fifteen years…

I was in my truck headed to install an alarm in a house when my cell phone rang. She and I had spent time in New York and she wanted to tell me an airplane had hit the Tower. I remember her saying the word “Cessna.” She also said there was a live shot of it on television. She worked in an office building, managing an entire floor of people in cubicles, so for her to know about something on TV at 9:00am was odd. I thanked her and hung up. At the next intersection there was an old, run down convenience store and I pulled in. I remember that place felt really dirty and grimy. I remember the rebel flag and the taxidermy deer. There were very few windows and the light came from fluorescent bulbs. The walls behind the counter were painted a pale yellow. The entire place was cluttered and messy in a sad run down way. I have no memory of how the person behind the counter looked, only the way they made me feel. They did have a television and I clearly remember the huge wad of aluminum foil on each of the TV’s rabbit ear antenna. I bought a Coke because I wanted to be a paying customer. I remember having to ask the cashier something about either switching on the TV, or changing the channel, but my memory is not clear about which. What I do remember clearly is the World Trade Center burning. I stood there in shock, finally saying to the cashier that I had lived and knew people there. The cashier made openly prejudiced remarks about people from the north, and about his indifference toward what was happening there. The rhetoric went something like “Damn yankees, probably deserved it. Kill’em all.” I remember feeling disgusted about being in there, and felt badly having contributed money toward this person.

The second plane hit the Towers as I stood in the dirty store with the prejudiced cashier.

Fear gripped me and I remember I did not want to waste energy being submersed in the ignorance of that place, so I walked out. I sat in my car in that parking lot for a moment trying to think of a way to get out of installing this alarm, but I went anyway.

He showed me around the old house and we discussed the alarm he wanted. The whole time my mind was on fire with the events I had witnessed, so I was hardly paying attention to him. I remember how old the house was, wooden in construction with peeling wall paper and prevalent water damage. It seemed the cliché setting  for any horror movie. One room had hundreds upon hundreds of newspapers stacked from floor to ceiling except for a path which led to a window. If there were any furniture in this room, it was under this ridiculously massive glut of newspapers. He had a full grown Doberman Pinscher, a ferret, and massive macaw parrot, all of which had free roam of the entire house. The odd bit was that the living room had $100,000 of audio visual equipment. It was like the Space Shuttle in the middle of a swamp. He had the largest TV I had ever seen which was not a projection screen. I understood why he wanted the alarm. He said he was going to leave me in the house to do my work, and he would return later. He warned me to be weary of the macaw. He was right, that damn bird bit me more than once. Before he left, I asked if he would be so kind as to turn on the TV so I could watch what was happening in New York. I remember his saying he didn’t want to pay me to watch TV, but when he turned it on almost immediately they reported that the Pentagon had been hit. We stood there, with the dog, the ferret and the fucking murderous bird, watching our country erupt into chaos.

After that my memories blur…


I remember Dan Rather getting choked up on David Letterman’s first show back on the air.

I remember President Bush throwing out the first pitch a Yankee Stadium.


Fifteen years.


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