Downfall - 3000 vs 30,000

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Chapter 6

In a 1-bed Apartment, Brooklyn Heights, September 11 2001, 7:30am

She looks at the test stick again. She's not color blind, she knows what she's seeing but can't believe it's for real. She takes another glance at herself in the mirror. Inhaling deeply, she opens the door & leaves the bathroom. She walks through the open bedroom door & takes a few steps into the bedroom. Her boyfriend is dozing on his back. She goes to the window & cracks open the blinds, firing the bright light of the beautiful day outside, into the compact room. Her boyfriend wakes up and groans with discomfort, covering his face from the brightness, 'Mmmh... mami! I'm nocturnal, that means I get out of bed in phases, no?' She steps onto the bottom of the bed then tiptoes up to him, along both sides of his waist. He rubs his eyes & looks above. He stops rubbing once he beholds his naked girlfriend smirking down at him. 'Ai bebe! Was I that good?' Slowly, she squats until she tenderly straddles him. He smiles & strokes her thighs back & forth. 'Fino. You be the boss this time. I don't think I've recovered from last night.' She leans towards him as she brings up the test stick from her side to his face and smiles. He glances at it then doesn't stop looking, as the indicator becomes more detailed visually. He gives her a quick peek then blinks back to the indicator & stares at the color blue. He jerks up & grabs the stick. 'AI MY DEUS! SENHORA! IS THIS TRUE?' She chuckles & nods excitedly. He shouts, 'AAAAAAYYY!', as he lifts her behind her waist, stands on the bed & marches around in a circle, naked. 'I'M GONNA BE A PAPAI! I'M GONNA BE A MARCA NOVA PAPAI!' He stops to gaze at her and exclaims, 'We're gonna be parents, no? MARCA NOVA PARENTS, MAMA!' She cracks up, holding him tightly around his shoulders. 'AY, MAMIII!', he smooches her full on, not ceasing to hum, groan & moan in ecstasy. The sudden change of course gets them in the mood, so next thing you know, they collapse back onto the bed & kiss & grope each other furiously, boiling over with the passion of the night's previous rounds, combined. Their 80-year old, next-door neighbor, in his flat, turns up his old school, analogue radio and hits his walking stick hard against the wall over and over again, protesting on deaf ears.

Just outside a vocational academy, same area, 7:45am

He can see the directions at the stairs ahead, already. 'Got the directions right, this time!', he thinks. His cell vibrates in his pocket. He takes it out & looks at the screen. It's the doctor. He takes the call & greets him pleasantly, 'Good morning, doctor!'

'Good morning, sir. How are we feeling this morning?'

'I'm hanging in there doctor, I still get the tense coughs & feel a bit fatigued but I'm a tough cookie, they won't get me down that easy!'

The doctor carries on, a bit hesitantly, 'Ri-iight. Have you got a minute? I've got the test results here in front of me.'

'Yeah, sure. Fire away, doc. I've been waiting ready for it.'

'Right. Sir, given the lamentable circumstances in which you contracted Asbestos fibers & the long period you spent, developing the disease undetected – to no fault of your own whatsoever – the tissue samples we took from your lungs, show the cancer has spread aggressively throughout the protective linings, within, I intended to work out another year for you, at least, in treatment but the damage caused is so severe... at this point, I'm afraid I can't give you no more than a couple of days. A week, if you're lucky.'

The engineer who's been walking throughout the conversation, now stands in front of the academy, by the steps. He breathes heavily, as if about to hyperventilate. The doctor breaks his pause at the sound of the anxiety, 'I'm terribly sorry, sir. If there was anything I could do, I'd do it in a flash but at this point, the best I can do, is try to ease the exit with a couple of pain killers. However, if you do decide to come down, I'll make them available to you right away!'

'It's OK, doctor.', the engineer says mildly, 'You've done everything you can. Your help & altruistic spirit have been a blessing to me & my family. We are deeply grateful for everything & I promise I will come to see you today. But for now, I just need to gather my thoughts, you know? I'll be fine doctor, I'll see you later!'

