Disclaimer: Don’t be an idiot and try any of the stunts described in this article. Everyone involved is a professional idiot. We’ve all spent years honing our idiotic skills, and are much more accomplished at it than you’ll ever be.

The second fire was by far the largest. Heath Kirchart started it in the back of the Hook-Ups van while we were bombing down the highway at 80 miles an hour. The van is the perfect firebox: the exterior has already been torched and the inside is gutted, exposing bare, fire-retardant, metal walls. It’s essentially a rolling box designed to protect the world from Jeremy Klein (who is always the driver) and Heath. The second fire began with the torn-out pages of two TransWorld magazines, but soon included a shoe box, a brand-new sweatshirt, and a plastic bag. The bag was the killer. Its toxic fumes filled the van, twisted into our nostrils and down our lungs, making us choke and our eyes sting. And the smoke! Jeremy rolled down the driver’s side window, but his efforts produced little ventilation.

Fanning with one hand and steering with the other, Jeremy tried to clear his sight. “Okay Heath, put it out – I can’t see,” he said in a surprisingly relaxed voice. He finally stuck his head out the window for a clearer view. Immediately, we swerved violently to the left to avoid hitting the concrete median. Meanwhile, Heath and I were trying to stomp out the fire, kicking it around the van like a soccer ball. But our biggest problem was the sweatshirt; cotton/polyester blend acts like napalm when it’s on fire. It burns into dripping, fiery goo. The fact that seconds earlier Heath was throwing the sweatshirt around, spreading burning napalm all over the back of the van – and occasionally on the occupants – didn’t exactly help.

“Open the door, Heath,” Jeremy instructed as he ducked his head back inside, and we swerved blindly into another lane. Even if the smoke had cleared, the inside of the windshield was covered with soot. “Come on – I can’t see. Let some air in,” Jeremy said, almost apologetically. Even though Jeremy couldn’t see, he never slowed down. Heath struggled with the door, but was forced to retreat when the smoke from a smoldering plastic bag made him choke. He ducked into the back where the pollution wasn’t quite as bad, but the floor was littered with broken glass from the bottle I had thrown earlier. He held his breath, and finally opened the door by kicking it a few times.

The wind roared as it blasted into the van. An instant hurricane swept inside the vehicle. If your van is ever on fire, don’t open the side door. Air doesn’t go out – it sucks in. In an explosion of wind, all the flames, soot, napalm, and cinders blew back into the van. Fire was in the air. Little napalm fires, still burning on the floor, suddenly fanned by the wind, grew larger. Heath and I started our soccer game once again, kicking flaming debris from the speeding van.

When the fires were out, and we’d pulled into Tony Hawk’s driveway, our faces were spotted with soot, our clothes chalked with charcoal, and two of my fingers burnt from patting out my flaming backpack. We’d come to Tony’s to kidnap/invite him to dinner. At first, Tony was adamant about staying home, but Jeremy and Heath nagged him for half an hour until his wife suggested he go. We picked Atiba Jefferson up next, and by then Heath had begun lighting Jeremy on fire.

By the time we pulled into valet parking at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, a four-star restaurant in downtown San Diego, where everybody from the patrons to the managers wears thousand-dollar suits, Heath had started three more fires in the van. There were four inches of smoldering ash between the front seats. Small clouds of smoke drifted up from smoldering piles of burnt clothes. All the valets crowded around the van, gawking as we piled out with wisps of smoke wrapped around us as if we were walking from the gates of hell.

After we ate and paid the bill, the plan was foHeath and Jeremy to light themselves on fire. Tony was worried that he might be recognized, and the management might remember him as the pyro. It’s not that Tony has a huge ego, he was just thinking through the worst-case scenario. The restaurant was packed. I went to the bathroom to wash the soot and burnt sweatshirt bits from my hands. The lawyer-looking guy peeing beside me made audible sniffing noises. “Smells like a campfire,” he said. I just shrugged. I couldn’t smell anything. When I sat back down at the table, I realized what he meant – we all smelled exactly like campfire.

About 200 dollars into our 273-dollar meal, the manager in his nice suit came up and asked how our food was. Jeremy, between bites of his 70-dollar lobster and 36-dollar steak, answered politely, “It’s great – you guys make f – king good food.”

The manager thanked Jeremy, and was about to leave when he recognized Tony. For the rest of the night the waiters hovered around our table. We ate like rich people – we took our time. It took two-and-a-half hours to eat. Afterward, we had nice desserts and discussed lighting people on fire. The establishment knew Tony, and we were a little sedated from the fine cuisine, so Heath and Jeremy decided to pass on lighting themselves up. For the first, and what would be only time that night, they showed restraint.

