~ These are excerpts from That Day In September.

~ It is for perusal only and cannot be used for performance purposes of any kind.

~ Please do not print and distribute this excerpt.

~ It is suggested you purchase, and read, the complete script if you are considering it for performance.

That Day In September
written by Artie Van Why

© Artie Van Why 2002
® Writers Guild of America 2005

(Scene 7)


As I passed through the revolving door and out onto the street it was like stepping into a snowstorm. Everything was white. The sidewalks and the streets—as far as I could see—were covered with what looked like a surreal blanket of fresh fallen snow. Paper. Of all sorts and sizes was scattered everywhere. Coming down from the sky all around me, like bizarre flakes, whole sheets of paper, scraps of paper, bits of paper floating down from as far up as I could see. I had never seen so much paper.

I took the few steps that brought me to Church Street. I stood in front of the World Trade Center, between the Millennium Hotel and the Century 21 store. I noticed other objects and forms and substances on the ground—clumps of insulation, chunks of what looked like plaster board. My attention left the ground, though, as, with those few steps toward Church Street, my head tilted upward, finally letting the north tower become my focus. Oh my God! What was supposed to have been just a small hole made by a little plane was a huge canyon blasted into the side of the tower. Smoke, the thickest and blackest I’ve ever seen, billowed from the gaping wound. Flames of the brightest oranges and reds shot out from the blackness.

I know that, in the back of my mind, the thought that people were dead had to be registering, but right then, I couldn’t get past just staring at the destruction and thinking about how bad it looked.

The sound of sirens seemed to be coming from everywhere. The surrounding buildings were starting to evacuate, and the streets were filling up with people. Behind me, a crowd already had gathered, everyone doing as I was, staring at the burning, smoking north tower. Large pieces of debris were falling down the length of the tower. One of the pieces of falling debris seemed to be moving. It was moving, and it wasn’t debris. It was a person falling, arms and legs waving madly. A woman behind me screamed. I and others screamed with her as more and more people began jumping from the tower.

(screaming) NO!

(Scene 14)

One of the hardest things in those first weeks was passing the countless handbills that were going up all over the city; each with a different face and the bold word MISSING across the top. As the days went on and the number of those postings grew, looking at the word became heart-wrenching, knowing that these faces of strangers, of people loved and worried about, were not merely missing. But, to use any word other than “missing” would be to admit that hope was fading. And, as each day passed into another, the city waited, praying for a miracle recovery of even one lone survivor.

And as the weeks wore on, the handbills seemed to stick to the billboards and buildings and utility poles where they were pasted, with a desperate determination to remain there in spite of the slight tears and rips caused by the wind, the print faded in the sun, the word MISSING running, in the rain, onto the faces of those strangers.

The faces of the “missing” became the faces of “victims.” So many, many faces. I found myself wondering if I had passed any of them that morning on my way to work. Had I looked into one of those faces and exchanged a glance or a smile? Did any of those faces belong to the people I saw falling to their deaths? I avoided the areas of the city where I knew there were a lot of handbills. It hurt too much, trying to take in the fact that so many people were gone, that so many had died.