Extracts from The Diaries of 'Professor' Cornelius Crane

All Rights Reserved ©

September 11th, 2001

I’m writing this entry in a motel room about 350 miles south-west of New York City. I decided to head for home straight after the incident.

All the good restaurants were closed, and although the hotel would have provided me with an excellent selection of food and drink, I had no intention of sleeping in the same bed that they had earlier and very unashamedly stained with an extensive array of the various bodily fluids produced by their lustful activity.

The very thought made my skin crawl – not too unlike the reaction one might produce at the contemplation of a lice infestation.

Vermin are known to carry such despicable parasites. That is why we are always so swift and prone to exterminate both.

Of course, these two particular rats had never known that I had been secretly watching them from the bedroom doorway!

But, I need to start at the beginning, back when things still had a semblance of…well-being:

This morning, I had made sure that everyone was up and dressed by six thirty.

I invited Willy round to our hotel room for a very light breakfast that consisted only of coffee and croissants.

I informed them that, “This is just something to tide us over until the main breakfast at eight thirty.” I checked my watch. “It’s six thirty five now. So you only got about an hour and a half to kill. Don’t be late because the Windows on the World Restaurant is always busy and they told me they don’t hold a table for longer than fifteen minutes! There’s a convention or something on the go as well, so we were damned fortunate to get a reservation at all.”

“Stop fretting, will you,” chided Erika. “I’ll be there on time. Long before time.” Then she suddenly remembered something, “I did a little checking myself. I believe the view is quite amazing.”

“That’s right. That’s why I made sure to get a table by the window.”

“Shit!” said Willy spluttering crumbs. “These things are all just air.”

I smiled. “Yeah, just like you.” He laughed before asking, “What about me?”

“Yeah?” chirped Erika smiling mischievously. “I guess he can stuff his face all he wants? Willy won’t be joining us today?”

I returned the impish grin. “Definitely not today…not this morning anyway! It’s a special champagne breakfast just for two.”

Erika kissed my cheek. “You romantic old devil you!” Then she wiped the lipstick off my face using one of the hotel’s cloth napkins.

I spoke again to Willy. “But you still gotta be there. I want you to stick to Erika like a Siamese twin till I arrive. I might be a little late in getting there from my seven thirty, and I don’t want Erika to wait alone. You can enjoy the view and have a brewski in the meantime – on me. Besides, the main reason is that it’ll give you an opportunity to…scope out your new work place.”

“You can count on me to look after your lady, man!” He started on his third croissant. “I’ll be her personal bodyguard till you arrive.”

“I’m sure you will,” I reached for my wallet and removed $1000 in $100 bills. “Here’s a little symbol of what I think of both of you.” I divided it equally amongst them. “A little spending money to keep you going till then. Try not to spend it all in one place, and don’t get too carried away with your shopping that you miss our very important appointment.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” said Erika pushing her head against my shoulder and fluttering her eyelashes at me. “Besides, all the good shops only open around ten.”

“You would know that!” I said sarcastically. She smiled proudly and I added, “Well, I’m sure you’ll both find something to keep yourselves busy till then?” This time they failed to detect the sarcasm in my tone.

Erika ran a manicured and red-painted nail across my chest and asked, “Does this very important appointment of ours involve a certain item of jewelry?”

“I pulled my hand across my mouth, “My lips are sealed, suffice to say that there might be a ring of truth in your query.”

“Of course, it’s called woman’s intuition. Oooh, it might be a little early for me for champagne, though?”

“Have another coffee to prepare your stomach then, because champagne is definitely on the menu today!” I tweaked her nose. “I wouldn’t want you feeling under the weather afters. Especially not tonight, pumpkin!”

After counting his $500 for the fifth time, Willy suddenly exclaimed, “Fucking A, man!” He smiled and shook my hand violently. “You are the most righteous dude on the face of this planet, man. I love you, man. You hear me? I love you!”

“Keep your pecker in your pants. You can blow me once the deal’s finalized.”

“That’s my department, hon,” said Erika smiling. “Leave that sort of thing to the…professionals.”

“Yeah?”

“Oh, yeah, baby! We’ll discuss it tonight, in detail, back here at the hotel room, okay?”

“Is that a promise?”

“Scouts honor,” she said holding up three fingers.

“You weren’t never no girl scout?”

