Operation Rugido Ratón
man gave the policeman a puzzled look.
you speak Spanish?" the policeman tried again.
uh, ummmm poco?"
policeman grunted, but did not smile.
uh, sure." The man fumbled to fish out his dark blue
passport from his shirt pocket.
on vacation or business?" The policeman asked briskly.
Wally Spivitz looked around vainly for someone in his
"First time to Cuba?"
you alone or with a group?"
group, I mean, a group of us are here. A travel group."
you in charge?"
there's a girl. I mean a lady."
she have your license?"
travel license. You need a license to come into the
have no idea. I mean, uh. Oh, thank god. Lisa!?" Wally
waved frantically at a very attractive young woman
wearing a tan blazer. She smiled ,but then turned her
mouth down when she saw the policeman. Wally stood by,
trying his best to look helpful, as Lisa, his tour
guide, and the policeman fired back and forth in rapid
Spanish. Her look was stern, but when she turned to
Wally she forced a smile.
worries, Mr. Spivitz," her light Latina accent was
"Wally. This happens. Not a big thing. He tells me once
you find your bag he will give you your passport back.
If he asks you anything just give him an honest answer."
lowered her voice and smiled as the man turned to talk
to another police officer. . "He is just showing off.
Probably his superior is over there somewhere. Just put
up with it for five more minutes. We'll be on the bus,
with a mojito in hand, in ten minutes. alright?"
stood there, in the Havana airport, a small bead of
sweat dripping down the back of his neck as hundreds of
people milled around the large carousel.
play it cool for a few minutes, Wally told himself.
was more like fifteen, but sure enough, Wally found his
bag, the policeman asked a few more questions and then
suddenly slapped the passport back into Wally's' hand
"Enjoy your stay in Cuba," and quickly walked off to
grill another likely looking yanqui.
bless you, Lisa." Wally said as he climbed up the steps
into an air conditioned tour bus, He grabbed the cup out
of Lisa's extend hand and quickly sipped half of a very
tasty and calming Mojito.
"Sorry about that.” Lisa smiled. “Like I said, not a big
deal. He was showing off probably. Everyone else here
and ready to start exploring Cuba?" Lisa continued,
flashing her best smile to the group of mostly elderly
Walter made his way to the back of the bus and sat down
next to the only other person he had met yet in his
travel group, Ken or Kenneth, something like that.
"Welcome to Cuba, eh buddy?" The guy raised his glass.
"Jesus Christ what a place," Wally said as he drained
the last of his drink.
bus pulled out of the airport and lurched down the road
if you don’t mind me saying so, you seem a bit young to
be on the old people's tour." Wally looked around. True
enough; most of the "students" on the so-called study
tour probably had Grandkids in college themselves. He
55, old enough. I've waited a long time to come to Cuba.
When I heard you could join one of these educational
tours I jumped."
Well, if you say so. I just turned 70 myself, but I
doubt I looked like you do when I was 30."
"Clean living, my friend... Lisa! Any refills before we
get to the hotel?"
Spivitz was the model tourist. He ooh'd and 'ahh'd at
the elaborate but decaying colonial architecture around
every corner of old Havana. He gamely tried to Samba at
the Casa de Trova in Trinidad. He never complained about
the running toilet or stuck closet door in his sparse
but clean hotel room. He declared the cigar he smoked on
the model farm the best he'd ever had, which was the
truth; he hated cigars. He snapped dozens of pictures at
the cathedral in Remidios, awed by the gilded alter. At
every turn Cuban waiters and hotel maids smiled tight
smiles as he gamely tried to speak Spanish, to which the
almost always answered in fluent English. He even
flirted with Lisa, although he confided to Ken or
Kenneth, one night after too many Cuba Libres, that he
was sure she was a government agent. After all, he told
him in a slurred voice that; aren't ALL the tour guide
in Pinar Del Rio, it all went south.
was in Pinar del Rio that Wally made his move. He had
been biding his time, waiting for the right moment.
Based on his information, he was as close there as he
would ever be. All I have to do, he told himself
as he packed a small bag, is to slip that curvaceous
minder Lisa. Moments later there was a knock at the
door. He shuffled over and cracked the door slightly.
“Yes?’ he croaked, closing his robe “Is that you, Lisa?”
Mr Spivitz. Are you ok? I came as soon as you called.”
so sorry, Lisa. I seem to have picked up some sort of
stomach bug. I think it was that ham and cheese sandwich
I got yesterday in the square…”
Spivitz, I warned you about street food. Do not worry; I
can have them send up some soda water and lime. You sit
tight here today and join us tonight if you feel
“Thank you, Lisa. I feel better already.” He managed a
minutes later he sipped at the soda water and lime as he
changed back into a pair of suit pants and a white long
sleeve collared shirt. He slicked his dark hair back
with some gel and added the last touch, a pair of
sunglasses. He put his bag into a smart briefcase, left
his room and hopped out the back hall window and down
into the alley in the rear of the hotel.
his mind he could see the town map laid out. He made a
right turn at the street and a block later another
right. He came to a smaller square, busy with trucks and
people and not a few horse drawn taxis. He went up to
one of the newer European import cars, one with a driver
leaning up against the hood.
you. My driver is nowhere, I need a ride out to the new
resort,” he gestured down the street as he continued to
speak in fluent Spanish to the driver. “Can you take me
there or not?”
driver eyed him with suspicion. “I’m not a taxi, mister.
