Minnesota Undercover – Part Two
Tim D. McConnaughy Jr.
The gruff sounding cab driver was the first to respond.
“Uh, no… They’re saying the whole area is down. Both cities too…and probably others in the state.”
The gentleman seated in front of me seemed to agree.
“This had to be a major attack if both Minneapolis and St. Paul are out.” he added.
Our cab got into a long line of cars already entering the interstate. It was as if we were part of a funeral procession and the whole state had been invited. Once on the interstate we crept along for about a mile for what seemed like an hour and then I saw it as I looked out my right-side window. Off in the nearby distance, smoke and flames were shooting up from a large building ahead. I turned my head back to glance out the cab’s rear window. I caught a glimpse of the airport we just left. There were flames with black and gray smoke billowing from what appeared to be the airport’s main terminal. I saw police and news choppers darting around the moonless night sky. I quickly turned my head forward again toward the building we were approaching. This time I caught what looked like red and orange flames coming from the front.
Holy mackerel, I thought, is that the Mall of America?
Just then I heard the man sitting in front me, “Can you believe that? Looks like they got another landmark.”
At that moment emergency vehicles began to race around our taxicab with sirens wailing like we were under multiple tornado warnings in the middle of summer. It was rapidly becoming apparent that what was happening at the airport was truly bigger than any of us could imagine.
As we approached the large mall, I heard the girl next to me let out a gasp under her breath and then she started quietly weeping. At that moment I noticed the cab driver had merged our car into the fast lane—except the lane wasn’t moving very fast. We ever so slowly moved forward creeping closer and closer to the Mall of America on the way to the hotel. Then as we began to creep passed, I was able to get a better look in the dark night. I noticed the flames and smoke were pouring from an area just to the right of the mall’s main entrance. It looked like the entire parking structure to the right of the entrance was burning. Suddenly the line of cars in the right lane stopped moving completely. The cab slowed even more, then I saw nothing but red tail lights ahead—like a cluster of red morning-glory fireworks on the 4th of July. Apparently we were stopping too.
My thoughts drifted from the tragic events we were currently witnessing to fond memories I had while visiting Mall of America. I reflected back to the many times I was able to walk the multiple levels of the mall and watch as adults and kids alike rode the various amusement park rides housed within the mall. Clearly this fire was no accident—and neither was the building itself. From the parking structure’s multiple levels of stacked concrete to the entire layout of the mall’s indoor amusement park. It had always amazed me how the human mind and body was able to construct such beauty. The mall’s design alone had me pondering how people could even consider the possibility of a building built by random explosion. I understood people would consider it ridiculous of me to even suggest such a possibility—and as they should. And yet when it comes to the creation of the earth or the intricate design of a human life, many people choose to believe in that kind of randomness. People believe our body even with its deeply complex interdependent working systems and many parts, (all quite a bit more complex than a mall building or even a spacecraft), also has been created from nothing but a random explosion.
Suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by a fire truck as it whizzed passed us on the left shoulder reserved for emergencies only. Then another truck rushed by and then another and another—all with sirens blaring. An ambulance raced by and then a couple of police cars. I looked across the median to see the traffic from the opposite direction at a complete stand-still. Then another moment of reality hit me. I may not be going home anytime soon. Our taxi continued to slowly inch along the interstate as we passed the burning parking structure of Mall of America. A couple of helicopters were circling above. It was sobering and sad for me to see a favorite landmark like that with fire and smoke seemingly engulfing the mall itself. I could see emergency vehicles with blue and red lights flashing as they filled the parking lot around the mall entrance. It was a sight I wouldn’t soon forget.
Although we were headed in the direction of the Ritz hotel and hadn’t even heard of it, I had no idea where the hotel actually was. I expected the driver and the gentleman seated in front of me to start discussing the events we were now witnessing, but instead I think we were shocked to say much of anything.
I decided to break the silence and ask a question. “Do we know if there’s more in the country?” I asked, referring to attacks.
The cab driver quickly responded, “Good question but I wouldn’t be surprised.” He said sounding cynical. He reached for a button on the dash and began turning the radio dial mounted there. I could only hear static as he searched for a station. “Hmm, lots of static.” he said. “The stations don’t seem to be broadcasting.”
He turned the dial some more and caught the faint voice of someone on one of the stations. He stopped turning the radio tuner.
An announcer could be heard speaking. “……and it appears the airports are also under attack. We are now just learning other airports are on fire. We are getting reports of explosions and fire at the San Francisco airport and LAX. We have also learned that First Responders are on scene at JFK, La Guardia and Dulles Airport. In addition, eyewitness accounts have described hearing multiple explosions at the terminals there.”
