“If it was me everyone would still be listening to Rob Bass and C+C Music Factory.” That’s Agent #1.
Agent #2 says, “Well tonight..you can make your dream a reality.”
Agent #1 and Agent #2 walk down a long hallway, doors every twenty feet, raised flooring—the kind used to conceal computer wires—and they come to a door labeled with a series of squares and triangles—like the tangram (they all are).
They stand before the door.
Our camera position is behind them. We see Agent #1 on the left. Then in the middle the cryptic door labeling. Then on the right, Agent #2.
“Is this the one?”
Agent #2 fumbles with a napkin which contains a cryptic drawing like the one on the door.
“This is it.”
Agent #1 pokes a magnetized straw into a hole in the door.
The tangram drawing turns green.
Agent #2 pushes open the door.
Inside are two naked men. There are two chairs. On each chair is laid a neatly folded black suit. Under each chair is a pair of shoes. Inside each shoe is a sock, rolled into a tiny cylinder.
One man is bent over, standing, his arms loosely touching his toes. He has a series of neon-orange plush ass beads coming out of his anus. The balls get larger as they come out of his ass.
The other man is standing behind him with a shoehorn in one hand and a bottle of industrial lubricant in the other.
Both men look up when the door opens.
Agent #1 looks at Agent #2.
Agent #2 looks at Agent #1.
“Wrong door,” they say, and Agent #2 closes the two men back inside their room.
Agent #1 and Agent #2 look up and down the hall confused. Agent #2 turns the napkin upside down. Now the drawing matches the door on the opposite side of the hall. Agent #2 holds the napkin up to the tangram pattern on the door and the camera zooms in so we can all see it matches perfectly.
They push it open.
There, a man in a Nike tracksuit sits hunched over the back of a folding chair, his hands zip tied to each other through the bar at the bottom of the chair.
The two agents enter the room.
Agent #2 closes the door and checks that the handle is secure.
“Room secured, sir.”
“Right,” Agent #1 says. “Do you know why we’re here?”
The man raises his head.
“You’re here for a key. A key to a red Rabbit. Some souped-up VW that I’ve never laid eyes on. I drive an Audi. A blue one. I’ve never even seen a red VW Rabbit and why someone would soup up an old ass car like that I have no idea. Unless—”
“I don’t want to say it. It’s rude.”
“We’re not sensitive here. Say what you have to say.”
“Unless it was souped up by some stupid kids.”
“Oh I see,” says Agent #1. “Even though we have you driving a red VW Rabbit, at ground zero, on satellite plus PersonalGPS, you’re gonna tell me that a group of stupid kids was driving that car? Do you know what we’re going to do to you till you tell us what you know?”
“We’re going to play C+C Music Factory’s ‘Gonna Make You Sweat’ (subtitled Everybody Dance Now). Do you know it? 1990. First Iraq War. It goes: Pause..take a breath and go for yours. On my command now hit the dance floors. Gonna make you sweat till you bleed*. Is that dope enough?—indeed. I pay the price to control the dice. I’m more precise—to a point I’m nice. The music takes control of your heart and your soul. Unfold. Your body is free and behold. Dance till you can’t dance till you can’t dance no more.* Ring any bells?”
“You’re not familiar with that song?”
Agent #1 makes a dramatic cross in front of the zip-tied man in the track suit while Agent #2 maintains counterpoint by standing still against the front wall of the room with his arms crossed.
“No, I’m not familiar with that song.”
“Well, what were you doing while the rest of us were enjoying a renaissance of black dance club hits such as the one I just referred to? Do you dance?”
“I guess..I dance with my girls.”
“You dance with your girls. And would these be like your whores as in you’re some kind of SoHo pimp or are these your girls like..like..”
Agent #2 says, “Daughter Chelsea, age 12. Daughter Angel, age 10.”
“Right like you dance with your girls in the living room!!!??”
“I dance with my girls in the living room!!”
“You got a problem with black music?!”
“You want to see us dance?”
“Uh..I don’t know!!”
“Well we’re gonna dance for you, motherfucker. Did you know members of the IAA are trained in ethno-tribal music from all around the world?”
“What’s the IAA? I thought you were CIA.”
“No, we’re IAA, motherfucker, and we’re gonna dance for you until you give us the location to the key of that little souped-up VW Rabbit.”
“What the fuck is the IAA?”
“It’s the International Agency Agency.”
“I thought you were—”
“Don’t say it.”
“I thought you were CIA.”
“I said don’t say it.”
“Why not? What’s the International Agency Agency?”
“We’re the guys behind the scenes behind the scenes.”
“I thought that was the CIA.”
“Get it straight, mate—there is no CIA. It doesn’t exist. It’s a publicity stunt. It’s Mickey Mouse. You don’t believe in Mickey Mouse, do you?”
“I believe there’s a symbol with big round ears that sells a billion dollars worth of merchandise and theme park tickets, so yes, in that sense, I believe in Mickey Mouse,” the man in the track suit says.
“But,” says Agent #1, “you don’t believe there’s an actual mouse running around somewhere named Mickey.”
The man in the tracksuit is stupefied.
Agent #1 says, “You wanna see a bigfoot raping a 12 year old?”
The man in the tracksuit tentatively says, “You can show me that?”
Agent #1 says, “I could if I wasn’t about to kill you. Let me tell you what’s going to happen. You remember that song I was just singing for you? ‘Gonna Make you Sweat’ by C+C Music Factory?”
“Well we’re going to play that extremely loud for you about a thousand times, and the whole time we’re going to be up here dancing to the groove, mate, showing you dance moves like you’ve never seen. And after a thousand plays, if you haven’t given us the location of that little key, we’re going to stick a hose up your butt and fill you with gasoline. Then we’re going to light a match. Are we clear? I said are we clear, mate?”
The man in the tracksuit looks from side to side.
Agent #1 says, “Play it.”
Agent 2 uses a control face on the front wall to select ‘Gonna Make You Sweat’ from an infinite library of songs. He turns the volume up to 80 out of one-hundred.”
“Ninety-five,” says Agent #1.
Agent 2 ups the volume.
“Now kick it,” says Agent #1.
And Agent #2 hits play.
The room is instantly filled with ear-splitting C+C Music Factory and the agents jump into dance action like members of a breakdancing street team. They move their elbows. They move their hips. They cock their necks back and forth angularly to match the sounds of David Cole and Robert Clivillés. With each cross the two agents do a low five, then on the reverse cross a high five. They remove their coats to the beat of the music. At all times they maintain eye contact with Tobey Lewis (the man in the track suit). Each agent wears a white shirt and shellacked shoes. The song says, Gonna make you sweat till you bleed, and both agents are soaked through with sweat by the end of the first playing.
The wall panel returns to the beginning of the song in less than a second and ‘Gonna Make You Sweat’ begins again. The agents pop back into their dance sequence, performing the exact same series of moves as before, always staring at Tobey Lewis, waiting for him to crack.
“I don’t know where any key to any VW Rabbit is!” Tobey Lewis shouts.
“You’ll remember,” says Agent #1, never breaking his dance.
“I’ve never even seen a red VW Rabbit,” Tobey Lewis says.
“Satellite imagery. PersonalGPS. They do not lie.”
“What is PersonalGPS?”
“It’s a little chip we have implanted in your nose. Everyone has one. Tobey. Do you see my partner there, Agent #2?”
“We won the dance competition for our division.”
“Good for you.”
“Hah. We’ll see what you’ll be saying on play number one-thousand. Tell me what happens after play number one-thousand.”
“You stick gasoline up my butt with a hose?”
Agent #1 nods, still dancing.
“Then we step outside the room and blow you up from the inside. It’s awesome. I’ve done it five or six times.”
“Well I don’t know about your red Volvo.”
“Whatever, Volvo, Volkswagen, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“See if you change your tune by play fifty.”
The agents dance, precision moves, total commitment—the music is literally making them sweat. Tobey Lewis stares in amazement. The music blasts so loud it hurts his ears.
“Wanna know how me and Agent 2 here met?”
“Well, I’m gonna tell you anyway.”
. 1989. Christmas Eve to be exact. We’re sitting in a Lincoln Town Car across the street from this house. Anytown, USA. We have optics on the house. Satellite X-ray. Lunar audio. I mean when Little Billy j/o’s in the bathroom, we can see the cum hit the back of the toilet and hear the splat it makes.
It’s just Agent 2 and me, me and him, and we’re watching this family for..you know..un-American activities, general anti-patriot bullshit. These people haven’t voted for a republican since..like..ever. Not only does Papa Family work for a voting rights organization—spreading information about polling places and shit—but he’s a closet reefer head, Little Billy has figured out where Papa Family keeps the weed—you see what I’m saying. So me and #2, we’re keeping eyes and ears on these motherfuckers. Because a family like this, Average Family USA, is always only ever one step away from becoming front page news. We can engineer anything we want on these motherfuckers just to get Dad away from that polling info job.
So me and #2 are sitting in the car.
And #2 says something like, “I wish we had some hot chocolate.”
“What you want hot chocolate for. You’ve got me to keep you warm, sweetie.”
“Not exactly what I had in mind.”
“You want to rape the wife?”
“Are you asking me if I want to rape the wife like in a theoretical way—would I enjoy raping the wife?—or are you asking me if I want to go in there and rape the wife?”
“Same difference, #2. So you wanna rape the wife?”
“Are you asking me—are you saying—whatever.”
“No, not whatever. I’m asking you if you want me to create cover, maybe throw some smoke grenades, I’ll tackle that hippie father and neutralize the boy, and you take Missus Family into the bedroom, strip down those panties and have yourself a merry little Christmas.”
“That is what you’re asking?”
“That is what I’m asking. You gotta start to learn the perks of this job, #2. You know I beat an Armenian to death two days ago. With my bare hands. He was tied to the ceiling, of course. Masked. Gagged. I think we gagged him too tight ’cause he didn’t take too many hits—fucking Armenians. So you wanna do the wife or what?”
My eyes light up at this! Number 2! What??!! You’re gonna take me up on this?
“Is that, ‘Sure,’ as in we’re really gonna do this? I run the light board and you get that sweet American Family cucci?”
“Too bad they don’t have a daughter.”
“Don’t change the subject. Wait, are you saying you want to fuck the boy’s asshole?”
“That boy has to be about 10!”
I scroll up on my American Family information window.
“He’s 12. You ever fucked a 12-year-old boy? It’s nice.”
“But I’m not gay.”
“You know you’ve got a foot in the door. I see the way you look at me, #2.”
“I do not look at you that way.”
“You’re never gonna last long in the spying business if you don’t fuck a little boy pussy now and again. I’m telling you, I’ve heard cases of superior officers ordering their sub to give him a hand job, and if the sub doesn’t do it, he’s fired. Why do you think it’s so hard for women in this business. I had a sixteen year old working for me—girl, straight brown hair. When we were in the car on a sit I’d tell her to suck my dick.”
“Wha’d she do?”
“She put her hair back with one of them rubber bands and sucked my dick. She knew what disobeying that command would mean. Now she’s three levels above me. She could have me killed with the slightest motion of her pinky finger. She’s probably listening to this conversation right now.”
“What was her name?”
“You know I can’t tell you that.”
“No, I just wondered if I met her.”
“Why, you got sixteen-year-old subs sucking your dick, you wanna make sure they’re not backwashing my cum onto your fucking balls you fucking dork. Don’t worry. You’ll graduate. Do well by me and I’ll get you a sub that fits your psychological prototype..bitch’ll be getting you off with three sucks. So we gonna do this thing or not?”
“Well, it is Christmas.”
“As in: This is a fucked-up thing to do to someone on Christmas or as in I’m lonely, I don’t want to give #1 a hand job and I wanna abuse my position to see what Mrs. Family’s pussy tastes like? Which kind of It is Christmas are we talking about?”
“Fuck it. You got semen in the back?”
“Yep. You just hand it to the cops and say, ‘We did your rape kit, and this nigger semen was pouring out of her.’ Then you hand ’em the vial.”
“What about the woman?”
“I’ll take care of the woman.”
“How are you gonna take care of her?”
“I’m gonna inject a voice inside her head that she’ll think is Jesus, and Jesus is gonna tell her never to mention you, never to look at you, to always insist it was a grisly, machine-shop-looking nigger who bust in their house, stole Little Jimmie’s presents and raped her while her husband was downstairs high on that bomb-funky hallucinogenic weed.”
“You mean Billy.”
“That’s what I said.”
“You said Little Jimmy.”
“What the fuck difference does it make? You think I’m gonna tell you his real name? I could lose my post, and instead of chillin’ here with you on Christmas Eve..that bitch I used to make suck my dick—the sixteen year old—she’ll have me licking out her asshole just to keep my job. Alright, I got the lights and magic ready. Two laptops and a couple well-placed satellites and you, my friend, are gonna get laid.”
“Where is she now?”
“She’s in the kitchen. She’s baking something. A pie. Not cherry, you sick motherfucker. It’s an apple pie. There she goes. Bending down. She’s wearing a long skirt, midway between the ankle and the knee so if I was you I’d use my knife, don’t try to go for the clasps—those things are impossible. Just cut the dress off her, cut away her mama panties. If that ain’t enough to turn you off, stick it in, my friend, and you’re golden. Fuck this family. I hate this type of American. Do you see that fireplace? That’s a perfect place for an American flag but do you see one? No. This bitch deserves to get raped and we’re gonna bust Papa Doc for his dope habit tonight, as well.”
“Yeah. Well. We’ll have the police do it. That motherfucker’ll be in jail for life in this state for possession of that much weed so you, my friend, are gonna be the last person who fucks his wife before he goes to jail for life. Does that make your dick hard?? Does that make your dick hard??”
“Yeah, my dick is hard. What kind of pie is she baking again?”
“And where is the dad?”
“He’s in the living room with his son but I’m about to do an alien-invasion hologram, if that’s ok with you, that only the father will see—he’ll rush to his smoke hole like all these pot heads. For them, pot is the solution to everything! Stressful day at work? Smoke pot. Wife makes apple pie instead of cherry? Smoke pot. Son jerking off on the back of the toilet seat? Smoke pot. Alien invasion?????? Smoke some motherfuckin’ pot. They’re all the same, mate.”
“So what’s Australia like?” That was #2.
And I was like, “How the fuck would I know, mate?”
“I thought you were from Australia.”
“Well, I’m not. Don’t make assumptions based on an accent. Now get out of the car. I’m about to bust out a sound and light show like you’ve never seen. This family’s home is going nuclear. Get in there and fuck that bitch wife for all the times she never gave it up for her husband. Make it count, mate.”
