I wanted Warren Anderson. Where was that guy and what was I gonna do about him?
My original idea about convincing Warren to turn himself in started to fizzle after I happened to catch a show of Dog, the Bounty Hunter on TV. I decided my problem (if you could call Warren ‘ a problem’) was boldness. Why should I settle for a talk with Warren when I could snag him and send him back to India? And it was kinda okay to snag someone if he had an outstanding warrant (which Warren had) or Dog, the Bounty Hunter would have been in jail instead of on TV chasing criminals. (I gave Dog a little wiggle room for made-up stuff. After all, it was TV.)
I figured there had to be some hard and fast rules out there about snagging people who didn’t want to be found. I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. When I asked Margo, she pointed to a computer in her office and told me to ‘have at it’ so I goggled ‘snatching criminals’ and got the polite term: citizen arrest.
According to Wikipedia, a citizen’s arrest was an arrest made by a person who was not a sworn law enforcement official. Not a cop, in otherwords. The practice dated back to medieval England and the English common law, when sheriffs (not like sheriffs in Texas) encouraged ordinary citizens to help apprehend lawbreakers.
These were the rules of engagement:
l. Pick your wanted man.
2. Don’t announce your coming. The wanted criminal will escape.
Note: Criminals travel frequently so watch when they will be publicly speaking or dining out and get all of their home addresses.
3. Acquire and learn to use handcuffs. Practice practice practice.
4. Consult a lawyer to avoid violating laws while enforcing the law.
5. Form a team who’s mission is to locate the criminal, detain and handcuff him, phone the police, read the criminal his rights and the charges against him, ask him if he had anything to say in response, videotape the arrest and post it online. The team should include one or more people who could produce an excellent video and be extremely fast in editing and posting it online. The team should include people capable of physically grabbing the criminal. The team should ideally include a lawyer who can read the charges and question the suspect. Everyone on the team should be able to keep a secret while planning the arrest.
6. Apprehend and handcuff the criminal (this actually might be part of Rule 5) then read the criminal his rights (rights he has denied others), which are the following:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”
7. Read the criminal the charges against them.
8. Ask the criminal if he would like to say anything.
9. Once you have good video footage, your top priority becomes to get it edited and online.
10. Turn the criminal over to the police or the FBI (in my case, the Bhopal Court)
11. Pass out flyers to passersby.
12. Send statement to the media.
13. Be prepared to post your video online in multiple places.
My problem with the rules was that I was not turning Warren over to the police or the FBI because I seriously doubted that either of those agencies would do anything with Warren other than turn him loose with their profound apologies. They most likely would take Warren back home in a Rolls-Royce. I needed to haul Warren back to India. Could I stuff him in a car? Then there was that huge ocean. I’d have to put him on a ship or fly him to India. So no video of the apprehension and no posting it online or I was liable to find myself stopped at an airport with Warren stuffed in the trunk of my car.
That led to another million-dollar question? Was kidnapping a wanted man legal? Obviously, Dog the Bounty Hunter was legal— or maybe he was just a celebrity and the whole thing was scripted? I didn’t think an email to Dog would get me an answer, although I wrote one anyhow, but Dog doesn’t’ answer his emails.
Next I called my old lawyer, who I won’t name for fear he will sue me. My old lawyer wasn’t old in years but old in the sense that I had fired and hired him a dozen times and we had a lot of water under the bridge. I asked him about high jacking Warren and he said he’d talk with an American Civil Liberties lawyer and friend of his– smart smart man—but, off hand, he didn’t think the ACLU lawyer would like the idea. He was right. The ACLU lawyer said, This is not funny. This is not funny.
So I googled some more and discovered that you can find anything on the Internet if you look hard enough. I found the legal precedent for ‘snatching’. One of America’s most eminent lawyers, Professor Ruth Wedgwood of Yale Law School, wrote:
In US vs. Alvarez-Machain, the US Supreme Court announced that a person could be taken from his office at gunpoint, stuffed into a car and flown over the international border to the embrace of waiting foreign police, and yet have no legal cause to complain about the method of his delivery when he was finally brought to court.
