Road Runner, Road Runner

Image

Boston Marathon.

Here comes the finish line.

Gatorade, congratulations and successive, dual explosions greet the runners.

Bloody spectators are dragged from the debris.

Mile marker 26 is dedicated to the victims of the Newtown massacre.

26 for the number of dead.

Twitter erupts.

@so_and_so tweets: “I saw people’s legs blown off. Horrific. Explosions.”

Two IED’s were placed near the finish line.

Each explosive device, believed to be a type of pressure cooker bomb, packed with metal ball bearings.

BB’s.

Vine, a social video service depicts an 8-second loop of the finish line.

Silent explosion. Runners in motion. Grand stands pushed into the street.

Concussion displaces people to make room for air.

A thin, bandy-legged marathoner turns his head in mid stride. Mid-explosion. And I’m instantly nauseous watching his legs buckle.

I can’t comprehend the sequence of images without the sound. Seems hyper-real.

By the third viewing my stomach has settled but I remind myself not to click on it again.

Later, having picked my daughter up from childcare we navigate residential roads to our home, I hear “dual decapitation.”

Legs missing below the knees.

I curse loudly, abruptly as we pass the park.

The emergency room in Boston is inundated with hundreds of injured.

Shards of glass, metal embedded in flesh.

Areas around the mouth and nose are blackened with soot from breathing searing hot air.

Victims need immediate attention before the soft tissue swells.

Fuck! I say aloud, waiting for the light to turn.

Checking the rearview mirror, I see the question in my daughter’s eyes.

We go to park?

Yeah, lets!

At the park kids occupy swings, climb stairs, mount the slide.

Chase each other.

Sitting on a bench, a Dad scours the screen of his smart phone.

Is he consuming all that data?

Two mom’s sip from paper Starbucks cups.

A horn prompts me through the now green light.

I scan the street for parking.

An old trauma begins to fester and slither its way to the surface.

Police and FBI query passengers flying out of Logan International for photos and videos of the scene.

This will be a crowd-sourced investigation.

Earlier in the day, scanning Facebook, Reuters, and Twitter I see what will become the iconic image.

In the foreground, a sidewalk is heavy with spectators, craning their necks, peering down the street as marathoners in sneakers and numbered jerseys run toward a ball of orange flame.

Boylston Street.

At the park we climb the play structure.

The entire thing is made of form-molded plastic.

Steel frame encased in thick coated, rubberized paint.

They’ve done away with bark, gravel and concrete at parks.

No more rail ties, chain-link or sheet metal.

Engineering a safer, risk-free environment for play.

They take the piss out of everything.

Here, recycled tires are shredded and turned into a buoyant surface for kids to run, spin, jump and skin their knees on.

Together we ride the dual slide.

Hold hands and laugh.

Several nights ago, I try watching the Falling Man documentary about 9/11.

Streaming on Hulu.

How can you watch this shit?

My wife asks, visibly angry as the opening sequence shows flight 175 disappearing in the South Tower.

Five minutes into the doc.

Suddenly, I’m standing in the Lakewood Library.

I’m twenty-four.

Several librarians I’ve become acquainted with while working for Jefferson County  sob audibly.

I enjoyed my work there. Mowing lawns. Planting flowers. Fixing sprinklers.

On the doc I see flight 175 burrowing into the tower on live television.

Simultaneously I smell the 2-cycle fuel and fresh cut grass.

Taste the Camel Light on my tongue.

There, back in that room (that space and time) of the library, we watch both towers crumble.

I turn off the television, disgusted.

With whom?

Myself.

Weeping quietly on the couch I gaze at the blank screen.

Standing, I move across the floor to the hallway and do something I haven’t done since she was a newborn and open the door to my daughter’s room, peering in, eyes adjusting to the dim green glow of the turtle nightlight, I see her, fawn legs curled beneath, breathing steadily.

Back at the park, fortified by the laughter of children.

The sound offers relief from the bombardment of the newscast.

Other parents seem to smile too easily.

Is every reaction scripted?

My stomach tightens. Heart contracts.

At bedtime I read Green Eggs and Ham.

My daughter talks to the characters as I read.

Sam, Seuss’s persistent interlocutor/pusher gets a SoCal inflected surfer dude accent.

The nameless character hounded by Sam, “That Sam I Am, That Sam I Am” sounds like Tom Brokaw.

Rolling off the inflection at the end of each denial.

My daughter’s imagination astonishes me.

She pretends to drive the train into the sea.

Asks to ride in the boat with the goat.

Kiss goodnight.

Hug?

Hug.

My wife is glued to her phone.

Mine is sitting on the couch.

I pick it up. The weight reassuring. Finger the screen to life.

Why am I angry?

Shouldn’t I be documenting this?

Writing everything down as it occurs?

The few pieces I’ve had published deal almost exclusively with technology and terror.

Killer drones.

IED’s.

Violence.

This kind of extremity is in my wheelhouse.

Instead of writing I flip through the channels.

Each episode features a woman—actress—in middle age with a Botox-plastic-surgery face, crying.

In the morning, nothing new is discovered.

No suspects.

Nor claims by a terror organization.

But the story has taken on a patina.

Speculations abound.

Challenges: be a hawk, not a dove.

Platitudes are issued.

“Thoughts and prayers…”

Polite xenophobia.

“Please, don’t be Arabs or Muslims.”

The death toll in Boston is 3, including an 8-year old boy.

Many say that is low considering.

Tilt their heads, you know, in that way people tilt their heads when faced with mortality or drink cup sizes.

Venti or Grande?

More victims listed in critical condition.

Meanwhile, 9 are confirmed dead in Peshawar, Pakistan, killed in a suicide bombing during a political rally.

Syrian MiG-23’s bomb the Qaboun neighborhood to rubble.

It’s morning in America.

A bipartisan commission convened by the Constitution Project finds members of the Bush administration complicit in allowing and sanctioning the practice of torture.

Soon, a library will be named in honor of former President George W. Bush.

I’m sure he’ll weep at the ceremony.

Violence in America is idiosyncratic.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s