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Feature Story September 6, 2002
 
The Ghosts of 9 / 11
an out-of-this-world eXile exclusive!
 
Page 4 of 7
 

"He made it out?" asked Jolene anxiously.

Her friend nodded sadly. "Just my fuckin' luck," she grumbled as they tossed their butts away and headed for the elevators.

But Jerry had heard little of this exchange except the horrifying news that Jolene was going to invest his life-insurance in the market. "That goddamn air-head," he thought. "Only an idiot like her'd put it in the market now! She'll lose everything I'd earned. I knew it! I gotta stop her!"

Suddenly filled with a strange determination, his floating changed to a kind of airy muscling, as if he was transporting himself on an air-jet ski. He followed his widow back to their apartment, hovering above her like a schmaltzy Chagall painting, cursing and shaking his head, and peeked over her shoulder as she wrote a check for the whole settlement. He saw that the check was made out to a cut-rate Index Fund only a total loser would buy into. Jerry tried to bat her hand away and scream into her ear "Stay in cash! Don't time the market you idiot! Stay in cash!" as she wrote, but his ghostly fingers passed right through.

All through the night, as Jolene slept, Jerry tried to open the desk drawer in which Jolene had placed the fatal check. By morning he had barely managed to pull the drawer open. Before he could take the check, Jolene grabbed it and headed for the brokerage.

Jerry followed her, still trying to perfect his telekinesis. Jolene was drawing close to the brokerage now -- all she had to do was cross one last corner. Jerry put all his hopes, all his dreams, all his human spirit, into one last effort. As Jolene waited at the corner, he focused his energy and ran at her like an ectoplasmic cannonball. Jolene, struck from behind, fell forward into the path of an uptown express bus.

As a crowd gathered, Jerry stood weary but proud. When it counted, he had done what had to be done. Personal handicap, in the form of death, had not stopped him from achieving his goals.

He noticed a vaporous apparition rising from under the bus. Jolene's ghost, realizing what had happened, screamed at him, "What have you done, you bastard?"

Jerry waved his hands, reassuring his erstwhile bride. "Don't worry, honey," he smiled. "The money's safe now."

Not all those who perished in the disaster were highpowered financiers. Many of the dead were ordinary Americans, working in less-glamorous jobs. One of the most heartwarming aspects of the disaster is the way these "little people" provided an example of courage and decency -- even after their deaths.

PABLO SALINAS

Pablo had been an American for only two of his 33 years, but the flag he wore on the shoulder of his security guard's uniform meant more to him than anything -- more, even, than life itself. Pablo was one of the heroes most often mentioned by survivors of 9/11. It was he who had held open the door of the one stairway which led those on the upper floors to safety. Many of those survivors -- hard-charging executives who had hardly noticed Pablo in life -- took time from their ardous recoveries to praise the "that little Mexican in the guard uniform" who had ushered them to safety with no thought of his own fate.

True to his humble, diligent nature, Pablo was one of the first ghosts of 9/11 to resume work. It was he whom rescue workers first saw as they worked through the nights to clear the ruins: a small figure in a beige uniform, walking in midair where once the 82nd floor of the tower had been. Pablo's ghost was soon so familiar to the rescue workers that they began to call up to it, engaging it in friendly banter. At first the small figure could be seen shaking its head in embarrassment as it stood in mid-air, whispering "No Eenglish" in a ghostly quaver. But at last Pablo seemed to understand what the construction workers were calling up to him. When one hardhat joked, "Hey Pablo, you oughta put in for overtime!" The ghostly figure halted in its eerie progress, leaned down towards the hardhats, and called in admirably clear English the words which have made him famous: "No overtime! No make waves!"


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