Eno glared at the cars stretched ahead of him while impatient drivers manoeuvred their cars, shouting curses, making movement almost impossible.
He looked over his shoulder to spy on his teenage boys sitting in the rear, talking with each other. They seemed not to care about the outcome of the heavy traffic. It should be his headache if they reached school on time or not.
A nonchalant young lady puffed at her cigarette a couple of feet away. Eno knew the smoker was taking an enormous risk. The probability of the cigarette igniting the fuel was very low. A certain amount of fuel vapour existed there.
“An angel of death,” he said. His boys followed his gaze to the girl in her early twenties, puffing at her cigarette.
“There’s no flame in her cigarette, dad,” his younger son said.
“What does she think she’s doing?” Eno almost shouted, and his kids looked at him, wondering why he was overreacting.
“Dad, I think she’s standing a suitable distance away from her fuel tank and meter hose. She should need a good amount of hot fuel vapour to ignite the area. It’s almost impossible for a cigarette to ignite a filling station.”
“Well, that not safe. What if she catches fire doing that? Think about what will happen. If she catches fire, there will be explosions.”
“Not a chance, dad. Stop fretting.” Eno Junior said.
“Do you see that giant cooking gas cylinder over there? Do you see that fuel tanker? They’re going to give the most disastrous damage to lives around here when they blow. Do you see this traffic queue? It’s going to burn to ashes.” Eno said.
“How on earth will all this happen? Eno Junior said.
“It will not happen because of a mere cigarette with no flame,” his youngest son said.
There’s fuel vapour everywhere around that area, boy, including her hands, clothes, car, surrounding and so on,” he argued as the traffic moved once like a snail. Eno sighed again. That meant another couple of minutes’ wait.
Eno watched the smoker puff non-stop. The attendant was about to drop the hose at the meter when he saw the smoker rummage for something in her jean pocket.
“Boys, watch…watch her, she’s fighting another cigarette…oh, the girl is so damaged. How could she smoke like that at that young age? She must be out of her senses. “
“Well… that’s insane. Someone should hurry to stop her.” His younger son said.
“Watch! The security is rushing at her with an extinguisher… wow.. wow, her hands are on fire..she’s on fire….wow….wow. Move out of the car, boys. Run to safety,”
“Easy dad. Stop panicking. This is a filling station. They should sure have measures, perfect measures to stop the fire. Please let’s not run for no reason.” Eno Junior said.
But Eno had no time to spare for unnecessary arguments. He stepped down from the car, opened the rear door and dragged out his younger son, who was giggling at him for his fearful rush.
Eno was fast. He screamed at everyone to run to safety as he ran.
“Dad, everything is under control, look they’ve brought the girl down and have covered her with a fire blanket. The fire has gone off.”
“No Junior, her car is on fire too. Listen to your father,” he said, already dragging the younger one along, screaming over his shoulder at Junior to follow suit. Better safe than sorry.
The smoker’s car blew up in seconds. Many motorists ahead and behind them stepped out of their cars in confusion and everyone ran away from the station.
Eno thought about what next. It could be the fuel tanker that just arrived before the gas cylinder – he was sure both of them would blow up.
“Run! The gas station is on fire! He screamed to others as he ran down with his hesitant boys who thought he should have said fuel station instead of the gas station.
Boom! It was an explosion. Eno looked back at his Honda civic as fire engulfed it. Then something blew up again. This time, anyone and anything, up to ten meters away, wwer3 swallowed up in thick smoke, including Eno and his boys.
“I tried Ernie. Goodbye, my love.” He said to his wife, who wasn’t there and fell in the thick smoke, feeling the burns in his feet, and listened to the moans and cries of many before oblivion set in.
Eno stayed calm during the recovery period and thought about what could have happened to them.
He visited the scene of the disaster. Over forty skeletal cars stood there – evidence of the damage that ravaged over fifty people. The filling station looked like history from ancient times. One person and one-act can destroy the entire globe.
Life can end. A time no one expects.. that was his most persistent muse, and he often looked up to whisper- “You who pulled back the furious fire that nearly consumed me and my boys, I live for you alone, my God!”