“Wanna bet? I’ll show you tonight how to make a fire by rubbing a stick.”

“Hmm, what do you say we forget the whole restaurant and bar business, and just get rid of Willy right now?”

“No fucking way, man!” interrupted Willy. “You two can get it on later tonight, okay?”

“Relax, Willy,” said Erika winking at him. “He’s just yanking your chain.”

“That ain’t funny man. This is serious shit we dealing with here.”

“Right,” I said and kissed Erika. Then I moved swiftly towards the door and opened it. “I gotta get going before I’m late for that seven o’ clock meeting. See you both soon!” I closed the door.

But they never guessed just how soon!

I waited exactly three minutes before quietly slipping the key card into the groove. I flinched slightly as the lock clicked open. I peered around the door. They were not to be seen, but I could hear them in the bedroom. I moved silently to the bedroom doorway and peeked round. They had wasted no time at all.

Erika was tall. Although she was about a half-inch shorter than me, she was a good six inches taller than Willy. Her height was mostly due to her long legs. Still, they were not skinny, but well-shaped – broadening perfectly and sensually at the top of her thighs where they met in a dark forest that concealed her...my paradise. Alas, what I had once believed, in my first life, to be my sole territory…my private property and watering hole was, as I had now expected to find, busy being rudely trespassed upon.

Their clothes were strewn all around the large bed, and I watched as Willy’s firm, tanned buttocks rammed violently with each forward thrust between Erika’s paler, long supple legs. Her greater height added more to the sensuality of the scene rather than making it something comical. And for the briefest of moments I thought back to the times that Hannah and I had made love. I wondered if people would have found the sight amusing or stimulating – probably shocking and disturbing, as I was now experiencing.

Erica was far more boisterous and rowdy in her lovemaking with Willy than she had ever been with me (In either life!). She unashamedly and loudly voiced her profanity-peppered approval with each driving force that Willy produced against her groin area.

Willy, in turn, had found his rhythm as Erika’s breasts moved, like some fleshy metronome, to-and-fro, beneath Willy’s determined, perspiring face. He seemed to be hypnotized by the sight as he bit his bottom lip and grunted his consent with each slapping sound.

Most people would have found the sight, erotically stimulating. Yes, they both had magnificent bodies, with muscles that flexed and rippled beautifully as they pulsed on the bed, like a giant beating heart. The two seeming like an individual entity, like a single undulating jellyfish moving smoothly, slowly and determinedly towards its destination. The thought of that destination filled me with both rage and jealousy.

Yes, I am not ashamed to say that I was envious of the sight before me – not only because my woman was cheating on me, but because they were truly marvelous to behold, but mostly because I knew that Erika was truly enjoying the sensation of having this mentally challenged beach bum between her knees.

The one enlightening reality about the whole sordid affair was that it drove home the point that good, great or even the best sex under the sun is not enough to hold a marriage together.

Yep, their marriage had fallen apart miserably after only two years.

But, at the time of their deceit, many would have gazed upon these lovers in awe and wonder, the sight being truly sensual, erotic, stimulating, mesmerizing, or to be just plainly blunt about it - a turn-on!

I obviously felt none of those sensations.

Even having known full-well what to expect when reaching the bedroom, the sight was still unsettling. I felt anger and bile rising in my chest and an almost uncontrollable urge to shout and strike out.

I managed to restrain myself with a single dark notion:

‘Who am I to deny a condemned man his last meal,’ I thought to myself as I moved back to the coffee and last remaining croissant.

I sat down, quietly poured a fresh cup, and nibbled on the pastry. That is, I tried to be as hushed as possible. I cannot say the same for the two lovebirds in the adjoining bedroom!

Lovemoose might be a better word (Or is that meese) to describe their energetic frolics. At one point I was afraid some other hotel guests might voice their disapproval.

Although I am loath to admit it, Willy is…was damn good in bed. Erica had requested him to make her scream like a fucking police siren, and, almost fifteen minutes later, he had obliged…in aces! I was impressed with both of them.

I had waited for them to finish complimenting each other on a job well-done before slamming the door and shouting, “Honey, are you still here?” I waited a short while before adding, “Erika, pumpkin? Hello!”

