The eight young Ph.D. students who died in a fire at Cornell University in 1967 have become the reason for one amateur detective to live. But why is William Fogle obsessed with other peoples’ tragedy?
Nearly 50,000 people die alone in New York each year. A majority of them have friends and relatives who learn about their passing and make funeral arrangements, but a small number don’t have anyone in their lives to mourn the end of their lives. George Bell was among this tiny group.
A rookie firefighter’s first big test:
While awaiting a fire, Jordan Sullivan had not been idle for 96 days. He had easily done a couple of hundred runs, almost always in the junior position on the truck, the one called the “can man,” who lugged a fire extinguisher. Ladder companies like his tackled the entry work and the search for survivors. Engine companies had the hoses that put out fires.
The vast majority of what a New York firefighter does, though, has nothing to do with fire. Last spring, firefighters in Queens had to retrieve a police officer who got stuck in a tree trying to save a cat. Firefighter Sullivan had not had tree calls, but his tours were a litany of balky elevators, car accidents, chirping carbon monoxide detectors, frozen pipes, blown sprinkler heads, gas leaks, smoking manholes, scaffolding emergencies, the cascade of false alarms that fate tossed his way.
But there has been a chasm between expectations and reality. The prophecy of more attacks on the United States has not been the case, not yet at least. Bumbling attempts got close — involving underwear and a shoe and a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder — but the actuality has been that terrorist acts on American soil in the succeeding years have been, as always, largely homegrown. So many things were expected to be different that have not been. Time passes, and passes some more. Exigencies of living hammer away impatiently. People — most of them, at least — began to become themselves. New York, which by its nature accommodates so much, was willing to absorb 9/11 and keep moving. #Sept11
“Hey, boobie, talk to me,” the Ticket Man said. The Ticket Man, whose name is Richard Ebers, was on the phone. He is always on the phone. The best way to speak to the Ticket Man is to call him, even if you’re standing next to him. His wife has trouble getting a word. Often, he is juggling three calls. “Allman Brothers? What’s the date?” “Robbie? Hi, boob. Tell me what you want.” “Yeah, babe, what do you need?” The Ticket Man’s business is the resale of premium tickets to sporting events and concerts. By premium ticket, he means “the best in the house.”