"Call the fire department!" Ira opened the back door and shouted to his wife.
He ran toward the garage, disheartened as flames rolled out the side windows. Crackling wood discouraged him from going past the picnic table, midway between the house and garage.
His wife and father-in-law joined him, leaving the mother-in-law watching through the window with the children. They waited, hand-in-hand, as sirens approached. The father-in-law broke the shared trance. "How could this have happened?"
As the fire engine turned into the alley, Mr. Ames, two doors down, backed his SUV out of his garage and blocked the passage. He ignored the siren, the horn, and the fireman's orders to move. "Go away," Mr. Ames shouted. "This isn't your business."
Too angry to think about the danger, Ira ran past the flaming remains of his property, through the back gate, and confronted Mr. Ames. "Move your truck. My garage is burning."
"Don't fight me," Mr. Ames warned. "It's for your own good. I want you to have a concrete block garage."
The firefighters jumped off the truck. One tried to wrestle the SUV key from Mr. Ames but an army of police officers emerged from the Ames garage and stopped him.
"Stay back or we'll have to arrest you for insurgence," the leader of the pack warned.
"Are you crazy?" the driver of the fire engine asked. "This is our domain. There's a fire up the block, and it is in our district. Move the SUV."
"Mr. Ames is the wealthiest, strongest man on this bock," the cop explained. "If he wants Ira to have a concrete block garage, then that's what Ira will have. Butt out."
"But I don't want a concrete garage," Ira argued. "I'm happy with wood." He looked back at the flaming mess and shook his head. "I have pigeons in there. My Hyundai. Things I care about are being destroyed."
"You ungrateful s-o-b," Mr. Ames shouted. "I sacrificed an hour of sleep to get out here early enough to minimize the risk to your family and the neighbors. My family is forfeiting a European vacation to build your concrete block garage and this is the thanks we get?"
"Bull," Ira countered. "Your brother builds concrete garages. Don't tell me you are sacrificing anything. I'm losing my property. I built that garage myself."
Mr. Ames' family rallied around him, "My husband is a good man," his wife spat. "How dare you look a gift horse in the mouth?"
"I don't want your gift," Ira said. "I want my garage just the way it was."
Frank Herman bound through the gate across the way. "This argument is ridiculous. A brick garage is what he needs."
Mr. Ames backhanded Frank. "You'll rue the day you contradicted my will," he frothed. "This is between me and Ira."
"How?" Ira asked. "I didn't welcome your input. I didn't ask your advice and I don't want your concrete. Leave me in peace to live the way I want to live."
"Oh, no you don't" Ira's father-in-law chimed in. "He's going to repair the damage he's caused now. He ruined your garage, he'll fix it."
Mrs. Ames jerked her head around, flipping her hair as she confronted a police officer. "As usual. The old man's asking for charity. First they insult us, and then they want our money when times get tough. Same old story."
"Yeah," an Ames daughter shouted from the background. She waved her pom poms. "Push ‘em back, push ‘em back, waaay back."
"Let me beat up Ira Junior," her twin brother offered. "Can I, Dad?"
Mr. Ames gave his son a thumb up. "Your loyalty warms my heart. Go get him. He asked for it."