Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Enterprise - 41

It occurred to me that I ought to do some work. I was at the office, after all. Everything around me—computer, desk, chair—had been set in place to facilitate my productivity. Besides, it might be useful to lose oneself in labor at a time like this. Therapeutic. But after I opened the document of code I’d been working on the day before, I got the eerie feeling the earth was trembling and sliding under me.

There was nothing left to do but go. A few of us set out onto Fifth Avenue, must have been one o’clock or so. Every building downtown—those still standing as well as those that weren’t—had disgorged its contents onto the streets, and now a great tide of corporate humanity, of minions and executives, some blasted with ash, some weeping, many women in their stocking feet, was rising like bile up the gullet of the city.

Julie muttered that she’d heard from her Israeli fiancé’s cousin that Yasser Arafat had taken credit for the attacks.

“The Sears Tower is next,” she said. “Mark my words. Lev told me so. He knows. Arafat won’t stop until he’s made us bleed out every drop of blood.”

After a few tries I managed to reach Mike in Chinatown.

“You heading uptown?” he asked.

“Yeah. What are you doing?”

“I’ve been on my roof. I took some Super 8 of the towers before they fell.”


“You know what this means, don’t you?” he asked.

“No. What?”

“From now on there’s a before and an after.”


“From now on there will always be before. And then there will be after. And there will always be this.”

“This here right now,” I said. Then we got disconnected.

A pickup truck drove slowly up the street, its bed crowded with men. Still one more ran after it and clambered up the bumper, the others grabbing his arms and pulling him aboard as to a life raft.

I contemplated the Empire State Building, radiantly naked in the sun.

I heard something behind me and turned to find that it was a woman, crying inconsolably. I expected her to look up, to offer me the opportunity to express my sympathy. But she did not.

On the Upper East Side I happened to pass a posh restaurant. It was open. I peered through a pane of its French window. Inside, the space seemed cool and dark and quiet. Two couples in late middle age, the men broad-shouldered, wearing jackets, the women delicate and thin, sat knifing and forking as a waiter hovered at the ready. A bottle of wine rested in a dewy bucket in the middle of the table, ringed by four glinting glasses, each a quarter filled.