I can see now where this story ended, although for a long time I was playing with other endings, reluctant to let go. It ended with that moment of cinema, crossing General Stroessner’s spongy lawn and looking back to see him, framed in the doorway, waving. I waved, went through the gate and into the General’s car, and the world rushed in around me, hotels, luggage and airports – everyday people, everyday lives.

I didn’t go back – that was one possible ending, that I would return. I told myself there was no time and it was true. But the story wouldn’t go away. The kitchen telephone would ring and it would be Gustavo Stroessner, the General’s son, bellowing in that strange accent down a fuzzy line from Brazil, like an unruly fictional character nagging for a larger part in the plot.

‘Hello, Colonel. How are you? How is the General?’


Time’s Arrow
The Future of Colombia