A Strip Mall Surprise

Our basement smoke and carbon monoxide detector beeped and blurted in the early Sunday morning hours. As the loud digital woman’s voice warned of FIRE. FIRE. FIRE. FIRE. FIRE., we nervously fumbled to remove her from the wall. We pulled out her batteries, took relief in some silence, and scurried to find some new double AAs lying around the house. To my surprise, we had a fresh pack and gave those a try. Still she blurted, belched and beeped her warning cries.  We reread the owner’s manual that we had kept tacked up on the wall by her side-feeling proud of ourselves for the forethought years ago to keep it handy- and went through the suggested troubleshooting tips. Nothing. Reset. Nothing. Still she blurted and beeped in her obnoxious tones.  It was becoming clear:  we needed a new one. How does a smoke and carbon monoxide detector die?   And how much time should one invest in trying to repair it when the said detector loudly bemoans her troubles in your face while trying to bring her back to life? We gave it about 40 minutes before we made the dreadful decision to go buy a new one and laid her to rest in the trash can, on top of the dryer lint. Rest in peace.

Of course with things like these, one can’t put it off.  With the death of such an important fixture in your home, if you do delay, for even just one day, surely that will be the night your home catches on fire and to everyone’s dismay the morning headline will read:


We headed to Ace Hardware later that day to pick up a new lady friend.

As we left the hardware store, which is located in a strip mall, we noticed a new business a couple doors down. A cremation business. In a strip mall.  We had to have a good laugh. After having spent some moments of our day with a morbid digital woman reminding us to avert possible perishable situations, we delighted in some morbid humor ourselves. “Hey, let’s stop in there to get Grandpa taken care of after we pick up a new rake. How convenient. You run in there, and I’ll go pick up dry cleaning. Meet you back here in ten.” It’s not really funny, on a normal day, to think of these things, I know.  But it is, kind of. And if that makes me that much closer to the burning fires of hell, well, then I know where to go to get there faster.

Thankfully, our new detector is hanging up and showing us she’s working with her little green flashing light.  No more blurting–and a bit of peace will help us rest through the nights.

We’re safe for now.  But in the event that something should happen to one of us, it’s a blessing to know that cremation is right around the corner.



10 thoughts on “A Strip Mall Surprise

  1. What a fun bit of life! You describe the annoying smoke detector who won’t shut up so well. As for the headlines in the paper, thank goodness that was avoided. But really a cremation business in a strip mall? Someone was only thinking of cheap rent. I hope you have no need of their services and that perhaps they will locate to another location soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This piece actually made me laugh out loud. I wonder how business must be? Hey, the strip mall approach worked for tax preparers, and you know what they say… I love how your writing made an ordinary errand seem so extraordinary. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. a flurry of action and a short flirtation with the fires of damnation. Not your average day. It brought back memories of a Friends Episode where Phoebe had great difficulty dealing with a dysfunctional fire detector. Loved the humour and the urgency you wrapped this piece in. Thanks for the chuckle Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You made me laugh! One time I watched an Oprah episode about a child that was killed when he opened the oven door and crawled on him. The whole stove tipped on him and killed him. This stuck in my head forever. Well, lo and behold, we got a new stove when my oldest son was about 3. My husband would not install the safety latch after I told him about the Oprah show I watched. I was not going to have the headline read how our son had died because of our stove, so I waited until my husband was asleep and installed the latch myself! CRAZY! But then I could sleep and had no worry!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “We headed to Ace Hardware later that day to pick up a new lady friend.”

    You have a great sense of humor, shown also in noticing the cremation biz in the strip mall! This is a great slice…it starts with a mundane household chore, turns humorous with the personification of the smoke detector and the imagined headline, and then evolves into something quite different, filled with insights and the stuff of life (…not fiery death). Bravo!


  6. This was a lot of fun to read! I loved that you laid the voice to rest on top of the dryer lint, imagined your death announcement in the newspaper, and cracked jokes about the conveniently and absurdly located cremation services. Your voice and humor are highly engaging – Great Slice!

    Liked by 1 person

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