The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious Writing The Black Gibbon - Issue Three
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The Black Gibbon

The Black Gibbon
The black gibbon is a small arboreal ape weighing about 8 kg. They prefer subtropical evergreen forests and eat leaf buds, shoots, and fruits. Gibbons are mainly diurnal. The black gibbon is the only polygamous gibbon species. The black gibbon was once widespread in forests throughout southern China and Vietnam and into Laos and Cambodia. In 1990 the only area where black gibbon populations were reported to be healthy was in Yunnan Province, China. In 2000 they were in China, Laos and Vietnam. The black gibbon is threatened by loss of its preferred primary forest habitat, as well as by hunting for food and Oriental medicine."



I'm With Stupid


Jéanpaul Ferro

      HER NEIGHBORHOOD in Brooklyn Heights is regarded as one of the most beautiful in the city. Just far enough away from Manhattan, there are dozens of 19th century brownstones, handsome brick cottages, and beautiful communal gardens. Her apartment is on the 4th floor of a 4-story brownstone on Pierrepont Street between Monroe Place and Clinton Street. From the outside it looks like the most beautiful place in the world.

     Alexandra Heiblum works for Goldman Sachs in the Empire State building. She has been in her division with the firm for over twelve years now. The secret trinity of her life is a simple one: she has never been married, she is thirty-four, and she is catholic-all three of which she likes to keep a secret. Alexandra has long brown hair, a 22-inch waist, and a daily workout routine. She hates having to leave her cats home alone though. She has three tabbies; ages three, two, and one. She knows her cats might end up being the only children she ever has.

     Tonight is like every other Friday night up on the 4th floor of the brownstone: Alexandra is dressed to the hilt, ready to go out, but she is already dead tired. She has taken a shower; shaven everything that needs to be shaven; put on her high heels, her favorite black cocktail dress; already had a light dinner (there always might be another one in store later on); and she's brushed her teeth.

     Now it's time for the inevitable headcount.

     "Alright," she says in the middle of her living room. "The three of you. Front and center!" She looks around the darkened apartment for her cats. "Anastasia¾I see you over in the window. Jewels-you're eating your cat food right there in the kitchen. Baby A? Where the heck are you this time?"

     Alexandra walks down the hallway to look for her youngest cat. This is the one she rescued from the dumpster near her work.

     "Baby A?" she calls out very gentle. She peeks her head into the bathroom. She turns the light on. "I know you're around here someplace," she says.

     She walks over to check the second bedroom. Nothing. She walks over into her own bedroom. She hears the low hum of the air-conditioner running. It's cold in the room. She turns the bedroom light on.

     As she walks around the bed she hears a terrible noise come from the dresser draw.

     "What the heck?" she says.

     Alexandra opens her underwear draw, where her youngest cat, Baby A, comes flying out in a heap of fur and paws.

     "What are you doing?"

     She quickly grabs a hold of her cat from off the floor.

     "Are you alright baby?"

     She pulls her cat up to her face. She presses its little brown nose against her cheek. This horrible feeling that she's done something terribly wrong goes through her. All she can think is that maybe she wouldn't make a good mother.

     "Have you been stuck in there? I didn't see you. I'm so sorry! I swear I didn't know."

     She lifts up little Baby A in the air and checks her body for any marks.

     "You look okay. My God! Are you purring?" She turns her little cat toward her face. "You little crazy cat. Mommy would be lost without you."

     As she puts her little cat on the bed Alexandra catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror that sits next to the fireplace.

     She walks over and stands in front of the mirror. She doesn't say anything as she looks at herself. She wonders whether she's still good enough for someone to want her. Her long brown hair has some blond in it from the sun. She still has a nice tan from her weekend up in Newport.

     She looks her black cocktail dress up and down. It looks more like a nightgown than a dress. She sees a fine line in the fabric near her bellybutton. She tries to flatten it out with her hand. It doesn't work.

     "It'll be dark in the club," she tells herself.

     She lets out a deep breath and spots some lipstick smeared on her left cheek. Her long hair always does this to her now. She leans in toward the mirror. She wets her finger and brushes the mark until it disappears. She then turns sideways in the mirror and stands up straight. She holds her hand against her stomach.

     "It's okay," she says out loud to herself. "You don't have to be perfect for someone to love you." She looks at herself in the eyes. "You shouldn't have to tell yourself that," she says with a frown.