That’s exactly what I said to this motherfucker, too. I’m not Australian. What is this, Kentucky Fried Chicken? I’m trained in arts you’ll never even know existed. Number 2 jumped out and while I had the alien-invasion sequence booting up #2 does it just like I trained him. Cue the aliens. Dad runs downstairs. Jesus voice in the mom’s head. Number 2 uses a key to enter the house, goes straight to Little Billy, puts him in his room, uses a little thing we call a zip wedge to lock him in from the outside. Then #2 is straight to the kitchen. The mother is grabbing the sides of her head, screaming, thinking Jesus is talking to her. Number 2 cuts her skirt up the side, I hear him over the radio say, “God damn, those are some granny panties. Well, these are comin’ off, too, bitch.” He cuts the panties up the front, poking a hole right where her crotch is and running the knife up to practically her belly button. That much I could see on satellite. Then he did the thing the way the thing needed doing. He face fucked that bitch and told her to remember what it was like when she brushed her teeth. He told her: “You don’t bite down on the toothbrush, you just want to get in all those hard-to-reach places.” And once his dick was good and hard he executed his Agency privilege to get in her most hard to reach place, but the whole time I was in her ear reciting Christian scripture to her (I used a reference) and telling her that I was Jesus her Lord and Savior and I was going to make her the next Virgin Mary and letting her in on a little secret that the Virgin Mary wasn’t no virgin..that the Virgin Mary had been fucked by a big black nigger, too, and what was she supposed to say to the cops? “That a big black nigger came in here and raped my middle-aged cheese-ridden mouse hole.” She actually said that out loud and I could tell it freaked #2 out ’cause he was all like, “Shut up, bitch, I can’t cum when you call me Jesus!” and in the radio I was like, “Number 2, #2, she’s not talking to you! She’s talking to me!! I’m Jesus, remember?” Fuck. But he kept fucking that Classic American Housewife until they had moved from the middle of the floor to the front of the oven and her head was knocking against the bottom of the oven with every thrust and I tried to warn #2 but it was too late—the apple pie fell off the stovetop and landed messy side down on the Classic American Housewife’s mediocre face and I was like, “Better finish off soon, #2, I’m dialing in the 911 call from their number.” And then #2 went a little crazy and he just went into turbo, speed fucking that woman’s pussy and she wouldn’t stop yelling, “Jesus, please!” and licking the apple filling off her face trying to act all sexy and eventually I had to tell #2 to pack it up, the police were coming and he came running out the house with his fly unzipped.
“Did you finish?”
“No, I couldn’t. I can’t come with her forcing images of the Messiah into my head.”
“Why, are you a Christian?”
“Are you Jewish?”
“Are you a Muslim?”
“Then what’s your fucking problem!!???”
I get out of the car.
“Fuck! I put on a light and picture show for you and you can’t even get your cock off inside a mediocre-looking woman’s hot little apple pie snatch. What a fucking waste.”
“Are we still gonna bust the father?” asks #2.
Police sirens, coming to us on a cross street.
“There’s your answer,” I say.
I slam my door.
“Get the nigger semen from the trunk while I handle these assholes!!”
So #2 goes to the trunk and the police arrive and that’s our merry little Christmas. No joy for my sub. No boy pussy for me. Busted a dad for life over possession with intent to distribute—just some mechanic—fucker. Political activist—motherfucker. The mother ended up in an insane asylum with a false diagnosis of schizophrenia because she wouldn’t shut the fuck up and accept that it was a momentary hallucination. The police were on the lookout for rapist niggers for a week and after all that, we never did get our hot chocolate.
“So that’s how me and Agent #2 met.”
“Yup,” says Agent #2.”
“I think if you had cum in that Petite American Housewife, our relationship never would have gelled like it did. I think the tragedy of the whole thing is what did it.”
“That was one of our first operations together, wasn’t it?”
“Yes!” Agent #1 screams over the C+C Music Factory. “Not the first! But one of the first! You wanna take a break and switch to some old-school dental hygiene techniques on this track suit motherfucker?”
“No!” Agent #2 says. “I’m just getting my groove.”
“Well by God!! Let the groove unfold, #2. Let thy motherfucking groove unfold!”
The lyrics play: Here is the dome, back with the bass. The jam is live in effect and I don’t waste time. On the mike with a dope rhyme. Jump to the rhythm jump jump to the rhythm jump. And I’m here to combine. Beats and lyrics to make your shake your pants. Take a chance, come on and dance. Guys grab a girl, don’t wait, make her twirl.
The agents dance.
Agent #2 limps over to the control panel wall. He presses a button with his elbow and a full light and sound system descends form the ceiling. Rotating stoplights. Disco balls. Bars with mounted tweeters, mounted woofers. The interrogation room now rivals any dance club of the last four decades, anywhere in the world.
The agents’ movements are precise; it’s as though they were born to perform this number.
The guy in the track suit—Tobey Lewis—is totally bewildered when the organ section of the song kicks in. It’s just two notes, over and over and over. Then the drum solo. The agents pop lock their bodies to the music and Michael Jackson himself would be jealous. The synth pumps through the room and, against his expectations, Tobey Lewis feels himself breaking. There’s no CIA? These guys work for the International Agency Agency? It sounds like something from Sesame Street. Like a man in a van is going to try to sell him the golden AN in a few seconds. Lewis racks his brain, guessing he must have seen a souped-up red VW Rabbit sometime in his life—maybe even held the key to it—but it wasn’t there. Maybe he had been passing by the red VW on his way to work in downtown and his PersonalGPS—in his nose—walked too close to the kids who were driving or stealing this red car that had so much to do with national security. Tobey Lewis had heard of people digging in their nose or other soft tissue trying to remove their PersonalGPS. And sometimes they succeeded! When they got the materials analyzed, it always came back the same: nothing currently found on Earth. The PersonalGPS system was a joint program between the IAA and some alien tribunal, tracking us like we track wildlife—for research, essentially for fun. Because why not—if you could track something, why wouldn’t you? It gives you something to look at on a computer screen. Aliens had been tracking us for years.
Tobey Lewis wanted to rub his nose.
All this thought about PersonalGPS made his cartilage itch.
But his hands were securely zip tied to the bar stabilizing the legs of the folding chair he was sitting in.
And the mention of Sasquatch, by Agent #1—”Do you want to see a bigfoot raping a 12 year old?”—maybe that put some meat behind the national park disappearances. Tobey started thinking of age-old programs run jointly by the IAA and alien life forms to co-opt existing species and use them as controlling forces at the edges of human life.
Then he stopped.
What the fuck was he thinking?
This C+C Music Factory gig had him believing in bigfoot. Maybe this was a more effective interrogation technique than previously imagined.
“Hey! Hey! Can you motherfuckers let me out of here? I have a family, you know?”
“Well I’ve got to like pick my daughter up from school and shit.”
“We know, mate.”
“Well who’s going to pick her up?”
“We’ve got somebody to pick up your daughter.”
“A big bigfoot-looking motherfucker.”
Agent #1 laughed.
“That’s really not funny.”
“I know, mate. None of this is funny. When you woke up this morning, did God come through the clouds and say, Hey Tobey, you’re gonna have a really funny day? He didn’t say that, did he? That’s ’cause we are God, Tobey. All those visions and prayers—unanswered and otherwise—those are all controlled by satellites, mate, alien and otherwise. Aliens, and by extension the IAA, are God, you simple motherfucker. In the real world it’s just clear blue sky.”
Tobey had to yell over the music.
“What do you mean it’s clear blue sky?”
“I mean there’s no rules, we can rape your daughter with bigfoot all we want and there are no consequences. See, you’ve got to get over the idea that there is some kind of implicit fairness doctrine to the universe.”
“What are you talking about? What does a fairness doctrine have to do with my daughter and bigfoot?”
“I think it’s about time we give him the hose.”
Agent 1 stops dancing.
“Turn all this shit off. I was having fun, mate—you know—Everybody dance now!” he sings. “Then you’ve got to get all serious on me you tracksuit-wearing motherfucker. Now I’ve got no choice but to stick a hose up your butt, pump you full of gasoline, and light the sparking mechanism.”
“Can’t you just use a match?”
“No, I have to use the sparking mechanism because if I use a match I’ll be too close to the gasoline and I’ll get blown up too you red Volkswagen-driving motherfucker.”
“But I don’t drive a red Volkswagen.”
“I think we’re about through here, don’t you, #2?”
Number 2 has all the dance club gear back in the ceiling. He hits the wall and “Everybody Dance Now” stops playing. All their ears are ringing with the residual volume.
“Get the hose.”
Number 2 hits another spot on the control panel wall. He takes out a hose, a black thing that looks like it belongs in the engine of a car—not up a man’s ass. He unrolls it from its perfect mechanical looping. It looks like it was assembled by robots.
“Now stick it up his ass.”
Agent #2 strips the man of his tracksuit bottoms, pulling him onto the floor, spreads the man’s ass cheeks, kneels on him keeping both cheeks spread and he feeds the tube four or five inches up the man’s rectum.
“A little more, mate.”
Agent 2 slides the hose a few more inches into Tobey Lewis’s ass.
“Is this is the part where you feed me up my butt? I’ve heard of that on Fox News.”
“No,” says Agent #1, “all that stuff you heard on Fox News is bullshit. This is the part where we get the silver canister.”
Agent #2 goes to the wall and gets a silver canister. It looks like a propane tank. He connects the loose end of the hose to the canister.
“Now open the valve.”
Agent #2 unscrews the valve at the top of the silver canister.
“Are you guys really going to blow me up? This is a joke, right? You’re just trying to get me to talk.”
“No, we don’t care if you talk.”
Agent 2 looks at agent 1, confused.
“Now start the sparking mechanism. Code 511..7.”
Agent 2 keys in the sparking code.
“Alright Mr. Lewis. I hope you enjoyed our little show. It’s been nice knowing you. It is unlikely we will meet again so if you two have any goodbyes to say, now’s the fucking time. No parting words? Agent 2? A kiss? Anything you want us to tell your daughter?”
“If she sees a bigfoot, run,” says the simpleton Tobey Lewis.
“Alright, I’ll tell her that, but she’ll be in stirrups. Outside,” says Agent #1.
Agent #2 enters a number on the keypad on the inside of the door, to get out. Agents #2 and #1 exit the interrogation room and close the door. Agent #1 uses a magnetic straw to seal the room.
“Are you ready to do this?” he says.
Agent #2 sighs deeply.
Agent #2 nods.
“Well do a good job and I’ll get you some Sbarro’s after this.”
“All I have to do is enter the sparking code.”
“Enter the matching code to the one you entered inside as per one of the many translation algorithms you’ve been taught—57c if you’re having a lapse in memory—and once you do that, we’re out of here, Georgetown, food court, Ben’s Tavern, wherever you want to go—it’s on me—just enter that code.”
Agent #2 enters it.
There is a subsonic explosion. No sound escapes the room, but the shock wave rocks the two men’s chests, their whole bodies.
“That means it’s done.”
“Do we check him?”
“No. Somebody else does that. We’re done here. Dick’s Tavern—what is it? You want a beer?”
The two gentlemen walk down the long hallway from Tobey Lewis’ grave.
“What about the key,” #2 asks.
“They key to the souped-up VW Rabbit. The red one.”
“What red one?”
“The red Volkswagen that Tobey Lewis was driving.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Tobey Lewis??! The guy we just blew up?”
“You just blew up.”
“Who is he?”
“Just some guy.”
“So what’s the deal with the key to the red VW?”
“There never was a red VW. This was a training exercise. This was all about you, my friend, to see if you would press that final digit that would turn a man into a splat on a wall. And you did well, #2—you did perfectly. You didn’t question my order. You followed procedures. You played your part and only your part. So, seriously, where are we going for lunch? You like Reubens? To me, there’s nothing like a great Reuben Sandwich. Corned beef. Sauerkraut. It’s a good thing Germany never lost the war or else we might not have sauerkraut.”
“Germany did lose the war.”
Agent #1 and Agent #2 are traveling up a vast series of elevators that takes them to street level.
“Germany never lost the war! Hitler’s chilling in Antartica. Prob’ly got a beach chair set up drinking a Hemingway mojito getting his dick sucked by Ellen Page’s eight-year-old clone.”
“Ellen Page is gay.”
“But is her eight-year-old clone? That is the question, my man.”
They’re stepping out onto the street, from something that looks like an elevator right in the middle of a food court—except you need a discreet eye scan to get in or out.
Number 1 puts his arm around #2.
“Do you know what makes a Hemingway mojito?”
“I have no idea.”
The sun blinds both men’s eyes for a second.
Then they start walking.
“It’s the powdered sugar.”
“Powdered sugar. Really?”
“Yes. It sounds strange but in Cuba that’s how they make those motherfuckers.”
“Does it taste good?”
“It tastes fucking great, my friend.”
Rachel and Tuesday were best friends. Half-sisters. Lovers. They took each other’s virginity, in their minds, before a dick had ever passed between their teenage pussy lips.
“It’s all about who makes you cum first,” Tuesday had said.
Rachel had agreed.
“Let’s go play FUCK THE POLICE,” Tuesday said.
Rachel’s eyes brightened.
“Seriously? But it’s like four in the morning.”
“Get dressed,” Tuesday said. “We’re going.”
Getting dressed to play FUCK THE POLICE didn’t involve much. Specifically, it involved a pair of boots, a ski mask, and an Uzi. It was 2001. To fuck with anything less than an Uzi in NYC was just asking for trouble. Even homeless people were likely to be outfitted with nine millimeters. Both girls had shaved pussies and let me tell you, the effect of two teens with B-cup breasts hanging out, boots, ski masks, and Uzis—well, it pretty much controlled a subway car, which is where they were likely to be spending most of their time.
“How far do you wanna go?”
“All the way.”
“Wall Street. WTC. Yo! Hit me with some Wu, fuckhead.”
They were on a train. A guy was sitting opposite them with his headphones. He pulled one ear aside and said, “What?”
Tuesday pointed her Uzi at the guy.
“Hey! Fuckhead! I’ve got an Uzi pointed at your whole entire self. Now hit me with some Wu.”
“The Wu-Tang Clan?”
Tuesday stands up, cradling her Uzi. “You better bust me out some Wu or I’m gonna fuck you up. Turn those earphones out. I know you got Wu in there you preppie motherfucker.”
Rachel, in the seat behind Tuesday, spreads her legs so the preppie fuckhead can see the internals of her vulva.
“Stop looking at her pussy and bust the Wu,” Tuesday says.
The guy flips through his phone and out of the tinny speakers comes an old-school Wu-Tang track. Even this tiny sound seems to have a calming effect on the one they call Tuesday.
“What are you two supposed to be, bank robbers?” the preppie fuckhead manages.
“Is it Halloween? No. We’re not supposed to be anything. We’re domestic terrorists and we’re terrorizing you, motherfucker.”
“What, like Timothy McVeigh?”
“Exactly. Turn that shit up so my girlfriend can hear it. Can you hear it?”
Rachel says, “Yeah.”
“Is she really your girlfriend?”
“Yeah, she’s my sister, too, how does that hit you?”
The guy laughs. He sounds like he’s high on pot.
“That’s perfect! That’s just what America needs. Lesbian incestual domestic terror partners. Hahaha. I get it now.”
It was only the three of them on the train. By the time the girls got off at WTC, their music man had left and the only place the Wu-Tang was left was ringing through their ears, as each of them imagined they had bunny tails, skipping around the streets and into the walkway between the two buildings of the Trade Center.
They twitched their butts from side to side.
They held their Uzis in one hand, lifted up so the gun was at head level.
“Play FUCK THE COPS. Play FUCK THE COPS,” Tuesday sang.
And Rachel, right beside her: “Here piggy piggy here piggy piggy here.”
“I’m gonna fuck a pig tonight.”
“HEY PIGS!! WHERE THE FUCK ARE YA??”
And then the two girls saw the van. Just a white van, back doors open, fat man with big ordnance around his neck. Big military rifle. The girls skipped over to the van.
The man said, “Are you from the skinny country?”
Tuesday used her Uzi to showcase Rachel’s naked body, from the combat boots up to the shaved pussy up to the B-cup breasts to the bare neck to the black ski mask.
Tuesday’s mask was white.
“Are you from the skinny country,” the man repeated.
“It don’t get no skinnier than this,” Tuesday said.
