In (not so) Hot Pursuit of God
PART I - No Better Hell than One Could Ever Have Even Hoped For?
RUN! Walk... Sit, Roll Over...
They stopped for another of those forever in an instant moments in front of some bar, a shop, a blur... A television in the window, a small crowd gathered around repeating all the information anyone had managed to gather; "another plane has hit the Capitol Building", The Pentagon, five more planes, six "...ten more planes reported". More targets, another planes shot down in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania... as far as Chicago, LA... RUN! Why? Where? Running on the then current girlfriend's instinct alone ...they continued uptown... away to the Park. ...they were stopped dead, somewhere in one of those almost skyless, echoing midtown canyons; the roaring screech of a jet engine passed above them.. A panicked look at once, consumed her face in utter fear; a broad smile eased over his... relieved.
...distinguishing one plane from another simply by the sound it made; an almost subconscious skill... The rumbling drone of an old Herc, air transport, cargo, he'd hear on the hour in the skies of Trenton, Ontario. The somewhat similar but higher pitched rumble of a Buffalo, off to do a search or a rescue; the deafening, conversation interrupting or ending shriek of the 707's, those old airliners... the growling roar of the fighters. He knew in that instant, they were out of, at least immediate danger.
Not too oddly enough, it was right around here somewhere, when what could easily have been one hundred years earlier; he had fallen madly and oh so truly deeply in love with New York City. The west side of Midtown, around the Edison Hotel, Hell's Kitchen, 1979. Just up and over from what was by far, a far more different and dangerous Time Square. It's doubtful he'd fallen in love with the danger alone. Unlikely, but like a plunging neckline, tight skirts and tall boots, danger was most definitely one of the cities sexiest attractions. It was right around here the he and his high school classmates would have ventured out into those few night in Manhattan. Wandering in the directions they were told earlier to avoid; towards the Port Authority, over to the far more guttural Times Square... sex shops, live sex shows... tight skirts and tall boots. Come ons and the fantasies of a never ending threat. That newly found teenaged tingling sensation that strained directly from the loins, made his breath quicken and his heart pound, just a little bit...excitements. Small town and country kids so completely out of place. He and his friends likely wanting nothing more than to leave, run maybe; him... already planning his return. Out the bus window gazing at the burned down Bronx, Harlem, A West Side Story tripping on the acid they'd bought in Time Square the night before. A bottle or two of booze he was able to buy his buddies, simply because he was tall... a tour up to the top of those tall towers that loomed so large over this busiest of cities... back then. A three card monty whirlwind of jacked up on block stripped cars, constant sirens, dreamed up gun shots, a whole city that seemed to be shouting to him... see you again, soon.
Sitting on the benches at the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park, a couple of boneheaded hippy kids told some tall tale of how they'd had breakfast in the towers earlier that morning. It was the last time he'd ever again hear an even in the slightest exaggerated "where I was... that day" story. From LA on up to the 66th floor, there was no good place to be on September 11th, 2001. No story needing to be embellished. He would hear so many, day after day, year after year. Stories that crept from his his own, just below midtown, down to Union Square and across 14th, "I was on Bleecker Street..." "I was just finishing breakfast in Tribeca..." Stories that traveled down West Broadway, across Canal Street into China Town. Stories travelling closer and closer... Barkly... Vesey Street... onto the plaza, inside and up the stairwell where those folks, those blessed survivors wound their way calmly down; far too many firefighters wound their way, running up... No one, not a single one of them a clue what the next 10, 15, 20 minutes would bring down around them... all over, those next senseless minutes, senseless hours... years.
He'd finally convinced his then current girlfriend that they were indeed out of any immediate danger; what jack-ass would fly his hijacked airliner into the park. F18s, seemed to fill the sky; he had looked up; caught glimpses of his newest friends. Those fellas who'd be flying sortés, in the only planes above the City for days... It eventually, simply came time to head home. Back to Greenpoint, across the 59th Street Bridge, a flood of Brooklyn, Kings County n' Queens residents on foot across the lower deck. Sirens wizing their way in and out of the City across the upper... Over his right shoulder a site he really didn't want to look at, but couldn't take his eyes off, and would never ever forget... that plume of thick black smoke, venting from lower Manhattan... a puncture wound, a leak... so unreal that if it hadn't continued for weeks he may have doubted he'd ever seen it... at all, it all made no sense whatsoever... still.
They plunked themselves down in front of CNN with the rest of America, and most of the world. Reports of the Pentagon, the downing in Shanksville. By this time the threat of any other planes in a now completely empty, planeless, still crystal clear, bright and brilliant blue sky was quite over and done with. He'd later recall having not a single memory of what he'd see on TV. Simply plunked in front of a flickering light forming an endless scrawl, a scroll of new data tape worming it's way across the bottom of every news report... An immediate family drama had now taken over and thankfully distracted his then current girlfriend. Her father was missing. His story we'd be told later, started at his office, just across the street from the North Tower... he'd not been heard from for hours... Worry spread through the then current girlfriends family and friends. Far too melodramatic phone calls and speculation he'd wanted no part of; he knew George would eventually show up...
George's story started curiously enough with him looking up and wondering, "how are they going to fix that"; but his black dots, they were much bigger, simply letting go, more like mud filled potato sacks splattering on the ground, almost right at his feet... prompting him to leave just prior to the monstrous dust cloud... chasing him and the downtown crowds down the street. George would describe his diving under a car to escape, not the monstrous dust cloud n' rubble, but the crowd of people he'd managed to get himself ahead of... his, choosing the Manhattan Bridge over the Brooklyn ...what his own born and raised here instinct would convince him the lesser of two targets... potato sacks splat...exploding at his feet. His story would be told in bits and pieces and like many who told the same, almost sink him. George showed up later that day; becoming just another glorious one. A "1" to be subtracted from those long lists, the most dreadful numbers, the count each of us had had thrown into our minds immediately that morning... 50,000... 30,000... 15,000... 5, 4, 3... each "1" subtracted from those counts, simply a sigh of what little relief was leftover over those next few days...
Still later that day he would reach above the medicine cabinet, sorting through all the other things he wouldn't want his then current girlfriend to find... in front the TV that would stay on for weeks in search of more info, alerts, still squawking, new news scrawling and scrolling a tapeworm of data that seemed to stretch on and on and on... a line, then another then he did that last line that separated that sad Sunday morning last weekend from... no more leftovers. He hasn't a clue what they'd get up that evening, doesn't recall sleeping, if they'd gone out and did some drinking... a line... crossed, not yet over into the nonsense but nothing likely not anyone could make any sense of... nothing at all certain... except, maybe one thing he hadn't yet noticed. On this side of that dreadful line... He was now a New Yorker.
to be continued... for certain.
Yes, Maybe I Did Hear The Fucking Plane -|- How the Hell are We Ever Going to Fix This? -|- RUN! Walk... Sit, Roll Over... -|- [next story, unwritten] -|-