After another extended silence Erika shouted from the bedroom. “In here! What’s up?” I entered the bedroom. Erika was sitting in her underwear by the dressing table fixing her lipstick. “Meeting cancelled?” she asked calmly pouting at herself in the mirror.

“Nah, I just remembered something very important! Where’s Willy?”

“I don’t know? Probably in his room? Why?”

“Why are you undressed? I thought you were ready to go already?”

“I decided to put on something else.”

I pointed to the white dress draped across the bed. “I thought you bought that outfit especially for the…occasion?”

“I changed my mind. I’m gonna wear the green one instead. It brings out my eyes better, don’t you think? And you know about a woman’s prerogative?”

“Ah, yes, the weaker, fickle sex. Can never make up their minds about whom or what they want.”

She seemed to blush before asking, “Why are you looking for Willy?” There was a noise in the cupboard and her healthy pink turned a ghastly pallor.

I pretended not to hear anything and said, “I clean forgot to tell Willy that they won’t let him into the restaurant without a jacket. They have a very strict dress code at Windows. I don’t know if they supply jackets, but we can’t take any chances. I’ll take him one of mine.” I moved towards the cupboard.

“Wait!” she said far too loudly and frantically. “I’ll do it! You’re way late for your meeting already. Don’t worry! He may have left already!”

“I asked him to stick to you like a…”

“We decided to meet up there. He didn’t want to waste time waiting for me to get dressed again. He’s so excited about this offer you’ve made him.” She kissed me and added, “You really are the nicest man I know. I’m so lucky to have met you – my soulmate.” She gave me a longer, more passionate kiss.” I felt Mister Winky getting excited. She did too, and quickly pushed me away and blurted, “Don’t worry yourself! I’ll take your extra jacket along with me! Go now!”

“Hmm,” I said smiling mischievously and approvingly at her beautiful half-naked form. “I’m feeling kinda horny right now! The meeting can wait a few minutes longer. How about a quickie to tide me over till tonight.”

“Come on!” She grabbed my hand and pulled me through the bedroom doorway. “Don’t spoil your appetite by eating your candy now. Come now!”

“Come now? That’s the whole idea, Candy!” I slipped a finger into the top of her hipster panty and moved it playfully from left to right. “Where’s that sense of adventure…that spontaneity you say you love so much.”

“Don’t be silly now!” She slapped my hand and opened the door leading out into the long hallway. “You can eat as much as you like tonight, Tarzan.” She pushed me outside. “Go now!” I extended my bottom lip. She smiled and said, “Here,” undoing her bra strap and allowing me to view her breasts. “Let this tide you over till tonight.” Then she slammed the door.

“That only made it worse,” I shouted at the door.

“GO!”

I left knowing that that was the last time I would ever see her or those great-looking knockers.

I checked my watch. It was 07h10. I had plenty time to get to the meeting.

At eight o’clock exactly I walked through the entrance marked, ‘The Greatest Bar in the World.’

“Have you dropped the question to your lucky lady yet?” asked Tallis as I approached.

“Not yet,” I said sitting down on the barstool next to him and sliding about a quarter-inch thick pack of hundred dollar bills in an envelope across the counter. “I first want to finish all my business before I can get down to any pleasure.”

“What’s this he asked?” staring at the item in disgust.

“It’s what we agreed upon – only much more!”

He picked it up and peered inside. “You must take me for an idiot?”

“Not at all!”

He flipped through the notes. “This ain’t even close to one mil. Any fool would know that. This probably ain’t even ten grand?”

“Actually, it’s exactly ten grand.”

“Are you trying to fuck with me?”

“For a sharp detective, you aren’t being too bright?”

“Oh, yeah? I’m thinking that maybe you’re the one that ain’t…”

“There was no way I could waltz into this place with one mil in a briefcase without arousing a furor. They got tight security you know? Have you forgotten that some arseholes once tried to blow it up?”

“So now what? You’re gonna have me meet you all over the goddamned city, handing out little packets of money like this, in some crazy treasure hunt?”

“No, of course not! Just relax, would you? I figured out a way to make us both happy…very happy indeed.”

“Yeah?”

“Oh, yeah,” I said pushing a small piece of paper across the bar counter.

“What’s this?” he asked picking it up and reading it. He frowned. “What the hell is this?”

“Lots of money,” I said smiling wryly. “Lots and lots and lots of money.”

