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  • The elevator was one of those two person creepy creaky hotel elevators. I was going down. It was about two in the morning.

    Earlier, in my hotel room, I was watching the news. It was another long day of interviewing the relatives of the disappeared, there in Buenos Aires Argentina, and interviewing the tortured. Midst metastasizing zeros on their currency and fine leather shops selling custom leather ware for low dollar amounts, and my daily routine of reading the movie listings at breakfast in the hotel lobby tiny open cafe, my media luna croissant, my milk-kissed cortadito, midst all this, my days were spent getting ready to interview people in Spanish, to work in Spanish, to keep forgetting English and to recall my vocabulary from Guatemala, where I learned first, the words of brutality and tabloid decapitation glare.

    That night, yes, as I say...earlier, watching the news on mute, as I listened to the tape recorder on my bed replay for me the interviews, so I could transcribe them and further write my report on the torture and disappearance of journalists and artists in Argentina and Uruguay. Yes, the news came on, and the first report was that a pal of mine, Richard Cross, a photographer for Newsweek had been killed in an explosion at the Nicaraguan-Honduran border. A car trips a mine; instant death.

    I left the room. The voices on the tape recorder, sitting neutral on the bed, kept talking, as I closed the hotel room door.

    And yes, in the two person elevator an elegantly attired Argentinian businessman attempted to grope me in the few minutes ride downward. I repelled him, and stepped out into the street and into the frantically stylish night.

    Two a.m. Buenos Aires. The crowds were hopping. Out on Florida, the restaurants were full with Portenos having their pre-movie dinners. I went into a movie. Which one? I am not sure. I spent a lot of off-time in B.A. in movie houses. I came out, I went to a still busy big bright eatery and had, no doubt, large portions of asado and potatoes. When the street was ever so slightly quietening down maybe four or five in the morning and innerly desolate outwardly fashionable citizenry was wending their way back to the excellent and less fine homes they inhabited, I took the tiny elevator back up to Room 204, where the voices of the once tortured were speaking on top of my bedclothes.

    It was June in the beautiful city called the Paris of South America. Summer was ending there. The military dictatorship was still in place; just. In the morning, I put on my suede tan jacket and its matching suede tan skirt and I went down to the hotel lobby to have my half moon and kissed coffee, alone. I was always being watched, up close and personal.

    Creepy guys in a dirty war wore their spanking clean white Ford Falcons around their creepy gorilla shoulders, driving the Buenos Aires streets, slowly, just at about the pace a woman like me might walk.

    Vertically in an elevator, or horizontally beside you on a sidewalk, natty, polished, in clean suits, they enacted their dirty tricks.


    (Photo by Susan, of my laundry bag from the hotel. I still have it.)
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