Well, there I had it. Stuffing a wanted man in a car and flying him to an international border was clearly okay. ‘Dog’ Chapman, the TV bounty hunter, had carried out a snatch against Andrew Luster, the Max Factor heir , wanted for mutiple rapes in Califronia. On another case , the snathers were mid-level US drug enforcement agent and the snatchee was Humberto Alvarez-Machain, who had been indicted two years earlier for taking part in the murder and torture of one of their colleague Enrique Camerena.
My snatch could be like that. But first, there were obvious problems to stuffing a criminal in the car that I had to consider. If I was stopped by a cop or suddenly forced to do an interview by Fox News to explain myself, I needed rock solid come-backs to all the possible objections of stuffing Warren in a car that they would think of. Such as:
1. Warren’s charges were ‘trumped-up,
2. Warren would not receive a fair trial in India,
3. Warren was an old and sick man who should not be put through the ordeal of getting stuffed in a car,
4. Warren was being persucuted.
I spent the next week researching the Internet and found all my answers.
Objection 1. Secret UCC documents showed that Anderson was part of the core team which approved pans for the manufacture of MIC (the poison gas that leaked, killing thousand in one night) which okayed the use of ‘unproven thechnology’ in the Bhopal plant. He was the ultimate buck stopper for safety matters, yet he and his board failed to respond when warned by Carbide safeter auditiors from the US that the potential existed at Bhopal for a major toxic release. Despite its claims, Anderson’s board kep a tight reign on it Indian subsidiary and instituted a cost cutting spree, one result, was that all of the Bhopal safety system were out of action the night of the disaster. That ‘trumped up’ objection wouldn’t fly.
Objection 2. It was an American judge who, against the wishes of the Indian government, refered the original case for trial in India, claiming that the Indian judicial system was perfectly competent and binding and for UCC to abide by the decisions and ruling of indian court. The Indian Supreme Court in 1991 reinstated criminal charges agains Anderson and UCC, but Anderson and UCC have been ignoring those proceeding since 1992. The case was ongoing without its two main defendants. Objection 2 won’t fly.
Objection 3. Warren Anderson was 69 years old when he was summoned to appear before the court in Bhopal to answer criminal charges of culpable homicide relating to a death toll that was already well into five figure. In the eleven years that Warren has been thumbing his nose at the court, a further ten thousand people have died from their injures. One person a day continues to die in Bhopal from cause directly related to the 1984 gas leak. Many survivors who are as old or older then Anderson and considerably sicker, struggle along on compensation amounting to 7 cents a day without access to the first class medical care which would be Warren Anderson’s were he to suffer a turn at the golf course. Kick that objection out.
Objection 4. Under Indian law, a defendant is presumed innocent until proven gulity. If Anderson and Union Carbide are as free from blame as they cliam, they have nothing to fear. The continued absence of not only the ex chairman but the US corporation sends a different message to the world. Union Carbide is now 100 percent owned by Dow Chemical and it is only a matter of time before Dow is named in the proceedings to answer for its subsidaiary, Union Carbide.
I had a plan of sorts but it had a hole. The clear hole was : Do I fly or use a ship to get Warren to India? I didn’t know any pilots who would pull off such a stunt so I figured I might could convince a shrimper to stick him in a cabin under total lock-down and sail off to India. I didn’t have a shrimp boat myself since I’d sunk the thing so that ruled me out sailing Warren to India. So I spent the next week talking on the phone to any shrimper in Seadrift I could catch on the line. These guys were doing poorly and had a lot of free time to bemoan that fact so I asked them if they would like to make a little money on a side job. Like what? They wanted to know. Like taking a man on a little trip to India. Not a single shrimper took the bait because all of them figured it was a good way to lose a boat. Shoot, they said, they had a hard enough time getting past the Coast Guard waiting at Beacon 21 on their way out shrimping. A ton of safety gear and a two hour inspection was what that Coast Guard boat wanted. They could only imagine what they’d get with FBI agents.
