My phone rang again. “SCOTT!” I heard clicking and static as the plane got closer and closer.
“Mike! Mike! I’m—“ BLAMM!!!! The airplane flew right into the other tower near a corner of the building, and the blast carried through the other face of the structure. I stood there with my mouth wide open, phone next to my ear. People around me were screaming and backing away from some of the debris that had been blown away from the building.
There was no sound on the phone. “Scott?” I said, my voice wavering. “Scott, are you there!” I started sniffing uncontrollably as the tears flowed. “SCOTT!! SCOTT ANSWER ME!!!” A few people watched me as I stood there screaming into the phone, looking up at the twin towers, crying almost hysterically.
I dropped to my knees and sat on my heels with my face in my hands. A stranger slowly walked up to me and put her arm around my shoulder. She was crying too. I sobbed and shook like a baby in her arms. As I did my phone slipped from my hands and hit the ground. She picked it up and handed it back to me. I looked at it—it was blank. I tried turning it on. Nothing. In a rage I screamed out and threw it against the building next to me, shattering it.
I kept on crying, keening actually. My insides hurt. I couldn’t breathe. I felt like the bottom had dropped out in my life. I didn’t want my life anymore.
I knew Scott wasn’t going to be calling me.
* * * * * * * * * *
To this day I have no idea who the woman was who stood by me, holding me, on that street. “Baby, it’s gonna be alright. You just hush now.” I know she was trying to be comforting but I tuned her out, looking up at the burning buildings. I don’t know how long I stood there watching when I spotted something falling from the floors above where the planes had crashed.
“Oh. My. God.” I whispered. She looked up to see what I was watching and her hand flew to her mouth.
We were seeing people falling.
Can you imagine the horror of making that decision?
I think that my mind sort of shut down at that point. I took my eyes away but my feet were rooted to the sidewalk. I couldn’t move. I’m not sure if I really wanted to move and I have no idea how long I stood there. At that moment I wanted to be with Scott. I’d rather be in the building with him then out here.
What got my attentionfinally was a low rumbling in my chest. I looked around puzzled and then back to the buildings. That’s odd, I thought. My mind was playing tricks on me. Then suddenly I realized, along with the people around me, what was happening.
The second tower to be struck was beginning to collapse.
Sheer, basic instinct took over my body and I turned and ran. I ran as fast as I fuckin’ could back toward my hotel. My knee was killing me and it slowed me down a bit, but not too much. People all around me were screaming and running in the same direction. The sound was absolutely tremendous. Living in the south I’d heard a tornado roaring through my neighborhood. But this sound was unbelievable. It sounded like a thousand freight trains colliding at once.
I had run about five blocks when the dust cloud hit me. I turned at the first cross street I came to and ran in that direction.
It didn’t matter.
At the block ahead of me I saw the dust cloud billowing around the corner and heading in my direction. A bunch of us were trapped and before we knew it, it was like a brown-out, or a dark gray fog.
I couldn’t see a fuckin’ thing and I was having a hard time breathing. I held the bottom of my shirt up to my mouth. All I could hear was the sound of thunder echoing around and through the canyons of buildings that make up Manhattan. My eyes were burning and I kept having to blink and squeeze them shut. I could vaguely make out a shop or storefront of some sort and ran in that direction. I never saw the fire hydrant. I smashed my hurt knee into it and the momentum from my running spun me around. I lost my footing and was rolling across the sidewalk.
The last thing that I saw before the whole world went black was the wall of a building.
* * * *
I came to and thought that I had woken up in hell. You could barely see a goddamn thing and it was like a dust storm. The air was brown and orange and there was dust and dirt everywhere. Two men had apparently picked me up, each one taking an arm across their shoulder, and ran with me. Later I found out that I had rolled into a building where an exclusive men’s clothier was housed, and two of the patrons came out to help me.
My head was bouncing on my shoulders and it throbbed like a mother fucker. I tried to help run but I couldn’t. I passed out again.
* * * *
When I came to, the three of us were nearing a hospital, and then I heard the sound again. That low rumbling again. The guys stopped and we turned to look in the direction of the towers but had a hard time seeing anything because of the dust cloud. You could make out the top of the first tower that was struck as it started to drop. “Oh God,” I muttered and passed out again.
* * * *
I woke up some time later in a hospital bed, an i.v. in my arm and my head wrapped up in gauze. People were running everywhere. Nurses. Doctors. Interns. Security people. The whole place was a mass of controlled confusion.
My head hurt.
I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep again.
* * * *
I woke up again later calling Scott’s name. I remember a couple of nurses and maybe an intern or a resident coming into the room I was in. One of the nurses put a syringe into my i.v. and I drifted off to sleep again.
