The Day

                              The size of the square above is proportional.  It takes far less skin for a child to be impacted.   Source 


              Dwayne had just arrived at work when he heard about the disaster from one of his partners, who was asking about his family.  It was 7:32 am.  Turning around, he saw Jen drive into the parking lot and started running toward the car.  
              The moment Dwayne reached them, looking at the face of the woman he had fallen in love with the moment he first saw her,  he took her around to the passenger seat, strapped her in, checked the girls, and headed to the hospital.  Jen was nearly the first person treated for HFA at that hospital, 25 miles from the kill zone.  Closer hospitals and urgent care centers are already past capacity.  The physician, luckily, knew exactly what to do. Visibly distressed, he told her, as if he was reading from a manual, exactly what he would be doing. 
              Directing all of them into a treatment room, he picked up supplies he had placed on a table near the receiving room.  He had seen Jen’s eyes and been listening to the news. 
            "How long was the exposure - were all of you exposed?  The doctor glanced at Dwayne, who shook his head, "Just them.  I was already at work." The doctor nodded, demanding tersely, "How long was the elapsed time, in total?" Moving Jen onto a treatment table he examined her eyes.  "From 6:25 until now, I guess."  Jen choked out the words, her lungs laboring.    
              Finished examining her eyes, the doctor asked, "Did you breathe much of it?"  Jen, her eyes burning croaked, "Maybe two minutes, then we were out of it.  I made the girls put their faces in their pillows.  I hope it helped."  
              The waiting room is filling up, Jen can see the burns and their eyes.  One baby is screaming with pain.  Nodding, the doctor turned to the nurse, rattling out his instructions.  "2.5% Calcium gluconate is the emergency treatment for the skin. Eyes require flushing with 1,000cc at 1% Calcium Gluconate. Lungs require 1.5% vapor with oxygen (or edema will set in from the treatment) as well drowning from HF damage. Good thing your husband brought you in immediately.  Later today we will be out, and waiting for supplies."
               "You are lucky I know what to do.   I know because my brother helped write the report for the United Steel Workers.  74% of the hospitals in all of California are extremely unprepared for an HF catastrophic release. The nurse will finish for you.  Now, let me take care of the girls.  We are going to be busy."  
              Later, Jen learned she, Abby and Molly were three, of 0nly five people, to make it out of Kendal Commons. Jen suffered some damage to her eyes, but, because of the early treatment, so many could not find, her vision is now nearly normal.  Dwayne had arranged for her and the girls to also receive Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy for their other injuries by buying an HBOT unit.  It was now being used continuously by other survivors, installed at The Day Memorial.   
             One of the first things Jen did, when she could finally see, was pick up her cell phone, which had made it out in her purse without its charger.  Dwayne had replaced the charger for her and plugged it in at their hotel suite, two rooms, two bathrooms.  As the kids played on their new cell phones.   The old ones had been left behind.  Jen went to her email.  Pausing, she tapped the message from Jacqui, bracing herself.  It was just what she had expected, an invitation to attend the FLARE meeting.  Now, her feelings erupted in tears. Abruptly locking herself in the bathroom she turned on the bathtub and sobbed, overcome with guilt, regret, anger, and seemingly bottomless anguish. 
              “Mommy - Are you alright?” She heard Abby’s anxious voice over the crash of water into the tub. Pressing a cold washcloth onto her face, Jen said, “I’m coming out.  All of us are going to be just fine.”
As she spoke she apologized to Jacqui, asking forgiveness for minimizing her concerns.  With this came a rush of rage for the lies and evasions told by so many she had trusted, which had caused the disaster.  She was tired of being a victim.  That was over. 
             Repeatedly she has been told she is lucky. If that was so, it was time to use her experience to ensure no one else would suffer, as had all the people she loved.    
            Suffering from the trauma common to survivors, Jen sometimes wishes she had chosen differently, though holding Abby and Molly brings relief.  Everyone in her neighborhood, her extended family, is gone.  She had made a decision.  She had to live with that.  Now, it was time to make her life worth what those decisions had cost those she loved.  For the last month, she had been haunted simply because she was alive.                  Sitting there, on the side of the tub, she resolved she would no longer be haunted by a what-if, because now she would ensure no one else would be so haunted.  
           As Jen drove away from the house, leaving their neighbors behind, after less than one minute of the news report, Jen, saw the miasma of the cloud coming toward them, engulfing first her home, and then Jacqui’s.  Gunning the engine, she held her breath, yelled to the girls not to breathe. and to close their eyes tight!  Plowing through the first gases, Jen headed for the entrance to the freeway, watching the cloud, which seemed to be chasing her.  
           Slamming on the news in her car, Jen ignored people standing on the road, watching the cloud approach them, seeming bewildered and frozen.  Stifling a scream, she headed straight for the next turn, ignoring the stoplights.   
           As she turned onto the last street before the freeway Jen saw one car was crammed against a telephone poll, the driver writhing on the ground, gasping.  Driving past, trying not to look, she cut through a center meridian, filled with ice plant.   Her tires squished and slipped. She began to shake, afraid they would be stuck and unable to move.  Struggling to gain traction, she looked over her shoulder at the dense white wall catching up to her. The tires suddenly leaped off the curb. From there, the freeway entrance was straight ahead.                          Fishtailing around two other cars with dying drivers, Jen charged onto the freeway, veering into the right, nearly off the road.  Nearly hitting a truck, she slid into the space behind the semi.      
           It was mayhem.  Cars were backed up, drivers were out of their cars, arguing over collisions. One man kept punching his phone and looking for emergency vehicles, not seeing any.  Maneuvering the car through the morass, with agonizing slowness, Jen edged around a final collision, this one serious.  Before, she would have stopped, but now she could see that in front of her the freeway was nearly clear.  She pressed her foot firmly on the gas. 
           Jen did not stop until she saw on her car’s computer navigation screen she was out of the danger zone 20-miles later.  Eyes burning, she then took a longer, clogged arc route headed for Dwayne’s office. Telling the girls to keep their eyes shut and buried in their pillows, she began to sob, her chest heaving.  All three of them were still dressed only in their sleepwear, and barefoot. 


       In the aftermath, people seek explanations.  What they got was rhetoric. 

        The Mayor, Governor Brown, and President Trump were all present when the memorial to the dead and maimed was dedicated. Initially, it had stood at a neighborhood park at the far end of the kill zone.  Now, it was permanently set on land next to a Mormon Stake Center nearby.  
        Survivors had grown indifferent to all visitors who were only there as sightseers. They were tired of being told, again and again, the disaster is less monumental than it could have been.  
        Grasping the reality of dead bodies on American streets, the pathetic sight of dead pets, children, parents, holding on to each other into death in their homes, continued to sink in deeply, ever more deeply. Millions swallowed the fact those who had been charged to protect them continued to insist it was not as bad as it could have been. Instead of the three million, who could have died, the death toll meter had climbed at an estimated 1,457,439 after a month of clean up.  
         When the first responders finally reached the refinery, they found proof the explosion was set by terrorists, some of whom had blown themselves up a short time later in their escape boat. 
         Survivors discover, to their shock, the government had previously arranged to accept 3% of the reinsurance company’s profits for covering them as another reinsurer.  But this was before the public announcement of U. S. insolvency was made by the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, ex-ExxonMobil CEO.  
Tillerson had personally unloaded the 35-year liability of the Torrance refinery onto a depreciation-oriented PBF Energy corporation, which also owns 2 more HFA refineries in Philadelphia and Louisiana
          Every man, woman, and child in America felt the harsh reality.  The emergency personnel, drawn in, Willy-Nilly, from the entire Western United States, was left with the stink of death in their nostrils, and no answers from those who had been charged with their safety.
         At first, they had been stunned, then quiet.  Now they were indifferent, ignoring them. 
          The media accompanying the President, and those with the Governor realized this was news, news which would redefine those they covered.  Who ignores the Governor of California and the President of the United States?  
         But there had been no eager voters, waiting to shake hands, no cheers, only sullen glances and gestures aimed at Secretary Tillerson, who had accompanied the Presidential Party.  
         The Day had begun the changes.   Focusing on their own community and supporting each other, and the heart-rending, ongoing work, had shifted their view of the world. Busy with relief work and reassembling what was left of their lives and businesses, left no time for pointless talk.      
          It was the memorial that holds the hearts of the survivors.  Its hastily built walls, filled with photos of the dead and missing, flowers and stuffed animals had been moved, rebuilt, and planted with flowers, fruit trees, and vertical gardens, producing organic vegetables.  People need to eat when they are working.  The same kinds of gardens were being planted elsewhere, in honor of the victims and survivors.
         Here, they held the memorial services for those they had lost.  Here, they prepared meals for the continuing flow of volunteers from other towns, states, and countries, who had come to remember their dead.  
          After making their remarks, the politicians departed, relieved to be finished with an unpleasant confrontation with reality. 
           One reporter took in all of it.  Without authorization from his editor, he began digging into Tillerson's history with Exxon.  What he found both shocked and elated him.  A graduate of BYU, Simon Young was the great-great-grandson of Brigham, one of the early leaders of the Mormon removal to Utah. Many of his fellow journalists noted his decided resemblance to his ancestor.  Simon would comment he was more like his mother's family, but they rarely took this seriously.  He was stocky, like Brigham.  But Brigham was only around 5’10”.  On his mother’s side of the family, the men were all way over six feet.  And to be a lineman on the BYU Cougars, you had to be big.
      Simon's mother, a leading figure in The Relief Society in Provo, was a graduate of BYU herself - and a full-blooded Samoan now on Mission in Africa for the Mormon Church.  His Dad had taken time off from his work as a teacher of television production at BYU to accompany her.
        The dishonesty and cynicism of the publishing industry had come as a shock to Simon. Even though he no longer considered himself to be an active Mormon, he was still the same person who had done his mission helping Ecuadoreans plant organic gardens.  He might have lost his belief in being a Saint, but his values and honesty were intact.  
         Simon had been the first to accompany a Responder Team into the silent neighborhoods. His articles had resulted in compliments and a raise.  And best, he had been temporarily assigned to follow the continuing events with survivors and the Kill Zone.
         Now, he considered this more deeply, reflecting that no local groups had even asked for help from the authorities.  State National Guard units had come through their own request, as had former military, now growing in number. 
          As his research continued, he found the deals cut, the payoffs made, to evade accountability, were there.  And it was not just with the refineries.  Spills were handled in exactly the same way in each instance.   Victims from former spills, explosions, and fires caused by Exxon, and other oil corporations reported the same lies, the same brutal evasions, and the same double-cross, persuading them to not go to a physician early and ensuring they used their own health insurance.   
Over the last weeks Simon had found and interviewed thirty of them, also learning many had died after being exposed to oil's toxic effects.   Those grieving, looking for comfort, reason, and a cessation of pain, found it at The Day Memorial in a sense of community and commitment. 
            Interviewing residents and volunteers, Simon had seen these as beginnings of a different America.      
            Memorial services were being held for most at The Day Memorial, using the multipurpose room.  
            It had been the interview, and resulting story on Jen and her family, which had brought the reassignment. And it was Dwayne, Jen’s husband, who persuaded her to talk to him. 
            Simon and Dwayne met at the Stake, two similar objects in motion for the same purpose, but entirely unaware of this fact.
            Dwayne was there to argue with Winston Ayres, President of Greater Trust Insurance, one of the insurance companies he represented, over their refusal to pay benefits to clients whose medical needs had no end in sight.  Simon had run across this double cross in the making and was there to interview Ayres, himself. Stiffing people, who would as a result die, sounded like news to him. 
           The need for relief for those who were maimed, but did not die, is estimated to have cost, in one month, $379-Billion.  Eventually, the overflow of victims, first from local hospitals, then military hospitals, then hospitals in California and finally to hospitals as far away as New York, took a further toll on surviving family members.  Airline and charter companies donated their services, but costs to survivors continued to rise.                      Forced to choose, some of the maimed survivors chose to stay and die rather than be separated from their families.  
