Monday, September 3, 2007
Digging through piles of old magazines over the long holiday weekend, I found this very nice Don DeLillo 9/11 story from the April 9 issue of The New Yorker, conveniently available free online (as is all of the magazine's fiction and poetry). Still-Life:
Someone took the glass out of his face. The man talked throughout, using an instrument he called a pickup to extract the small fragments of glass that were not deeply embedded. He said that most of the worst cases were in hospitals downtown or at the trauma center on a pier. He said that survivors were not appearing in the numbers expected. He was propelled by events and could not stop talking. Doctors and volunteers were standing idle, he said, because the people they were waiting for were mostly back there, in the ruins. He said he would use a clamp for the deeper fragments.
“Where there are suicide bombings. Maybe you don’t want to hear this.”
“I don’t know.”
“In those places where it happens, the survivors, the people nearby who are injured, sometimes, months later, they develop bumps, for lack of a better term, and it turns out this is caused by small fragments, tiny fragments of the suicide bomber’s body. The bomber is blown to bits, literally bits and pieces, and fragments of flesh and bone come flying outward with such force and velocity that they get wedged, they get fixed in the body of anyone who’s in striking range. Do you believe it? A student is sitting in a café. She survives the attack. Then, months later, they find these little, like, pellets of flesh, human flesh that got driven into her skin. They call this organic shrapnel.”
He tweezered another splinter of glass out of Keith’s face.
“This is something I don’t think you have,” he said.