I mean I think I was like totally affected by 9/11. For sure. One way I was fucked up by it was a few weeks after it happened I was sitting on my parent’s couch in the living room watching TV and they used to live in this house right near the water that had a view of the river and their living room was all windows and I was just like watching something stupid on TV and I heard this roar from an airplane outside. It was night and dark and lights were on in the house, lamps and stuff, but I remember it being like pretty dark and I heard this really plane sounding noise from outside and to be honest I don’t really remember reacting to the plane’s noise with me telling myself what to do. It was more like I just reacted without knowing what I was doing and as the plane’s roar got louder and louder I got fucking petrified and I remember not knowing what to do like there was something I was supposed to do but couldn’t remember how to do it. I remember just like bolting the fuck out of the living room and through the house and down the stairs and the crazy loud noise from the plane got nuts and I don’t know, I mean, for some reason I thought the plane was gonna crash into my house. I remember like running down the stairs and my dad was in his office working or something and he didn’t ask me what was wrong ‘cause he didn’t notice anything but it was once I saw him sitting in his office and the noise passed that I realized that like, what I was doing was totally fucking stupid. Who was gonna fly a plane into our house? But I guess it was like, I might’ve been thinking of the plane that crashed into that field or the one into the Pentagon and maybe, like, in this moment I was just having a weird like panic attack thinking that something was gonna happen when it really wasn’t at all. I remember standing down on the first floor and my dad just like sitting in his desk chair and turning around and seeing me and just turning his head back to his work. Then I went back upstairs and kept watching TV.
It for sure wouldn’t have been the first time I reacted real weird to a situation like that, I mean, after Columbine happened I was at a sleepover with some of my friends from middle school and it was the first sleepover that I’d really ever been to with a bunch of kids and they all wanted to stay up like way past bedtime and even wanted to wait up until the sun came up and I remember being all for it ‘cause I wasn’t a bad kid but I had like older cousins and shit that had showed me porn pictures on like the internet and stuff so I wanted to look at that stuff and told my friends about it at the sleepover but it seemed like they didn’t know what I was talking about and they just wanted to watch South Park but then one of the kids there, I mean, I can’t remember who was there, and on account of what happened next I wanted to block out what happened at the sleepover really bad all through the rest of middle school and into high school, too, but I mean, I remember it was Chris who had the sleepover. It might’ve been his idea to watch Titanic just so we could see that chick’s tits. I mean, I still fucking remember that. I’d never seen a woman’s tits before. Not like that. I mean, my cousin had shown me a website with like, some porn stuff on it but I don’t even remember what the hell that shit was. I dunno if I totally processed it or, I mean, I knew that people were… I knew that a lady was in a weird outfit and I might’ve even seen a nipple or something but it wasn’t until that night watching Titanic that it was like I really saw tits.
But anyway, yeah, I mean I remember everyone wanting to stay up all night and we were but then I remember putting my head down on a pillow just to rest and I do think the sun was already up when this happened but the next thing I knew I was breaking through a glass basement window and sprinting across Chris’ lawn in my underwear and a t-shirt. I didn’t know why I was running or what the hell was going on and it was like I was just watching myself do all this shit and then I was at the neighbor’s door and like, the neighbor opens the door and it’s this woman I knew. She used to live near my parents and I told her that I was staying at Chris’ house and one of the kids there had a gun. I dunno why I said this or did this but that’s what happened. I knew this woman, the neighbor, ‘cause I used to pal around with her two boys, Craig and Henry. Then I remember waiting for my dad to get there and Craig and Henry and I played Goldeneye, that game where you go around and shoot everyone. I was watching Craig play and I remember telling him that I didn’t want to play and this was all wrong. He thought I meant about me watching him play a video game where you shoot people after I’d just broken out of Chris’ house ‘cause one of the kids at the sleepover had a gun but, I don’t think that’s like what I was talking about. I think I was saying something about what I’d said about the gun being wrong.
My parents didn’t know what to make of it. I remember being on their couch, the same one in that room overlooking the river and them asking me about it and me not knowing how to answer. I told them I thought I saw a gun so I broke out of Chris’ basement. I told them I thought a video game controller was a gun ‘cause I was so lack of sleep. Truth was, I started to remember why I’d broken out of that house. I had a dream when my head hit that pillow. A dream that Chris’ family dog, Benny, had a gun. That’s what my dream was about. I still remember like, the dream and I was up on Chris’ first floor and their dog had a gun. The dog was wagging its tail and had a gun in its mouth holding it like a bone.
Later on I’d be told like that it was like a night terror, but that was much later. I was also told it was most likely because of what happened at Columbine because it was so close to that happening and I heard about it and was told and it affected me so much that I had this like dream that a dog had a gun at my friend’s sleepover and I broke through the glass of a basement window. When I was running away from Chris’ house I was really running away from the dream. I was really running away from those fucking kids that shot up Columbine. They weren’t there chasing me when I was running away from like that sleepover but they were in a way, those stupid motherfuckers. They chased me and humiliated me at fucking school where I had to show up with all cuts on my hands and forearms ‘cause they were cut up from the window glass I’d broken and climbed through to my freedom. I got made fun of for that into submission, what the fuck I did at that sleepover. Followed me around most of high school even. That’s the kid who jumped out Chris’ window? Yeah, that’s him, that crazy fuck.
So, yeah, I mean, I didn’t have anyone die in 9/11, right? But I watched my dad when he was glued to the TV. I had my grandfather explain to me what happened as a kid, and then when I was just fucking watching TV one night and heard the growl from an airplane passing my house I jumped up and ran from it out of fear. I heard what happened at Columbine and then went to school and then fucking did all this fucked up shit as a result, I mean, I still got those scars on my forearm from that basement glass window. So when you wonder why the fuck it is that it seems like I’ve had my head split open, pried open, and it’s like someone put a live wire from the guts of an old TV or something right into it, well, you don’t have to wonder for another second about why it seems like that.
Jake Shore’s short stories have been published by Litro, Halfway Down the Stairs, The Pitkin Review, Calico Tiger and others. In October 2017, he read at the College of Southern Maryland’s Connections Literary Series. In August of 2016, The Flea Theater in Manhattan presented his play entitled Holy Moly and its tandem novel, A Country for Fibbing. Broadwayworld states “it marks the first time a play with a correlating novel have been simultaneously released in the United States.” His play The Devil is on the Loose with an Axe in Marshalltown was listed in Playbill’s “13 Shows Not to Miss Off-Broadway August 1-16.”
Shore is currently an adjunct professor and the Director of the Academic Advisement Center at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, and earned his MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College, where he studied with Ryan Boudinot and John McManus.