“Explosive Reverberations” by Chris Shaw, Queensland, Australia

September 11 October 26, 2011 21:10

topic: 9/11 medium: TEXT

as submitted for the “9/11” Open Call

Supporting her around the waist, I helped my Rebecca to the hotel toilet.

A plastered, broken foot was the reason for her incapacity, the result of

misaligned floorboards in a Tudor period hotel. While sober!

My locum pharmacy work was the reason for our being in

England, in Shanklin, Isle of Wight, which is inhabited by islanders,

invaded by tourists. On a working holiday from Australia, we were also

spending time with my elderly parents.

At lunchtime, Sue, the #1 lady in ‘my pharmacy of this week,’

returned to tell us that an aircraft had flown into one of the twin towers of

the World Trade Centre. At that precise moment, the radio announcer

broke in to report that a second aircraft had flown into the second tower.

My immediate reaction was, ‘Bin Laden!’

Now, considering my lifelong love affair with slow horses, fast

women and busted flushes, there should have been a big financial reward

for this quiz-winning moment, but history repeated itself.

Instead, Rebecca poked her head around the front door! My heart

melted at her strained, but victorious smile, well known to Olympic

photographers. She had spent a marathon two hours to get to me. The

journey was a mere four hundred yards for the able-bodied, but for her, it

was the equivalent of taking the scenic route via Tibet. The occasional

freezing showers kept her cool as she tottered along on her crutches. In

my preoccupation with other things, I had selected a wheelchair with

small wheels that had to have a wheelchair pusher! Hence the crutches

and the exhaustion!

‘Stupid man!’

‘C’mon! No-one gets it all right!’

My exacting duties of the afternoon were proceeding, but

my ‘backroom’ was mulling over the double-barrelled, explosive terror

that had landed for the first time on American shores.

My memories threw up snapshots from my childhood: contrails in

the sky showing the progress of dogfights among fighter aircraft, and

hundreds of black bombers approaching in terrifying, thrumming,

inexorable formations. There were ‘doodlebugs,’ the flying bombs that

fell so randomly out of the blue. My over-riding memories were of

deafening explosions, irregular strobe lighting and the excitement of the

bomb lottery.

‘Whose house went last night?’ Small boys cope that way.

There were no fathers to support mothers, no way for us to fight

back. There was just a grinding, stoic patience, praying that ‘our boys’

would eventually prevail.

After 9/11, I heard Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York say that

maybe Americans now understood a little more of what the British had

been through in the Second World War Blitzkrieg!

Later, I watched the palls of smoke and dust, the commitment and

terminal need to help, by the firemen, the cops and other superhuman

beings. Why do humans need to be tested all the time? It’s because

otherwise, we become lazy, greedy, selfish and introverted. An

evolutionary imperative, maybe?

Later still, I empathised with the plight of Iraqi’s in Desert Storm.

Enough! Let reason prevail.

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