Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Enterprise - 43 - The B-Thing

I arrived at Melissa’s to find my sister, red-eyed, sitting on the crimson Persian rug, gazing at the TV. A vodka martini sat before her in its iconic glass.

“What’s yer poison?” asked Melissa.

These were her first words to me after I crossed the threshold. There were funny things about that question. Among them was this: there was only one poison on offer.

“I’ll have a martini,” I replied. She popped the cork of her beloved Belvedere to pour me the first of many.

With each iteration the narrative onscreen further coalesced around a set of themes: Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Osama bin Laden. The planes, one, two, three, four; the Pentagon, the Pennsylvania field. If the whole story could be told at the top of the hour, just once, perfectly—with all the names right, and the times—maybe everything would be OK.

I remembered a night I’d been here, two weeks before, maybe three, and spotted a story in the Times on the kitchen counter. It was about four members of a Viennese art collective who had stayed up all night in their studio on the 91st floor of the World Trade Center. At dawn, they put on climbers’ harnesses, affixed suction cups to the inside of a window, unscrewed it from its mounting, and pulled it into the room. They installed a cantilevered balcony and each, in turn, stepped outside. Accomplices circled in a helicopter taking pictures; a grainy enlargement appeared in the paper. It depicted a human form, sheathed from the waist down by the makeshift structure and framed by one of the tower’s unmistakable columnar striations.

One of the artists was quoted as follows: The amazing thing that happens when you take out a window is that the whole city comes into the building.

No one could confirm that it had happened. No verifiable evidence was found. The Austrians turned mum and the event quickly lapsed into myth. Only its name remained: The B-Thing.