     She's tired of worrying. Think about tonight. Just go out. Relax. Avalon isn't any good until after midnight. It's over on West 20th in Manhattan. She knows there are better places, but Avalon is trendy and crowded and she knows some of her childhood friends still go there. She misses them the most. The ones who shared the same experiences she had growing up. It always feels best when she runs into them.

     She gets a taxi and heads over to the club via the Brooklyn Bridge. Goldman Sachs doesn't treat her all that well, doesn't treat anyone all that well, not really, but the pay is good and so a taxi is never out of the question.

     On Friday night the city is lit up like a white ornament strewn along the east coast. As the taxi heads over the Brooklyn Bridge, Alexandra stares at the city lights out ahead of her. It still seems bizarre not to see the Twin Towers down in lower Manhattan. Somehow she has to look even though she knows there is only a giant black space sitting out there. She remembers people jumping out of the Twin Towers that day on 9/11. At first they all looked like debris, but then she noticed two or three of them falling in a row. They were people.

     When she gets to Avalon it is already overcrowded. There is a line going down the sidewalk along West 20th for several blocks. She looks to see which bouncers are working that night. Her panic attacks come and go whenever they please now. She smiles when she sees the troika of Tony, Mike, and Abel.

     Alexandra cuts in front of a hundred people standing along the sidewalk. Everyone looks hot-wet shadows growing beneath arms, impatient faces glaring, a murmur of voices going along the dark sidewalk, all of them trying to forget too. She just doesn't want that feeling of panic.

     "Why does she get to go?" this one dark-haired woman yells out from the front of the line. "Does she put out?"

     Alexandra pretends not to hear her, but the words still hurt. She suddenly recognizes this one man who is also waiting there in line. She feels bad for cutting in front of him. He is about forty-five, slender and fair looking, with short-cropped hair, a thin brown beard, and a lit cigarette tucked in the corner of his mouth. She remembers his name from talking to him one night over at Sapphire: Jéan-Philippe Graignes. He actually is from France, but he is now living in New York just trying to make a living. He works over at Corporate Pfizer. She remembers liking him, because of his benevolent eyes.

     He nods at Alexandra as she walks past him, but she sees Mike is waving for her.

     "Il mia angelo!" Mike's voice blurts out in Italian. "La mia bellezza!"

     "I was hoping you were here," she says with relief in her voice.

     Alexandra leans up on her tiptoes and kisses him on the cheek.

     Mike and the other two bouncers are big. Steroid big. Mike's biceps bulge out of his shirt like a sick comic book hero. All three bouncers have their head's shaved like U.S. marines. Alexandra knows Mike from way back. He has ten years on the FDNY-Engine Company 84, Washington Heights. He bounces at the club twice a week.

     "I ain't lettin' her in! Tony shouts from behind Mike.

     "It's my birthday on Sunday," Alexandra says, thinking this might convince him to change his mind. "The forth of July."

     "So? That's two days from now," Tony shoots back.

     Alexandra looks at him. Tony is black and just as big as Mike, but he is much more fierce looking. He is a former lineman for the New York Giants. His voice doesn't sound too happy. His black eyes stare right through Alexandra like she doesn't even exist. "What did you ever do for me?" he asks her.

     "I told you about this job," she reminds him. "You were bouncing at Vizcaya and I gave you Mike's phone number to call him. Don't you remember?"

     He begins to look at her like she's a real dummy.

     "That ain't what I mean," he says.

     "Tony?" she says. "You know I'm not like that."

     Abel, the third bouncer, who is also black, but a much darker black than Tony, a real Nigerian with a green card living in Queens, looks like he has been working out with the other two bouncers. He is suddenly big since the last time Alexandra saw him.

     She watches as Abel goes behind her and lifts the back of her cocktail dress up.

     "Wow!" Abel says in this defiant voice. "I believe your constitution prohibits us from keeping a backside like this out!"

     Alexandra's face turns beet red. She feels her heart sink in her chest. She tries to swat Abel's hand away from her. She succeeds only for a moment, and Abel simply goes behind her again and lifts her dress up one more time.

     "Stop that!" she says.

     "Cut the crap!" Mike yells. "You wanna get us fired?"

     Alexandra feels Mike push her gently forward, and this huge relief goes sweeping through her stomach and all the way through her body; and suddenly she is being led past the other two bouncers, around the velvet rope, right through the front doors of Avalon.