* * * *
Scott sounded so far away. I had to get to him. I tried so hard to open my eyes. Finally I did. I was in a hospital.
“Mr. Logan.” I looked over to the voice. A man was standing there gently shaking my arm. “Now we’re talking,” he said with a slight smile. “Come on Mike, wake up.”
The fog slowly lifted from my head. Very slowly.
“Where am I,” I groaned.
“You’re at Saint Vincent’s. I’m Dr. Sheffield. You banged your head pretty well, sir.”
I weakly nodded.
“You have a slight concussion.”
“Head hurts,” I mumbled.
“Yes. We can give you something for the pain.”
Anything he said after that was just muttering. I was miserable, emotionally. I didn’t care about a fuckin’ headache.
“When can I leave?”
He looked at me a second. “You should probably stay the night.”
I shook my head. “No. I need to leave.”
“You’re sure you want to do that sir?” he asked.
I looked him dead in the eye. “I have to get out of here.”
He slowly nodded. “Okay. I’ll have the discharge papers in a bit. In the meantime, here’s a prescription for that head. I’d suggest that you not do any flying soon but you couldn’t do that anyway.”
“Why not? What’s happening out there?”
“It’s looking like terrorists have hijacked four planes. Two of them were flown into the World Trade Center, one flew into the Pentagon and the last one crashed somewhere in Pennsylvania. The FAA has closed all airports until further notice.”
I was stunned and my mouth dropped open. Scott was dead because some bunch of fuckin’ crazies hated this country….I couldn’t even think.
“Um. I lost someone in the towers...” My voice stalled out. “How…what do I do?”
His face dropped a bit. “At this point nobody really knows. The Port Authority and Giuliani are trying to assess…” and I shut him out.
About an hour later a nurse came in to remove the i.v. “Your discharge papers have been signed. You’re free to go, Mr. Logan.”
Free from what, I thought. I wasn’t free from misery. I wasn’t free from loneliness. My soul felt empty. It was like someone had taken vacuum and sucked out my insides. I had that constant feeling of a lump in my throat. You remember when you were a kid and your mom or dad yelled at you about something, then right before you started crying you felt a huge lump that hurt at the back of your throat? That’s how I felt the rest of that God awful day.
As I limped out of the hospital I found out where to go to try and find…remains. Christ. This was all happening so fast. Remains, for cryin’ out loud. I had just watched my partner die. Along with thousands of other people.
I was a complete basket case as I wandered around the streets of Lower Manhattan trying to find the place to register Scott’s name. The area was like a war zone. My head hurt so I sat down on a street corner. A stranger walked up to me.
“Are you…okay?” he asked, putting his hand on my shoulder. It’s amazing, you always think of New Yorkers as short tempered and impatient, with no time for anyone else.
Not on that day.
My mouth turned down like I was about to cry. “I’m trying to find where you can register…the names….” I couldn’t finish my sentence.
“Hey, c’mere pal. Follow Lou.”
I looked up to see who Lou was. He was this great big burly guy, older, probably in his late fifties, dressed in construction-type clothes. My instant thought was ‘grandpa.’ He helped me off the curb and walked me the five blocks to the place I was looking for.
When I got there I turned and looked at him. “Thanks, Lou,” I said. And then I lost it. I started crying again, which didn’t really help the pain in my head. Lou held me as I cried. This complete stranger held me as I grieved. I clapped him on the back and thanked him again.
As I turned to go into the building he asked, “You gonna be okay?”
“No. I doubt it.”
* * * *
Once I registered Scott’s name I left and headed north. I needed to get out of there. I couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t fly; who knows how long the airports would be shut down. Hell at this point all I wanted to do was get out of the city. They weren’t gonna find Scott. It was a lost cause. I felt horrible because I felt I had given up on him. At one point I was pissed a little bit at him. Why in the hell would he leave me and go into the World Trade Center without me? It didn’t make sense. But then again, nothing at that time did. I had to leave New York City. And I had to do it, alone.
* * * *
Since air travel was out of the question I tried going to the train station. I was able to buy a ticket but I couldn’t leave until Thursday morning. I had actually checked the buses, but it was a longer wait.
On Wednesday I distracted myself by volunteering near Ground Zero with a group that was preparing food, sandwiches, drinks, whatever for the people helping out with the rescue efforts. I felt that if I was near as I could be to Scott I might feel better. I didn’t feel better, just distracted. My God, the horror of everything. I remembered seeing people falling to their deaths; firemen going into the towers as people from the buildings filed out. Every time I saw a fireman I got choked up.
