from their balconies at the stream of white smoke sucked out of the 2nd floor apartment, one set of windows open, the place in darkness. As the firetrucks howled down the wrong side of Schönhauserallee then swung around to come back on the right side, I noticed directly opposite Daniel’s apartment is the rather famous lesbian bar, Freizeitheim. Closed until 8 though, as was any possibility of cooking dinner with Daniel, one floor above and slightly to the right, a diagonal described by the now thicker ascending smoke, clinging to the side of the building.
It was flickering orange in the far left set of windows long before all this excitement and by their arrival has set the windows aglow. I remember in Toronto seeing on a similar night, I forget if winter or other, the house down the street burning fiercely, wondering if it would run along telephone wires, jump across the fine twigs at the ends of branches, spanning the intervening houses to reach ours.
No place to find warmth, no place to cook and the fire fighters relaxed, occasional flaring of the blaze, windows smashed, cold headlamps in the black rooms and then in the apartment below, examining the ceiling. We walked to the U-bahn.
At Kottbusser Tor, with two dogs, he was told to get off by a burly security guard in blue overalls. So we waited, wondering if he’d be able to get on a train going back to the north. A large black dog ran along the south-bound train tracks towards the north tunnel, the guards running after yelling. It didn’t even look back, plummeting straight into the cavern as the train going also in that direction arrived on the platform opposite. No guards to check, Daniel rides away with uncooked potatoes, chocolate and two dogs. I buy chocolate on the way home. The guards mill around in a blue-black clump, unsure what next.
(Daniel says a horrible, geriatric, nosey German couple were manning the door when he got back and wouldn’t let him in. Passing the 2nd floor the apartment was all burnt out.)