'If there's anything you want to ask, please rush & call me, sir!'

'I will, doctor!' The say their good-byes. He looks straight out onto the horizon where the pavement he's on, disappears. His pupils dilate. It's almost as if he's feeling his head spinning. He looks at the pedestrians' faces. He looks at the trees & watches their thousands of leaves, erratically dancing in the morning breeze, to a perfect harmony. He gazes at the blocks of beautiful buildings of the area, decorated in rich & soulful architecture. He focuses on the different sounds pouring in from everywhere, all at the same time. He looks around at all the businesses along the street: Shops, cafés, groceries & more than he can see at the moment. He watches mothers push their kids in their prams as they pass him by. He makes eye-contact with a few. He looks up at the clear, blue sky, dotted with a couple of great, perfectly white, majestic clouds. Then he looks up the entrance of the vocational academy. 'Never knew how much I love living.', he wonders. Thereafter, he takes a deep breath. Slowly, he walks up the stairs, making each step count. 'But while I'm here, I'm going to live!' He stands at the double doors & pulls out his cell again. He scrolls through his phonebook & dials his wife. As her phone rings, he thinks of how much he's going to miss her – how much he's going to miss them all. She picks his call, 'Hello, dear.'

'...Sweety... I got a couple of days left, pumpkin!'

'… * sniff * … * sniff * … (Huuuuuuuh) … Come home, baby! … Come home!'

'… I will, I gotta – I gotta do this one last thing for the kids. One last... I gotta do it, they need to hear it, I gotta... I'm gonna call our lil' boy and... I'm gonna tell him to come home too, OK? I gotta do this, I'll see you soon, pumpkin. I love you loads. Bye!'

He hangs up then proceeds to call his son. Meanwhile a hoard of at least 30 young teens approach him from the pavement, most whom talk loudly, are joking & laughing amongst each other.

'Dad? I really can't talk right now unless it's important. I've got a ton of deliveries this morning... what's up, are you OK?'

'Yuh... everything is fine, son. It's your ma, she's worrying about ya. She insists we spend a day together today, I can't talk her out of it, she just wants us home. We gotta do it for sure, we can't let her down, you know?'

'Siiiiigh... OK dad, I'll... I dunno how I'm gonna do it, they're gonna kill me for sure, but I'll figure something out, alright?'

'Er... uh, wha? I can't hear you son, these kids here can't stop screaming!'

'I said OK! I'm coming home... OK Pops?'

'OK son, I got OK. The rest... Hey, would you mind toning it down? I got an important call here!'

Some kids laugh tauntingly, ignoring the warning. 'Huh-huh! Don't be too hard on them kids! Remember, they're not on the same wavelength as you. You take it easy,...', he continues talking but his dad's troubled decoding amidst the noise, 'What the...?' The son hangs up, leaving the dad annoyed at not having made out everything that was said. 'Sounded like he's goin' to the South Tower.' He opens the door of the now-deserted entrance. 'Ill catch up with him later, then.'

8:15am

At the delivery firm, the son cusses at his phone, to the amusing surprise of a colleague he's buddied with. 'Whoa! You're in the wrong business with that attitude, dude.', he interrupts as the son looks at him. 'Don't shoot the messenger!'

The son cracks up, 'Good one!' His pal laughs.

'I've got a full schedule. Most are by mid-day but I've got one to the World Trade Center in the next 10 minutes. I can't because my mom is having a crisis!'

'What's wrong with her?'

'I dunno, my dad wouldn't say. The team leader's gonna have my head for this! I just know it, he's...'

'Relax! I got no deliveries 'til 2, then I'm fucked, as well. You go meet with your mom, I'll go take it.'

'Really?'

'YES! Don't make a fuss about it or I might change my mind.', he smiles.

'AW, bro! Lifesaver, dude! I owe you one!'