So my scheme got kicked in the head by some unabliging, worrisome shrimpers but I figured there was more than one way to skin that Warren cat. I would go back to my original idea of tracking Warren down and convincing him to turn himself in. So forget the handcuffs, forget the stuffing in the car, forget the planes and ships, and pay never-you-mind to the fact that my direction could change on a dime. I went straight to Margo’s computer and researched all of Warren Anderson’s home addresses on the Internet. Next I got my team together.
I had one team member. Her name was KG (a fake name) and she was a female Walter Mitty living a life unbeknowst to just about everybody in Texas. I don’t know what she told her husband to explain flying to Florida but I’m sure it wasn’t that Warren Anderson, ex CEO of Union Carbide, had a summer home in Vero Beach and we were tracking him down. KG and I met at the Palm Beach airport and I was astonished at how many Warren-looking men wearing shoes with no socks were wandering around the airport. KG explain to me that deckshoes without socks were the fashion in Florida. It wasn’t like in Seadrift where only deckhands wore deckshoes (rubber boots) without socks. Was one of these guys possibly Warren, I wondered? It would sure make our mission a lot easier. Sadly, no. They were just old, white haired, tanned white guys wearing white pants and light pastel shirts with shoes and no socks. I counted two hundred of them and checked everyone against the photo ID I had of Warren Anderson.
KG and I didn’t have time to waste, so we grabbed a rented car at the airport, checked into a cheap motel in Vero Beach, dropped our bags in the room, and then we hit the road to check out Warren’s house at Catalina Court. The real action was the next morning, but my team player didn’t want any sudden surprises like patrol cars, locked gates, or surly security guards so KG took notes while I shouted out possible obsticles to our plan. Busy traffic! Two highway patrol cars sitting at the intersection of a 4-way traffic light. Pinkish-looking shopping mall!
It was a thirty minute ride to Warren’s house at Catalina Courts and springing up everywhere, like thistles in a dry field, were palm trees with fronds hanging dead still in the smothering heat. Next and closer to our target was a multi-million dollar Walt Disney resort with cartoon characters on a million billboards. The Mickey Mouse billboard hid our exit so I whizzed around a cement divider, made an illegal U turn in the middle of the road and the middle of the traffic, and made a second run at Catalina Courts.
Catalina Courts was a gated community tucked between two large clumps of lush overhanging plants and there in the middle was a large black ornate gate blocking our entrance. Well, heck, this is a good thing to know, I said to Kinnu and she said nothing but she pulled out her video camera and shot a slow sequence from the security shack on the side to the wrought-iron posts cemented in the ground. I hesitated ten seconds behind my windsheild, muttering the whole while, “Okay okay. Where’s the weak hole? Where’s the weak hole? This is not gonna be our deal breaker.”
Well, everything has a weak hole and the gate’s weak hole was that it was cracked open a couple of yards. I rolled down the window of the rented car, stuck my head out to size up the hole, then after a ten second hesitation, I inched the car through and the devil take the outside mirror. Which it did. This was where a couple of guards should have rushed out of the nearby security building and flagged us down. After all, this was a gated community and not everybody was welcome like the flowers welcome the sun. But nothing happened. The security shack was empty.
This wasn’t the first time in my life that worrisome details failed to materilize. I’d come to the conclusion, long long ago, that nine-tenths of what I worried about never happened. But still, it was amazing to see it happen time and time again. I never got tired of seeing that old truth come home to roost–and this time it roosted right on top of that empty guard shack and that cracked open gate.
Once we made it through the gate without setting off alarms, I leaned back in a leasurely fashion. I shoved one arm out the window and drove through the community as KG leaned out the other window and videoed the very little life that was going on in Catalina Courts. Not once did we see anyone outside or peeking behind the curtains. Not once did we see a car drive down the road or parked in a driveway. It was a gilted cementery with pearly white stucco tombs lined up like dominos and Warren’s house was the end domino on a dead end street.
