"Shit," Joanne hissed as she glanced at her watch. 8:30 AM. She needed to be at the World Trade Center in fifteen minutes for an appointment. It would be her biggest breakthrough to date. At least, if she could make it there on time, it would be.
"Pookie, come back to bed," Maureen whined from the bedroom. She waltzed out in a white tank top and black panties. The drama queen shielded her eyes from the sun to watch her girlfriend frantically throw on her coat and Doc Martens.
"Honeybear, not now," she said exasperated. "I'm so late right now... how about you go to the loft this morning. I'm sure that Roger and Mimi are awake by now, or maybe Collins is already drinking."
"Ugh, fine!" Maureen put on pants and books and caught Joanne right before she left, catching the lawyer off-guard in a strong kiss.
"Whoa," she breathed once she had caught her breath. "Where'd that come from?"
"I dunno," the diva admitted. "It just felt like it needed to be done, you know?"
Joanne smiled at the thought. The two lesbians said their goodbyes and parted ways, admiring the lovely morning they were having.
Mark searched around the room with his eyes for the wall clock. 8:30 AM. And while his friends were sound asleep, he was stuck listening to Alexi Darling's nasally voice mock his work again.
"Why can't you get that Mary girl to do another protest?" Alexi babbled.
"Her name is Maureen," Mark corrected. He was ignored.
"Marley had the power and passion that is the twenty-first century. That's the kind of edge that Buzzline is all about." Lies. Mark knew it was all tabloids.
"Mark Cohen, why are you still here?"
"I keep on asking myself that," Mark groaned. Because the yuppie scum Benny constantly nagged them about the rent, Mark was begrudgingly forced to ask Alexi for his job back on her sleazy show. She made him start out as her intern for a horrid three months first before giving him a decent wage. Mark didn't like his job at all. He didn't have his big break yet. Once he did, he knew that his career in the filming industry would take off.
"I need you to get some shots of everyday people for that new segment about Average Joes," Alexi ordered.
"Sure thing," Mark said as he left the office. Thanks to Alexi's "brilliant mind," he was doing documentaries on regular people instead of the homeless or the sick and dying. No one was interested in seeing the real world. Just the fake one millions of New Yorkers pretended to be satisfied in.
"Okay," Alexi told herself as she practiced for the nine o' clock news. "You've got this Darling. You've done this hundreds of times." She cleared her throat before rehearsing her lines for the news. "Good morning, New York City! My name is Alexi Darling, and you're watching Buzzline, where we update you with the latest buzz! Today is Tuesday, September eleventh, 2001..."
Joanne checked her watch. 8:44. She rushed into the North Tower and saw that not only was there a large group of people waiting for the elevator, but that the elevator was currently at the fiftieth floor. Joanne groaned and decided to ascend the large staircase to the one hundredth floor.
Mark was walking down the sidewalk with his camera off. He was tired of recording the people who would constantly shove him aside while they were to busy talking on cellphones or walking tiny dogs on leashes to notice him. He stood at a street corner and waited for the signal to cross. He decided to check his watch. 8:46.
"Hey, look!" a woman next to him said as she looked up. Mark turned to see an airplane flying low through the city. He started filming the plane with curiosity as to why it was so close to the city. Before he knew it, he filmed that plane flying into the North Tower. The people around him screamed in terror. Others cried, saying that they had friends or relatives working in the building.
Then it dawned on him.
Mark continued filming as he ran toward the World Trade Center.
"THROW DOWN THE FUCKING KEYS!" Maureen screeched up to the loft. She prayed that hopefully Mark was running late and was wide awake. To her surprise, Mimi was the one who came out of her own apartment. Instead of looking tired or ecstatic (which is what Maureen assumed everyone automatically felt when they saw her), she was crying.
"GET ON THE ROOF!" Mimi called down. "HURRY!"
Maureen didn't know what was going on, but she decided that she better get up there. She ran up the stairs two steps at a time to the roof. Collins, Roger, and Mimi were all there, standing and staring at the sky. Snow was falling. Maureen made a face at that. Snow in September?
"Are you guys showing me the snow?" she teased. None of them were smiling. It was Mimi who looked, still crying.
"I'm so sorry," she croaked. Maureen didn't understand. She looked up to see a plane flying very low over the city. The four Bohemians watched as it flew right next to the first pillar of smoke, into the South Tower. Maureen screamed at this.
"Joanne! Joanne!" Maureen collapsed in Collins' arms and began bawling. Mimi was doing the same to Roger.
"Mark," he whimpered through the tears.
Benny couldn't make it out the door. It was impossible for him. Same with the others trapped with him.
