A Normal Day ~~ A Normal Morning
Juanita left her home apartment in Hamilton heights, Harlem New York. Her three years old daughter Tamika was staying with grandma Willma Mae as usual. Lebron, her ex-husband picked her up at that very moment: 7:15 a.m. He was a Cab driver for Limousine service in Jackson Heights.
He checked his cell and realized, "No way !! This is... you better hurry up Juanita. I've got too much shit to do," said Lebron spitting on the floor. He didn't treat Juanita as he did when they married long time ago. He hugged his 6 years old daughter and said good bye. "I know Lebron, I know...come here Tamika. You better listen to grandma okay sweet thang?” Juanita’s barely could understand Lebron. “Mom please, don't' forget to fix her formula. Her pediatrician was worried about her weight.I've got some spring water last night from Bj’s" Gramma goes off:
"Nita, please! You better go! I've got everything under control. You know how that good for nothing is!! You better leave. Your "free" taxi is waiting and this nightmare of a man doesn't look too friendly... at all!" said Juanita's mom with disdain and a synchronized circling move of her neck. LeBron had enough of her ex mother-in-law.
"Oh, please Ms. Williams, knock it off, would you? I'm doing ya both a favor... so Nita can find a job. Ready now, ex-wifey?" Lebron had to throw away some ‘single life’ trash on the back seat; even had to move some of his weekend clothes back into the car’s trunk.
"Wait a minute you asshole! Don’t talk to my mom like that! Let's go then modafucker! I wish I'd never met you," replied Juanita really mad, combing her hair on the go.
"Seems that you will never change nigga!” finished Juanita's mom pointing her finger to Lebron. Matter of fact, Juanita had to stop her mom from jumping on Lebron, literally. "Mom, stop it!"
"Come on ladies! I'm here just to help, not to hear the same bullshit!"
"Next time, don't even come to help us Lebron. My mom's blood pressure is already high!"
"Just get in 'nita'! What a waste of time. Geez!"
"Yeah! I wasted 7 years of my life with you, loser!"
Long Island, New York, 7:25 a.m.
Mark Stone left his Townhouse in Garden City, Nassau County - Long Island. Him and his wife bought that stunning dwelling from his aunt Martie... around that past 4th of July.
Mark's wife had already walked half a block in order to take their son to the same corner down the block, where little Jimmy could wait safely for the school bus.
Mark drove off his Nissan Pathfinder 2001 out of his car garage. Fortunately he reached both of them, waving goodbye (?). He didn't have time to stop; it was just another Tuesday morning anyway! What a farewell, huh?
"Bye daddy!" screamed little Jimmy, who just started first grade the week before. This little champion was proud to carry his "Mighty Morphine Power Rangers" book bag and his little lunch, which included ‘the love of a mom‘ peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Orange juice and an apple pie was packed as back-up from sweet mommy dearest. "Bye Hun, I'll be here waiting with supper and your favorite gluten free Salad," said wife Sheila with a beautiful smile, the one that won Mark's heart at prom night back in 1990.
But hold it! This time Mark stopped his car 20 feet away from them and backed up. "Happy anniversary, my cupcakes," said Mark giving her a box of chocolates and a dozen red roses! He didn't forget their anniversary as she thought he did! They got married on September 11, 1994.
"Happy anniversary too, darling. Honestly I thought you forgot all about it. You played me Good Mr. Stone!!" she said while stealing a kiss from him.
"Well, time for me to be heading for work. Consultants will be there this morning to check my business proposal, and my boss won't take another lateness excuse. You know how they are!...Bye Shelia! Behave Jimmy!"
"Bye sweetheart... and drive safe, please!" said mark's wife. Little Jimmy cried out of the blues, seeing his dad leaving. Did he feel something?
"Come on Jimmy, dad is going to work. Say bye..he is waving back to you now. Stop it please for goodness sake! Do you want to ruin mommie's day?" Jimmy composed himself, but something was not right. He feared something that his own mom wouldn't be able to understand. “My dad is leaving us..!”
The school bus came on time, and Jimmy stepped in. His new friend was all the way back. Sheila walked back home and felt a plane's shadow that Zoomed above her. "These planes are flying lower and lower lately!!”
Queens New York 6:15 a.m.
