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Stalking the Average Man


If she somehow changed the conversation, and I didn‘t get what I was after, I had to remind
myself that the shoe was still on the other foot: I had an application almost ready.
I spooled up my courage by running a reddish light at closed-casket speeds, steeling myself
for a battle of wills I couldn‘t lose. Still…
We had been walking the West Vancouver sea wall for half an hour when a jogger passed
between us, from behind, and Bonnie said the runner was in financial trouble.
I saw my open door.
Two steps later, I said, -I don't doubt that things come to you, but I think our audience will
have a problem with your character‘s unverifiable knowings if you don‘t distinguish them from
their imagination—their shopping habits aside, | I joked.
-By which you mean you‘re having a problem with the concept, even though you‘re
experiencing insights nearly every day? |
-I‘m not dismissing the psychic experience; hell, I‘ve taken real risks to avoid the potential
of something that felt wrong, but there are only so many of those you can rely on before it
becomes a cheap device. I mean, I know now that if you had insights every day you might begin
to anticipate them, then your anticipation would insinuate itself on normal circumstances; you‘d
need a way to distinguish between a knowing and speculation. There‘d have to be some kind of
mechanism of control, and the audience will want to know what it is. Even then…. |
-Tell me about a risk you took. |
I hesitated, realized the story lent credibility to my objection, then I said, -There's a lot of
background, again. |
-We've got all day, | she said, spreading her arms as if releasing time.
More like ten minutes, I thought.
-Most factions, | I said, a few paces later, -could capture any village south of Beirut as a
Monday morning exercise in prestige, but they couldn't hold them without controlling the
outlying areas; this required resources no faction could spare. They would spend Tuesday and
Wednesday sniping at anyone within half a mile, then abandon the place Thursday. On Friday,
another faction =attacked‘ the empty village, claimed a decisive victory, and stayed long enough
for us to get footage of their presence. With me so far? |
-Different groups insinuated power and political control through tactically meaningless
territorial victories, | Bonnie summed up the situation.
-Exactly. We called most of the roads in these areas Sniper Alley, but there was one that
everybody called The Alley. | I drew a map in the air. -Damour was on the coast highway a few
klicks south of Beirut, at a pincher point between the Chouf Mountains and the Mediterranean
Sea. Was, because the Israeli Defense Forces leveled it, but wannabe militias went there to shoot
civilians going to and from work in the city. In early eighty-four, there was a half mile stretch of
roadside strewn with bullet-riddled cars that our drivers called Death Row. |
-Why shoot civilians? Why was the rubble important? |
-The town overlooked the airport. Controlling access to a country is a big deal. Temporary,
but big. |
-Go on, | Bonnie said, with a spring in her step.
-We were assigned a scouting route that a BBC cameraman called, =an absorbing excursion
into hell‘, because he had been pinned down by a sniper, inadvertently saved by Phalangists, then
on the way back a P.P.L.F. gang told them to take another road, and they hit a mine. Anyway,
there was a refugee story at the Awali River Bridge—that‘s about an hour south toward Sidon—
the day after a skirmish for Damour's sniping rights. I was primed to turn back if I didn‘t like the
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