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Stalking the Average Man


inadvertent insolence prompted the colonel to take out his pistol, aim it at Sami‘s chest, and tell
him to make a run for it after the next bang.
All I could come up with to explain this bazaar moment was that Peter‘s shout had given the
doctor the idea that the Phalange would get poorer press because we had been inconvenienced, or
none if we were killed; tension had taken over.
-Tending to the wounded, | Bonnie said, -may have lifted the fog enough for him to realize
that you guys had played him, and caused a casualty. What happened next?"
-I shouted that we were coming out, | I said belatedly, because her speculation resolved
years of bafflement over that moment, -a blast interrupted his objection, then Sami and I limped
across the open ground. Peter was standing at the door of his bunker, poised to conduct a
symphony of invectives until he saw the gun in the colonel‘s hand. |
I next told Bonnie that the Druze clearly had more experience targeting ahead of dust trails
rising above the ridgeline than our driver had experience dealing with the explosions. Not that
anything came closer than a hit seventy or eighty yards ahead of us, but our driver over-steered
long before we came to the debris cloud, and we began slid ing sideways down the narrow
mountain road. Sami shouted for him to ease off the steering, while our front seat guard
maniacally gestured for him to take his feet off the pedals. These actions took care of everything
I might have done, and without thinking I sat ramrod straight to watch the landscape pass by a
couple thousand feet below my right shoulder.
The scene was a classic action movie tease : The jeep fishtailed onto the precipice; inches
away, the tires dug in and swung the jeep hard toward the vertical rock face on the other side of
the road. O ur driver wrenched the wheel away, taking us back to a wobbling perch on the edge—
tires spun furiously on lose gravel.
Finding grip for a second time, we catapulted across the road through a rare opening in the
uphill side, crashing sideways into a four-foot high pile of sand that some befuddled fool had
brought up the mountain to begin rebuilding his home.
-Did you come to terms with your impending death? | Bonnie said, cocking her head to
imply that the Universe was in the construction business.
-A sudden calm didn't descend into a profound moment of introspection, if that's what you
mean. | I snickered. -I did have a moment to think about how ridiculous it was to be killed rolling
down a mountain, considering everything else that could have happened on just that one day. |
Bonnie raised a brow to underscore how many other things could have happened in the five
years I had worked the bang-bang. I acknowledged this with a nod, as I told her that momentum
catapulted me through the half-door simultaneous to our guard riding the front seat into the
windscreen, out of my way. Sami smacked into the driver‘s seat, careened up and through the
canvas roof, to land upside down across the top of the windscreen facing our bloody,
unconscious driver. In a short while, soldiers came from a nearby house to carry us to a shelter,
where the colonel called on a walkie-talkie to find out where we were. He subsequently sent an
A.P.C. to pick us up; sporadic shelling followed us to the bottom of the mountain. That was it.
-How did you get back to the hotel? |
-We were taken south to an Israeli medivac station. As luck would have it, we joined about
sixty armored vehicles heading into East Beirut. I went home the next day. |
-So you crossed the contested area you had to bypass by sea on the way in? |
-Sixty armored vehicles? | I said, eliminating her point of danger.
-You said the airport was closed. |
-It was. |
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