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THE RISING (Bruce Springsteen)

Can't see nothin' in front of me


Can't see nothin' coming up behind
I make my way through this darkness
I can't feel nothing but this chain that binds me
Lost track of how far I've gone
How far I've gone, how high I've climbed

Twenty-five minutes past midday. The sun was high in the sky
but that didnt stop a freezing wind from sweeping away the
streets. The area was still sealed off. Webs of white dust
were swirling in the chill air, carried by the wind, landing
on people, buildings and vehicles as if to remind everyone of
what had happened. He had walked past torn-apart stores,
shattered streetlamps and cars hiding under inches of grey
concrete dust. You didnt need to see what was left of the
towers to face the devastation.
He patted at the dust in his hair and brought his fingers
before his eyes. Those tiny grains were the reason he was
here.

Groups of workers and volunteers on their lunch break were


leaving the sealed area. The security, although very visible,
wasnt as tight as he expected. The feeling that the worst
that could ever happen had already happened was dwelling in
everybodys mind.
Norman leaned against a van and waited for the right moment to
slip in. He had no pass, but was confident a chance to go in
along with a group of volunteers would arise.
Ten minutes later, a group of them shuffled towards the
restricted area after lunch, one of them with an accent he
could easily place.
Dorchester? he asked.
Yeah..
Three minutes later he was in the heart of Ground Zero. It was
September 21, 2001.
Fluorescent orange spray-paint indicated whether a building
had been searched and how many casualties had been found.
Enormous wooden boxes labelled Aircraft Parts were placed
outside every block.
A chill came over him, all those innocents all those severed
lives, shattered families, so much pain and loss, for what
He frowned. He agreed with the Presidents words, The people
who knocked these buildings down will hear from all of us
soon! What he didnt agree with was who the people were .
Not the religious freaks and exotic terrorists who hated
America, no, that was too easy, that was what THEY wanted us
to believe. The American people knew better than that, and
were no longer willing to buy another Hollywood-scripted moon
landing or another Area 51.
As soon as he had a chance, he detached himself from the group
of volunteers he had come in with and found himself alone at
the centre of the biggest mass murder ever committed in
America. He felt like a child left alone in a giant toy store
after closing time.
The volunteers were working hard, they needed to do something.
Passing buckets of debris to one another, lifting melted metal
beams, they were rescuers of the faith.

Not Norman. He wasnt there to restore the universal faith, he


was there to carry out the Task. And just before it got too
dark to see, he did it.
All of a sudden, every piece of the puzzle clicked together.
Mysteries were not such anymore. Lies had lost their power.
The spell of deception was broken.
Norman grinned. They made a mistake; like most people, theyd
got something wrong. Thats why most criminals get caught in
the end.
The most spectacular cover-up since Pearl Harbour, hundreds if
not thousands of people involved... Of course only a very tiny
number of them were aware of the whole framework of the plot,
the big guns.
Nevertheless, how could they have hoped to get away with it?
Eyes that wanted to see would see. Minds not willing to settle
for a staged representation of the truth would not settle.
Hearts too warm to let the chill official statements freeze
them would not freeze. And so it happened. The Truth had been
unveiled, and it was as vicious, as only man can create.
Ground Zero had crystallised all his work, and the Truth had
come to him as a revelation. There was no need to be here any
more
As darkness fell over that tombstone of humanity, smouldering
fires appeared from the cracks of buildings, buildings that
seemed like tortured captives begging their guards to end
their pains.
****
It was cold at home, the kind of coldness which envelopes
bodies and minds alike. Oswald was lying on his back, the way
dogs do when they want to let you know that they trust you
completely and would love to play with you. For Oswald it was
different, he knew that nobody was going to play with him,
that his master didnt love him anymore. He was in that
position because he had surrendered, rolled onto his back like
a dying bug, in puddles of his own urine.
The door lock made a noise. Somebody was trying to get into
the house. Oswalds left ear pricked up.

