Nine-Eleven


Where to start?” Tom asked himself as he sat in the library staring at the blank page as it had been a very confusing year.

It began on a day that the rest of the world would remember as the day the World Trade Center was attacked. He reflected back to his wife standing in the living room.

She was dressed for work already. He was just finishing getting dress as was normal for them.

He could tell that something was wrong. She had a strange look on her face and she had been crying.

Instantly he knew something was happening and it had nothing to do with the events that were unfolding on the television set.

She faced him as he walked into the living room and simply said, “I want you to move out.”

There was nothing more to it then that. He knew why and she need not say anything more them that.

Their marriage had been in trouble for the last six months or so. She knew that Tom had screwed around but could never prove it.

He had hidden it so well and lied at every turn. Yet still she knew.

He felt his heart slip down into his stomach as she said those words. Then the sinking feeling was rapidly replaced by a lump that swelled in his throat when Tom saw the duffel bag and shaving kit neatly arranged by the front door.

He realized that this was it. Their marriage was over.

Within minutes of her final words and without so much as a hug goodbye Tom found himself pulling away from their driveway. It was as if he were floating, his existence a not-existence of sorts.

He floated down the long and lonely drive of the Pyramid Highway to McCarran Boulevard and as he had been his routine of several years. Tom turned right and head towards the radio station and his job.

Today would prove to be a busy day and a long a day as well. Two passenger aircraft had slammed into the World Trade Center in New York City and there were reports of an aircraft striking the Pentagon and another lost in a Pennsylvanian field.

He had to refocus his attention on the world events. Be a professional on the worst day of his life. Putting aside the usual duties of a promotions director and put on the cap of a news and information reporter.

He gleamed information from the three televisions sets inside his office and listened to the radio news stations for the latest updates that poured in. He then played this information to the five broadcasting outlets he worked for at Lotus Radio.

The horror of the possible number of lives lost was staggering. He watched as the networks played and replayed the video of the jets slamming into the buildings, as they burned and finally imploded upon themselves.

Nearly a quarter century in the broadcast business had not jaded him after all. The images brought to his memory the days in Beirut when the Marines came under attack.

He was jus’ a shot nosed kid back then, but the sight of the dust choked the air, the nostrils and the eyes of the survivors in the city street caused him to gag and gasp for air just as he had done nineteen or so years earlier. It was purely visual and he knew it, yet he could not help it.

Tom drifted further into his memory.

After nearly eleven hours of complete emotional saturation of this single most shocking event it was time to turn off the television sets and radio stations and go home. Only then did he come to realize that he had no home to go to.

There was no one with which to share this tragic day. So he walked out to his vehicle, briefcase in hand and sat alone the drivers’ seat.

“Whatcha doin’?” Tom heard her say.

She repeated herself before he realized she was talking to him. It was Valerie his co-worker.

He had spent his day talking to her about the latest news flashes. Together they had made a valuable team.

“Its time to go home,” she said.

That’s when he lost it. He broke down in tears and told her that his wife had kicked him out and he had nowhere to go.

“Yes, you do!” she firmly stated. “Your coming home with me!” Then she added, “Justin won’t mind.”

He found his way to her truck as tears streamed down his face, leaving him stumbling and nearly helpless as she turned the motor on and headed east toward Fallon.

She tried to help him with strong words, “You gotta move on.”

She repeated timed and again. “She let you go, now you gotta let go.”

Finally she offered, “Let’s go get drunk.”

Her favorite place in Fallon was the little bar and casino called the Depot. She ordered him round after around and he dutifully drank them down.

It was nearly midnight when she pulled him from the bar stool. The world swayed as he staggered out the door and to her truck.

The pain in his heart was still there yet he didn’t really care anymore. Not like he had at least.

She drove him to her and Justin’s little ranch house. He opened the truck down and fell out to the hard pack earth below.

He was drunk beyond all imaginings.

She led him by the hand into the house. The radio was already on and playing country western; within moments they were cutting the rug with a western two-step.

He felt light and on the verge of happiness. She stopped long enough to pour them each a shot of tequila, which they slammed down.

At that moment Justin came in the front door. He smiled widely at his wife and the drunken man standing, weaving back and forth in the couple’s kitchen.

Next thing Tom knew he was alone. A sad country song sounded in the distance along with the giggling giddiness of the couple to whom the home belonged.

Tom carefully stepped his way over to the desk. It sat against the wall in front of a window. He looked out the window and saw nothing but his reflection.

“You piece of crap,” he said out loud as he stared at himself.

It was at that moment that he realized there was a pistol in the drawer. He quietly slid the drawer open and lifted the gun out of its holster. It was a six-shooter.

The caliber did not matter; he knew enough to get the job done. He slid the cold metal object into his belt and pulled his shirt tail over it.

“Hey, I’m stepping outside for some fresh air,” he called out.

No one answered. He knew they were busy making out or having sex or both.

“Not to bother,” he said to himself.

He had made that final decision. The September air was brisk but not chilly. He stumbled over the unfamiliar land.

There was no moon light to show him the way and the stars did not seem to be shining. He found his way to the horse corral and climber over the railing.

He turned and looked back towards where he had come from. He could no longer see the lights from the house.

Even the sound of the road had faded away. He decided to stopped and sit down there.

“This is where I’ll die,” he said to himself.

He pulled the pistol out of his pants. He was calm; exceptionally calm. There was no real emotion from his being.

The acceptance of death was nearly complete as he offered up one last prayer, “Dear God, please take care of my son. He’s a good boy, and deserves so much more than me as his father,” adding, “Amen.”

Tom closed his eyes and pulled the hammer back with his right thumb. He touched the gun to his cheek feeling its coolness against his skin.

He sucked in a long breath, slowly exhaling. Again he breathed in and then out. He lifted the pistol to his face again, this time placing the barrel inside his mouth, touching it to the soft palette above his tongue.

“No you don’t you son of a…!” It was Valerie.

She grabbed the gun just as Tom squeezed the trigger. There was a soft thud as the hammer slapped against the skin between her finger and thumb.

Tom continued to pull violently at the trigger again and again. They wrestled for control of the gun.

Suddenly Justin joined in and together they over powered Tom taking the gun away from him. He laid there momentarily stunned in the dirt then started crying.

He had even failed at killing himself he had come to realize. Then the world faded into darkness.

When Tom awakened it was in the couple’s bath tub. All he could do was lay there and cry helplessly.

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