by Kidman J. Williams
It has been 20 years since the 9/11 attacks. It was the worst assault on U.S. soil by a foreign enemy that our country had ever seen. I was just 23 years old living in an apartment on the sixth floor in Carol Stream, IL. It was a day that many of us will never forget. This was also a day that changed the future, direction, and narrative of this country forever.
Some certain people suggested to me that I should write something nice, cute, and sweet for the 20th Anniversary of this tragedy. Well, that’s just not how I roll. This is Gonzo Today, this is going to be honest, personal, and sometimes uncomfortable; like having sex in the backseat of a 1978 Ford Mustang.
‘Murica! YEE HAW!
Monday September 10th, 2001
We had Jack Daniels, Gentlemen Jack, four bottles of rum (two clear, two spiced), and a keg of Icehouse sitting in a metal ice tub. There was a bottle of Jägermeister for the underaged so called trendsetters. I also had a bottle of cheap vodka and cranberry juice for the spice latte girls.
Every good host knows that you must control the flow of the rooms. I methodically placed the five ounces of hydroponic weed out on a tray at the end of the kitchen counter next to the doorway into the living room to make sure that the flow of the room wasn’t too congested. Any other recreational drugs were to be BYODBTSIE (Bring Your Own Drugs Because That Shit Is Expensive).
The eve of the tragedy was set for an immoral night of booze, drugs, and loose women; it was true freedom, the Holy American Trinity.
There was no reason to have a party on a Monday night. We were young, stupid, and full of stamina. We also had an unhealthy disregard for consequences. Little did we know that this was going to be the last party that we had without the threat of political doom nipping at our exposed Achilles tendons. We had no clue that the day after was going to change the way that everyone in the world looked at our country. The police were never a factor in our heads. We were invincible!
The party was supposed to start at 7:00 pm. One person showed up on time and that was only because Vic lived there with me. Vic was a paunchy type of fellow. Jewish by blood and belief and a heathen by choice. That just ran in his DNA though.
Vic’s father was in some way or another a part of the Chicago 7 trial. I never pried too far into it. Later his father was brought up on some kind of charges and disbarred. He was banned for life from practicing law and still somehow managed to make enough money to live in a lavish home in Glen Ellyn. Again, never made it my business to know.
By 7:30 pm the regular crowd shuffled in. My closest of friends which included Vic’s girlfriend Dawn. She was a close personal friend of my best friend Mina. Chewy came in ducking through the doorway. He was 6’10 and looked like an undertaker from an old cowboy movie. With them was our friend Bobo and Big Truck Tim (the nickname should be pretty obvious).
Vic and Dawn disappeared into his bedroom. They always seemed to go off by themselves when the party would start up. There was nothing that seemed out of the ordinary.
Big Truck Tim started hitting the whiskey heavy slamming a triple shot. I walked over to the weed pile to pack a generous bowl. I looked over at Tim and said, “You might want to pace yourself a bit. The rest of the party isn’t even here yet brother.”
Tim looked into his empty cup and then at me, “You don’t have to worry about me. I can hold my liquor Kid.”
The rest of the party started scooting in the door around 8:30 pm. Before I knew it there were about forty people in my little two-bedroom apartment. There were goths, preps, jocks, metalheads, witches, and nerds. We had black, white, red, yellow, along with the druggies, hippies, and whores. It was a diverse grouping of people and not a one of us cared about our differences.
We were all there for one reason and that was to exercise our right to a good time.
The party started to rage. Rancid was blasting on the stereo when the trouble walked through the kitchen door holding a glass of Captain and Coke. She was 5’2 with eyes of blue. She was wearing hip-hugger bellbottom jeans and a half shirt that showed off her well-toned abs. Her hair was dark and her complexion was pale. She was a neo hippie Snow White without the purity. You could see the sin hanging all around her defined hips.
I heard chatter all around the room as she stood there soaking up the attention from the male persuasion. You could see that she knew how to work a room. I slipped by her without so much as a second look at her. I went past to Death, Al, and Tim who were all talking about how they were going to get the unknown neo hippie.
Death grabbed my shirt sleeve, “Kid, do you know who that girl is?”
“I don’t have a clue. Someone must have brought her.”
“I think she is into me man.”
“Why do you think that Death?”
“She was looking right at me. Watch this!”
Death who looked like a cross between Cheech Marin and a ninja turtle draped in Hot Topic gear strutted over to her. He spoke to her for a minute or so. The other guys were watching like rabid chihuahuas. Al said, “He doesn’t have a chance. She touched my arm earlier.”
