When you’re dreaming with a broken heart
The waking up is the hardest part
— John Mayer
Once upon a couch, I was 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…
… This mystifying parade along Broadway in New York City has only just begun, yet it seems it’s been going on forever. Actually, the parade halted when the very first float — the one that bears the handmade sign with the scrawled numbers 9/11 — stopped in front of me. But the stoppage appears to be by design, and I’ve been watching video footage, on the float’s huge screen, of events that are ominous and incomprehensible.
Planes crashing into the Twin Towers. Perverse smoke piercing a beautiful blue sky. Stunned witnesses recounting unimaginable sights.
I’m the sole spectator at this strange dead-of-night spectacle — though for a moment I had been joined by Miracle Max (of “Princess Bride” fame) and then Timon (from “The Lion King”).
Miracle Max left earlier, before the 9/11 float appeared. I thought Timon was still with me, but he has inexplicably disappeared.
I turn from the immense video screen and glance south toward lower Manhattan — and in the night air I see the Twin Towers burning. What is going on…? This scene was on a video on a parade float, but now it’s happening right before me, a nightmare on Church Street and West Street and Vesey Street and Liberty Street.
Suddenly, one tower collapses in a heap of deadly debris and unyielding rubble. Moments later the other tower does the same.
I glance toward the first parade float again, and on the huge video screen is a different scene. Gone are the images of the Twin Towers bleeding flames and dark smoke. Instead, there’s a scene I recognize: the Giants celebrating a Super Bowl victory. Such a jarring juxtaposition of images — I wonder who’s in charge of the video content. My mind harks back to the two Super Bowls the Giants won in 1987 and ’91, and I look for coach Bill Parcells amid the celebration. But wait — that looks like Tom Coughlin in the Giants’ locker room … the same Tom Coughlin who’s the coach of the Jaguars.
Suddenly I recall again: I’m dreaming (or at least I think I am) — so perhaps this scene is also from the future, as I presume is the case with the previous video of the airliners crashing into the World Trade Center.
And if that’s true, Coughlin will coach the Giants to a Super Bowl victory.
Then the huge video screen abruptly vanishes … but Tom Coughlin is still there. He appears to be actually there, in the flesh, standing alone on that parade float, peering into the darkness toward the World Trade Center site. He is holding a phone (cell or landline, I can’t tell) and somehow I know he’s talking to his son — who is in one of the Twin Towers.
“Do you know what’s going on?” Coughlin says. “Do whatever you have to do to get out of there right now.”
Now I can hear his son’s side of the conversation: “Dad, can you believe what you’re seeing?”
Coughlin tells his son to get out of the skyscraper as fast as he can — and keeps telling him that.
Now another man has appeared next to Tom Coughlin. They embrace, and Coughlin speaks one word: “Tim.” Again, somehow I know this is Coughlin’s son. Tim turns toward me — I’m still the only visible spectator at this odd parade — and says, “”Looking back on that conversation, I think that was largely responsible for me kind of picking up my step and realizing that the important thing was to get out of there and get as far away from that place as possible.”
I surmise that Tim survived the collapse of the Towers. Wow…
As if reading my mind, he says, “It’s not something I really like to bring up. We like to stay quiet and in the background, because we know how lucky we were and that there are so many people who weren’t as fortunate as we were.”
Tom Coughlin looks at me and says, “The Holy Spirit went into that inferno, took Tim by the hand and walked him out of there. … I’m very, very grateful for that, and I’ll be thankful for that for the rest of my life. But I don’t tend to want to dwell on that story. What I want to dwell on is the incredible number of American heroes that died on that day, and I don’t ever want the people of this great country to forget that. No matter how forgiving and moving-forward we are, let’s not forget the tremendous price that was paid on that day for our freedom. And that this world is a whole different place to live in as a result of that.”
To be continued …
© Bruce William Deckert 2014