Keeping 9/11 Memory Alive, 'Bikeman' Author To Read From Epic Poem Saturday

By: Debra Lawless

Topics: Local authors

Thomas F. Flynn, author of “Bikeman: Commemorative Edition” which commemorates 9/11. COURTESY PHOTO

The author of an epic poem commemorating the horrific events of 9/11 in New York City will read from his work Saturday at the Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre.

“It’s been 20 years since Sept. 11, 2001,” writes Thomas F. Flynn of Harwich and New York, author of “Bikeman: Commemorative Edition” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2021). “So much has changed and some things remain the same.”

Sept. 11, 2001 is, of course, the day that terrorists launched coordinated attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. Here on Cape Cod, the day began with clear, nearly-cloudless blue skies.

That morning Flynn was at home in Greenwich Village when he heard a noise that he later identified as the second airplane crashing into the World Trade Center. Hopping onto his bicycle, he headed to the scene, planning to do some eyewitness reporting for CBS, his employer. When he arrived, he found he was visiting a hell of fire, smoke, screaming and death as people jumped from the flaming towers.

Flynn wandered in the chaos, finally seeking shelter with others in a parking garage as the tower collapsed around them, sealing the garage entrance with debris. Those inside couldn’t see through the dusty gloom; they could barely breathe. “Did Bikeman make it?” someone asked. Bikeman made it and was the first reporter to provide Dan Rather with an eyewitness account from the towers. Rather wrote the foreword to “Bikeman.”

In a recent interview Flynn says he has lingering health issues from that morning — acid reflux, rhino-sinusitis and loss of hearing in one ear.

In his new author’s note in the commemorative edition of his epic poem, Flynn calls the COVID-19 pandemic the most “consequential” change since 9/11. “It has killed some two hundred times more people in the United States than those who died in the attacks on the World Trade Towers. Plenty of sadness to be sure. But sadness of a different hue.”

Both on 9/11 and during the pandemic, breathlessness prevails. “That day, it was hard to breathe and not just because of the dust and ash that those of us down there inhaled,” he writes. “It was exactly like the expression, ‘It took my breath away.’”

Flynn is an award-winning television producer and writer, now retired from CBS after over 30 years. He says he believes it is necessary to remember 9/11 as a statement on the fragility of life and for the community the attack engendered.

“I try to make the case that after all we have been through, we must look out for one another, care for one another,” Flynn says. “A lesson that as a nation we do not seem to have learned yet.”

Flynn will read from “Bikeman: Commemorative Edition” on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 3 p.m. on the outdoor stage at the Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre, 105 Division St., West Harwich. No reservations are needed. The event commemorates the victims of 9/11. Yellow Umbrella Books of Chatham is coordinating Flynn’s signing event at the theater.

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The prolific crime writer Matt Fitzpatrick of Chatham is back with the third novel in his gritty Justin McGee trilogy, “Demon Tide” (Woodhall Press, 2021), and will be signing books on Sunday, Sept. 5.

The book opens on a 72-foot commercial fishing vessel, 250 miles east of Cape Ann. A storm is raging, not unlike the one described in “A Perfect Storm.” The problem here is that the crew is either seasick or shooting up heroin. Back in Guild Harbor, a local captain, who had “grown up hard in a hard town,” is smuggling drugs on his cod boat. While all the overdoses are making his partner nervous, powerful local people are keeping the drugs flowing.

Meanwhile, we meet up with Justin McGee on Lake Tashmoo, Martha’s Vineyard. Justin is a Boston attorney who has moonlighted at a profitable second job: assassin. Justin is now on the run and living on a 50-foot sport fishing yacht formerly called “Free Lance” and now called “American Wake.” Isn’t it bad luck to change a boat’s name? “‘Well, honey,’ explained the seafaring assassin, ‘it’s only bad luck if you decide to rename the boat ‘cause you’re tired of the name or disappointed with the boat.’”

With good luck or bad, it looks like Justin and his significant other, Marlene, are about to become players in the Cape Ann drug trade. Complicating matters is the fact that Marlene is pregnant. But Justin has already taught Marlene’s young daughter her way “around a sniper rifle,” so Marlene is confident Justin will make a great dad.

Fitzpatrick, 50, is a former investment management professional who has spent most of his adult life on the North Shore. He holds a Coast Guard captain’s license, so “I was pretty entrenched in the maritime community,” he says. “Plus, I cared for somebody very much, but lost her to heroin/fentanyl. That was the catalyst for the book.”

Bestselling author Casey Sherman called “Demon Tide” a “bite-your-nails-down-to-the-cuticles crime drama that’s gritty, witty, and chock full of surprises.”

Fitzpatrick’s two previous novels are “Cross Hairs” and “Matriarch Game.”

Fitzpatrick will sign copies of “Demon Tide” on Sunday, Sept. 5 from noon to 6 p.m. at Yellow Umbrella Books. For more information call the bookstore at 508-945-0144.