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3 panel image progressivly zooming in on person on a bike caption 1: 9.11.2001. caption 2: At the intersection of Washington Square South and Lagurdia. Caption 3: I knew something was wrong.

Image jet filling the sky overhead flying towards the World Trade Center Towers with me, with a shocked expression on face in the forground.

I had just left my doctors office on the morning of September 11, the reason I was there so early was to pick up a referral to see a specialist at 10 A.M. that morning. I swore that I had gotten the referral on my last visit, but the night before it was nowhere to be found. So here I was riding my bike East on Washington Square Park South in Greenwich Village as I entered the intersection at LaGuardia I heard a noise above me, I looked up, only a couple hundred feet directly above me the entire sky was filled by a passenger jet moving South, fast. I realized that there was something wrong, very wrong. It was flying so low that if this were in any other part of Manhattan than the Village that it would be in danger of hitting a building, I realized that it was flying directly towards the World Trade Center towers.

The inertia of my bike carried me in front of the NYU library blocking my view of the plane, I had a gut feeling, I hit my brakes, spun the bike around and headed back to the intersection. I saw plane just fly into one of the Trade Center Towers and explode into a burst of orange flame brilliantly contrasted against the deep blue morning sky, and a loud thud as it hit. I was in shock, there was a woman standing next to me who saw the same thing, she just turned around as though nothing unusual had transpired and I yelled at her "LOOK THAT PLANE JUST FLEW INTO THE WORLD TRADE CENTER"! She turned around and this time to really look at what had just happened, all she said was "oh, God"!

The North Tower had an ugly gash in it, I could see some fire but that was all, I thought of a photo of a B-37 lodged in the Empire State Building after accidentally hitting it in the 1940's. This was no accident though, I was certain of that, it would take only a few minutes to reach the site on my bike. I realized there was nothing I could do I'd hoped that there weren't many people in the floors where the plane impacted, it was still fairly early in the morning. I knew however, that however many people were aboard the plane that had just flown overhead were all dead. Was this a plane flown alone by a deranged pilot or was it a hijacked flight with over two hundred people aboard? I'd felt the vibration of that plane as it flew over it's whiteness filling the blue sky, the detail of it's engines, as close as I had ever been to a jet engine except as a passenger on a plane.
I imagined the firefighters had helicopters with some kind of chemical spray like I had seen used against forest fires, the blaze would be put out and that would be the end of it.

The question on my mind was -how many people were on that plane? How many people did I just see die? I could reach company where I worked by bike in a few minutes, it was a media based company with several televisions, I knew could find out what had happened from there. I got on my bike and rode up University Ave. The streets where lined with people in shock, if they hadn't seen the crash they were watching the smoke now billowing out of the stricken tower. One woman was smiling, I'll never know why. I turned the corner on to 14th Street and the world changed back to the normal reality before the accident, people coming out of the morning rush-hour subway commute, they didn't know.

I realized that I had experienced a rare moment where I had whitnessed a time-line shift that would effect events long beyond my liftime, and possably generation to come. I had crossed over into a reality where none of this had ever happened to observe an unassuming world that would soon never be the same. I locked up my bike, walked into the building where I worked punched the elevator button, there were people hanging out in the lobby, I said "I just saw a 737 fly into one of The World Trade Center towers", they just stared at me, I added, "if you've got a radio, you'd better turn it on".

It so happened that all of the TVs were set up for editing except a small one used for monotoring cable feed. The image of striken tower now churning out a considerable amount smoke filled the screen, the announcer reported that a "small passenger plane had accidently flown into the tower, it's guidence system perhaps malfunctioned by the tower's microwave antenna". Bullshit! I said, it was a 737 and I saw it fly directly into the building! This was stupid, I'd come here to find some answers, not this! I went into my office to call my mother in Iowa, she was upset over the Trade Center Bombing in '95 and I knew she heard about this would call me at my apartment and fear the worst when I did'nt answer, at a time when I would normally be home. After talking to her, I went back to watch the TV monitor along with a few other people who had just come into work. Suddenly another plane appered on the screen, there was a flash of static that lasted for just a second, then as the picture returned I could see flames coming out of the other tower, the picture switched and replayed from another camera angle the image of another plane flying into the second tower! That's when we all realized that the city was under attack. I still had my 10 AM appointment, there wasn't any reason to at least show up and if the city was under attack, why stand around watching it happen on a small TV monitor? I rode my bike across town along 14th street. At every intersection with avenues facing downtown people stood in the streets in shock, I could tell from their reactions that most had just come out of the subway or were walking along the side walk when they were confronted by the trade center towers that now looked like two cigarettes set upright smoke pouring out of them. Getting around was a hazard especially on bike, drivers eyes transfixed on the scene, pedestrians mulling around at the intersections.