“You can go on up,” this guy says, and Tuesday and Rachel look over at the WTC. There’s a guard on the door there as well, heavy ordnance, door wide open.
Tuesday says, “Meet me on the roof in fifteen minutes and we’ll play FUCK A COP. Have you ever played FUCK A COP?”
“I ain’t a cop,” the guy says.
“You know,” Tuesday says, “in general I agree with you that taking things literally is the best course of action, but in this particular situation may I suggest that stretching our definitions of the common terms might result in a more desirable outcome for both of us.”
“I meet you on the roof in fifteen minutes,” the guy says.
And Tuesday and Rachel skip on over to the guard at the door at the base of the World Trade Center.
“Are you from the—”
“The skinny country, yeah. Of course.”
Tuesday presses her Uzi into the side of the guard’s head.
“Am I gonna have to execute you?”
“Uh—” the guard clears his throat. “Are you the cleanup crew?”
“Yeah, we’re the cleanup crew. Are we gonna have to clean you up?”
“I’m awaiting orders,” the guy says.
Tuesday removes her Uzi from the side of the guy’s head.
“Your orders haven’t changed.”
Tuesday pokes the dude in his fat belly with the tip of her Uzi.
Rachel squats down to get a fuller angle on the guy. Her Uzi is pointed at his balls.
“Your orders are to stand here like a lump, like you do every night, but tonight there’s a little twist.”
They guy doesn’t say anything. He just looks straight ahead.
“Ask me what the twist is.”
“What’s the twist?”
“The twist is, if any NYPD blues come by, send them up to the roof because I wanna play FUCK A COP real bad, ok?”
The guy chuckles.
“I’m serious, you skinny country fuckhead, you send any and all cops to the roof and that might be funny to you but it ain’t funny to me and my half-sister here because we like to feel the tip of cop cock way up inside our vaginas and there’s nothing that gets me off like a cop. Understood?”
“Is this some kind of a test?”
“No test. Send cops to the roof. I lubricate their cocks with my spit, sit on cops, cum my fucking screams to the base of the heavens more glorious than Lord Byron could state it, pussy juice rushes out all over those copper pants and I have this Uzi up the side of their necks like uh, uh.”
Tuesday demonstrates how she’ll have the Uzi up the side of their necks.
Rachel stands and puts the tip of her Uzi in the guard’s mouth.
“We’re going in now, you got a problem with that?”
“No,” he says with the Uzi in his mouth.
“Good ’cause I can read minds and I don’t like what you’re thinking about my sister.”
The girls go into the WTC. Wait by the elevators. The guard looks over at them.
“Let’s take the stairs,” Tuesday says.
So they go up a few floors, and they can hear clipping, like the sound of someone clipping toenails that were ten times the usual thickness. Tuesday leads Rachel by the hand and they run, in all their nakedness, to the open elevator shaft. They each take a side and lean in, pointing their Uzis before them. The woman inside sees their shadow and turns around with a hand piece.
“Who the fuck are you?” she says in a skinny country accent.
“We’re the eyes on you,” Tuesday says. “Is this shit almost finished?”
The woman lowers her gun. She has this whole stack of sheets laid over her other arm. Each one looks like a sheet of sandpaper with a bar of circuitry across one side. Each one has a sheet of adhesive covering and Tuesday and Rachel can see clearly that this skinny country woman has been peeling off the sheet covering the adhesive side of the sandpaper and wrapping the sandpaper circuit boards around columns in the elevator shaft.
“Quality work,” Tuesday says.
“It’s by the book,” the woman says.
She’s dressed in all black. The short little bitch is built like a mountain climber.
“We’ll leave you to it,” Tuesday says.
She waves her Uzi in the air, directing Rachel. The two girls run across the opening of the elevator shaft and around back where there’s a wall of windows. They look out over the courtyard. This is the beauty of New York. They say in the future there will be no privacy—everyone will have eyes on everything. But they’re wrong. There are too many windows, not enough eyes, and so you can stand naked in the WTC at 4:30am in combat boots and a ski mask, holding an Uzi, and even though a thousand eyes—if they were looking—could see you—those thousand eyes are closed.
Both girls were voyeurs. They imagined someone somewhere in the darkness, behind some black window, looking out after a trip to the bathroom and seeing their iconic sight: two hot teenage girls dressed only in combat boots and ski masks, holding Uzis, leaning against the inside of the windows of the WTC. The skin of their soft cunts visible. Their beautiful breasts pressed against the glass, nipples flattened.
Then the crux of the situation hit them both at the same time.
But it was Tuesday who spoke first.
She looked all around the WTC plaza, then behind them, then at her half-sister.
There was a goose-pimple thrill in Rachel’s whole body when Tuesday said them, the exact words Rachel was thinking:
“Where are all the cops?”
Somewhere in a Room, Someone Who Mattered had them on Lunar audio, heard Tuesday say, “Where are all the cops?” and he clicked into his boss.
A disembodied voice came across the wire: “Yes?”
“We’ve got a problem. Potentially.”
“Well what is it? Is it a problem or a potential problem?”
“It’s a problem.”
“Two Americans, female, juvenile, dressed in nothing but ski masks and combat boots, are apparently carrying Uzis, have entered Ground Zero and are now on the second floor of the structure.”
“Are they aware of the procedure?”
“Yes. They’ve made contact with three people from the skinny country—two guards and one taper. They surprised the taper and the taper puller her weapon on them but they..are handling..Uzis.”
“Two half-naked American girls carrying Uzis?”
“Fully naked, sir.”
“Are the Uzis real?”
“They appear to be.”
“Do they understand what they’ve seen?”
“Fucking Americans and their guns. Who are they?”
“Couple rich girls from the upper east side.”
“And they don’t know the plan?”
“I don’t think so.”
“How did they get past the guards?”
“A) They were naked. B) They said the right thing at the right time. I think they’ve watched too many movies and they’re just..cool.”
“Cool enough to get past two skinny guards and survive an interaction with one of our tapers? Doubtful. Find out who they’re working for. Find out who they are!!!”
“I’m looking now. Tuesday Walker, rich bitch—just some girl. Rachel Welch—half-sister. They fuck each other. This Uzi thing—ok, the Uzis are definitely real—they just like to fuck cops.”
“They like to fuck cops, sir.”
“You’re not coming through. Did you say they like to fuck with cops??”
“No, they like to fuck cops. They ambush cops with the Uzis and..I don’t know..they just like cop dick, that’s as far as I can get.”
“And the Uzis.”
“The Uzis are from her dad.”
“Both of theirs. Rachel is by a different mother.”
“Is he connected?”
“No, he’s just a guy who likes guns.”
“Go figure. Fucking country likes guns. He probably has no idea they borrowed two heavy pieces.”
“Is that a personality we have built up? The fucking-cop thing?”
“Ok, well, get back to me if there’s a problem.”
“Isn’t there a problem now? Them just being on the scene?”
“Are they interfering with the operation?”
“Then there’s no problem.”
The boss clicked off.
And Somewhere in a Room, Someone Who Mattered checked IAA bases for personality types of cop fuckers. Multiple simultaneous searches. The whole glove. Every known database. Girls who like cop dick. Girls who table-turn cops. Girls who hijack cops. Girl cop killers. He tried everything that came to mind, hoping to find some profile that contained Tuesday Walker and Rachel Welch, but nothing came up. These were just two girls who liked to take off all their clothes, add a ski mask and some combat boots, and wander The City with real hardware, ambush cops, take samples of their cop semen with the delight of soft teen pussy, and get off without a shot fired.
Someone Who Mattered tried to imagine the scenario, imagine it happening tens, maybe hundreds of times with the girls never getting caught—never getting caught on tape? It was inconceivable, but then again they were Americans, and Americans were masters at making embarrassing security footage disappear.
Someone Who Mattered used a software prototype to try to calculate the chances that they had ended up at Ground Zero by accident. He ran it three ways and all three ways it said they just happened to ride the subway all the way down there because they liked the view of the courtyard from the building. They felt it was theirs because they were Americans, and obviously it got them off. The software confirmed they were voyeurs. Basically they were just down there to have something to jill off to later—the fact that they rode the subway naked, carried heavy artillery, all of which while never getting caught. It wasn’t an infiltration of Operation Skinny Tape. It was just a sex thing.
The fact that Tuesday had said, “Where are all the cops?” though, was troubling. That meant they weren’t stupid, and if they put one more piece of the puzzle together, Someone Who Mattered was going to have to order a QMO on those two little girls, and he didn’t want to do that. QMO stood for Quick Murder Operation.
A QMO in the WTC this time of night was going to be iffy.
See, the whole point of a QMO is you send Someone Who Will Not Be Noticed to the target and he’s in, he’s out, then the local police handle everything from there with no knowledge of the QMO. Some people called it a Quiet Murder Operation. But getting a QMO operative past the skinny country guards was going to be next to impossible—how these two girls had done it was—well—it was due to some psychological effect of combining ski masks and combat boots with tits and ass.
Somebody Who Mattered made a quick note of that, for their psychological people to analyze later. Might be something they could exploit themselves in future operations. Might want to use that costume and attitude as an infiltration key. It was like the Furry Breast Infiltration—a woman with fake tits in a furry helmet with her costume pulled down just under the fake tits—but these rich girls from the upper east side may just have improved on the FBI. The Furry Breast Infiltration had been invented in-house as a way to get past mid-east country checkpoints. Something about the full-body covering and bizarre nature of the furry costume, combined with the spherical fake tits just made mean dudes with big guns take their fingers off the trigger—it was such a bizarre sight for their culture, plus such an attractive one, that they just didn’t shoot. Meanwhile, cutie with fake tits is one of ours and she just skips on into heavily guarded military bases like some kind of dream in the Muslim mind. And of course under that suit is more than just an Uzi. Along the legs, that bitch had guns that I can’t even tell you the names of. Not because I don’t know. Because I’m not allowed to say.
And in their boredom, Tuesday Walker and Rachel Welch had potentially been outstripping us in the anti-cop/anti-guard psyop category using American fashion sensibility. I mean what’s sexier than a 17-year-old girl wearing nothing but combat boots, a ski mask, and an Uzi? If they put it on the cover of Vogue it would sell more copies than every Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue combined—even the ones where they paint the costumes right on the models’ bodies.
Someone Who Mattered zipped a satellite around and clicked in—in—in—right on Tuesday Walker and Rachel Welch standing with their nipples pressed against the WTC glass, looking out over the courtyard. They hadn’t said anything else after remarking that there were no police around, which of course Someone Who Mattered already knew. That was part of Operation Skinny Tape. All police from that sector had been reassigned, given nights off, given paid vacations to Tahiti. Girls playing FUCK A COP weren’t going to find any cops tonight.
Someone Who Mattered watched from space, at a high angle, and waited.
The girls did nothing. They were in some kind of trance, just staring. Drugs? Someone Who Mattered Wondered, but then he settled on No, just staring. They were staring out at the almost-empty courtyard, he was staring at them, looking at just how hot they could be, even pixellated from space. He set the satellite to track, then went to other matters.
He checked a bunch of cheap apartments in Florida. Bunch of AQ dupes sitting in their living rooms eating Domino’s pizza watching Die Hard on VHS. He had access to their order details: fucking mushroom and onion. No Muslim in the history of the world (at least the world that Someone Who Mattered knew about) knew how to order a fucking pizza. Mushroom and onion? You might as well get a frozen pizza from a corner store. And Someone Who Mattered happened to know that this was about the 15th time this particular apartment had watched Die Hard. He switched to a different apartment.
This one was doing coke off the glass coffee table while a fat middle-eastern stripper did her thing right in front of the two guys. Mmm. We prob’ly sold ’em the coke. Keep these motherfuckers high so they can go through with what they gotta do.
Here’s how it worked: We decided they wanted to hijack planes. That sounded like a good idea to us. But it was impossible for them to do that without our help. So we helped them. We greased the rails. And there was no way 20 hours of flight training was going to get these guys proficient to believably fly the fuckers. So yeah, I can’t reveal every detail of the operation but the interesting part is this triad:
The fat country decided to hijack planes.
We helped them—we made it happen.
Of course there were never any actual planes—what do you think we’re fucking stupid?
But that’s just two pieces. Have you ever heard of a neutron bomb?—Never mind. Here’s the third piece of the triad: The skinny country learns of all this through usual channels and decides that for their ultimate purposes a plane crash is not good enough—you’ve got to have collapsing buildings. So here comes Operation Skinny Tape.
Now of course (through usual channels) we know about Operation Skinny Tape. We don’t do it. But we let it happen.
That’s the 9/11 Twist.
This way fat country gets what it wants—beyond its wildest dreams.
Skinny country gets what it wants—exactly what it dreamed.
And we get what we want—and in the future if the shit hits the fan we can always blame the skinny country as well as the fat countries—which of course would result in World War III—which we wouldn’t really mind. The ultimate plan is to force nukes and raze the entire Muslim population to the ground.
Someone Who Matters, in a Room, switches back to window six. Coordinated Lunar audio points at the girls. Someone Who Matters listens as they whisper to each other.
“Do you think the cops have the night off?” Rachel says.
“Yeah, I think they have it off but I think they have it really off,” Tuesday says.
“Like..” And Rachel indicates the elevator shaft with her neck.
“What do we do?” Rachel says.
“We stay here till morning. ‘Cause right now, this is the safest place in the world for us to be.”
Agent 1 gets an urgent page. The coded numbers indicate he is to acquire his #2 and meet at a certain interrogation center which shall not be named.
Agent 1’s feet hit the floor. He is already dressed—everything but the tie. He ropes a tie around his arm and is out the door 20 seconds after the first notification sound on his secure device.
Exactly five minutes and 22 seconds later the passenger door on his SUV opens and Agent 2 gets in. The car zooms away from a Manhattan high rise.
“What’s the score?”
“Where we going?”
“The place shall not be named.”
“Is this car SatView protected?”
“It is now.”
“So we’re invisible.”
“Would you shut the fuck up?! We’re invisible, not inaudible, and you may have just fucked the future of the western world.”
Number 2 is pulling on his shoes, tying them.
“Feet off the dash.”
“What do you care?”
“I care..because I have pride in my country, and this is company property.”
Number 2 ties his shoes on the floor.
Number 1 flies in an unmentionable direction within an unmentionable Manhattan neighborhood. Then to a parking garage—special pass. Then to the very bottom floor. The agents get out and go to the elevator. The elevator doesn’t go down but they go down anyway. Seventeen floors—or the equivalent—below the bottom level of this parking garage.
“No information on what we’re doing?” says Agent #2.
“Wait till we get in a secure room,” says Agent #1.
They go through the routine with the magnetic straw, and as soon as they enter the room, Agent 2 smacks Agent 1 in the back of the head with his piece.
Agent 1 pulls out his piece but Agent 2 kicks it out of his hand—a high kick, perfectly executed. Agent 2 points his gun at his superior.
“What’s this?” Agent 1 says.
“Handcuff yourself to the chair,” says Agent #2.
“Are we on or off the clock?” Agent 1 says.
“Sorry to tell you, #1, but we’re on the clock. Get in the fucking chair.”
Agent 1 handcuffs himself to the folding chair in the middle of the white room.
Agent 2 picks up the extra piece and holsters it.
Agent 1 says, “This is orders?”
Agent 2 nods.
Agent 1 shakes his head.
“So this is how they do you. You train a motherfucker up from the ground and you’re the one they send to do it. Whatsa matter? I’m not needed for the rest of the plan?”
“How would I know?” says Agent #2.
