"Drunken Fireworks" is a short story, first released as an audio book before being published in the in the collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.


The story is narrated by Alden McCausland, who is taken into custody by the Castle County police.

Alden lives with his mother. Since his father died and left them an unexpected big life insurance policy, and his mother won a big prize in the Big Maine Millions scratcher, they can afford a rich lifestyle, which consists mostly of spending the entire summer at their cabin at Lake Abenaki, drinking all day long.

The house on the other side of the lake is owned by the Italian-American Massimo family, who officially own their riches to their company, Massimo Construction, but are actually  “connected” as Ma McCausland puts it. Alden and his mother don’t think much of their neighbors, and especially hate one particular boy of the Massimo family who likes to play the trumpet.

When one 4th of July Alden tries to impress the Massimo’s with his fireworks, he starts a rivalry with them that soon becomes known in Castle County as the 4th of July Arms Race. In the years that follow the McCauslands and the Massino’s try to outdo each other with bigger and bigger fireworks, with the Massino’s always coming out on top. That is until Alden, through some connections of his own, manages to get his hands on the largest, but very illegal, piece of fireworks in the world: the Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind, a.k.a. the GE4. However, when Alden fires the GE4 (after the Massino’s have just performed a large fireworks show with help of a professional crew), the wind blows it towards the Massino’s house, and since Castle County had a very dry summer the GE4 sets the pine trees around the house ablaze. This in turn causes the house itself to catch fire and burn to the ground. Alden is arrested.

Now that his story is told, Alden is informed by the police that Mr. Massimo won’t press charges against Alden or his mother, since he too was responsible for  their fireworks arms race getting so out of hand. Alden is free to go. However, Massimo’s 2 sons did get some revenge by burning the McCausland’s cabin down, though they blame the fire on Alden leaving a box of fireworks too close to a burning stove. The police however urges Alden to go along with this story, let the insurance pay for the damage, and accept Massimo’s offer to forget the whole thing, which Alden eventually does.

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