That was the day President Bush finally came out of hiding. Millions of tourists and volunteers had already been hard at work at Ground Zero, donating blood and sweat before the Commander-in-Chief felt safe enough to visit New York for about 70 seconds.
"Andy, think I can drive a few balls on Ground Zero, show those terrorists that they haven't won diddley squat," President Bush asked his chief of staff.
"No Mr. President, that would not be appropriate at this time," he was told.
"I think the firefighters'd appreciate a good drive," the President said. "And I get so bored at these things. This way I can golf, which I love, and be seen. Kill two birds with one drive."
Mike didn't know why but he liked Bush right off the bat. He felt that they had a lot in common, that he knew him, as he saw him in the distance, surrounded by hundreds of guards.
After the President left, Mike looked around again at the firemen.
"These aren't the firemen I know," Mike thought.
He hovered just a few feet above the ruins, gliding through people and debris alike, till he came upon one of his superiors, Jerry O'Neil.
"Jerry, what gives with these new firemen?" Mike demanded.
But Jerry ignored him.
"Jerry! Goddamnit, you gotta stand up for us. We're all brothers here. What's wit' the darkies?" Jerry solemnly walked away.
"I need a drink," Mike thought unhappily.
He fast-floated up to the nearest African American firefighter recruit, and yelled out to the others, "Watch this!" He tapped the recruit on the shoulder. "Hey, darkie. Wanna take me and my buddies' jobs? Just because your ancestors were slaves? Here, take this!" He cocked his arm and swung, but it went through the African-American's jaw and out the other side. Mike swung again and again, but every punch went through as if through air.
"Something ain't right here," Mike said. "I ain't ever hearda invisible niggahs. I beat a lot of niggahs up in my years, and all of 'em had solid bone structures. We're doomed if they're breeding new invisible niggahs now." Dejected, he floated away and nearly gave up.
Stevie talked him out of his funk and assured him that blacks were not invisible, it's just that he, Mikey, was dead. Dead? Who cares!
Mike didn't listen. He had one thought on his mind. He had to save the FDNY, now!
Jerry. Gotta tell Jerry for our sake and for the sake of the city... Gotta keep the fire department hiring on a merit basis. Because as everyone knows, dark-skinned peoples don't withstand heat as well as white skinned peoples.
Mike tried hard to communicate his message to the living until finally he figured it out: if he wailed long drawn out cries in the same key as the wind, using just two or three choice words, sometimes someone among the living would take notice.
Now Mike had to think about what he'd say. Had to boil it down to the simple message.
"I got it!" he said. "My message to the woild!"
One evening, he floated towards Jerry O'Neil, the superior, while he was on a coffee break. O'Neil thought he heard something, and it gave him the creeps. Like a voice. He looked up. Nothing.
It happened again the next day, and the next. Especially when Jerry was alone, or when it was later at night. The voice called out like the wind, only it wasn't the wind.
Finally, after a week, while heading through the rubble to pick out a helmet, Jerry heard it: "Nooooo Aaafff... Nooooo Aaaffffir..."
"No what?" Jerry said. "Does anyone hear that?" He ran away.
The next night, Mike was hovering just a few feet above O'Neil, moaning for all he was worth.
"Nooooo Aaaffiiirrrrmmmaaat. Noooo Aaaafffirrmmaattive."
Jerry stood up. "I think it's tryin to tell me something."
"Nooo Aaaffiiiirrrrmaaative Aaaccction. Nooo Aaaffiiiirrrrmaaative Aaaccction..."
Jerry suddenly stood up and snapped his fingers. "Ha-ha! I get it. I get you!" he yelled out, smiling with joy. "I get you, brother firefighter! We didn't give our lives for nuthin' here!"