I couldn’t tell if Warren was home or not. The yard was nicely mowed but the blinds and garage door were pulled down tight. I figured, heck no, this place looked too dead. But then I decided that I couldn’t possibly know everything. Warren might be here and he might not. Personally, I liked surprises. Surpise him. Surpise me.
So Kinnu and I inched our way back through the gate and headed to a department store where we bought several pieces of bright yellow poster board, wooden stakes, and a bottle of liqued nail. Then we went back to the motel room and made posters to poke into Warren’s front yard the next day. One poster read: Warren Anderson. Wanted for homidice in India. The other poster had his arrest warrant and the public notice for his arrest that was published in the Washington Post pasted with heavy glue.
The next morning we headed out early while the fog was still heavy on the ground. To make sure our energy stayed high, KG and I drove to an early morning diner and loaded up on hot coffee and dognuts. Next we picked up a Vanity Fair writer who was staying at the Walt Disney resort hotel. She had heard of our Warren Anderson hunt and was very interested in following the story. She was standing in a crowded Disney parking lot waiting for us.
I was feeling high as a kite with my heart kicking my ribs and I suppose it was partly the coffee and six sugary donuts , but that wasn’t all it was. I recognized that signature heart-kicking emotion deep in my chest and I’m sure soldiers felt the same thing when bullets were flying over their heads in a war zone. Maybe I was smelling fear. Maybe life had forced my eyes wide open. Whatever it was, I’ve had it happen so often that I consider it the headline emotion of any action worth doing.
So I was pretty wide-eyed that second time we pulled up to the Cartina Court and, again, we found the gate cracked open. Well, hallilejah on that! My heart was pounding so hard that I could barely hear the reporter in the back seat. The writer said she wondered if the residents knew just how silly it was to have a gate if it was open all the time. She had a good mind to write the Catalina Courts residents an open letter in the newspapers and warn them about people like us, but then she guessed she’d wait until we all were long gone from Florida and then she’d sign it annomous. Didn’t want Vanity Fair magazine getting sued.
We squeezed through the gate with a quarter inch to spare on either side of the car and drove straight to the dead end cemetary lane which was Warren’s house. I got out of the car and was fixing to walk up the sidwalk and knock on the door when a man drove up in a white car. I turned and looked but couldn’t tell if the man was there to watch us or if he was checking out the house across the street. My paranoia radar was running pretty high and it sent out a red flag so I figured the guy was watching us. Next an elderly woman with a terrified-out-of-her-wits look on her face drove a white station wagon right past me and up on Anderson’s driveway.
Well, what a coincidence. Two cars at the same time on the same dead end street. Somebody must have noticed us the day before. Was this a planned manuver on their part? I was pretty sure this woman wasn’t Warren’s wife . She looked like waaay too hard working. Maybe she was the house keeper.
I walked over to the station wagon but the woman refused to roll down the window or even turn and look at me. The woman had a little electric gadget in her hand and she kept pressing it and pointing it at the garage door. She couldn’t get it to work very well, though. The garage door kept opening and closing and opening and closing and everytime it opened I thought the woman might roll down her window and talk with me. So I was standing in the yard with my hand stretched out and my mouth a little open, when the woman’s car suddenly lurched into the garage and rammed the lawn chairs stacked at the the end of the garage. Then the garage door slammed shut.
Well, this was a fine howdy-do. The woman, obviously, wasn’t coming out to talk and was now, most probably, watching us from behind the blinds. I shook my head at this sad turn of events. I sure hoped she and the man across the street could see me shaking my head and would duly note that fact to Union Carbide. Finally, I walked up to the door and knocked a number of times, but no answer. I doubted Warren was here, but if he was, he sure wasn’t talking to me. So I pulled a piece of paper out of my pocket and wrote a note to Warren:
Warren, we need to talk. You and I have something in common… our jail sentences. Now Union Carbide and Dow are feeding you some bad advice on how to handle this India problem, but I think you will feel lots better about yourseif if you just hopped on a plane and turned yourself in. Then I will turn myself into the Texas sheriff and I bet you ten dollars I’ll get the worse deal out of it.
