Monday, October 03, 1994

On the way to work I saw a big plane, a passenger plane it seemed, arcing slowly, very close to the ground, in a place where there were no airports. I was fascinated of course and it occurred to me almost immediately that I wanted to see this plane go down. I mean, I wanted to see it loom spookily over the highway awhile, engines sputtering, rudders flapping nonsensically, and finally slam into the ground in a clearing in the woods. Why else would I be so excited, so unnerved when it disappeared from view? I tried to impose some measure of empathy on myself by imagining that my mother was aboard but it didn't quite work. Do we feel that witnessing atrocity is a privilege of living in these demented times? I saw myself as an awestruck bystander to catastrophe, maybe even narrowly escaping as the thing bellied stupidly onto the highway, gathering oncoming traffic in its useless wings. In a sense we can do no better than stare impassively at scenes of carnage, devastation. We are all beyond rescue. But I still tried to think of my mommy up there, not wanting to die, wanting to see her son again. And this is how I tried to feel about those doomed people in that big steel deathtrap, all the while craning my neck and nearly losing control of my car. Suddenly I would see it again, circling strangely, almost completely on its side. It had to be some kind of military plane. I thought of the horror movies when you think the monster's dead but he pops back up and grabs you by the neck.

But soon he was completely out of sight and I went on down the smooth, new highway to the funny-shaped building where I work.