Not Alone in Death - Day 6
For the first time since the incident, I begin to realize that I was not alone in death on that morning of that tragic event. Besides myself and likely that one fireman and the fireman at the cathedral and other firemen and probably cops too got swept in something a little heavier in dose than a random act of violence.
It was perhaps the Brit PM sniffing around for a political opportunity in New York and that memorial service blocking my entrance to St. Tom’s that the numbers started to roll in my brain, calculate upwards, dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands.
It was so early in the workday. We, me in particular, part of numbers to be calculated, all sitting at a desk, at work, and in perfect target pose such as myself, ourselves.
Thoughts of that first instance, that condensed moment replay on my air of thought. I remember the sound of Spanish. I somehow am standing on an empty street corner in Staten Island. It is Port Richmond Avenue, the old drag of the old center of commerce until the turn of the twentieth century when the focus of commerce and transportation got switched over to a municipal ferry terminal near the new Borough Hall in St. George.
Staten Island joining the new city configuration of five counties forming the official political entity of New York City had its forgotten borough – that of Staten Island. Some whine that the city forgets Richmond County in its budgets but in reality it is geography that traps Staten Island on Jersey side of New York bay and the transportation nightmare of moving goods and people around the three islands of Manhattan, Long Island (Brooklyn and Queens) and Staten Island has always been a nightmare, even in ancient times.
The sounds of Spanish, but no, I understand what is being said by amigos standing on the street corner here in Mex-town. This, as they wait as day laborers on a street corner waiting for work. They count this one and that one who did not come home from work that day at the World Trade Center.
The dust had settled and not everybody in the city was still in shell shock. This primary wait corner counted six or seven regulars that had disappeared. They compare notes with other hot spot waiting spots along Port Richmond Avenue. Indeed the numbers exceed sixty or seventy in crude counts and may be upwards of a hundred or more.
They had waited a few days, a few weeks to do this form of unofficial census to measure individual grief’s of those individuals and families that immediately missed their loved ones. But now, days and weeks after, the Day of the Dead will be celebrated in this community and the official community toll was to be considered.
Many men and women showed up days later who had been thought to have disappeared in the 911 disaster. They had sought refuge with friends and relatives elsewhere in their trek back home to here. Strange how just being alive and just surviving makes some forget that there are telephones to call home etc.
Some it was thought even left straight from the destruction and were indeed headed home to Mexico and other parts south but not that many. The truth was that undocumented among the dead would remain as anonymous facts except for here in this community and others like it.
Yes, the toll would be mentioned over and over again and fifty would become a hundred and so on as oral tradition makes its official story line and myth here in Mex-town in Staten Island as it does in similar Spanish speaking enclaves all over the city of New York.
I was not alone. Strange. I see no one. I hear voices; see the occasional side view profile of people still alive and talking indirectly about my death. To them, it was an event. The death is about me. It is all about me. The others, the facts, the statistics don’t mean jack.
I tire and seem to need to withdraw. Is this I need to sleep even in the realm of the everlasting. Too many questions. Not enough answers. A weariness of soul?