Stalking Vol 2: The Bridge of Reason
"They interrogated a lot of them sometimes in front of us, and sometimes in front of the
alley where their bodies were found in the morning. Civilians crossed the street to avoid us even
approaching them. That made it hard to connect with the guerrillas."
"But not impossible?"
"No, but you couldn't be sure you weren't being set up to lose your accreditation. At least
your accreditation," I added as a legitimate tension builder. "Anyway, by the third round of
drinks Manny had explained the press corps daily routine to me: In the morning, every morning,
there were a couple anonymous souls lying on the curb near the hotel, and they remained
anonymous because no one wanted to align themselves with whatever reason they were killed.
Only the clergy dared to speak to us openly, Manny to ld me, before he accurately predicted their
demise because of it."
I explained that journalists also received friendly warnings, "For your own protection,
signor," about the hazards of attempting to cover some stories. Many of these warnings were
delivered anonymously over the phone, or by a passing stranger on the street. The brief
kidnapping of a crew then made the intended point that the protection we needed was not from
Leaning into my tale, I said, "Manny told me that a man the media ca lled the Little General,
but never to his face, often threatened the press with helpful advice like, 'Be careful where you
go and who you speak with. My troops are not so dee-cee-plined that they will see the rifle you
are carrying is really a microphone,' was a standard line for newcomers." I settled back. "Manny
said the Little General wasn't a man to be fucked with. I’ve already told you why."
"He killed journalists."
"That, and the family massacre."
"Remind me of that."
I knew this was a set-up: Bonnie hadn’t forgotten a single syllable of the story I had told her
within half an hour of us meeting for the first time.
Feeling as if I was goose-stepping through a minefield, I retold my tale…
Our crew had seen a death squad, dressed in regulation army fatigues, leaving the scene of a
family slaughter just as we rounded the corner of the same street. We waited in our car, because
death squads often circled the block to discourage witnesses from coming forward. Five nervous
minutes passed before we entered the house. Tony took slides of the carnage while Brian tried to
avoid staring by taking notes he would never need. Leblanc shot his pictures while I
meticulously recorded the sound of flies buzzing around the still-pooling blood.
From the gore, and listening with every fiber of my being for the sound of a troop truck, I
began shaking so much that my feet were literally bouncing off the plank floor. It didn't help that
I was sure LeBlanc would soon be saying something professionally caustic and personally
humiliating to me, because the vibrations had to be interfering with his work. But no one made a
sound other than to gag.
Finally, LeBlanc declared that he could do no more, and as a unit we moved toward the door
and fresh air. Tony and Brian passed ahead of us, while LeBlanc stopped to draw the curtains
closed. "Won't rot so fast," he said, staring at the leading edge of shade as it moved across the
stack of corpses. Then loudly, "We need some fuckin' witnesses," he said, as we exited the
Of course, we found no one willing to speak to us on camera or off, nor would our own
driver divulge how he knew the massacre was taking place, when he called us at 04:00hrs.