World Trade Center. Image taken in the 1980s. Original image from Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress collection. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel. by Carol M Highsmith is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

Another day at the office he thought as he stepped onto the subway platform.  He moseyed along the walkway unaware of his surroundings.  A draft caught a piece of his battered overcoat so he wrapped himself tightly with the drawstring. 

“Mr. Lon!” someone yelled.  “How’s the weather up there?” the voice said in a teasing manner. 

Yorz A. Lon, Ph.D. turned around and there was the same man that had met him at the gate for three years now.  Come to think of it Yorz still couldn’t recall his name, just that he always had something to say about his six foot seven inch frame.  Yorz shrugged him off and kept on walking.  He wasn’t in the mood for jokes this morning.  It was Tuesday for God’s sake; nobody is in a good mood on a Tuesday.  Yorz stopped at the shoeshine booth to get a touch up.  There was supposed to be a very important meeting today that he wasn’t looking forward to.  He took a deep breath, sat still, and let old Charlie shine his designer shoes.  Old Charlie was reliable and was there every day.  Sometimes Yorz would stop, sometimes he wouldn’t.  Either way, that fifty year old black man would be there waiting for someone to place a foot in front him.  Charlie wasn’t much for conversation, with his lisp and all those crooked teeth, but he was a cheery fellow.  Charlie finished his work and it was immaculate as usual.  Yorz tipped Charlie handsomely and abandoned the chair.  Yorz starts to walk off and Charlie speaks to him with a serious glare in his eye, “Those shoes are clean enough to die in.” 

“They sure are Charlie, they sure are,” he replied while continuing speed along.  

Yorz pressed the up arrow and checked himself while he waited for the elevator.  His pants were fresh out of the cleaners yet he still checked the creases.  Everything seemed in order.  The elevator opened and Yorz stepped in.  The ride was always long to get to his floor and he dreaded it today. 

Yorz was restless and very nervous about his meeting.  After several minutes he arrived at his floor.  He went directly to the break room and fixed himself a tall cup of coffee.  The office was almost bare except for the other people that wanted to get a head start on their day.  After sniffing his coffee he took a sip and his eyes rolled back in his head as a gesture of acceptance.  He made his way past the cubicles and to his office.  Luckily he had a window seat and he could admire the view from up there.

Yorz thought for a moment and realized that he had done a lot of things in his life to be proud of.  He had lettered in basketball in high school and he never got into any trouble, except that one time.  He made no grade lower than average. He had a wife and two little girls that loved and depended on him at home.   Yorz smiled softly and kept thinking to himself while gazing out of the window.  I have been through two deliveries when my girls were born and have raised them for six years now.  I was fortunate enough to meet the woman of my dreams and we don’t have many problems.  I am a volleyball coach at the school and volunteer much time for different charities.  Why shouldn’t I be proud of myself?  I make decent money and have invested it wisely.  I should be able to retire in about seven more years…and at a ripe young age of forty-five.  He smiled and took another sip of his coffee. 

Just as he sipped he heard a high-pitched screech.  It wasn’t coming from the building, it seemed like it was coming from outside.  He stood to his feet and looked out as the sound increased in volume.  He saw nothing out of the ordinary.  In fact the only thing he saw was a jet coming his way.  His eyebrows wrinkled and he dropped his coffee to the floor.  He yelled out loud, “That plane is too low, it’s gonna hit that building!”  All of the other employees rushed toward the glass and gasped at the sight they were about to witness.  Some lady screamed as the noise grew louder and louder.  All of their mouths were open and their eyes were affixed on the jet.  The plane flew closer and closer, and in a blink of an eye it was done. They felt the building sway as the force expanded with an excruciating boom that temporarily deafened them all.  The tower was on fire next door.  They panicked at first, but were then calm when they realized that their building wasn’t hit.  The alarm sounded and people started heading toward the exits.   

They were moving slow like cattle, but were moving.  Then they heard another screeching noise.  Yorz was already three floors down by now.  He heard it too, and decided to get off the stairwell and look out of the window.  When he opened the door his eyes grew as big as saucers.  A second jet was on a direct path toward his building.  “Move it, another one’s heading this way!” he screamed.  He had no way to get back on the stairwell in time so he raced toward the back of the building.  The air was filled with moans and screams.  Yorz’s heart pounded as he tried to get to the back of the building.  He turned around and saw inevitability coming his way.  The screeching was getting closer and closer, then…the glass exploded toward him.  .  The force pushed him up against a cubicle wall.  Immediately afterward he saw nothing but flames and smoke.  The impact must have deafened him.  He couldn’t hear a thing.  The heat was intense and he saw fireballs flying through the air.  It was too hot, he couldn’t see, and the smoke was thick.  He felt himself passing out from lack of oxygen and had to get to the backside window on the opposite end of the building.  He crawled hurriedly across the building toward the back windows, holding his bleeding ribs with his hand.  There was no way out, no escape.  The fire was moving fast and it was getting so hot his skin started to burn.  He had already moved past numerous incinerated bodies and now found himself between a rock and a hard place.  His travels had placed him at the backside window, which was broken with smoke rolling out of the top.  Yorz focused out of the window with his reddened eyes.  He saw nothing but air.  There was nothing to grab on to, no way to escape.  He then dropped his head and wept, the decision he had to make was one he wished he didn’t.  He thought of his family and said a short prayer.  The fire grew closer and closer.  He affixed himself on the edge of the ledge and turned toward the intense flames.  He closed his teary brown eyes and then reopened them…an unavoidable decision is made.  The choice is YOURS and YORZ A. LON.   (A tribute to the 09/11 victims)