“Fine. Good. We’ll close on Friday”, he said, firmly snapping shut his cell phone, straightening his Italian silk tie, the impossibly jumbled complexity of New York City’s skyline painted across his large office window.
8:45 AM and a $10 million deal all but in the bag.
He reached into his desk drawer and took out a gram of coke. He poured it all out on his French mahogany desk and chopped it up quickly into 4 thick white lines with his Amex card.
Crisp, freshly rolled $100 bill shoved up his nostril.
He got half way through the first line when he caught, out of the corner of his eye, the shadow approaching through the window – a dark, angry blotch racing across the clear, blue sky.
Too fast. Too low.
“What the…” he gasped when the whole tower shook to it’s core with a deafening explosion – an enormous, orange fireball spewing showers of burning concrete and glass from a few floors below. Within seconds, his office was filled with the putrid stench of jet fuel and the clear, blue sky went out in an oily, black smear of toxic roiling smoke.
“Holy shit”, he gasped, almost losing his balance as the tower rocked crazily back and forth on its foundations, making the East River look little more than a snaky blur.
“We’ve got to get out of here”!!! shouted a panicked colleague, bursting through his office door.
“What the hell happened”!!!
“No idea – we have to go”!!!
——————————- 30 minutes later ——————————
“Smash the windows!!! We can’t breathe”!!!
“She’s right – it’s too hot”!!!
“But we could fall”!!! he objected, sheer terror rising in him now.
“Maybe the helicopters can get us out”!!!
“Break the windows”!!!
“Jesus, I can’t get through to my husband – I need to talk to my kids”!!!
“Break the fucking windows!!! We’re all going to die“!!!
“Okay!!! Help me”!!! he yelled.
——————————- 15 minutes later ——————————
He had always suffered from vertigo and, despite his tremendous success, he had hated working at the top of the tower. If he got too close to the windows he would be overcome with horrible, dizzying nauseousness and the fear of falling.
Now, he gazed down through the shattered window, smoke belching out everywhere, clearing occasionally so he could see, 100 stories down below, the tiny figures of the police and the firefighters and… and the horrible little puddles of blood and bone from the jumpers. Helicopters swirled in and out of the ghastly apocalypse, like insects – unable to save them and so filming them instead.
He felt like his clothes were about to ignite as the sweat poured down his agonized face and his lungs felt like burning charcoal.
“For God’s sake – GO”!!!
“I can’t… I can’t… I’m scared”, he muttered hopelessly as he felt the nudge in the small of his back and suddenly the streets of New York were rushing towards him in a torrent of bricks and steel and glass.
I love you, Kate. God – please – my kids. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I loved that hamburger in San Francisco. Shitting myself. Upside down. My kids. Forgive me. That girl was nothing, Kate. Helicopters. What’s it going to be like? I wish… I wish…