Im tied the bedpost

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					                                              La Nueva Revolución



       I‟m tied to the bedposts. My wrists and ankles are bound by makeshift handcuffs – old vehicle

parts, I think. It‟s all the old man ever talks about – his 1951 Plymouth Belvedere “todo original.”

I‟ve ridden in it once, horizontally, inside the massive trunk amongst rusty tools, empty rum bottles and

oil rags. It smelled like rotten beef. But, I‟m here now, like always, tied to the bedposts.

        Hoards of gluttonous flies feast on my flaky, yellow skin. A torturous affair. A smorgasbord.

Early on, they primarily fancied the raw, infected pus rings around the cuffs. Once those had

calloused, they began biting. Gnawing, feeding, vomiting, feeding, vomiting, feeding and laying eggs

as if I were already dead. But, I don‟t die. My host family makes damn certain of that. I‟d call it

purgatory, but it‟s too painful. I‟d call it hospice, but there is no end in sight. Time is my only pacifier

– counting hours, days, months, years. For 11,736 hours I have watched the same shadows drift across

the walls of this tomb. But today is special – September 11, 2011 – exactly 10 years since those

buildings came tumbling down. And on this magical anniversary, I‟d like to acknowledge a nation –

my homeland – which when faced with immeasurable totalitarian- fundamentalist-evil-doer threats so

benevolently executed what can only be defined as a paradigm of true diplomacy against a malicious

realm of wickedness. Hooting and hollering on top of a blank defense budget check, they combed the

Mid-Easy in what will forever be known as the magnum opus of terrorist wrangling. I bellow a savage

roar of acclamation absolving America‟s guilt concerning my current predicament. I scream and wail

and laugh hysterically, amalgamations of nouns and noises like, “ANFRENGEEEEE

CEREPLATOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONIAAA WOOO WOOO WOOOOO

WAAAAAAALLLLLT WHIIIIIIIIIIIITMAAAAAAAN!” Madness. But sanity lacks relevance here.



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Only that asshole parakeet, caged somewhere beyond the rebar curtains, acknowledges my cries. His

taunting chirps and shrill relentless whistle, presumably mocking me, or perhaps echoing identical

soliloquies of insanity and malcontent. It‟s all I can do to pretend they are songs from happier times,

before the hurricane, before Teresa.

       ___

       We were just outside Cienfuegos at Playa Ranchos, when word of the disaster broke. Elena lay

on a towel next to me in an ivory-white two piece, sweating. She looked airbrushed – a professional

basker. I watched her perky, bronzed chest expand slowly as she took a deep drag from a cigarette.

She held it in, licked her lips, and then exhaled provocatively, as if she knew I was watching through

my super black sunglass lenses. I was stretched out on my stomach, uncomfortably hiding an erection.

I wanted her to say something. She wasn‟t fluent in English, but I liked that in Spanish-speaking

women. Words like r-r-r-r-relationship, where the r‟s rolled consecutively off the top of her palate to

the tip of her tongue – or beach, which just sounded naughty. She was from the Andalucía region of

Spain, thus her pronunciation was laced with a sexy ceceo-lisp. I wanted her to say that I needed more

suntan lotion and offer to lather me up or vice versa. She took another drag, and I wanted to be that

smoke, to be inside her, in any fashion. I‟d met her at a casa particular in Havana where we shared a

small room with bunk beds, but only used one bunk. It had been serendipitous, pornographic, but best

of all, like everything in Cuba, unexpected.

       Off the coast in the Bay of Pigs, we had scuba dived along side a whale shark. A whale shark!

I felt insignificant; I felt a new fear. When I panicked, she‟d taken my hand, and her eyes smiled

bravely through foggy goggles. We were in the presence of divinity in its purest form, and after my

pulse slowed to an appropriate pace, I had followed her and the other divers along the reef only meters

below the monster. Swimming to the slow, hypnotic rhythm of the tides, its shadow eclipsed us, and



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before long only an underwater milky way of coral particles and tiny bubbles stretched out into the

abyss. I wondered if people hunted such magnificent creatures. Most likely. I felt a misanthropic

twinge, ashamed – humans did not belong anywhere near such organic extravagance; it seemed

sacrilegious.

       On the bus ride to Cienfuegos, I‟d relayed my opinions to Elena, but she couldn‟t – or wouldn‟t

– understand what I was trying to say. “You are an angry man,” she had said. Maybe that was true, I

thought watching another bead of sweat roll down her neck. But just then, lying parallel beneath the

scorching afternoon sun, I couldn‟t be bothered with petty pessimism. Then the fat, shirtless man

approached and everything changed.

       Their tongues moved swift and eloquent. The tone was urgent, but such is often the case in

Spanish dialog and my immediate concern was little. Aside from a lover, Elena had also become my

translator, but she was leaving me in the dark, and I began to pick up on a subtler note of panic. Like

two quarreling cobras, they weaved back and forth saying things I could not understand. I waited

patiently for an explanation – nothing. I lay back down on the towel and lit a cigarette. Before I could

take the first drag, she slapped it from my mouth scattering ash and tobacco shrapnel across my bare

chest, arms and face.

       “How can you act so, so, so…relaxed!” she screamed.

       What a wildcat, I thought whisking away the cigarette debris.

       “Was that really necessary? I mean, I don‟t speak Spanish.”

       “Guantanamo! They have escaped!”

       “Sí,” confirmed the fat man, “Señorita Teresa.”




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        Teresa was a class 2 hurricane, which the media indeterminately broadcasted “might nick the

eastern tip of the island” the night before. But the morning was brilliant, so we‟d bolted straight for the

beach without breakfast or regard for news of the aftermath. We'd splashed like children, tanned like

tourists and flirted for hours before learning the grisly details.

        A low percentage indicated that Teresa might boomerang towards Cuba‟s southeastern coast,

and as her class 2 status would hardly shake the coconuts from the palms, serious warning was

unanimously considered impractical. But natural disasters have a long, deadly history of belittling

even the most technologically advanced early warning systems. And around 22:00, under the sleepy

eye of the NOAA and other international weather service organizations, Teresa defied early predictions

that she would gracefully coast between Cuba and Haiti without incident. With voracious wind speeds

topping 175mph, she charged towards the island with an intimidating Category 5 flare. Unfortunately,

as American hurricane evacuation procedures often go, things were a mess at GITMO.

        When word finally reached the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp that it would indeed be

hosting a colossal natural phenomenon, a furious debate arouse amongst the highest ranking officials

concerning the structural soundness of the facilities. The main question was whether it was necessary

to evacuate the detainees from their cells down into an underground storage located at Camp Alpha,

which was currently stocked full of food, medical supplies and, most precarious of all, weapons.

        Thus arose two obstacles. Uno: international weather monitoring predicted landfall within one

to three hours. In order to move 220 detainees1, scattered amongst various holding facilities, to the

shelter in time, 430 tired troops would have to turn water into wine. Since President Obama‟s call for

troop reductions, the usual 2000 persons manning the camp had been reduced to 1080, the greater

majority of whom were now sound asleep in the barracks on the main base some 15 kilometers away.




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With so few men, it would take roughly two hours to empty the storage and at least two more to fill it

back up with presumed terrorists. 2+2 = 4, which = disaster. Troops stationed at the main base were

plenty and could be radioed for assistance, but there in lay obstacle Dos: where would all the troops

take refuge?

           Commanding Officer Gracy Shrevelle, a Louisiana native, was in no mood to go head-to-head

with a storm of this magnitude. “I‟ve seen what these evil bitches can do,” he said, “and I‟m not about

to sit here and watch it happen again. Save your bureaucracy for the dogs, and let‟s get the hell out of

here.” He insisted that they load all troops and as many detainees as possible into the seven busses on

site and whatever remaining military vehicles they could round up, then drive to the main base, where

they could seek proper shelter.

