Photo ©Jimmy Fell
At first, the burning angels were a source of great worry and fear. They appeared in random places and burnt ferociously. After a while, it became apparent that it was a waste of time calling the fire brigade as the angels burnt down of their own free will and no amount of dousing by the fire fighters made the slightest difference. As it was, they left only a scorch mark on the ground and never once set fire to anyone’s house or singed any plant outside the base perimeter.
There was a common factor. Cyril Rum. Cyril lived at the end of our street and was always to be seen across the road from every burning angel watching the fire sometimes commenting to neighbours, but always he was there.
Most of the angels burnt in the front of peoples yards. We thought they were, of course, random acts of vandalism until people started to note that certain things happened inside the houses the angels burnt in front of.
Mr Turner who had long been struggling against fruit fly in his Orange orchard found the fruit fly gone and his oranges bigger and juicier than ever. The Weston’s whose son William was very ill and not expected to survive found that after the fire their son showed an amazing recovery.
The burning angels worked in so many ways within our community. The Casey’s were a family with loud music, loud cars and very loud obnoxious people. They fought and argued with their neighbours threw rubbish in the street and generally showed a disregard for everyone. One night an angel burned in their front yard. It only burnt for less than five minutes, but the next day the Casey’s were seen moving out, claiming victimisation and a haunted house. We saw it as a form of retribution.
At the far end of the street, the opposite end to Cyril’s house lived Catherine and Tommy deGrugin. They were an old couple and Catherine in her later years suffered badly from the ravages of cancer. Her condition worsened to a stage where she was so drugged up she lost consciousness and become a body barely breathing. Tommy would often be seen on his front veranda sitting there looking into the distance the look of incredible sadness on his face. The reality of dealing with a wife of fifty years who now suffered so much was more than he could handle.
One night an angel burned in front of his house. It burned for forty minutes, the heat intense, there were fears this time the house might go up as well. When it died down, there was an eerie stillness in the air.
Inside the house, Tommy sat beside his dying wife as the inferno raged outside. When the fire stopped he felt her hand in his, he looked at his wife and saw her looking up at him. She smiled and told him she loved him. She held his hand as together they said their farewells. They were blessed with three final hours where they lay beside each other, pain-free, remembering the love they had so happily shared all those years.
The next day Tommy went to Cyril’s house, the first time anyone had entered Cyril’s house and said thank you.
A follow-up story can be found here: