On page 694 of the fifth volume of Churchill's history of the Second World War, there appears a note to the effect that an invasion of Cuba, planned by the German High Command for Christmas Eve of 1943, was at the last minute inexplicably called off, never to be considered again.
If the following memoir does no more than clarify this tiny historical enigma, it shall have served its purpose. The reader should know, however, that I am under no external pressure to render this account of things long dead; the Statute of Limitations affecting crimes such as mine has long since expired; I no longer have anything to fear of either personal or financial reprisal; and my urge to speak forth arises simply from that inner need we have, all of us, to cast words into the void, to reel off sentences with no thought of their effect except for the vague faith that eventually they will mean something to someone, that patter = pattern.
During the war years I often sat drinking with a famous American novelist in a bar I shall call Finestierra, in a little hamlet outside Havana. Under the attraction of his magnetic presence, the bar had become the cloaca of the moral sewage of all of Cuba. It was there I was able to recruit many of the operatives I needed for the day-to-day tasks of espionage as ordered by my superior, Agent X, in Havana. Two of the fawning scoundrels who hung on the lips of the great American writer for the free drinks he lavished, for the chance to be photographed in his company by some international news bureau, and no doubt for the chance of being included in one of his books, were the notorious whore known as La Plaga, and her pimp, one-time featherweight boxing champion of all Central America, El Gallito. These two were in my pay to report whatever the writer might mention regarding the war or the identity of his foreign visitors. More crucially, I had them in training for a delicate and difficult operation that, unbeknownst to them, could change the entire course of the war.
Owing to the intensity of my professional investment in that worthless brace of flotsam, I can here reproduce, almost faultlessly, random patches of the typical sorts of "dialogue," if you will, that took place between them and the writer during the weeks before our operation was to be staged:
Close upon the novelist’s right elbow pressed La Plaga, or rather her adroitly conversational bosom, which was the second most popular attraction at the Finestierra. By the bones of my sainted Irish mother, I can still see those half-veiled supplicants abjectly kneeling at the base of the writer’s great forearm! And while her vacuous black eyes seemed to engulf him, through her moist red lips glinted that solid-gold upper incisor about which she was so exceedingly vain.
The original had been knocked out by El Gallito, who sat just behind her on a stool pushed a little bit out from the bar so that he could sit as close as possible to the great writer, whom he genuinely admired, without seeming to compete for position with the lady. El Gallito’s shiny black boots dangled high off the floor. Barefoot he measured only four feet seven, but in his boots he stood nearly as tall as the five foot one lady. Nothing to look at vertically, he impressed nevertheless in the horizontal, for he was great-chested and muscle-bound from the stubs of his fingers to the bulging saddle of his shoulders, from which his head projected neckless like a close-shaved pommel with ears.
"You love the fishing more than you love your little Rosita, verdad?" pouted La Plaga, her golden smile and patient breasts probing the fog in the eyes of the famous writer.
"Me, I like the American steak. No fish gonna swim in this belly, Ernesto," asserted El Gallito.
"Fishes are the undisputed masters of the aquatic environment," replied the renowned novelist, scratching his briary salt-and-pepper beard. "Their evolutionary success can be attributed to one thing: they are perfectly adapted to their dense medium. A trout or pike can hang motionless in the water at any depth, varying its neutral buoyancy by adding or removing air from the swim bladder, or it can dart forward or at angles, using its fins as brakes and tilting rudders. Bony fish are also excellent osmotic regulators . . . "
While the American held presciently forth (for a moment I thought he had divined the nature of our top-secret operation), the right hand of the ex-champ slid under the blouse of La Plaga from behind and snaked around front where it proceeded to massage her right nipple. (El Gallito would treat her to such public displays of affection whenever he felt he was sinking into her shadow.) Rosita, hanging upon the writer’s every syllable, at first tried demurely edging away from the source of the annoyance, but all attempts at subtlety proved useless.
"Cabrón!" she finally spat at El Gallito. Surrendering to his need for attention, she added a jab to the ribs with her elbow, then doused his unblinking face with a chaser of rum.
Unruffled by the turn of events, the great novelist downshifted instantly to accommodate the new focus of interest. "The treatment of the female breast in the history of Western fashion," remarked the writer, gazing blearily into La Plaga’s attentive eyes, "reveals the changes in social status that women have endured from period to period. In medieval miniatures, for example, the torso tends to be bound and pressed into an inorganic shape resembling a cylinder, the boobs squeezed close together and flattened out against the ribcage. When we reach the sexually sophisticated eighteenth century, however, quite the opposite has occurred: the tits are banded tightly below so as to jut out like a shelf on which a pair of powdered fruit sit prominently displayed, with the help, of course, of a decolletage unimaginable just two centuries earlier."
"All this is true, Ernesto? Verdad?"
"Absolutely. Still, of course, the stiffness and deliberate exag- geration of the jugs imply a change in the role of women only as sexual property, as objects to be displayed by their lovers or husbands along with the poufs and other upholstery that cluttered the elegant salons of the period."
I forget what else he said, but suffice it to say that the sensitive intervention of the American restored his rapt listeners to their earlier state of starry-eyed bedazzlement, and that the offending right hand of El Gallito confined itself for the rest of that December evening to lifting liquor to its proprietor’s lips or to scratching its proprietor’s crotch.
The altercation had been nothing serious. (Later, when they were alone, El Gallito would beat up La Plaga and then they would flop into bed and make love.) Nevertheless, I kept a sharp eye on my two "employees" for the rest of that night—as I had been doing throughout many a night just like it. They were, after all, under strict orders to drink no more than they judged compatible with the performance of their duties the following morning—that is, their practice of the intricate series of maneuvers needed to execute Operation Marlin.