           A young, sickly looking MP argued that the maneuver was illogical, “There ain‟t no room on

the busses for all the soldiers and towel heads, plus we‟d never secure them in time, sir,” he said

bravely. CO Shrevelle slapped the MP hard across the mouth, “Who the fuck are you?” he asked

rhetorically, “and why are you in this room? Get back to your post before I make you an IED-sniffing

canine in Baghdad.” The MP wondered if such animals existed as he shuffled out with his pride

bruised and head hung low.

           Tensions were high. Their bickering and indecisiveness was only worsening their chances of

avoiding catastrophe. Realizing this, Captain Spud Bradude of the United States Navy, exercised his

rank and decided that there was really only one practical solution. The prisoners would be left to God.

“Hell,” he joked, “maybe this will even get a few of them talking.” Barking orders and dictating

1
    Plus 136 unreported.




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precise instructions, he set his plan in action. Camps 1 through 5, along with Camp Iguana2, would be

integrated into nine large enclosures situated within the Camp America and America North quarters.

Like tuna in a can, five men would be squeezed into each sheet metal cell.

         Twenty-five MP‟s were responsible for relocating the detainees and would be stationed to ride

out the storm with them. The remainder of the troops began emptying the storage at Camp Alpha,

where they would eventually take shelter. An urgent, nervous tension vibrated through the prison. The

MP‟s lost focus, finding themselves anxious, pondering over their own well-being. The terrorists could

smell the fear and, in a collective unconsciousness, began scheming.

        Violent winds began spitting rain darts across the island. A wall of inky green clouds crept

eerily out from the midnight sky towards the shore. A soldier‟s gun fired somewhere outside the

enclosure. It resonated inside the heads of all who heard: chaos, it spoke, get ready.

        The MP‟s at Camp Iguana made haste, barking loudly at the detainees. Full of angst and out of

time, they neglected the mandatory daisy chain shackling of wrist and ankles, substituting

semiautomatics for constraints. As the orange centipede marched across the yard, the menacing green

clouds swelled above them, and the air began to scream. Galloping over the shoreline on her pitch-

black equestrian, proud and angry, tearing century old roots from the earth in the name of jihad, she

was early. The rope began to unravel. The MP‟s lost their voices to the wind. One fired a shot to

gather attention and maintain control, but like a thoroughbred at a starting gate, it set the men off. A

power line went down, a spark ignited and a bitter brushfire of dark-skinned men in orange pajamas

took the place up in flames.

2
 Which supposedly held 40 detainees deemed “no longer enemy combatants,” but was in fact the highest security facility
on site holding 78 men classified as “Golden Geese” by the United States Department of Defense.




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       I will disclose only a brief summary of how the insurrection unfolded: it was bloody; people

died. Years of torture, discrimination and neglect had turned the detainees into punch-drunk savages,

thirsty for American blood. Even heavily armed, the handful of MP‟s stationed to guard the men were

no match. While the insubordinate Camp Iguana detainees seized control of the America Camps, the

majority of the troops were already snug in the shelter at Camp Alpha, singing along to a Boz Scaggs

CD. So, when a bloody, out-of-breath MP came barreling through the thick, iron door to announce that

350 hell-bent terrorists had escaped, raided the very recently relocated weapons storage and were going

Rambo III only meters above them, they hesitated.

       The two officers left manning the control room radioed frantically to whomever they could

reach for assistance, but it didn‟t take long for them to realize that all communications had been

knocked out. In the officer‟s quarters, Capitan Bradude and one of his subordinates, a man named

Henry B. Guff, sat quietly listening to the insanity just outside the window. Henry, a character in his

own right, was a freshly appointed GITMO Station Manager for the United States Department of

Homeland Security. He was a frigid man with scoliosis and pasty skin, who used words like “rheum”

instead of “eye boogers.” Sweating profusely, he tapped his foot and stared with terrified, wild eyes at

the Captain, waiting for a reply. The Captain could feel his stare, but kept his own gaze on the door. In

his left hand he held white rum on ice, in his right a 9mm.

       “What do you mean, „This wasn‟t part of your job description‟? Don‟t be such a pussy,

Henry,” he said.

       “I can‟t determine which is more frightening, the sound of the gunfire coming nearer or the

howls of the hurricane.”

       “One way or another, we‟re fucked. But show no fear, man; God, hates cowards.”

       “Shouldn‟t I have a weapon, Sir?”



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       “It won‟t do you any good.”

        The door burst open, and the Captain casually emptied his clip. Miscounting one last bullet in

the chamber he put the barrel to his temple and choked the trigger. Click, his eyes teared up as a

swarm of orange locusts engulfed him.

       On the headwind of a hurricane, the once prisoners of war – now fugitive soldiers of fortune –

loaded onto busses, taking with them a handful of hostages, weapons and various supplies and began

the long journey west. When all was said and done, the scattered remains of an estimated 283 soldiers

and 62 detainees would be identified along the coastline spoil.

       The convoy blew past the naval base main gate and on towards the Cuban boarder, virtually

without incident. With communications still down and a hurricane ravaging the area, both of the

lightly manned checkpoints were taken off guard. The sleepy American and Cuban border guards never

even fired a shot. The fugitive locomotive moved northwest, only stopping for fuel in a small village

and by dawn occupied the Plaza Mayor zone of Trinidad. In the midst of the early morning hours, the

waking city had been captured without even knowing.

       Most impressive was the prisoners‟ ability to establish an organized militia in such short time.

Typical of most penal institutions, an underground hierarchy had been realized before the first shot was

ever fired. Ethnically and ideologically diverse, their time in GITMO had united them under one

common mind, American hatred. Once soldiers, then prisoners, now soldiers again, they formed a

united front, blockading every entrance into the Plaza. Another outfit swept through the

neighborhoods. Heavily armed and quick to shoot, they bound and gagged nearly 800 people before

relocating them to the Church of the Holy Trinity. Confused and cowardly, the locals seemed to have

an almost unanimous desire to cooperate. Angry tourists protested, but their appeals fell on deaf ears.

Town police fled the city.



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       Once word reached the capital, communication was established. Within the hour, a cascade of

armored vehicles and one black suburban, carrying Raúl Castro and his long presumed dead brother

Fidel, headed west. When they reached the colonial hill top city, the Cuban army was ordered to stand

down. Cigar wedged between his teeth, Fidel marched up the old, cobble stone street towards the

Plaza. Raul, their bodyguards and closest advisers trailed awkwardly behind. Witnesses were

astonished and bewildered to see their immortal leader‟s powerful, determined strut. They said things

like, “Will the man never die?” and “He looks good, don‟t you think?”

       A trilateral conference began between the two present powers and Washington. Things got off

to a rocky start when Obama, fresh at the post, immediately made one crucial mistake by ordering

Cuba to take immediate military action and allow American forces to intervene without limitation. He

used terms like “Extraordinary rendition policy” and “You mother fuckers.”

        Ripe with resentment and no stranger to aggressive American negotiation tactics of instructing

rather than negotiating, Fidel beefed up the land mine ridden Guantanamo border with 4,000 extra

troops and 63 tanks. Then, he casually placed Washington on hold, substituting their place in the talks

with other countries eager to be part of the fun, namely Russia, China and Venezuela.

       The alarming amount of hostile interest showed fast on Washington‟s radar, and they began to

panic. With one desert war eight years raging, a financial economic crisis not witnessed since the

Great Depression and less than a year in office, the last thing president Obama wanted was to start

World War III over a tropical storm named Teresa. So, he bitterly ordered the giant, testosterone-

driven military beneath his thumb to stand down and at the same time cursed God endlessly. “In only

two short months the prison would have been closed down for good, but that just wasn‟t enough for

you was it?” he asked God. God did not reply.




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           Every hour of silence from Cuba infuriated Washington a little more. Only Fidel had bravado

and insolence enough to make the greatest power on earth dance to his drumbeat. But it was what he

did next that really pissed them off. After two days of silence, Fidel Castro, the Machiavellian relic,

loquacious as ever, addressed the world live from Trinidad:



         Comrades, a new hour is upon us. The time of ridicule and aggression from the capitalist world is
         coming to an end. Even as I speak, governments that support us are preparing to facilitate a
         positive shift in the Cuban way of life – a fair and balanced financial transition that lacks the
         avaricious capitalist undertone so popular in today‟s business environment. After nearly half
         century of cruel economic sanctions and global belligerence, our people, who so magnanimously
         defended the revolutionary cause, will finally gain the recognition and respect they deserve.