“You don’t even know why you’re killing me,” Agent 1 laughs.
“Guess I don’t need to know,” says Agent #2.
“They’ll kill you too.”
“That may be.”
“Well go ahead and do it,” says Agent #1. Or are you gonna pass me up the butt?”
“My choice,” says Agent 2.
“Your choice of those two or your choice?”
“So, you feeling creative tonight?” says Agent 1. “Or will you do a brotha a favor and give me one to the temple?”
“I don’t know. You’ve been a good super. But there are a few games in the cabinet I’d like to try.”
“Like what, if you don’t mind telling me.”
“Like centipede in the mouth.”
“Yeah, I always wanted to try that one myself. What else?”
“Yeah, penis worm is good. Used it on some Saudis back in ’83. Guess I can tell you that now that I’m dead.”
“Ah..no..technically you shouldn’t have told me that.”
“Is this room monitored?”
“No idea,” says #2.
“Oh well, fuck it, do you mind if I ask you again why I have become expendable to this organization?”
“You know too much.”
“Well that’s classic. You mean about today’s operation—?”
“Ah! Don’t tell me!! I don’t know anything about it and for the sake of my hard cock I’d like to keep it that way. You tell me one word about why I’m killing you and I’ll skip penis worm and go straight for 9mm in the forehead, fucker. Don’t say a word.”
“Deal. So it’s to be penis worm.”
“Not necessarily. You know they have a new version of penis worm called electrified penis worm?”
“That’s impossible. Worms don’t conduct electricity.”
“These ones do.”
“Guess I haven’t been checking my spam folder.”
“You gotta stay on top of your shit, my brotha.”
Number 2 presses his piece into the temple of #1.
“Do you have any compunction about doing this?”
“I’m trained not to. You know that.”
“But man to man. Do you?”
“Aren’t you gonna miss me?”
“But I showed you all the choice lunch spots in this borough, you ungrateful fuck.”
“Exactly. You showed ’em to me. Now I know ’em all. So what do I need you for?”
“For the goddamn lunch conversation!!”
“They’ll get me someone new.”
“So you’re big man now. You’re super. They get you a sub?”
“I guess so.”
“They’ll do the same thing to you, you know.”
“Of course they will. But it’s a good life while you have it. Isn’t that enough? Do you really want to grow old, retire, all that shit?”
“If pressed for an answer right this second I’d have to say yes.”
And #2 raises his piece.
“Wait! Wait. Let’s try penis worm. I mean I saw the faces on those Saudis. I always wondered what it felt like.”
“Ok but if you haven’t been reading your junk mail there’s something I have to tell you about penis worm.”
“It’s done with a centipede now.”
“I change my mind.”
“Too late! You chose penis worm! You chose penis worm!”
“Penis worm! Not penis fucking centipede! You’re telling me centipedes are regular stock in the cabinet now?”
“You should have been reading your junk mail.”
“What, do we have a department that grows centipedes?”
“We must, but, like they say, don’t ask such questions.”
“Well obviously, there’s a centipede department now. They don’t just have people going out into the fields picking centipedes and stocking the cabinets.”
“Who knows what they do. Don’t ask, remember?”
“That’s why you’re killing me, isn’t it? Because I asked. I mean, proverbially.”
“I don’t know. I didn’t ask.”
“Don’t be a fucking smart ass. You’re killing a man. You know? Show some fucking respect.”
“I don’t think the idea behind penis worm is to bestow respect.”
“Fuck it, let’s do this.”
“Ok,” Agent 2 says, kneeling in front of the cabinet. “Electric penis worm.”
“Uh-uh!! I never said electric penis worm!”
Agent #2 turns around with a plastic box.
He says, “But I did.”
Agent 2 sets the box on the floor some distance from Agent 1. He opens the box. There is a custom battery, nickel plated with no labeling, two small wires ending in flaps of blue adhesive tape, and a plastic laboratory vial with a screw-off top containing a live centipede.
“What does the centipede eat?” says #1.
“The inside of your cock, I assume.”
“I mean right now!! There’s a centipede in a plastic vial! What has he been eating?? Do they have guys coming in here replacing vials of centipedes daily?”
“Don’t ask,” says #2.
“Well didn’t you just take all my lessons to the extreme.”
Number 1 shakes his head.
“Fucking stick a centipede up your penis. You’re not interrogating me!! Just fucking shoot me, if that’s the score.”
“You made an unfounded assumption.”
“What was that?” #1 says.
“That I’m not interrogating you.”
“Well are you? Are you interrogating me or are you not interrogating me?”
“Don’t ask.” Agent #2 mouths the words.
“Nigger shit! This is fucking nigger shit!!!”
Agent 2 pulls off Agent 1’s pants. He pulls off his briefs. He attaches the blue wire leads to the hind legs of the centipede. He spits on the other agent’s cock, grabs it nice and firm and puts it in his mouth. He sucks the agent’s cock just enough to get it hard. Then he holds the business end of the centipede to his superior’s cock hole. The centipede goes right in, and the look on Agent #1’s face is exactly the one he got to see on the Saudi’s. Agent #2 prayed he himself would never make that face. And he held his weapon to his superior’s head.
“Need to know if Big Bird knows what’s going on at WTC right now.”
Agent #1 says, “Big Bird?”
“Just answer the question and we’ll make this quick.”
“Are you gonna shoot me either way? ‘Cause that centipede’s about halfway in right now and I hear it doesn’t feel so good once he burrows deep into your urethra.”
“Does Big Bird know about what’s going on at the WTC?”
“What’s going on at the WTC right now?”
“You mean 9/11 Twist?”
“You wanna keep throwing out proper nouns? Increasing the chances I’m going to have to shoot you in the fucking testicle?”
“That’s on the table now??!! Shooting me in the testicle??!!”
“Everything’s on the table.”
“Ok ok. No. Big Bird doesn’t know about the 9/11 Twist. Big Bird doesn’t know shit.”
“How can you be sure?”
“Because. Because I talked to him day before yesterday and he didn’t indicate he knew anything on that level. He only knows level one.”
“He doesn’t know level two?”
“He doesn’t know level two or three. He just knows the original plan. He knows as much as the public.”
“As much as the public will, you mean.”
“As much as the public will! Owoahhhhhhaaaaa!! This fucker’s deep in my fucking groin motherfucker! I’m telling you the truth. Big Bird doesn’t know shit.”
“I believe you.”
“Then get this thing out of me! You have no idea how this feels!”
“Yes I do.”
“Required to go through participant training before being certified to use the tool. New standard procedure.”
“Then get this thing out of me!”
” ‘Cause electrified penis centipede is like a Black Flag Roach Motel.”
Agent #2 raises his gun.
“Motherfuckers check in, but they don’t check out.”
And Agent #2 shoots his superior officer in the head, killing him instantly, as per orders from a higher authority.
Right about this time a man named PSH is on the way to work. He is on a train headed downtown. Usually the train is empty this time of day—maybe a homeless person or two sleeping on the seats. Today there is a fully awake, non-homeless black man sitting on the train in the seats right across from PSH, and PSH can’t stop looking at him.
The black man expertly avoids looking PSH in the face.
PSH studies the man. He’s not a trader. He’s wearing corduroy pants with holes in the knees that are too short for his legs.
“High waters, we used to call them,” PSH says.
“Excuse me,” the black man says in a British accent.
“Your pants. They don’t cover your ankles. We used to call them high waters in elementary school. Prob’ly call ’em something else now.”
“I wouldn’t know,” the black man says delicately.
PSH turns his neck sideways. He’s clocking the man, figuring out what he is.
“Are you on your way to work,” PSH says.
“Excuse me?” the black man says.
“I said are you on your way to work, mate?”
“I’m on my way home.”
“You live this far downtown?”
“Well no offense,” PSH says, “but how does a black man afford an apartment this far south?”
“I wasn’t aware that the color of my skin had anything to do with where I could rent an apartment.”
“Well it does. It does, black man. Where do you live?”
“It’s just a building.”
“I’m pretty familiar with the buildings down here. Which one is it?”
“Are you planning on harassing me all the way to my front door?”
“No, I just want to know if you’re working. Because I’m working and the way I work, there’s only room for one of us.”
“I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Well listen up, mate, you need to get an idea.”
“Are you threatening me?”
“I am, mate; I am threatening you,” PSH almost yells.
“Then I assume you have a gun.”
“What’s it called?”
“Look, mate, I haven’t had my coffee and to tell you the truth, before my coffee I have trouble pronouncing the full name.”
“Well what’s its partial name, then?”
“It’s a Luger, does that mean anything to you?”
“Aye?? What is that supposed to be, some kind of a yes, mate?”
“And where are you from—an Aussie?”
“No, mate, the accent just helps the job, ok—I’m from Queens.”
“Still live in Queens?”
“What the fuck do you care? Are you moving in on my territory?”
“I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about!”
“You a cop?”
“I’m a painter!”
“How does a painter afford an apartment this far south. You famous?”
“Then you’ve got some explaining to do, black man. How does a non-famous black man painter afford an apartment this far south?”
“It’s not an apartment.”
“It’s not a—well what the fuck is it?”
“It’s a room.”
“A room. In a building. There’s no heat. There’s no bathroom as such. But it is my studio and home and there’s no rent exactly there’s just favors if you know what I mean.”
“No I do not know what you mean and I don’t want to know, if you know what I mean. I guess I owe you an apology, Mr. Painter Man. I thought you were moving in on my patch, you know, it’s a patchwork quilt and I gotta have my patch or else I can’t even afford my two-bedroom in Queens. Besides,” PSH says, “I’ve been smoking sherm all night and I need that cup of coffee and Sausage and Egg McMuffin, you know what I’m saying?”
“Are you making fun of me?”
“No. I love Sausage and Egg McMuffins.”
“Good. ‘Cause if you make fun of me I will leave you there, sitting in that seat with a bullet through your head. How’s that for a Manhattan good morning?”
“I think you will be fine once you get your coffee.”
“So you’re a real goddamn painter.”
“If being a real goddamn painter means freezing your ass off painting in fingerless gloves in an apartment with no bathroom, then yes, I suppose so.”
“What do you do when you have to take a shit. Don’t answer that. Yeah, you’re a real goddamn painter, like van Gogh and shit, living the life, won’t ever be famous till after your dead—you’re the real thing. I’m Philip. What’s your name?”
Philip reached across the aisle to shake hands.
“You want some sherm?”
“No thank you?”
“I thought you were edging in on my territory and it turns out you’re a goddamn painter. I gotta do less drugs.”
“Don’t piss me off, black man, I’ll fucking shoot you with my Rutger Hauer.”
“You mean your Luger.”
“Anyway what the fuck do you know about it? For all you know I don’t even have a gun. You want to know what I do?”
“I sell. I’m a dealer. Small time. I sell to big time. Guys that work in the pits. They gotta keep up up up! Ya know? So I keep those motherfuckers up. If you get off at the same stop as me, take a different stairwell. They watch those cameras and I don’t want to get you in trouble. I’ve been picked up three times this week and I think my little dance at the disco is coming to an end, if you know what I mean. You don’t know what I mean. I mean I headed for a six by six—a cell—I’m about to get busted, you can just tell. I mean you get a sixth sense about these things, you start to know where a cop’ll be waiting, and she’ll look at you, and you’ll look at her, and you’ll just know that she knows, and you just know that they’re onto your little piece of the patchwork. I work stairwell 10, south tower. Right? So that means that if you want a bump, you walk by, I stick the key up your nose, you pass me five bucks, and that’s it. I strictly deal in bumps. Anything else you’re risking your life, down here. There’s no time ’cause there’s always a cop coming along in one of those towers. Or a rent-a-cop from the skinny country. You sure you don’t want a bump?”
“No thank you.”
“Don’t worry about the cameras. I got the moves down. I can stick this key up your nose, make it look like I’m just balancing myself when I sit in the seat next to you. Don’t worry, black man, this ain’t Harlem, we do it a little differently down here.”
“I’ve never even been to Harlem. I’m from London.”
“Sorry, I forgot. See, over here a black man’s a black man.”
“No offense, mate. It’s nothing personal. See the American white man is taught to fear a black man like an exterminator fears a cockroach—roast those motherfuckers before they mate with your daughters. You got kids?”
“Two daughters. Back in London.”
“Well I hope it happens for you. I hope you make it. For their sake as well as yours. I hope you make it big..Vaughn?”
“That’s right!! You must be a high-class motherfucker if you remembered my name right.”
“By that logic then you yourself must be a high-class motherfucker.”
“I’m sorry about the whole Harlem thing. I know you’re not from Harlem. I’m just fucking with you.”
“You’re not a dealer?”
“You’re not edging in on my piece of the patchwork, are you?”
“Hardly. I’m going back to my room to paint—”
“Yeah, with the fingerless gloves. We got that. Sounds like a detail a cop would put in to make his cover story more believable but I believe you, Vaughn. If you say you paint with fingerless gloves, then I believe you.”
“Only in the winter.”
“Only in the winter, what, do I look like a frigging idiot?”
“Well, this is my stop.”
PSH is lighting a cigarette dipped in PCP.
“Have a nice day,” he says out the side of his mouth.
“You’re not aloud to smoke on the subway,” Vaughn politely says as he exits the subway train.
“YOU KNOW WHAT, VAUGHN, FUCK YOU. YOU JUST UNDID FIFTEEN MINUTES OF NICE NEW YORKER GETTING-TO-KNOW-YOU CHITCHAT. YOU ADVICE-DISPENSING MOTHERFUCKER. I KNOW WHAT THE LAWS ARE. I JUST DON’T CARE. I TOLD YOU THE COPS ARE ONTO ME. IT’S JUST A MATTER OF TIME. UNLIKE YOU, I’M NOT GOING TO HAVE A FUTURE AS A FAMOUS PAINTER, MATE, TRAVELING THE WORLD WITH MY TWO DAUGHTERS SHOWCASING MY EXTREME TALENT. I’M GONNA BE IN A SIX-BY-SIX, TOTALLY SOBER, FOR ABOUT THE REST OF MY LIFE SO FUCK YOU, MAN—WAY TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF A MAN ON THE WAY DOWN. YOU’RE A MAN ON THE WAY UP, PISSING IN A SINK AND SHITTING WHO KNOWS HOW?? WELL, I’M A MAN ON THE WAY DOWN.”
PSH re-lights the sherm, as it’s gone out while he wasn’t paying it enough attention.
“I’m a man on the way down,” he says.
And he smokes the sherm.
Two girls lying on their backs on the roof of the north tower, feet up over the edge, looking at a clear blue sky.
“Let’s cut school today,” Tuesday says.
And Rachel says, “I thought that was a given.”
They laugh, Uzis bouncing up and down on their stomachs. Each girl keeps their hand on the weapon, finger on the trigger. If there’s one rule of carrying an Uzi around it’s that you keep your finger on the trigger at all times. Otherwise, what’s the point of carrying it?
“Why do you think there were no cops on duty?”
“Why are there no planes in the sky?”
“I don’t know, it must be some sort of military holiday or something.”
The sun is coming up all the way now, and they’ve gotten stuck out here with no clothes on.
“No problem,” Tuesday says. “We just hold up a dress store. Or better yet, go into one of the top floor offices and borrow some khakis from some office slaves.”
“Yeah, that’s it. Drop your khakis, you office dweeb.”
“Drop your khakis, you Dilbert-reading motherfucker.”
“If I was the author of Dilbert, I’d kill myself.”