Tim, a little buzzed at this point puffed up his chest, “Dude, no fucking way. She was checking me out from the start. That girl even asked what kind of car I drive. She likes the trucks.”
Al gave a look at Tim, “Are you out of your mind?!?” he chuckled at Tim’s expense, “She was just making small talk. She actually went out of her way to touch me when I made her laugh.”
I looked at them both with a sideways grin, “What’s her name?”
They both had a blank stare on their faces like I just asked them the secret of life. They stuttered a bit, but neither one knew. I laughed, “Yeah, that candleholder on the table has a better shot tonight than you two chuckle-fucks.”
Mina waved me into the kitchen with one hand while gripping the bottle of rum with the other. I went over. “Did you see Death trying to pick her up?” She started shrugging her shoulders in an up and down motion, “Turtle, turtle, turtle.”
“I know. It is ridiculous!”
“Who the fuck would want to fuck Death?” We both laughed, “You can’t have sex with a turtle and not regret that decision halfway through! Do you know how sobering that would be?”
I grabbed the bottle and took a long swig, “I really don’t want to think about that.” I passed the bottle back and asked Mina, “Do you know her name?”
“Yeah, Aaron brought her. We went to school with her. Her name is Andrea.” Mina grabbed my shoulder forcefully, “WAIT! Are you trying to get with her?”
“No I’m not. I was curious because Tim and Al were talking like she has some genuine interest in them and they didn’t even know her name after talking to her.”
Right then we heard a loud noise from Vic’s bedroom. It sounded like yelling. Mina and I darted over to the bedroom. Mina looked at me, “Should we knock first?”
We knocked and Vic whipped the door open. He looked a little out of sorts. I opened my mouth, “Is everything OK? We heard you yelling from the kitchen.”
Vic looked back into the room, “Yeah, everything is fine. We are just having a disagreement.”
“Cool. Well, take a break and come join the party.”
Mina added, “It is a great tension release.” Giving a cheesy grin.
“We will, just give us a bit.”
He shut and locked the door right after.
Chewy and Bobo were sitting at the kitchen table smoking bowl after bowl. Chewy looked up at us with his stern jaw, “They were getting pretty loud in there. Was everything good in there?”
“Yeah dude, they were just having a lover’s spat.”
Bobo looked up at me with a confused grin, “He spit on her?”
Chewy dropped his tough guy look, “No Bobo, Kid said that he patted her.”
Astonished at their current comprehension level I said, “Oh guys, you may want to slow down on that. You guys have two brain cells left and they are both in a death match with each other.”
“Fuck you brooo.”
Just as Bobo said it, the knee jerk reflex of Mina and I hit. We both jumped up on top of the kitchen table bench sarcastically waving our middle fingers in the air we gave a hearty elongated, “Nooooo, FUUUUUUCK YOOOOOOOOUUUU!!!”
September 11, Midnight
With every tilt of our drinks and every inhale of the devil’s lettuce, our cares just floundered into the future. All those problems were meant for the future versions of ourselves. What we didn’t know was that the Devil was doubling down.
There was Death and Al still arguing about who was going to take Andrea that night. I was sitting at the dining room table when she took the seat next to me. She touched my bicep and leaned in, “You haven’t talked to me once all night?”
I shrugged my shoulders and gave her an indifferent look, “Sorry?”
She laughed a little bit and scooted her chair closer. “Do you not think that I’m pretty?”
“No, no, you are plenty pretty. I’m just trying to be a good host and make sure that my home doesn’t get completely wrecked.”
“What if I told you that I think you are the hottest motherfucker at this party?”
“I wouldn’t disagree with you,” I said playfully.
She chuckled a bit and scooted her chair even closer to me. I could smell the strawberry shampoo that she used.
Our attention broke at the sound of the table scootching across the tile floor in the kitchen. I heard a person distinctly yell HE’S GONNA BLOW! Tim ran from the kitchen towards the balcony door holding his mouth. I jumped out of my chair and tried to yell at Tim who had been sleeping for an hour on the kitchen table bench, “TIM!!! THE BATHROOM IS THE OTHER WAY!!!”
I tried to get to him, but it was too late. I had got halfway to him when the dyke broke loose! He puked a steady and projectile stream of beer, rum, and unidentified chunks through my screen door spraying the guy on my balcony peeing off the side into the downstairs neighbor’s flowers.
Tim looked back at everyone, smiled, and started running for the bathroom.
