In the long afternoon light, the yellow glow extending down the West-East thoroughfares from river to river, casting businessmen and bums and wives and bike messengers all, for a moment, in halo-like glow, so that the most repugnant and repulsive among us looked, for an instant, blessed and beatific, it was too easy to imagine that we had found our noble plot. The end of history—hadn’t Rankin heard that? If only it were true, if only it had come to an end and Rankin could be sure of stasis so that each and every move could be made secure with the knowledge that the odds wouldn’t suddenly change mid-play. Sure, there had been 9/11, just a few blocks away but already ancient history, a subject his son came home from school asking about—when bad guys flew planes into the twin towers. We could see them from the roof, Rankin would explain. And somehow, the boy found that answer satisfactory.
He wasn’t the type to marvel at how they had all put that behind them, the whole neighborhood, displaced for a few months, sent to hotels and relatives uptown while they waited for the all-clear. Rankin had seen the event for what it was: a buying opportunity. It was actually his emotional response to seeing the buildings aflame from his roof, to watching those falling bodies—they hadn’t seemed human to Rankin, or he had managed to convince himself, while he was standing there, that they weren’t human. Later he would realize what he had seen. But his first impulse, and it was as deeply felt as any feeling he would ever have, was, remarkably: buy. Buy property. Buy Tribeca.
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