Call your agency contact; yell at them.”
scowled. “Don’t you think I did that first? Look, I am
to meet my manager from the home office in Madrid at 10
am. There’s 20 CUCs in it if you take me to the site. I
can argue with Habenoux once I’m there, you don’t even
have to stick around.”
man sat up, smiled and opened the back door. Wally slid
in. Within 20 minutes they were at a large dusty
building site where a large resort was, in fact, being
popped up. But Wally had no intention of sticking around
there. He instructed the taxi to drop him off near the
edge near several large dump trucks. Wally pressed 40
Euro into the man’s hands and the man shrugged, put the
car in reverse and sped off, leaving Wally standing near
the truck and the front gate.
took advantage of the dust and confusion of trucks to
slip behind a shed. There he quickly shed his suit and
donned clean but worn looking jeans and a tight t shirt.
With a baseball cap and cheap sunglasses he looked the
part of an average Cuban. The last detail was the ditch
the briefcase and instead use the beat up old backpack
he had stuffed inside the briefcase. He emptied the
briefcase’s contents into the bag and then carefully hid
the case under the brush next to the shed.
Minutes later he was walking down the narrow dirt road
leading from the worksite, dodging the occasional truck.
No one thought to look twice at him, just as he wanted.
was a long, two hour walk, but eventually he got to a
small town at the end of the road. The town itself was
hardly there- a few cinderblock houses, some zinc sided
out buildings and a run-down brown brick building in the
center with faded paint announcing “Hasta La Victoria,
Siempre.” Wally went to the first house on the left, a
dull grey affair with one wooden framed window,
shuttered against the noonday sun, and a wooden door, in
need of a paint job. He knocked on the door. From inside
he heard movement, then a cautious- “Si?”
perfect Cuban Spanish Wally responded “Could you spare
some water for a soldier of the revolution?”
small voice inside got closer to the door. “I would
spare my life for the revolution.”
you are lucky, all I ask for is water in a small cup.”
Suddenly the door swung open. A buxom black haired
beauty not more than 20 stood before him. She looked up
at him, smiling.
“Walter?” He nodded. “Here.” She handed him a small
glass of water, Wally guessed she wanted to make sure of
the charade in case anyone was spying on them from the
and wait in the green truck. The driver can take you to
where you need to go. Go, wait.”
saw a beat up lime green truck, circa 1955, sitting by
the house. He went over and climbed in the passenger
side. About five minutes later a tall weather beaten,
lanky man with a shock of tousled black hair stumbled
out of the house, the woman not far behind, fixing her
hair. She ran over and leaned into the cab. She smelled
slightly of rum and chocolate.
“Ramon can take you, but be careful, say nothing. Will
you come back baby? I can make it worth your time!” She
“Probably not muchacha, I normally don’t go back for
seconds.” Wally responded with a smile. She gasped and
glared. Just then the man came around to his side.
Comrade.” Wally momentarily panicked.
the back. See this?” Ramon waived a piece of paper. “It
says I have one ton of tomatoes, but nothing about some
fat farmer. I don’t want any trouble from no one. You
sit in the back between crates. I’ll tell you when to
sulked to the back.
an hour later, over what had to be the bumpiest road in
all of Cuba, Wally felt the truck stop and heard a loud
“Pasian! Out Campasino.” Wally carefully extracted
himself from the teetering tomato crates and jumped
down. A split second later the truck took off, leaving
him behind in a cloud of dust.
was pretty sure the surly driver had just ditched him
nowhere. But as the dust settled and he scanned the
horizon he saw just barely the glint of sun off of the
top of a metal shed over a distant hill. He had arrived
at the right spot it seemed. He quickly scrambled across
the scrubby field and over the low hill.
came to a fence. From his backpack he pulled out a small
black box with a wire. He lightly touched the wire near
the fence, the black box was silent, the light did not
blink. So then he pulled out a pair of small wire
cutters and went to work cutting the fence in several
spots until he had a big enough hole to squeeze under.
He then carefully arranged the cut fence so that, from a
distance, it looked like it was still whole.
Carefully he made his way forward until he got to some
out buildings. He dropped behind them and settled in
dusk gathered, he ventured out a little around the
building he was behind. All day he had heard distant
voice and lots of motor vehicles, but nothing that he
could put his finger on. He got into a position behind
several barrels from which he had a clear view of the
main road through the middle of the compound. Wally
quickly got out a headset from his bag. He scanned the
area, seeing no one near, just the passing trucks, he
flipped the set on and grabbed a pair of binoculars.
in Hornet, this is Mojito. You there Hornet?" There was
a brief crackle of static.