Mina helped me hose the screen down while I cleaned the chunks out of the track of the sliding door. I looked back at the party, “No worries, party is still on fuckers!”
The party kept raging on.
I was walking towards one of the trash cans to throw out the towels. Chris came up to me with his little girlfriend, “We just heard a lot of yelling and a crash from Vic’s room.”
I walked down the hall to the room and knocked a little forcefully, “Don’t break stride man, but is everything alright in there?”
Vic yelled angrily through the door, “Yeah! Everything is fine.”
“Ok brother. We are just hearing a lot of insane noises. Are you sure?”
He yelled a little more heatedly, “Yes! Go the fuck away!”
I thought about going through the door to have a talk with him about being respectful, but just as I was about to grab the doorknob Death and Al came running up to me. Death said, “Dude! I’m going to get her man! This is all me!”
Al immediately came back at him, “Not a chance, I know her name now.”
I stopped them both, “Hold on guys. Neither one of you has a shot at her.”
Al started looking cocky, “What makes you think that? Do you think you can get her?”
“As a matter of fact, yes. I know I can have her tonight.”
Al started laughing and said, “You can’t get her. You haven’t even made a play at her bro.”
The funny thing was, I wasn’t going to even try to win her affections. When you are in your early twenties and someone challenges you in a disrespectful way you feel obligated to screw that person over.
Death put his hand on Al’s shoulder and said, “Why did you do that? You know how Kidman is don’t you?”
“Whatever. He doesn’t have a chance.”
“He wouldn’t have said that if he didn’t. Something happened.”
Their eyes watched every step I took towards Andrea. Chewy came up to me getting my attention for a second, “You might want to – -“
“Sorry man, I’m on a mission right now.”
I walked up to Andrea and whispered in her ear, “Come to the balcony with me.”
She took my hand in hers and we went. I saw three people on the balcony and gave a hand gesture towards the inside, “This balcony is occupied for a bit. It is a private party for two.”
I saw Death and Al looking at the balcony. I leaned in and our lips locked. It was only for a few worry freed filled moments until Chewy and Mina opened the slider. Mina had a serious look on her face, “Brother, we have to stop this shit!”
I was puzzled. My mind was still on the kiss. “What is going on?”
“We just heard screaming and a huge crash from Vic’s room!”
I quickly gave Andrea one more kiss and darted inside with the two of them. We got a few steps into the living room when Vic and Dawn came barreling out of the hallway. Dawn was holding her face. Vic was screaming at her, “You bitch!!! You think that you can talk to me like I’m some kind of idiot? I know you—”
“FUCK YOU VIC! I didn’t do anything. The guy just said he liked my earrings and I said thank you. That doesn’t give you the right to…” Just as she was about to say it, Vic looked and read the faces in the room, “hit me in the face again! You said that you’d never do it again!”
“You’re going to say that in front of our friends?!? You’re going to do that like this will make you safe? Nobody cares about you!!!”
Vic started to advance on Dawn and not one of us could jump faster than the 6’10 stoned undertaker that we affectionately called Chewy. It only took him two long steps to get to Vic and with everything he had, his massive fist connected covering Vic’s whole face. His body sailed into the corner of the wall, hitting the other side of his face. The shear force of the blast sent him to the ground, but this surprisingly didn’t put him down for the count.
Chewy turned his back on Vic who grabbed a beer bottle from the ground. I saw the bottle Vic had grabbed with intent and I ran towards him. Vic’s eyes widened and I buried my shoulder into his soft middle, his shoulder blade bounced off of the corner of the wall that he had already hit once, he went flying into the dining room table. The bottom of his jaw smacked the edge of the wood on his way down, knocking him out cold on the floor.
The whole party started moving in closer to get a good look at his lifeless body. It laid there limp with a trickle of blood running from his chin.
Chewy looked at me, “Is he dead?”
“No, he is breathing. He is just out cold.”
“What do you want to do with him?”
“There are so many options.”
Dawn walked up with contempt on her face. Andrea was holding her hand. She threw her leg back and kicked Vic in his side with everything she had. Vic didn’t move a muscle. I looked at Chewy, “Now I know we can do anything. We are only limited by our imaginations.”
We cautiously rolled Vic’s body onto a sheet to move him. From there we stripped him down to his nasty white briefs. Dawn grabbed the handcuffs from his room. Chewy and I lifted him up and took him down the hallway with Dawn and Andrea following.
Chewy looked at me, “We are really going to do this?”
