Wrecked Bathroom (II)

Black smoke poured through a large hole in the opposite wall. I could sort of hear crackling flames in mono – all I could hear in my left ear was a loud, high-pitched ringing that’s never gone away.

I sat in the pool of water from the broken toilet, watching the coming fire that would kill me after the bomb hadn’t, and all I could do was think about how wrong it was. My bomb wasn’t going to go off for four hours. You don’t get to my level and screw up something like that. My bomb was bigger, Alfred P. Murrah bigger. And the smoke was wrong, too, now that I could smell it.

Another irony: it was the smoke that galvanized me, got me moving. Sort of. I slid myself up the wall, bracing myself with the left side, almost slipping in the puddle. I staggered to the door and limped into the now-empty club.

Memory again: I walked through the spot where Mandy’s body had fallen, though I didn’t realize it until later.

I stumbled outside. First responders arriving; they seemed silent and distant to me.

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