As the door flung open, he roused himself and, staggering and


starving, he stood up and tried to bark, but the outcome was
more like a miserable lament. Then a glint of moonlight hit
the only face he wanted so badly to see again.
Norman crouched in the darkness, placed the bag he was
carrying on the floor, and held Oswald tight, caressing his
head and back. Oswald yelped with pleasure and strained to get
on his hind paws. Norman stroked his muzzle. He did love that
dog - now that he had accomplished the Task, he was able to
recognize it.
Oswald lost his balance and collapsed to the floor. The
emotion of being loved again, all of a sudden, and the
weakness due to the lack of food and water had knocked him
out. Norman turned on the lights, and groaned at how gaunt
Oswald was. He rushed to the kitchen and flung open all the
cupboard drawers: nothing. Putting his coat back on, he headed
for the grocery shop.
Half an hour later, Oswald gorged himself on pork chops and a
full bowl of dogfood. Then he wolfed down a couple of bowls of
milk and water. At the end of his food binge he could barely
move, so he crashed on his basket as if intoxicated by a wild
night of excesses and rested there, satisfied, staring at the
ceiling. Within minutes he was asleep.
Norman unloaded packets of nachos, chocolate cookies and
coffee from the grocery bag and made himself a pot of coffee.
He flipped open his laptop, smiling. Now that he had found out
the Truth, he only had to choose how and when he would spread
the news to the country.
News outlets, broadcasters, TV shows - there was nothing he
couldnt aspire to. The whole world was waiting for him, a
kind of messiah, who was fated to bring the word of truth to
his fellow human beings.
The chat shows - Jay Leno, Larry King, David Letterman, Oprah
Winfrey - theyd jump at the chance to skyrocket their
ratings. If there was one thing you could count on in America,
he chuckled to himself, it was that no one is going to shut
the door in your face if you are carrying a brown bag full of
money.

The next morning he shaved, walked and fed Oswald, and then
set himself ready to make the phone call that would change the
course of history: the one to the editorial office of the Late
Show with David Letterman.
He was cradling the cordless phone in his hands like a kitten
he was afraid to hurt. On the screen the NBC website showing
the Late Show page.
Norman dialled the number on the screen and waited.
One ring, two rings
Hello, this is the NBC? How can I help you?
****
It was almost 4 p.m. when he walked across the corner of
Broadway and 53rd Street in midtown Manhattan. The marquee of
the Ed Sullivan Theatre was gleaming and exciting. Norman
stopped beneath it and stared at it like a member of some
ancient cult worshipping a deity. He was ready, the time had
come.
The producers of the show had refused to have him as a host,
but he managed to get a free ticket for the Monday taping at
4:30pm. That wasnt the outcome he had hoped, but Norman
didnt let that put him down, Norman had a plan.
Ten minutes later he was sitting on a balcony overlooking the
stage. He was in the front row, the shows schedule sitting on
his lap.
He flicked through the schedule, the right moment to strike
was just after the interview with the Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani,
who was winning his reputation leading the wounded city
towards its salvation. Norman shook his head ha! The irony
of it. He was about to tell it like it was, right in
Giulianis face.
As Giuliani waved to the live audience in the theatre, Norman
felt a stabbing pain in the side. He was tense. Too tense. But
he had to do it, the moment was now.
Rudolph Giuliani was leaving the stage and David Letterman was
addressing the audience in his usual, charming way.
Norman stood up on the spot and shouted.

Mr Letterman Im a big fan of yours, and I have something


extremely important to say to you and your audience about the
terrible events of 9/11.
Letterman looked at him puzzled for a second, then made a
funny face.
Oh, jeez, it has already been a pretty rough week.
A few people in the audience laughed quietly. The mood in the
studio wasnt as light-hearted as usual.
Please, David, let me go on, I only ask a few minutes, Ive
made a throughout investigation into it and I have very
important findings to be shared with the public. You can
always cut me later in the editing.
David first gaped his eyes wide la cartoon character, then
he shook his head, turned back, took the chair behind his desk
and put it in the middle of the stage.
All right, somebody bring our friend a microphone, please."
A production assistant darted towards the front row of the
balcony.
Thank you so much, David, America will be grateful to you for
this.
As long as they dont sue me, Im fine with that.
Other laughs, this time more nervous than before. An uncanny
electricity spread over the theatre.
Norman got hold of the microphone, the production assistant
bolted off screen.
So, as I said .
David Letterman interrupted him straight away.
Your name, please, mister?
Yes, of course, Im Norman Washington.
Thanks. Go ahead Norman, and dont forget about my lawyer, he
has a pretty high hourly rate.
More laughter from the audience, and more tension in the air.

Norman held up his microphone glued to his mouth, no one must


miss any of his words. He took a deep breath and started.
As any decent person in this country, I was shocked by the
recent events of 9/11, and I wish the government had told us
the whole truth about that terrible day. But they didnt.
The audience roared noisily.
Its getting worse by the minute said Letterman winking at
the audience.
Norman, Im sorry, but this is not the right place for this,
there will be a 9/11 commission at some point. Thank you.
Please, David, just let me .
Before he could complete his sentence, the production
assistant whizzed past the balcony audience, snatched the
microphone from his hand and told him to have a seat.
Norman did as asked. He sat.
Letterman went back to his desk and announced the next guest.
It was all over. The system had hushed up the Truth. But he
wasnt going to let them shut him up. He had another shot and
was ready to play it all the way.
END OF PART FOUR