The Endgame – A Memoir

Tip of the Spike

You’re being killed 
without knowing how 
or what direction it’s coming from. 
As if blindfolded and helpless, 
standing still in an open field, 
and waiting for the firing squad. 

In this case, the year of one of humanity’s many attempts at suicide by enemy, as well as my birth, was 1977. 

The location, as noted: Argentina. 

In Argentina, parental custody of child political prisoners defaulted to the same state that imprisoned us and killed our parents. That alone should have been enough of a red flag for the sane in this world to put a stop to the madness. It wasn’t. I don’t think crimes against children ever really have been enough to move the world away from its madness. We are expected to endure and spend a lifetime, from cradle to grave, carrying the weight of the sins of the wars we are born into so that those who create and support the wars have no weight to carry themselves. It is on the shoulders of infants that the carnage of war thrives. 

After spending my earliest years in prison, I was unadoptable, still in that same prison, and the military was stuck with me whether I was useful to them or not. I was in one of the last and oldest batches of kids still remaining in the prisons by 1980 when the active portion of Argentina’s state terrorism was starting to wind down. 

I can’t claim to remember the earliest details of my life, but the information I’ve managed to glean aligns with the evidence and what I remember from later on. My first memories would emerge around the time I was turning three years old and was still residing in the Buenos Aires prison that my mother and I had been carted off to at some point. As for the effects of that fall, MRI scans of my neck have always looked like those of a victim of a car wreck. The first image below is of the vertebrae in my neck. The second image is of an unnamed patient’s uninjured neck, using the same MRI scanning angle and technique, for comparison. 

First Image Source: Author’s Personal Medical File, Cervical Spine MRI 2018, Age 41

Second Image Source: Example of a Healthy Cervical Spine MRI, Radiopaedia

And the damage to my mother? In all my memories, I never actually saw her walk. I think she may have been crippled by the fall. 

Spending my early years in the prison, a sprawling mass of buildings taking up a city block and known back then simply as Cárcel de Devoto, left me with other scars that I have worn throughout life. How so many chose not to see them was beyond my comprehension back then. 

In retrospect, a significant factor had been the public adoption of hiding group and government-caused harm. They do so for the sake of group cohesion and the outward appearance of behaving as just and law-abiding for their temporary self-preservation and protection. Rooted in the small villages and tribes of our ancestors, the behavior was likely more beneficial than not for centuries. However, in our larger groups and societies, it has slowly caused the development of a significant level of pervasive knee-jerk-reaction blind callousness that reaches nearly every aspect of civilization that I have seen and has seeped into every facet of modern life at the expense of our long-term survival. 

What was originally created to protect us now feeds the predators among us and scatters our children to the wind.

One of the first scars I gained, during the process of Argentina’s government turning on its own citizens, was likely caused by inhaling smoke at such a young age. About a year after my arrival, there was the “masacre en el pabellón séptimo.” Mattresses were ignited on the men’s side of the prison. 

Inmates died when the guards still refused to let anyone exit the building. The (1)prisoners made no real effort to overpower the guards to attain an exit (instead, many escaped to the roof, the opposite of survival when fire moves upwards), the (2)guards did nothing, and (3)no one on the outside effectively advocated for the prisoners and reasoned with or removed the guards. 

This was despite there being enclosed outdoor areas and other prison buildings within the sprawling prison complex. The soon-to-be-dead could have been corralled to those alternative areas via established gates and prisoner walkways if their imprisonment (mostly for suspected thought crimes, according to government mouthpieces) was still a high priority. To have one or two of these non-survival-reaction elements occur together is unfortunate. To have all three occur is a sign of societal collapse. 

Neither (1)prisoner, (2)prison guard, nor (3)witness intervened to prevent unnecessary deaths. 

Image: Aftermath of the 1978 Cárcel de Devoto Fire

Image Source: Infobae

As a baby locked into the next building over, the smoke left a portion of my lungs scarred. To this day, I can feel those scars tug on my left side when I breathe. I may not be able to remember the event, but my body carries the reminder, and I feel it with every inhalation. 

Some of the scars are more visible, such as the ones above my elbows that resulted from being forced against a metal surface in the hot sun. Others aren’t physical at all. They reside deep in my psyche, my heart, and my struggle against an ever-darkening perception of humanity. They were only born in the prison and were intermingled with good, with childhood innocence, with memories of my mother, and with hope despite those concrete walls. 

In the end, it wouldn’t be the prison that truly darkened my perception of humanity. It would be what I witnessed and experienced when I entered the wider world that had kept us there.

Next: War’s Broken Social Contract