Illegally Sane 12
Cody got up and drew another pitcher from the bar.
It was almost 11, and by now we had all reached that point where no how much more you drank, you weren’t going to get drunk. When he returned, I poured myself a glass and picked up where I left off.
Well, I didn’t have much to report for a week or two, just the routine stuff. Then one night I told Clark, that the old lady told us not to come to bridge tomorrow, no matter what. He asked me to elaborate. “I don’t know Sergeant Major; it’s kind of like that feeling you get at a formal party just before you someone tells you forgot to wear your pants.” “What about Torres, Vargas and Rivera?” “Yeah, they noticed something was different too. The unarmed rebel traffic seemed greatly reduced today and everybody else under the bridge is a little edgy.” “What exactly did the old lady say?” “She said, Stay home tomorrow, don’t go out in to the streets no matter what, don’t go out in to the streets. I asked why and all would she said was, “Just stay home.” Clark’s eyes gleamed, like I just dealt him the missing card for an inside straight. Then he smiled, “That’s good, that’s real good. I’ll have something else for you guys to do tomorrow.”
At eight the next morning, Clark told us to get our jeeps and go over to the embassy and stand by as couriers. As soon as we got on the road we knew something was going on. The 508th had been camping out on Hotel’s Polo Field and it looked pretty empty personnel wise. Then as we cruised down the main drag, we noticed an awful lot troops hanging around in deuce and halves along the way.
It wasn’t long before we started hearing a lot of gunfire on our left. A minute later a corporal popped out of a side street and waved us down, “Hey can you guys give us a hand over here?” We pulled our jeeps over and said, “Yeah, sure.” “Good, grab your weapons and stay close to me guys.”
We crouched and moved door to door down the side street behind the corporal. When we got to the end of the street it was blocked by sandbags and five or six guys were taking and returning fire. He just positioned us on the line and said, “Kill anything in your zone of fire that comes down that street.” For a few minutes, it got pretty nasty. There must have been about twenty or thirty rebels. After about ten minutes and two magazines the corporal tapped me on the shoulder. When I turned around there was another squad with an M-60 taking up positions on my right, and cutting loose. He smiled at me, “You guys can take off now and hey and thanks a lot guys.”
We cautiously made our way back to the jeeps and then continued on to embassy. We spent the whole day at embassy just hanging out, we didn’t go anywhere. So at six they told us the war was over for the day and we had won, so they sent us back the Hotel.
A couple of nights later, the Sergeant Major sent for me at one in the morning. When I got to his office he smiled at me and handed me a map. “I want you to get your jeep and pick someone up for me.” I put the map on his desk and he pointed to a location just outside of the rebel zone. “Go here, park, sit and wait. Wait all night if need be. You’ll be approached by a lone Latin male civilian. The password is Blue Bird, the counter is Hat Box. You will drive him to this spot at the airfield. At the gate, you will tell the guard that you have a Hat Box for the general. They will let you through, and you will proceed straight down the road to the tarmac. There will be a C-130 waiting there. Just drop him off and report back to me, Understood?” “Yes Sergeant Major.”
I took off and picked the guy up. He was a Hispanic looking gentlemen in his mid forties. There was no conversation after the password exchange. He just sat silently in the back seat of my jeep as we drove through the night. In fact, not a word was exchange during the entire trip. I’d just glance at him occasionally in my rear view mirror.
When we went through gate, I drove him to a spot about 40 feet from the aircraft. He got out and smiled at me, “Gracias.” I smiled back,” De Nada.” Then he walked over to three officers standing by the gangplank. All three were in dress greens, so I figured they must have flew in from the States with the aircraft.
I stayed with my jeep and observed the greetings from a distance. One of the officers was a Major General. But the real shock was, the Major who was accompanying him was none other than Kenny Ponte. Then I got an even bigger shock, I also knew the first lieutenant with them. He was someone I knew back in basic, but this time he didn’t have that white tool box with him.
My instincts told me this wasn’t a good time to give Ken and Charley a big hello. So I just stayed in the jeep as they shook hands on got on the plane. When to doors closed I just turned my jeep around and headed back to the Hotel.
When I reported in to Clark, he just asked, “Everything go okay?” “Yes Sergeant Major.” There was no further discussion, he just smiled, “Good, go back to bed.
Reed asked, “Did you ever find out who that guy was?” “Nope, but I did see him again. About two weeks later he was on the cover of Life Magazine, standing next to Caamano at a rally. He had one hand over Caamano’s shoulder and the other one was in the air holding an AK-47.”