         However, the lives and sacrifice given defending that cause should never be forgotten. Our ethics
         and patriotism have worked to build blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
         blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
         blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
         blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
         blah blah blah blah blah blah the Revolution!

         Blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
         blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
         blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
         blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
         blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah...3

         I could speak for days on the integrity of the Cuban people, an integrity which governments such as
         the United States have never paid one single word of recognition. And there are others who suffer
         similar offenses. I ask you today to look into your hearts and ask yourself – who are these men that
         the U.S. imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay? Are they so different that you and I? The United States
         would like you to believe that they are terrorist. But then, why have they not been convicted? Why
         are they imprisoned for years against their will, and even against the legislation of the United States
         judicial system? They were merely pawns in the race for the last of the oil reserves before the oil
         age is over. Their ethics and religious beliefs have been manipulated to portray them as the new
         threat to the American way of life – much like the ideas of communism in the early years of the
         revolution. This is all part of the new American century, which has been written by capitalist
         crooks and greedy bureaucrats.

         And now, the United States has ordered us to surrender to them these men, whom they have in fact
         kidnapped! They are demanding we respect an extradition treaty set in place in 1926, but which
         they themselves no longer honor! As far as our response is concerned, we will not. Cuba intends to
         grant these refugees of war full asylum. We can only ask that the United States respect our decision
3
    It goes on that way for a while, typical revolution rhetoric.




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      as we have done so many times in the past concerning Cuban refugees who reached American soil.
      These men are now and will forever be sons of Cuba!

      Finally I would like to speak on the future. It is clear that the U.S. government strives to rule the
      world, but how can they govern the world when they are not even capable of governing themselves.
      Just look at the economic turmoil that plagues them now…

      Many of you assume that Cuba‟s economic worries will vanish if the mighty bellicose empire
      would lift their sanctions against us, I tell you now it is not so. We have survived and will continue
      to progress without assistance or cooperation with the greedy, American government because we
      are a nation of determined, hard working people who believe in the right to equality and justice.
      Despite unjust embargos and the disappearance of the USSR and the socialist bloc, we have shown
      that we are capable of moving forward. No other country would have been able to withstand the
      criminal blockade. No other country would have done as much as we have with so little. And our
      struggle was not in vain…I am happy to announce that I have signed a joint declaration with Russia
      this morning that should work to elevate and stimulate the Cuban economy significantly over the
      next five years. The agreement has a solid foundation, but I will not disclose the details further at
      this time. Know that our comrades support our decision to offer the men from Guantanamo asylum
      and will do everything in their power to insure that our agreements are protected from those who
      might aim to destroy them.


       Every missile in the nuclear world was armed. Every soldier summoned to duty. An alarm

rang loud and urgent: Apocalypse Now! Apocalypse Now! Washington and its allies stood speechless.

Checkmate.

       ___

       Here comes the old woman of the house, La Puta Madre, literally. I hear the key in the lock.

Swollen, seething, constipated expression on her Jack O‟ Lantern face. She has stringy ochre-colored

hair and crooked gaps between her ochre-colored teeth. I imagine the child-eating witch from Hansel

and Gretel looked this way.

       It‟s insecticide time. Give me a good spray. I think its pure DEET– toxic – which probably

accounts for the liver pangs and yellow skin. It accumulates too – into a thick wax. I‟m a stinky

candle. The flies have grown immune, but at least it keeps the mosquitoes away. The first few months

here I had a mental collapse due to their constant torment. Night after night, bite after bite, and

restraints = itching without scratching. I literally went insane: couldn‟t talk for a while, only gibberish;



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couldn‟t think, only black outs. Finally the army supplied them with some bug spray, but not before I

caught Dengue, or bone brake fever as they call it. Imagine the cold sweats, nausea, fever and the

delirium of malaria; then leap from a skyscraper, smash into concrete and live – it feels like that. I

would pass out every few hours, think I had died, just to wake up again, wishing I were dead.

       Looks like she has brought supper too. Waddle, waddle, waddle. She‟s like a festering tumor

slinking around the room. “Tú apestas. Eres un cerdo,” she mutters.

       “Give me a fucking bath then. It‟s been two weeks,” I moan. She ignores me and starts to

spoon the post-revolution paella into my mouth. Rice is the only consistent ingredient; usually

complimented by turkey vulture, dog and whatever else they can get their hands on. Even Tom the old

tomcat stopped prancing around conspicuously and pissing in my window. I suspect he toured my

digestive track at some point. I choke down another bite and feel the gritty fat of pooch slide down my

throat. It tasted like duck that had been rotting in a bowl of olive oil and cumin for weeks.

       When I first arrived, I could hear the stray, disease-ridden mutts running around the

neighborhoods – barking, fighting, fucking. They were as indigenous to Cuba as penguins to the poles.

But eventually their noise was siphoned out through the sound of gunfire. Then the bombing started,

hour after hour of earth-pounding calamity. As the sound would grow nearer, the walls shook, and the

foundation squealed. I could hear my pulse beating faster and louder, like a timpani progression in

some madman‟s symphony and catch myself praying for one of those missiles to fall on me. But they

aren‟t interested in bombing this inbred village. I imagine it‟s never even been mapped. These people

have no real place in the world. They were as insignificant as rocks before I came along. Which I

suppose accounts for their eagerness to keep me alive, if just barely, so that when the army comes to

collect me, they will gain a sense of pride or accomplishment or maybe simply for the shallow

presumption of a reward. But that will never happen.



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       For the first few months, I was tethered to that American-bred optimism that my country would

soon come swooping in to rescue me. Eventually, that hope turned into hallucinations. The door

would burst open, troops packing heavy arms and night vision goggles would ask me my name and say

things like, “How you doin‟ sport? It‟s alright now, you‟re safe.” I would thank them and then begin

laughing, laughing until I cried. The mind can be cruel and deceiving…it was strange times. Now I

am forever a severely depressed realist. I harbor no assumptions or hope, only a burning desire to die

already.

       She changes the pan beneath the hole in my bed, then mumbles something about me being

filthy. I glare at her and empty my bowels onto the floor. She screams and swears and swings the

bedpan hard into my temple. My head grows heavy, and I feel my eyes roll back into darkness. I can

still hear her yelling in the distance, and I am disappointed. If she‟d only swung a little harder.

       ___

       Elena and I were still in Cienfuegos, desperately trying to find a way out of the country. Since

Trinidad‟s infiltration, the country had been ordered to stand still. All flights suspended, travel

between cities forbidden. People caught driving were swiftly rounded up and incarcerated. The

telephone networks had been shut down. With the flip of a switch, the government had literally

imprisoned the entire nation.

       The casa particular was full of neighbors and family members in frantics. Elena and I stood

stoic across the room, quiet, scared, confused. I wanted to be brave for her, but my mind was scattered.

If American action cinema has taught us anything, it‟s that there is always a way out. Whether it be

through the spot-on blast from a machinegun toting immortal or the sneaky-deaky, often invisible

ingenuity of the pink panther, there is always a way out.




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        A boat was the most logical option, but for obvious reasons, very few Cubans owned boats.

Local fishermen were obliged to use inner tubes from tractor tires. Varadero was the largest resort area

on the island, thus littered with well-to-do tourists. The area was also renowned for its aquatic

activities such as deep sea fishing, diving and yachting. Although the military would surely be

monitoring the ports, our best chance of finding a departing vessel would be there. And if nothing else,

to be amongst our own – the old safety in numbers tactic. The owner of the house had a beat up

Russian Lada parked out front. We could steal it before dawn and, with the lines down, there‟d be no

way to report us.

        But was it worth it, I thought. It was a four-hour drive; the risk of being intercepted along the

way was great. Plus, in all likelihood, they would have to let us leave eventually, wouldn‟t they? I

figured we‟d have to risk it. I liked the word risk: it was a powerful word, and it made me feel intrepid.