Sincerely, Diane Wilson
I wrote my address and cell phone number on the bottom of the letter (just in case Warren wanted to write back) and KG handed me two posters through the window so I pushed them both into Warren’s newly mowed front yard. Then we hightailed it out of there. We figured several somebodies in this Tombstone town were calling the cops.
I traveled to Long Island to find Warren’s second house and the first thing I learned was that Hampton meant Hamptons and there were a lot of them. There was the town of Southampton on the east end of Long Island. It was the most sophisticated, the oldest, and it was, also, the summer home to the Old Money types, captains of industry, and part of the New York-Palm Beach circuit.
East Hampton was the Tony Town; meaning, I guess, the Tony awards because I couldn’t think of another reason why it would be called Tony town. It was the summer home to celebrities like Steven Spielberg, who had a house there, and Meg Ryan, who had lunch with her girl friends in little artsy restaurants.
Bridgehampton was where Warren Anderson owned a home and played golf. It was the fifteenth most expensive zip code in the nation and residential real estate prices were among the highest in the nation.
A photographer tagging along on the Warren hunt said rich folks such as these, (meaning: ‘boat people’, he said, because they came over on incredible boats and left 300 dollar tips) used special bottled water in their bathtubs and ordered lobsters precooked before they brought them home because they didn’t like to hear lobster’s screaming.
I said, “ Awh, com’on,” thinking he was pulling my leg and he said “ It’s the truth! It’s a thrill a minute down here and money isn’t an issue. For instant, don’t ask how much the lobsters cost because lobster prices aren’t on the menu. Only dimwit yahooers ask how much a lobster cost.”
I said, “Well, how much do they cost? I can get a dozen big blue crabs for five bucks in Seadrift. “
The photographer looked at me a minute like he was having second thoughts about riding around with me. “Look, Cookie,” he said, “ all I’m gonna say is this : consider yourself educated on the Hamptons.”
Well, okay and I guess. I wasn’t going to argue with him since I wasn’t coming through Long Island but once and this time just to find Warren Anderson. Where was that guy? Golf course or home? Whacking a ball or sitting on a couch, watching TV? The photographer said he knew someone who might know someone who worked in a kitchen at a clubhouse in Bridgehampton. It had to be Bridgehampton where the club was. No other town had anything near as fancy as that place. So the photographer called his friend on his cell phone who gave us a number for the kitchen worker who said, Oh yeah, he had seen Warren Anderson at the club a number of times.
Wow. The luck of the Irish I said and the photographer agreed that he had a little Irish blood in him. That got him to talking, again, and it wasn’t hard because the photographer was full of gossip, especially about Bridgehampton. He called it the ‘horsy town’ and I leaned over the front seat, expecting my leg to be pulled again, and said, “Pardon me? Whadda you mean it’s a horsy town? It’s a dump?”
“Oh, no. Just the opposite. It’s polo horses and jumping horses. They’ve got the Mercedes-Benz Polo Challenge going on and the Hampton Classic horse show where the winner gets to take home over $300,000. It’s where Warren Anderson is probably putting that ball around….you know, where that guy working in the kitchen said. Shinnecok Hills.”
So Schinnecok Hills Golf Club was where we headed and we found it squirrled away in a little hamlet outside of Bridgehampton. The photograher said the club was the oldest club house in the nation and had hosted the US Open four times in three different centuries. That said I was surprised when we pulled into the club’s driveway. There was a big clubhouse upon a rolling hill and a generously graveled driveway, but that was it. No swimming pool. No outside anything. Where were all the golfers? Where were the concession stands? Where were all the golf carts? It look like a bad day at black rock at the Winnecock Hills Golf Club to me.
No, no, the photographer said. This clubhouse could look however it wanted to because it was so old and so prestigenous and rich people just clammering to join. It didn’t have air conditioning or heating and it only opened in the summer . That’s why those big double doors were open. To let in the good clean rich air. Schinnecock was Old Money. Old money could go around in its underdrawers if it wanted to.