     She feels embarrassed and nods to Mike. She feels him let go of her hand inside the front hallway of the club. She hates this anxiety she keeps feeling. The doctors tell her it's panic disorder from witnessing 9/11. She feels totally humiliated now and wants to do something for Mike. She reaches in her purse and pulls out a twenty-dollar bill.

     "No," Mike resists. He smiles and puts his hand up. "Talk to the hand!"

     Alexandra looks at him. She knows they both lost a mutual friend on 9/11.

     "Jeremy," the name of their mutual friend, "always talked good about you," Mike says to her now. "I don't ever want anything from you. You're my friend too."

     She loses her breath for a moment. His kindness, his real kindness, takes her by surprise. It is a rare feeling nowadays. She begins to think of something to do or to say to him to thank him again, but she is thrown.

     She thinks about their friend, Jeremy, for a second. Losing him made her realize not to wait to help others. She doesn't want to remember him jumping out the 101st floor of the north tower. There was a photograph of him falling in USA Today.

     She feels stupid for not being able to think of something nice to do right that second, so Alexandra takes the twenty-dollar bill and tucks it into the small blue pocket on Mike's blue shirt.

     His face seems overly concerned.

     "You have a four-year-old son," she tells him. "Go to TOYSRUS and buy him something. Really- It would mean a lot to me. Tell him it's from Auntie Alex."

     Mike shakes his head no.

     "I have a niece," Alexandra explains. "Little things mean a lot to a child. They'll never forget it."

     "For him," Mike says. "But I'm only taking it for him."

     "That's good."

     She looks back outside the club at the growing line along the sidewalk. "Thanks for before," she says in a whisper.

     Mike knowingly nods.

     "I'll see you around," Alexandra says. "It was good seeing you." There is a hint of melancholy in her voice, and she smiles, and Mike doesn't say anything, and she begins to walk away.

     Alexandra slowly makes her way through the club, going past all the glitterati, people talking, laughing, voices moving across her path, drinks being lifted, the smell of cologne, a thousand eyes watching her every move. She sees several men make eye-contract with her. She smiles each time, but only for a second. She notices the girls in the club, everyone a superstar, bellybuttons laid bare and pierced in every-which-way, tanned perfect backs, tanned perfect breasts, perfect noses, perfect mouths and eyes, but not many dreams in those eyes. The men everywhere are looking at her now. There are some beautiful smiles. So many masculine eyes doused in blues and greens and browns. No one is being nice like Mike had been a second before.

     She goes over to one of the under-lit bars up to a pale looking female bartender who has dark-hair and whose breasts look like they have been pumped up by a machine. "I'll have a laser beam," Alexandra says very tired. The dark-haired bartender serves it to her in a plastic cup. Alexandra takes a small sip. She knows from previous visits to Avalon that the bartenders here make the strongest drinks in the city. She knows they'll all need them.

     She looks around the club now. Once upon a time this place was a thriving church. Now all its parishioners dance along the slick lounges, bumping and grinding out on the dance floor. Alexandra sees the DJ up on stage, bopping his head up and down, raising one hand with one finger out while his other hand handles a record.

     As she stands there she happens to see Jéan-Philippe again. This time he is being manhandled by a group of young men all in their early twenties. All four of them have blond hair and look like homegrown monsters. She remembers these same young men as they were bothering some other people at another club one night. Jéan-Philippe is putting up a good fight though. This makes her smile.

     Alexandra goes over.

     "Leave him alone!" she shouts over the music.

     The group of young men stop and stare at her. They all start to laugh incredulously.

     "Shut up!" one of them says like he's really pissed off.

     "This guy-" says another, nodding at Jéan-Philippe, "slashed my tires. I told him I'd be looking for him. He doesn't belong in our neighborhood. He's gonna die tonight!"

     Alexandra nervously looks around for Mike again.

     It's only a second before she sees him coming over with Tony and Abel in tow.

     "Come with me!" Alexandra yells to Jéan-Philippe; and the three bouncers begin a tussle with the four young men.

     Alexandra is leading the Frenchman by the hand and nervously pulls at him as they go out the door of the club.

     "What did you do to them?" she asks.

     "I did nothing to them. Pourquoi me blâmez-vous?"

     "You must have done something!"

     Two of the young men from the group of boys in the fight are now outside.

