We were getting ready to move from our house to the loft. I was late starting that morning and was listening to 680News when a report came in about an airliner hitting the World Trade Center. I immediately thought it must be an accident and ran out to switch on a portable 5" Sony. We’d already shut cable off and were having Satellite installed at the loft that day. The footage showed smoke and the initial damage. And then we saw the second plane…
By 11am we had satellite coverage. CNN was the eye of the apocalypse. Images of New York, Washington, Pennsylvannia made no sense – firing synapses of fear, pain, sadness.
I had to direct a shoot in Montreal on the 12th. Earlier that month, I had decided to rent a car and drive down on the 11th, rather than fly. Prescient. However, when I went to pick up my long booked car from Hertz – they were sold out. After much discussion I ended up with a manager’s dirty car.
Downtown Toronto seemed surreal. No planes flew over my city. Half-dazed people waited for the next stroke of terror. Would it be here?
I drove to Montreal with four lanes of other glazed-eyed drivers – my car radio switching from one fading radio station to the next stronger. The same story on every point of the dial. Rumours swirled through the ether. Another potential plane-as-bomb was forced to land in the Canadian north. Where would they strike next?
I was confused by a downtown Montreal shrouded in quiet – my erratic driving, in a feeble attempt to find my hotel, unnoticed by the watching but not seeing city police.
CNN was the only sound in the hotel lobby. Gently whispered conversation muffled by thick carpets, masked by the struggling-for-words commentators.
In my hotel room, I switched between the networks, MSNBC and CNN. Searching for understanding. Just as lost as every other North American.
My shoot in old Montreal went off without a hitch. I was back on the road home by 1pm. The roads were now as quiet as the city I’d left. Planes still grounded.
Near the military base at Trenton, a large unmarked AirBus loomed over Highway 401 for a moment – both startling and frightening me. What was it doing flying? And then…was it a military plane? What is happening now? No answers came from scanned radio.
And then back to the new normal. Those responsible would be brought to justice. This attack would not be unanswered. "Someone’s gonna pay!"
And playing in the background, just slightly below the conscious level, Sting’s Fragile,
If blood will flow when fresh and steel are one
Drying in the colour of the evening sun
Tomorrows rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetimes argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are
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