The radio announcer continued, “Folks, this apparently has been an orchestrated attack not seen since nine-eleven and we are still learning exactly how many airports and which ones have been involved in the latest attacks. We will not know for sure who is responsible or to what extent the damage and casualties until we get further details. We have just learned that the White House has gone into full lock-down mode but we are expecting a statement from the president. We will bring you live coverage of the President’s statement at that time. Until then keep it here for all the latest breaking news…..”
Our cab driver seemed frustrated with the unfolding events. He reached for the radio tuner knob as if he was about to turn it off but instead he began searching for another station. “You have got to be kidding me, we all know who is responsible!” he said with an air of irritation in his voice. “Why can’t they just say it?”
“Is it probable the authorities know something we don’t?” The man seated in front of me suggested.
It wasn’t long before the three of us began talking and discussing the events as they unfolded before our eyes.
Suddenly it dawned on me I hadn’t told anyone in the cab my name.
“I’m David by the way, David McGregor.” I unexpectedly blurted out.
“Great to meet you David,” the man sitting in front of me said. “I’m Jacob Spielman but most people call me Jacob for short.”
I figured he was trying to be funny despite all the sobering news occurring around us. He turned around in his seat to shake my hand and I noticed he was wearing a dark suit coat with matching slacks.
Jacob continued. “Like in the Bible, Jacob from the Bible.”
“Oh yeah,” I said understanding what he meant. I wondered if he was Christian.
“Are you a Christian?” I blurted out.
The tone of his voice seemed to deepen as if he was a professional narrator or something. “I know God…but I’m more Jewish I would say.”
“Oh I see.” I said knowingly as if I understood what he meant even though I wasn’t sure I really did. My thoughts took me away momentarily. What did he mean by being more Jewish? More Jewish than what? I was about to ask him when I remembered we hadn’t even finished introducing ourselves!
I still didn’t know the name of the cab driver or the girl sitting next to me. Then as if reading my thought’s, I heard the cab driver speak up.
“I’m Russell Kinnmark your friendly neighborhood chauffeur.” he said. “Been doin’ this job for 15 years and it never gets old. Never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll hear……You boys been to the cities before?”
Jacob answered first as if he was still narrating a novel. “I’m from Los Angeles…heading back to town…just finished working on a project here in Minneapolis for an old friend who happens to be a local conference director. It was good to get back here. I haven’t seen him in years.” Jacob paused just long enough so Russell could continue.
“And what about you David? What brings you to the cities?” I told him I was from Northern California and it was about seven years ago since I had last been to Minnesota. At that time I had been here for college but this time I was blessed to return as a conference speaker for a Bible-based conference in Bloomington.
Jacob spoke up. “Oh yeah? What conference was that?”
I told him it was called Renewing the Mind: A Practical Reminder. “And as the name suggests, I presented the Christians in attendance a practical guided reminder for how God calls Christians to renew our minds and hold each thought captive.” I said. “Much of the conference was based on Bible selections found in the Bible books of Romans chapter 12 and second Corinthians chapter 2 verses 4 and 5.”
“I know someone back home who was planning to attend that conference.” Jacob added. I noticed the girl seated next to me was still staring out the window quietly sobbing. Although I had no idea what we would do, I decided one of us should try to find out if we could help her somehow.
“Are you okay?” I asked with guarded hesitation. She shrugged her shoulders slightly. “Is there anything we can do to help?” I asked again.
This time she responded faintly between gentle sobs. “I dunno.”
“Where are you going to?” I pressed further. “I’m not sure.” she said quietly. Then suddenly as if she could no longer control her emotions her gentle sobs turned to full-blown tears.
“Is there something we can help you with miss?” asked Russell. “You do still want to go to the Minnesotan motel don’t you?” Through her tears she nodded slightly.
I really was a stranger, I hadn’t heard of the Ritz or the Minnesotan motel. The motel sounded nice enough even if it was just a motel and not a five-star hotel. At that moment, a brilliant idea popped into my mind. At least I thought so.
“Would you be willing to come to the Ritz with Jacob and I? Maybe we can try to help figure things out there?” I suggested. I caught what appeared to be another slight nod. Even though the girl was still visibly distressed I noticed she was beginning to appear more relaxed.
To Be Continued…..Find out what happens next in Minnesota Undercover – Part Three
Minnesota Undercover is a work of fiction. With the exception of well-known historical figures and events, all names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents contained in this story are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.