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IT HAD been a long
I had spent all day in court covering a trial and when I finished writing my story a friend called to ask if I would be her bodyguard.
She and a co-worker were heading out on a frigid night to look for homeless people and offer assistance, all part of a federal human services project.
Neither woman's husband could get away and the two ladies were heading into some rough parts of town. They would feel safer with a man along, and I was it.
So, for the next two hours we drove around looking for men and women who might need shelter on a 16-degree night. We looked behind trash bins, in abandoned buildings and under bridges. By the time I got home I was, to say the least, chilled.
So, I built me a nice fire in the fireplace, threw on the chunks of wood and settled back for an hour of relaxation before the 11 o'clock news.
Then, suddenly, about 10:40 the smoke alarm started blaring. No, this wasn't that "beep, beep, beep," you get when the battery is low; this was that screaming, "I mean business," sound.
Not only that, but the smoke alarms on all three levels of the house were going off at the same time.
"Oh, mercy! The chimney is on fire!" I thought. I ran into the yard looking up with a flashlight, but noticed no unusual activity around the chimney.
So I began shining the light around the eaves of the house looking for smoke or anything suspicious.
I went back in the house and checked all the rooms and closets.
I went up into the attic and looked around.
With the alarms still blaring, I went back into all the rooms and felt the walls for warmth.
Still nothing, yet the smoke alarms kept going.
Just to be on the safe side I changed all the 9-volt batteries in the alarms but they continued to sound.
By now, 10 minutes had gone by and I was pretty sure there was no fire, so I went into the basement and tried to switch off the circuit breaker that carried the alarms. I flipped every 120-breaker, but the blaring continued.