7:30 A.M., September 11, 2001

The world is not yet awake. At J&J Harmony Cleaners on University a young man cradles a green short-sleeve corduroy shirt. White fluff puffs from the placket.

“Can you fuse it, maybe glue it? Don’t stitch it, it’ll show.”

The man behind the counter smooths the shirt with his hand. “I’ll try.”

“If you can’t, I’ll take it to the man who makes my suits.” At the door, he pauses. He turns around for one last look, as if the shirt were his only child being gurneyed through the emergency room doors. “Be careful. It’s irreplaceable.”

He heads downtown.

Jeffrey Hantover is a writer living in New York. His novel, The Jewel Trader of Pegu, was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” and a Borders “Original Voices” selection and an Independent Book Sellers BookSense pick. Twitter: @DrJWords.