Carlos Martinez, left his apartment in Corona Queens, which he shared with other six friends. Most of them were from Sonora and Puebla, Mexico. Due to their legal status, they couldn't afford something better.
His other friends waited for contractors, carpenters or electricians, near a corner store. These contractors would pay them cash under the table by the day. Better said, the end of the day. Most of them were trained to cut grass, paint houses, do light masonry, or whatever luck would choose them for.
Carlos was luckier, he got hired by a cleaning company. Nonetheless, he had to be at work before 7 AM. His only quick way out was the subway system. He carried his backpack with oranges, tortillas, tacos, cleaning gloves and some CD's from his 'Tigres del norte' .
He jumped on the 'R' train that would get him to lower Manhattan with no delay. His wallet had a picture of his wife and 6 years old son, who he didn't see since he was a year old. A wallet-size card with a 'virgen de guadalupe' showed some words from his mom written in Spanish. She gave it to him almost 7 summers ago.
Carlos was already disinfecting some toilets in his area. When he flushed the last toilet, he got hold of ‘suits’ that wanted to use the bathroom. He took the slippery when wet sign and walked away. He got on the elevator and faced Mark for the first time. Mark was heading to his monthly safety meeting at a higher floor. "How’s it going?" said Mark, trying to be polite to Carlos. Who shyly responded: "No Ingles señor!" The elevator doors opened. Carlos smiled and exited. "Take care buddy!" assessed Mark. Carlos just shrugged himself, but waved bye.
Carlos was done cleaning some locker rooms and went back to the elevator. Another surprise! This time caught up with Juanita. She was fixing her make up and putting away her lipstick. Carlos held his trash container holding it against the elevator walls. Juanita asked him, out of the blue. "Say...do you know where this Insurance.." Before she finished, he made a sign of not knowing anything. "Oh! You don't speak English right? Shoot! My bad!"
'Nada!' No! Senorita," He replied a little upset with his own self. Sixty seconds later he exited on floor 45th. She just said, "bye!"
Finally Mark made it to a big conference room and greeted different 'big shots' directors from South Jersey; executive key investors that were already waiting for profitable answers. The PowerPoint slide projector was already on. excel graphs and diagrams were already being shown by the floor technician. PowerPoint started acting up!
By coincidence, Juanita was on the same floor as Mark himself. At the same time she found the Insurance company that told her to be there before 9a.m. It was already 8:36 a.m.
She was not the only one there. 12 women were already waiting to be interviewed. The human resources lady, a woman in her late 40's asked for her name. "Juanita Williams ma'am. I was schedule for an interview at 9.am."
"I know, I know! You guys were scheduled to be here at 9 AM, regardless..." replied the human resources lady.
"Just fill out these disclosure forms and sign these disclaimer. Do you have two forms of ID for identification purposes? Take this form for drug testing as well," asks relentlessly this woman. "Yeah, I have my driver's license and my social security card, ma'am," replies Juanita a little nervous.
Carlos exited from the elevator on the same floor where Juanita was: floor 91. He wanted to look neat and constantly was fixing his blue and gray uniform, trying to keep a low profile among so many important people. He entered the women's bathroom as usual, displaying his "warning! wet floor" sign.
WORLD TRADE CENTER
TOWER 1 NORTH
SEPTEMBER 11TH, 2001
Mark was getting some doughnuts and coffee from the long table set for international conference and CEO meetings. "These guys from the blue dot com stocks, wanna take over our company with this infamous IPO takeover," said to his manager. "That move would buy us out easily. Chopping away our market value."
"Well Mark, we wanna hear your ideas and proposals, and see what we can do. All they want is get rid of people like me and you, 'downsizing' our own future. You remember the same phenomenon back in September of 87.." That was all his boss had to say.
Both voices fade away while delving into important things. Their own CFO showed up late. Meanwhile, the rest of the managers were checking the important points from the agenda, set on the table for them to see.
Juanita, asked the H.R. Clerk for the nearest bathroom. "Just go outside and... to your right you will see the women's bathroom sign. You won't miss it. Okay?" responded the H.R. lady.
Juanita excused herself and found the bathroom. But "shoot!" it was being serviced. Carlos was mopping the bathroom floor briskly. "You again amigo!? says Juanita. "My goodness boy! Small world, ain't it?
