Friday, July 06, 2012

The Enterprise - 42

I picked up my overnight bag at home and headed out to Melissa’s, jumping on a crowded bus that crept down Fifth. I stood in front, near the driver. Everyone was talking about it. Nervously, I suppose. But their chatter had a tone of eerie glee. They seemed eager to outdo each other in hyperbole, like kids at recess. Was it vanity—unbridled, like our other basest urges, by the trauma? Or was it a tactic? If they made it worse in their heads, and made it worse out loud, mere reality might not be so hard to bear.

“I heard forty thousand people died," a woman said.

"Oh no. Way more than that," said a man. "Two hundred thousand."

Then the driver told his story.

"I was down there," he began. "I looked out the window and I saw what you call it. Graffiti. I saw graffiti comin’ outta the sky." We all knew what he meant. "But then I realized it ain't no graffiti. It's pieces of paper.” He shook his head. “Eight and a half by eleven."

I got off around the Metropolitan Museum and crossed Central Park with the crowd. Everyone’s pace had slowed by half a step, as though in a dream. With nothing left to escape, our bodies moved with processional solemnity. In a way, it was just a beautiful day in the park. There were lots of children—acting like children, skipping, swinging their parents' arms. But they knew. I heard a little boy say:

"Daddy, did the airplane really hit the building?"


"What happened to the people inside?"

A roaring fighter jet pierced the empty sky above us.