Heaven knows what you’ve got to prove

Rico’s place, Berkeley, ten p.m. Two dogs prance in, tongues flapping, flanking Steve. Steve carries the bongo drum that he pulled down from the attic. The wine is sugary and bubbly, made only days ago from the fig tree that grows behind the house. Brian and Sean are in the middle of a heated discussion.

“No, you never saw it,” insists Brian. “You never saw a plane anywhere near the Pentagon. You never saw any sort of video or other evidence indicating there was a plane anywhere near the Pentagon at any time. You just saw pictures of the damage to the Pentagon. Didn’t you?”

“I never saw a plane hit the Pentagon,” grunts Sean. “But it happened.”

“But you don’t know it happened. And if you saw the evidence that I’ve seen… Well, you might think differently,” says Brian.

“Are you saying that there was some kind of…” Sean waves his glass in the air. “Conspiracy? Are you saying that they forged the evidence of a plane crashing into the Pentagon?”

“No. No, I’m not saying that. All I’m saying is that if you’ve seen the evidence that I’ve seen, you might think differently about it. Consider that they interviewed the building manager of the Pentagon immediately after the attack. And the building manager said that each level of the Pentagon collapsed, as if it had been dynamited. Purposely wired to explode. How do you explain that?”

“I have no idea,” says Sean. “I have no idea of the physics involved when an airplane hits a building.”

“And if a plane hit the Pentagon,” says Brian, “wouldn’t you expect to see airplane parts everywhere? Engines, seats, that sort of thing? Where were all those things, after the Pentagon blew up?”

“Well, where were they at the World Trade Center?” counters Sean. “The plane was full of fuel. The plane blew up. There were only tiny pieces of anything that didn’t burn left. Now are you saying they faked the Pentagon disaster?”

“I read the 9/11 Commission Report. Total bullshit,” continues Brian. “Complete and total bullshit. And, you know what? In the pictures that they showed of the Pentagon, you could see computer screens, undisturbed and unbroken by the blast. Now! Can you tell me how an entire plane can fly into a building, and a computer screen, right next to the point of impact, will remain unbroken?”

“Honestly, I have no clue,” says Sean. “I haven’t seen the pictures, and quite frankly I don’t think that’s evidence of a conspiracy.”

“Now wait a minute! One damn minute!” sputters Brian. “Are you saying to me… Are you trying to say to me… That you don’t believe that the government lies to you?”

Sean rolls his eyes. “Oh. The government has repressed the truth, like, a million times.”

I remember what city I’m in. I tune out of the conversation, unpack my guitar, and plug it into the amplifier.

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