“Because your whole audience is lobotomized office dads who have nothing better to do than laugh at how stupid they are as themselves in their own jobs.”
“What’s your problem with dads? I love dads.”
“Would you fuck a dad?”
“I’d fuck a dad in an instant.”
“You’re a sick puppy, dad lover.”
“Why, you wouldn’t fuck a dad?”
“I’d fuck our dad.”
“You would seriously fuck our dad?”
“Yeah, why not?”
“But what if you had a baby?”
“I never said I’d have his baby!! Then my grandmother would be my uncle and shit.”
“I don’t think that’s exactly right but I see what you mean.”
“My step dad would be my little sister’s fourth cousin and shit.”
“I think you have the details wrong. Your wires are crossed.”
“My fourth cousin once removed would be my fucking great great grandfather and shit.”
“Have you ever changed your own grandmother’s diapers?”
” ‘Cause if I fuck our dad that’s what’s gonna end up happening.”
“You are so sick I don’t believe I’m related to you.”
“All the sick genes pass through the Y chromosome so it actually makes sense.”
“No it doesn’t! If we were boys it might make sense. You have an IQ of like one-hundred point nine nine nine nine—”
Rachel pokes her sister with the tip of her Uzi.
“Why is it so quiet?”
Rachel, then Tuesday, crawls over the edge of the north tower and looks down at the people below, each bracing themself with an empty hand and a hand holding an Uzi.
“Does that look like less people than normal to you?”
“Is it like some sort of Dilbert-reader’s holiday or something? Like if you’ve read over one-hundred comics you don’t have to go to work today?”
The sound of a pebble. Tuesday hears it. She turns and before she even sees it’s one of the skinny country people, she sprays bullets from her Uzi. The skinny country person falls back on her knees, gets off one shot straight up into the air, then her arms go limp.
“I don’t believe you just killed that nice lady,” Rachel says.
“Well you know what they say..”
Tuesday is going through the woman’s pockets, tracing her fingers along the communication device which looks like a black iPhone from 20 years into the future.
Rachel is standing over Tuesday’s shoulder, watching blood seep out of the dead woman.
“What do they say?” she asks.
“What do you mean, ‘What do they say?’ ” Tuesday asks.
“You said, ‘Well you know what they say..’ What do they say?”
Tuesday’s voice is slowed by the sight of the woman she just killed, open eyes, definitely from the skinny country, definitely dead.
“They say..only a fool trips on what’s behind her. Except of course they say it with masculine pronouns, but I figured since it’s just us girls, I might as well go with the feminine..”
Tuesday trails off.
“You realize you just killed someone.”
“Yeah, it doesn’t feel as major as it looks.”
“What are we gonna do?”
Tuesday answers by un-velcroing the woman’s communication device from her suit and holding it to her mouth.
“Um..yeah..the roof is clear.”
From the radio: “Where are those two little girls?”
“They either left or they’re hiding in someone’s office.”
“Well we got a truck we got to get off the street. How long will it take you to get down here?”
Tuesday stands. The camera swirls around her using a technocrane, showing off the whole of her naked body, her Uzi, her white ski mask.
“Negative, Big Papa, I’ll find my own way out.”
“Are you sure?”
“That’s a big A, Big Pops. I’ll see you at the rendezvous,” Tuesday says.
“What rendezvous?” the radio said, and Tuesday flung it against the lip of the tower.
“You killed that woman,” Rachel says in shock.
Tuesday puts her palm on Rachel’s naked back.
“Yeah, if you ever want to fulfill your necropheliac pussy-eating fantasies, this is prob’ly the best chance you’re ever gonna get.”
“You killed that woman!”
“Listen! I know! Give her mouth to mouth if you’ve got a problem with it. Bitch was prob’ly gonna kill us so when you get a free second I’m ready to accept your formal thank you. Until then, see if you can get any more hysterical. Ok!? THAT’S WHAT WE NEED!! MORE PEOPLE TO FREAK OUT!!”
Just then, there was a giant explosion on the side of the south tower and it rocked the top of the tower where Tuesday and Rachel stood.
“That felt like an earthquake,” Rachel said.
She hadn’t seen the explosion.
“Turn around,” Tuesday said.
Then Rachel saw it, a huge fireball still in progress, particulate matter flying out the side of the south tower.
They saw a file cabinet, intact, launch itself from the building.
They saw papers, thousands of papers—tens of thousands—flying like pigeons who had been disturbed in a courtyard.
They saw a man, arms outstretched, disengaging from his office chair, flying away from the building at bullet speed.
Into. The fucking. Sky.
“You’ve never been in an earthquake,” Tuesday said. “You wouldn’t know what it felt like.”
“But that felt like what an earthquake would feel like,” Rachel said.
And Tuesday watched the man as his trajectory went from up, to across, to down, down, down, down, and down past where they could see.
“That was one of those ergonomic motherfuckers, too,” Rachel said. “Not cheap.”
And Tuesday said, “Don’t be rude.”
Here’s what it was like for the people inside the south tower:
Simon E. Peabody, office tool, middle manager extraordinaire, was hurling himself at the floor-to-ceiling window to impress a group of girl scouts. His general thinking was that if he impressed these girl scouts enough, it would increase his chance of getting himself some girl scout pussy in one of the shit-smelling stalls of the men’s bathroom. But he did this every day—he would have been doing it even if there hadn’t been any girl scouts there. He wanted to impress classic, red-headed Anna, his secretary, as well. So he’d run through this speech about how unbreakable the WTC glass was and then he’d hurl himself at full speed, jump into the air, and land against the glass in roughly the fetal position, then fall down, point proven, feeling he had gained much needed office cred since he and everyone else knew he was a horrible manager.
Then one day, the glass would come unglued from the building and Simon E. Peabody, stuntman wannabe, would fall nine million stories alongside a large pane of unbreakable plasti-glass, and they would hit the courtyard bricks below. True to form, the glass would not break, even after this fall—but Simon would.
That’s what would have happened if this had been a normal day.
But this was not a normal day.
Today, exactly at the moment when Simon Peabody launched himself at the glass to try to impress a bunch of 10 year olds, everyone would start screaming. Simon, in a fraction of a second, would think this was cheering for him—like he had miraculously become the NBA player he was meant to be—until he saw the fireball coming from behind the girl scouts and in less time than he had to comprehend, the girl scouts were toast—literally, like toast left in a toaster on burnt for 20 minutes too long, and then he was burnt, and then he didn’t have to think about his burnt-ass piece of toast body falling out of the building with fragments of this so-called unbreakable glass. Well, it turns out a certain kind of military-grade explosive available to maybe five countries in the world could break that unbreakable glass—like you could break a Dorito with your teeth.
Then all you heard was screaming.
Patti—the copier girl?—her arm was on fire. Her leg was on fire, too, she just hadn’t noticed that yet. And whatever was burning her arm was burning through her arm. It was like napalm version 12, tiny particles burned holes through her arm inches deep and her shaking the arm to put it out wasn’t helping.
Oh, then there was Robert—the nice guy who always helped you with SQL questions?—Robert had been blown under his desk and most of his body was porous now. His head was half-solid, half-Swiss cheese, like some still from The Terminator. He would be dead in a few seconds, but for those few seconds, you make eye contact with him through his hand which he’s holding up between the two of you. His brain is burning out and soon there won’t be any more Robert and then who are you going to go to for answers to those tricky SQL questions.
Then there’s you.
You look down. Your dick’s burned off. Oh, your legs are gone—blown away with the explosion. You reach for your cell phone, then realize you have no arms. You see the bulge of the Nokia in your pocket but that’s as far as you can get. You’re on top of your desk, propped against a moveable wall, and your blood has sprayed from you like as if from a hose with a Miracle-Gro attachment on it, literally like the blood flows in From Dusk Till Dawn, and one of the last thoughts that flows through your head is: Maybe that movie isn’t so unrealistic. Maybe blood does spray out of people like water from lawn sprinklers. Maybe people really are zombies and Harvey Keitel will be coming through those doors soon, through the wall of flame from whatever blew up the elevator. And then you look at the window where it looks like something came in, and you see more clearly what you did notice out of the corner of your eye when you came into work this morning. And the last thought that goes through your head, as all the blood drains from your heart, is: Are those shape charges?
Then you’re dead, the point of view switches to Anna, the red-haired secretary? You remember her. Well, Anna is having problems. She’s in the bathroom. She was able to walk there even though she has a softball-sized hole in her torso—in fact several of them. The sits on a toilet and looks down. She sticks her fingers inside one of the holes and touches what she thinks is her liver. This is not how she was supposed to die. In case you care, she was supposed to die in her mother’s bed, the same bed her mother died in and the same bed her grandmother died in, after all their husbands had killed themselves with alcohol or firearms, or, in her case, Anna suspected hers would go with a combination of the two.
She touched her liver.
Then she went for another hole and she could feel her lung, feel it moving as she breathed in and out.
Then she threw up, not in the toilet but on the back of the stall door, just sat there and threw up straight ahead because she knew that there was no way firefighters were gonna get all the way up here and help her down. She had seen the fire in the elevators, and she knew she was going to die right here, in this toilet stall, not in the bed of her mother and grandmother, and she wasn’t stupid—she knew that this sort of thing couldn’t happen without Big Bird’s permission.
That was Anna. Holes in her torso. Reaching inside her own body for a final anatomy lesson. Do you want to hear more? I didn’t think so.
The camera moves out with some impossible Gaspar Noé move that was probably heavily edited in post-production to make it look like the camera is doing something that actually is impossible to do. It retracts back from Anna’s toilet stall, through the elevator fire, down the hallway of the venerable offices of Shrek & Shrek, which is where all these unfortunate motherfuckers worked before they got blown up by some military-grade explosive that a bunch of towel heads from a one-dollar desert could never get their hands on in a lifetime.
And what does Gaspar Noé’s camera see as it passes? It sees a fetus on the carpet—burning, as if dipped in napalm—a surrealistic element designed to express the terror and helplessness of the situation. The baby shakes its arms and legs and screams pointlessly—there is no mother available to take care of this metaphorical baby. It is metaphorically alone. It is metaphorically fucked—if you’re reading me. Then Noé’s camera, crossing the elevator fire, sees a plane-shaped hole in the side of the wall formerly containing the offices of Shrek & Shrek, but there is no plane. The camera makes no comment on this—it is purely photographic—but it can certainly be repeated that there is a plane-shaped hole in the side of the building but no plane inside the building. Gaspar Noé’s camera swirls into the ceiling, as if looking for the plane, or a plane engine, or a plane seat, or a person from a crashed plane, but the camera sees nothing but employees of Shrek & Shrek, burnt to an American Fourth of July motherfucking crisp.
But there? What? Noé’s camera twists in on a scrap of sandpaper, or sandpaper-looking thing—a tiny fragment—and attached to the side of the fragment is green flex-board—like circuit board but it bends to any shape you make it. Noé’s camera pushes in, and we think we’re going to go through the flexi-board but when the camera can’t get any closer it pulls back quickly, then spirals in like the movement of some alien neck, then zooms all the way through the flexi-board/sandpaper thing.
Then we’re traveling through darkness.
Then through an envelope of fire.
Then back in darkness.
Now in a stairwell, where people missing limbs are making their way down even as an overhead announcer declares that, “Everything is fine. Please return to your offices. A small rat was burned in a toaster and that has tickled our building-wide fire and smoke detection system. All office activities are approved at this time. Please return to your desks. There is no cause for alarm. It was a small mouse and our veterinary EMTs have been able to save his life through a combination of mouse-to-mouse resuscitation and a rodent defibrillator. Correct that. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation performed on a tiny mouse. Just a mouse in the toaster, people, no cause for alarm.”
All this while people with no arms and legs are navigating the stairs.
Then Gaspar Noé’s camera pulls way up for an impossible perspective where we can see multiple layers of stairwell with people visible ten floors deep.
Then something goes beep beep beep.
And the stairwell explodes.
Everyone you could see in the shot that was ten floors deep—yeah, all those people are dead. They either got instantaneously blown to fucking bits or the stairwell they were standing on blew out from under them and they suffered a fatal fall of anywhere from five to 20 floors. Then another bomb goes off to destroy the evidence. It’s a little something called a gas-hydrogen micro nuke and I don’t have time to go into it here but it’s a bad mamma jamma.
Noé’s camera quickly pushes into a man holding onto a stair ledge with his only arm. That’s a one-armed man holding onto a stair ledge if you didn’t get it the first time. The camera follows the man’s head as he looks down: total destruction and Die Hard-type fires. Then looks up: his hand, holding onto one of the few pieces of stairway left. Then the camera looks at the man’s face.
Now Gaspar Noé’s camera can’t see the man’s thoughts, but we can. The man thinks: God, please take care of my daughters and my wife— Then he falls. He was going to say more but his fingers gave out and he was so shocked during his two-second fall that he couldn’t muster the ability to add to his short prayer.
I’m an atheist myself but I’m of the mind that a prayer like that, offered sincerely to the heavens at a moment when a man has little time left and he uses it to pray for his girls and his wife..I’m of the mind that such a prayer creates a god, even if only to hear that one prayer, and then sink back into the cosmos. That’s the mind I’m of.
On top of the north tower, Tuesday and Rachel were leaned over the side watching the chaos below.
A burning man ran out of the south tower flapping his arms and screaming.
Rachel said, “Ha! Look at that man in his Hollywood fire suit!!!”
Tuesday said, “That’s not a Hollywood fire suit. That’s a man burning to death.”
Rachel said, “Oh.”
Tuesday looks at Rachel scoldingly.
“I thought they were filming a movie or something.”
“Well let’s watch, Rachel. Let’s watch. Let’s see if the director yells ‘Cut!’ and some fire team comes out and sprays the guy with fire extinguishers and then he stands up and goes back to first position. If that happens then we’ll have a pretty good idea that this is the most elaborate movie set ever invented. But look. Do you see a director? Do you see a camera? Do you see PAs running back and forth getting everyone lattes from Starbucks? Most importantly, do you see the man who is burning to death getting up off the ground?? No, I’m pretty sure Martin Scorsese isn’t fucking down there!! Besides, what about the super spy-looking bitch that was about to kill us!!! If this is a Hollywood movie, I would hate to be the production company that is footing the bill! What about the guy who flew out of the building with his ergonomic chair, Rachel? The chair alone’s got to be at least two-hundred dollars. Do you think they’re going to waste two-hundred bucks a take to ruin a brand new, perfectly functional ergonomic chair just for an effect they can probably add later using fifty bucks worth of Adobe software? Huh? Which they probably won’t even pay for. Huh? They’ll probably have some intern pirate AfterEffects so suddenly a fifty-dollar effect becomes a zero-dollar effect. You get me? You get that they’re not paying the intern, right—you get that. So some freebie employee selects the ergonomic-chair button and then—bingo!—you’ve got your guy flying out of the south tower with his ergonomic chair effect. That’s how they do it in Hollywood, Rachel—they don’t actually launch a guy out of a building. God. Duh.”
PSH was in his stairwell when the earthquake hit. He was talking with Lenny, a trader, a regular customer. Lenny came to Philip’s stairwell every hour, on the hour. He would run in from above Philip on one floor, get a bump off Philip’s key, and run out down below Philip to the floor below. Every time he ran through, that was five dollars for Philip, five dollars, five dollars. Philip loved Lenny even though the two men had never spoken more than twenty distinct words to each other. Philip liked to encourage Lenny. He would say, “Good work, Lenny,” or “Keep it up, Lenny,” and Lenny would run in and out like a track star in a suit, usually only giving Philip the thumbs-up sign. On especially stressful days, he didn’t even do that. But he got his bumps every day, every hour, every minute sometimes, and so both men loved each other, in their way. Each needed the other, and this was one of the little bits of glue that held the City together.
