9-11-01.. 6:30 .. gotta get
up and vote .. gotta hurry so can i get to work at a decent
time .. oh man.. i went to the wrong place.. it must be at town
hall .. another vote for the good guy .. ah jeez missed the
train .. would have gotten to the wtc at about 9:10 .. another
two hour drive ahead .. so whats this knucklehead ron kuby have
to say tody .. wow a twin engine plane just hit the twin towers
..so many people will be dead .. probably dozens if not more
.. gotta tell my wife to put on the news.. oh yeah.. shes at
school.. call mom and dad they must be worried.. hi mom .. did
you hear .. mom mom .. lost connection .. no service .. oh brother
..she sounded scared .. try to call over and over .. brother
picks up phone .. im ok .. lose connection .. finally got her..
im ok .. on my way to the wtc .. i have to go .. i know my family
will be worried but im a firefighter .. dont worry ill
be all right .. love you too mom.. switch to wins news .. holy---
another plane much bigger than the first hit the other tower
.. cant be a coincidence can it .. maybe someone got confused
in the smoke .. maybe someone is messing with their guidance
system .. maybe just another accident .. no .. terrorists ..
gotta get there .. george washington bridge closed .. call fdny
hq .. they said go home.. maybe i can use my badge to get over
the bridge .. this badge is good for something .. on the bridge
now ..good lord .. there they are .. smoke and flames (did i
really see flames .. dont remember) .. how could this
be happening .. hope they remember about secondary attacks ..
off the bridge onto east river drive or whatever .. 1010 reporter
.. its coming down oh god all the way
more sobbing so scared .. she must be exaggerating .. hopefully
just the top .. oh sh-- the brothers .. inside .. outside ..
incident command .. trucks . engines . oh god .. must have lost
dozens .. will be worse than the 23rd street fire
.. gotta get there .. now the other one is coming down .. what
am I gonna do in dress uniform .. bunker gear is at my house
.. great place for it .. this will put me away from the disaster
for too long.. driving 70 mph 75 mph .. who will give ME a ticket
now .. gotta get home and get my bunker gear .. ill be useless
in dress uniform .. these stupid shiny shoes.. theyll
need as many firemen as they can get .. total recall of all
firefighters .. gotta get to my firehouse.. get bunker gear
first.. ok still on the fdr.. good .. turn around here .. oh
great the un building .. not where i want to be .. this is so
scary.. all those guys .. oh dear LORD.. get on the 3rd
ave bridge .. hope they arent planning on blowing up these bridges..
ok the bruckner .. to the hutch .. to the .. dont know
the names of the roads .. just get there by memory .. the tappan
zee .. be home soon .. oh man a k-9 police cruiser just passed
me .. hope this is safe .. i gotta get my gear .. am i wrong
to be afraid .. im a firefighter .. supposed to be strong when
others need me .. need us .. maybe ill go to school and kiss
my kids before i leave .. how do i get in touch with my wife
.. still at school .. almost home .. thank god.. the minivan
is in the driveway .. and there are the kids .. hugs .. long
hugs .. coupla tears .. gotta hide them .. hi baby.. yeah i
know .. its unbelievable .. need my bunker gear .. no i can
only stay a minute .. gotta get there .. poor caroline .. so
worried about me (nice to be the center of the universe) ..
what .. the national guard .. im activated .. have to call my
firehouse and let them decide where im needed more.. captain
says guard comes first .. at least ill be useful .. change uniforms
.. id rather be with the brothers but this will have to do ..
call mom and dad .. no dad i cant go to my job at fdny hq..
because they need me .. i know my family needs me too but this
is what i chose a long time ago .. of course i wont do anything
foolish .. i love you too .. ok karin girls i love you .. gotta
lighten the mood for them .. if i have to die the only other
way i wanna go is at kristinas 100 birthday party (she's two
and a half now) .. bye girls .. oh no ..johanna is crying ..
nine yrs old .. she shouldn't have to worry about daddy ..i
will be safe .. no need to worry .. the worst is over .. i think
they bought that .. im in the army now .. wow .. they have the
armory barricaded with hummwvs and 5 tons .. must be serious
.. brilliant deduction genius .. somber looks .. no mission
yet .. lots of waiting .. everyone driving by is honking or
waving .. except the mexicans .. wonder why .. get gear ready
.. watch tv .. estimate tens of thousands dead .. rumors of
500 firefighters dead .. oh god please no .. 78 cops .. hope
tony is ok .. doesnt helens husband work at 10-10 across
from the trade center .. hope hes allright .. how bout the guys
at metrotech .. i know they ran over there right away .. please
not the guys i know .. whats wrong with me .. not any of the
brothers .. so many rumors .. gotta pull guard duty .. still
so much support from passersbys .. except from the mexicans
.. im not imagining that .. wonder why .. finished guard duty
.. 1 am.. time to rest .. cant .. have to watch tv .. til that
number comes down .. hundreds of firefighters feared dead ..
