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From The Best of Plans

As good-looking, nimble, bike and ring carrying, Matt leaves his apartment, the sound of the massive explosion ripples through the air. When the vibrations undulate under foot, he looks down at the ground, wonders, and mounts his bike. While peddling across the Manhattan Bridge, he hears the news through his earphones. Then the hand snatcher listens to his dispatcher's call on his radio phone.

"No pickups, no deliveries, no nothin' today. Everything's cancelled. Terrorists blew up the Empire State Building. The cops shut down the city. Call it a day, go home and wait until you are called."

A dozen or so NYC police cars with lights flashing and sirens blaring pass Matt as he comes off the bridge into lower Manhattan. Could be they are on their way to the Brooklyn side to block traffic from coming in. Mr. L looks skyward toward midtown and sees the huge plumb of smoke, and keeps an eye on it as he pedals into Chinatown to meet some messenger pals.

The small group of stalled delivery guys has a leisurely brunch. Chatter is about how they are going to be out of work for days, maybe longer. Someone suggests there could be temporary jobs to help clean up the mess. They hang around the café watching TV hoping to hear about some work.

Matty, as his mom used to affectionately call him, keeps his thoughts to himself when he leaves the group and bikes uptown. The crafty fellow figures there is a different kind of opportunity ... one more compelling and immediate. When he reaches the West Village, he is blocked by soldiers standing in the middle of the intersection. All Matt can do is hang back, and fall in with the lingering thousands focused on the approaching army helicopter overhead.

The twin rotor Chinook lands and is rapidly surrounded by military personnel and their vehicles. The rear cargo bay lowers and soldiers and equipment offload. My doctor friend is among those marching off.

A sergeant with a bullhorn stands on the back of a troop truck, points uptown, and blares out orders. "Tactical squads assemble two blocks north." He waves his hand to the right. "Engineering squads assemble two blocks east. Doctors and medical personnel board the truck behind me. Unit commanders assemble two blocks south." The sergeant points in Matt L's direction. "All other personnel report to the staging area three blocks east."

The spectacle goes on for over an hour, and once unloaded, the Chinook lifts off and flies south. The bullhorn wielding sergeant faces the crowd, and blares on. "Civilians here to volunteer, stay put for instructions. If you are not here to volunteer, leave the area, and go home now."