September 11, 2001, being my day off, I woke up later than usual, around 6:30. I got my coffee, showered and was puttering around in my underwear when my eighty-year-old great-aunt called.
She was hysterical. “Turn on the TV! Someone ran a plane into the World Trade Center in New York!" Sure that she had, somehow, gotten it wrong (she was eighty, after all), I switched on the TV just in time to see a film of the second airplane hitting Tower number two. “Oh my God!" I said. “Arabs did this! I know they did it," I said to my aunt. Not long afterward, Tower number two crumbled to the ground. I was immediately in tears and I don’t cry easily. “It is ON! Those Arab bastards straight fucked-up this time."
We stayed on the phone for about two hours more commenting, raging and consoling. Then I hung up. I stayed glued to the TV for a couple hours more. Then, though I was, somehow, exhausted, I got my clothes on and went outside. I remember those moments when no one knew how many more hijacked aircraft were in the sky. I remember the report of two other crashed aircraft, one into the Pentagon and one somewhere in Pennsylvania--near Shanksville, as we now know. (I tried not to think of the friend that works in the Pentagon, to whom I had sent an e-mail as soon as I found out. Thankfully, it was his day off also.)
Those moments were like the anticipation of the end of the world. One of the planes had been bound for Los Angeles and I lived ten miles from LAX, right under the air lanes. Did the terrorists have something more in store for us savage infidels, something worse, some grand nuclear finale? Who knew then?
With those unnerving thoughts in mind, I stepped out of my house and it was quiet. Now, I lived in the South Central LA ‘hood, where it’s never quiet, especially at midday. But this day was different. It was Dead Quiet. No planes in the sky (President Bush had grounded all aircraft hours before), no traffic on the street, nor did I hear any traffic from the highway two blocks away. No dogs barking, no children playing. Nothing but the eerie, booming echo of jet engines that were no longer making their way into LAX; like the aftermath of some gigantic explosive. It seemed as if the whole world was waiting for the other shoe to drop. It was like the stillness preceding a violent earthquake that most southern Californians recognize. Any minute I expected a rogue airplane to come barreling out of the sky and plunge into LAX. Or, worse yet, a blindingly bright flash, then no more.
I’ll never forget that day as long as I live and I hope those who perpetrated the attacks are burning in hell right now. My day, however, was nothing compared to those who died horrible, crushing, burning, falling deaths, or live with the resulting disfigurements, physical and emotional. My day was nothing compared to those that lost their parents, their children, their spouses. Even whole families died on some of the airplanes. Little children, taking their first airplane trips were murdered on some of the airplanes. Men who will never see their then yet unborn children, pregnant women (a twofer for the jihadis); fire-fighters—whose job it is to save lives—blown to bits and for what? My day was nothing compared to theirs. Yet, there are still people, other jihadis that would like nothing better than to finish the job.
I think I’ll go to the range tomorrow.