I liked the word intrepid, too.

        I saw Elena was crying and pulled her near. She began to bawl long, sorrowful sobs into my

chest. There was nothing to say. That night was the last time I saw her. We made love from the fear

of the unknown. Mouth and skin and sweat and teeth – raw sexual vertigo, no boundaries, only rhythm

and nirvana. Over and over I filled her, and she me until we collapsed, numb and exhausted, into a

deep empty sleep. We awoke at gunpoint, unprepared and naked.

        Meanwhile, Washington was flying off the handle, making belligerent threats in an attempt to

restore some sense in the world before life as they knew it was turned upside down. They rang the

allegiance bell, but rallying the allies wasn‟t easy. While nearly everyone agreed that immediate action

was crucial, no one wanted direct involvement in the process. The Cuban leaders may hate the

capitalist world, but their hostility in this particular matter was clearly aimed at one target. Therefore,

with the bitter taste of Iraq still poised on their pallets, the allies opted to ask questions and then shoot



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this time around. However, with many of their own citizens now held hostage, the old western hymn,

“We don‟t negotiate with terrorists or those who harbor terrorists” went straight out the window.

       Fidel‟s greatest embarrassment was that tourism had become the economic staple for the

average Cuban. Not only did it show that his communist system of governing was insufficient, but it

portrayed the nation‟s financial desperation in the most despicable third world light. His countrymen

had become hustlers and beggars tied to holiday handouts from the fat capitalist wallet. But he also

respected the fact that foreign investments were stitched into virtually every fabric of Cuban life and to

destroy those relationships could be catastrophic. Therefore, when the world demanded the release of

their citizens, he obliged, but not before exploiting the deportation process. First, he insisted that all

foreigners be brought to Havana, where they would be sorted into camps, respective of their

nationality. Next, Cuban customs would conduct a detailed catalogue based on the passport entry

information in their database. This way, he could not be held responsible for any unaccounted persons

after the deportation. Such a delicate process could take weeks to months, he insisted. The foreigners

would need food, supplies and “care” – someone would have to pay. Each nation was expected to wire

significant sums of currency based on the number of their citizens being looked after and their national

GDP. Some protested at first, calling it ransom, but with the urbane tone of ambiguity, Fidel

convinced them that it was in their citizens‟ best interest that they simmer down and fork over the cash.

For national security purposes, he refused to allow any foreign aircraft within Cuban airspace. Once

the inventory was complete, the Cubana Air fleet would begin flying the captives to Santo Domingo.

Aircraft fuel and maintenance were also expensive, therefore any further donations made would be

greatly appreciated and might help dictate the randomness in which nationalities were inventoried and

exported. Not surprisingly, even before the camps had been established, private charter planes were

spotted departing the island carrying persons holding Chinese, Russian and Venezuelan passports.



                                                                                                             15
           There were two American Camps. Camp 1 was rumored to be an underground army barracks

on the west coast holding the soldiers captured at GITMO. I was confined to the second camp with

200 other Americans on the eastern outskirts of Havana. Upon arrival, people were ordered to empty

their luggage. All electrical devices and items that might be used as weapons were seized for “security

purposes.” Passports and any cash we had on us were involuntarily exchanged for a four-digit

identification badge to be worn at all times. We were strip-searched and then rationed one bar of soap

and one blanket per individual. That was it. Generally, Americans tend to take even the smallest

injustice rather hard, so it was no surprise that many of them went bonkers. Screaming and shouting

and threatening to no end. But their dramatics were no match for Cuban guard methods of restoring

order. Smashed ribs and broken noses proved to be a persuasive disciplinary tactic, and eventually

everyone accepted the terrifying realization that, for the time being, we were prisoners.

           It wasn‟t Auschwitz, but certainly wasn‟t hospitable either. We shared six massive dormitories

jam-packed with rusty cots. A weathered old barn located some 150 meters from the main camp was

converted into the toilet. A wooden platform with dinner plate sized holes stretched the length of the

building. Below it, a three-meter trench dug out of the earth collected our excrement. Just outside the

barn were two crop irrigators, which we used for showering and laundry. Guards would turn them on

once a day for ten minutes. The policy was first come first serve. Meal rations were served twice daily

under a canopy of tents in the courtyard between the dorms. The Moros y Cristianos4 diet left us little

energy. We were always hungry. The guards were under strict orders not to facilitate, but

occasionally, a guy on the night watch could be talked into swapping fruits and veggies, a bottle of rum

or pack of cigarettes for an article of clothing. That‟s how I met Tim.

4
    Rice and black beans cooked together- tastes like wood.




                                                                                                         16
       Two weeks into our occupation, smokers were out cold turkey. All except for one young man

named Tim. Mowing down a pack a day, he puffed around the camp, mostly joking and practicing his

Spanish with the guards, oblivious to the junk-sick nicotine addicts around him. Of course, it wasn‟t

long before they sought him out and the interrogations began.

       “Come on,” they would ask, “who‟s your source?”

       “Source? Listen, I just brought a few cartons in with me, that‟s all. Actually, this is my last

pack, buddy.” He had a genuine charm, calling everyone “buddy” as if he really thought of them as his

buddy, even if they‟d never met before. Somehow it was difficult to argue with that. It usually ended

in wild propositions. He told me a venture capitalist from Miami once offered him a yacht and a

hundred thousand dollars for a pack. On more than one occasion, women put their bodies on the line.

But Tim never bit. The more outrageous the offer the more disgusted he became for them. In his mind

they would all thank him in the long run. And some of them did. Not even a month later, nicotine free

and no longer hacking up tar, they would stop him just to say: hey, thanks.

       Not me though. Clearly he was being supplied by some of the guards he‟d befriended. But

who? Over three weeks of observation, I hadn‟t noticed the slightest underground activity. Then one

morning, around 03:00, I watched him sneak out of the dorm. There were serious consequences for

breaking curfew, but I followed, tip-toeing blindly into the darkness. The night was silent, and I could

just make out the sound of his footsteps up ahead. He must have been en route for the guard tower on

the southernmost perimeter, I thought. There was nothing else in that direction. Then suddenly, it was

quiet. I froze. His footsteps had disappeared. I risked another soft step when a voice hissed from

behind me.

       “Why are you following me?”

       “Shit!” I shouted frightened.



                                                                                                         17
       “Shhhh!”

       “Oh, right, sorry,” I whispered. “How did you get behind me?”

       “Why are you following me?” he asked again.

       “You know why. I want in.”

       “On what?”

       “Come on, I know the guards are hooking you up.”

       “You‟re crazy, go back to the dorm before you get us both in trouble.”

       “Forget it, you‟re going to let me in, or I‟m going tell everybody about your late night

connection.”

       “Don‟t be an asshole.”

       I was being an asshole.

       “Yeah okay, sorry. But come on man, just introduce me or something.”

       He didn‟t say anything.

       “Look, I‟ve got 40 pesos I managed to sneak into the camp.”

       “It‟s not that simple. The guy doesn‟t take money.”

       “Well what does he want?” I asked, not certain I wanted to know.

       “Clothing, especially t-shirts that have some sort of decal. They‟re priceless here, but you gotta

know these guys… Anyway listen, most of the people here have finally accepted that I am getting

something they‟re not, but if I start helping you or anyone else things are going to go south.”

       “Who gives a shit what they think? Look, I don‟t know about you, but I came to Cuba illegally.

I bought my visa and plane tickets in Cancun. And unlike most of the ignorant hopefuls in this camp,

I‟m not buying into the notion that our homeland security forces or black ops are going to swoop in and

rescue a bunch of people who aren‟t even supposed to be here. Maybe the few with legitimate visas



                                                                                                      18
will get out, but the rest of us probably won‟t be seeing American soil for a long time, and when we do,

they‟ll slap us with fines for breaking some fucking ridiculous, outdated treasury law. But while we‟re

in here, we‟ve got to take care of each other. And I‟m not asking you to racketeer for the whole camp,

just help one guy who had enough nerve to follow you into the dark, and, to be perfectly honest, just

really needs a pack of smokes.”