On the 11th of September, 2001, PSH was standing in his stairwell scratching his balls when Lenny came running through. Lenny came up to Philip, tossed his tie over his left shoulder, and bent down. PSH dipped the key into a manilla envelope, bringing up a small mountain of coke which Lenny snorted without even covering his other nostril. He was that good—had done this that many times—that he didn’t need to cover the other nostril. He snorted the coke and handed Philip a crisp fiver.
Then it hit. Both men struggled to stand.
“What the fuck was that,” Philip said.
“It sounded like an earthquake,” Lenny said.
Then it hit again, and the stairway broke in two. It broke right where the men were standing, and PSH reached out his hand automatically and grabbed Lenny by the tie. He pulled him back in, or else Lenny would have fallen one floor, to the next level down.
“What the fuck?”
“We don’t have earthquakes in New York.”
“Well we do, they’re just very small and very rare.”
“But that wasn’t no earthquake,” Philip said.
“No. That was an explosion. Gimme another bump.”
Lenny leaned over and snorted off Philip’s key.
“I’m out of fives. I have to hit the cash machine.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Philip said. “That one’s on me.”
“Thanks man, I gotta get back to the desk. Do I look alright?”
Philip checks Lenny’s nose.
“Yeah, you’re fine. Don’t work too hard.”
And Lenny ran down the rest of the stairs to his normal exit.
He was gone.
PSH looked at the gap in the stairwell and took a step back.
Should I take the rest of the day off? he asked himself.
But he decided no, what’s a little building explosion? The fire department was probably on the way. It’s New York—shit happens.
No one came down the stairs for a while. Philip started thinking about this joke t-shirt he had found in Chinatown and sent to his sister in Portland. The shirt said, “WELCOME TO NEW YORK—DUCK, MOTHERFUCKER!!” and they had both thought it was very, very funny. PSH was having random thoughts of his sister when a flood of people came running down the stairs and reached the gap just above where he was standing.
They were bloodied. They all looked liked they had been hit by a truck, run from a burning building, and gotten in a street fight, punched to the point of needing a hospital, then shot, stabbed, and given bad hair cuts. A woman with frizzed-out wiry hair came to the gap first. She had blood coming out of her ears and it looked like one of her breasts had been removed.
“Help,” she said.
It came out like a squeak. Not the roar of a lion that should have come out of this New Yorker’s mouth, but the squeak of a tiny mouse who was in the wrong city at the wrong time.
PSH automatically dropped his manilla envelope and a streak of white powder fell out on the floor. He let go of the key, which was hung around his neck on a green ribbon.
“Here,” he said, and grabbed the woman.
She bent down.
PSH was a big guy, and this was a helpful aspect in the current situation. He took the woman by her armpits and moved her over the gap where one step that should have been several feet over PSH’s head was really at his chest.
Down. One. The woman with the frizzy hair.
Then the next. Some pipsqueak who looked like it was his first day on the job.
“You ok little guy? It’s going to be ok, ok?”
The little guy just said, “There’s a fire.”
The woman with the frizzy hair and the pipsqueak kept going down the stairs. Then came a Noah’s Ark worth of people, right at Philip’s gap, and it was like he had been placed there, at his exact, usual spot—been placed there on this day for a special reason.
A man with a fat belly, wrinkle lines in his forehead a centimeter deep—PSH lowered him across the gap with ease.
“Thank you,” the man said.
Philip had no idea he was saving lives. He just thought there was a fire. He had no idea the fire was rushing through the building like some devil from a Michael Bay film, rolling in slow motion and swallowing some people whole, while others, lucky, ended up in Philip’s stairwell.
All in all, he moved one-hundred fifty-seven people from the top of that four-foot gap to its bottom, and they were able to continue down the stairs and out of the building, even though the announcer kept saying that there was no problem and to get back to work and keep working and a dollar is a day and a day is a dollar—there was no reason a little plane crash should interrupt the work on floors that weren’t even affected.
Philip heard this announcement and he asked a petite woman, maybe sixty-five, if she had seen the plane.
“Plane? What plane? There’s a fire,” she said, like Philip was stupid.
“Ok,” he said, “on your way.”
And he lowered her across the gap.
People came through with no arms.
This must be some hell of a fire, Philip thought.
He had to hug a man’s torso and the man kind of jump/leaned down so Philip could grab him and set him down. The man was in shock and didn’t say anything.
People came through with office equipment and pieces of the building stuck into their bodies. One woman had concrete shards pockmarking the right side of her body like some character from X-Men.
What kind of a fire does that? Philip wondered.
But he lowered her down. And she continued out of the building. And that saved her life.
The pile of coke was trampled into worthlessness, spread over the floor so fine that it wasn’t even there anymore. At one point Philip kicked it into the gap below and he didn’t even notice, he was helping a man his own age—though in much better shape—across the gap.
“Do you work out?” Philip said, trying to calm the man.
“I mountain bike.”
“Oh! Mountain biking! That’s great, man.”
Philip thought of his own swollen belly.
“Keep it up! It’s good to be healthy.”
PSH set the man on his feet. Philip was sweating at the armpits but he wasn’t even aware of that. He did’t have time to think. When you’re standing at a gap and a drove of injured people come to you to cross down into safety, then that becomes your gap. It’s natural, it happens without your thinking—you just act. This was Philip’s gap and he no longer sold cocaine to futures traders, he was The Man Who Bridged the Gap, and when his hundred and fifty-seven people had come and gone, Philip stood in the stairway and he thought, vaguely:
Maybe I should get out of here.
Then he thought, vaguely:
Maybe there are more to help.
But no one was coming.
All his coke was gone.
He thought about reloading, coming back, and standing post for Lenny and the hundreds of others he sold bumps to each day. With such a fire—or explosion or whatever—there was sure to be a need for bumps. And if it was a plane—I mean it’s not every day a small plane crashes into the World Trade Center!—people were gonna need their coke.
Then Philip heard a voice. A British accent.
“Philip? Philip, what you doing? You’re standing in a war zone!”
Philip turned around.
It was Vaughn, the guy from the subway this morning.
“Vaughn! What are you doing here?”
“I came to check on you, mate! I heard there was a fire.”
“Yeah, there was. Big fire. I’ve been helping people.”
“Well there ain’t no more people to help, my friend. It’s time to help yourself. You’re in shock, mate. Take my hand.”
And slowly, Vaughn cracked the sculpture that was Philip Seymour Hoffman and led the big man down the stairs.
When they got outside, Vaughn hugged Seymour.
“Get yourself home, my American friend.”
“Where are you going?”
“To my room. To paint. I paint every day.”
“Even when there’s an explosion?”
“Every day. Go home, man.”
“Ok, thanks. Vaughn, thank you.”
“You’re welcome. And drop your gear. There’s cops everywhere.”
Philip looked around. It looked like a bomb had gone off. Maybe another terror attack? But if people were running from above, why was there a bomb down here?
Philip shook his head.
He decided to go uptown.
He went out of the WTC block and up the street, where police were processing people in long lines.
“Survivor or first responder?” a woman said in a dead voice.
Each person who passed her told her what they were.
The woman then took their IDs.
If you were a survivor, they cut you a check right there, made you sign some forms that said you would never sue the City of New York or the proprietors of the World Trade Center, then they let you go.
If you were a first responder, they cut you an even larger check, made you sign the same disclaimers, and forced you through the checkpoint.
Philip waited his turn.
When he got to the front, the woman said, “Survivor or first responder?”
“I don’t know,” Philip said. “I just need to get to my apartment.”
“Do you work in the World Trade Center,” the woman asked.
My fake PSH held his fingers together and smiled exactly like the real Philip Seymour Hoffman would.
“Well, no, not exactly. I’m what you’d call an independent contractor.”
Philip handed her his ID without even thinking.
The woman ran it.
“Says here you have a warrant for possession with intent.”
“Uh..uh..I’m a first responder. I was in the stairwell. There was a gap and you could say that was my gap. I don’t think you’re dealing with a small plane incursion here..I think this is more of an explosion because I was seeing people come through my stairwell with pieces of the building embedded into their skin so I think you should look for more explosives inside the building.”
“Are you saying you placed explosives inside the building?”
“Because what we’re dealing with here is a plane crash.”
“Ok, fine, I hear that. I’m just saying what kind of plane crash embeds pieces of concrete into the side of a woman’s face? Have you seen the X-Men movie?”
“Sarge!” the woman says.
A bald-headed guy comes over.
“This guy has a warrant for intent. He’s talking crazy. You want me to send him to Bellevue or book ‘im?”
“Bellevue?” PSH says. “I’m not crazy I’m just telling you that was no plane crash!!”
The sergeant looks Philip over.
“Book ‘im,” he says.
“But I just need to go to my apartment!”
“You have a warrant for possession with intent to distribute an illegal substance! Book his ass and if he smart-mouths you, kick ‘im in the nuts and tell ‘im that’s from God, come down to pay him back for all his sins. If he complains, kick ‘im in the nuts again, from me, and remind him felons don’t have rights in this country and if he opens his mouth again, hit ‘im in the nuts with your nightstick and tell him he’s going to hell. That’s the only way to handle these goody two-shoes first-time offenders. You think you’re going to your apartment? You’re going to jail, son. And that shit-stained asshole of yours is going to be lubricated by the venomous semen of every murderer and rapist in this city. Understand? You’re in my world now, you fucking faggot. Get ‘im out of my sight before I go Bruce Lee on this fat-ass fatherfucking white-bread piece of shit.”
“You got it, sir.”
And they cuffed PSH, put him in a car with two other stinky fat-ass fatherfucking white-bread pieces of shit, drove him uptown, took his picture, printed him, checked him in, and by noon he was in a six by six where he was to spend every waking and sleeping hour of the next eight years of his pathetic fatherfucking life.
“I’m not going to read the script,” Kelly said.
Kelly’s job was to read the script. Kelly had gone to an all-girls school outside of Philadelphia and she had studied journalism, which for a girl like her consisted of reading the script.
There was a window behind her that faced the towers and she turned around to it.
“One. Two,” she said. “No towers have collapsed. Do I need new glasses? Does anyone here see a collapsed tower?”
“You don’t need new glasses. If you don’t read the script,” her boss said, “you’re gonna need a new job.”
There was a vein in his forehead about a quarter of an inch thick. This secretly made Kelly very, very happy. She imagined his brain imploding, or whatever happens when a forehead vein bursts. She was pretty sure if she didn’t read the script that his forehead vein would burst. Then there would be medical teams all over the place and no one would give a shit if she read the script.
A man in a black suit came from behind the crowd of production people. He walked right up to Kelly. He knelt beside her.
He said, “Do you know what my name is?”
“My name is Agent #2,” he said, “and I need you to read that script.”
“Well I’m not reading it.”
“Let me ask you something—”
“Is that your real name or is that like your poet name or something.”
“Kelly, I need you to listen very carefully. What size is your asshole? Pencil, dime, penny, nickel, quarter, fist, gaping fist.”
“My asshole is so puckered up there isn’t a hole,” Kelly said.
“Well,” Agent #2 said, “all that can change.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Have you ever heard of something called the electric centipede?”
“Is that some kind of sex thing?”
“Kelly, if you don’t read the script in 60 seconds I’m going to take you to a non-disclosed location and then I’m going to take a rubber tube that’s about as big around as a quarter and I’m going to stick that tube up your ass, then I’m going to pump you full of gas—well a gas—and I’m going to step outside the room and use a sparking mechanism to blow you up from the inside. But first I’m going to stick an electrified centipede up your urethra.”
Agent #2 waited for this news to sink into Kelly’s Ivy League brain.
Kelly looks at Agent 2, confused, and says, “Are you the eHarmony guy? ‘Cause you look like the eHarmony guy. And I didn’t fill out anything about an electrified centipede on my questionnaire.”
“Well we have services that aren’t on the questionnaire.”
“So you are the eHarmony guy.”
“Kelly. I work for the IAA—the International Agency Agency—have you ever heard of us?”
“Do you know why you’ve never heard of us?”
“Because we don’t want you to have heard of us.”
“Ok, so you’re like the eHarmony behind eHarmony.”
“In a manner of speaking.”
“Well have you processed my profile? Because the website said you would process my profile within a week and if you found any applicable mates it would notify me via email. Was there a problem with my application?”
“Yes, a small problem. When we analyzed your profile we found that you have a resistance to authority. Many men won’t date a woman who is too oppositional in nature. To prove that you’re ready to use our services, I need you to read this script on air.”
“Oh. And if I read this, then my application will be complete?”
“That’s right. Your application will be completely processed, we can skip the electrified centipede thing and the thing where I blow you up through your butthole, and within a few days men should be contacting you through our site.”
“But I’m a lesbian.”
“Live a little, Kelly—just read the script so I don’t have to kill you.”
“Are you serious? You really work for the International—”
“The International Agency Agency, that’s right.”
“Is that like Men in Black?”
“It’s exactly like Men in Black except it’s not a comedy. Now read the script, honey, or I’m going to stick an electrified centipede up your urethra.”
“Ok, ok, just—stop talking about my urethra. That word is making me nervous.”
“Well your not reading this script is making me nervous.”
“We ready to shoot?” says the director.
Kelly nods, looking straight at the prompter.
“What you’re seeing now,” Kelly says, “is the collapse of the south tower. Motherfucking towel heads did this. Join the skinny country now and let’s all get together for a nuclear war in the middle east. Round up all the towel heads in your neighborhoods and let’s have ourselves a lynching. Like in the good ole days. Remember the days before there was more than one kind of religion and one kind of person—one type of sexuality and one type of gendering? These dark-skinned terrorists must be stopped before white America is corrupted by sand nigger suicide bombers who threaten to destroy everything our beautiful country was built on. If we let this stand,” Kelly says, “next there will be a Muslim in the White House instead of a good-ole-boy cowboy wannabe who can rope evil into submission like a farm hand roping a steer. Look at the picture of this man: virile, honest, a straight talker. He hasn’t led us astray. He has kept us safe. He is the son of wealth and that’s what we need in the oval office: men propped up by the easel of inherited wealth and inherited political capital. Dynasty families. Look at the building behind me..collapsing..”
Kelly turned and looked behind her.
No building was collapsing.
“..collapsing, killing untold thousands of innocent Americans. Stock market traders. Hot dog vendors. The hundreds of janitors needed to maintain a complex like the WTC. This is an attack on the American way of life, by sand niggers who don’t have two pennies to rub together. Motherfuckers. These are the same motherfuckers that murdered the indians. They are working with North Korea to develop a SuperBomb—”
Kelly halted at the capitalization.
“—a SuperBomb that you put in the water that only targets Americans. Once this bomb is placed in Niagara Falls, every God-loving American who drinks from the water will be killed. White people will be targeted through genetic profiling. After the SuperBomb apocalypse, there will be no more white people in the world—only dark-skinned African niggers and Native American indians and the vermin we call sand niggers. The US Government, taken over by these various form of nigger, will use your tax dollars to issue reparations for every supposed ill the Great Country of America has committed over the last three-hundred years. We may even have to pay back money for the French.”
The teleprompter was garbled here. Kelly filled in.
“I’m not sure why we’d have to pay money to the French but god dammit don’t you hate the fucking French!” she said, all of that improvised.
