A detour onto Grand Boulevard. To the blinking of communication detectors, to the soothing dispatches from the police monitor, to the sound of expensive tires rumbling over the old cobble stones of Michigan Avenue, to the almost-electric whining of the finely tuned V-8, Hutch told him the story of Felix Rodriguez and Che Guevara.
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“Now, grasshoppah, here’s what my teacher Felix taught me about Ernesto, “Che” Guevara that is, the God of Cuba. He’s the Eros of blind egotism.”
“Had no second thoughts about lifelong devotion to el Jefe.”
“You got it, grasshoppah. It was not the CIA but Fidel himself who offed his revolutionary buddy General Ochoa, who was executed in 1988. He wuz just an Argentinean doctor, he done acquired his demagoguery as a youth during them Perons, Che saw the stinkin’ poverty in Latin America and he sho’ reckoned: there was a clear root cawz, not corruption, incompetence, or pointless nationalism, but imperialism! And the United States in particular. And he saw a clear solution: himself. He did a pretty sexy impersonation of Evita all right.”
Back onto the Avenue.
“Who’s this Tanya gal?”
“Haydee Tamara Bunke. Tanya. That’s right. A combo East-German and Argentinian. Sixty-One in Cuba, Sixty-Four in Bolivia, sent by Cuba. Killed in ambush by Felix Rodriguez.”
“And what does The Second Sex have to do with him?”
“That’s Che and Simone de Beauvoir. She started the damn pro-Cuban leftism. She must have had hots for the sweaty coughing Che may his hands rest in piece. Suddenly he’s babbling about being a “perfect man,” a “revolutionary consciousness.”
Wyoming Boulevard, Truck City. Hutch narrates the story as a machine-gunned report.
“He made himself the Minister for Industries. His Soviet-like, utter incompetence mattered skunk-squat. There is nothing pragmatic about the salsa folk hero. His quick divorce from the regime to continue his half-baked revolution only ended in his death in Bolivia.”
“A boring guy, sort of.”
“Even the Soviets helped the Bolivians to find Che. Fidel’s knowledge of it matters horse poo to those who would worship the god than examine the foibles of a mere asthma sufferer.” He steered as smoothly as he lectured. “Felix the quintessential man, the genius, the artist of deals, and the most professional Latino officer. Face to face with Che."
A bacon-lettuce-and-tomato deli, a ham hock on a triple spike, Hutch makes an instant transition from his story into a quick inquiry. Hutch was waiting.
“Hey, Gomez, you cold-blooded no good sniper. This is our first real lunch break together, you know that?”
“What, we no have no shrimp and beer?” Vic said, sounding Hispanic.
“Che and death make me hungry. I want a ton of hot dogs. Do you?”
“You don’t like Senate Coney?”
“What, am I a probation officer?”
They savored cola out of scratched plastic glasses. On a sickly, ivory plate, under a huge sausage a bun bled ketchup. Straight from the Food Terminal over on Fort Street. They ordered another round.
“On the subject of death,” Vic reminded him of the morning agenda.
“Yes. Where’s my hot dog?” he yelled out to a maitre d’ in a greasy shirt from the Seventies. “Look at these ex-cons, look at the waitress,” he pointed to the photo of the waitress of the year. “They carrying around the prison-type AIDS. What a disgusting civilian world.”
“Just a minute. Let me get my hotdog.”
Hutch went up to the maitre d’ behind the counter. In one smooth motion, Hutch inserted his fingers into the man’s nostrils. Hutch demanded, “Where’s my hot dog?”
His coolness pressed. His slowness intimidated.
“What is the statistic deviation of the septum, Kenneth?” and he turned to Vic: “It’s like holding a horse by the nostrils.”
The ex-cons shouted. The waitress of the year squealed and reappeared fetching their servings. Hutch released the man, wiping his fingers on the woman’s uniform, shifted his revolver in its bra-like holster and said brightly:
“I just love the smell of panic in the morning!”