       “You got some matches?” he asked. He pulled a pack from his pocket and took out three sticks.

       “No.”

       He handed me the three cigarettes and a half book of matches. “That‟s it buddy. That‟s all I

can do for you.”

       I understood he was trying to be diplomatic, but I was insulted and annoyed. “God damn it,

man, you head over there and get your shit from whoever your getting it from, and I will be waiting

right here for you when you get back. If you don‟t have at least two packs of smokes and small bottle

of hard liquor, preferably rum, I‟m going to punch you straight in the teeth.” I pulled off my t-shirt and

held it out for him.

       He started to laugh and walked away. He‟d called my bluff. I smoked the last of my dignity

from one of the cigarettes and walked back to the dorm, defeated. The next morning when I returned

from breakfast I was surprised to find two packs of cigarettes under my blanket with a note that read:



       Sorry Steven Segal, no rum this time.

        I came in from Cancun too.



       Tim looked like a 1950‟s Ivy League athlete who hadn‟t shaved in three months. His hair was a

shade of dark chocolate and exceptionally full. It was finger-combed back in a quasi-quiff sort of way.



                                                                                                         19
He wore a pair of Buddy Holly-style, horn-rimmed glasses that made him look like the type of person

who knew the Latin names for animal or plant life. He‟d been drifting around the island for two

months, attempting to master the language and contemplating what to do with his life. In less than

three weeks, he was scheduled to submit a thesis and theoretically receive his Masters in Development

and International Relations – a field he now resented. He hadn‟t finished. In fact, he hadn‟t even

begun working on the thesis and wasn‟t entirely sure how he felt about that. His costly procrastination

was mainly due to the fact that throughout six years of proper education, he felt he‟d been swindled.

Development and International Relations was merely the last in a long string of unsatisfying majors

that he‟d approached ambitiously but found to be nothing more than inflated theoretical nonsense.

“Real, existential knowledge is all around you,” he would say, “not in some greedy institution selling

overpriced pseudo-intellect. Just take this camp, this situation, for example: you will learn more about

life and the current state of humanity here than in any book or lecture.”

        Despite his malcontent for the American education system, he was almost always jolly, and in

turn, so was I. We shared a contagious humor that the others could not appreciate nor understand.

Like typical Americans, their melodramatics were essential to their survival, but not ours. While they

sat around sweating and bitching day after day, retelling and exaggerating the same theories and

rumors, we stayed in good spirits, amused by the crazy world we lived in.

        “Listen to you two, always laughing and joking. How can you joke at a time like this?” one

women asked, bitterly.

        “What else should we do?” Tim replied.

        “This isn‟t a joke, it‟s serious!”

        “It‟s relative to what you define as serious,” I said. “Take Tim here, for example. Tim, show

her that scar.”



                                                                                                         20
       Tim lifted his shirt to expose the three-inch cicatrix across his belly.

       “Now that‟s serious.”

       “Serious,” echoed Tim.

       He had told me the story the day before. He‟d been stabbed one night in Virginia Beach trying

to fight off four drunken hillbillies who‟d been beating a helpless dog. Though at first glance he didn‟t

look it, Tim was strong as an earthquake. But more than that, he was a benevolent altruist, prudent and

selfless, with a genuine compassion for those in need.

        “How does it feel being stabbed,” I asked.

       “Cold,” he said.

       “Where you okay?”

       “Yeah. To be honest, I barely knew what happened. Everyone just froze – they looked at me –

I looked at them – then they went running. I lifted my shirt, and it was just pumping blood,” he mimed

blood pumping with his hands. “Anyway, I sat down on the grass, called for an ambulance and got

stitched up. Lucky though, just missed my kidney. Crazy rednecks.” He chuckled and shook his head.

       “Why‟d you do it?”

       “Well, at the time I was the number three kick boxer in North America,”

       “Shut up.”

       “Seriously.”

       I could see he was serious and guessed that‟s why he‟d been so quick to laugh the night I

       threatened to punch him.

       “I was training a lot at the time, and I guess I thought I could take on the world. Plus beating up

       a dog just isn‟t cool, man.”




                                                                                                       21
       I told Tim how I‟d once got in a fistfight with a young Doberman Pincher after it attacked me,

and, from my point of view, won – but we both agreed that wasn‟t the same thing.

       Weeks passed but nothing changed. We sat around playing dominos or cards, smoking

cigarettes, talking about our pasts. No one had been released from the camp yet, but rumors were

circulating that many of the other foreigners had been sent home. I wondered if Elena was one of

them. I hoped so.



       Fidel‟s initial plan was simple – spite the Yankees. In his opinion, giving the men from

GITMO asylum was no different than Washington granting it to Cuban refugees who were fortunate

enough to set foot on American soil. These men belonged to Cuba now, and like it or not the world

would have to respect that. Although the men were grateful for the political asylum, they also had high

expectations of returning to their homelands. But Fidel had other ideas. He could not expect them to

simply integrate into Cuban society. After all, these were clearly not your average refugees. Most of

them were killers, masterminds and mercenaries – in other words, a military omen. Ordering them

around would be tricky business. In the religious sense, he had no legitimate authority. He decided to

utilize the existing hierarchy they‟d brought with them from GITMO. Three top ranking individuals of

the group received orders and reported directly to Fidel and Raul. Those three then delegated

commands to the GITMO soldiers in a manner more mindful of their previous training and religious

practice. There was much to gain from this eclectic mix of warriors. Many of them had spent all their

lives learning and teaching various Middle Eastern warfare techniques – techniques shown prudent

enough to sustain an eight-year war and counting with the western world. They sorted out the bunch in

training camps with respect to their individual talents – chemical, long-range artillery, suicide

bombing, strategies, etc. Next, they integrate Cuban soldiers with similar backgrounds. Juxtaposing



                                                                                                        22
warfare wisdoms, they attempted to define a new form of counterinsurgency. The men were eager to

be part of Fidel‟s army, if for no other reason than to oppose the U.S. Although some of them had been

innocent when they‟d entered GITMO, the beating and torture and mockery had insured that every one

of them came out a dangerous liability.

        Upon hearing the news about Cuba‟s newly enlisted soldiers, Washington simply commented,

“They‟ll need it soon.” In fact, the only thing still keeping Washington from storming the island at that

point was heavyweight Russia and others Cuban allies warning that there would be hell to pay if the

United States meddled with the communist country. Washington would have to wait patiently, like

everyone else, for Fidel to return their citizens. But then, the unthinkable happened.

        ___

        La Niña – I don‟t know her real name. Maybe once I heard the old man say Elisabeth, but

mostly they call her La Niña. I call her Little Fuck Head. Hate is not a word I use lightly – I hate her

more than I have ever hated anything. More than bondage, more than mosquitoes, more than the scent

of Tom the tomcat who used to piss in the window every night. Before her, I did not know it was

possible to truly hate a child. If hell exists, and this isn‟t it, I‟m certain there is a designated area for

little girls just like her, where they hang by the neck from flaming jump ropes all day long choking and

smoldering. On holidays, they are let down and tied to a mattress of nails and rusty barbwire. Herds of

wild bison trample over them endlessly, pissing and shitting and hoofing. I‟m almost willing to believe

in the afterlife just to satisfy that fantasy. I hear her just outside my room humming. If my legs still

worked, and I wasn‟t strapped to this bed, I would go outside right now and kick her in the face. I

would kick her so hard. Disfigure her for good…

        She looks nothing like her mother. It‟s amazing, really. I loathe her, but she‟s beautiful. With

the figure of young woman, only her immaturity exposes her age. Her premature body is curvy and



                                                                                                                23
full – her hair, long and golden. And the dancing, oh, the dancing! That‟s how the mockery and

mutilations began.