Agent 2 beamed.
“If we don’t act now by purchasing assault rifles and rounding up all the towel heads in each of your motherfucking neighborhoods—” (Kelly ad-libbed motherfucking) “—then the north tower will fall. So what do you want? This is the people’s choice. We demand action..here..at Action News 187..fuck the sand niggers in the ass no matter if their ass is the size of a pencil, a dime, a penny, a nickel, a quarter, a fist, a gaping fist, or a puckered-up asshole like mine that doesn’t have a hole at all. The time is now. Murder your neighbor. Fuck you all. These are the final days! A mark will be placed on the door of all Muslims. Firebombing will ensue. Make a mark. Firebomb houses with the mark. Find Muslim community centers and all those motherfuckers standing in line at Office Depot in those stupid religious costumes buying a cell phone. Choose, motherfuckers. And you know how you have to press one for Spanish and two for English. Fuck that. English is the national language! If you’re going to come here illegally, at least learn the motherfucking language. Stupid motherfucking Mexicans standing around Home Depot looking for work. GET A FUCKING JOB!!”
Kelly stood up on this last and her director and Agent #2 were holding back applause like they were at the Oscars.
Kelly got up on the news desk. She reached her hand up her long skirt and said:
“WE ARE COMING FOR YOU, MOTHERFUCKERS. WE ARE GOING TO STICK AN ELECTRIFIED CENTIPEDE UP YOUR URETHRA AND TORTURE THE INFORMATION OUT OF YOU. WE KNOW YOU’RE HARBORING SLAVES. I MEAN. WE KNOW YOU’RE HARBORING THE INFIDEL. ISLAM IS THE ENEMY OF AMERICA. TOWEL HEADS THE WORLD OVER ARE TEACHING THEIR CHILDREN FIVE LITTLE LETTERS: J-I-H-A-D. LOOK TO IT, ALL LOVERS OF AMERICA, ESPECIALLY WHITE CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE A BIRTHRIGHT TO THIS, THE MOST POWERFUL NATION IN THE WORLD, THE MOST SPECIAL NATION, THE SMARTEST AND RICHEST AND MOST GLAMOROUS NATION IN THE WORLD.”
Then Kelly was lying back on the news desk and it looked like she was feeling her magical Bryn Mawr vulva while grabbing one breast through a white blouse.
She was moaning.
The camera zoomed in on her face.
Her irises turned red and smoke came out of her nose and mouth. She said:
“Beelzebub, I offer myself to you in the service of my Country, God, and Glory of the American ideals of Independence, Liberty, Freedom, and the Right to Bear Motherfucking Arms.”
Then she started stabbing her pussy over her skirt with an imaginary crucifix.
“FUCK ISLAM. THERE AREN’T ANY VIRGINS IN HELL, COCKSUCKERS!! ALL THAT’S WAITING FOR YOU SUICIDE MOTHERFUCKERS IS BRYN MAWR GIRLS LIKE ME, AND WE’VE BEEN FUCKED BY OUR FATHERS SINCE AGE EIGHT AND OUR VAGINAS ARE WORTHLESS TO YOUR SLAVE-BEHEADING COCKS. WHEN YOU GO TO HELL, IT’LL JUST BE ME AND MY SORORITY BITCHES AND IT IS TRUE THAT IN THE VERY BACK, VAGINAS HAVE TEETH AND WE’RE JUST GONNA CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP ON YOUR LITTLE MUSLIM DICKS LIKE ME BEATING YOUR ASS IN PAC-MAN, MOTHERFUCKER!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!”
Then Kelly’s eyes rolled back in her head and the entire studio was quiet.
Behind her, towers north and south stood tall, neither one collapsed.
Agent #2 looked at the director.
“Well, did we get it?” asked the director.
“That’s good enough for me,” said the agent.
Kelly was unrolling her fingers from the edge of the news desk. She sat down in the rolling chair, head held high, proud of her delivery.
Agent 2 handed her an envelope.
“What’s this, my bonus?”
“It’s more like a reverse bonus.”
Kelly looked inside the envelope, which wasn’t sealed.
Inside was a centipede with electric leads attached to its hind legs.
I remember what it was like to watch the tower fall. The south tower, before any of us knew what the hell was going to happen. We’re all in our living rooms, watching fire pour out of the World Trade Center, trying to wrap our minds around how in the fuck terrorists had managed to fly not one but two planes into what must be some of the most protected buildings in the world.
I mean it was like: Is nobody watching the store? Think of all the systems that had to fail for this to happen. Our agencies—the alphabet ones—aren’t they supposed to be spending billions of dollars a year eavesdropping on motherfuckers in caves? Aren’t they supposed to know exactly what motherfuckers like that are thinking, when they brush their teeth, when they take a shit..
And then isn’t there an air traffic control system? When a fucking 767 deviates 180° and heads for downtown Manhattan isn’t somebody supposed to notice? And when one plane hits, isn’t somebody in the military being paid to have half an imagination and suspect that there might be more? Apparently not.
It was like, that morning, all systems were told to stand down and let this bullshit happen—and the more we know, the more it seems like that’s exactly what happened.
But let’s go back. Let’s forget the 9/11 truthers and all the theories and counter-theories and all the official reports and the unofficial reports, and let’s go to that morning, clear and simple.
You’re watching your TV. You think a tragedy’s happened.
But the real tragedy hasn’t happened yet.
We all think that a plane crashing into a building is bad.
Then we think a second plane crashing into a second building is insidious.
Suddenly the game has changed.
Suddenly it’s not an accident.
And wow. We’ve had hijacked planes before but nobody every thought of this!
The assumption before is the attackers wanted money, prisoner trade, or some political concession.
Not that they would kill themselves just to cause chaos.
And let’s forget about who’s responsible, whether Big Bird knew or not, whether it was an inside job. Forget that shit.
And just remember, for a second, what it was like to watch a building collapse upon itself in a way that nobody inside it could have lived. To watch what was a small picture on your screen, which was really a huge building, and to watch that building fall in upon itself producing nothing but powder.
And knowing, in those three seconds, how many people’s lives were snuffed out.
In a way that all they found was fingers.
And for what? What was that? Was it an act of terror? Was it political theatre of the very first order? Or is that just what a bank robbery looks like in 2001?
We may never know.
But we all know that to waste life like that is evil.
Yes, evil, like as in from the prophets and the Bible and the Garden of Eden. Evil as in the devil—may we never say his name.
And yet, whoever was responsible for this, the US has been responsible for much worse. As the only country to ever use atomic weapons in war, we got off light on 9/11.
Hiroshima. One-hundred fifty thousand. Dead.
Nagasaki. Eighty thousand. Dead.
We did what we had to, to end the war.
Japanese lives are different than American ones.
There’s no moral equivalence.
And a building crashes into itself, pulverizes itself, filling lower Manhattan with—what?—dust?—for days.
The dust of human bodies.
Organs and skin and bones and brains—turned into dust like the sickest magician’s trick in the history of time.
Except every time we did it before.
Nagasaki wasn’t even pulverized—it was vaporized.
Flash of light—nothing.
At least we got to see the dust of our ancestors hang around for a while.
At least those who lived at the time got to see the dust of their friends hang around in the air in lower Manhattan for a while.
Dust that mysteriously made those who breathed it, sick, sick in ways that pulverized concrete and human bodies shouldn’t have. Oh, but I said I wasn’t going to get into that.
Because some people still believe those buildings fell because of jet fuel.
So for the naive, for those who cannot read the signs, let’s just stick to what we saw on TV:
One building down. Two buildings down.
Because nobody in the history of the world had ever seen a building full of people magically turn itself into dust before. And no matter how that happened, that is a horrifying sight.
Fuck your pancake theories, your jet fuel theories, your thermite theories. It doesn’t matter how it happened. What matters is all of us, staring at our televisions, imagining what it must have been like to be one of those people in the last seconds of their lives. And listening to audio of them, from their chest mikes, as they said, “Oh my god!” and you couldn’t even hear the last part of “God” because that’s when they got pulverized by a building that exploded itself to death.
What must that have been like, to be exploded or crushed or put in a food processor and have someone press purée. It’s nightmare stuff. It’s stuff you don’t think about for days—it’s stuff that never leaves your mind in a lifetime.
The Challenger explosion was also something one never forgets. The horror we imagine those astronauts went through. But that was an accident—at least we think it was.
Where this building-crushing thing was not an accident.
It was so not an accident.
In fact, it was so not an accident that it’s hard for a thinking person to fathom that at least three political factions were not involved, probably not communicating with each other overtly, probably piggybacking on each other’s plans.
True spy stuff.
Awesome spy stuff.
The only problem is, who’s footing the bill? The people you’re killing? The people who are collateral damage in whatever larger operation this was supposed to be? No one knows how to cut it—but no matter how you cut it, it’s wrong.
A thousand voices, all crying out at once, then silenced—like something from Star Wars. Obi-Wan felt a disturbance in the Force. He had to sit down, catch his breath, and re-evaluate the universe.
I guess you had to be there to really feel the JFK assassination. I guess you had to be there to really feel MLK. And you probably had to be there to get the horror of 9/11. You had to be sitting at your TV wondering how terrorists got ahold of multiple planes at the same freaking time and you had to be thinking how horrible those fires were inside the towers when the devil pulled a rabbit out of his hat and made that tower fall. And what had been merely horror turned into something that no one had a name for. Because it had never happened before.
And you were watching it on TV—the entertainment device! This is the screen that showed Seinfeld reruns and Letterman and Friends. And now it was showing you this!
And this was real.
And it was really real because you have a cousin in Manhattan and all the cell circuits in Manhattan are busy. She’s probably ok. But probably isn’t good enough. And the truth is she’s uptown. She looked at the towers before she walked into a bagel shop, to orient herself. When she left the bagel shop, one tower was gone. She’s totally helpless to stop the magic trick that someone is pulling off in front of our eyes—want to watch me make a building disappear??!?!?!?! Poof! There goes your mother. Poof! There goes your father. Poof! There goes your freedom.
Pretty funny joke, hooah?
Pretty funny to get a bunch of saps to be “first responders” and firefighter “heroes” to fuck up their lungs with whatever’s in that air—oh and get crushed in stairwell 10 and stairwell 5 and in the lobby.
A firefighter walks into the lobby of the south tower before it collapses. It looks like a bomb went off. But the plane hit at at the top—why is there evidence of a blast down here? Then someone hears him screaming, “Oh my Gooooooooood!” on his radio and that’s it.
I don’t call that a hero.
I call it a motherfuckin’ victim.
A hero dies for a purpose.
A lamb who goes to slaughter is not a hero.
You and I?—we’re ants, we’re lambs, we’re not the ones who own the slaughterhouses and the sickle/scythes that cut our wooly throats.
Some talk of the singularity: a technological age where AI will outpace humanity in terms of smarts to such a degree that when we look at the world, we’ll be like a fish looking at a typewriter. Everyone thinks this will look like something out of Terminator 2. But look at 9/11. Some entities, larger than a single person, made up of interests and technology, have in front of our very eyes done something that seven billion people, no matter how hard we look at it, cannot figure out. So do we need to wait for Skynet to become self-aware, or did maybe—just maybe—this singularity already happen.
They say the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.
I think we know he exists.
And I think he’s fucking with us, doing extraordinary shit right in front of our eyes that we’ll never understand.
Reverse reverse reverse. Reverse a thousand souls crying out and Obi-Wan feeling a disturbance in the force.
Reverse to two guys talking. They’re in the south tower. Behind them is the burning refuse of—well—the rest of their office. That sexy intern they both wanted to fuck..unfortunately her head’s blown off and she doesn’t look so sexy anymore.
“Shame,” one guy says.
“Shame,” says the other.
“The things I wanted to do to that bitch.”
“Ever since we hired her. Was she paid?”
“No, she was unpaid. Dragged that hot piece of pussy up all these floors every day for free just to get her foot in the door!”
Both guys laugh.
“Fucking cunt. What kind of cunt takes an unpaid internship? Doesn’t she know what she’s worth?”
“You mean because she went to Wellesley?”
“No I mean doesn’t she know what she’s worth on the street.”
“As a piece of ass?”
“As a piece of ass. Girl like that could make one, two thou a day.”
“It’s too bad that fucking cunt got her head blown off. I would have fucked that girl, here at the end of the world.”
“Definitely, dude. Definitely. She would have fucked you at the end of the world.”
“You think anyone’s coming for us?”
“You wanna fuck that bitch’s corpse with me?”
Guy #2 takes in a long breath. Then he says, “Sure.”
So these two gentlemen drag the headless bitch out through the bottom of her desk.
“Guess we ought to take her panties off.”
So they work off her dress, then her panties. I mean if you’re going to die you might as well fuck the intern’s corpse. It’s like..a rule of the universe, man.
“Damn, look at that.”
“Look at what?”
“Look at that pussy! God damn that’s too bad that bitch is a headless corpse right now. I’d like to see the look on that bitch’s face when I stick it in.”
“Her head’s right over here. You want me to hold up her head so you can look at her dead skull while you fuck her?”
“Yeah. You don’t mind?”
“As long as you don’t mind returning the favor, my brotha.”
“Not a problem,” says guy #1, unzipping his pants.
“You might have to eat that bitch out a little.”
“Why would I have to eat her out?”
” ‘Cause I’ve read that when a hot bitch like that hot cunt right there is in a traumatic event—like an explosion—that the bitch’s cunt dries up like immediately. The fear causes her natural biological mechanism to say: Hey, this isn’t a good environment for mating and reproduction, so let me dry up this cooch to save some resources.”
“Where the fuck did you read that?”
“Well, take off her shirt so I can see her tits. I can’t cum unless I can see a bitch’s tits.”
Guy #2 rips down the front of the shirt, popping the buttons. The decapitated intern is wearing a red bra.
“Oooh, this bitch is making my dick hard already.”
“That is one cock-happy intern.”
“Fuck yeah. Damn-near perfect intern.”
Guy #1 takes off the corpse’s shoes. He spreads her legs. He pulls his cock right out of his pants and doesn’t even mind that guy #2 can see his veiny rock-hard penis.
“Nice cock. No homo.”
“Thanks bro. Do you think you can move her mouth and make voices like she’s cumming when I fuck her? I want to realistically believe that this bitch is enjoying this experience or I’m not sure I’ll be able to cum.”
So guy #1 eats out the dead, decapitated unpaid intern. Did I mention she has no head? He eats her lightly furry pussy and gets it as wet as it’s gonna get.
“I think you’re right.”
“About bitches’ cooters like drying up and shit when reproductive conditions aren’t ideal.”
“You want me to look for some hand lotion?”
They both look back into the building. Behind them, ten feet away, is a wall of fire. Totally impenetrable. Desks melting, no way to get to the elevator. It’s just them, a wall of fire, the headless intern, and a hole in the side of the south tower. Like I said: it’s the end of the world.
“No, I better fuck this bitch before we have to jump.”
“I’m not gonna jump.”
“Oh yes you are, mate. Any man, faced with being burned to death and jumping off a building, will jump off the building. Look, this isn’t a situation where you’re going to get asphyxiated by smoke and be unconscious when your body is being consumed by flames. See all this ventilation? Plenty of air to breathe. No. No man has the willpower to allow himself to be burned to death when he has a way out. Even if it’s..that..way out.”
“Did you say ‘mate’? What, are you becoming Australian now?”
“No, I just like to say ‘mate’ sometimes. The chicks dig it.”
