Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Not every day...or night

I’m sitting in the bathroom because the machine gun fire outside scares me. I've been hearing isolated shots all night, like someone was doing target practice at 15 minute intervals. But then about two minutes ago, it started for real. From the echo, at least one of the shooters is close. And I just saw what I’m pretty sure was a tank, turn around on the next street over. A regular truck or car could have made that turn, but not something with a poor turning radius. Nope. There’s quite a bit of gunfire going on outside, but it’s moving away from my house. At least the noise has made the cats in heat stop their infernal bleating. I can’t block cat screams with my earplugs, but they do a good job with sharp pops.

Is this what living is a war zone is like? The people of Baghdad, Jerusalem and the West Bank, they just get used to running to safe rooms, to dropping to the floor at a moment’s notice, a startling noise? Do they grab their computer and cell phone as they run, so they have the ability to write what's going on and make emergency calls if necessary? Do they stay up late and forget to pray for the innocents, caught up in the Hollywood special effects? I think I’m a voyeur. It's kind of fun being able to tell people at home, “Yeah, there was a tank shooting around on my street last night.” I hear it again, I think it’s going back...surely no one else is planning on driving down these streets tonight. Who else would be out driving? The police use tanks in residential areas. Do we really think they know who they’re looking for, that if they meet a car on the road, they’ll wave politely and go their separate ways? These are powerdrunk triggerhappy psychomaniacs who are armed for full-on warfare. You'd have to be a maniac to leave the favela right now unless you were on foot...

Connie, don't copy this for my grandparents, okay?!

It's hard not to hate the police. I saw a billboard yesterday, in warm pastels with leaves all around the edges that said something like: "Military Police: Protecting You and Working for Peace." Something so ludicrous that I laughed out loud and missed writing it down. I'll keep my eyes out the next time I go down that road. I want a picture of it. Oh, the irony. You'd almost think it was a sarcastic joke...

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