I scouted out the Old Money golf course from the car window. No place to hide in this mowed place. I could see for miles in all directions. A well dressed maintence hand was messing with a water faucet so I got out of the rental car and walked up to him.
“ Hey, is Warren Anderson here today?” I asked. The maintence guy looked at me for a moment, eyeing me up and down (I later found out that there was a strict dress code. No denim), and then he pointed to the gray and white clappered club house up on the hill. I left the photographer and my new A-team member that I had recruited in New York City (Kinnu had to go back to her husband in Houston) and trudged up the thickly graveled driveway onto a huge porch where scattered white wicker chairs were in exactly the right spots. The porch scene was Gone with the Wind and all I had to do to find myself a mint julep was stroll inside the big double doors and ask.
A number of people were inside, busily doing something, but it wasn’t handing out mint juleps to total strangers in blue jeans. I didn’t see anybody in the least looking like Warren with a bag of golf clubs so I did my typical thing and went up to the first guy I saw. “Hey,” I said, “ is Warren here today? “
“Mister Anderson is not here today. May I help you?”
“Well, yeah, I want to talk with Warren Anderson.”
The man hesitated for a moment then went hard in reverse. “I really don’t know who you’re talking about. We don’t have a Mr. Anderson here.”
“Well, just a minute ago you sure acted like you did. Didn’t you say Mister Anderson wasn’t here? I never mentioned Anderson. I just said Warren. Sounds to me like you know Warren Anderson. Has he been here lately?”
“I don’t know Mr. Anderson and I’m going to have to ask you to leave. This is a members-only club.”
“Well, how ‘bout if I leave Warren a note? You think you can get a message to him?”
“You really must leave now! “
“Awh no. I’m just looking for Warren. You trying to cover for Warren or something?”
The man jerked his head up and started searching the room and I suspected it was for a security guard to escort me out the double doors. So I left on my own but turned at the open door and said, “Well, you tell Warren that Diane was looking for him. He’ll know.”
I walked outside to the car and the photogher was filming the course and the clubhouse and me getting into the car and all the men standing on the porch watching us. As we pulled out, I spotted a white mailbox alongside the driveway so I stopped long enough to scribble another note to Warren that said pretty much the same thing that I said on the note that I left at his Florida home. This time I added how worried I was that I hadn’t heard a peep from him. Was Union Carbide forcing him to go undercover and not communicate with me? Warren Warren, I wrote. We need to talk! I shoved my note into the mail box and then we hightailed it out of there in case someone had sicked the Hampton cops on us.
We drove down the road a bit, pulled into a little retail shop parking spot that had room for two cars and no more and sincronized our watches. My watch was on the rental car dashboard, but both the photographer and Nina had wrist watches. The Shinnecock Country Club episode had took one hour so we still had plenty of daylight hours left to find Warren’s home in Bridgehampton somewhere near the Atlantic Ocean. Is this a good plan or what? I asked and we all agreed that it was a delightful plan so I whirled out of the parking lot and spun fine gravel for half a dozen seconds into the warm noonday.
The highway was a black paved ribbon of tar aply named Ocean Drive and it was smooth as a baby’s behind. The road didn’t have a single pot hole so we zipped along at a pretty good clip, racing past one expensive house after another, estates tucked behind trees and shrubs and rolling hills, and every once in awhile a red slate roof glinted like copper in the sun. I didn’t see a single horse, though, and was sorely disappointed. Where were all the horses in horsey town? Then Wham! we were at the Atlantic Ocean. Sand dunes and sand dunes. From the information gleamed from a Greenpeace activist, Warren’s house wasn’t sitting on the Atlantic Ocean. We had gone too far. Well, too dang bad. We were already at the ocean so we hopped out of the car, ran up and down the beach, kicked some sand, waded into the Atlantic Ocean up to our knees, and then, with our feet good and wet, we climbed back in the car and hit Ocean Drive in the oppostite direction.