'Huh, and you bet I'll remember!' The son laughs aloud. He gives his buddy the parcels & the associated paperwork. Shake-hugs his compadre, then dashes round the corner to catch the elevator. His colleague looks at the documents & parcels, walking towards the file cabinet. He grabs his helmet & shoulder/knee pads. He glances at his wristwatch then runs down the stairs.


8:45 am, Boardroom, Manhattan Investment Bank

The boss leads the chairman of the conglomerate into the boardroom, who is followed by his entourage of 8 execs. Her team walks after them. They are all seated upon which the boss opens up the proposal meeting, by cordially welcoming them all & expressing the bank's eagerness to establishing friendly relations with & transacting profitable agreements for them. They are shut into a smoked-glass-walled boardroom, isolated from the rest of the floor's department, to fully focus on the important matters at hand, unperturbed. After introductory formalities, she begins the in-depth presentation on proposing the sale of the biggest brakepad/braking system manufacturer around the Black Sea, to the interested conglomerate. The deal is worth several billion Dollars.

8:30 am, Towards The Brooklyn Bridge En Route To Lower Manhattan

A green Bronco cruises out of Brooklyn Heights to a traffic light. She stops at red & looks out her side window. Incidentally, she looks at her dashboard & notices her fuel gauge pointing on the reserves. She turns before she gets on the bridge & makes a detour to a gas station, about a block away. Her boyfriend calls & she beams.

'Hey, new daddy!'

'Aiii, bebe! You make me the happiest man on the planet!'

The both laugh. 'Listen, how long are you gonna be because I want us to go for shopping & buy some baby books for fantastic & sexy parents like us, you know?'

'Hahaha!! We'll probably have to make them, they won't have those ones yet!'

'HAHAHAHA!! AAAAIIII!'

'Um, I'm gonna meet a friend at the American Natural History Museum near Central Park. I'm gonna have a coffee and then we can link up from there, if you like?'

'Legal!' But only one cup you'll have, bebe! Remember, you're feeding for two people now, you know?'

'Haha! Yeah, I'm gonna have to get used to that. Guess my maternal instincts haven't quite kicked in yet. Haha!'

'Aaah, that's why we are a family, senhora. We can use my paternal instincts when yours is down, mm-hm-hm!'

'Huh-huh! Yeah, we'll interchange whenever. The poor child will feel like being raised by a single parent!'

The boyfriend cracks up, prompting his girlfriend to laugh loudly, too.

'OK papai, I love you and I'm gonna give you a call when I'm done and pick you up!'

'Esta-Legal, bebe. I'm gonna take a shower & dress so hot, you're gonna wanna fertilize again. Mm-hm-hm-hm!'

She smiles, says goodbye & continues filling up the tank. A couple of minutes later, she hops back in & U-turns out the gas station. She drives back towards Brooklyn Bridge then turns into & cruises down the highway.

8:45:59, 94th - 98th floor, North Tower, World Trade Center

A 767 plane is about to impact into the modern skyscraper. The towers of the World Trade Center belonged to some of the most advanced & formidably imposing constructions ever built, in the history of civil/structural engineering. Numerous everyday people working from the 94th floor to the 98th floor will perish, never having ever done anything to anyone to deserve such an evil. At 8:46am, the jet smashes into the building.