“You are trying to fu...”

“Those tech shares are currently available to the public at fifty cents per unit.” I chose my next words carefully. “In three weeks time they’re gonna jet through the roof to almost $300. Allow me to do the math for you.” I watched as he reached indifferently for his drink. “That’s a 6 followed by six zeros.”

“Six million?” he exclaimed spraying the bar counter.

I nodded. “Now whatever you do, don’t try to be too clever and run off and sell your house and whatnot. You don’t want to draw attention to…”

“Hey, I already told you, ‘I’m not a greedy man.’”

“I really wish you’d stop using that bloody line. It pisses me off something bad!”

“Sorry. You’re right. I won’t use it again – ever! I promise! Hoo-whee, mamma!”

“No! Not only won’t you use it again – ever! You’ll also get the hell out of my life - for good. After today, I never want to see or hear from you ever again. Are we clear on that?”

“Don’t worry,” he said taking out his wallet. “I’ll be too busy spending my hard-earned moolah to bother you ever again.” He took a key from his wallet and slid it across the counter. “There we go. As promised, always a man of my word.”

“That reminds me,” I said reaching into my pocket for another piece of paper. There was a name and a number on it. “Here’s a little something extra. The cherry on the top – if you will?”

“Cherry Creampie?” he queried reading the name. “What…”

“Best damn $500 you’ll ever spend in New York City.”

“Yeah?”

“Oh, yeah! Cherry on the top. Cherry on the bottom. For $500 you can decide just how and where you want…Cherry to be – all night long too!”

“Hoo-hah!” He pulled his jacket wide open, revealing his new gray T-shirt. He laughed and said, “Look what I bought myself yesterday?”

I read the slogan, “‘I love NYC!’ I never took you for the type who wears T-shirts with slogans?”

“Boy, do I ever love New York City.” He kissed both pieces of paper before placing them in his jacket pocket. “We are gonna have fun tonight!” He patted his pocket as if he were pledging allegiance to some higher power. I guess in a strange way he actually was – but definitely not to the Good God Almighty!

“Just remember that every dollar you spend from now on could have been $600 in a few weeks time.”

“Decisions, decisions!”

“Oh, yes! I almost forgot. Being your first time to The Big Apple, I also took the liberty of reserving you a window seat at the restaurant next door.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, it’s in your name. I want to make sure your first trip to New York is as memorable as possible. I believe their Porterhouse Special is something to die for.”

“For what time?”

I checked my watch. It was 08h10. “Right now.”

“Great! I’m famished. Are you going to join me?”

“Sorry, I’m already running late for my next appointment. Oh, one more thing before I run.”

“Yeah?”

“Sell!”

“Sell?”

“Yeah, those shares will fall again like a pile of bricks.”

At about 08h30 I stopped next to a park near the Hudson River. It appeared that I would be able to have a great view from there.

‘The view isn’t great – it’s perfect,’ I thought to myself whilst setting up the two video recording cameras. I set one on close-up and the other on wide. I checked the time. It was 08h40. I had made sure to set my watch to New York time exactly. I started both cameras recording and gave a short introductory speech in front of the one set on wide. Then I walked behind the camera again, took my cellphone, scrolled down to Erika Angelo and pushed Dial.

She answered with, “You’re the one who’s late, sweetie. What’s up? I’ve already had three glasses of champagne. The view is fantastic! I love it, but I love you even more you romantic old devil.”

“Thank goodness! I was so worried we might lose the table.”

“There was no way I was going to let that happen, silly. Where are you?”

“The meeting ran a little late.”

“Probably because you were late!”

“Actually it’s because you were once late!”

“That doesn’t make any sense?”

“Forget about it!”

“How much longer before…”

“I should be there in about half an hour.”

“No problem! You know what they say? Better to be late than the late.”

“You said it, Babe! Took the words right out of my mouth.

“That’s because we’re soulmates, remember? We can finish each other’s sentences.”

“Unfortunately being late has its own consequences as well.”

“I miss you too! But I’ll suffer in silence.”

I started as she suddenly screamed. I checked the sky. It was clear. “What’s wrong?” I asked desperately.

“Willy! He just dropped an ice cube down my dress.”

“Yeah? Front or back?”

She ignored the question and said, “See if you can get here before it melts.”

