new phone emitted its distinctive series of chirps and squeals as we
drove through a low mist yesterday, nearing Harvard Square to meet
our younger son, who is once again apartment hunting. The new phone,
which actually has a miniature keyboard with one key for each letter,
has yet to reveal its deeper secrets, but at least we know how to answer
an incoming call.
"Dad, where are you?!" It was our son. He seemed awful excited for the
situation. We had plenty of time to get to the appointment.
"We’re about three blocks from the square. Where are you?"
He ignored our question and we assumed we was where he said he would
be; in the heart of the Square, in front of the Citizen’s Bank by the
Information Kiosk next to The Pit, where local Goths, Skinheads and
chronic truants hold sway.
he practically shouted into the phone, "I think a bomb just exploded
in Harvard. I think a building is on fire! I can see flames shooting
"Don’t move! I’ll be right there," we were so excited we forgot to use
the third person.
Quickly we found a parking place, in front of the Post Office on Mt.
Auburn St., and got out of the White Whale. We could see a smear of dirty
black smoke staining the sky like charcoal on a soft, pencil-drawn sky.
By the time we got there police and fire had arrived. Traffic was shut
down through the square. The fire was not a building – it was a white
limousine, which had apparently exploded just as it was entering Johnson
the main entrance to Harvard Yard off of Massachusetts Avenue, a mere 50
feet from the office of Harvard President Lawrence Summers.
Smoke and the smell of burning plastic was everywhere. It was still
only 3 or 4 minutes after the explosion, and the firemen already had
the flames out, but the acrid, plastic-smelling smoke was reducing visibility
to a few meters. We looked around for casualties, people coughing, or
burnt, and didn’t see anything. But we couldn’t see what was going on
inside the Yard, where most of the police seemed to be gathered.
COULD see, clearly, was that the center of the zone of destruction was
clearly the back seat of the limo, the passenger area, which was
completely burnt out and gutted. The front of the vehicle was damaged
where the driver had plowed into the gate, but the engine was not burnt,
nor was the rear, where we assume the fuel tank is located.
No, it looked as though some kind of explosion had occurred in the back
seat. It was hard to believe that anyone who had been inside at
the time was still alive. Yet we saw no bodies or even injuries.
After about 15 minutes of watching much coming and going, uniforms,
and trench coats, ambulances and police cars, our son started to get
anxious about missing his appointment.All of the cops we asked either
said, "We don’t know anything more than you do" or "Just an accident,
We left, figuring that we would hear something on the news station
on the radio, or on line when we got back to our computer. It definitely
looked like a hit, or a suitcase bomb, had gone off in that limo. Who
was the target? Somebody on their way in to see Pres. Summers? A big
shot parent of a Freshman yard resident? Had they survived? Who would
Imagine our surprise, and subsequent conspiratorial suspicions, when
not a word, not a story, not a mention of the incident reached any of
the local or internet news streams we monitor. We include a couple of
the pictures we took just to establish we aren’t halucinating again. Just
an accident, probably. Sure.