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90 the minnesota review Todd Grimson Batista's Lieutenant On 9 April 1958, the general strike is repressed, and about eighty revolutionaries or suspected revolutionaries are arrested, interrogated in the usual manner , and variously put to death. Although Leonora Christina's hair is naturally blonde, she has lightened it a shade or two, so that there is a fairly significant contrast between her honeycolored pubic hair and the hair, light as straw, on her head. But no one can see this, at the moment, to judge for themselves: she isn't naked. She's wearing a dress, which leaves bare her shoulders, and high-heeled sandals the color of sand. She stretches out her legs, sitting at an umbrella table in the outdoor courtyard ofthe restaurant, in the shade of a palm tree, smoking a cigarette. Lucky Strikes. She orders a hamburger, frenen fries, and a Coke. Her father, who was a chemist, thought that Pepsi would pay him a million dollars if he could figure out the secret formula for Coca-Cola. A couple of times he came close, close enough so that his blindfolded family could not tell the difference, but the Pepsi people turned him away again and again. "Keep trying," they told him; in the process he went crazy. On the way to the doctor's office, his wife made the mistake of letting him drive. He turned into the oncoming lane when he saw a big enough fast truck. The head-on collision left Leonora an orphan, but since it couldn't be proven suicide she collected insurance money which well-tempered whatever grief she might have felt. She thought that her father must have known all along about the affair her mother had been having with Diego, the shoe salesman who livedjust down the street. Her father hadn't been so crazy that he'd gone deafand blind. Coca-Cola remains her favorite drink. She sips it through a straw. The sun, above, is hot, bright as an atomic dime. The ice in the drink is nearly all melted. The only respite from the heat comes from a fitful breeze that blows in from Havana harbor, cooling and soothing one now and then, the more now than then as the afternoon advances. Leonora could have waited until Justo arrived before ordering, sure, but she doesn't like this habit he has ofalways being fifteen minutes late. He has many faults, she thinks, and she would not put up with any of them if her real boyfriend, Lieutenant Santamaria, would get rid of his North American mistress. Leonora picked up Justo to get even, to make Angel jealous . So far, though, the strategy hasn't worked. grimson 91 She says to the waitress, "I don't like sweet pickles. Would you bring me some dill?" She's starting to feel cross. Then Justo arrives, wearing sunglasses, a white shirt, light blue pants, the scraggly beard he's been trying to grow for more than a month without success. He acts like he's in a hurry, like he'sjust come from some important errand. She thinks he's made up some lie to explain why he is late. "I'm going to the Sierra," he announces, dramatically, temporarily removing the sunglasses to reveal the courage in his eyes. "What?" she says, not understanding, thinking he means the nightclub. Big deal. "I'm going to join Fidel." "Oh, I see. You don't know what you're talking about." "No, I'm not kidding. I'm going to join the guerrilleros." "Why? What for?" She's scornful, rolling her eyes. Justo shrugs. "Ask your lieutenant," he says. "He's not 'my' lieutenant. I told you all about that." "I wish you'd never have anything more to do with him." "It's not your business. Besides, he's never done anything to you." "He's a Batistiano," says Justo. "He's done things to my brothers. That's as good as doing things to me." "Your 'brothers.' That's such shit." Justo doesn't really want to argue with her. She should have acted like she took him more seriously when he said that he was...


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