I cannot and must not forget
Another 9/11 assignment.
Tiffany wondered if the work on this tragedy would ever end. Though it wasn’t an entirely politically correct thought, she was tired of it all and she wasn’t the only one. The papers, including her employer, had so far reported mixed reactions in anticipation of the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s grand opening: sadness, hate, ennui, and annoyance at the certain flood of tourists among other sentiments.
As for Tiffany, she’d lost all interest in serious journalism. These days, her ambition, if you could call it that, lay in the direction of the tabloids or even satirical papers like the Onion. Sitting on the subway train, doodling on paper, she’d written down a few ideas she’d like to pursue, if and when she got her big break:
American Psychiatric Association Changes Stance on Frotteurism
Just Out: ‘Tom Cruise: Prince of Darkness?’/ Stephen King all like: ‘No you ain’t, B**ch’/ Fist fight ensues
Johnson & Johnson Introduces ‘Nothing But Tears & Fears’ Shampoo To Toughen Up Newborns
Nothing would have pleased Tiffany more, but alas, none of that was what she was here for.
Exiting the subway station into the crisp spring air, the water towers buzzed with activity high atop the tightly fitted together buildings, one next to another like Jenga blocks; Tiffany didn’t have far to walk.
About a block into it, she noticed something odd. Not one, but two people had passed her that she swore she knew, in what had been practically another life now. A life which had been on the opposite side of the country to boot. Falling over herself, craning her neck, she tried to get a closer look, but the moment was lost.
She kept walking.
A few more minutes into her journey: another one. This time, however, the person she’d thought she’d just seen was supposed to be dead and buried . . . in California.
“Have I entered a warp, or what?” Tiffany said to no one in particular, trying not to read too much into it.
Arriving at the pocket park, nearby the museum, Tiffany sat down on an empty bench. Taking out her pad of paper, she was about to scribble down her observations when she was interrupted.
“May I sit here?” asked an elderly woman wearing ragged clothing and sporting several plastic bags, filled to the brim, dangling wildly from her arms.
“Sure, help yourself.” Tiffany made up her mind to sit there a moment longer, for the sake of being polite, and then get in the museum line. Staring straight ahead, it wasn’t long before a foul smell invaded her space. Glancing over, she saw that the woman had pulled a tuna and egg salad out of one of her many bags and was chomping down loudly on it.
Mouth full of lettuce, the woman addressed Tiffany, “Would you look at that!,” she said, gesturing toward the line in front of them. “I call it the Dark Museum,” she continued.
“The Dark Museum. Biggest hoax there ever was!”
“An inside job from the start?” Tiffany asked. She’d been expecting to run into some cranks today. That was more or less a given.
“You could say that . . . and you could say other things too . . .” the woman said. Tiffany yawned. Slightly bored, she waited for the usual stream of conspiracy theories. “I was here, around that time . . . what they don’t tell you is that there wasn’t a smell. No siree! No smell at all.”
“So you’re saying . . .” Tiffany was having a hard time following this woman’s lead.
“No smell. No towers neither, unless you count those silly pratfall things that were here last year. Last year, mind you, 2013 and not 2001. Those puppies looked ridiculous. Those things could fall and fall again. But that ain’t gonna make it more real. Bunch of Hollywood studio dominos or Jenga blocks. Take your pick.”
“So you’re saying what? We’re all starring in that film Dark City? Something like that?” Tiffany snorted.
“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” the woman leaned in close, tuna breath caressing Tiffany’s neck. “I repeat: no smell.”
“Unlike your salad,” Tiffany pulled away.
The woman ignored her. “See those little punk kids over there, hipsters, whatever. Those kids are operatives!”
“Project Montauk. Spies and more spies, all of them!,” she yelled with her arms wide in the air, bags flailing around. Other people were staring at the pair of them now.
“Hey – there. Settle down.” Tiffany reached into her purse and grabbed some money. Trying to stuff it into the woman’s hand, she said: “Why don’t you go get yourself a nice drink or whatever, and forget the whole thing.”
“Forget?” she screeched, throwing the bills and also a soiled napkin straight back at Tiffany. “I cannot and must not forget. I am the very essence of remembrance!” And with that the bag woman huffed off through the throngs of residents and visitors, deluded or otherwise, lining up to see the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s grand opening.
“Well . . . that was different.” Tiffany stood up and brushed the back of her skirt with her hand. “Finally, a fresh angle . . .” She’d discovered something fishy today. But what that’d been exactly, only time would tell . . .