What happens to a dream deferred?
— Langston Hughes
Once upon a couch, I was at home watching the pregame show before Game 5 of the 2000 World Series — but I fell asleep moments before the first pitch, and soon I started to dream…
… The nighttime parade in New York City’s Canyon of Heroes — with me as the only spectator, as far as I can see — has begun. On the first main parade float is a handmade sign, with jagged edges on one side, bearing numbers that appear to have been hastily scrawled: 9/11.
I wonder what the numbers signify — maybe it’s a variation of calling 911 for an emergency?
The float stops abruptly in front of me, and a device similar to a TV remote floats toward me in midair from the heart of the float. Then I notice a large rectangular object on the float — I’d missed it at first partly because the object is dark and blends into the night, and partly because it is so large (at least the size of a movie screen) that it engulfs the float and is thus tough to see. Too large to see? Counterintuitive, yes, but it does make sense — like the elephant to the ant, I suppose.
Plucking the remote-like device out of the air, I see that its design is simple enough for a kindergartner, or even a toddler: It has only one button. I press it, and a single email fills the expansive movie-like screen.
The email’s subject line reads: Plane crashes into World Trade Center.
The body of the email, where the message normally goes, is as blank as a beggar’s bank account. Speculating that perhaps there is an invisible-ink element to the empty email, I click on it with the remote — but nothing.
While I can’t quite be sure, it appears this email has been sent from the news desk of a major media company to some of its editorial employees. But in this sometimes foggy dream state, I can’t tell which company.
I read the subject line again: Plane crashes into World Trade Center.
I reckon that a small single-engine plane, the kind that makes its home at a humble municipal airport, must have malfunctioned and hit one of the Twin Towers.
Then I remember the headlines that had appeared on the mini-float preceding this parade float — especially the first headline, something about the Twin Towers being destroyed. Baffled — and sensing, for some reason, a growing dread — I wonder how a single-engine plane could destroy the Twin Towers.
Clicking the remote again, I see a videotape replace the email on the massive screen, and above the videotape is the headline I’d seen before:
Terrorist attacks rock NYC; Twin Towers reduced to rubble — 2001
In the upper left corner, the videotape bears the name YouTube, with a red background behind Tube. I have no idea what YouTube is — maybe a new cable TV station in the future? As I ponder, the video rolls and I watch a sizable plane — it appears to be a jetliner — crash right into one of the Twin Towers. The videotape has the CNN logo, where it would normally be on a TV screen.
My mind reels — I fell asleep during the World Series telecast in October 2000, and this CNN videotape is apparently from 2001, according to the headline. Will this actually happen?
Wait … 9/11 — apparently, if this dream is accurate, these events will happen less than a year from now … on 9/11 — or September 11, 2001.
On the videotape, the news anchor says: “This just in — you’re looking at, obviously, a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.”
The CNN video keeps playing, and out of the bright blue sky another airliner careens toward the other Twin Tower — another direct hit, another inferno of an explosion.
The voice of an eyewitness speaks on the videotape as the camera fixes on the burning towers, with smoke billowing as if someone was sending a perpetual SOS from a desolate island.
The eyewitness says: “The plane was coming in — I noticed it a second before it hit the building. It looked like it was moving slowly, and it lined itself up to hit the building directly.”
Another eyewitness says: “The doorman goes to me, ‘Wow, I never seen a plane flying so low.’ And — and we looked out at it, and all of a sudden, boom — it seemed like it wasn’t even real.”
I understand what he’s saying — as I watch the Twin Towers burn, it seems unreal, inconceivable, surreal, a dream turned to nightmare. Still, I can’t imagine that they will be reduced to rubble.
I look up and down Broadway, this Canyon of Heroes, to locate Miracle Max of “The Princess Bride” — or Billy Crystal as Miracle Max — who I had encountered earlier in my dream journey. He’s nowhere to be seen.
That’s a shame, because if it’s possible, the people in those Twin Towers could use a miracle.
But then I hear Princess Buttercup, another character from “Princess Bride” — and see her, too, as she appears on a small screen above the massive movie-like screen that’s playing the CNN video.
Arguing with Westley, the Princess cries out: “You mocked me once, never do it again — I died that day!”
To be continued …
© Bruce William Deckert 2014