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Stalking the Average Man


normal conditions, but with a head wind, furrowed ground, and four feet of corn stalks in my
way, I stopped very quickly. After parking the plane, I learned that an eighty mile an hour
ground sheer had blown through, evidenced by an expens ive Apache Twin lying on its back at
the fuel pumps. I was lucky. |
-There was more to your luck than landing upright and unscathed, | Saa-ra said.
Not particularly surprised that I had given up so many these details through my scotch-
affected haze, I said, -My instructor said that an experienced pilot would have gone to full
power, edged up the nose, and done a go-around. He also said that going twenty miles an hour
faster, and fifty feet higher, would have been fatal if the gust had gotten under a wing… like the
one that drove me into the ground and flipped the Apache. |
We entered the John Lawson green space, where Bonnie led the way to an isolated bench.
Using the table as a backrest, we sat side by side facing the community of K itsilano, across the
water. Quietly gazing at nothing in particular, Saa-ra asked me to speak about the other air
adventures that involved damage to the planes in which I was a passenger.
I recalled two more minor incidents, after which she said there was a fine distinction
between minor and catastrophic when dealing with commercial aircraft travelling at high speeds
on the ground. I agreed with her in principle, but rightfully argued that by force of my physical
presence that distinction was moot.
-Mankind requires a great deal of convincing, | Saa-ra said blandly. -Tell her of the times
when your behavior was unusual. |
-She thinks that's most of the time. |
-We are not referring to incidents you wish to forget, or have dismissed as understandable
under the circumstances. We are referring to the event- moments you have filed away hoping to
understand them some day. |
Her voice acted like a silky thread withdrawing memories from a rare sense of peace that
was settling over me like a warm blanket: I pondered the sensation without worrying about it.
-In your Middle East, | Saa-ra focused me.
And there it was: I told her that our crew was interviewing a militia leader when the battery
to my VCR died, and for the first and last time in my freelance career, I discovered I had mixed
my used batteries with the charged backups. I had to go back to our car, which we had parked on
the perimeter of an area that was cordoned off to protect buildings from car bombers, and in
plain sight of the guards who had searched us on the way in.
I had almost reached the car when a firefight broke out nearby, so I ran the last few steps to
the rear of the vehicle. Crouching, I was trying to determine if I was at the right end of the car
when a militiaman racing into the fray shouted at me, -Sahafe! | gesturing that I should scamper
to the cover of a nearby building. My first thought was that running garnered attention, while
exposing me to the enemy of the hour. My next was that not all friendly fighters knew who I
was, which led me to conclude that the c hances of being eulogized as the sahafe who had single-
handedly attacked Nabi Berri with a dead battery was excellent if I moved at all. Logically, I
decided to sit behind the right rear wheel and wait it out, occasionally waving at a soldier who
persistently waved me toward him when things got noisier.
-Your normal reasoning was intact. Continue, | Saa-ra said.
I told Bonnie that after the shooting stopped, I switched batteries and began walking down
the middle of the street toward the apartment complex. From about thirty yards away, the same
guard who had cleared me the first time unholstered his pistol, smiled, and leveled it at me.
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