He was on the seventy-third floor. There was a plane that had flown into the building at least fifteen floors above him; he wasn't sure. The stairwell was blocked by debris from the floors above him. All he could hear was the cries of those dying around him.
Benny looked to see the others around him. Men and women who were all panicking. Many were praying to their respectful gods to save them. Some were still trying to get out the door. There was a few waving shirts and jackets out of the window. The rest were just waiting for their inevitable fate.
He thought for a few moments about which group to join before stripping off his jacket. He waved it out the window with others, crying out to the city below to save them. They couldn't though. People were trying, but none were succeeding.
But then Benny had an idea. He told the others with him. None of them were afraid to shout their opinions in his face:
"You may as well use your tie and hang yourself!"
"We'll find a way down the stairs soon! Please, just hang in!"
"The helicopters will be here soon!"
"The Lord will save us!"
"Don't do it!"
Benny shook his head and said, "I have to try! I have to get home to my wife and little girl!" Benny tried not to cry while thinking about Alison and the seven-year-old he and his wife had raised. He said his final words;
"I love you."
Joanne figured out what had happened once she had reached the fifteenth flight of stairs when a wave of people rushed down the stairs. They had pushed her back to the tenth floor before she received a legitimate explanation. Once she did, she had to fight her way out of the building.
Once she reached outside, she looked over to see Benny fall and splatter on the sidewalk.
She wanted to go back and help. But the police and firefighters were telling her to get out. It wasn't safe. Debris and soot floated in the air. Many people were gathered around in gawking.
So Joanne ran.
Mark had his camera focused on the two buildings the whole time. He had called Alexi Darling on his cellphone (yes, he had given in to technology once he could afford it) and told her that he had footage of the entire thing. This was the big break he was looking for. There was a tiny sliver of silver lining in this tragic event.
A familiar, distant voice was calling out his name. Mark didn't dare turn his camera away from the smoke. He did turn his head though just in time to see Joanne run into his arms. She was sobbing like a newborn baby.
"Joanne!" he gasped. "I thought-"
"Me too," she cried. "Oh, Mark, I left the building, and I saw Benny..." She wiped tears away, but they came just as fast as they were dried. "He jumped from the building, and he just..."
Mark nodded solemnly and hugged her for a few moments. They didn't think of Maureen or Roger or Collins or Mimi; they mourned Benny and thanked everyone and anyone they could for being alive. They then held hands and watched from a distance as Mark went back to filming the catastrophe.
Both of them checked their watches. 9:55 AM.
None of them had moved. Collins had only left for a few moments to grab a large bottle of alcohol. They had solemnly passed it around without uttering a word. Maureen had become inconsolable until she had a buzz going. Roger rocked Mimi in his arms and occasionally kissed her hair. Collins held Maureen's hand and rubbed the back of her hand with the pad of his thumb. The sky had turned pitch black from the building layer of smoke covering over the entire city.
They all lost it when they saw the first tower fall.
"Guys, get inside!" Mimi cried. She stood up and yanked Roger to his feet with a sudden large amount of strength. Collins ended up having to carry both Maureen and the bottle of alcohol inside, since his best friend had become catatonic. They made it inside seconds before the building was covered in debris.
They had been inside for hours. They watched on the tiny television in Mimi's apartment the events that had happened that day. A plane had gone into the Pentagon. Another was found in a field in Pennsylvania that was meant to hit the White House. The President had been in Florida when it all happened. Not a word from Joanne or Mark. They had gone through two cases of beer, two bottles of vodka, and one bag of marijuana. They needed it to stop themself from throwing their bodies through the cracked glass onto some crack-head's cardboard bed.
It wasn't until 6:00 PM when a worn out Joanne came in with a shell-shocked Mark clutching onto his camera.
"Pookie!" Maureen hopped up and ran into her lover's arms, wiping away the dust from her face before kissing her.
The other three went right to Mark, suffocating the filmmaker in one giant hug. Joanne and Maureen joined in soon and the six friends stood in each other's grasp silently.
Two days later, Alison Grey walked through the streets of New York City holding her and Benny's seven-year-old daughter in her arms. The child was named Evita, just like their long-demised Akita. She walked up to a fence that had slips of paper on the wall with names of missing people on them. She held a slip of paper in her hand that had the name of her husband written on it.
There was no way that he was dead. He couldn't be. She wouldn't let herself think that. He was just... missing.
She tied the paper to the fence and carried Evita back to their apartment.
"Mommy?" the child said. "Where did the buildings go?"
"They went bye-bye baby," Alison answered.
"Did they go to heaven?"
"Is that where Daddy went?"
Alison tried not to break down in front of her daughter.
"Yes, that's where Daddy went."