DANA NEACȘU este doctor în filosofie, lector de drept la COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL, din New York, profesor adjunct la BARNARD COLLEGE – Columbia University, dar și dâmbovițeană de pe malurile Ialomiței…
Something Went Really Wrong
By Jordan Muncz
Instead of Forward
If you’re afraid of what you might learn, stop reading now – this isn’t for you. Furthermore, I have no proof. It was quick and mostly quiet and by 5AM all that was left was the sound of helicopters leaving the city. Anyone that might have heard anything, gunshots, screams, sirens, wouldn’t have gotten very far into it – internet searches yielded error messages, and there was nothing on TV but the usual: gang shootouts, potheads causing traffic jams on the GWB and Columbia University sprucing up their campus for graduation.
I’m here to tell you, the military dumped sick people into the Hudson River. Call the Pentagon and they’ll reassure you, they’ve heard the rumors, but isn’t it ridiculous? And they’re not in the business of spreading crazy rumors. The newspapers will do the same, exactly the same…
After you read what I’ve written, you…, well you might think I’m crazy, or jealous, trying to take down academia because I’m not Ivy League. I have my opinions, but that’s not what this is about. It’s just where it happened.
What this is about: people disappeared that night. I did what research I could. I called the NYPD but when I told them I had a blog, and it wasn’t the New York Times, they could neither confirm nor deny “the rumors”.
Like I told you, I can’t prove anything, but there are facts. Ollie Kun-He is missing. His father is owner of The Founding Father’s Burger Joint, where the explosion at the center of the mayhem took place. I tried contacting his parents but Ms. Kun-He’s answering machine says she’s travelling in Korea indefinitely.
So, a day that won’t live in history. The few media outlets that heard about what might have been happening didn’t run the story. Then there’s the floating head. „American Beauty” on Instagram and the story is that ISIS is claiming it. Right. They infiltrated NYC to put a hit on one guy, if you want to believe those opportunists…
Of course my book has a hero. He’s a security guard. I know his family, well, I used to know them. After what happened, when I asked for news about „Tony,” his job, his new girlfriend, my friend, his uncle, replied „Tony who.”
Finally, don’t try to find me because I’m in hiding. Anyway, it will be hard to find me because you don’t know my gender, age, not much of anything. At least I hope, because there are people looking for me who know how to look.
In my book you’ll meet an assassin. I’ve called him John Rambo, nice name, no? Doesn’t matter, what does matter is that he’s real and at large. General Pistone has a clear interest in him, as does Congresswoman Calder. This should be enough for you to understand what’s at stake for me or my future family, if I live long enough to have one.
So, how does that sound to you? A crazy person with no evidence telling you the world you live in is worse than you thought. Still, I’m writing so I have to imagine there are readers curious enough. But if that’s you, please consider this a coming of age book. Your own coming of age.
In his wooden booth, with his back to the closed windowed door, a man with young small hands and bitten nails was hunched over a dirty keyboard, rapt by the music coming from his headphones. Tony, the night security guard stationed four blocks away from the damaged restaurant, was suffering his usual writers’ block.
Sweating from unending struggle, and returning to his unfinished manuscript, Tony appraised his story’s hero. Rescued from centuries of semi-oblivion, Vlad the Impaler, the freedom fighter from the small country of Wallachia had obsessed Tony since he first found Vlad’s picture on Wikipedia. It intrigued Tony that no one wondered how Vlad, the anti-Captain America, successfully opposed the army of the conqueror of Constantinople, Sultan Mehmed. Would this be the night when Tony would finally reveal Vlad’s military secret publicly? How Vlad managed to win with his army of untrained peasants?
His body aching, Tony stood up. At 5’6” and 120 lbs., he could freely stretch and yawnin the small guardhouse. His dark curly hair filled the booth. He enjoyed pushing his head back so his glasses slightly deviated from their once secured position. He fixed the problem and noticed his family picture supporting a paper roll on the shelf above had fallen over. He rushed to put it back up and avoided giving it a second thought. Tony was in danger of being swept away by his father’s intense gaze. Reilly Gallant, the fearless firefighter looked valiant. In his uniform, with his long mustache and piercing eyes, Captain Gallant had his arms around his family: a younger Tony and a woman who’d looked old and weary all her life.
His stomach rambled. It did that quite often. Tony lived in a perpetual state of hunger which he took pain to preserve. As expected, there was nothing around to munch on, and he had no desire to go outside and buy himself a late night snack. He sat down, lifted his knees to his chin and pushed his elbows hard into his stomach. His maternal grandmother’s words replaced the music in his ears and Tony relived his Sunday dinners’ nightmare–
“Se vuoi crescere, mangia Tonino, mangia.”
Instead of replying, Tony would lower his gaze and stare. He never replied “odio mangiare,” and they thought him mute until they discovered he was nearsighted.
The long ignored memory shrunk Tony further in his seat. Too young for his 22 years, or maybe just too small for his security guard uniform, for a brief moment he appeared lifeless until sweat dripped down from his forehead to his cheek. His wild dark hair now damp, hung limply on his forehead. Behind dark rimmed glasses his big eyes, usually alive, looked haggard. He was the slave of a past long gone, to which his made-up hero held the key. Tony was getting ready to discover it as his fingers started typing:
“The very gale which triumphantly waved the Wallach banner has now become the draught of our serfdom,” Vlad III, the Just, or the Impaler, sermonized toward his royal consort, Anastasia-Maria of Poland. “Here we are in our last outpost waiting for my brother to attack.”
Tony stared at the words on his screen painfully and hesitantly. He kept still without blinking until his eyes moistened. He feared scaring his inspiration away. Then, cheating a blink, he looked down at the right lower corner and read the time. It was thirty minutes past midnight. His shift would end in six hours. Six more hours of trials and tribulations, he realized. What would they be about?
“I’ve been deposed so Radu, a Muslim convert, the Sultan’s favorite lover can be the king of this Christian land?”
Vlad III, called the Impaler for his favorite way of disposing of unpleasant company, was pacing up and down his consort’s quarters. They were enjoying family time after dinner, when he noticed a hole in the window and stopped. It covered most of the stained glass image of the Virgin Mary with baby. He thought it a bad omen and moved away.
“It is indeed a sad day, Sir,” replied his loyal wife. Though Vlad’s wife for almost 15 years, Lady Anastasia-Maria had barely acquired any Romanian. Her linguistic handicap, or maybe her own nature, made her seem a pliant, polite conversationalist, as she had channeled her wifely duties to a pregnancy late in coming and to a deep devotion to needle point.
His writer’s block was gone. Tony whistled and swiveled around in his stool and for a brief moment he took in the visible slice of the outside world through the small window in the door. He did not notice the lack of traffic. The music poured into his ears soothingly. Numbed by it, he stared outside until his gaze dissolved into the still night. When he readjusted his sight, he realized his glasses were dirty and their lenses greasy from finger prints.