She stood across the street, hidden in the shadows and watched the flames lick the building. She smiled, her eyes following the flickering of the orange, red and yellow lights. She thought it was beautiful, wild and free. She wanted to enjoy it before the sirens she heard in the background came and tried to douse her art. Yes, art. To her what she did was a special kind of art. It was beauty devouring ugliness. That she got paid for her ‘art’ was a big plus.
She was an arsonist. She loved what she did. But she had a practical side also. She knew she needed money to live the life she wanted. So she hired out her services to others who though they might not appreciate her art as she did, they understood what an artist she was. She stepped further back into the shadows as the first of several firetrucks stopped in front of the burning building. Quickly the men and women got out of the trucks and started their job of putting out the fire. She knew they wouldn’t save the building. She knew this because she was good at what she did.
Margot watched from the shadows for a few minutes more, then calmly walked away. Margot was small, slender, and mousey. She had brown hair and brown eyes and people who talked to her for half an hour would forget her five minutes after she left. She just never left an impression. It took her years to develop that talent. She could blend in to her surroundings so well that people, even cops, overlooked her. She never looked anyone in the eye for more then a few seconds. She never said or did anything that would draw attention to herself. She was a professional.
When Margot was a young girl, she would escape her horrific childhood by setting small fires where she could. As she watched them she became happy. As she got older she set bigger fires, perfecting her art into what it was today. She ran away from home when she was 15. She managed to survive on the streets by becoming invisible. And every chance she got she practiced her art. She never set anything on fire that would hurt anyone. They were empty buildings, storefronts, or garbage containers. She always made sure not even a stray animal was inside before she set up her fires. Then she would stand back and gaze at the flames and be content.
Her first paying job happened by accident. She was in an alley, hidden from prying eyes when she overheard two men talking. They met in the alley and talked about hiring someone to torch an empty building one of them owned for the insurance money. It was cheaper the one man said then tearing it down. The other man agreed and said he would find someone to do the job. Margot got the brilliant idea of doing the job herself and getting paid for doing what she loved to do. So she followed the man who owned the building and on a deserted street confronted him.
She didn’t know where she got the courage from, but she knew she desperately needed the money. Margot wanted off the streets, she wanted her own place to live and refused to do what a lot of other women and some men did and prostitute themselves. She didn’t believe in doing drugs or alcohol. Margot didn’t see her starting fires as anything wrong. It was her art, her outlet, her sanity.
So on that deserted street she walked up to the big man and told him boldly she would do the job for him, for a price. She wondered if she made a grave mistake when the big man just stopped and stared at her for a full two minutes without saying a word. Margot made sure she wasn’t within reach of those strong hands. She wasn’t that naive to think she wasn’t in danger. She had known danger in many forms through out her life, but she was determined to get this job. She held her head up and held herself still. She felt the man’s eyes on her and risked a look at his face. He wasn’t laughing, which to her was a good sign. His face didn’t give his thoughts away. Finally he asked her, “Why do you think you can do it? Cus all I see is a dirty kid from the streets.”
“I can do it. I can do it in such a way no one will suspect it was deliberately set” stated Margot.
“You got guts girl. So I’ll tell you what I’ll do. You do the job, you do it wrong and I’ll kill you. You do it right and I’ll pay you.”
“Okay” Margot agreed. She wasn’t worried about not doing the job right.
The big man gave her the address of the building he wanted torched. He then gave her a card with a phone number on it. “You call this number when the job is done.”
Margot took the card and the big man walked away. That was 10 years ago. He was the only man who knew who she was and what she looked like. She got other jobs through him, and when he died two years ago she had enough contacts that she was making a small fortune a year. She never even got close to being caught. She was happy in her own way. Tonight’s job was the last for a while. She was going on a vacation. Getting out of the city for the next year and enjoying herself. Then she would see from there what she would do, for something was nagging her. Something kept bugging her and she had to figure out if she was going to continue what she was doing . She needed time to think. Maybe it was time for something else in the form of art. Maybe she could somehow go legit. She had to think on how she could do that. For now, she was tired. Tomorrow was a new day with new beginnings.