It was the end of another grueling amber metal filled 14-hour day for the Coppersmith Cowboy.
He stood on the landing of the scaffold, lowering the boxes of tools and equipment down 200 feet to the ground below, using a little wheel and pulley system.
This was his self appointed job, always wanting to be the first one up and the last one down from the steeple. The feeling of the rope zizzing over his twisted leathery hands gave him a sense of pride in the days work that no coin could purchase.
The job had driven him to a place where he refered to himself in third person.
The other guys readied themselves for departure to the bar, where they would while away what was left of the evening, and they leaned on the truck, waiting.
All of the boxes were down and packed away, and the men impatiently waited in the truck for the Coppersmith Cowboy to begin his mad scramble down the towering stairwell.
He started down the stairs … but then some inner power told him something was wrong.
He looked back at the steeple towering above him and saw SMOKE AND A FEW BRIGHT PAPERY EMBERS FLOATING IN THE WIND ABOUT HALF WAY UP THE STEEPLE!!!
He spun and was up the ladder before he realized what he was doing. Within seconds he was at the site of the fire. The sight greeted him with a nice cold shock.
Much black dry tarpaper and wood chips from the refurbishment of the steeple had caught between the green plastic safety netting and the wooden decking of the scaffold and WAS ON FIRE!
A carelessly biffed cigarette butt would have nicely smoldered in this pile of tinder until the wind picked up and fanned it into foot high flames as were greeting him now.
It had stared to ignite the wooden scaffold planking and had already melted a hole a meter square in the green netting. It was beyond the blowing or stamping out stage and getting ready to kick into the “Burn down the hundred and forty year old church, millions of dollars of damage, destruction of a heritage building” stage.
The Coppersmith Cowboy looked on in terror, yet with insight born of desperation he cognited.
He leapt down to the landing, snatched a big plastic bag up and flew back to the conflagration.
An impatient horn sounded far below, yet he paid it no heed as he tore into the Santa sack swiftly and carefully opening PowerAde bottles and relieving two days worth of yellow liquid onto the fire.
Hissing and sputtering the fire gave up and was quelched leaving only a horrid molten plastic and ammonia smell.
The horn and revving was heard again far below and rage rose up in the Cowboy.
Wishing righteous vengeance on the others.
The others …who had laughed at the pains he took to immerse his cigarette buts in pools of saliva and stash them in his pocket…
The others… who had ignored the bosses orders to piss in a bottle when working up high on the scaffold instead of wasting half an hour to climb down from the steeple and go down the road every time they needed a piss.
The others who were now jokingly driving away as the Cowboy raced down the stairwell.
His fury was uncharacteristic, a pent up frothing of all the rage the fire ignited within him.
The others looked at him in surprise…He was always so calm and happy…who was this strange, skinny, yellow hard hatted form ranting at them and proclaiming him self as the savior of the company and all of their jobs.
A deep thanks was given and an oath of silence extracted then some tentative gazes up at the steeple before they all piled off to rest and deep thoughts.
No mention was made of the pissy smell down one side of the scaffold the next day and all ciggie butts were destroyed and checked for fire from then on.
The Coppersmith Cowboy.
Guardian of the dome, Savior of the steeple.
A superhero-like protector of priceless heritage buildings since June 2002.
His powers were forged in the scorching heat of Australia’s burning summers and tempered in the frozen arctic blizzards of northern Ontario.
Hes growing his wolverine sideburns back and he cannot be stopped.
Look for him wherever a priceless heritage building is being restored to its former glory.