Excerpts from the Diary of a Revolutionary
JUNE 3: Viva Vargas! Today we took to the hills. Outraged and disgusted at the exploitation of our little country by the corrupt Arroyo regime, we sent Julio to the place with a list of our grievances and demands, none hastily arrived at nor, in my opinion, excessive. As it turned out, Arroyo's busy schedule did not include taking time away from being fanned to meet with our beloved rebel emissary, and instead he referred the entire matter to his minister, who said he would give our petitions his full consideration, but first he just wanted to see how long Julio could smile with his head under molten lava.
Because of many indignations such as this one, we have at last, behind the inspired leadership of Emilio Molina Vargas, decided to take matters into our own hands. If this be treason, we yelled on street corners, let us make the most of it.
I was, unfortunately, lolling in a hot tub when word arrived that the police would be by shortly to hang me. Bounding from my bath with understandable alacrity, I stepped on a wet bar of soap and cascaded off the front patio, luckily breaking the fall with my teeth, which skidded around the ground like loose Chiclets. Though naked and bruised, survival dictated I act quickly, and mounting El Diablo, my stallion, I gave the rebel yell! The horse reared and I slid down his back to the ground, fracturing certain small bones.
Were all this not devastating enough, I scarcely got twenty feet by foot when I remembered my printing press, and not wanting to leave behind such a potent political weapon or piece of evidence, I doubled back to retrieve it. As luck would have it, the thing weighed more than it looked, and lifting it was a job more suited to a derrick than a hundred-and-ten-pound college student. When the police arrived, my hand was caught in the machinery as it roared uncontrollably, reprinting large passages of Marx down my bare back. Don't ask me how I managed to tear loose and vault out a back window. Luckily I eluded the police and made my way to safety in Vargas' camp.
June 4: How peaceful it is here in the hills. Living out under the stars. A group of dedicated men all working toward a common goal. Although I had anticipated a say in the actual planning of the campaigns, Vargas felt my services might better be employed as company cook. This is not an easy job with foodstuffs scarce, but somebody has to do it and, all things considered, my first meal was a big hit. True, not all the men are terribly partial to Gila monster but we can't be choosy, and apart from some picayune eaters who are prejudiced against any reptile, dinner came off without incident.
I overheard Vargas today and he is quite sanguine about our prospects. He feels we will gain control of the capital sometime in December. His brother, Luis, on the other hand, an introspective man by nature, feels it is only a question of time before we starve to death. The Vargas brothers constantly bicker over military strategy and political philosophy, and it is hard to imagine that these two great rebel chieftains were only last week a couple of men's room attendants at the local Hilton. Meanwhile, we wait.
June 10: Spent the day drilling. How miraculously we are being changed from a scruffy band of guerrillas to a hard-core army. This morning Hernandez and I practiced using machetes, our razor-sharp sugar-cane knives, and due to a burst of overzealousness by my partner, I found out I had type-O blood. The worst thing is the waiting. Arturo has a guitar but can only play "Cielito Lindo," and while the men rather liked to hear it at first, he seldom gets any more requests for it. I tried preparing the Gila monster a new way and I think the men enjoyed it, although I noticed some had to chew hard and snap their heads back to get it down.
I overheard Vargas again today. He and his brother were discussing their plans after we take the capital. I wonder what post he is saving for me when the revolution is completed. I am quite confident my fierce loyalty, which can only be described as canine, will pay off.
July 1: A party of our best men raided a village for food today, and got a chance to employ many of the tactics we have been working on. Most of the rebels acquitted themselves nicely, and even though the group was slaughtered, Vargas considers it a moral victory. Those of us who were not in on the raid sat around camp while Arturo favored us with some "Cielito Lindo." Morale remains high, even though food and arms are virtually nonexistent and time passes slowly. Luckily we are distracted by the hundred-degree heat, which I think accounts for much of the funny gurgling noise the men make. Our time will come.
July 10: Today was generally a good day, despite the fact that we were ambushed by Arroyo's men and badly decimated. This was partially my fault as I gave away our position by inadvertently shrieking the names of the Christian triumvirate when a tarantula crawled over my leg. For several moments I could not dislodge the tenacious little spider as it made its way into the inner recesses of my garments, causing me to gyrate spastically toward the stream and thrash about in it for what seemed like forty-five minutes. Shortly after, Arroyo's soldiers opened fire on us. We fought gamely, although the shock of being surprised created a mild disorganization, and for the first ten minutes our men were shooting at each other. Vargas narrowly escaped catastrophe as a live hand grenade landed at his feet. He commanded me to fall on it, aware that he alone is indispensable to our cause, and I did so. As providence would have it, the grenade did not explode and I walked away unharmed except for a slight twitch and the inability to fall asleep unless someone holds my hand.
July 15: The morale of the men seems to be holding up, despite certain minor setbacks. First, Miguel stole some ground-to-ground missiles but mistook them for ground-to-air missiles and, attempting to down several of Arroyo's planes, blew all our trucks up. When he tried to laugh it off, Jose became furious and they fought. Later, they patched things up and deserted. Desertion, incidentally, could become a major problem, although at this moment optimism and team spirit have held it down to three out of every four men. I, of course, remain loyal and do the cooking, but the men still do not seem to appreciate the difficulty of that assignment. The fact is, my life has been threatened if I don't come up with an alternative to Gila monster. Sometimes soldiers can be so unreasonable. Still, perhaps one of these days I will surprise them with something new. Meanwhile we sit around the camp and wait. Vargas is pacing in his tent and Arturo sits playing "Cielito Lindo."
