Terrified that the world would end at any moment, I decided to ignore orders from my boss and head home early. Shortly before the second tower fell and all telephone communications were lost, I called my lover Shawn— “Did you see that shit?”
“Yes. What the fuck? Are you leaving early.”
“I’m waiting on Redd to call first.”
“You know I can’t get home to Brooklyn,” Shawn explained.
“You can spend the night with me in Harlem,” I offered. “I’ll come meet you at your job. Stay where you are,” I ordered.
Finally the phone rang. I stopped filing my nails to pick it up— “Steinway—Mary D. Redd’s Office.”
“Hey T. it’s me. What’s up.”
“Is this crazy or what? Are you watching the news?” I asked my boss.
Ms. Redd inform me that I should announce to all staff that our organization was going to remain open during this time of crisis. Steinway Child and Family Services was not officially closed, she explained. She was calling from home as usual—still in her housecoat I imaigned, eating bagles and growing fatter still.
“I don’t care what you say, Mary. I’m getting the fuck out of here. I’ll be damned if I sleep here tonight.”
“Alright. But I’m coming into the office today. We gotta get a jump on this. There’s going to be lots of trauma and contract dollars for mental health services awarded from this.”
“Whatever. I’m out of here….”
I hiked across the Queens bridge and walked down to 43rd Street and Third Avenue to the Balm In Gilead, a non-profit AIDS organization where Shawn worked . We decided to head up to my place in Harlem.I put on a pair of his running shoes he had under his desk for the journey.
Shawn suspected that it was Bin Laden who brought the towers down. Even before we made it to my house in Harlem and turned on CNN. Shawn knew all about the leader of Al Qaeda. I didn’t even know who he was at the time. Most Americans did not. Shawn’s on- line research had already offered him enough clues to start putting the pieces together.
“Mother fucker! He done played Bush. This is all over an oil pipeline; one that a select group investors want to install on Arabian soil. Louis Farrikan spoke about it recently.”
I was happy to be out of work early and headed home. There was so much gossip flying around town that day. Conversations of strangers were loudly overbearing and on every street corner—
“Oh my God, my sister worked there until just last week.”
“Yo! I was just in that fuckin’ building yesterday,” a handsomely hung bike messenger said on his two-way radio.
“Someone said they found bombs on the subways.”
“I hear they evacuated the Sears tower in Chicago because there are still a dozen planes unaccounted for.”
I attempted to tune them all out. I was feeling quite anxious. I disagreed with Shawn’s hypothesis regarding an oil pipeline.Shawn and I took note of how happy New Yorkers seemed that day, despite the death and tragedy downtown.
Smiles were abundant on September 11th, perhaps it was only because we were out of work early and far from the spill. Shawn kept talking about that pipeline– as if he had invested money into it or something. I told him to shut up for a minute and look around.
People kept smiling. We didn’t understand all the joy.
“Why is everyone so happy?” I asked Shawn. “There was probably something on those planes– some kind of psychotropic chemical. Just look at them sexy, can’t you tell they are on something?”
We stepped from the lines of people plowing north and watched in disbelief.
“I think you are right Shawn, even Mary D. Redd decided to come into the office today. I think we’ve just been poisoned or something.”