“If it’s near your heart it never will.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Forget it!”

“Willy looks great in your jacket. I don’t think I’ve seen him in one before.”

“I’m guessing there are a lot of things you haven’t seen him in?”

“You’re saying the strangest things lately?”

“Maybe our soulmate compatibility is misaligned.”

“Well don’t worry yourself; I know just the thing to knock our gears into place again.”

“Me too! Trust me!”

“See, we’re already on the way.”

“I guess they are? Not much longer now!”

“Just as you asked, Willy’s been the perfect gentleman, keeping me company till you arrive.”

“You know what they say? ‘A perfect gentleman is just someone who uses the back door in order to preserve the honor, dignity and reputation of the front.’”

“There you go again! By the way, he’s just crazy about the bar.”

“Of course he is. Listen, is there a guy sitting by himself at the table next to yours?”

There was a short silence before she answered with a reply that was more a query than a confirmation. “Uh…yeah?”

“Is he wearing a gray T-shirt under his brown jacket? A gray T-shirt with I love NYC printed all over the front?” Another short silence then, “I think so! Yeah! How…oh, you’re here already. Where are you hiding? You sly old devil, you. Come out where I can see you!”

“No! No, I’m not. I promise you! I’m still on my way.”

“Then how…”

“I’ll explain when I get there. But I need you to do me a favor. A little…prank.”

“You want me to pull something on I Love NYC?”

“Yeah, you’ll love it.”

“Yeah? How well do you know this guy?”

“Since I was a kid.”

“Seems a bit old, even for you, to be a childhood friend.”

“He’s somebody I knew when I was growing up, back in the old neighborhood. He used to be a cop at the time. Now he’s a dick; a private investigator.”

“Yeah, looks the type.”

“You’ll love him! You and he are a lot alike. Especially when it comes to my money. You should get on like a house on fire.”

“That’s not a very nice thing to say. You know very well that I love you for who you are and not what you got. And you also know that I only love you and only you – always and forever for the rest of my life!”

“Just kidding!”

“I didn’t think it was very funny.”

“I’ll make it up to you…real soon!”

“I know you will, loverboy. I’m looking forward to it too. Oh, how much longer are you going to make me wait and suffer like this?”

“Not much longer, babe. I’m gonna put you out of your misery very shortly.”

“So…what’s this prank you want me to pull?”

“You’re just going to love it! I promise! I want you to go over and tell him that you’re Cherry and that Cornelius Crane sends his regards.”

“Who’s Cherry?”

“I’ll explain later! He may mention something about the money I gave you earlier, but tell him that in about…” I checked my watch. “In about three minutes he’s about to open a whole new can of bees.”

“Bees? Don’t you mean worms?”

“Nah, he’ll understand exactly what you mean. You’ll see by his reaction.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah!”

“What devilish scheming is going on in that beautiful brain of yours?”

“All will be explained. Just do it for me, okay?”

“Okay, loverboy.”

“In the meantime let me talk to Willy.”

“Okay! He’s just crazy about the view from up here. Hang on a mo.”

“Hey, man!” came Willy’s voice all excited. “Don’t you worry none. I’m keeping your lady and a few brewskis company till you arrive.”

“She ain’t my old lady, Willy.”

“Not yet she ain’t, but I been hearing stories, man.”

“Yeah, what sort of stories?”

“Let’s just say that when you get here, I’m heading straight back to the bar. You don’t need to worry about Willy Newood cramping your style, man. Know what I mean. I’m gonna leave you two lovebirds all to your lonesomes to sort out that shit.”

“Shit?”

He did a terrible rendition of the wedding march, “Daah dah tee dah, daah dah tee dah, and all that shit man?”

“You sound like a real dork, Willy! Duh duuh duh duh!”

Embarrassed, he quickly changed the subject. “The view up here is fucking fantastic man. Fucking fantastic! To think that I might be coming up here every day to work is just out-of-this-world-rad, man. Mucho- supero-rad!” There was a loud noise in the background and Willy spoke off phone to someone else. “Whoa, chill, dude! What was his fucking problem?”

“What’s wrong?” I asked smiling.

“Erika was talking to this guy, and he just suddenly freaked out man. Erika thinks it’s funny, but the dude looked really terrified to me, man.”

“Maybe it was the view? Maybe he’s afraid of heights?”

