OUT OF ESSEX – CHAPTER 31
There is no greater power on this earth than story
Mary Fawkes winced at the rain knifing the cold caravan. After her husband said goodbye, she donned her long yellow waterproof. Mike Burper gave a muted greeting as she walked past the bright café lights.
Mary had recently quit her job at the psychiatric hospital, after an official reprimand followed her appearance in the BBC documentary about the Southchurch community. She had worked for over 20 years without a blemish.
The £100 in cash from Rose was burning a hole in Mary’s pocket. Giving up new clothes had been her hardest sacrifice in stepping away from money-based consumerism. Mary fancied window shopping, at the very least.
Sitting at his laptop, in a warm bedroom 20 miles away, Ed Fawkes wondered how mass hypnosis worked. Were humans simply conditioned to accept voices of authority? Or were governments and media so skilful in manipulating information that people sleep-walked?
Evening after evening, ignoring his homework, he had been drawn like a moth to a flame – or perhaps a fly to a turd – back to the events of 11 September, 2001. And to what he now saw as the alleged Al-Qaeda conspiracy to attack US buildings with jet planes.
Ed had waded through a rash of Internet hypotheses, written by keyboard warriors attempting to dismiss and disprove the official 9/11 story trotted out by the US government and its allies.
Many were tenuous, or highly speculative, playing into the mainstream notion that anyone who talked about “what really happened” on 9/11 was bat shit insane, to be mocked and ignored.
Ed encountered arguments that the plane crashes in New York were faked with trick photography. That it was all the work of the Israeli government. Or that because the transponders in the four planes involved in the 9/11 attacks had been turned off, they could have been flown by remote control.
Too many ifs, coulds and maybes. Ed had listened to his dad enough to know that solid collaborative evidence was vital to any hypothesis.
One theory that did catch his attention said that strategic steel beams within the Twin Towers in New York were pre-cut and coated with nano-thermite. He read that this released far more energy than any other conventional explosive used in demolition, and would keep burning after exploding.
He noticed that, in the earliest 9/11 reports, police and firefighters described seeing and hearing a series of small explosions that travelled around upper floors of the Twin Towers before their collapses.
As first-hand testimony, this was worth considering. One witness described the soundscape, just before one tower collapsed, as “like the finale of the 4th of July over the East River.” Such descriptions disappeared from later reporting, as did comments from firemen testifying to tremendous explosions heard in the WTC basements.
Ed wondered. Even a schoolboy could see you would need access to stairwells and elevator shafts to plant charges over a period of time, which would mean by-passing security arrangements. The next discovery made him sit up.
According to public records, George W. Bush’s brother Marvin Bush had been on the board of directors of Securacom, a company providing electronic security for the World Trade Center. And also for Dulles International Airport – from where Flight 77 took off – and for United Airlines, two of whose planes were involved in the 9/11 attacks. Wow!
Ed’s dad, Dan, had told him more than once that detectives saw coincidence as a sign they were on track. Working solo, taking several afternoons off school, Ed had no doubt that a huge act of terrorism had occurred. But had the perpetrators been correctly identified?
He texted Dan one evening, asking what to do next. A change of direction was advised.
“You’ve proved to your satisfaction that the 9/11 story is shrouded in doubt, Ed. Above all, two plane hits but three collapsed buildings. Leave it there. Anyone who claims to know what actually happened, with absolute certainty, is full of shit. Instead, know you were lied to. Then see where and what 9/11 led to. Who benefitted? The money trail usually provides excellent clues.”
It was a long text. Ed suddenly realised that car headlights were illuminating the front driveway. Dan had not been home for three weeks.
Olly persuaded Satan and Marie to move on, to a gay pub, The Cliff. The rain had eased off. They passed a house where one front room television looked about six feet long. Marie said Samsung was offering 98 inches for £40,000.
The Cliff’s brightly-lit, multi-coloured exterior suggested Amsterdam. In the warmth, Marie recommended tequila slammers, £3 a time. Satan added straight vodkas to the order. Marie saw his £20 note, and levelled a charge of hypocrisy. “Do your fellow campers know how you operate?”
They licked salt from their wrists, swallowed the tequila and munched fresh lime chunks. Sal knew the pint of no return beckoned; ordered a Guinness to speed its approach. He felt eyes on his leathers. Two men in a corner. Wandering across, holding his vodka and stout, he ransacked his memory. Found an image outside the Crooked Billet. “Marky and …..”
“Frank….surely you remember” chuckled the taller man. “We don’t see Micky anymore. What have you done with Mr Gaze, you rascal?” A stress on ‘have’.
Marie joined them. At the bar, Olly chatted with guys in military uniforms. Soon, he sent across Jägerbombs, then beer chasers. The Devil’s thoughts and memories were fusing, overlaid by nauseous sensations he experienced using the wormhole into Old Leigh. His companions moved down a tunnel, then rushed back, faces millimetres away.