10000 to 20000 civilians .. osama bin laden .. how come we didnt
see this .. cant sleep .. nod here and there but mostly up all
night .. more waiting around .. no mission .. if no mission
by 1600 can i leave and be with the fdny .. 1600 is here ..
still no mission .. good luck guys .. gotta get with the boys
.. change uniforms again .. get down to ladder 50 .. what can
I do .. nothing happening that night .. good to be with the
brothers .. at least they understand .. too much laughing at
the armory .. more news .. stopped another plane at jfk from
being hijacked .. maybe .. they have won .. they accomplished
what they wanted to .. finally home.. talk with caroline ..
she was terrified for herself .. not me .. of course .. what
a jerk i am .. kids and karin come home from school .. hugs
and kisses .. my oldest is the only kid now who mentions it
.. thank god .. really .. talk about it with karin .. both are
still stunned .. we will solve this by talking about it .. not
fair I know .. wake up at 0530 .. leave by 0600 .. get gas and
money .. arrive a little after 0800 .. so much traffic .. the
brothers are in the kitchen or at the site .. help clean the
kitchen .. stuff everywhere .. guess cleaning doesnt seem important
now ..group 6 .... theres a list of the missing firefighters
.. know him him him him him too many .. stop for now .. I already
know 7 for sure .. only have 8 years on the job.. imagine those
guys with 20 or more years .. i feel so useless .. i need to
do something .. I'll go to church .. OK the little chapel is
open. I need to pray deeply. God needs to know how sincere these
prayers are. Doc is gone. Sweet little Nicky is gone. Ski is
gone. Doc was truly one of the good guys. Nicky was always smiling.
They even teased him about it. Ski was just a kid. Innocent
but sharp. Don't let them see my tears. I shouldn't have worn
the uniform here. I just need to pray. OK, now I'm home. What
can I do? I don't remember another thing about that day. Wake
up 45 minutes earlier than the day before so I can beat the
traffic. At work before 0700. I picked up some bacon, eggs,
mushrooms and cheese. Junior used to call it the Vermonster,
but I don't have sausage. I hope that's OK with the guys. I'll
just clean up the kitchen. The TV is on. Firefighter this, firefighter
that, firefighter with a flag, firefighter with Bush (or was
that still to come? Don't remember) cops, FEMA, truckers, construction
guys, steamfitters (?), what about EMS? Those guys are just
as dedicated. It's not fair to them. The redheaded stepchild.
Now guys are starting to come into the kitchen. I tell a couple
that I know it's not much but this is my homecoming breakfast.
They ask me why I bought anything. People have been donating
stuff like crazy. Oh well. I'm surplus today, which means that
I get to go the site. You can't believe the support the locals
are giving us. We have been elevated to a new level. Is it egotistical
to say that? I don't know, but it's true. Thank goodness for
CNN. Fox News is my favorite, definitely more balanced, but
CNN has the best disaster coverage. They really keep us informed.
Sorry Sean, I love you but they are the leaders in time of crisis.
When it calms soon, I'll switch back. We went to a special mass
at St Benedicts. The way people look at us is kind of creepy.
You can see the sadness for our loss, (their loss as well) and
the admiration and thankfulness in their eyes. Later, a group
of locals from the church next door (I think) came with candles.
They came into the garage and started praying .. Our Father.
Hail Mary .. Glory Be.. tears .. we love you .. thank you ..
thank you .. we love you .. tears .. goodbye and thank you for
supporting us. Whew, that was beautiful. What sincerity. They
needed to do something. They'll never realize how much they
just did. Look how nice, a teacher brought cards made by her
students. How cute. "Be brave firemen", Thank you for saving
our lives", "Keep saving lives" .. good lord .. look at these
pictures .. twin towers with flames .. planes going into them
.. oh god .. pictures with people jumping out the windows ..
these poor kids .. oh my god .. they must be terrified .. they
will be scarred for life ..maybe not .. kids are resilient ..
but right now .. poor kids .. i pray for them right here ..
More cars beeping and waving American flags. How patriotic.
Man, everyone really is pulling together. I never would have
believed it. There is hope for us. You know what?, they haven't
won. Time to go to the WTC site. I just have to get there. I
need to be useful. Get on the bus. I can't believe this. How
can this guy sit next to me and crush me. What the heck am I
complaining about? What's wrong with me? OK, we're almost there.
