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Stalking the Average Man

-You‘re saying I‘m afraid, again? |
-I‘m saying you‘re surfacing knowledge and experiences you‘ve stored away. | Bonnie
suddenly shifted topics to speak about her late teens and early twenties. It was surprisingly
personal stuff.
Chapter 12
Essential Acts
In her kitchen the next morning, I made tea while Bonnie read the chapter I had brought at
her request, but tuned for this occasion; there were no signs, metaphors, or even vague references
to cages as far as I was concerned. The scene was about a camera cre w changing a flat tire on a
deserted street that locals had recently renamed for a fallen son.
When she finished reading it, she said, -Your clinical setting and terse dialogue capture the
potential of the crew‘s lethal circumstance well. | She looked down at a page, then back at me to
quote, - =Beads of anticipation trickled into thin eyes; the cotton curtain across the street swayed
in the still air.‘ It needs a tweak, but it‘s good. |
-Thanks. |
-Just one thing, | Bonnie said, holding up a finger. -This situation came about because your
driver was late for crew call, and he took a short cut across a damaged road to..., | she searched
the page, -Hazmeih? | she said finding the line.
"Yup. |
| I think, | she said, slipping the pages back into order, -you could capitalize on the delay he
caused by emphasizing that the sniper had a short window of time to kill this Ely fellow, and that
you were running late for a series of little reasons that kept adding seconds to your time of arrival
in his sites. |
-El- lee, | I corrected her pronunciation, -is ambiance, | I said, coming to the table with our
steaming cups. -The point of the scene is to establish that there were no real secrets between the
press and any fighting faction, so that anything can happen at any time. The delay was fortuitous,
and may even be ironic if it causes the sniper to die. I haven‘t decided on that. |
-You have set up his impatience, but the drama rests there because you don't explain why
the sniper doesn't wait for you guys to draw out his target for him. | She slid the last page from
beneath the thin sheaf and read aloud, -There was too much danger in staying in one place. | She
looked up. -The awkwardness of the sentence aside, you were lazy at a critical point. |
Hearing my own words made her point; I had focused entirely on the crew‘s predicament,
and blew off the sniper‘s point of view. Nodding, I said, -I‘ll set up those reasons while the
driver loses time at the hotel. |
-Good. That‘ll stretch your readers‘ interest, because they will know there's a purpose to
you offering them apparently unrelated details. Speaking of those, | Bonnie said, turning the
page, -LeBlanc‘s foul- mouthed prejudices don't go anywhere. I understand he represents battle-
aged apprehension, | she said before I could, -but racism steals tension from the scene, and that
saps the readers‘ empathy for the rest of your characters. |
Reaching across the table, I tapped the page number—eighty-one. | By this time, readers
will know racism doesn‘t enter it; his comments are foreshadowing. |
-His preference for working with black revo- fuckin- lutionaries, as opposed to Ragheads are
insights? | she cocked her head.
-The reader will know that with the exception of syphilis-ravaged Idi Amin types, modern
African guerrilla leaders have degrees from the London School of Economics. They know that