“Could be, man? I don’t know? Dude went outta here like a fucking rocket.”

“What an arsehole! Surely he must realize that it’s much too late already? If it was me, I would have finished my steak and enjoyed the view.”

“What you on about, man?”

“You’ll find out soon enough, Willy. Any minute now. Keep watching the sky!”

“The Thing from another World!”

“What?”

“‘Keep watching the skies.’ Those are the last words spoken in The Thing from another World!”

“Incredible!”

“Hey, if you’re good – you’re good.”

“And the good die young, Willy! I wonder what your last words will be?”

“The Good Die Young; 1954 crime thriller with Sir Stanley Baker and Joan Collins. Although he wasn’t a Sir, yet!”

“Have I told you that sometimes you scare the bejesus out of me? But I gotta tell you something else really important now.”

“What?”

“Keep watching the skies!”

“I just told you…”

“Nah, I mean for real! You just keep watching the skies, okay.”

“I’m watching them, man. I’m watching them. Great fucking view. If this deal goes down, I’ll love you forever! Did I tell you that I love you, man?”

“Only about fifty fucking times already!” I mouthed an apology to an elderly lady who was passing by. She just gave me a sour look and kept walking. She had frowned in puzzlement at my video equipment too.

“That’s ‘cause I mean it, man! You are the man, man!”

“That’s very kind of you, Willy. Unfortunately, the feeling is not mutual.”

“That’s okay, man! I don’t want your love, honey! I just want your money!” Then he gave a really stupid laugh, which ended with a couple of nasal snorts. “I’m just kidding you, man. Just kidding.”

“You’re such a big fucking prick, Willy Newood.

“Hey, chill, dude! I said I was only kidding!”

“‘Many a true word is spoken in jest.’”

“What’s that mean?”

“Forget it! I’m just real glad you like the view.”

“It’s fucking awesome, man. You’re gonna love it!”

“Oh, I’m already loving it!” I said spying number eleven approaching from way in the north. It had to be the Boston flight. She was right on schedule…and target. The people that chanced to gaze in her direction saw an airplane like many others, but I saw a deadly approaching missile. My heart began to pound furiously in anticipation, “Keep watching now, Willy!”

“What a great day, Man! Not a cloud to be seen.”

My voice became lower and calmer as I repeated. “Keep watching.” I felt like a submarine captain who had just ordered a torpedo to be launched at an enemy ship, and who had unshakable faith and confidence that the projectile was running straight and true.

“I’m watching them skies, baby! I’m watching them! I’m sitting here relaxing with my brewski and scoping out them skies, man! Hey, I know this crazy BASE jumping dude in Long Beach who would give his left…”

“Do me a favor?”

“Anything, dude! Anything! Just don’t ask me to suck it, man.” He laughed again. “Hey just kidding, again. I know you ain’t no fudge-packer. Not with you and Erica about to…”

“Would you shut the fuck up? There’s hardly any time left.”

“Sorry, man. I’m just so excited about this whole manager deal thing and…”

“Tell Erika that her romantic old devil says, ‘The rest of her life just shrunk to about ten seconds and that he’ll see you both in fucking hell…MAN!”

“Hey? Now, that ain’t romantic, dude. You should rather be telling her stuff like…shit, should that guy be flying so low. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was heading straight for…for…! Oh…my…fuuuu…”

The connection was suddenly, suitably, satisfyingly and most thankfully, lost!

I peered into the viewfinder of the camera that was set to close-up and watched as dust and debris exploded into the air around 1 WTC.

How could I not say it? “‘Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?’” Then I added, “Check and mate! Bingo!”

The people around me were shouting and pointing.

“Did you see that?” shouted one man. “What the hell happened? Do you think it was another terrorist bomb?”

“No, it was an airplane,” reported another. “I saw the whole thing happen?”

“Yeah? What sort of plane?”

“One of those big passenger types!”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah!

“Shit, what do you suppose happened? You think the autopilot screwed up or what?”

“How the hell should I know? I dunno! Could be?”

It was only now that I remembered that a lot of people hadn’t even considered it to be a terrorist attack until the second plane.

“Did you see it,” asked the first man looking at me. “I can’t believe that it was a plane. No way!”

“Let’s take a look,” I said calmly folding out the small built-in viewscreen on the wide angle camera. I pushed Stop, Rewind and then Play.