Marie sat beside Sal. Her thigh pressed his. She said a Vietnam banker had been sentenced to death for embezzling $25 million. Sal wanted regular executions, projected on giant screens and replayed for a week. His tongue incapable of movement, he thought fondly of senior financiers’ heads displayed on spikes above their banks, as a precursor to shutting down the bulk of that industry.
Frank cut in. “Why even think about that stuff? You could be run over crossing the road tonight, or one of those poor people whose homes were smashed by typhoon Haiyan. Better to enjoy each day.”
Sal was hallucinating. Dripping from the pub’s speakers was a beautiful song called ‘Buffalo’ by Gaz Coombes. It made him feel less alone. Hair beneath his gloves stood up. Marie was specifying life’s greatest prize. “I’ve been married twice. Now I need the day before me to do as I wish,” she insisted.
Olly introduced himself to Marky and Frank. He told the table he was an undertaker and had 52 grand in personal debt. “I don’t give a fuck about paying back that mafia gang. Any spare money goes on enjoying myself and helping people that are going without,” he said.
Satan felt Marie’s exasperation. “Isn’t it strange how the finance world gets pilloried but we don’t mind the greed of those we happen to like,” she pointed out. “If film stars or footballers were paid less, ticket prices could be lower.”
“Let’s go to Chinnerys,” shouted Marky. On it went.
Christmas without money was testing the Southchurch community. Grumpiness and fragility had grown as darker, colder weather encroached. The more artistic were making their own gifts. Some pledged one-off services to friends. Others vowed to eschew any ceremony, cutting links to the culture they once inhabited.
Hints of an inbound festive comet were liberally sprinkled along Southend High Street. Looking at leather boots in a women’s store window, Mary found herself remembering a shop called Keddies, where she visited Santa’s Grotto as a child. She wanted to buy for Rose and Edward. A part of her could not bear their absence.
Edward was the untidiest individual Rose could imagine. One weekend after Dan and Mary’s departure she found a dozen unwashed plates and some 20 confectionary wrappers and crisp bags among his discarded clothes. She had left him a list.
1.Hoover 2.Dust 3.Clean shower 4.Tidy CDs/DVDs
Ed placed Arcade Fire’s ‘Reflektor’ back in its case. About to throw the list on the floor, he felt the nag of an instinct. He kicked a pair of jeans under the bed and went to the window. The neighbour was rebuilding a garden wall. Dust, said an inner voice. Dust.
Now, sitting with Dan, post-hug, over two hot cups of drinking chocolate, he triumphantly relayed his intuition. “People were covered in dust at the foot of the Twin Towers.” Dan nodded, ecstatic to be in a warm house.
“So I looked again at the videos Dad. With the sound turned off. And I finally got it, got the point where I think everyone was misled.” Dan felt shivers of anticipation. “Those towers didn’t collapse. How many times did the media hammer that word into all of our nuts. But look. They turned into dust!”
Edward pulled up a YouTube clip on his laptop. They watched the shape of explosions mushrooming out, as if steel, aluminium and concrete had puffed out in a thick spray spiralling and exploding sideways and upwards. Edward played it repeatedly. Dan caught a shot where a massive piece of metal seemed to evaporate in mid-air. “This is really interesting Ed. So what did you ask yourself next?”
Edward couldn’t stop grinning.
I googled a few variations of the words ‘Dust’ and ‘Twin Towers’, and found a US scientist called Judy Woods who highlighted something that I missed.”
“Don’t be too hard on yourself. You could spend a lifetime wading through 9/11 details.” Dan had fretted about his son’s introverted nature for years. He would never make his living as a negotiator, but might already have his first book brewing. “So, Judy Woods?”
“She kept it pretty simple, Dad. She said the whe weight of one and a quarter million tonnes of collapsing rubble, from great heights, would have smashed open the structure in which the World Trade Centre was built, on land reclaimed from the Hudson River, some of it 70 feet below sea level. But the levee somehow withstood the pounding, and the amount of rubble and debris left on the ground was relatively minimal. Where did it all go?”
“Great questions. Anything else?”
“Yeah. How come pools of molten granite lingered at the base of the destroyed buildings for weeks.” Ed hesitated slightly. “Judy Woods reckoned the evidence left room for just one explanation. An unknown military technology was used to ‘deconstitute’ the matter of those buildings.”
Dan said nothing. The theory would be seen as ‘crackpot’, but might explain the lightning speed with which all three New York buildings ‘collapsed’. It was difficult to fault his overall argument that planes could not have caused all three WTC dismemberments. No wonder the rubble was quickly disposed of.
“How’s school then?” Dan groaned inside at the sheer bathos of his question. “It’s shit Dad. What am I doing there? I’m not hoping or intending to be somebody’s good little employee.”
Dan told Ed that it was his reading skills, acquired from school, which had taken him down his investigative road. That his mates were a product of the socialisation skills acquired from school. He told him with complete honesty that he was glad to know precisely where Ed was during the day. “And you do have to work. Maybe I’ll end up training you as a journalist, if you’re not there already.”