       All things considered, it was nice here in the beginning. Aside from the obvious discomforts,

mainly attributed to constant bondage, the place had a homey feel to it, clearly never intended to be a

holding cell. My room was used for guests before the revolution ended. Equipped with a private bath

and trinkety, frilly sort of décor, it‟s set back in the courtyard behind the main house. The family used

to spend most of their nights back there, laughing and dancing and singing along to an old

radio/cassette player. It was unexpected and cheered me up a little. Vicariously, I would utilize their

blissful voices to make it through my struggle.

       One night, they were particularly merry and liquored up. The door swung open. Little Fuck

Head stood in the doorway wearing a transparent silk nightgown and mischievous grin. She began to

dance. Not normal 10-year-old dancing, but provocative, exotic dancer-type moves. Arching her back

and thrusting her tiny ass in my direction. She would bend down slowly with her upper body so that

the hem of her gown crept up just enough to expose her bum and naked crotch – then up again quickly,

looking over her shoulder and shaking her hips. Little girls should not be allowed to dance like this, no

one should. I closed my eyes, trying to escape the perversion. They had all gathered, laughing

heartlessly at my pathetic exposed erection for the 10-year-old dancing demon. Ashamed, defenseless,

naked, I lay humiliated. But that was only the beginning. Her antics and my party trick had become a

hit. Whenever the family had guests or needed a good laugh, in she would come. My first reaction, of

course, was closing my eyes, but the old man would have none of it. He would fasten a small set of

pliers to one of my toes and begin to squeeze. It didn‟t take much convincing after the first time; if it

was a hard-on they wanted, then that‟s what they would get.




                                                                                                            24
        Unfortunately, as time past I found myself unable to perform. The crowds grew restless and

crass and increasingly violent. In order to satisfy and escape the show unscathed, I was forced to dig

into the darkest corners of my psyche. A pedophilic unconsciousness that I am now convinced exists

in all animals, but simply as a defense mechanism, most likely for longevity – prolonging the survival

of a species. I am not proud of the thoughts that would race through my weary, abused mind, but I did

what needed to be done.

       As my physical and mental conditions further deteriorated, it was no longer entertaining to

watch the leprous gimp struggle for erections. They lost sight of me as a fellow human being, and I

became an object, a science experiment. This is when she began to mutilate me. I will not go into

detail about the atrocities committed by this evil, evil, evil child, but note that along with being

physically genderless, I am also mentally unstable to the extent that I have ground the majority of my

teeth down to the gum. Those days of dissection are behind me now. During one of our sessions, she

nicked an artery just below my groin. I was close to escape, but alas a doctor was summoned at great

expense and my life was saved, so to speak. Little Fuck Head was forbidden from any more

experimentation.

       Some months later, her parents approached me with a proposition. For every hour I spent

teaching Little Fuck Head English, I would be allowed to sit in the courtyard with her, shackled to a

tree, of course. It had been more than a year since I had been outside of that room, so I accepted.

       That‟s when my next physical vicissitude surfaced. Like an astronaut reuniting with gravity

after months floating about, I‟d developed muscular atrophy. The restraints had limited the movement

of my extremities to such a useless degree that they virtually became – for lack of a better word –

unnecessary. My decaying body had adapted by turning me into a sort of mushy quadriplegic. My

host would drag me by my arms into the courtyard and prop me against a small palm. The depression I



                                                                                                         25
gained from the handicap was briefly overshadowed each afternoon by the sun beating down on my

malnourished body. And for a brief period, I found it again, a fresh energy, a small spark of optimism

igniting fanatical thoughts like: this is temporary; they‟re coming for you; just stay strong. It‟s

amazing how, in the mist of such hopelessness, the simplest thing, such as a sunbeam or gentle breeze,

can seem like a lifeline.

       But I made a mistake. Looking back, it was a mistake. I exploited their side of the bargain out

of vengeance, and it swung around to strike me in the jugular. I had never intended to teach her proper

English, especially as there was no one around to know the difference. Over a 5-month period her use

of the language certainly made drastic improvements, but unless she is planning to become a slightly

mental call girl, it wouldn‟t be of much use. For example, to greet a relative in a respective manner,

one ought to say, “Rupturous hemorrhoids edible?” Complementing a fellow female‟s fashion went

something like, “Mercy! Fellatio every llama. Swollen extremities?” And so on.

       I was able to create my own grammatical rules: removing all articles; replacing subjects with

anatomy; verbs with swear words; threading together poetic lines of sophisticate smut. Before long,

she was racing all over the house asking her imbecile father if she could swallow testicular cancer

when she wanted milk. Telling her mother she wished angry, sporadic fisting when she wasn‟t tired.

They never suspected a thing, until someone, probably a neighbor with an intermediate understanding

of the language, picked up on one of her unusually crass comments. I was chastised, beaten, starved,

lain for weeks in my own excrement before their fury subsided. To this day, I have yet to see the sun

aside from its dull glare through the iron bars and dust-stained curtains, moving for but a few precious

hours across the western wall of my cell each morning. My only retribution comes when I hear Little

Fuck Head out in the courtyard telling one of her friends “Butt plugs festering me randy.” I have to

smile proudly – she was such a quick learner.



                                                                                                         26
       ___

       News reached our camp by way of panic. The postmodern father of generic Marxism was

gone. He‟d suffered a severe stroke late in the night at his private residence. The guards were a mess,

flopping around in jabber tongues, like Holy Spirit-infested Pentecostals at a revival.

       “The robots are short circuiting,” joked Tim.

       I forced a chuckle, but their hysterics were unnerving.

       “You okay,” he asked.

       “Yeah, just anxious.” We were all anxious, and with good reason.

       Raul Castro had been playing puppet for his older brother for half a decade. Now he officially

took the helm with shaky hands. Most terrifying, however, was who stood to the right of him: a man

by the name of Asad Salam Khwaja.

       Conceived out of wedlock to a Saudi Sheik and his Pakistani maid, Asad Salam Khwaja was an

evil bastard before he‟d even compromised the womb. The Sheik‟s second – and most adored – wife

insisted that the pregnant young girl be banished for the sake of the family‟s reputation. Obediently,

the Sheik dismissed his favorite concubine and their unborn son back to the rural North Waziristan

region of Pakistan to be cared for by her relatives. Nine years passed, and the fetus grew into a

promising young boy within his small community. He possessed instant comprehension of the subjects

he studied and was soon deemed a prodigy by his professors. Unfortunately, he also exhibited ultra-

violent behavior.

       Despite the village‟s limited amounts of practical resources such as fresh water, antiseptics and

stable electricity, it contained a plethora of explosive agents. Gasoline, motor oil, sugar, flour and even

sawdust packed and complemented with an appropriate catalyst all made for brilliant playmates. He




                                                                                                         27
began torturing animals: shoving homemade explosives up the anuses of local mutts, dousing cats in

kerosene and flicking a match – textbook pre-adolescent, psychopathic conduct.

       Coincidently, around this same time a wave of Pertussis – or whooping cough – infected two

infants and a number of children in the village. They‟d been quarantined to a tiny farmhouse for just

over a week before a doctor and set of nurses from Islamabad arrived with antibiotics and vaccinations.

His prognosis was grim; the two infants would surely die within a day or two. Whether the children

would recover was yet to be seen. He ordered they stay isolated from the village for a duration no

shorter than four weeks. One of the nurses stayed behind to care for the ill and prevent further spread

amongst the community. Everyone in the village received first round vaccinations to be followed by

two more within the year.

       Asad was fascinated. He snuck out to the farmhouse everyday and crouched below one of the

open windows listening to the disease. He‟d witnessed coughing fits before, but these were different.

Deep, violent whooping followed by gasping and tears. One boy would dry heave after every fit.

Another maintained a low dismal hum between each cough, as if he‟d gone mental. One morning Asad

crept around the building to his usual spot only to find the nurse waiting for him.

       “So you‟re the one,” she said sternly. “Do you know how dangerous it is for you to be around

here, boy? These people are very contagious.”

       “Explain contagious,” he answered.

       “It means the disease can spread from one person to another – in this case simply from

breathing the same air.”

       “Yes, I understand the definition, but how does it work exactly?”

       She was taken aback by the boy‟s curiosity. “How does what work? The disease or how it is

spread?”