Warren Andersen was hiding behind the blinds. I’m not lying. He was actually hiding behind the blinds (or the curtains, to be exact) and I thought that was real interesting for a lot of reasons. Main reason was that the Indian government had been trying to extradite Warren to India for a very long time and the FBI had insisted that they couldn’t find him. They just had no idea where that man was. And here was Warren, hiding behind the blinds at his house that he had had for years and years (most probably with the address in a yellow phone book); now watching our antics.
But see, I didn’t know it was Warren at first. I didn’t think Warren was home. We had found his house on Ocean Drive deader than dead, but in a well-kept sort of way. An undertaker could have lived there. It was easy to imagine. There was lots of fresh white paint with everything trimmed in dark green. The yard was nicely mowed and the shrubs were clipped and a bunch of mannerly flowers were blooming around the front of the house. It was a tidy little bungalow worth a million bucks and in the back was a guesthouse with a miniature statue of a black jockey wearing a short red jacket (the closest I got to seeing anything having to do with a horse) propped up on the graveled path.
My new A-Team player was a savvy New Yorker with a lot of energy and she could out-walk any trotting horse that we were liable to come across so she and I decided to hang around Warren’s dead looking place and check it out. Let the photographer take the car on another spin to the Atlantic Ocean. After all, we had the whole afternoon and even if Warren wasn’t around, we could still leave another letter in his mailbox. So I pulled out the only piece of poster board in the car and sent the photographer on his merry way to the ocean with the instructions to return at dusk. Then I drop the poster board on the grass and wrote in big block letters with a red magic marker: WARREN, SHOULDN’T YOU BE IN INDIA?
That sign immediately got Bridgehampton’s attention and if not the sign, well, then the fact that Nina and I were standing in the road. About a third of Anderson’s neighbor gave us a thumbs up. The rest trashed us.
“Go back to India, you piece of trash.”
“ But, I’m from Texas, hoooney pie. “
“Well, go back to Texas then, you piece of white trash. And give that man a break. He’s real nice. And he’s 80 years old!”
“Yeah, there’s nice 80 year old Nazi war criminals living in Argentina, too.”
“Mr. Anderson went to India ten years ago but they told him to go back home. Leave him alone now.”
I tried to explain that Warren Anderson had spent three hours under ‘house arrest’ at Carbide’s luxury guest house and then was freed on a $1,500 bond. When he left for America, he promised that he would come back to India whenever the law required it. But when the law required it, he said he didn’t recongnize the court’s jurisdiction.
“Oh, go get a job, lady!”
Don Hewit, executive director of the TV show 60 Minutes, lived across the street in an estate behind a huge rolling hill and he jipped past us in his black jeep, then suddenly slammed on the brakes. He walked back to us and shouted, “You people are ideiologically disgusting. We went to India and invesigated the whole thing. Anderson is innocent. I wouldn’t go back to India either. You people are just disgusting.”
The first day was so much fun that Nina and I decided to come back a second day. ‘Get the f@%# out of here’, was the general reaction. One lady drove past in her luxury car and then backed up to us. She said she had worked on the medical ship Hope and she’d been to Bhopal and what had the Indians done for Bhopal? Nothing! And what have you people ever done for Bhopal? Nothing!
“Well, I like to think that I’m a part of the struggle, ma’am“I said.
“Oh, yeah, you look like a bunch of hired hippies to me. Go get a real job, why doncha.”
A lady who lived in a house up the road from Anderson’s walked over to us and shouted, “ You people have been here for three solid weeks! It must’ve been one of you that was trashing my yard!”
“Whoaaaaat?” I said. “ We’ve only been here since yesterday.”
The lady stomped off, but she sent the sheriff and he said we had exactly two hours to get off the property. We were trespassing on Anderson’s property. If we came back tomorrow he was bringing his supertinentent as a witness and we would be arrested.
I immediately perked up.
“Well, just hop to it, Sheriff,” I said. “Arrest away.”
The sheriff raised two fingers. “Two hours,” he said.