Thursday couldn’t come quick enough. I was still such a head case that I had forgotten that I didn’t have a cell phone any longer. I didn’t think of things like that.
Wednesday night I went to our hotel and packed all of our bags. Every time I picked up an article of Scott’s clothing I held it to my nose, trying hard to smell what I could.
It was agony.
Thursday morning the bell captain got our luggage. I was the only one checking out. As I signed the credit card receipt the man at the desk was saying something. I don’t know what. I looked at him blankly. I saw his mouth moving but no words were coming out.
The hotel shuttle took me to Grand Central. Any other time I would have been awestruck by such monumental architecture.
Today it was my gateway to home.
I had gotten a room on the train. I needed to be alone. I probably shouldn’t have been alone with the state my mind was in, but I needed to be away from people. I sat there staring out the window as the world slipped away. I couldn’t cry anymore. My head was hurting a little bit. I took the bandage off. I remember thinking how stupid it was to have on one in the first place. Just like years before when Scott....
I took a look at the bottle of pain killers in my hand. I thought, it would be so easy right now to down this whole bottle and just go to sleep. But then I knew when I got to heaven Scott would kick my ass. I had to smile at that. I took the prescribed amount and laid my head back to rest. When I woke up the train had stopped for it’s layover in Washington D.C. I had to wait there six hours before it left to go to Atlanta. I wished Scott was there. I thought about calling the place where I’d registered his name but remembered I didn’t have a phone. It was smashed to bits.
Finally, Friday morning the train pulled into the station in Atlanta. As I waited for a taxi I looked at all of the luggage. Those suitcases had been everywhere with us. Alaska. The Mississippi. All of the places we had gone. I remember thinking, Logan, you’re nuts to carry on over luggage.
Scott’s name for me.
Oh Scotty! I thought as we pulled away from the station. I started crying silently. The cab driver looked at me. “Where to?” he asked softly. I gave him the address. “Are you visiting Atlanta?”
“I just came back from New York City.”
“Oh.” What else was there to say.
My heart was killing me as the taxi pulled up in front of our house. I felt empty inside. No words can describe it so forgive me if I don’t try. The driver helped me in with the suitcases, I paid him and he left. Slowly I looked around at all of the work that Scott and I had done on the house, making it beautiful again.
Numbly I went upstairs, took some more medicine, and laid down. I lay there crying until I finally fell asleep.
* * * *
I woke up and it was getting dark outside. I shuffled downstairs and turned on a couple of lights, then headed into the kitchen to fix something to eat. Not that I felt like eating at all. The answering machine was blinking. Fourteen messages, huh? Oh well. Can’t deal with that now. I fixed myself a grilled cheese and a Coke, then sat down in the den.
Flipping on the television I wound up on the celebrity tribute where they were raising money for the victims of 9/11. There were celebrities taking calls and a bunch of songs were performed in the studio. But they were pussy songs, I remember thinking. What a bunch of sappy bullshit! I was angry. Some bunch of anti-American assholes had killed Scott, along with thousands of others, and they’re playing these slow, cryin’-towel songs?
Fuck that! I wanted to hear “Born in the USA” or “Little Pink Houses” or "Proud To Be An American." Something to get people to their feet in anger and pride!
Then came the part where they showed the different countries around the world observing a minute or two of silence. Complete strangers in other countries, even countries that hated the United States, grieved for us. That killed me. I lost it and started bawling around my sandwich. I put my face in my hands and sobbed like a baby. My heart was ripped out. My soul felt empty. I couldn’t be alone. Not right now.
I picked up the phone and dialed my parents. Dad answered.
“Mike?” he said, sounding exasperated.
“Daddy..” was all I said. I was an absolute wreck.
“My God are you alright.”
“I’m…I’m…okay. Scott didn’t….he didn’t….he's gone....I’m alone…will you please come over?” I know I must’ve sounded like a five year old, but I had never experience that kind of loss.
“We’re on our way.” I clicked off the phone and sat there watching the horrific images of destruction as the planes crashed into the Trade Center. Then the one image of the South Tower starting to collapse and the dust and debris rolling through the streets of New York. The people running for safety. I sat there transfixed wondering where was Scott when all this happened. Was he hurt initially? Did he know what was happening?
Did he know I was trying to get to him?
I was still crying when the phone rang. I couldn’t talk to anyone and I started hitting the machine with my hands. Just then I heard someone on the front porch. Thank God, my parents were here. I left the kitchen to open the door for them and I heard a “beep” from the answering machine.
“Mike, it’s me.” I spun around at the sound of Scott’s voice. “Man where are you? I tried calling you on your cell—“ and the connection ended. “Tuesday, 9:12 a.m.” from the answering machine lady.
