Sunday, May 14, 2006


“You have any idea what comes out of those things when they fall, boy?” He lifted the old stainless steel espresso maker and poured some of the tarry black scum into their cups. A sputtering whisper of steam echoed in the pot and reminded Jack of his grandmother’s emphysemic coughs. She used to sit there, puffing cigarettes through those lovely yellow teeth, smiling and watching the TV. She’s long gone, he mused. “Asbestos, lead, mercury,” the old man continued, barging through Jack’s idle thoughts. “Dioxin, PAHs like you wouldn’t believe. When they did the studies on the first ones, nobody wondered what would happen if they all fell at once.” He then closed his eyes and paused to either sigh or doze or reflect. “Well, not all of them. And certainly not all at once. But you see what I mean.” He chuckled, heh, heh, heh, like a creaking piece of furniture. “The fires burn in the rubble for months. Years if no one bothers to put ‘em out.”

Jack looked toward the mainland and tried to imagine one of the gritty behemoths rolling over onto the insects below. He’d seen pieces fall off of some of the older commercial complexes in Downtown. Once he almost got hit by a gigantic hamburger that just hinged off a marquee in the wind. Something in his forebrain couldn’t fathom building something that large without a thought about its eventual decay.

The sun was peeking out over the port, blazing, blinding. The heat was directional, the way it often is in the morning, so the two groggy companions nestled around their cups with their blankets up to their earlobes.