Sleeping with the Olympic bomber (Part 3)

Part 2: Shortly before dawn I heard, next to me, a click, which I recognized from my days in military intelligence as the unmistakable sound of a clip being loaded into an automatic pistol.

So you can imagine my relief when the subdued strains of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring drifted over from the cassette player while my bunkmate sat silently in the dark. Shortly after first light, as the campers were preparing breakfast, he again scrounged food and then, with packs on both his back and his chest, he crossed the north-south trail, plunged due east, and disappeared into the woods. A tangible sense of relief fell over the campsite.

About a week later I was driving to visit my younger daughter, Annie, in Massachusetts, when a news bulletin announced the capture of Eric Rudolph, suspected of fatal bombings at Atlanta’s Olympic Park, two abortion clinics, and a lesbian bar. Rudolph, who had been a fugitive for over five years, was arrested, in Murphy, North Carolina, not far from where we had been hiking. A survivalist, he had apparently been “hiding in plain sight,” sleeping in the woods (and occasionally in Appalachian Trail shelters) and going into towns at night where he both stole food and was supplied by radical sympathizers.

I didn’t think too much about the news because, like most people, I knew the Olympic bomber was an overweight guy with a mustache. Then I remembered – the fat guy, Richard Jewell, had been the victim of a rush to judgment by both police and the press. The real bomber was Eric Rudolph. Now I was spooked.

When I got to the motel, I rushed to my room and turned on the television, but the only images of Rudolph were from before we went on the run. The next morning I walked into the lobby – and there on the front page of the Boston Sunday Globe, handcuffed and in an orange jumpsuit, was Eric Rudolph, staring straight through me with those unforgettable eyes.

James G. Blaine

About James G. Blaine

Most of us undervalue what seem our tiny contributions to our communities and the world. As a result, we feel powerless, even victimized. But, like the butterfly effect in science, the lives we lead with our families, in our communities, and at work – all the so-called little things we do – collectively change the world. As I grow older, my ambition grows more modest but not less important: to participate fully and to contribute what I can. That’s my goal with this blog.