themselves nicely, and even though the group was slaughtered, Vargas considers it a moral victory. Those of us who were not in on the raid sat around camp while Arturo favored us with some “Cielito Lindo.” Morale remains high, even though food and arms are virtually nonexistent and time passes slowly. Luckily we are distracted by the hundred-degree heat, which I think accounts for much of the funny gurgling noise the men make. Our time will come.
July 10: Today was generally a good day, despite the fact that we were ambushed by Arroyo’s men and badly decimated. This was partially my fault as I gave away our position by inadvertently shrieking the names of the Christian triumvirate when a tarantula crawled over my leg. For several moments I could not dislodge the tenacious little spider as it made its way into the inner recesses of my garments, causing me to gyrate spastically toward the stream and thrash about in it for what seemed like forty-five minutes. Shortly after, Arroyo’s soldiers opened fire on us. We fought gamely, although the shock of being surprised created a mild disorganization, and for the first ten minutes our men were shooting at each other. Vargas narrowly escaped catastrophe as a live hand grenade landed at his feet. He commanded me to fall on it, aware that he alone is indispensable to our cause, and I did so. As providence would have it, the grenade did not explode and I walked away unharmed except for a slight twitch and the inability to fall asleep unless someone holds my hand.
July 15: The morale of the men seems to be holding up, despite certain minor setbacks. First, Miguel stole some ground-to-ground missiles but mistook them for ground-to-air missiles and, attempting to down several of Arroyo’s planes, blew all our trucks up. When he tried to laugh it off, Jose became furious and they fought. Later, they patched things up and deserted. Desertion, incidentally, could become a major problem, although at this moment optimism and team spirit have held it down to three out of every four men. I, of course, remain loyal and do the cooking, but the men still do not seem to appreciate the difficulty of that assignment. The fact is, my life has been threatened if I don’t come up with an alternative to Gila monster. Sometimes soldiers can be so unreasonable. Still, perhaps one of these days I will surprise them with something new. Meanwhile we sit around the camp and wait. Vargas is pacing in his tent and Arturo sits playing “Cielito Lindo.”
August 1: Despite all we have to be thankful for, there is no doubt that a certain tension has set in here at rebel headquarters. Little things, apparent only to the observant eye, indicate an undercurrent of uneasiness. For one thing, there are quite a few stabbings among the men, as quarrels become more frequent. Also an attempt to raid an ammunitions depot and rearm ourselves ended in a rout when Jorge’s signal flare went off prematurely in his pocket. All the men were chased except for Jorge, who was captured after banging off two dozen buildings like a pinball. Back at camp in the evening, when I brought out the Gila monster the men rioted. Several of them held me down while Ramon struck me with my ladle. I was mercifully saved by an electrical storm that claimed three lives. Finally, with frustrations at a peak, Arturo struck up “Cielito Lindo” and some of the less musically inclined ones in the group took him behind a rock and force-fed him his guitar.
On the plus side of the ledger, Vargas’ diplomatic envoy, after many unsuccessful attempts, managed to conclude an interesting deal with the CIA where, in return for our unswerving fealty toward their policies forever, they are obligated to supply us with no less than fifty barbecued chickens.
Vargas now feels that perhaps he was premature in predicting a December success and indicates that total victory might require additional time. Strangely
Melissa McClone, Robin Lee Hatcher, Kathryn Springer