Speaking as Steve Barton and not Uncle Creepy here for a moment. I am going to get personal so if you don’t want to read this, please just move on to another story. I’m allowing myself this space as a means to finally work out all this stuff that’s been lingering in my head and maybe share something with others who are going through the same thing I have been for the last ten years.
On September 11th, 2001 thousands of people were lost. Tragedy had hit Stateside on a devastating level. One of those gone was David L. Tirado, one of my absolute best friends and the gentlest soul I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I was in the city that day and watched the whole thing go down. It was horrific. Worse than anything a filmmaker could possibly conjure. Because of all traffic in and out of Manhattan being suspended I ended up walking home to Brooklyn. Despite the agony of the day’s events I also saw humanity at its finest along the way. It didn’t matter what you were, what your color was, what God you prayed to. Everyone was the same. All anyone was doing was helping each other get home to their families. Store owners were offering water and food to wandering shell-shocked people. Complete strangers were helping each other walk. I’ll never forget it.
The entire way home I just kept thanking the powers that be that I didn’t know anyone who worked in those buildings. My walk took around four hours. There was no telephone service anywhere so I couldn’t even call my house to let anyone know that I was okay. When I finally turned the corner of my street my brother Rob was waiting outside for me. He ran up the block and gave me a hug the likes of which I’ll never forget. I was covered in dirt and my feet were bleeding from the boots I was wearing, but because of that hug I felt instantly better. Before I even got inside Rob sat me down and told me that there was a chance that Dave could have been in one of those buildings. The next few hours are pretty much a blur.
How could this be? Dave didn’t even work in the Trade Center. He was a computer tech who happened to have gone into work early for the first time in his life. Dave was late for everything. If we needed to be somewhere at 8:00pm, I had to tell him we were due there at 6:30. Him going to work early was unfathomable but sadly it was true. Dave responded to a work call on the 102nd floor of the first tower hit just fifteen minutes before the disaster. I saw the plane rage into that building as it happened. It’s like I have watched him die thousands of times since. He was just gone. They never found a single trace of him anywhere. It was almost as if he’d never even been here, but we who knew him were left with a horrible void. One that can never be filled.
It took almost a decade before I could speak about any of this, and this is the first time I’ve ever done so publicly anywhere. Dave was my Tonto, man. I love and miss him more than words could ever fully describe. With his passing I learned that life was really short and you just never know when your time would be up. It taught me that we’re here for such a scant amount of time and we have to live and love while we can.
I’m a street kid from Brooklyn, New York with a GED. The only thing I ever truly loved and kept my sanity was horror movies. I knew that somehow I needed to do something in that field. I had to do what I loved. If it hadn’t been for that kick-in-the-ass wake up call I don’t know if I’d even be here doing this. Along the way I met a lot of people who have helped me realize this dream — with Dave as an angel on my shoulder because I’m way too stupid to make this happen left on my own. Good friends like Jon Condit and KW Low who are now my partners in DC. My rock Debi Moore who keeps me going every day, and of course you guys. While I haven’t met all of you in person please know that I’m well aware that you are the ones who enable me and everyone here at Dread Central to do what we love. You’re our life’s blood and each one of you is extremely vital to us. You’re not our readers. You’re our peers. I cannot be more clear about that.
The announcement has just come that Osama Bin Laden has been killed. US troops engaged him on the ground and he saw in his final moments who was there to get the job done. The same people he’s been trying decades to destroy. This makes me happy. I’d never wish death upon anyone but in this one instance … and I say this with every ounce of feeling and emotion that I can gather … fuck him.
While his demise will certainly never bring back Dave or any of the others lost, at the very least we all have a little bit of closure. Bin Laden’s vile act served to do little else other than make us all a lot stronger. I’m sure that definitely wasn’t his intention but again … fuck him. I don’t know if any of you are even reading this, or have even read this far. If you have, bless you for your time and for listening.
But most of all … thank you for helping us, me specifically, keep our sanity intact.
“Justice Has Been Done” – President Barack Obama, May 1st, 2011.
Back to the news as you’ve come to expect it.
Much love and peace, and god bless.
– Steve Barton