"Si," agreed Carlos smiling and cleaning the sweat from his face. "Would you mind if... oh shit! You don't even know what I'm talking about."
Carlos tried to understand her gestures... "Oh, thanks my friend; you are so kind!" said Juanita. Carlos walked out and let her in.
Mark was already explaining his critical plans to avoid this impending "take over" by this long competitor of theirs. PowerPoint slides went from left to right this time. Through the window, they saw the bluest sky.
Some white collar relaxed and even took their shoes off. "This trend has been going on since this past January, and the Doe Jones fell over 900 points..." said Mark... when...
8:46:25, 8:46:26, 8;46:27
A big plane has just impacted the bottom floors. American Airlines Flight 11 has just crashed at this very second. The shock is horrifying. Inside windows shattered against all hopes; people feared the worse. Instinctively they headed to the nearest elevator.
Juanita was caught on the hallway by this human stampede. Carlos also got the bad news. He found his mom's religious card (The Virgin) in his pocket and started crying while praying in Spanish. Suddenly, the card fell off his hands and ended up on the corner of the stairwell. A desperate clue for him to go down the steps... but he hesitated, backed off and stayed on that floor.
People opened the elevator door and faced smoke and scorching flames whipping with no remorse. Some bodies were already burning. The stairwell got filled with more deadly smoke. An unknown person asked them to use the emergency steps to go down. Most could not stand the heat. The temperature below them was getting above human tolerance.
Some started making phone calls, but tried in vain. Mark commanded the crowd to go up 18 floors to the roof top. Juanita finally got her call, "Oh my God! mom. Seems that a private plane hit us by accident, but hopefully we will get out of this...this guy is already telling us to go to the top of this skyscraper. Yes! I love you too! Tell..my son..." Her communication got lost.
Mark was going up the steps. But saw two guys coming down. They even pushed him out of the way. "What the heck is wrong with you, assholes! Forget it, get lost!!"
These guys were Satan's elite forces, ready to pick up some souls. Carlos joined these crowd as well, but found that the exit gates were locked! Time was running out!
To the Top...
Mark and some colleagues, in need of fresh air, grabbed a big mahogany conference table and rammed against a solid glass window. Their attempt was successful; they cracked up a hole after three long minutes. Some were desperate and in shock. They went through the structural outside framing and tried to climb to upper levels. Panick and insane thoughts took hold of their minds, and their lives.
Some just kneeled down and sobbed. Others prayed on their cellphone with families they got in touch with. Juanita was one of them. Her face was filled with ashes and smoke. "The lord is my Shepperd I shall not want...." she mumbled, as tears engulfed her eyes and make up. "Mom, thank you for... for giving me a wonderful life and for taking care of my son....Love you!"
Her finals seconds of life were struck again by an explosion that threw her against a concrete beam. Her nose started to bleed and her thoughts went back and forth to her early days. However, she tried to catch her last breathe. But no. She started swallowing her own blood. Then miraculously... it stopped.
Flight 175, United Airlines Impacts the South Tower
Now collective panic and horror took over for good... or worse. A real life inferno scene turned surreal. All they saw was chaos that mixed with smog and desperation. Lots of them followed the strong, but who was strong enough to make crucial decisions? All became like a "flock of seagulls," as soon as one took the first step to "fly"...the rest just followed with no complain.
But, suddenly, a light flickered and got stronger. These desperate people felt this warm and beautiful light. What was happening? There was no explanation. All of them thought they were already physically death.
"Enough!" said a fatherly stern voice. "Just have faith, pray and be saved. I will redeem you all... who are my children. My angels will take hold of you for eternal salvation. Satan and your darkest flames refrain from hurting my people and turn the other way. Your demons shall kneel down and be ashamed..!"
Their spirits got separated from their physical pain. Whenever ready, people held hands and jumped together to their death in a final-an—peaceful feeling of unfathomable freedom. Some were allowed to see their loved ones through some angelical screens. Others took the same action and got comforted by the light. Mark held hands with Juanita and... from nowhere came Carlos who was able to speak now in perfect English: "Brother and sister, I'm ready."
Slowly, the three of them, stepped forward and joined themselves... in eternity.
Copyright © 2011
Joseph De Cross
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want;
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for His name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the
Hold My Hand...HOLD IT As Hard As You Can!
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