The Plot Thickens in a Cuban Revolution
August 29, 2012
The following is an excerpt from Jack Durish’s historical novel about love, war, and the Cuban Revolution: Rebels on the Mountain. It may be a novel, but Durish has packed the book with authenticity and a heavy dose of realism.
Juan Tumbas sat in the corner of a fisherman’s shack as he waited for Fidel’s decision. Fidel’s brother, Raúl, and their boat pilot, Norberto Abreu, were there, too, also waiting. Fidel sat with a cigar clamped between his teeth and a pair of binoculars pressed to his eyes. He was studying the Mexican Naval Base across the river. “Go to sleep, mi amigo,” he muttered to himself as he watched the duty officer smoking a cigarette at the window of his office. “Go to sleep like you do every night.”
It was a good night to slip out to sea unobserved. The foul weather drove most everyone into their shelters. Even those who braved the elements would have a hard time seeing anything in the dim moonlight that found its way between breaks in the fast moving clouds. However, at the same time, it made departure risky. The near gale force winds were pushing up heavy seas and battering the coast with them.
“Well, brother, what is it to be?” Raúl asked.
Everyone in the shack spoke in whispers despite the fact that the windstorm raging outside insured that no one could overhear them.
“Bueno,” Fidel said at last, dropping the binoculars to his lap and sitting back in the chair. “We go now.”
Juan rode with Fidel and Norberto in the back of a battered pickup truck as Raúl drove them to their boat, the Granma, moored about five miles up river. They made final preparations for departure while Raúl drove on to the farm where the Fidelistas had trained, to gather them.
The dim light hid the Granma’s apparent shortcomings, but Juan already knew them. He was an engineer, trained at the University of Havana and a former employee of the American-owned utility there. He had done the math and realized that the old yacht was inadequate to the load of men and equipment that was about to board it. Fidel had only shrugged when Juan had shared his findings. “It’s the biggest vessel that we could afford,” was his response. In truth, Fidel had wanted an airplane.