Cody kicked in, “So you must have took Charley up on that job offer after all?” “No way, I told Charley thanks, but no thanks. So at the time I didn’t know who I was actually working for but I was beginning to get an idea. All I knew for sure was the army signing the checks. But my last meeting of consequence with Clark did kind of add to my idea.”
Reed kicked in, “So what happened?"
Well it started when me and Torres came into some real interesting information. Torres and me were cruising some back hill roads on the way to a new beach we had just heard about. Suddenly we stumbled unto this mega white Grecian style mansion out in the middle of no where. It was on a mountainside and from the distance it looked like Olympus. I stop the jeep and we followed the roadway down from the house to the main gate. It was about fifty yards in front of us. The gate was sandbagged with two Dominican troop’s casually standing guard.
Just out of curiosity we decided to investigate. So I pulled up along side the gate and Torres started a friendly like conversation in Spanish with the guards. He started it with, “That’s really beautiful house, man. Who lives here?” The guards looked around, and a three minute conservation ensued. Suddenly a guy in a Dominican Army Captain’s uniform appeared from behind the gate. In perfect plain old American English he asked me, “Is there a problem here, soldier?” I told him we were just admiring the beautiful house. He gave me a phony smile and said, “Oh, this is a retired Physician’s house, we are just here to make sure it didn’t get looted during troubles.” Then he dusted us off with a “Well I see you have to be on way, so have a nice day.” I saluted him and smiled, “Why thank you Captain, you have a nice day too.”
I pulled away and watched him tear the two guards apart in the rear view mirror. Then Torres said, “Moran, do you know who really lives there?” “No who?” “That’s General Batista house, you know the guy from Cuba.” “Where did you get a crazy idea like that from, I asked?’ “No Moran, I am serious, the guard told me. He said not to say anything though because he’d get in a lot of trouble.” I thought this might be of some interest to the Sergeant Major, but I wasn’t going to go off half cocked. So I decided we should check it out in a nearby village.
We drove around and found an old woman with a roadside fruit stand. We bought some finger bananas and while Torres was chatting with her he managed to weasel the house in to the conversation. Five minutes later we drove off and Torres told me it was Batista’s house all right. He said the old lady told him it was a local secret. She said he moved in there the night Havana fell. There were lots of military trucks and limousines, and headlights were everywhere that night. They told everybody he was a retired doctor from Cuba. But the armed Cuban body guards and Trujillo’s regular visits told a different story. She also told Torres that he was a good man and gave money to the people in the village when they needed help. Then she said not to say anything to me, because I would cause trouble for the doctor. I told Torres she was right and he shouldn’t say anything to anybody, including Vargas and Rivera.
When I got back that night, Clark asked me, “Anything I should know about?” I hesitated for a second and then thought, yeah he should know about this. “Well Sergeant Mayor, remember Batista?” He quickly stood up and motioned silence with his hand. Then he smiled, “Take a walk with me, Moran.” We walked out thought the lobby and out unto the beach in silence. After we got about 50 feet from the hotel we came to a stop. Then he turned to me and asked, “What about Batista?” “Well, I think we found his house.” Clark turned cold, “Who is we?” “Me and Torres.” “Hold it right there son, sit down and pulled up some sand.” I suddenly noticed that the flap on his 45 holster was opened; it hadn’t been when we left the hotel. Then he pulled out a pack of Luckys and handed me one. He lit for me and smiled, “You know Moran, you’re a bright kid and I like ya. So I’m going to tell you a little story before you go on with you’re report
My daddy had a ranch in Texas. It was small as far as ranches go, but that’s where I grew up. For my 12th birthday my mom and dad bought me a palomino colt. Boy did I love that horse. Broke him myself and even named him Trigger, just like Roy Rogers. I’d ride him every chance I got and trained him too. When I’d come home after school, he’d be always be waiting for me at the gate, same time, and same place, just raring to go. Then one day when I was 16 I came home and he wasn’t there. I asked my Pa were he was and he said he hadn’t seen him all day and that he must still be out in the pasture
So I went looking for him and found him lying under tree. His front leg was broken real bad. I guess with me letting him run around free instead of keeping him in the coral, there was always the chance, that soon or later he’d stumble on something shouldn’t have. So I ended up having to shoot him myself.
Now I sure as hell didn’t want too, but sometimes you got to do what you got to do. I sure hope the hell I never have to something like that again. Do you know what I mean Moran?” “I sure do Sergeant Major.” “Good, now tell me how your day went again?” “Well let’s see, we went to beach and actually we didn’t hear or see a thing today Sergeant Major.” “Well, that’s all right son, some days are just like that ya know.” Then he stood up, dusted off his bottom and walked back to Hotel. I stayed and lit up another cigarette, and then I slipped my 32 out my sleeve and put it back into my pocket.