Then Mike Ruggeiero turned up. Mike was a young cub reporter from Southampton Independent, a local newspaper that ran the screaming front page headline: ANDERSON: WANTED FOR HOMICIDE BY INDIA FOR HIS ROLE IN THE BHOPAL DISASTER THAT POISONED THOUSANDS soon after a Greenpeace activist and a TV reporter found Anderson’s house the year before. Mike brought along another reporter named Neil who had brought a video cam.
Mike said he had heard through the grapevine that we were out in front of Anderson’s house drawing attention from everybody in god’s creation and he wanted to know if we would do an interview with them. Would it be okay to use a mike to record the interview? Sure thing, I said, so Mike set up wires and knobs and switches and a handheld mike and we started talking in the street as the traffic whizzed past. We had been talking about ten minutes when, suddenly, a stylish-looking couple buzzed across the yard and I knew instantly, without having ever seen them, that this was Warren Anderson and his wife. Warren’s wife was a slight woman with ash blonde hair. She was wearing a pale blue skirt with a white blouse and a sweater that was loosely tied around her shoulders like I’d seen women of a certain age do posing in catalogs. Warren looked exactly like those two hundred retirees that I saw in the Florida airport. I think he was wearing deck shoes with no socks, but I’m not certain. Maybe I imagined it. Anyhow, both Warren and his wife were flushed like they had just hopped off one of those celebrity horses I had heard so much about.
Actually, Warren looked too rosy cheeked, too well-kept, and too healthy and I had the sudden sneaky suspicion that the real reason Warren was so reclusive was not because he was old and feeble and wanted the quiet retired life, but because Warren didn’t want anyone to see what good of a shape he was in. One of the primarily reasons for not extraditing Warren back to India was that he was a sick old man. Sick ole men needed to be left alone. Well, Warren sure didn’t look sick to me. He looked tanned and fit enough to swing a golf club at me.
Warren was shouting something but I didn’t hear it. I wasn’t listening. In fact I really didn’t have time because I was too dazzled by his light chocolate tan offsetting his gleaming white teeth. What what, I said? You have no idea what you are doing. I have been to India and I’m not going back again. Go do your homework. You don’t know your facts. They kick us out of India. The Indian Government kicked me out. We put money in a clinic and they bulldozed it. So go away and do your homework.
I tried explaining to Warren that I wasn’t no dummy. I had been to India, too. And a lot more recent than him. And I had been working with the Bhopal survivors– for a long time. So I knew facts about the case. I got it directly from the survivors. Where was he getting his facts?
Warren looked at me suspiciously and said, where are you from, young lady? and I said I was a fisherman from Seadrift, Texas and there was a Union Carbide plant right outside of our town.
“There’s no Union Carbide plant in Seadrift,” he said.
“No, there’s no Union Carbide plant there.”
“ Well, how ‘bout if I get a picture of it and show you? You think you’ll believe it then?”
But Warren refused to believe who I said I was. He wanted to think I was a professional hack and didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know the facts. I was misinformed. That’s when Warren realized that Mike had a recorder that had been taping everything we had said so Warren made a mad grab for the recorder, but Mike backed into the street and started running and Warren ran after Mike. There was a wild scramble in the middle of the road; I imagined there were a few undignified chock holds, some in-your-face grabbing, shoving, scratching, and prying loose of fingers. No doubt somebody bit somebody else. I really didn’t get to see so I really don’t know. I imagined, though, how it was. Very undignified; at least that’s how it looked when Mike jerked free from Warren and ran down the road with the recorder mike dangling from his fist. Warren stood in the middle of the smooth blacktop and yelled after him, “Go away! Just go away you all.” Then Warren and his wife hopped in their silver Cadillac that had been dry rotting in the garage and zoooom…they just drove away.
Mike had been three weeks into his job as a cub reporter and he was sure that his editor would fire him for having bothered poor Mr. Anderson but his editor said, ‘Holy shit, Mike. You nail that story right now!’ So the story of Warren got covered in the Southampton Independent and Nina and I drove the rental car back to New York City that evening.
That night in the airport I thought that not only hadn’t I beat Union Carbide (Warren was still safe in Bridgehampton) I couldn’t even admit defeat because the battlefield had moved again. It had moved to Texas.