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Some time ago, a person in the publishing business got me to thinking that I might make my Che stories into a marketable book, although I’d probably have to come up with an additional 30,000 words on top of what I had already written. So, I set myself a deadline of October – er, last October, I’m afraid (Remember the line from Dilbert? “I love the sound that deadlines make as they go whizzing by”). Unfortunately, a lot of other things impinged on my spare time, and the process has turned out to be much slower than I had anticipated. I struggle along, though, and have written another three stories which I’m saving for the book (I figure I need to write another five or six stories to generate a critical mass of verbiage). The thing that I find interesting and fun about writing them is that, although they’re almost pure satirical farce, most of the stories include a kernel of truth. There really was a Tania, for example, who, in the stories (as, reputedly, in real life) is Che’s lascivious squeeze; the French journalist Regis Debray actually did hang out with Che for a while (which reminds me; I’ve discovered to my consternation that Debray is still alive, so I might have to use another name for him); Che did, in fact, sneak into Bolivia aboard a plane dressed as a bald businessman; and there was a mysterious English journalist who joined up with Che for a short time, and who was suspected by some of being a CIA spy. These last two references are to stories that have not appeared on my blog, but will appear in the book – if I can finish it, which I am committed to doing, however glacial the pace. Meanwhile, here’s a sample from the unpublished episode featuring the English journalist, whom I have named “Smythe”:
Smythe joined me and a small detachment of the men for our next series of operations. A “great boon to the revolution”, indeed!
To describe the next two weeks would take the skills of a Biblical prophet writing of the trials of Job (all superstitious nonsense, of course, but a perfect analogy for the living hell of this nightmarish fortnight). Smythe was an unmitigated disaster. He was not only in the way – clanking along behind us with his golf clubs, constantly peppering the men with questions about their military experience, their travels, even their home life, stopping them to point out interesting butterflies (he was, not surprisingly, a collector) – he was the most phenomenal jinx, a great human pothole in the road to victory. Our first night with him, at a temporary camp not far from a small, isolated army outpost that we planned on raiding the following morning, Smythe managed to set fire to his tent while making coffee. The blaze spread to a couple of trees before we could put it out, and the resulting conflagration must have caught the eye of a sentry and spooked him, because the next morning the soldiers had vanished – taking their food and weapons with them (the capture of which had been our objective).
Two days later, we made a recruiting visit to a tiny rural village. The enterprise didn’t gain us any new adherents, but the peasants did cough up a couple of chickens. Smythe, in an effort to make up for bollixing the attack on the army outpost, offered to cook them. To put it mildly, he was no Regis Debray in the culinary department. He was apparently under the impression that “cleaning” a chicken simply meant dipping it briefly in soapy water before skewering it and roasting it over an open fire. The end result was a disgusting mess that resembled – and tasted like – a charred lady’s handbag filled with feathers and offal. The men and I, however, were so hungry that we managed to choke it down, and we were subsequently out of commission for three days due to stomach cramps and diarrhea. Smythe - naturally, in the way of jinxes – escaped unscathed, having dined on some tinned provisions he had brought from England.
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I’m taking some vacation time in a couple of weeks, and boy, do I need it! The political appointees at my federal agency are engaged in a kind of aimless frenzy, trying hard to live up to the Obamunist standard of creating the illusion of “doing something”, while accomplishing very little, save for substantially damaging employee morale. Several of them have hopes of career advancement in the…heh…second Obama term, which explains much of their spastic energy (they’ve got to do something, anything, to catch the President’s attention). Naturally, I am doing whatever I can in my capacity as a private citizen to render their hopes entirely moot.