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Fire alarm

Fire alarm

By John MasonPublished 4 months ago 4 min read

I lived in this twenty-two-story building for three years and didn't know anyone in the building. Two households on one floor, forty-four households in total. If each family were put into a single house surrounded by a single fence, forty-four would be a village of considerable size. People go in and out of the village every day, passing each other's mulberry firewood door must stop to exchange greetings and concerns. Forty-four homes are stacked up like forty-four containers, floor by floor, with each container door closed, creating a modern era of absolute incommunication. Different hours, not much chance of meeting in the elevator. I always have the feeling of "cloud deep".

It's across from me. You'll see it when you open it. But for three years, I haven't seen anyone in front of the door. I only knew his door. In front of it, a terra cotta statue stood majestically on a piece of carpet for brushing shoes, guarded by a large clay pot for storing umbrellas. The aroma of coconut stew wafted through the kitchen door and echoed through the stairwell like a secret leak that there was life here.

There must be a fat man living above me, for his feet are heavy, and I feel his weight as I walk from one end of the room to the other. The fat man obviously had a dog, and the dog was moving, running from one end of the room to the other, its clawed hooves scratching the floor as clearly as a fax; A small dog, no doubt; but, said Andrea, could it be a larger mouse?

Fat Man also raised a child, the child in the room, the ball hit the ground, the sound is not once, after a while, the ball rolled into the corner, little feet flapping after it. One day, the sound changed, I know, the old family moved out, new residents moved in. Oh, I didn't even see the moving trucks, and I didn't hear the exodus.

The only one I see is an old lady. The old lady was slender and always wore fitted silk dresses, and had the air of a young girl. I noticed that she didn't speak Cantonese, but instead spoke my familiar Hokkien. So we greet each other in Hokkien as we go through the gate. At 88, she strolling alone in front of the court, treading timidly, as if afraid to disturb others. She went from one end of the acacia tree to the other end of the pomelo tree, then doubled back, went to the acacia tree, then back to the pomelo tree. When I hurried out at nine in the morning, I saw her under the acacia tree, and when I came back from university at dusk, I saw her under the pomelo tree. Her eyes, a little melancholy, a little lonely, but with a light class; The late sun shone on her grey hair.

In the courtyard, a truck is parked every Thursday for the whole afternoon. The door at the back of the car opens and a small ladder lets you climb into the belly of the car. Inside the belly is a small grocery store: century eggs, Onions, bananas, vegetables, instant noodles... The old man, wearing shorts and an undershirt, sat on a low stool reading a newspaper. There was a good variety of vegetables and the eggs were fresh. Originally a farmer in Pok Fu Lam, he still sells vegetables from his own land in his truck.

One day, the fire alarm rang. Is it a test? We went on reading, but the bell kept ringing, deafening. Andre came out of the study, and we exchanged a look and decided to follow the rules. We put down our books, grabbed our phones, and headed down the stairs. There were footsteps on the stairwell, and in the courtyard a dozen people were already gathered, looking up to see where the black smoke was coming from. Fire engines arrived within five minutes and firefighters entered the building in full gear.

For the first time, I saw the residents of this building. People began to compare themselves: What did you carry out the fire when you rushed out the door? Someone held the newspaper they were reading in their hand, someone grabbed their wallet, someone said: "Be sure to carry your laptop next time, there are so many things in it." The other one said, "Well, if it's not a real fire, you come down with the computer, how funny." A golden-haired woman, waving a plastic bag in her hand, said, "This bag, which I always leave by the door, contains my passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, doctor's certificate, and one hundred dollars." As the crowd marveled at her wisdom, the fireman came out and said, "It's all right, it's all right, it tripped the alarm."


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