                                                                                                        28
       “Everything, I want to know everything.”

       “What is your name, son?”

       “Asad Salam Khwaja.”

       “Asad, this is neither the time nor the place to have such discussions, but if you would like, I

can lend you a book which explains such matters.”

       “Yes, I would like that very much.”

       “Wait here.” The nurse went into the farmhouse and retrieved a basic medical field guide that

she had carried since university. Although the overall content would be far beyond the boy‟s

understanding, perhaps he could find some answers to his questions and possibly inspiration for a

future in medicine.

       “If you come to words you don‟t understand, remember to use the index in the back of the

book. Have you ever used a textbook like this before, Asad?”

       “Yes, ma‟am.”

       “Good. I will come find you in a few weeks to collect it. Until then, enjoy.”

       He thanked her and ran home. That night, Asad found in disease what mankind finds in God,

and for the very first time in his life, he was humbled before an invisible, egomaniacal force.

       By the age of thirteen, Asad had finished his basic studies and was spending most of his time in

nearby MiranShah with one of his uncles who worked as a Liaison Officer between the political agency

and tribes in the region. Still too young to enroll in university, most of his days were spent surfing the

Internet and studying medical and scientific journals he‟d obtained from various sources. Times of

simplistic cause and effect chemistry experiments had long past. Lighting a fuse and witnessing the

reaction was child‟s play. Manipulating armies of microscopic organisms was complex and gave him a




                                                                                                          29
new satisfaction. Thus, while most boys of his age maintained hobbies like soccer and girls, he was

engulfed in the world of biological warfare.

       The first human victims were obvious targets: homeless; junkies and mental retards scattered

around the city. He identified escherichia coli as the easiest bacterium to obtain. A local butcher paid

Asad a small sum to discard cow innards after a slaughter. He would collect fecal matter from the

intestines and mix it in with a plate of pullao or other tasty treats to feed his hungry victims. Most

contracted the infection immediately but passed it within a day or two. On a few occasions, the victims

would ball up in an alley or under a bridge, confused and shitting blood due to kidney failure. Too

ignorant and helpless to find aid, they would die a slow, agonizing death under the watchful eye of

Asad, who made it a point of checking up on his patients daily.

       His next toxic romance came by coincidence. A castor oil farmer had gifted his uncle a jar for

helping to settle a land dispute between the farmer and the local tribe. Asad inquired further and

convinced his uncle to disclose the farmer‟s whereabouts on the grounds that a jar of the homemade oil

would make for a nice present for his mother. Of course it wasn‟t the oil he was after, but the waste

produced during manufacturing. The old farmer gifted him the mash without hesitation, and in no time

Asad had extracted over a kilo of pure ricin. He synthesized the toxin into a dust and set out executing

his next attacks. Unfortunately, the scale and hideousness of the aftermath did not go unnoticed.

       The execution was scheduled for dawn. After his uncle tipped off the authorities, Asad‟s

candid confession to the well poisoning and the ricin umbrella bomb at the grade school was baffling

and more than enough reason to sentence him to death. 48 people had died over the past two weeks,

another 115 hospitalized, most with irreconcilable organ damage. Yet the teen showed no hint of

remorse. The neurotic dogma, which often looms over a man scheduled to hang was substituted with

fearless narcissism. His mother, however, was not as brave. Somewhere between postpartum and pre-



                                                                                                         30
mortem depression, blinded by the maternal love for her offspring, she pleaded with the courts to spare

her young son‟s life. When they refused, she turned to desperation and contacted the one man that

might sway the pendulum in her son‟s favor.

       In his 53 years, the Sheik had legitimately produced eleven daughters and two sons. The first

son died at the age of 3 in a freak garden hose accident. The second son, Yusuf, shamed and disgusted

the family when he confessed to being an active homosexual at the age of 7. Taboo in the extreme,

they attempted to beat the queer out of the boy, but alas, it was no use. Eventually, he was sent to live

with a distant relative in a barren desert village well known for its liberalities. There he could gay

around all he pleased without further tarnishing the family name. The old Sheik longed for a strong,

straight boy to raise in his image; his inability to produce one reflected poorly on his manhood. Upon

hearing the news of Asad‟s dilemma, he was overjoyed. The boy had committed terrible crimes, but

the engineering and audacity behind them demonstrated a type of wild masculinity in the Sheik‟s eye.

       Financially, he influenced the court to grant a full pardon – much to the community‟s outrage.

The only question now was what to do with the talented lad. Obviously, he couldn‟t stick around

MiranShah, and returning to Saudi still wouldn‟t fly with wife number two, so the spry old Sheik came

up with another solution – one that would alter history as we know it.

       Asad poked out from the hot desert sands like an unpolished jewel, and al-Qaeda was more than

willing to shine him up. Too clever for the duties of a foot solider, but still young, impressionable and

dangerously disobedient, Asad was put under direct command of the top strategist in the outfit.

Working together with like-minded scientists and madmen, toying with toxic contraband galore, Asad

was in his glory.

       For years al-Qaeda aimed the young man‟s reckless conscious in a single direction: death to the

infidels. But while many of the mujahideen justified their clandestine activities by swallowing the idea



                                                                                                         31
that every hardship they had ever suffered was in some way related to an evil Christian empire and that

their jihad translated directly into a nymphomaniacal afterlife, Asad had no room for this religious

psychobabble. He merely lusted for power and chaos. He concentrated on his work and soon found

himself situated amongst the top ranking officials. They admired his devotion, but his anarchistic

tendencies made them uneasy. His strategies were complex and virtually flawless, but they were also

barbarous. For example, if he‟d had his way, the planes that slammed into the World Trade Center

would have been filled to the brim with anthrax. But, to his dismay, al-Qaeda only played a small,

technical roll in the planning. The true engineering was conducted deep within the American

administration, designed specifically to create an excuse for war and plant the seed of fear. Pathogens

were going a tad “overboard,” they had said.

       However, he did manage to execute one reputable, unauthorized operation shortly after the

attacks. A vindictive, little joke, publicly known by the name Amerithrax, gave him kudos amongst his

peers. But when the FBI started connecting dots between al-Qaeda and the letters, their corrupt

Washington contacts were displeased. They had specifically stipulated no biological weapons, and

Asad was severely reprimanded by his superiors for jeopardizing the relationship. After that, al-Qaeda

scattered its main assets throughout the region. Asad ran a tight outfit along side Khalid Shaikh

Mohammad, the staged mastermind behind the September 11 attacks, before eventually fleeing with a

small group of top strategists to Karachi. Not long thereafter, he and two of his men were captured in a

joint raid between CIA operatives and Pakistani ISI. They were beaten, bagged and packed into a C-17

headed for GITMO where they would spend the next four years honing their hatred for America and

establishing their superior rank amongst the other detainees.




                                                                                                       32
       Whether through the prayers of a thousand Santerias or just dumb luck, Fidel lived a long, long

life. Most Cubans understood that their Commander and Chief was indeed mortal, like themselves, but

they also possessed an unspoken, and perhaps even unrealized belief deep within that he was never

going to die. The vast majority of westerners simply wanted the old asshole to get it over with already.

But what neither expected was for Raul to go insane shortly after his brother‟s death.

       With such a decorated military record and decades of political experience, one would assume

that he‟d think better then to appoint a notorious terrorist as First Vice President of the Council of

State. But since the controversial removal of Vice President Carlos Lage from his Cabinet position

earlier in the year, no legitimate candidate had assumed the roll. For months Raul had worked closely

with Asad, crafting the new military division and soon recognized his undeniable brilliance. Asad

exploited the opportunity and manipulated the old General‟s outlook on the future of his country.

Basically there were two choices, he explained: follow the same outdated doctrine that Fidel had so

frivolously mandated over half century ago; or, if Raul were truly a man of historical consequence,

adapt Cuba‟s governing and military tactics to meet modern standards sufficient enough to rival the

capitalist pigs, but without compromising their own communist agenda.