I heard the front door knob rattle behind me and the machine beeped again. “Oh man Mike, I’m scared man.” You could hear his voice wavering. “If you get this message…God I hope you call the house…can’t get through your cell. Oh my GOD!!—“ and the connection ended. Again. Tuesday, 10:05 a.m.” The first tower collapse. I was in shock. I didn’t even think to call the house phone. Things were just so fuckin’ crazy.
The machine beeped again. “Logan. I love you.” He was breathing heavy. “I just saw you and you disappeared! I lost you in the dust cloud. I could have sworn I saw you go down this street. God DAMMIT where are you.” How could he see…”Tuesday, 10:08 a.m.”
I heard a key in the door as I stared at the machine. “Mike, I don’t know where to find you.” At this he was crying. I started crying too. “Just know that if you get this message go back to the hotel. I love you. I’ll be waiting for you there.” The machine read off the time. “Tuesday, 10:45 a.m.” That was after the second collapse, I thought as I heard the front door open.
I turned around and thought I’d have a heart attack.
I couldn’t move. God was playing a trick on me. My mind was still fucked from the medicine. I know it was my dad but it looked like…
“Logan.” He said.
It was Scott. I stood there. I couldn’t move. My eyebrows started doing that crazy thing they do when I cry. My lips quivered. I thought I was all cried out but I was wrong.
“Scott?” I whispered. I started to walk towards him and it felt like the house was getting longer. I didn’t think I’d ever get there. He ran up to me and grabbed me.
“Oh God, Logan!” He was bawling and I was stunned. I had my arms around him but I couldn’t say anything. This wasn’t happening.
Slowly, or it seemed slowly, it sank in. I held him tight and kept saying “Oh God” over and over. I wanted to climb into him. I wanted to melt myself into his body. I couldn’t let him go! We stood there crying for what seemed like hours, then I stepped back to look at him. Nobody ever looked so good. I held his face and kissed him, then I hugged him again.
“I thought you were dead,” I repeated over and over. When I looked up my parents were coming into the house. They were shocked and came over to hold us. We were all blubbering like idiots.
After about ten minutes of crying with joy I sat down on the stairs, taking Scott with me. We each had an arm around the other one. I wasn’t letting him go. No sir!
“What in the hell happened? Where were you?” I asked.
“Oh my God! When I called you to wake you up I was downstairs buying a newspaper—“
“A newspaper! Say what?!” I was shocked. “I thought you said you were at Windows.”
“No, I asked if you wanted to eat there for breakfast.”
“Right, but you were singing that damn song when I asked where you were,” I said.
“What song?” Mom asked.
“Top Of The World,” we replied in unison. I continued, “I assumed that you were already up there waiting for me.”
“No. No, no, no.” The tears kept rolling down his cheeks and wiping at his face with his upper arm. “I think on the phone I said something like, ‘well, not quite.’ I was in the lobby as you bolted through and out the doors. I called your name but you didn’t answer.”
I remembered. “Oh hell, I thought somebody said Mister Logan, not Logan.”
“No babe, that was me.” He smiled. “I’ll tell you what, man, I’ve never seen you run faster in my life.”
Turning to Mom and Dad I said, “When he called I thought he was in the Trade Center as the plane hit. I saw it hit from our balcony. And I had no clue which building the restaurant was in so I just hauled ass down there.”
“Our hotel was about a dozen blocks or so from Ground Zero,” Scott said. By now that’s the moniker that the World Trade Center had been given. “My God, he ran so fast I couldn’t find him. I wasn’t sure which street he went down.”
“And that’s after I busted my knee too. I went down West Broadway, by the way.” I squeezed him to me again. I still couldn’t believe he was here. Alive. “When I got down to the Trade Center my phone started ringing. I had dropped it on my way off the terrace and thought it might be broken.” At this I started tearing up again. “I saw the second plane coming in as Scott was saying ‘Mike, Mike.’ Then it smashed into the South Tower. The phone went dead.”
“Oh man. I was trying to tell you that I was looking for you. The connection must have died.”
“Please,” I said to him, “don’t say the word ‘died’ right now.” They all looked somberly at me.
Scott continued his story. “I was running around trying to find you but I couldn’t, and you weren’t answering your phone—“
“The phone quit working. I got mad and threw it against a building. Which was stupid of me.”
“Then when the South Tower started to collapse I started running. I saw you,” he said, turning to me. “Logan, I saw you running with the crowd. You were about a block ahead of me and I was screaming your name but it was just so damned loud. I thought I saw you running into a side street but then the cloud blinded me.”
