What happens to a dream deferred?
… Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
— Langston Hughes
Once upon a couch, I was at home watching the pregame show before Game 5 of the 2000 World Series — the Mets-Yankees Subway Series — but I fell asleep moments before the first pitch, and soon I started to dream…
… The parade that’s underway in New York City’s Canyon of Heroes is, shall we say, bizarre — because it’s at night, and because I’m the sole spectator (as far as I can see), and because most parades are upbeat celebrations while this one so far is a direct hit to the heart.
I don’t love this parade.
I’ve just watched a CNN video, apparently from some affiliate station called YouTube, on a huge movie-like screen that dominates the lead parade float. The video has shown the Twin Towers being rocked by fiery explosions. The devastating impact came from — you’ll never guess it — two jet airliners. Not bombs, not missiles, but ordinary airplanes.
Instinctively glancing south toward lower Manhattan, I half-expect to see the torn Twin Towers smoldering and bleeding dark blood up into the bright blue September sky, as the CNN video showed moments ago. Instead, the Twin Towers are still standing — resolute, brooding in the night air, reigning over New York City.
So this video on the parade float is either fabricated, or it’s accurate but will occur in the future. (I see no other possible options.)
As I consider further, I recall what I had momentarily forgotten — the handmade “9/11” sign on the float and the headline on the video that read: “Terrorist attacks rock NYC ; Twin Towers reduced to rubble — 2001.”
So if my dream-like calculations are correct, this horrific event will occur less than a year from the 2000 World Series: on September 11, 2001.
In the CNN/YouTube report, the news anchor said, “We have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.”
The phrase “unconfirmed reports” jumps out at me like a blinking neon sign, or like a hyena, or like the image of a leaping hyena on a blinking neon sign — and sets my mind wondering and my heart pondering life-and-faith issues, philosophy, theology, belief systems, worldview wrangles, journalism, history, 2+2=4 … and , in particular, the birth, death and resurrection accounts of Jesus of Nazareth.
How does one confirm a report? How does one confirm truth?
I remember that two eyewitness accounts of the planes hitting the Twin Towers were featured in the CNN video report. Eyewitnesses are good, last I checked. Any court of law can tell you that. Yet how can a court be sure if an eyewitness is lying or mistaken?
And after a report is confirmed … how does one know it has actually been confirmed?
There on Broadway, in the City That Never Sleeps, I muse: Perhaps we humans cannot know. Perhaps we humans must instead believe. Perhaps we humans must trust, based on the evidence, as best we can tell.
I say aloud, to no one in particular — which is fitting, since no one is there:
“When we boil life down, perhaps we all have no choice but to rely on another’s word, coupled with our own observations — whether you’re an atheist, theist, agnostic, polytheist or pantheist.”
And the best eyewitness account to trust, naturally, is the one that is accurate — the one that is true to life (and death).
It appears that we cannot know. Wait, no — that’s too nihilistic.
It appears that in order to know anything, we must have faith in someone.
“Hey, what’s goin’ on here?”
The voice sounds familiar, though it seems far away, echoing as if in a cavernous place.
“Hey, what’s goin’ on here?”
The voice gets closer … and louder. You know, it sounds as if this might be Miracle Max from “The Princess Bride” — I’d met him earlier at this strange parade. But he disappeared sometime before the 9/11 float appeared.
“HEY, WHAT’S GOIN’ ON HERE?”
Then, emerging from under the sidewalk about 30 feet down the street, I see the owner of the voice — I sort of see him … he’s small.
He saunters toward me and asks again, “Hey, what’s goin’ on here?”
It’s not Miracle Max — it’s Timon the meerkat from “The Lion King”! He emerged from the same subway stop Max had used.
“Timon, welcome to New York City,” I say. “Wow, you’ve had a long journey from Africa.”
“Tell me about it,” he replies. “A crazy-long flight, and sure, all the ginger ale I wanted, but not a single grub. Those airline cutbacks are for the birds — in this case, the vultures.” He laughs at his own joke.
“Where’s your buddy Pumbaa?” I ask.
“Somebody had to stay home with Simba,” he shoots back, his tone dripping “duh,” and then he queries me. “What’s all this about having no choice but to rely on someone’s word? Hey, nobody has to rely on anyone’s word. We don’t have to take anyone’s word for it — look at me, I rely on myself. Here, just watch this scene from that movie I starred in, ‘How Timon Saved The Lion King.’”
Puzzled, I say, “You mean ‘The Lion King,’ right?”
Timon snorted, “Everybody gets the name of that movie wrong. I told you the right title.”
“Why don’t any of the copies of the movie I’ve seen, or what I’ve read, call it ‘How Timon Saved The Lion King’? I always see it listed as ‘The Lion King.’”
Timon pauses, scrunches his face, and says, “That’s because ‘How Timon Saved’ is in really fine print before ‘The Lion King’ — I agreed to that so the Simba kid thinks the movie is about him. You know what, it might be invisible ink instead of fine print, but it’s one or the other.”
“OK — so how can people know the movie is really called ‘How Timon Saved The Lion King’?”
Exasperated, Timon replies, “Because I said so.”
“So,” I intone, “we have to take your word for it.”
To be continued …
© Bruce William Deckert 2014