When they got back they found out that there had been a very heated argument and Broc said it was enough and packed his bags and called a cab. He said goodbye to Nancy and thanked her for everything.
“He told me that was it,” Nancy said. “He had other things to do and he wasn’t going to be treated badly any more.”
“Do you think there’s anything to do to get him back?” Sal said.
“I’m not going to worry about Broc at this point,” Luna said. “I’m more worried about more people leaving. We’re going to have to do something or most of our folks will leave and we’ll be stuck with just working with Don and Dick.”
“Maybe we should have stayed and learned what George and Fred figured out,” Sal said.
“I’m not sure they figured out anything,” said Dan. “I think they were stalling for time until they could figure out something. Anyway, I’ll give them a call and see if they have come up with anything.”
“Maybe we should call an emergency commune meeting,” Sal said.
“We talked all about Dick and Don in the last meeting,” said Nancy. “We didn’t solve anything then. What makes you think we can do anything different now?”
“Well, we’ve got to do something,” Luna said. “We’re not going to have any commune left soon.”
“Maybe we should ask Don and Dick to leave,” Dan said. “Otherwise everyone else is going to leave. I don’t want to be stuck in the commune with them.”
“That’s just what I said,” Luna said. “They’ve got us talking in circles.”
“Yeah,” said Sal. “I’ve had it. I’m going to bed. Maybe we can think of something different in the morning.”
“Sleep well,” Luna said. After Nancy and Sal left she turned to Dan. “I’m afraid I’m not going to sleep at all tonight.”
Luna did fall asleep with Dan holding her, but she woke before four am. Dan was still asleep.
She got up and decide to go outside to clear her head. As soon as she got out the door, she smelled the smoke. With memories of the last fire she checked all the residences but they seemed fine. Then she realized that the smell was coming from the building that was under construction.
She quickly woke up Dan. “Call the fire department. The new building is burning.”
Luna woke up Sal and Nancy. Nancy went around waking up others while Luna and Sal and Dan all tried to put out the fire.
The fire department showed up shortly.
“We’ve got to stop meeting like this,” the fire chief said to Luna.
“Absolutely,” said Luna. “This is way over our quota for fires.”
Unfortunately, by the time the fire was put out, the new building, which had been three quarters built, was now in ruins.
At this point all the commune folks were gathered along with Peter, George, and Fred, who appeared from nowhere.
“I got a call from the cops and picked up Fred and George,” Peter said. “Is everyone accounted for?”
A quick roll call found Ken, Marge, Viv, Cat, Blue Sky, Paul G, Patsy, Darren, Chuck, Strange Brew, Grace, Will, Sowbug, Dandelion, and Dick, all alive, well, and very sleepy.
“Can anyone locate Don?” Sal asked. On a quick search of the grounds it turned out that not only was Don missing but so was his tent and all of his belongings.
“Man,” Strange Brew said. “This is like an early trick or treat.”
“A trick, an awful trick,” Paul G said. “This is not a treat.”
“Happy Halloween,” Patsy muttered.
Before the conversation went any further, the fire chief came over to where everyone was standing.
“Surprisingly, it doesn’t look like arson,” he said.
“What do you mean?” asked Marge.
“It looks like someone was walking around with a candle and slipped. Unfortunately, the candle must have ignited some of the straw insulation you had stored over there. Once it started, it would have been a slow burn but really hard to put out.” The fire chief stopped a moment and looked at everyone. “Whoever did this should have just called us as soon as it happened. We probably could have saved the building if we had been called quick enough.”
“I think the person who did it panicked and fled,” Nancy said.
“Well, it’s good to know it wasn’t deliberate,” Luna said. “But it doesn’t change the fact that weeks of work have been lost. I’m sorry everyone.”
“We’ve done all we can do,” said the fire chief. “I hope I don’t see you all again for a long while.”
“Nothing more we can do now,” Dan said. “I hope everyone can get a little more sleep tonight. We’ve got a difficult day tomorrow.”
People started drifting off but Dick just stood there, staring at the charred remains of their work.
“Are you going back to bed?” Sowbug asked.
Dick continued to stand quietly. “I knew that guy was trouble,” he said finally. “He had a bad attitude.”