I finally made it to Seventh Avenue the location of St. Vincents Hospital, and my doctor's office. The street was already blocked off to traffic and there was a crowd of emergency workers all dressed in white standing by gurneys waiting for a massive influx of burn victims from the towers. As I was locking up my bike a woman came running down the middle of the street screaming "they've bombed the Pentagon"! I figured that she had just flipped out from the trauma of watching the Trade Center towers burning, what country I thought, could fly into D.C. airspace drop a bomb and try to get away with it. I went into my doctor's office only to be told that the was already in the operating room getting ready for incoming wounded that everyone in the hospital complex were rushing to prepare for.

Leaving the building I crossed the street to a newsstand to by a couple of candy-nut bars, it had been a few hours since breakfast, and I knew that my blood sugar would be falling soon. As I crossed the street I notice the crowd of hospital workers suddenly move all at once. Their movement was mirroring the movement of one of the towers which swayed, and just fell and, disappeared, it was so unreal, the crowd gasped, a policeman facing away from the now remaining singular tower yelled "everyone on the sidewalk, there's nothing to see here". No one moved. I was standing across the street from the emergency entrance to St. Vincents, five years before I had been admitted there with pneumonia, the day I was dismissed I was packing my things when a news bulletin came on the TV of the patent on the other side of the room, he was a young man dying of both AIDS and cancer who had just told the nurse that he had requested to be brought back to St.Vincents from the hospice he had been moved to because he did not want to die there, He had a blanket with a picture of a cowboy on a horse printed on it, something from the 1950's. The TV reported the that a "daycare center in Oklahoma City had just been bombed" the young man said, I'm from Oklahoma, I knew this would happen some day".

There was nothing to do, I never ever expected to see a trade tower fall, the city would be forever wounded by this, what had happened to the city at this point could never be taken back or truly mended. I just got on my bike and started riding down to the remaining tower. As I crossed Houston Street into SOHO a car was pulled over on to the sidewalk with it's radio turned up loud, reporting the news and people gathered around it, watching the scene just down the street.

I could feel my blood sugar beginning to fall, I ate one of the peanut bar and spotting a deli just above Canal Street went in for some food, I just left my bike against a lamp-post and for the first time, I didn't lock my bike in New York. I picked up a couple of bagels and grabbed a handful of candy bars, just in case, who knew what was in the road ahead, and if I were buried in rubble I might need then to survive. I passed a construction worker as I was leaving he said to no one in particular, "what happens if there's a fire somewhere? We just lost half the fire department for the city when the tower collapsed". It was the first time that I had thought about all the people at the base of the building at the time that it fell.
I crossed Canal Street and made my way up Church Street, there was a real danger of groups of panicked people who would rush down the street in waves then slow down and stop, people would compare this as a real life enactment of the crowds in Japanese monster movies as a city was attacked. It wasn't my impression just the awareness of the real danger of being trampled by a spooked crowd if the remaining tower fell.

I stopped few blocks from what had been the Trade Center complex on a side street, there was a brick building with a deep entrance facade, if the remaining tower fell in my direction, or exploded felt I could just make it into the entry way and possibly avoid any large chunks of falling debris, or even attempt to our run a collapse on my bike. My sugar was falling fast now, I pulled a bagel out of my back-pack and stood watching the tower burn as I ate it down. Suddenly the metal and glass in the tower where the gaps were cut by the plane's impact just buckled and snapped and the building came falling down. I was prepared for it to fall by a third or half but it just fell into a large cloud of dust. There was a hot, sick, plastic smell in the air as I realized that I was breathing in the gas from thousands of computer monitors, TVs, and florescent lights and a large dust cloud was rolling my way, I jumped on my bike and rode back to Canal Street where thousands of New Yorkers were standing around each probably thinking the same thing, -what now?
(To be continued)