“Yeah, that wasn’t good. I was running to some kind of shop and smashed my knee, again, into a fire hydrant. I flipped over and hit my head on the building.”
“Oh Mike,” my mom said.
“Luckily, two guys were in there and they helped me to a hospital.”
“Saint V’s.” Scott said.
“How’d you know?” I turned to him.
“Man, I checked every place I could. Saint V’s just happened to be the last place and you had already checked yourself out. They wouldn’t tell me details about why you were in there though.”
“Oh my God,” Dad said.
“Dad, it was horrible. Not only did I think I had witnessed his death,” my voice cracked at this point, “but to watch those poor, poor people who jumped. I’ll never get that image out of my head. Never. God, and then think of the firemen.” The tears were rolling again at that. “I found a place with the help of Lou—“ and I smiled at the memory.
“Who’s Lou?” Scott asked.
“Oh, during one of my basket case moments" I sniffed "I sat down on some street corner and this older man came up and asked if I was okay. He helped me find he place to register Scott’s name in case…any remains were found.”
“Oh, Mike,” Scott said, crushing me against him. “I called so many times on your cell and even left messages here, thinking you’d check the house voice mail.”
“God, man, I was…well, I was out of my mind. How did you get home?”
“I rented a car.”
“You’re kidding me.”
“No. I went to the hotel and you had checked out already. Logan, I swear I was always one step behind you.”
I kind of laughed and shook my head. Un-fucking-believable.
Mom came over to us and grabbed us both. “I’m just so glad that you’re both home. Alive!” She held us like that for a minute then stood back. “Well, would anyone like something to eat?”
“I’m starving,” Scott and I said. We both laughed and walked off to the kitchen, arm in arm.
One heartbeat. Different names.
* * * *
Well, the year’s 2005. Scott and I are still together. Surprise, surprise! The horrors of 9/11 and what we each personally went through only strengthened our bond. We’ve been together for eight years now and honest to God I have never been at more peace in my life and in my soul than during the time we’ve shared so far.
There are lots of things we want to do in life. Since we have plenty of money I decided a couple of years ago to go to law school. I want to do pro-bono work for people who are getting screwed by bad U.S. Supreme Court decisions, like the one about eminent domain. But don’t get me started because I’ll never shut up.
Scott started singing barbershop with me but after a couple of years we both quit. We always are looking into trying new things in life, whether it’s hiking a different mountain or possibly opening up a restaurant. Who knows. Anything’s possible with us.
Because we have each other. We’re together.
One hear beat. Different names.
God I’m such a sap!
* * * * * * * *
Read this part or I’ll kick your ass.
Alright guys, I wanted to dedicate this last chapter of The Reunion Show to Nick, Michael, Don and “John Walsh.” Especially Nick, because he puts up with all of my e-mails and yentering. LOL. All four guys have written awesome stories and their style, as well as their tomes, have motivated me to write this down.
Lot’s of you have asked, hey Mark, how much of this story is true. Well, Mike’s history is my history. The times growing up, the musicals. Everything. My music is in here, obviously. (Do I hear…howler monkeys???) The things that Scott’s character did while I was growing up actually happened to me. The way I banter back and forth with people is exactly like the way Mike does. I honestly believe that if you met me on the street you would recognize Mike from this story.
Obviously there was never a Reunion Show. This is just a story. I got the idea about ten years ago when MTV did a Real World where they put about 6-7 people in a house for two weeks leading up to their ten-year reunion. That concept stayed in my head for a long time. Then I watched parts of Real World San Diego and I remember thinking that the guy Brad was really hot. I thought, hell, what if I was put in that situation and started falling for a guy, he was falling for me, how would we handle it, yadda, yadda, yadda. Different ideas in this story have stemmed from that, like Scott making Mike the cd to get his point across to him without coming out of the closet completely. Ironically, I’m really not an MTV fan, I just happened to catch those shows while flipping through channels.
Oddly enough there are songs that I hear from time to time and I think, hey, if there was a movie playing this song in the back ground, what kind of dialogue would be happening right now. What would have led the characters up to this point, etc. Hell, maybe I was meant to write screen plays. Or direct. Yeah. Right.
I’ve had an incredible time writing this but the hardest thing was how to handle the 9/11 sequence. I tried to portray it as accurately as possible and I know that it stirs up memories. Unfortunately I think that too many people have become complacent again, and have forgotten. Personally, I wish every news telecast would start and end their broadcast week with footage from the attack.
Thank you all so much for your kind words and compliments, and your encouragement. I hope to be writing another story soon, and I might even be able to collaborate with another author in the future. I’m keeping my fingers crossed on that because I think it’ll be cool.
Anyway, take care and God bless!