'Spontaneous' by Elizabeth Moura

I was an old reporter, bored as hell in retirement, helping out a friend at a D.C. cable station.
        Lenny, a cameraman, asked me to go with him to official Washington to film a feature. We filled out forms, were scrutinized, vouched for, questioned and patted down, and finally  given passes to enter the historic halls. As he assembled his equipment, we heard a commotion, and a voice yelling, “He’s on fire!”
        We ran towards the voice and saw a man face down on the floor, flames and smoke coming from the seat of his pants. Colleagues were hitting him with their suit jackets to put out the flames.
        “Get this Lenny, get this!” I cried, and he turned on the camera.
        “We’re here at the Senate, where a senator’s pants have caught fire,” I said, aware of how weird it sounded.
“Hello, how did this happen?” I shouted to no one in particular.
        A page turned to me and said, “His ass just erupted, man!”
        Another man said, “Just as he was starting to speak, he was going to introduce a bill!”
        EMTs rushed in with a stretcher and lifted the man onto it, still face down, and they rushed back down the hall.
        “Jeez, what’s that all about?” Lenny asked me, but I didn’t answer because I saw a security guard coming back.
        “How is he?” I asked.
        “His ass is pretty bad,” the guard said. “His ass was burning bad. Real bad.”
        He walked away shaking his head. I saw a senator coming towards us.
        “Senator, what happened here?” I asked. The man looked frightened.
        “I don’t know. Bob is such a great guy. He’s a real leader. He was standing there, and suddenly flames shot out. I hope it wasn’t the other side.”
        “The other side?”
        “It’s an awful thing for them to do,” he said. “But today anything goes.”
        Lenny and I packed up. We were talking about going to the hospital to cover what was happening there. We stopped when we heard screaming.
        “The House! There’s another one on fire!” a security guard yelled.
        A senator came running down the hall, out of breath. He finally spoke.
“The White House! At the White House! Cabinet member! Caught fire! His pants caught fire!”
        Everyone started running around, including Lenny and I.
Suddenly, in all the chaos, a very stern man appeared with two huge men.
        “The President needs to be told,” he said to the men. “And he needs to be moved to a safe place.”
        The men nodded and started walking. The stern man stopped, listening to a message coming through the radio in his ear.
        “We’re too late,” he said, shaking his head.
        “Damn. His fat ass too,” said one of the huge men.
The three men grinned slightly. The corners of the stern man’s eyes crinkled up.
        “Let’s go,” he said, and they walked away through the running, yelling, gesturing politicians.


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