     "I don't need your help!" Jéan-Philippe says, but both he and Alexandra go swimming down the sidewalk along the side of the crowd like they are both afraid.

     Alexandra is smiling as she runs, but really she's frightened inside. For a second she feels young, and for a second after that she feels like nothing else matters. She waves a taxi down and the next one going by stops and picks them up.

     Jéan-Philippe and Alexandra get in the back of the taxi together.

     "Where do you live?" she quickly asks.

     "They know where I live."

     She nervously looks up at the taxi driver who is now looking at her in the rear view mirror. She thinks about it. She doesn't want any harm to come to him.

     "What if I drop you off at a friend's house?" she asks.

     "I don't have any friends. And why did you interfere? I was handling myself alright! I would have been okay without you interfering."

     "You can't be fighting nowadays," she scolds him. "Someone could have a gun."

     "Only in America!" he shouts at her. "Vous maintenez votre propre maison."

     Alexandra slumps over to one side in the back seat. She nervously lets out a breath; a mist on the window swelling up like a balloon and then disappearing. She taps her fingernail against her lips. She tries to think about what to do next. This wasn't a part of her plan.

     "I normally don't get involved like this," she says.

     Jéan-Philippe lets out a snort. "Please! I saw those men fighting over you the other night at Sapphire."

     "They weren't fighting over me. I said something to one of them who yelled at this girl."

     "I know what I saw."


     Alexandra lets out a deep breath and looks up at the taxi driver. "Café Lalo," she says to him. She sees the taxi driver look at her in the rear view mirror again. "I think it's … two-oh-one … west eighty-third street."

     "I know the place," he says.

     The taxi speeds up and there is dead silence in the backseat.

     Alexandra thinks about her three cats. She remembers her little Baby A jumping out of the draw with her underwear in it. She suddenly longs to be home. She then thinks about those four men who were pushing Jéan-Philippe around.

     "What did you do to those guys?" she asks again.

     "Nothing," Jéan-Philippe says very defensive. His eyes calm a bit and he sits back against the seat. "I hardly know them. They did this to me one other time. They even followed me home. I don't even know why. They like making trouble. I can't go in their neighborhood? What kind of sense is that?"

     "I never meant to embarrass you. Those bouncers know me. I thought I was helping."

     "Yes, thanks" Jéan-Philippe says with a bit of an attitude. His eyes are looking down at his hands as they twist themselves together in his lap. "You made me look kind of dumb."

     "I just wanted to help."

     Yes, thanks," he says again mockingly.

     Alexandra lets out a sigh. She notices a small cut over his right eyebrow. She reaches across the car with her hand, flattens his eyebrow down with her finger, and looks to see how bad it is.

     "It doesn't look good," she says.

     "I'll be fine," he tells her.

     The taxi pulls up at Café Lalo and they both get out. They look at each other out on the sidewalk. Jéan-Philippe pulls out a cut up debit card from inside his jacket. The card is now in ten different pieces. The small green scraps of plastic drop from one hand to another.

     "I guess you'll have to pay for this," he says. "This hasn't been my night!"

     Alexandra grins and hurriedly pulls out some money and pays the taxi driver.

     "What time is it?" Jéan-Philippe asks. He looks at his watch and then looks inside the busy café.

     "They're open 'til four," she says very calm. "It's a Friday night."

     She takes his hand and they go inside the café.

     It's extremely loud and crowded inside, but they quickly get a table for two. They sit down close to one another.

     Alexandra immediately feels Jéan-Philippe's hand resting up against her inner thigh. She nervously looks down at the menu as she tries not to say anything.

     Café Lalo
Café Lalo has become known as the place to go before and after the movies,
the theater, or dinner to enjoy a great dessert and an expertly made cappuccino.

     A waitress comes over now. She's twenty or so, blond, flat chested, twenty piercings all on one ear, but she has a pretty face with bright blue eyes. Her lips are all chapped.

     "I'll have a cheeseburger and a coke," Alexandra says.

     "One American filet-mignon and one American champagne," Jéan-Philippe says mockingly.

     Alexandra smiles. She reaches down, picks up his hand off her thigh like a bug, and plops it back in his lap.

     "Hmmm," he says. "Somehow I find myself strangely attracted to you."

     Alexandra watches him look up at the waitress.

     "I'll have a coffee," he says. "Black."