"Reading clear Mojito. What's your 20?"
"Inside the target Hornet."
"Good. See anything?"
I see the trucks. And I see the payloads. I think I can
confirm them as… wait. Oh my God? What on earth…"
is it Mojito? What do you see?"
I can't confirm it but, sweet jesus."
not even, I swear to God they look like-"
everything went black.
came too with an ache in his head. The room he was in
was empty except for the chair he was sitting on and a
low light bulb, fluorescent Wally noticed. He also
noticed he was tied to the chair. Crap.
our guest is coming too. Hola, Comrade Wally, beveinedos
a Cuba! I am Captain Fernandez. I hope our patrol did
not hit you too hard."
live. I think…"
course you will senior. We're not savages here. Besides,
you are really like a guest of honor now."
saw what you're doing at this base."
"Wonderful! And just in time too. Congratulations. You
are amongst the very few people that know about this
glorious new Cuban endeavor. Unfortunately, for you, in
a few minutes we'll switch on a live feed and everyone
in the world will know."
"You've got to be kidding me. You think that a dinky
rocket is going to get the world's attention?"
man smiled. "So, you know your hardware I see. Mr
Spivitz, if that is your real name, it is much, much
more than just what you saw. We have big plans, or
exactly, not plans but big happenings as they say, no?
Multiply what you saw by a hundred and seventeen times.
117 rockets staffed with people. Yes, Cubans Mr. Spivitz.
Not dogs or pigs, people. Over one thousand brave
revolutionaries ready to give their lives, if necessary,
to the final solution for Cuba over the Yankee
imperialists. You see, Mr. Spivitz, Cuba is going to
send revolutionaries to the moon!"
on earth are you going on about? Those damn things won’t
get 10 feet off the ground, and if they, do how on earth
does Cuba have the technology to run them?"
Spivitz, again, we are not savages. Of course the
rockets will work; they are tested after all, by none
other than NASA itself. You see, several years ago there
was an item in the papers about how the computer
technology used to launch the first mission to the moon
would have all fitted on one of today's cell phones.
This got our beloved leader thinking. Why reinvent the
wheel, when the US has already sent men to the moon. The
technology used in the late 1960s is practically sold in
toys today. It was all there, right before us. All we
had to do was invest a lot of time and effort and
certain resources, whose shortages we could assign to
the Bloqueo, naturally. It was not easy, but nothing is
for us Cubans, no? So we worked day and night for the
past five years. And here we are, on the precipice of a
launch of 117 Cuban rockets to the moon!"
laughed. "The moon! Seriously? That's it? What the hell
you gonna do with 1000 Cubans on the moon? Have them
wait in line to get back?"
funny, senior. Of course not. We are nothing if not
industrious, Spivitiz. There are plenty of minerals to
be mined up there. Our force of 1000 will build shelters
and a landing base, while some will start mining. In
about 60 days a second batch of 2000 will join them and
from there regular monthly ships will go back and forth.
Cuba will, of course, lay claim to the moon. Even if it
were able, the US won't be able to get anyone up there
for a year so. By then, it will be too late."
wouldn’t bet on that. You know damn well if you launch
anything we'll have missile up your ass so damn fast…"
"Please Mr. Spivitz, such language! We are not worried
about your missiles. Why do you think we are going
global with the news? What sort of government will shoot
1000 people out of the sky? I mean, if it is being shown
on live feed, of course. In over 100 locations right now
there are people with simple laptops who will launch all
the ships at once. Even if you were able to scramble the
jets in time, which you will not, you could not get all
117 at once. Ahhh, yes, it is time. Roll in the TV, I
want our guest to witness history in the making."
in a neat green uniform wheeled a small TV in on a cart.
He plugged it in. Through a slightly static picture
Wally could see a talk show in progress. After about a
minute it was interrupted by graphics, and a stern
looking newscaster came on. He explained that the Cuban
Government was launching a glorious new phase of
socialism and that they were cutting to the control
TV showed a large room filled with computer monitors and
hundreds of busy looking young people earnestly studying
the screens. Wally looked at the Captain. The Captain
it is not real Mr. Spivitiz. Forgive us our theater, but
it was felt that this is more impressive looking."
no, no Mr. Spivitz, you misunderstand, the launches are
all very real. It is just that we thought this looked
more official than some guy standing out in a field with
a laptop and a huge rocket next to him. The theater of
the revolution, is how I believe you would say it in
will never work- the US will never let this happen!"
a look Mr. Spivitiz, look at the clock, 20 seconds left.
We have already gotten away with it. We have beat the
Yankees back to the moon, and we will finally prevail
over the forces of imperialism. Plus, we wuped your
sorry butts big time!" with this Fernandez gave a large
I am sure things are pretty hectic back home eh? But
here is your phone back. Call your friend the Hornet, I
am sure he will be glad to hear from you. Tell him that
when the dust settles we are interested in doing an
exchange with the US government for you, one to five is
a good trade I think, no?"