The Day the Bombs drop on Vancouver
Everyone was sick of it. Sick about hearing about war and the disasters
and the numerous soldiers missing. The news had become an infomercial
for the army to explain strategic tactics to the populous (those that
still watched and those that still believed), but for the most part people
had tuned out and gone on to other things, mainly continuing their normal
daily lives. It became clear to me on a day in July while I was at Kits
beach that in order to get peoples attention I needed to make them
understand there was something serious going on.
As I stared around at the hunky dudes playing beach volleyball wondering
why they werent working, it struck me that these were the people
I really needed to reach. As I examined one pulling his shorts up above
his deep tan line while waiting for the next serve I knew this would be
a tough job. These were the ones so tuned out that it would take a missile
landing on their net before they would notice something odd had occurred.
But I wasnt interested just yet about reaching people. I picked
up my paper and scanned the headlines again. I needed to finish piecing
together what I knew I was seeing between the lines. No one I talked to
got it yet, but I knew it was there. Little hints of weapons maneuvers
into odd places. Troop movement in the middle of the night to friendly
sites. Lobby groups calling for sweeping changes. It was scary but predictable,
at least to me. Joe thought I was losing it. He held me tight, listening
to what he called my "little rants" and then turned over after
he felt he had put in enough time to satisfy me and went to sleep. I was
left there feeling betrayed and frustrated, much like our sex life had
become and I had begun to wonder why I hadnt left him long ago.
I knew it was his biceps. I always had a weakness for men with incredible
biceps and Joes were the incredible.
Joe was the least of my concerns though. As I glanced through todays
headlines I could see trouble was coming faster than even I had thought
it would and I had to act now. I gathered my things, ran past the volleyball
players kicking sand at as many as I could and got into my car. I needed
to see Sue. I was sure she would help me. She had never given up on the
Stop The War effort. She was a die-hard peace activist only born into
the wrong century. Her parents were of the disco age and couldnt
quite wrap their minds around her involvement in things like the Stop
The War movement and the save our planet fund. It didnt stop her.
She tied her black hair up into pigtails and marched along farther shouting
louder than anyone else claiming that she knew deep down inside her parents
were proud. I sure was amazed the day I happened behind her at a peace
rally downtown. For a 5 ft. nothing person she sure could put her weight
into what she felt a passion for and I knew I had to befriend her. I was
glad today I had.
As I turned the corner onto 6th I could see her old VW parked in front
of her building and I felt a sense of relief. I knocked on the side window
to let her know I was there. I never bothered to ring the front bell;
that was too conventional for us. Sue popped her head out and said she
would be right there to let me in. I pulled my bag of papers closer, knowing
the moment of truth was here. If Sue didnt believe me I knew no
one would and I might as well just get myself a room at the local hospital.
She came to the door wearing a tee shirt over her swimsuit. I couldnt
tell if she was leaving or had just come home.
"Hi. I am so glad to see you. I just got here and was going to make
some lunch. Are you hungry?" She seemed so cheery I hated to burst
her bubble right away.
"Sure," I tried to sound relaxed but I knew I was just sounding
I entered her apartment and sat down at the kitchen table. Her place was
small but cozy. Lots of ruby cushions lay all around a coffee table she
had made from pieces of driftwood she had dragged home over about three
summers when she was still in high school. She said her parents where
ready to evict her if she didnt do something with her collection,
so she decided to take shop. Her parents were less pleased with her taking
shop than her collection but they eventually got over it as they did most
things that she decided in her determined way to do.
As she mixed veggies into a tuna salad she looked me straight in the eye.
"Ok so whats going on?"
"What do you mean?" I hedged the question.
"Well I can tell there is something bothering you. You havent
let that package go below your chin. I am not good at guessing, so tell
"Ok." I walked over to the coffee table and spread out my papers
on it. "These are articles I have been collecting over the last three
weeks. Something big is going on and I dont know if anyone realizes
"What are you talking about?" She put down the spoon and came
over to where the articles lay. She scanned them quickly and then looked
at me as though she had been hit in the gut. "Are these saying what
I think they are saying?"
"You see it too? Thank God! I was beginning to think I was going
"Have you shown these to anyone else?"
"A few people but they dont get it. I knew you would, you always
"Right then," she was so serious now I knew it was the right
thing to come here.
" I know we have to act soon. These messages are coming faster."
I was getting scared. Now that someone else had confirmed what I thought,
I saw it was only a matter of time.
"OK I think you should burn these. I think it is dangerous for you
to have them and you should get rid of them."
"But you know I cant do that. I need to get to the right people
to show them what is going on here."
"No I think you should get rid of them. Come on if we picked this
up dont you think the right people would have? Who are we to tell
them what is going on? It is only dangerous for you."