     The waitress goes off and Alexandra and Jéan-Philippe sit there amid the hustle and bustle of the café.

     Alexandra thinks about Mike and his young son.

     "Do you even like me?" she finally asks Jéan-Philippe.

     He smiles, pats her hands, which are folded atop the small table in front of her, and he grins. They gaze at each other now. She notices his gray eyes. They are suddenly full of this radiant quality, as though with a word he could tie her up, flip her upside down, and examine her soul.

     "Why would I like you?" he says. "I never like a woman once I get to know her."

     This makes her laugh. "I can see why your last girlfriend dumped you."

     He nods his head a little. "She did," he says. He looks up with this coy smirk on his face. "I kind of like you though."

     "Oh, really? And what do you like?"

     His gray eyes look confused for a moment. "Well," he says, "you don't have any tattoos. No piercings-that's always a plus. You're not half-bad looking. You're actually kind of hot. And you do seem somewhat smart."

     Alexandra grins. This isn't the proposal she had always been waiting for.

     She suddenly thinks about all the history books that she's been reading, the diligence she puts in her work, her diet, her job, all of the charities she loves to give to. And then she pictures Jéan-Philippe's superficial complements:

     1. No tattoos
     2. No piercings
     3. Kind of looks hot
     4. Might be smart

     "Wow!" she says very coy. "You certainly know how to make a girl feel good about herself."

     His forehead tightens. She watches him.

     The blond waitress comes over now. She puts the cheeseburger down in front of Alexandra.

     Alexandra gets the sense that Jéan-Philippe hasn't eaten anything that night. She looks at the cheeseburger and gently pushes it over in front of him.

     "If you're hungry you can have it," she tells him.

     He nods his head, completely slides her dish over to himself, and he takes a large bite of her cheeseburger. He nods his head disapprovingly.

     "You need to learn to eat like the Europeans do. You all need to learn to eat like we do," he says with his mouth full of her cheeseburger.

     She patiently nods her head and watches him gobble down her food. She wants to eat herself, but she watches him without saying anything. He eats all of it except for one small bite, where there is a big piece of pickle hanging out. He looks guilty and nods for her to finish it.

     "No. You go ahead," she says.

     Jéan-Philippe finishes the cheeseburger and Alexandra smiles and puts some money down on the table.

     They go outside, where it is beginning to cool off now. They get another taxi and Alexandra directs the driver over to her place in Brooklyn Heights.

     The ride to her brownstone is done in complete silence.

     Alexandra and Jéan-Philippe sit far apart in the backseat of the taxi. She doesn't know what to think of him now. A part of her really likes him. He does have this weird sense of humor. But there is also something missing. At thirty-four she finally understands this dichotomy, and it is both tragic and funny to her.

     After the taxi drops them off in Brooklyn she begins to have second thoughts about protecting him and getting involved.

     "You really can't go home tonight?" she asks going up her front steps. She stares at the two cement lions on each side of the stoop.

     "I'm not lying," he says. "You can put me in your hallway if you like. But those four young men from the club followed me home last week. If I don't stay here … I'm not going home. I guess everything is up to you."

     Alexandra looks at him and doesn't know whether to believe him or not. His gray eyes look like they are telling her the truth.

     "Not that I need your help!" he says spoiling it.

     She stares at him. "I believe there's a couch with your name on it," she says, and she begins to unlock the door to the brownstone.

     Out of nowhere she feels Jéan-Philippe putting his hands on her waist.

     She is spun around and he kisses her open-mouthed, her back and arms pushed up against the cool wet glass of the door. She gently goes to push him away, her breasts hard-pressed up against him, and her mind hears the blue notes of piano keys, and she sees that his eyes are tender, his body limp as he waits there for some kind of response.

     They go upstairs to the 4th floor without her saying anything.

     Her cats go scurrying as she opens the door with this near stranger by her side.

     "My babies!" she says with delight. "Mommy's home. Come say hi to your mommy!"

     "What a mess!" he says as he looks inside.

     She's embarrassed as they walk in the door of her darkened apartment. She sees her catalogs and magazines all piled up on her coffee table, dishes over in the kitchen sink, a whole year's worth of the Daily News going halfway up the kitchen wall, waiting to be recycled. She tries not to turn on too many lights.

     She puts her pocketbook down and takes her shoes off.