       The National Assembly of People's Power members were divided. The constitution did not

specifically forbid foreigners from assuming such high roles, but electing a member of al-Qaeda as

Vice President was outrageous. Still, others were desperate for change and gave Asad their full

support. Raul was confused and all-around exhausted. He‟d been a political hardliner for the

communist party his entire life, and the only thing he had to show for it was alcoholism, a bleeding

ulcer the size of a grapefruit and an ill-defined reputation usually overshadowed by Fidel‟s. The

country was in ruins. The once exquisite colonial architecture scattered around the island was rotting

away into sewage filled streets and dodgy slums. Nobody worked anymore – they just sat around



                                                                                                         33
stretching out their government stipends on coffee, rum and cigarettes, hustling tourists and discussing

the same tired politics. Sure the country produced plenty of doctors, but the socialized wages had

turned most of them into taxi drivers. Cuba had become the canker sore of the Caribbean, and that

wasn‟t going to change in Raul‟s lifetime. So, unannounced to the world, with a number of signatures,

he designated Asad the Chief Reformist for the nation.

       Asad‟s first move was to integrate al-Qaeda and Taliban members into his administration.

Planes from the Middle East arrived daily, and within a week, he had restructured the entire Executive

Branch. Word slowly spilled over to the Cuban people, and they began to protest. But Asad was quick

to extinguish their discontent by sealing the deal that Fidel had struck with Russia just before his death.

       The terms were simple: for allowing the Russians to build three “Missile Defense Shields” on

the island, they would receive a trade agreement based on the automobile, nickel and oil industries, as

well as agricultural and commercial commodities. The trade package was estimated to stimulate the

Cuban economy by 57% over a five-year duration. The Russians would also supply a significant

amount of weapons, military technology and training to the island and act as a security buffer from the

United States while the newly administrated country established itself. Finally, they would pump some

12 billion euro directly into Cuba in order to jumpstart the economy. In other words, each Cuban

would receive roughly 1000 euro, and in cases where the individuals were under age, the money would

extend to their guardians. With the average income of around 10 euro per month, the populace

suddenly found a new admiration for Asad‟s governing, looking past petty patriotism and politics to the

heart of what really matters. Money.

       Raul supported the trade agreements, but remained uneasy with Asad‟s reformation of the

Executive Branch and other groups, such as the People‟s Supreme Court and National Assembly.

Despite pressure from his closest advisors to challenge Asad‟s decisions, he remained silent. That was,



                                                                                                        34
until Asad took steps to convert the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and the AIDS

Research Laboratory in Havana into weapons laboratories. Raul began to question Asad‟s motives.

Did he have the country‟s best interest in mind, as he had once sworn?

       Of course not. Asad only needed things to look stable and hopeful to keep the citizens of Cuba

happy and the world in purgatory while he developed his evil masterpiece: a kamikaze island, capable

of delivering genocidal, biological, and chemical warfare as never witnessed before. He had already

begun three major projects: his favorite – an airborne cross-breed mutation between the bubonic plague

and AIDS. Even if one were fortunate enough to recover from the initial shock of the plaque, which

was infamous for taking 50% of its victims within the first week, one would then be obliged to wait

involuntarily as the syndrome butchered his or her immune system.

       Soon Raul‟s inquiries and nagging became irritating; Asad grew weary of the old commie‟s

bureaucracy and took matters into his own hands. Only two months after Fidel‟s death, his younger

brother passed unexpectedly in his sleep from what could only be determined as “natural causes.” The

world watched wide-eyed as Asad was sworn in as President of the Cuban Council of State, President

of the Council of Ministers of Cuba and Commander and Chief of the Armed Forces. Old party

members still in power were shocked and outraged, but also feared for their lives. The people, still

dumbstruck by the idea of a handout, celebrated in the streets. “Viva La Nueva Revolución!” they

shouted, unaware that their cries of joy would soon be drowned out by the sounds of enemy aircraft,

descending whistles, and if they‟d been good Catholics, the voice of Saint Peter.



       When Fidel had jumpstarted the Cold War by announcing plans to facilitate Russian missile

platforms on the island, Washington knew it would be a difficult debate to win as they were currently

in the process of installing similar “Missile Defense Shields” around Eastern Europe. Furthermore, as



                                                                                                       35
the small communist island had in no way directly threatened the U.S. or any other country, there was

no catalyst for war. Most hostages had been extradited to their homelands before Fidel‟s death,

therefore the majority of NATO and UN allies were attempting to stay out of the mess. Only the U.S.

was still struggling to recover its citizens. After his brother‟s death, Raul authorized Americans

holding legitimate visas granted by the United States to decamp and return home. However Asad had

convinced him to delay sending the remaining American citizens and soldiers, as they might eventually

come in handy. Washington was furious, but couldn‟t act on that alone. But when Asad assumed the

presidency and began to develop a nuclear and biologically capable military of his own, every

camouflage-wearing, gun-toting hell-raiser in America got those anxious butterflies in their belly –

diplomacy was retired; the time for action had finally come.

       The next month was meatballs. The U.S. threatened to carpet bomb Cuba out of the ocean if

they didn‟t return all American citizens and suspend all joint “Missile Defense Shield” projects

immediately. A ground battle broke out at the Guantanamo border between Cuban forces and stationed

American troops. Russia and the United States began a dick-measuring contest. Russia haloed the

island with nuclear submarines. The U.S. threatened sanctions, at which the Russians laughed,

knowing full well that the sanctions would ultimately damage the already distraught American

economy far more than their own. Not ones to be mocked, Washington upped the ante and threatened

war. Russia answered by challenging Washington to a nuclear game of catch. Meanwhile, Cubans

became divided. The opposition – intellects and worrywarts throughout the country – could see that

things were about to get ugly and began to flee on whatever sailing vessels they could conjure up.

Asad was thrilled to see the flotsam voluntarily floating away and opened the floodgates announcing

that anyone wishing to leave the island would not be persecuted. He went as far as to set up cargo

ships to accelerate the process. The mass exoduses flooded the region with refugees, which



                                                                                                       36
begrudgingly, Cuba‟s neighbors were obligated to receive. Still, an alarming number of Cubans stayed

behind. Out of ignorance and stubborn patriotism, they vowed to fight to the death; they vowed to

proliferate La Nueva Revolución.



       That‟s when the flatbeds with rattling diesel engines arrived, shaking us from our furlough.

Poking their gun barrels into our flesh, the guards corralled us into groups of around thirty. People

asking questions took a fist to the gut. Their atypical aggression confused us. They marched us in

lines towards the camp entrance yelling obscenities and orders in both Spanish and English. We were

shoveled up into the trucks like swine headed for the slaughter. I looked back over the crowd, still

parading out of the camp. There was a commotion; the guards were enraged and ganging up on top of

somebody. Suddenly, Tim burst out of the dog pile, half geyser, half hero.

       Why were they after him?

        He threw a hard elbow into the nose of a fat-headed guard trying to hold him around the waist

from behind.

       “Tim!” I shouted, “Stop, Tim! They‟ll kill you!” I climbed my way out of the truck and up the

current of the crowd. I could just see the tops of their heads bobbing up and down sporadically. I

squeezed, shoved and clawed, and soon I was on them. Tim was fetal, curled up taking a cadenced

arrangement of kicks and gun butts from eight men.

       “Stop! Tranquilo! Tranquilo!” I yelled, prying through the carnage. I threw my body on top

of Tim and begged the guards leave him.

       I thought I heard Tim laugh, “Well, if it isn‟t Steven Segal.”

       “Yeah, it‟s me,” I said. Then black.

       ___



                                                                                                        37
       The only thing I can figure is that in order to keep Washington from blanketing the country in

incendiary bombs and heavy artillery, Asad set up a sort of twisted version of the casa particular. He

spread us hostages throughout the country to be cared for by families devoted to The New Revolution.

In return for their servitude, they are economically rewarded and nationally respected. The only

condition is that we be kept alive.

       I never found out what the fight was about. And I don‟t know if Tim made it out alive. I do

know that I wish I hadn‟t. When I awoke, I was here. Tied to the bedposts.

       It‟s totally fucked.




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