This didnt sound like Sue. I didnt get why she was so worried
about me when there was obviously something far more important to worry
"Promise me you wont keep these." She grabbed me by the
arm, I never realized how strong she was before.
" Ok. Ok. I will get rid of them. But what should we do? We need
to let people know, so they can get ready."
"No we do nothing."
"What! What do you mean we do nothing? How can we?"
"Simple, we do nothing because if we do something when it comes to
this we only put ourselves at risk."I suddenly had to get out of
there. I gathered my papers. I could see she was thinking of stopping
me but didnt.
" I have to go. I need to think."
"Listen Anna take my advice just get rid of those."
I almost ran out the door. How could I have been so wrong about Sue? I
wish I hadnt come here. I wish I were back on the beach watching
the tan lines move up the muscular legs of volleyball dudes diving in
the sand. But I wasnt and I was overreacting. I stopped myself.
Sue was a veteran activist. Maybe I should listen to her. I turned around
and walked back to the window but before I knocked I could hear her on
"I dont know how she figured it out but she did. I dont
think she works for them I dont even think she realizes it is code.
Yeah I think she just thinks it is the headlines that she is reading.
What should I do? Right. Yeah no one else gets it. See you there."
I wasnt sure what I was hearing but I didnt like it. I could
see Sue through the window as she walked into her bedroom. A few minutes
later she came out, and she had changed into shorts and a shirt. She slid
on her sandals grabbed her purse and keys and headed toward the door.
I ducked in behind a bush well out of sight and watched as she headed
toward her VW. I waited until she was at the corner and jumped into my
trusted 94 Tercel and followed her at a good distance.
We wound our way over the Burrard Street Bridge and down toward Third
beach. She parked and I parked and as she got out of her vehicle I got
out of mine.
Sue sat down on a bench and a man in a white suit and hat sat down at
a distance but close enough so she would be able to hear him. I walked
up behind but kept my distance all the time wondering what I really knew
about her. I had never met her parents or her other friends. She always
was busy in the marches but I realized I didnt know how she made
her living. I tried to listen to what they were saying.
"Listen it doesnt matter what she knows, it is going down tonight
and there isnt anything anyone can do. Even if they know, it is
too late to stop our plan. What could they do anyway? Nothing. They know
that. So we go ahead as planned. You need to get out by 7pm. No later
or you wont get across the border. Do you understand?" The
man sounded urgent. Sue nodded.
I moved away feeling slightly sick. So tonight this was all going down.
How could I just sit back and let it happen. But what could I do? I was
just one person. And then Sues words came back to me. Sue the activist
or whoever she really was had backfired her own plan by acting out her
role so well. She had told me there isnt ever enough one person
can do if there is ever a chance of war and brutality so to never stop
And I wouldnt.
I drove back to Sues place. Her window was still open and I squeezed
through smiling at a neighbor I had seen a few times who acted like I
did this all the time. I looked around quickly knowing she would be back
any minute. I found nothing then tried to call Joe but he was out. I sat
down on the couch and hoped a plan would come to me before Sue arrived
but I was getting nowhere fast. I heard the key in the door and knew this
was it. I looked at the clock. It was 6:30.
"Hi what are
you doing here?" She didnt look or sound surprised.
© Bonnie Nish
"Well I thought about it and I think you are right. I should get
rid of those papers. What sense is there in putting myself in danger?
Over what? Something I cant prove?"
"No I think you should be worried about it but not jeopardize your
"But what safety will I have?" I was maneuvering around her.
"Ok I guess you are right on one level but on another you are wrong.
I had to keep her talking. Take her attention away from the time. I
began to talk about other things. Her parents, when I could meet them.
Time was passing but not fast enough.
"Listen I have a date tonight. I have to get ready for it. Do you
"I didnt want to tell you before but Joe and I had a fight
Can I stay here?"
"Oh sure. Why not
But I have to get ready."
"Sure go ahead. I will just look through these and see if I can
find any coordinates or names. Something concrete I can give someone
"On second thought maybe I will cancel and help you." She
picked up the phone and dialed.
"Hi yeah I cant make it. I am tied up better go on without
me I will get there when I can. I am sure. See you." She hung up
looking not too happy.
"Sure everything is just fine."
We picked up the papers. I held the knife on my lap closer to her leg
as she sat next to me. I could feel her deep sigh as the sound of the
first fighter jet entering our airspace whizzed by. I looked at the
clock. It was 7:15. The border would have been shut down. She was stuck
here with me and knew it.
"How many what?"
"How many bombs are they dropping tonight?"
"Dont you know? It was all there between the lines,"
she said, smiling as we could hear the first one being dropped somewhere
in the downtown area.
" A government building," she added.
I nodded and we sat listening for the thunder of bombs that would begin
to pour down on us at any minute. I hadnt read between the lines
fast enough. I only hoped the volleyball players had gone home.
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