On the road again after dinner, an orange-metal construction sign stood in our way on the highway on-ramp. Jeremy sped up, veered to the edge of the ramp, and hit it out of the way. Luckily, it didn’t smash the left headlight, considering the right headlight was already crushed from a previous accident. With no headlights, we’d have been forced to – for safety reasons – light the hood on fire so other cars could see us.

As it turned out, the dashboard was on fire soon enough. The fires in the back of the van, while impressive, still had Cub Scout-campfire atmosphere to them. But two-foot-high flames leaping off the dashboard into the driver’s face created much more excitement. The one stupid thing about lighting the dashboard on fire is that the flames reflect off the windshield and you can’t see out. It was like looking into a satanic mirror. We started swerving across lanes, again. The bumps on the lane lines thumped under our wheels like a drum roll. I’m pretty sure we were going faster than before, but I was too busy trying to grab onto something that would stop me from sliding into the shattered glass in the back.

I heard Tony yell to Jeremy that we were going to hit the concrete median. Then he yelled that we were going to hit the construction equipment by the exit ramp. Then he yelled that we were driving off the exit lane. Jeremy always responded by snapping a sharp turn that yanked the van back into the proper position, rolling everybody in the van to one side.

Jeremy, once again driving with his head out the window, instructed Heath to put out the fire so he could see. Heath did, and everything mellowed out for close to three minutes before he began lighting people up. Jeremy, in a hooded sweatshirt, was driving down the highway with his hooded head on fire. My clothes and Atiba’s were burning. Tony’s dress shirt was aflame (Apparently, he hadn’t heeded Jeremy’s earlier warning: “Everything you’re wearing is disposable, right?”).

The dashboard flamed up twice more before we arrived at our next destination. But with nothing left to burn in the back, the fires were canceled. We pulled up at a spectacular five-foot drop Jeremy had scouted months earlier and wanted to jump over. It went from an upper parking lot to a lower one. Between the lots was a thicket of eight-foot-high bushes Jeremy thought were perfect for driving through. Maintaining enough speed to make it through the bushes was a little sketchy because the van’s transmission was broken.

Throughout the night, and without warning, the van would sporadically make a screeching jerk, shooting everyone inside forward as it slammed to a stop. If the van did this in the middle of the jump, we’d get stuck, and that situation might be difficult to explain.

Atiba was setting up his camera, and Heath and Jeremy were making one last safety check when the first cop car pulled up. We all spotted him at once. We turned around and pretended to be shooting pictures of Jeremy for TransWorld. The cop flashed his car’s search light in our faces and ordered us to sit in a line with our hands where he could see them.

He had gotten out of his car and was slowly checking us over with his flashlight when three other cop cars pulled up, sealing off every available exit route. The cops got out of their cars and surrounded us. The first cop did all the talking and the conversation went like this:

Cop: “All right, now why is the van on fire?”

Jeremy: “It’s not on fire.”

Cop: “It’s smoking.”

Jeremy: “Oh, we were trying to make it look like it was on fire. That’s why the outside of the van is all burnt. It’s just made to look that way. We’re filming a movie.” (Keep in mind, we had burnt clothes on, the van was carpeted with smoldering ash, and the dashboard was melted.)

Cop: “We had a call that your van was driving erratically on the highway and that there were flames inside the vehicle.”

Jeremy: “Oh, that was the flash from Atiba’s camera. We wanted to make it look like flames.”

Cop: “Flashes from a camera … so there wasn’t any fire?”

Jeremy incredulously: “Not while we were driving!”

They took our driver’s licenses and called our names in. Then they asked us more questions, and eventually decided they couldn’t prove there was an actual fire in the van while it was moving. Half the cops got in their cars and drove away, while the other two handed back our driver’s licenses. As they walked back to their car, one jokingly warned us to try to keep the fires down to a minimum. We didn’t even receive a ticket. Never mind the fact that the van was still smoking, its blinkers don’t work, one headlight is demolished, and only one reverse light works.

We had planned for a longer evening – it was only 1:30 a.m., but there was nothing left to burn, and the cops knew our names. This didn’t deter Heath and Jeremy – they still wanted to rampage. But Tony decided to go home, so we dropped him off. Heath and Jeremy whined the whole way to my house that they hadn’t even smashed anything for me. One block from my house, they spotted a grocery store back lot, and Jeremy screeched into it. There was a ten-foot-high stack of plastic pallets, so Jeremy punched the gas, and we sped across the parking lot, smashing through the middle of them. Pallets exploded and bounced off the windshield. Jeremy tried to speed away, but pallets were lodged in a wheel well, causing us to slow down. He drove over a sidewalk and the annoying obstructions popped off. But this failed to satisfy Jeremy. “That was lame, Mortimer,” Jeremy commented. “You have to come up to Irvine where Jeremy lives, and we’ll really smash shit. We didn’t even hit anything that made the van stop.”