He stared wide-eyed as American Airlines Flight 11 disintegrated on impact. “Holy, shit! It was a plane!” Then he stared me in the eye. “Do you have any idea how much footage like that is worth?”

“A shithouse full!”

“You said it! You’re one lucky son of a bitch!”

“You said it! But I don’t intend to sell it. I have a much better use for it.”

“What?”

“If I’m lucky, I might just be able to use it to buy back an old lost friendship.” He frowned and I said, “Forget it! It’s very uh…complicated.”

“What do you suppose happened? Autopilot fault?

“You ever see that movie The Thing from another World?”

“The original or the remake?”

“Uh, the original, I think?”

“Yeah?”

“What were the final words in the movie?”

“‘Keep watching the skies?’ Why, what…”

“Shit! I once knew a guy you probably would’ve liked.”

“Yeah? What happened to him?”

“He died in a plane crash.”

“Sorry ‘bout that.”

“I’m not. I found out he was screwing my wife.”

“Then why would I have liked him?

“He also had a very good knowledge of movies.”

“Oh! Okay! Sorry for asking then, but when did you find out he was banging your old lady - before or after the crash?”

“Before…long before.”

“How did you feel when you heard about the crash?”

“There were a lot of innocent people killed. But as for those two, I…”

“Your wife died in the same plane crash?”

“Well, she wasn’t my wife when she died.”

“Divorced, hey?”

“I guess you might say, ‘We broke up.’”

“Nobody would blame you if you felt a little pleased at the news. Hell, or even a lot? You must’ve thought that justice was finally done?”

It felt surreal having this conversation while we both kept glancing between looking at each other and the thick smoke pouring out of the side of the damaged building. It felt, to me at least, as though I were chatting to someone in front of the TV while watching reruns of an old and all too familiar disaster.

Although I was most satisfied in what I had managed to accomplish, the air seemed to lack that certain tension…that electricity I had experienced on my initially learning of the attack.

The first time had been on my way to work when all the radio stations had suddenly started broadcasting the news of the first attack.

At work I had rushed into the canteen area where the nearest TV was situated. A large crowd had already gathered beneath the wall-mounted screen.

They reluctantly gave way as their big boss made his way to the front. Somebody had turned the sound up – it had seemed too loud, but I left it as it was.

I stood watching as events unfolded, hearing the anxious remarks and cries of consternation behind me. I heard the phrases, ‘pilot error,’ ‘autopilot malfunction’ and ‘terrorist attack,’ repeated frequently until 09h03 New York time when it became all-too obvious which of the three phrases, had indeed, been correct! Although, by the common phrase that was then uttered by almost every employee present, one might have believed that it was an Act of God!

By that time the canteen had also filled with just about every last Global employee from that particular section. And it was long after the dust had started to clear away that the crowd in the canteen had also begun to slowly disperse as well.

I had later deemed it appropriate to issue a circular that all personnel, who so wished, could have the rest of the day off without any loss in salary. I doubted, in any case, that anyone would have been able to function well in their normal duties under such abnormal circumstances.

Most had taken advantage of the notice. I had gotten on the phone to my broker. I did not need a time machine to know that the market was gonna be adversely affected by this international upheaval!

I started packing away my video equipment. The man said, “Well?”

“Well what?”

“I asked if you thought that justice had been done?”

“More like, Judgment Day had come upon three souls who could not have been more deserving.”

“Three?”

“Did I say three?” He nodded. “Well, maybe they weren’t the only people guilty of…intolerable behavior.”

“Why are you packing up? Don’t you think you should be filming this?”

“If anything else should happen, there’s probably plenty other cameras shooting by now.” I picked up the last of the equipment.

“Anything else? You think something else might happen?”

“Keep watching the skies!”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Trust me, keep watching the skies, pal! Just keep watching the skies!” Then I waltzed off singing, “I knew a dick and Bingo was his name o! B…i…n…g…o! B…i…n…g…o! B…i…n…g…o. Bingo was his name o! Now the poor bastard’s dead and never more will sing o. S…i…n…g…o! S…i…n…g…o! S…i…n…g…o! He kissed it at Ground Zero!’”

And so, it has happened again exactly as it had happened before!

Well, maybe not exactly! There have unfortunately been a few more victims this time round.

