from the Book:
I can tell You this tale
in any number of ways, and maybe I will, and it won’t make a bit of difference
because every time the general finishes up jitterbugging with a pole in a field
at daybreak. That’s the way it’s gotta end. My only aim here, and this I swear
on the graves of Che and Martí, is to set the record straight insofar as the
warrior is concerned, to undertake his rehabilitation as we enter the twilight
years of a 50-year reign.
As You can imagine, recounting a life is dodgy work, but
there’s probably no more unscrupulous way to do it than to lay out events
and stamp them Greenwich mean time. However, if Cronus is Your god, if You
believe life is a stack of torn-off calendar pages, this account may not be for
You.… Wait … wait! I’m watching the video for the umpteenth occasion, and my
favorite part is coming up on screen.
Look! He’s shaking their hands. Could there be anything more
gallant, more laden with pathos? Head erect. A tremendous military bearing in
spite of that absurd flannel shirt my brother’s made him wear. He’s absolving
those uniformed young men in advance. The tape’s not doctored, in case You’re
wondering. I’ll let you continue to watch as I get back to the keyboard.
The story I have begun to tell is ostensibly about a man
named Ochoa, a fallen general, a one-time ‘Hero of the Revolution,’ and of the
events which bring him to his particular nadir. But I hope You will agree, even
before You reach the half-way point of this anti-chronicle, that it goes beyond
being a simple biography.
It is, foremost, the story of a people, of a collective soul,
and of how false icons must inevitably be brought down. Hold tight! There it is,
four pops in unison, a shudder, and the head sags to the side. The ultimate
perforation. It moves me every time.