The evening spanned eight hours, but couldn’t be measured in linear time. When you spend an evening with Jeremy and Heath, at first you’re scared and honestly don’t think you’ll survive. But a few hours later, you’re complaining that the flame curling up from your sweatshirt isn’t big enough. You get a warped mentality and begin to think if the van rolled or you lit your face on fire, you’d come out of it laughing. Adrenaline kicks in and it’s only later that you realize fire hurts. My burned hand didn’t start hurting for hours afterward. I had to run it under cold water for an half an hour to keep the stinging away. My ears, eyelids, and fingernails were all embedded in ash. I blew my nose, and my snot was black with soot. I couldn’t scrub off the campfire scent.

As I drifted off to sleep that night, tucked into my warm bed, I thought of Jeremy and Heath: two skaters speeding through the night in a fireball, sed to a stop. If the van did this in the middle of the jump, we’d get stuck, and that situation might be difficult to explain.

Atiba was setting up his camera, and Heath and Jeremy were making one last safety check when the first cop car pulled up. We all spotted him at once. We turned around and pretended to be shooting pictures of Jeremy for TransWorld. The cop flashed his car’s search light in our faces and ordered us to sit in a line with our hands where he could see them.

He had gotten out of his car and was slowly checking us over with his flashlight when three other cop cars pulled up, sealing off every available exit route. The cops got out of their cars and surrounded us. The first cop did all the talking and the conversation went like this:

Cop: “All right, now why is the van on fire?”

Jeremy: “It’s not on fire.”

Cop: “It’s smoking.”

Jeremy: “Oh, we were trying to make it look like it was on fire. That’s why the outside of the van is all burnt. It’s just made to look that way. We’re filming a movie.” (Keep in mind, we had burnt clothes on, the van was carpeted with smoldering ash, and the dashboard was melted.)

Cop: “We had a call that your van was driving erratically on the highway and that there were flames inside the vehicle.”

Jeremy: “Oh, that was the flash from Atiba’s camera. We wanted to make it look like flames.”

Cop: “Flashes from a camera … so there wasn’t any fire?”

Jeremy incredulously: “Not while we were driving!”

They took our driver’s licenses and called our names in. Then they asked us more questions, and eventually decided they couldn’t prove there was an actual fire in the van while it was moving. Half the cops got in their cars and drove away, while the other two handed back our driver’s licenses. As they walked back to their car, one jokingly warned us to try to keep the fires down to a minimum. We didn’t even receive a ticket. Never mind the fact that the van was still smoking, its blinkers don’t work, one headlight is demolished, and only one reverse light works.

We had planned for a longer evening – it was only 1:30 a.m., but there was nothing left to burn, and the cops knew our names. This didn’t deter Heath and Jeremy – they still wanted to rampage. But Tony decided to go home, so we dropped him off. Heath and Jeremy whined the whole way to my house that they hadn’t even smashed anything for me. One block from my house, they spotted a grocery store back lot, and Jeremy screeched into it. There was a ten-foot-high stack of plastic pallets, so Jeremy punched the gas, and we sped across the parking lot, smashing through the middle of them. Pallets exploded and bounced off the windshield. Jeremy tried to speed away, but pallets were lodged in a wheel well, causing us to slow down. He drove over a sidewalk and the annoying obstructions popped off. But this failed to satisfy Jeremy. “That was lame, Mortimer,” Jeremy commented. “You have to come up to Irvine where Jeremy lives, and we’ll really smash shit. We didn’t even hit anything that made the van stop.”

The evening spanned eight hours, but couldn’t be measured in linear time. When you spend an evening with Jeremy and Heath, at first you’re scared and honestly don’t think you’ll survive. But a few hours later, you’re complaining that the flame curling up from your sweatshirt isn’t big enough. You get a warped mentality and begin to think if the van rolled or you lit your face on fire, you’d come out of it laughing. Adrenaline kicks in and it’s only later that you realize fire hurts. My burned hand didn’t start hurting for hours afterward. I had to run it under cold water for an half an hour to keep the stinging away. My ears, eyelids, and fingernails were all embedded in ash. I blew my nose, and my snot was black with soot. I couldn’t scrub off the campfire scent.

As I drifted off to sleep that night, tucked into my warm bed, I thought of Jeremy and Heath: two skaters speeding through the night in a fireball, smashing into stuff, searching for the thing that’ll finally make them stop.

l, smashing into stuff, searching for the thing that’ll finally make them stop.