I quickly replied, “Hell yes we are.”
There was a playground in the center of the buildings, like most apartment complexes. We hoisted him up to the top of the tube slide. Dawn grabbed Vic’s hands and proudly handcuffed him to the bar. Chewy and I lifted him into the tube so Vic would just be hanging inside the tube to be found.
Vic still didn’t wake up. We started to walk back when Andrea said, “Hold on guys.”
She jumped to the bottom of the slide and started shimmying up it. We heard a groan. It sounded like Vic was waking up. “Hurry up Andrea!”
She yanked his little white briefs around his ankles. She slid down out of the tube, “Let’s see how that shitbag wifebeater gets those undies back up without any fucking hands.”
Andrea gave me a big kiss on my lips. I threw my arm around her and told her, “I knew I liked you.”
Chewy asked Dawn, “So, uh, whatcha going to do about him hitting you?”
I’m going to go to the hospital tonight and get these bruises checked out and have him arrested. Should be pretty funny when they find him. But what are you going to do about a new roommate?”
“No worries, I’ll figure out something. I always do. Thank you for worrying about me, but I’m more worried for you.”
“After what you and Chewy did,” she reached out and hugged the giant and started to cry a little bit, “I just don’t know how to thank you guys for what you did.”
“The only thanks Chewy and I need from you is the promise that you won’t be one of those girls and take him back.”
“You don’t have to worry about that. Not one bit.”
Dawn left in her car and the three of us went back upstairs to the party that was still going strong.
After the incident with Vic we all partied in harmony. There wasn’t a shred of drama to be found. Death and Al might have been a little bit sore about seeing Andrea and I, but the rest of the night was carefree sailing.
The Double Down
The guests were all gone by five in the morning. My whole body ached as I got up from the couch to see where Mina was. The television was on loud. There was some sort of action movie on with a building exploding. I paid no real attention to it.
I stumbled down the hallway, first looking into Vic’s room. Then I looked in my room. There was no sign of her. I looked at the bathroom door that was closed. I opened it to Mina laying in the bathtub. There was puke in the sink and on the floor next to the tub.
I gave the tub a resonating kick, “Hey you slob?!? You alive bitch?”
“Fuck you asshole!”
We both giggled and I went back to the living room to sleep the rest of the hangover off.
A couple short hours later I was jolted awake by someone yelling my name and beating on my door. My first thought was that Vic finally got loose, but it wasn’t. It sounded like Death. “KIDMAN! Wake up man!”
I got to the door and he was opening it before I even unlocked it. He barreled past me, towards the living room. “You don’t know?” he asked out of breath like he had ran the six miles to my apartment.
“Don’t I know what? I’m fucking hanging brother.”
“You didn’t see anything that happened today?”
“I told you I didn’t. You can clearly see that you woke me up. I have the alcoholic red-eye bro. You know I didn’t go to bed until like five in morning.”
Death whipped over to the remote and turned on my T.V. “Do you see now?”
It all clicked that the image I saw earlier was not some lame Steven Segal movie, this was happening and I saw it happen in real time.
Death looked at me waiting for a reaction. I was frozen where I stood. A part of me still couldn’t believe what I was witnessing.
He kept saying something, but I couldn’t focus on any of what he was saying. He just kept rambling about Andrea and things that happened that night. It didn’t matter anymore.
We kept watching as we saw what looked like someone jumping from a window. The smoke kept billowing from the building until we watched the North Tower crumble to the ground. All those people, their families, and our country was witnessing what we never thought possible. We were the U.S.A. We weren’t supposed to be able to be attacked like this. Yet here we were.
We were the untouchable force in the world. We were just proven to be weak enough to be taken down by our own commercial planes if the enemy was willing to pay the ultimate price.
As we all sat watching the aftermath of this attack and hearing about the plane that hit the Pentagon along with the plane that our fellow brave Americans took down before the terrorists could, I couldn’t help but go into deep thought. I knew and I think everyone in the country could feel the shift.
I knew that this was going to affect the American way of life. Clinton’s housing market crash was already hanging over our heads in the form of the Great Recession. The complete carefree days that we felt the night before were over and this tragedy was an open door for political opportunists to leverage their own agendas.
We have seen the outcome of some of it. Things like the Patriot Act, slave waging, and a Middle Eastern war without an end that somehow started in Iraq which we know had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. First responders weren’t even taken care of until Jon Stewart stood up for them over a decade later after some of them had already died.
The world was never the same and the American standard was lowered into ground zero.