They're cheering us. I can't believe it. They will never realize
how much that means to us. We're here. We have to walk about
four blocks. On the way in we're offered food, drink, coffee,
goggles, gloves and so much more. I can see smoke now. White,
soft, non-threatening smoke. there are some damaged buildings
.. part of the tower i think .. no there .. good lord .. oh
god .. it's just a movie set .. like from godzilla .. no ..
real .. holy ---- holy ---- sorry lord .. it cant be real ..
seeing it .. not believing it .. brain sees but doesn't compute
.. good lord .. so much worse than tv .. look at that .. look
at that there .. over there .. there .. how did that get up
there .. where is .. you gotta be kidding .. looking .. spinning
.. turning .. am i the first to grasp the enormity of this ..
must be or noone would be able to work .. theyd be numb and
immobile .. ok coming lieu .. staging area .. food .. drink
.. what are those huge black garbage bags for .. too big for
garbage cans .. wait here .. tired of waiting .. lets mosey
out of here .. find some work .. there .. fire engine .. crushed
to about 2/3 size .. the infamous bucket brigade .. we are it
now .. dig .. scoop .. pass .. hey i wanted to pass that ..
oh great .. i get to pass the empty bucket back .. here comes
another paleful .. hey thats mine .. who is this little
girl in the yellow bunker gear taking away my buckets.. another
bucket .. come on now.. i want to do something .. the 7th
bucket.. i just grabbed it.. passed it to the next guy .. he
dumps it .. finally .. friday ..really saturday morning .. i
finally did something useful .. a wallet over there .. an fdny
flashlight .. a wad of money .. we may find a brother or two
.. i want to .. i dont want to .. dont want to reinforce
death .. need to help ease the suffering a firefighter's widow
.. give her back her husband .. son .. daddy .. oh god help
us .. cant dig anymore.. here comes the snort (from Dr Suess)
.. not really a snort but close enough .. moving mangled steel
.. the yellow bunker geared chippy and her friend are from marion
county fla .. drove here . used to live in the same neighborhood
I grew up in .. they had to help too .. brave young firefighter
she is .. god protect her .. volunteers everywhere .. ok back
to digging .. here comes a bucket .. hey he just grabbed it
from my hands .. little tough looking civilian .. earring ..
he did it again .. i need better positioning .. he keeps grabbing
them .. he is really competing .. ill show him .. what am i
doing .. fighting for a bucket .. real mature .. found another
spot on the line .. thanks for your intensity friend.. really
.. here comes the snort again .. using a girder or something
as a plow .. He's better at using that claw, that immense steel
claw, than I am at using those 50-cent claw games where you
try to win the cheap piece of garbage teddy bear for your kids
or gal. Look at him go. I think I'll rest my feet and sit on
this bucket. Ahh. Jiminy crickets. Back to the line. I just
sat down. What the heck am I complaining about? I'm such a jerk.
How can I even think of rest? I finally got a shovel. All right.
Now I'll show them how to do this. Wow, this stuff is heavy.
All of that soot, now wet from the rain, rocks, pieces of metal,
whew. I filled at least 150 buckets, 190? 175? No idea. Just
filled them until I couldn't use my arms anymore. What a wimp.
What a difference that will make, 150 less buckets. Now the
chief has guys looking under the rig. They have some sort of
camera on a pole. Maybe two guys under there .. oh god .. please
look after their souls .. digging with our hands .. oh man ..
they can't do it .. no clearance .. those poor brothers .. am
i worthy to be one of them .. they called in the snort again
.. gonna lift it .. look underneath .. oh please .. there it
goes .. gotta look .. morbid curiosity? .. need to be useful
.. nothing there.. thank god .. Not really. I wanted to make
a difference. Maybe next time. Time to go already. We've only
been here, what, 6 hours? At least we'll go back soon (turned
out to be Tuesday). Back on a bus, back to the Bronx. First,
free coffee, free food, free cigarettes, (I don't smoke but
I know some brothers who do) available to us. I have a cup of
coffee. I take a pack of super expensive cigarettes. The guy
says to take 'em. Later, Heff asks anyone if they have a cigarette.
At first I give him one, then the rest of the pack. What a hero.
I walk away from the site backwards, looking at the devastation
that has brought us together more than anyone could have imagined.
.. oh man those black bags from before, they were body bags
not garbage bags..Oh God.. More food, water, clothes and things
than we can use. Blood banks that can't handle the load. Volunteers
upset at being turned away because there is no more room for
anyone to work. More free stuff for anyone that needs it. I
don't really need another Nutri-Grain bar. And by the way, Poland
Springs must be dried out. May God have mercy and look kindly
on the souls of those who gave their lives without asking for
anything in return.
This may be a little odd, but it is the way it came out on the paper
when I wrote it the first time. I have only changed grammar and
to Poems & Stories Page