I did a little survey the other day. I asked a number of people if they could tell me the date on which Pearl Harbor had been attacked - December 7th, 1941.

Not one could give me the exact date. Sure some knew the year, but not the day or month.

Today, which will come to be referred to as 9/11 will strangely hold a bigger place in the hearts and minds of America, and the world in general.

Yes, I probably had the power to prevent it. But once again I am confronted with the ethics of a broader picture. I have already made mention of this fact numerous times in my diary. I know that my presence has already caused innumerable changes to this new timeline, but the major events, thank God, have mostly gone unaffected.

9/11 will be the catalyst leading to many other important events:

On January 29th, 2002, President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union address will label Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the ‘Axis of Evil.’

On February 5th, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell will report to the U.N. that Saddam Hussein is hoarding biological weapons (Later known by the acronym WMD for ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction.’) and will use it to lobby in favor of military action.

In Mid march of 2003, the war on Iraq will begin in earnest.

No WMD will ever be found!

So, without a 9/11, the many events following it would not come to pass, or would have been delayed to a much later time – especially the wars in Afganistan and Iraq, and the final defeat and capture of Saddam Hussein.

Just like the JFK assassination, many conspiracy theorists will claim that 9/11 was an elaborate ploy. In this case, to get America into the war. Their main reason to quote – oil!

It will also take over a decade before the real, or perhaps, apparent masterminds behind the attacks are finally brought to justice.

The relatively unknown, that is to the general population of both America and the world, Osama Bin Laden will soon take his place amongst the likes of Gengis Khan, Attila the Hun, Napoleon, Ivan the Terrible, Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot to become one of history’s most notorious figures.

And like those mentioned, he will be both hated and loved, but the majority will condemn his actions.

I have chosen the following statement after much care and consideration towards the many lives lost today, as well as towards those who remain to grieve their loss:

Although I have used this abominable act to my advantage, I still cannot condone, or ever will, the terrible tragedy that has befallen the American Nation as a whole. After all, there are far more innocent bodies amongst the rubble than those who I had deemed deserving of the fate that befell them.

My heart and my thoughts go out to them – they will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.

Bin Laden will eventually meet his demise in a safe house (The irony is blatantly obvious) in Pakistan on May 1st, 2011(Almost a decade after the attacks on the World Trade Center) during the office of America’s first black president, Barack Hussein Obama II.

Strange how similar their names are – Osama and Obama. Not to mention Hussein!

One would think this would be cause enough for him to lose the vote of the general public. Just goes to show that the American people as a whole are not as narrow-minded as one might speculate.

I had rented a car because I knew the airports would be closed for awhile, and I need to get back to Global in time for that important business meeting on the 13th – the one that I somehow, yet fortunately, forgot to cancel. Unfortunately it won’t be quite as fun or as stimulating as the business recently finalized, but at least there is money to be gained.

Somewhere beneath all the smoldering rubble lies the charred remains of what was once my $10 000; a small price to pay for keeping such a large secret.

Tallis had been greedy and gullible enough to accept the offer. Thank goodness he fell for it. I have absolutely no knowledge of any significant share increases till 2005. I don’t think he would have been patient enough to wait till then. Anyhow, it’s all water under the bridge; blood and money under the rubble!

The less said about Erika, the better. Suffice to say that I know that if things had gone according to what she had been expecting, we would have spent the night making unbridled love. But, sometimes for the greater good of all, sacrifices need to be made. At least I have spared her the pain of having to go through childbirth, two divorces and the terrible loss of her son!

As for Willy – I guess some of his pals might hold a wake for him at the Balmoral. And who knows, I might even attend.

Hell, I think I might even pay for all the booze!

Although the planes have been grounded, it was still necessary to make a most important stop at J.F.K. International.

Thank God that Tallis is…was a man of his word.

They were all there – every last one. My diaries and my secret are once again safe. It feels as though the weight of two collapsed buildings has been lifted from my shoulders.

It’s going to be a long, lonely trip all the way back home.

I intend to relax and enjoy it in the company of my own thoughts.

Yep, it’ll be just me, the radio, the wind in my hair and the long open road. Solo cruising!

Mother always warned me about the danger of picking up hitchhikers, and I always listened to mother!

Even when I was fifty five!!!

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