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Stalking the Average Man


-You must've been close, | she whispered.
-What? |
-I said you must've been close when the bomb went off. |
"Not really, | I said, recovering. -It was the eight- fifteen taking out ambulance attendants. | I
cracked a sly grin. -Sean and I were still on our way to the eight o‘clock bombing. |
Bonnie shook her said silently.
-Anyway, ceasefires made the risks in the east the same as the west, until a breakaway
faction tried to extort protection money by sniping at the Alexander lobby. When one of them
was caught and sent back to his people, | I paused, -on consecutive days, his brethren set off a
car in the parking lot. The next day, everybody was shooting at everybody south of Beirut, and
we had to stop travelling for more than a block or two. A couple of days after that, one of our
spooks said a Moslem town had been taken b y an alliance between the Christian Phalange and
the Lebanese army, then the Phalange had turned on their cohorts and taken their weapons,
including a state of the art American tank. This is when Peter asked for volunteers. |
-Because of the tank, the double cross, or something else? |
-All of the above. | I took a moment to line up my ducks.
Essentially, I explained that America backed the Israelis, who officially backed the
Lebanese Army, who had just been screwed over by the Christian Phalange, who were regular
army units that had split away for political reasons. Unofficially, but not a secret, the Israelis also
trained the Phalange, because the accredited army was not officially at odds with them. They just
operated separately. It followed that America ns were de facto allies of both factions, neither of
which should have a top-of-the- line American made Israeli tank. Questions would be asked,
conditions of sale and end user declarations investigated, and Israeli /American relations would
take another hit.
"What kind of footage could you get? The deed was done, | Bonnie said.
-Pictures of the Phalange firing the tank could become historical stuff—a metaphor for
more than the end of their alliance. We would also get voice clips to find out what the hell they
were thinking. | I stretched my legs. -Until that day, the Phalange were borderline large enough
to be represented in whatever government emerged from the war, which is probably why they
were inspired to convert a secondary military role into a bigger political act. |
-Did it? |
-Not like they planned. I‘ll get to that, | I said, pleased that I could say this for once.
I told Bonnie there was no way to drive through contested territory, so we had to slip across
the Green Line to the harbor where we boarded two-hundred feet of rust kept afloat by the faith
of fifty weekend warriors—students on their way to battle.
-Slipped across a deadly zone? |
-Our driver paid for our way. |
She took a considered breath.
-We stayed apart from them while waiting for the sun to go down—the inner harbor was a
sniper's paradise by day—because students tended to turn every little thing into a crisis, and we
were more likely to be hit by their retaliation than by a sniper. Conversely, the students politely
shunned us because our job was to chronicle their deaths.
Steaming south at ten knots, | I told Bonnie, as she whispered =snipers‘ under her breath, I
became mesmerized by the blazing towns that stretched for miles. Time passed quickly for me
until the captain throttled back outside of a thick fog bank, around one a.m. With engines at idle,
a lazy beam sea soon caused a boy to puke, which set off a stampede to the aft leeward rail. Half
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