9:00 am, Vocational Academy, Brooklyn Heights

'So, there are many different routes you can take to a successful career, that won't cut your health prospects of living a good life.' The classroom door at the corner opens, and the principal leans in. He speaks in a low voice to the engineer, almost whispering, 'There's something I need to bring to your attention before you continue. It won't be long!' The engineer nods & meets him. The principal looks at the teens, now speaking up, 'Class, it'll only be a moment. He'll be with you shortly!' The teens look at each other, then relax & chatter. Out in the hallway, the principal shuts the door, then momently looks through the door window, into the class. He faces the engineer & steps closely towards him. Light & softly, with a tone of grief, he says, 'Sir, there are reports that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. It's not clear which building. We're keeping a close watch. I urge you, sir, to do whatever you can to keep them focused on their work. If they panic, we could lose control of the facility. I know you're just a volunteer, but...' 'Wait, wait... no', the engineer raises his hand to the principal, bowing his head. 'It must not... Oh God, it must not be...', he pulls on his hair, beginning to lose his mind. 'MY GOD!', he whispers, with tear-welling eyes. 'MY SON IS IN THE SOUTH TOWER!', he looks straight into the principal's eyes, who's face hardly seems circulated with blood. The principal goes, 'Good heavens! Are you really...' 'I gotta go, I've got to help, I... I gotta go!', the engineer pushes the principal to the side & jogs to the main entrance. He bursts out the door & rushes down the stairs. He feels a squeeze within his chest. Despite panting, he ignores the stitching sensation & runs lightly up the way he came from. He stumbles, managing to find his balance again, he staggers painfully past & through the sidewalk's pedestrian traffic. He looks behind his left shoulder, onto the road. No taxi. Tiredness creeps into his system, feels like it's shutting down. He's coughing. More panting. He sputters on. 'Come on!', he thinks. 'I'm not gonna let him die! I'm not gonna let him die!' He looks back again. It's getting blurry. He rubs his eyes a bit & blinks. Throws another look. An empty cab cruises up the road. He raises his arms, then runs through the parked cars next to the pavement. He jumps into the taxi's path, holding out his hands. The gasping pedestrians around freeze, expecting the worst. The cab driver notices what's actually happening, after he sees the senior, then stomps on the brakes like his own life depends on it. The car screeches loudly & skids ahead. Intuitively, the engineer takes a deep breath. The closing gap gets shorter. Immediately his instincts take over and blast adrenaline all through his body. He leaps up pulling his legs in, and turning his shoulder towards the now-approaching grill. His 250 lbs body escapes the dangerous knockdown of a static, head-on collision and descends in a single motion onto the, relatively, cushioning effect of the dampening metal-plate bonnet. The car stopped just quick enough to prevent the engineer's head from shattering the windshield.


Laying on the now-concave hood, the engineer grabs his shoulder. It feels like sore. 'Unnngh... at least I didn't break my noodle.' The driver holds the steering-wheel, leans out his window & screams, 'HEY, WHAT THE HELL, MAN! ARE YOU CRAZY?' The engineer tumbles off the bonnet, onto the ground. Holding his shoulder, he replies exhaustedly, 'Yes! Now, take me to the World Trade Center! Step on it!' He opens the rear-door & enters the cab. The shocked pedestrians watch as the car slowly accelerates, still hearing screams of profanities.

'Your call cannot be taken now. You may leave a message after the beep. Press the hash key to end your recording. If you make a mistake, press the star key to start over. [BEE-EEP!]

'M-muh-MOM? I'm in the World Trade Center... * sniff * … I made a delivery on the 88th floor... There was a loud explosion & the whole building shook. Everywhere is full of smoke & it's really hot. Everyone is panicking... * sniff * … Aaaaaahh... * sniff*... I don't wanna die, I don't, I don't wanna... mmm, God help me!' (Pause) ' Mom, I never took the delivery job to hurt you. I wanted to start something on my own merit, so I could work my way up like you. I know you wanted me to have it easier, but I couldn't live on a reputation. I don't wanna work all day all the time, even if it's for loads of money! (Heavy cough) * sniff * No one at work treats me differently because of you. Nobody undermines me 'cause I'm under nobody's shadow... (Cries wailingly for a minute) * sniff * Mom, I love you... I don't think I'm gonna make it out, I'm so scared, I don't wanna...' Battery beeps in quick succession and the phone switches off.

A cellular phone rings & vibrates several times, just longer than half a minute. A 'Missed Call; Divert To Voicemail' notification appears on the screen. Nobody's in its vicinity.

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