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We met two Canadian steel workers that had just fled a nearby construction site. They pointed out the impact of the second plane to us. There was precision to its attack angle, tilted to inflict maximum damage.  In one breath I uttered a perverse thought, “Thank God they hit their mark”  I see a million or more dead if either of the jets were put down on Wall Street, Lexington Ave, or Fifth Avenue.  I could understand that 10,000 or 20,000 gallons of jet fuel flowing, ignited into Manhattan’s subway system, exploding the gas lines, detonating electric lines and transformers and turning every automobile, truck and gas powered vehicle into a bomb.  If either missed, it would have caused untold destruction; if both had missed the potential devastation was unthinkable, unimaginable.  The plane’s slanted silhouette was, for the next half-hour etched into the Tower’s façade and burned into its skeleton. 

 

The streets were badly clogged with people, busses and emergency vehicles. Emergency vehicles were stuck.  The sounds of hundreds and hundreds of sirens became deafening and omnipotent.  We couldn’t tell where the siren sounds were coming from because they were coming in every direction and moving in every direction.  Fire trucks were stuck in traffic, people jammed the sidewalks and spilled on to the streets.  As we walked away the crowd’s groans always pulled us back to the Towers.  Every few steps we took the crowd groaned, it seemed, people jumped, and jumped.  Scott and I stayed together but we could barely talk to each other over the chatter of the folks that emptied onto the streets.  Buildings were being evacuated by directive and voluntarily.  We walk single file, weaving in and out of clutches of office workers. We were separated, at times, by twenty feet or more.  I was lagging behind, my was foot hurt.  But a wave of my raised hand always seemed to catch Scott’s eye and he prodded on, I followed.  The raised hand became my location beacon for his assurance,  back and forth in a silent signal rather than screaming over the now blaring street noise, or God forbid stopping our procession toward safety.

 

At one point we barely make progress against the weight and depth of the crowd.  Couldn’t go behind them, no room in front, so we went through.  I carried my PC and paper files in my briefcase.  Its thick strap wrapped over my shoulder, the bag slung to the opposite side.   I crashed forward through the crowd, gaining expletives and deserved shoves in return.   I had trouble with some clutches of workers turning their backs to the disaster and talking it up as if at fourth grade recess.  Other clutches were glued to the catastrophe.  Along our march, Scott had the idea to get to the subway.  We heard a cop tell someone that the Lexington line was operating from the Wall St. Station.  We double-checked and having no other plan out of the maze we began our beeline to the station.

 

 

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