A bit of flash I wrote a while ago.
They called him Blue Flame Billy. You could see him most nights at the bars, burning through that week’s pay cheque with bottles of gin. Rum, whatever came in a shot glass. His wages and his girl’s. She was known as Black Eyed Betty. Not in his earshot though. Quick with his fists he was, and not just with those who shared his bed.
Back in those days we lived across the street, first floor apartment with our windows opposite theirs.
The screaming woke us before we saw the fire crew in the street outside. A real guttural howl, like an animal with its leg snagged into tatters by rusted snares.
They found him in his chair, on fire. Her crouched in the corner of the room covered in blood. No damage to the rest of the apartment, luckily for everyone else in the building.
On the testimony of the fire crew the coroner reached a verdict of misadventure. That Billy had fallen asleep with a bottle of gin in his hand and a cigarette. But alcohol burns blue and I saw the flames that night, thick and yellow. Smoking with a hint of petrol in the air.