Ed couldn’t drop 9/11. “Dad, how could the BBC woman have made that mistake on WTC7? Did they know in advance?” Ed had discovered that the reporter Jane Standley had announced WTC 7’s collapse, on live television, a full 20 minutes before it happened.
Dan scrunched his features. “We’ll never know. But the TV stations take feeds from news agencies. I’ve told you before who owns the big ones.” Ed was only half listening, wondering how many times TV audiences had been persuaded to “see” what wasn’t there.
“So what are you telling me Dad? That puppet masters script mainstream news?”
“Get a sniff of the money trail”, said Dan. “You can make yourself just as relevant as the BBC. Distrust in the mass media is already at an all-time high, so all it takes is a little nudge in the right direction. The finance is where you find truth.”
Ed saved his best for last. He told Dan how, in June 2001, Tatyana Koryagina, a female Russian economist stated in a Pravda news report that the US would be subject to a massive terrorist attack in late August 2001. She said a secret group behind the coming attack was the most powerful force in the world, worth over $300 trillion.
Dan thought immediately of Satan, and his view that ten trillionaires ran the world.
Mary gripped the money in her pocket, eyeing another window display. A bright orange cashmere scarf would suit Rose. Edward wanted Xbox games, but needed gloves. A hand landed on her shoulder, startling her. Satan’s reflection dwarfed hers. Booze plagued his breath.
He found his tongue in the fresh air. “Hello handsome,” he opened. “Before you say anything, I know you have money, so let’s even it up, or perhaps out.” Dark swathes of hair fell across his face. A woman was appraising her, standing with three unthreatening men. “I have a problem, the likes of which you may solve.”
“Sal you’re pissed.”
“I’m just starting. Please help my problem, and I’ll be a ship in the night about your money.”
“Are we going to talk here?”
“No, come with us. To an evening establishment. Where we going again Marky?”
“Chinnerys. Down the hill, twist left along the front. Doors gloriously opened again after the Big Wave. Peter Hook played recently, by all accounts a fantastic gig.”
Mary had nothing planned. Like other park residents, she had long normalised the reality that Satan walked among them. She greeted his new gang. As they walked, Marie began chatting to Sal, so Mary asked Frank what there was to do in Southend at night.
“Not much. Back in the days after the pubs closed most of us would set off for London. A favourite haunt was the White Swan, along the Commercial Road.” Mary thought of Dan’s disappointment that his ‘Black Swan’ theory had yet to transpire. He could be difficult company these days, in their cramoed, chilly caravan.
Frank recalled a favourite club in Southend, to be found every month in the basement of The Palace Hotel before it was renovated. “Nice and seedy. Usually after a few bevies I would have murdered for a cup of tea and a French fancy. His name was Maurice!”
Satan walked next to her, swaying. “Gandhi will do his bloody pieces Mary. I’ve filched and thieved 20 of his tee-shirts, and swapped them for money. So that I could imbibe, though necessarily. Will you censure me, Mary Fawkes, or might you dream me an excuse, a fine cover note.” He belched loudly.
Olly, Marky and Frank knew the band playing in Chinnerys. Sal found a corner spot. His female companions ordered a bottle of wine each. Marie bought Sal a treble vodka and orange. Shouting over the noise, Mary offered him some ideas. Perhaps say that a local family was desperately short of clothing, or that he was promoting the park’s creativity, but had somehow lost the merchandise.
The band launched into a cover version of Massive Attack’s ‘Unfinished Sympathy’. Shakily, Satan stood and worked his way into the crowd. Hallucinating as he danced, bumping into others, occasionally looking down from above his body as his long limbs flailed. Enjoying this, Mary decided to disclose Sal’s real identity to Marie. What a kick to see the puzzlement on the other woman’s features. Marie wanted more. So Mary added that his hands were hairy. And he had a tail.
Sal was lost in his rhythms. The band loved it. Punters were grinning. He felt time shake itself apart. Faces were hundreds of yards away. Memory was now. He later remembered a female thigh on each side. Mary, Marie. Maggie? Morgana? Where was Mary Magdalene? He recalled a remark from…..Mary? “When I was a child, I knew that God’s angels mated with women. Even now I wonder how much of the God race remains in us.”
Sal could answer that. But didn’t. Mary bought a round of trebles. She told them she had learned a fundamental adult truth. “Honest talk, with an open heart, no judgement, and a cuddle”, she said, was a better recipe for sustained human happiness than any sexual activity.
To Satan, just one thing mattered: escaping duality. Another round would help. His money was gone. A miracle that he produced a lucid sentence. “My problem is non-compliance, always was.” Olly joined them, threw an arm around Sal. With the other he placed a double vodka before him.
Where did the sequence go? A single memory lingered. An erect nipple in Satan’s mouth, flicked and caressed by his tongue. And a hand around the base of his tail, gripping strongly.