“Ok, well my offer to make this chick’s dead skull make cumming sounds is expiring soon so you better fuck this corpse with a quickness.”
“Again with the mate!”
“Fuck you, mate! I can say mate all I want!”
“Just fuck the intern!”
“Don’t call her ‘the intern.’ Her name was Alice Chen.”
“Was that really her name?”
“I don’t fucking know. But she looks about half-Asian, wouldn’t you say?”
“About half, yeah.”
“Hence Chen for the Asian part and Alice for the other part.”
“Would you stick your dick in this unpaid cunt before I throw this skull off the side of this building?”
So dude #1 kneels with his fucking raging erection and pushes it into the tiny hole that makes up Alice Chen’s dead vagina.
“Fuck, this bitch is tight!”
“Is she a virgin?”
“She ain’t a virgin, mate—but she’s a tight fucking whore!”
Dude #1 looks to his friend with pure childish delight, wonder, amazement.
“Dude, she feels amazing. I’ve never fucked a dead chick before. Once you get past the first two inches she’s wetter than a washcloth. Fuck, Alice, you’re the best dead chick I’ve ever had. Remind me to thank your boyfriend after I jump out of this building. I hope your uterus and shit is still working ’cause I wanna have a baby with you and I think we should shift your status to paid ’cause this is the best hapa pussy I’ve ever had, mate!!”
“That’s like half-Asian, half-American, mate. Make her face move.”
So dude #2 moves Alice’s lips and goes: “Oooooouuuuhhhhmmmm.”
“Yeah, buddy, do that again.”
So dude #2 sets the skull on his lap and opens its eyes. He reaches in and pulls out Alice’s tongue and goes: “Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Fuck my dead pussy. Fuck my dead little hole.”
“Fuck, dude, you’re good at this. I’m gonna cum in this bitch for sure.”
“I’m really happy for you.”
“Actually, hand me that head.”
Dude #1 ejects his dick from the dead intern and catches the head which dude #2 tosses to him. He pulls the tongue out again and fucks his cock with the head. Veiny entrails hang out of her neck, part of her spine. Dude #1 gives himself head with the unpaid intern’s skull, going:
“Yeah, baby, yeah!! You sly little fucking badger. I always wanted to get head from a hapa badger like yourself on the side of a burning building WHY DIDN’T THEY PUT PARACHUTES UP HERE??!!”
“They prob’ly never thought of a fire this high.”
“Are you kidding??” says guy #1, fucking the intern’s dead throat, precum gathering on the tip of his cock. “This is what architects live to do. They plan for fires, nuclear explosions, plane crashes. These buildings are made to withstand multiple 747 impacts, dude. This bitch’s mouth is still wet. I mean there’s still some of her real saliva in here. I think I’m gonna get off in this bitch’s dead mouth. Fuck that bitch before we jump, dude.”
“Why not? Don’t tell me it’s ’cause I already fucked her, dude!! Look at this situation!!! We’re bros now, mate. We ride together, we die together. In situations like this, different rules apply. You can fuck her. Go ahead. I didn’t get hardly any semen in her. She’s fresh for you mate, I just loosened up that pinhole of a pussy for ya!!! Haha!! Alice I love you!!! You fucked-up slut, you let me fuck your head like this!! I love how fucked up you are, Alice. I saw the way you looked at me. It was like you could say with your eyes: I hope this building blows up so you’ll be able to fuck my decapitated head, you fucking stud. That’s right, call me a stud, bitch. Call me a stud. IF I HAD KNOWN HOW MUCH FUN IT IS TO FUCK A DECAPITATED HAPA HEAD I WOULD HAVE DONE IT BEFORE NOW!! FUCK YOU, AMERICA—YOU’VE BEEN HOLDING OUT ON ME!! IT TAKES A FUCKING TERRORIST ATTACK TO TURN ME ON TO THIS SHIT?! FUCKING HAPA BITCH!! FUCK!!! FUCK!!!! FUCK!!!!! I’M CUMMING!!!!!!” he yells, and throws the girl’s head off the side of the south tower from 80 stories up.
Cum strings out of her mouth as she falls.
The man raises his hands above his head, cock sticking out of his suit pants, and yells a barbaric yawp. He looks over the city that has been his home since boyhood, and he feels the flames at his back.
Part of Alice’s body is charred.
Dude #2 covers her breasts with her shirt. He stands.
“Did you just cum in a dead girl’s face and throw it over the side of our office?”
“Yeah, I think I did.”
“Are you gonna jump now?”
“Only two ways out of this rodeo.”
“Yes?” says dude #1.
“I just wanted to tell you, that since day one—and this isn’t based at all on what you just did to our intern’s head—but ever since day one when it was just you and me in the conference room and you gave me the overview of our systems, I thought you were a dick.”
And dude #2 turns to the right and steps backward off the 80th floor of the World Trade Center.
He doesn’t make a sound all the way down.
Dude #1 stands there, flames burning, dead intern at his feet, and he says:
“I am a dick.”
Tuesday and Rachel lay atop tower #1—the north tower—with their Uzis beside them, their legs spread, and their feet propped up on the building ledge.
Tuesday had the dead woman’s communicator pressed to her ear.
“Breaker breaker 1-2. Come in breaker breaker. This is Arctic Fox.”
She whispered to Rachel: “Arctic Fox because of the white ski mask.”
Rachel nodded vigorously.
“Breaker breaker come in breaker we’ve got a fire in tower #1. Repeat. Breaker. Fire in tower 1. Over.”
She jumped when someone came in over the wire.
“This is Agent 2 say again.”
“This is Arctic Fox go ahead Agent 2.”
“Who is this??”
“Arctic Fox who the fuck is this??”
“This is Agent 2 who the fuck is Arctic Fox?”
“The sexy bitch you’re talking to. I’m only 17 and I’m ready, and waiting, and open, for you, to justify my love HAHAHA motherfucker I got ya that’s Madonna lyrics ya hornball where are you, Agent 2, you sexy motherfucker shakin’ that ass..sexy motherfucker shakin’ that ass GOT YOU those are Price lyrics motherfucker who am I talking to I WANT ANSWERS YOU LIMEY BASTARD start giving me answers now or I’ll release the Kraken!”
“Where did you get this com??”
“I’m asking the questions, Agent 2. Now who’s directing this picture? Is this DreamWorks SKG, A Spike Lee Joint, what?”
“Who are you?”
“I’m the bitch that’s gonna put a bullet in the back of your brain. Now tell me who’s directing this picture.”
“Of course I mean metaphorically. When the curtain closes on this motherfucker, who’s gonna foot the bill?”
“Even if I had that information, I couldn’t give it to you.”
“Well all I’m sayin’ is a motherfucker better look over a motherfucker’s shoulder, you know what I’m sayin’?”
“I’m looking. There’s nobody here.”
“What’s your location, #2?”
“You know I can’t tell you that!”
“Well what are your plans for the north tower? ‘Cause I’m sunbathing up here with my friend—well, more like half-sister—and we were wondering if this a good place for a beach party? If you catch my drift.”
“Yeah I catch your drift and no, it’s not a good place for a beach party.”
“No I didn’t think so. Listen, Agent 2, we’ll take a large veggie pizza with double everything, north tower, a 2-liter, napkins..forks, ok, I don’t like to get my hands dirty. I’m a fork and knife typa girl—that bother you?”
“You ever had a spiked, beaded, rotating dildo stuck up your ass, Agent 2?”
“Well try it sometime,” and Tuesday hung up on the man. “Listen, Rachel, this tower is on a clock and I think we got stuck with the piñata that has centipedes in it, ok, so..time for a quick history lesson.”
Rachel had her hands between her pussy and she was playing with her inner bits.
“Am I gonna die a virgin?”
“A real virgin?”
“Yes. I’m afraid so. They’re about to put a third act on this motherfucker and we got the worst seats in the house.”
“I should have played FUCK A COP with you when I had the chance.”
“Hey! Remember? What do they say? Don’t trip over things in the past. Get yourself off if you can. There’s been a lot of game playing here today but, sadly, I can feel the curtain closing. While you cum, listen to a little story from your big sis, ok?”
“Ok,” Rachel said, distracted by the feeling from her pussy.
“So a long time ago was the indians. And they got royally fucked over by Erik the Viking and probably a big-ass plague at the same time so then there was Kevin Costner and the buffalo, but we killed all the buffalo—not for food, but so the other guy couldn’t have food. See a lot of this is very un-live and let live. That’s America for you. Have you seen Dances With Wolves?”
Rachel shakes her head slowly, lost in her masturbation.
“Anyway they didn’t kill all the buffalo, they left around just enough to make Dances With Wolves with. Have you seen those buffalo chase scenes? No? Jesus Christ. I am sincerely sorry to know that you are going to die without ever having seen the only decent movie Kevin Costner ever made. Fuck. The Bodyguard? What the fuck was that shit? They already made Jungle Fever! Tell me something. If you had to live in a world that had either The Bodyguard or Jungle Fever, which world would you live in? I know. It’s a hard question. But that’s one of those questions you need to know the answer to before you die. Sometime when you’re taking a shit you can think about it. Shit, Rachel, shit. Think about it: you’ve already taken the last shit you’re going to take in your short, overprivileged, hyper-sexualized life.”
“You think everyone born in New York is overprivileged,” Rachel says, fingering her pussy really fast.
“Everyone born in New York is overprivileged. Have you been to Africa?—”
“You’ve never been to Africa.”
“But I’ve seen pictures. You think the internet’s only purpose is to serve you gay porn.”
Rachel raises her head and looks at her half-sister.
“The purpose of the internet, Tuesday Walker, is to serve me whatever kind of porn I like. That’s why it was invented. Some guys in the military were like: Rachel Welch doesn’t have easy access to porn and we’ve got all these taxpayer-funded computers sitting around here collecting dust so let’s plug these suckers up and help that little girl get off. They care about my pussy.”
“I’m sure they do. Anyway, they saved enough buffalo just so they could do the chase scenes in Dances With Wolves and then when the movie wrapped they prob’ly ate the rest of the American buffalo at the wrap party, I don’t know. Film people are crazy. Dances With Wolves has to be one of the great American films. That or He Got Game. I bet you never saw He Got Game.”
Rachel shakes her head, taking her middle finger out of her pussy and licking it clean.
“Do you even know who Aaron Copland is? Don’t answer. If you say no it’ll make me cry.”
Tuesday stands up.
“I HAVE A DREAM!” she says. “And don’t tell me you haven’t heard that one ’cause I will jump off this building.”
Tuesday has her Uzi, her combat boots, her white ski mask. She stands on the edge of the north tower.
“I HAVE A DREAM! THAT ONE DAY AMERICANS WILL NOT MURDER EACH OTHER OVER AN ITEM ON THE FUCKING DOLLAR MENU. IT’S JUST A BUCK. A SINGLE. A ONE. FOUR QUARTERS. EIGHT BITS. A GEORGE FUCKING WASHINGTON, FOOLS. I THINK YOU GET THE PICTURE. I HAVE A DREAM. IT’S SIMPLE. IT’S JUST THAT WE GET OUT OF THE BUSINESS OF MAKING MONEY KILLING PEOPLE. IS THAT TOO MUCH FOR A SIMPLE GIRL TO ASK? AND DON’T SAY NO, ‘CAUSE YOU FUCKERS ARE MAKING ME MAD!!”
She sprays some random bullets from the Uzi.
“I HAVE A DREAM!” she continues, “THAT PEOPLE WILL TREAT EACH OTHER WITH THE SMALLEST AMOUNT OF HUMAN DECENCY. That’s all it is.”
She holds the Uzi to her head.
She points the Uzi at Rachel, masturbating.
“That’s all it is. It’s just the smallest amount of human decency. That is the difference between..civility..”
She steps off the ledge, back onto the roof.
“..and barbarism. Fuck.”
She drops the Uzi.
She kneels beside Rachel and gives her a kiss.
She lies beside her half-sister and the two girls get themselves off.
And it is the last time.
The last time they play FUCK A COP.
The last time they cum.
The last time Tuesday rails against the sky.
Because building 2 falls.
Then building 1.
And lost in the freefall is Rachel’s lip and Tuesday’s pinky finger with blue nail polish and Rachel’s tooth—just a fraction—and part of Tuesday’s Uzi and a piece, each, of the black and white ski masks that Rachel and Tuesday wore.
Everything else was dust.
And I don’t mean just Tuesday and Rachel were dust.
I mean this entire fucking country was dust.
Let me explain this to you—like—fuckin’ simplistic style—so every motherfucker who reads this, gets this part right. This country has turned to dust a million times—we’ve been turning to dust ever since our inception. What turned to dust that day wasn’t 3,000 Tuesday Walkers or as many counterparts named Rachel Welch. It wasn’t 70,000 cases of radiation cancer. A couple hundred bodies burned to a crisp. It was the paper the Law is written on and the ink that laid it down. If you think I’m gonna get more political than that then fuck you.
Now Agent 2 is standing in Building 7.
Com to his neck.
“Agent 2, come in. This is Agent 2 come in.”
He looks around. There’s no one else in there.
“Agent 2 reporting. At desired location. Awaiting instructions.”
And then it occurred to Agent 2 something that Agent 1 had said to him, before Agent 2 had put a bullet through his brain.
He had said: They’ll do the same to you.
And Agent 2 realized he was the only one in the IAA headquarters. Alone in an empty building. Having reported to exactly where he was told to report.
Then a large chunk of marble exploded off its column and ripped through Agent 2’s head. And the whole building came down.
Uptown, in his six by six, PSH sat in the space between the toilet and the wall.
Stories had run their way uptown. Everyone knew of the collapses, and PSH was never more than 10 seconds from bile. The prisoners next to him had started by making fun of him—the vomiting fat man in the next cell who cried just ’cause 3,000 stockbrokers got fucked up that day. Those guys would never cry over a fucking stockbroker. But those were Philip’s customers.
“Fucking Lenny, man,” he said, and hit the edge of the toilet.
“Who the fuck is Lenny?” said some smartass in the next cell.
And then PSH spoke just like Philip Seymour Hoffman, digging into you with some heart-jerking monologue, his voice like a chisel carving ice.
“Lenny was my friend. Lenny was a guy I sold coke to every day. I saw Lenny eight times a day. Sometimes I saw Lenny twenty times a day. And today Lenny probably got crushed over some complex financial transaction that involved killing 3,000 people.”
“You think it’s a rich man’s war,” said the guy in the next cell.
And Philip Seymour Hoffman said, “It’s always a rich man’s war. Always.”
That made the man in the next cell shut up for a minute.
Then the man in the next cell said:
“Say man, what’s your name?”
“I don’t have a name. Neither do you. You have a number*. You think you have a name anymore? Think again.*”
“You wanna call me something?”
“You can call me The Man Who Bridged the Gap. That’s my name from now on. That’s all I am. I’m The Man Who Bridged the Gap for one-hundred and fifty-seven people. And those hundred and fifty-seven people are alive because of me. So I’m not just a coke dealer anymore. I’m a coke dealer who saved a hundred and fifty-seven lives. So what’s your name? You wanna tell me that? Do you even have a name? I didn’t think so, small time. I didn’t think so.”
And PSH settled into his six by six.
He settled in for the long haul.
But nothing could kill that man now.
Nothing could break him.
Nothing could contain him.
He stood like any man.
But when he stood, the roof above his head came crashing down.
And the roof above that.
And the roof above that.
Because when The Man Who Bridged the Gap stood, he stood one-hundred and fifty-seven people tall.