           Both men, focused on Winston, met just as their target escaped into the Men’s Room at the Stake multi-purpose room.  Their first reaction was to stare at each other for a long moment and then shake hands.  “I’m pretty sure I remember you from under the bleachers.  Am I right?” asked Dwayne.  “And I remember you as the one holding the other end of my dinosaur legbone.  You are right!  And, as I remember your name is Dwayne Saga. Brother, what do you want to do to Winston?”
          “I want him to stop lying to our clients.  He has been ordering agents to tell clients they are not insured against terrorism.  I checked with our reinsurers.  Checks will be cut, starting in five weeks. Of course, they will go after the guilty parties.”  Dwayne’s smile stretched further across his face.   Simon laughed.  “That should be worth about 400 Billion dollars a month in claims.  Now, is this the usual set-up with the baptismal font accessible through both bathrooms?”  Dwayne nodded, yes. 
            At that moment, the two heard a door open and saw Winston sneaking out of the women’s room. Moving fast, just as they had as Cougar Linemen, Dwayne and Simon stopped that nonsense.  Winston scampered back into the women’s room.  Gesturing to Simon to cover the men’s room, Wayne followed Winston, catching sight of him just as he disappeared into the door to the baptismal font.  Smiling, Dwayne followed him.
            As Simon entered the baptismal font through the door in the men’s room.  He saw Winston take a swipe at Dwayne, trip, and end up flat on his back, spread-eagled in the font, out cold.
             It was Simon who turned on the water, absolving Winston of his sins. 
As Winston comes to, sputtering and gasping, Simon says, “We just want you to come clean.”
             The two men look at each other and burst out laughing, as  Winston struggled to his feet.  As Winston looked at the two men, close up, he blanched. 
Before him stand two men, who might be twins, each standing nearly seven feet tall, dark-complexioned, and as strong as bulls, both firmly resolved to have the answers they came looking for. 
              The issue is insurance, paying claims, and ignoring the attempts of higher-ups to welsh on what they owe.  It took a little time, but together Dwayne and Simon got the truth.  Winston had been told by a series of oil executives he was dead if he demanded his top 29 reinsurance company clients that receive 41.5 Billion a month, which takes all their seed money for 8 months to cover, want to be paid now, the nearly 400 billion a month, because the reinsurance company, Swiss Prudence, will force the oil company to pay the cost. They have, after all, other disasters to cover. 
             After securing Winston in the second bathroom of Dwayne’s hotel room, Jen meets the old fossil buddy from BYU she has heard mentioned over the years.  Reacting to the kindness in Simon’s eyes, Jen smiles for the first time since The Day.  She and Dwayne have found just the ally they so need.   They are no longer alone to do the work before them. 


           It had taken the U.S. government ten years to cough up 20% of the 100 billion dollars, politicians promised to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Government delivered only $10B to New Orleans residents, and $10B to the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild their own failed dikes. The reinsurance companies had delivered $36-billion in checks on the ground to people in six weeks. They would not let it happen again, if they can help it. 
          Yet the magnitude of the HFA refinery tank being exploded, would exhaust global reinsurers’ normal ability to cover several hurricanes and tsunami disasters per year.  No one would be able to provide what is desperately needed to save lives and rebuild.
          Together, the three of them, Jen, Dwayne and Simon, take on, simultaneously, Deep Government, who won't protect us, and Big Oil, who in their quest for money, negligently, did not mind killing you.  In this, Jen, Dwayne and Simon find strong allies who believe in responsibility, understand freedom, want health and long lives for all of us.  Being free means each of us stands up for responsibility.   In the movie, “19 Minutes,” you find out how the threat can be removed within months in America, so we can move on to helping the rest of the world rid itself of HFA using refineries.   Imagine, America leading the world in a global movement for peace, justice and going sustainable.     
        You can join in by signing up to work in the production, invest, send this on to your friends, and, of course, donate.  



The above text is a partial synopsis from the movie script, “19 Minutes - The Day,” copyrighted by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster, and now pending registration with the Writers Guild of America.  Direct any inquiries to Pillsbury-Foster’s agent, Brock d’Avignon at [email protected]