Tales from my youth - "The lighter fuel and the ashtray"

Blair Gowrie By Blair Gowrie, 11th Dec 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/24x7mc5b/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>True Stories

How an enterprising young man made good his escape.

He saw his chance and he took it.

A police station can be a busy place, with people walking in and out, sitting waiting, registering complaints, paying fines, being questioned, finger-printed, or locked up. Then there is the noise, the hum of conversation, the constant announcements on the police communication network, the clanging of cell doors, and the shouts from the inmates.

And, apart from the uniformed policemen, it’s hard to tell just who is who. The people in plain clothes could be anybody, policemen, visitors, or citizens reporting burglaries, car accidents or assaults.

One day, a young man, perhaps in his early twenties, is brought in by a policeman in uniform and handed over to the duty officer sitting at his desk in the middle of the open ground floor area. This officer, a middle-aged sergeant, gives the young man a cursory look and starts barking questions at him, to which the young man replies quietly, and the officer writes down the details in his log book. Often other policemen, or people in plain clothes, come up to the desk and engage the sergeant in conversation, and occasionally the sergeant gets up and walks a few paces to another desk, or talks to someone he knows, leaving the young man waiting patiently.

But this young man is no ordinary young man. He is what I like to call an enterprising young man.

Being left unattended for a few seconds here and a minute there, he has the chance to observe his surroundings more closely. And what he does observe is that on the sergeant’s desk there is a container of lighter fuel, and an ashtray.

This is in the days when some cigarette lighters have to be re-filled with liquid fuel when they run dry.

So being the enterprising young man that he is, and when the sergeant is otherwise pre-occupied, he picks up the lighter fuel container, unscrews the cap, and quickly pours some of the fuel into the ashtray. He then sits and waits.

And he doesn’t have to wait for long, for a passing visitor, in a hurry to douse his still smouldering cigarette butt, attempts to stub in out in the ashtray. At once flames shoot up into the air, causing consternation, confusion, and commotion. All eyes are on the scene as people rush to extinguish the blaze.

And in the meantime what has happened to our enterprising young man? Well, being the enterprising young man that he is, he has disappeared!


Ashtray, Blaze, Cigarettes, Enterprising, Flames, Lighter Fuel, Police Station, Young Man

Meet the author

author avatar Blair Gowrie
Author of fiction, poetry, musicals and song lyrics.

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