Sunday, August 26, 2007

Last Missile Out of Havana: Chapter 1

"Washington had a file five inches thick devoted to
missiles in Cuba, three years before the Russians
sent them. Some reports were laughable and made all others suspect."
--THE BRINK, by David Detzer
Machine gun bullets screamed inches above Anna's head as she threw herself onto the dark jungle floor. She looked up through the mangroves and saw stars twinkling through the clouds. She cursed the government's weather report that had promised cloud cover and began to crawl as quickly as she could through and around the tangled mangrove roots. Anna wished she had gotten the WTVJ signal out of Miami and listened to that gringo Norcross, the man hurricane Andrew had turned into the weatherman hero of the Caribbean. But her government was having a good day scrambling the airwaves and she missed the report. Too bad. It was common knowledge on the island that a well-planned escape from Cuba meant catching a weather report from Miami. Outside of El Generlisimo himself, the biggest liars in Cuba were the meteorologists. But they had a purpose: they kept the population guessing. A Cuban never knew when it was going to be a fair weather day to make his escape.

The flying buttress roots of the mangrove trees were exploding all around Anna as she pushed feverishly toward the sound of the pounding surf. She looked up and stopped short. She caught the sound of her heated, screaming breath and stared at the red death dots of the infrared scopes undulating across the mangrove roots above her head. They reminded her of summer fireflies circling and diving in the night air of her youth. How ironic, she thought, as she tried to control her panic, that the red dots of those carefree days had followed her into the swamp, a place she hated as a child and loathed even more as an adult. A few months ago, she was part of an elite group of Communists who wore the largess of Fidel's approval by living a lifestyle unknown to her fellow countrymen. She had her own apartment, indoor plumbing that worked, electricity when no one else did, a TV set wired into a master television tower on top of her building that could, on a bad day for the government, pick up those elusive TV signals from Miami and, above all, air-conditioning from a little portable unit hanging outside her window.

She was a Young Pioneer who had made good. But getting that apartment didn't come without its costs. In exchange for a lifestyle that was common for most Americans, Anna-Maria Rivas, would have to risk her life and freedom to spy for the Old Man himself. At age 24, as one of Castro's personally handpicked spies, it was worth the risk because it was an adventure and yes, even an honor. She was proud and fearless and relished the opportunities to live on the edge. In her mind, there were no alternatives. For those who spoke the party line (or had nice tits), Fidel could make life in a hellhole worth living. Defection was out of the question. In Cuba, she was pampered, one of Fidel's favorites. In America, she would be just another exile who had to work for a living. And besides, there were too many beautiful women in America, too much competition. In Cuba, what with the escapes and defections, it was becoming harder and harder to find a real babe on the island. And that's the way she liked it.

Red death dots were moving up and down and over and around the roots and leaves toward her. She tried not to move because she knew the soldiers were wearing night vision goggles, high-tech contraband she had bought on the streets of downtown Miami. She had been part of a "tourista team" sent in by Fidel through Spain to shop for a wish list of items banned by the U.S. as Cuban imports. She remembered how easy it had been to buy everything Castro ever needed to keep his regime abreast of the technological times of the international war machine. The transaction took place in broad daylight in a store on Biscayne Boulevard, roadway for the annual "King Orange Parade". When she watched the parade back in her Havana apartment and saw the store in the background, she thought how stupid the Americans were.

A red death dot moved down a mangrove trunk and leaped onto her black designer gown. She held her breath and wished she had her camo fatigues. She hoped her diamonds wouldn't sparkle in the moonlight. She felt the sweat bead up on her forehead and roll languidly down her cheek. She hoped her mascara had streaked and that the face "to die for", as Fidel had called it when he lifted a toast to her only hours before, was now nothing but shadow among the roots.

When the red death dot stopped over her heart, she thought of Orestes. He had kissed her there, between her Cuban Peoples Award-winning breasts. So tenderly. Like no man before him. He said he loved her when they made love and that frightened her almost as much as her imminent death.

What would Fidel think if I had loved him back? Was it worth the risk to love a man? A man the Maximum Leader had introduced me to?

She remembered the first time they met. All she could think about when she shook Orestes' hand was her mascara; was it running? Had she smeared it across her face? She had hoped not, she was using gringo makeup bought on one of her forays into the exile community in Miami and it was guaranteed not to smudge. She closed her eyes and tried to remember how it had all began. She wondered how she had fallen so far from Fidel's graces; if Orestes had sabotaged the missile.


To continue reading, please click the "Last Missile..." label below. It will load up a single page with the entire story BACKWARDS. It also starts the MVB theme music by Wayne Cochran which you can turn off (top right YouTube embed).

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