August 1: Despite all we have to be thankful for, there is no doubt that a certain tension has set in here at rebel headquarters. Little things, apparent only to the observant eye, indicate an undercurrent of uneasiness. For one thing, there are quite a few stabbings among the men, as quarrels become more frequent. Also an attempt to raid an ammunitions depot and rearm ourselves ended in a rout when Jorge's signal flare went off prematurely in his pocket. All the men were chased except for Jorge, who was captured after banging off two dozen buildings like a pinball. Back at camp in the evening, when I brought out the Gila monster the men rioted. Several of them held me down while Ramon struck me with my ladle. I was mercifully saved by an electrical storm that claimed three lives. Finally, with frustrations at a peak, Arturo struck up "Cielito Lindo" and some of the less musically inclined ones in the group took him behind a rock and forced-fed him his guitar.
On the plus side of the ledger, Vargas' diplomatic envoy, after many unsuccessful attempts, managed to conclude an interesting deal with the CIA where, in return for our unswerving fealty toward their policies forever, they are obligated to supply us with no less than fifty barbecued chickens.
Vargas now feels that perhaps he was premature in predicting a December success and indicates that total victory might require additional time. Strangely enough, he has turned from his field maps and charts and relies more heavily now on astrological readings and the entrails of birds.
August 12: The situation has taken a turn for the worse. As luck would have it, the mushrooms I so carefully picked to vary the menu with, turned out to be poisonous, and while the only really disconcerting side effect was some minor convulsions most of the men suffered, they seemed unduly embittered. On top of that, the CIA has reconsidered our chances of bringing off the revolution and as a result threw Arroyo and his cabinet a conciliatory brunch at Wolfie's in Miami Beach. This, coupled with a gift of 24 jet bombers, Vargas interprets as a subtle shift in their sympathies.
Morale still seems reasonably high and, while the desertion rate has risen, it is still limited to those who can walk. Vargas himself appears to be a bit morose and has taken to saving string. It is now his feeling that life under the Arroyo regime might not be all that uncomfortable, and he wonders if we should not reorient the men that are left, abandon the ideals of the revolution, and form a rhumba band. Meanwhile the heavy rains have caused the mountain to landslide, and the Juarez brothers were carried off into the gorge as they slept. We have dispatched an emissary to Arroyo, with a modified list of our demands, taking care to strike out the portions concerning his unconditional surrender and substituting in its place an awardwinning recipe for guacamole. I wonder how it will all turn out.
August 15: We have taken the capital! The incredible details follow:
After much deliberation, the men took a vote and decided to pin our last hopes on a suicide mission, guessing that the element of surprise might be just the thing to offset Arroyo's superior forces. As we marched through the jungle, towards the palace, hunger and fatigue slowly sapped a portion of our resolve and, approaching our destination, we decided to switch tactics and see if grovelling would work. We turned ourselves over to the palace guards, who brought us at gunpoint before Arroyo. The dictator took into consideration the mitigating fact that we had given up voluntarily, and while he still planned to disembowel Vargas, the rest of us were going to get off with being skinned alive. Reevaluating our situation in light of this fresh concept, we succumbed to panic and bolted in all directions while the guards opened fire. Vargas and I raced upstairs and, seeking a place to hide, burst into Madame Arroyo's boudoir, surprising her in a moment of illicit passion with Arroyo's brother. Both became flustered. Arroyo's brother then drew his revolver and let fly a shot. Unbeknownst to him, this acted as a signal to a group of mercenaries who had been hired by the CIA to help clean us out of the hills in return for Arroyo's granting the United States rights to open Orange Julius stands here. The mercenaries, who were themselves confused regarding their loyalties due to weeks of American foreign policy equivocating, attacked the palace by mistake. Arroyo and his staff suddenly suspected a CIA double cross and turned their guns on the invaders. Concurrently a long-smoldering plot to assassinate Arroyo by several Maoists misfired when a bomb they planted in a taco went off prematurely, exorcising the left wing of the palace and projecting Arroyo's wife and brother through some wood beams.
Grabbing a valise of Swiss bankbooks, Arroyo made for the rear door and his ever-ready Lear jet. His pilot took off amidst a volley of gunfire but, confused by the hectic events of the moment, threw the wrong switch, sending the plane into a nose dive. Moments later, it crashed into the mercenary army camp, laying their ranks waste and causing them to give up.
Throughout this, Vargas, our beloved leader, brilliantly adopted a policy of watchful waiting, which he executed by crouching motionless at the fireplace and assuming the disguise of a decorative blackamoor. As the coast became clear he advanced on tiptoe to the central office and assumed power, pausing only to open the royal refrigerator and slap together a deviled ham sandwich.
We celebrated all through the night and everyone got very drunk. I spoke with Vargas afterwards about the serious business of running a country. While he believes free elections are essential to any democracy, he prefers to wait until the people become a bit more educated before there is any voting. Until then, he has improvised a workable system of government based on divine monarchy and has rewarded my loyalty by allowing me to sit by his right hand at mealtime. Plus I also am responsible for seeing the latrine is spotless.