The builders were eye-level with swarming news helicopters. Frank’s eyes though probed a towering triple cheeseburger cradled in his thick, calloused fingers. He peeled back the greasy wax paper then took off the rubbery bun. Chopped lettuce blew away into the thin air and rained down on Lower Manhattan.
“No fuckin’ pickles,” he said.
No one acknowledged him. The men were too beat to move in yesterday’s clothes. Hard hats, resplendent vests, and dusty boots. They rested atop the One World Trade Center, lying about the spire that stands like a model rocket ready to launch. All night they toiled. Now they waited to tighten the last bolt. For the stage needed to be set for the mayor and the flowers and the doves, and for a curtain drop on fifteen years of a skyline with missing teeth. They decided to wait on full stomachs.
Sonny, a thin, baby-faced 18-year-old, brought up breakfast from 1,776 feet below. Frank stomped across the grated platform and shoved the cheeseburger in Sonny’s face.
“I asked for pickles. How’d ya fuckin’ forget?” Frank demanded.
Frank hadn’t always been so hot in the head. At least, not before his identical twin, a lowly office janitor, died. He was murdered or committed suicide, depending on how you looked at it. They had shared telepathic powers. As kids, they were two entangled electrons that finished each other’s sentences. Their favorite game was to stand out on the lawn side by side, then close their eyes and spontaneously spin in the same direction at the same speed until they felt sick and fell to the ground at the exact same time. Frank still felt his brother’s presence, as if he had some kind of missing mental limb. It tormented him. The telepathic signals to his brother traveled into a hollow space, unanswered.
“Fuck off, Frank. What’s the big deal?” Sonny said as he got up and shoved Frank away. “Just be happy you’re alive to stuff your fat face with it.”
The other men rushed in to separate them in a cloud of “whoas” and “heys.”
“Oh, you’re right. I should just be happy,” Frank said sarcastically as he paced back and forth, his worn face struggling to choose between a grimace of anger or despair. “Let me tell ya something, we ain’t the cast of some shit Broadway play where everything works out in the end.”
He stepped back. Then he started to spin with arms spread open. And he sang: la di la di da. His gruff, husky body, that looked as if he worked hard labor since the day he was born, twirled like a spirited Julie Andrews in an Austrian meadow.
“Hear that New York?! Let it go! We’re all gonna be Ohh-kayy!” he screamed.
Under the drunken spell of weariness, the men watched, mesmerized by Frank’s unexpected grace, before losing control and bursting into laughter.
After a few seconds, Sonny stepped into Frank’s path.
“Why are you so pissed about something so trivial today, of all fuckin’ days?” he asked.
“What the hell’s ‘trivial’?” he replied, pantomiming quotation marks on the word trivial.
He started spinning again, faster, until he collapsed, dropping the pickleless cheeseburger as tears ran down his face and the news helicopters, the viewers at home, the world, watched. Just like his brother, when he dropped the broom and spurned the flames and tumbled in the thin air, falling from trivial to impact.