Nobody knew that the other side had a Predator until the President exploded.
At least, that's what it looked like on TV. To the 2.4 million people who were watching the President deliver a speech to the Future Educators of America on the South Lawn of the White House, it looked like one minute the President was droning on about the importance of education in shaping character, and the next minute he just flat-out exploded.
It was nothing but mass confusion for a while, what with the Secret Service alternately telling everybody to get down or to get the hell out of there, and 63 Future Educators, aged 16 to 22, wandering around looking terrified, or hysterical, or both.
I'm one of the few people who admit that they didn't actually see the President explode, live on TV. I was in the kitchen, nuking a Lean Cuisine, when I heard Helen scream. I nearly flew into the den, and I was so unnerved that it took me a couple of seconds to realize that my gun had somehow found its way out of my shoulder holster and into my hand. Helen, white as a pearl, was gesturing incoherently at the TV, which was difficult, because neither of her hands really seemed to want to leave her mouth as she kept saying omigod, omigod, omigod...
Like everybody else in what was later certified to be the largest television audience of all time, I began to frantically flip back and forth between CNN, MSNBC, and Fox in a desperate attempt to try to figure out what was going on. But it was the now-famous Gary Grimes, a novice technician working for WJLA, the local ABC affiliate, who first had the presence of mind to rewind his video and replay it in slow-mo to see if he could figure out exactly why the President had exploded. And so, as it turned out, Grimes was the first person in the world to notice that, in the one-thirtieth-of-a-second frame before the actual detonation, some kind of blurry, cigar-shaped object was flying through the air, bearing down on the Leader of the Free World.
Grimes, a recent graduate of DeVry Technical Institute, hadn't been in the television business for very long, but he'd been around long enough to know that the FBI was going to confiscate every recording device in the neighborhood, everything from professional equipment to home video cameras to convenience-store cell phones. And so before that happened (less than three minutes later), Grimes made a quick copy of the video and shot it off to YouTube, where, despite the Feds' best efforts to have it removed, it remains to this day.
But I didn't know all that until later. All I knew was that, no matter what it was that had just happened, it was time for me to go to work.
[ Selected Writings ]
©2010 Henry Charles Mishkoff