     She's a little unsettled as Jéan-Phillip walks around her livingroom, examining each novel that she has lying around-Jhumpa Lahiri, Michael Houellebecq, M.G. Vassanji-and then her music CD's-Filter, Johnny Cash, the Ramones, Eva Cassidy-her paintings on the wall, one after another. One seems to catch his attention.

     "Who is this? This jazz painting?" He turns and looks over at Alexandra as she is tying her hair up in a ponytail.

     "I don't know. I bought it at an art fair. You know: 'A one-of-a-kind-art-fair!'" she says in this imitation voice.

     He looks at the name on the painting. "Blassingham?" he whispers like he's unsure. "I'd rather have one expensive piece of art than ten mediocre, cheap pieces," he says.

     "Well how many do you have?" she says.

     "None. I can't afford any. But that's not the point."

     She finishes tying her hair back. She stands there smiling at him. She lets out a deep breath of frustration.

     "There's the couch," she says. She points at it.

     "But it's hot in here."

     "Well I only have the air-conditioner in my bedroom. And you can't open any windows out here. I don't want my cats jumping to their deaths."

     She immediately thinks of her friend Jeremy.

     Jéan-Philippe takes his jacket off and seems unfazed. He then begins to take his shirt off. She is looking at him, but quickly looks the other way as his shirt goes over his head.

     "No kiss goodnight?" he asks.

     Alexandra smiles, laughs to herself, but then she thinks about it for a second-thinks she's not that desperate-and then finally walks over to him and gently kisses him on the cheek. She feels him turn his lips right to her lips, but they kiss only for a second. She quickly pushes back and thinks about all of her expectations and future plans.

     She sees him staring at her with this perplexed look on his face.

     "So I guess oral sex is out of the question?" he asks with a straight face.

     She smiles. "For you it is," she says.

     He laughs out loud, looks down at the couch, and continues to laugh, and then he takes his pants off and he goes to lie down.

     Alexandra goes down the hallway into her room and closes the door behind her. She slips her cocktail dress off and leans her back against the bedroom door. She taps her fingernail against her mouth as she thinks about it. She pictures him lying out there in her livingroom. She thinks about being with him. But he is so different. They have such different histories and want such different things. She has this feeling that she wants someone who can be her best friend, someone who can save her if she ever does need to be saved. But where is that guy?

     She strips her bra and underwear off and goes over to the air-conditioner and turns it up high. She lies down on the bed and tries in vain to sooth out the lines where her bra has been cutting into her all night. She stays awake for a while before finally drifting off to sleep, where there are no dreams to dream this night.

     In the morning her bedroom is freezing cold. She gets up and quickly puts on a heavy housecoat to warm herself up. She thinks about waking up on Saturdays as a child in her parent's house. How her mother and father always made her feel safe.

     When she goes out she finds that Jéan Philippe has already made breakfast-some eggs and orange juice and several bran muffins, but he hasn't made anything for her. She notices that he is wearing one of her T-shirts that she usually works out in when no one else is around. She thought she had put it in the dirty clothes hamper.

     "What does this mean?" Jéan Philippe asks. He points down at the words written across her T-shirt that he has on.

     She laughs when she reads it.

     "I'm with stupid," she begins to explain to him.

     "I'm with stupid?" he says innocent like a child. "I don't get you Americans!"

     Tired, Alexandra looks at him, wishing he could understand her, really understand her, know what she feels and dreams and thinks about, what she regrets, what she should do but cannot, all these things that no one else will ever know, except maybe for God.

      "How do you explain America?" Jéan Philippe asks now like he isn't even sitting in the same room with her. "I don't get you."

     Alexandra sits down at her kitchen table, a beautiful sheath of sunlight shining over Brooklyn, coming right inside the kitchen window.

     She tries to articulate to herself why a warm sunny day now reminds her of 9/11, how when she sees an airplane she gets worried, how a loud noise can scare her to death in the middle of a day. She thinks about her friend, Jeremy, jumping to his death from the north tower. She thinks about love and hate and war and regret and the reality of living in this post 9/11 world.

     Suddenly her Baby A comes running in the kitchen like a mad little nutcase, jumping up and sitting on her mommy's lap.

     "Only the dead know America," Alexandra tells him very sad; but when she sees Jéan Philippe staring at her across her kitchen table she knows he couldn't possibly understand, and she suddenly feels very alone and vulnerable and completely by herself-and this leaves her speechless and without anything else left to say.

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