Astonished by this response, the rescue workers halted to listen. One said, "Hey Pablo, what'd you say?"
Pablo leaned down to speak to them again, and repeated, more strongly, "No overtime! No health plan! I not, how you say, 'legal'! No make waves!"
A great silence fell over the ruins. The grizzled construction boss let the tears fall without shame down his ash-smeared cheeks, muttering, "The poor bastid!"
Then he sighed, "You guys know what we gotta do here." His workmates nodded solemnly as the Foreman dialed a familiar number and said, "This INS? Lissen, we got an illegal immigrant here. You gotta get down here an' take'im away."
When Pablo began his ghostly circuit the next evening, a bevy of law-enforcement officials from INS, Animal Control, and the FBI were waiting below. When their spotlights caught Pablo, his ghost jumped several floors and hovered, quivering so wildly that the officials below couldn't help laughing. An INS official bellowed into a megaphone, "Manos a-ba-ho! You are violating Federal Employment Law. Descend immediately for deportation!"
But Pablo's ghost simply vanished, only to appear the next night, attempting to carry out its rounds. This time officials had called in reinforcements: a fire-department cherry-picker carried an Animal-Control officer equipped with a large collecting net. Officer Diana Hammett lunged out at Pablo, but the wetback ghost simply ran up invisible stairs to the next floor of what had been the WTC. "The perp keeps evading me," she informed her superiors via chin-mike.
At that point one of the many true miracles connected with the Ghosts of 9/11 took place. A commanding Chuck-Yeager-like voice announced to the assembled officials, "It's OK, we'll take the collar. You can relax." Officer Hammett, hanging in her cherry-picker harness, stared is awe as two ghostly figures in the uniform of the INS approached Pablo's ghost and firmly manacled it. One of the ghostly law-enforcement officers waved to Hammett, saying "We're from the 96th-floor office, INS! Just doin' our job!"
As the two INS officers led the illegal ectoplasmic immigrant away into the clouds, Officer Hammett gave them a last salute and whispered through her tears, "Throw the book at the little wetback, guys!"
Mike was on the stairwell between the 58th and 59th floor, steadily continuing his run upwards even as the roar of tens of thousands of tons of concrete began to barrel down upon him like a hundred freight trains belted together. Mike figured it was probably nothing, he'd seen worse. His boss or Mayor Giuliani would never put him in harm's way, so there was really nothing to worry about. Even as the steel girders started to bend and collapse, and chunks of concrete smeared with human flesh fell around him, Mike stoically headed higher up the stairwell, determined to put out the fire and rescue any survivors.
Just as he was attaching his hose on the 64th floor, the roar suddenly exploded like a giant mile-wide tornado. The next thing Mike knew, he was falling in a giant cloud of ash and smoke.
He held onto his trusty fire hose, which passed with him through a bright light and ectoplasm. There was nothing anywhere, no stairwell, no land.
"Hey, I'm floating," he thought matter-of-factly. He looked over and saw Stevie Callahan, also floating and also clutching a fire hose.
Mike and Stevie hovered there for days, and then the days turned to weeks, until they began to understand that all was not right and they probably wouldn't be making it home in time for Sunday afternoon football and beers. It was hard to know what he would miss more -- football or beer. He spent most of the next week debating, while floating, the merits of each and coming up with a rating system. Beer won every time.
As the smoke began to dissipate, Mike began learning how to navigate closer to the ground. So many of his buddies were gone. All these new faces... Not just any faces either. Dark faces. Black, Latino, people with accents.