Warren Murphy: Cold Warrior

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  • Название:
    Cold Warrior
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    Детективная фантастика / на английском языке
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    Английский
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Cold Warrior: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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When impoverished Cuba is attacked, Castro is sure that the U.S. is behind the assault, and he sends a MiG fighter jet to destroy a nuclear power plant in Florida, prompting Remo and Chiun to spring to action.

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Down by the beach, a copy of Granma flapped among the crabs. Since it was his task to keep the beach clean as well as safe, Xavier stooped to retrieve it.

Idly he flipped through its pages. There were fifteen pictures of El Lider scattered throughout its eight pages. In each of them Fidel wore his familiar designer fatigues. In each of them his paunch hung over his cinched-tight webbed belt.

Perhaps it was his downcast mood, perhaps it was because Xavier was approaching his sixtieth birthday, but the sight of the once charismatic leader of the Revolution bursting at the seams, while Xavier actually weighed less now than he did in 1961 when he'd fought at the Bay of Pigs, brought bitter tears to his sun-wrinkled eyes.

"This Revolution did not eat its young!" he said bitterly. "El Loco Fidel ate the Revolution!"

He tore the newspaper apart, scattering fragments everywhere. What did it matter if the beach was littered with the detritus of Socialism? It was already littered with the stinking husks of the unkillable crabs. It was a beach men had died for, one whose white sands had drunk their blood-and it had all been for nothing.

Cuba had gone from being an American colony to a Soviet colony. And once the two superpowers had made their peace, they had turned their backs on the island.

Thirty years of struggle, and Xavier Custodio patrolled the same stretch of stinking beach, his leathery old man's skin rubbed raw by the branches and fronds, the promise of his youthful ideals squandered.

He let the last sob break from his sun-dried throat.

And behind him he heard a sporadic popping.

Xavier turned to see who was walking along his beach.

Behind the fronds that shielded his face, his warm brown eyes went wide.

He was looking at soldiers. They wore olive-drab, just like him. But their uniforms were clean and whole.

And on their shoulders they wore no patch or insignia. They did not need to. Xavier knew that the shameless Stars and Stripes of the United States army belonged there.

Xavier dropped to his knees, his old training taking hold. His heart pounded as he watched them. They were disembarking from rubber rafts that even now were being rent by bayonets and sunk with stone weights.

Xavier hesitated. Should he attack them? Or should he retreat and sound the alarm?

He looked to his AK-47 and its single clip-and his heart broke. The Revolution had taken his teeth. He could not fight. And his pre-Socialist machete was not equal to the hour.

Rustling and skulking like a heartless dog, he retreated into the muck of nearby Zapata Swamp and ran all the way to his humble bohio.

He would alert Habana. Because he was a Cuban, not because he cared anymore about the failed Revolution.

Less than thirty rods down the road, Xavier stopped running. He remembered that his telephone no longer worked. He could not call Habana. He would have to go to Zapata. And it was too far to run, for an aging Fidelista with the zeal sucked out of him by hunger and privation.

The President of the Republic of Cuba was wondering where the Revolution had gone wrong.

He sat in his office in the Palace of the Revolution with his advisers, the men of the mountains who had waged guerrilla warfare with him in the Sierra Maestra.

"Mi amigos," he began, exhaling clouds of aromatic tobacco smoke. "Be truthful now. Did we fail?"

"No, Fidel," said his brother, the Vice-President for Life, after a moment's consultation.

"Yet here we are, our goals unmet. Surely there have been errors? Certainly we have made some mistakes along the way?"

The advisers looked to one another. They shrugged and looked to their Maximum Leader for guidance.

"Was it in 1959, when we postponed elections, proclaiming, 'Real democracy is not possible for a hungry people'?" he asked.

"No," the Minister of Ideology insisted. "For without that decree, Cuba would not have El Magnifico Fidel to guide them to greatness."

The Maximum Leader nodded soberly. His frown deepened. He puffed thoughtfully.

"Was it perhaps a year later, when we instituted food rationing, thereby insuring perpetual hunger?"

"No, Comandante en Jefe," the cultural minister protested. "For had we not instituted rationing in 1960, there would now be no food at all."

"Good. Good. That is good. I had not thought of that."

Smiles brightened dark faces. Their leader was pleased. The rum was flowing freely now. They were drinking Cuba Libres.

"Was it when we announced our Harvest of the Century?"

"No," he was assured. "For who could have foreseen that the harvest would fail? The Revolution makes workers, not weather. The workers were with us, the weather was not."

"Good. Good. I like it," said the Maximum Leader, jotting these phrases down on a tiny note pad balanced on one big knee. The stubby pencil looked tiny in his huge fist.

His brow furrowed once more. "Perhaps we blundered when we sent our soldiers to Africa to fight oppression there. Many died. Many were widowed or left childless."

"No, Fidel," insisted the Minister of Agriculture. "For if those soldiers were with us today, they would have to be fed. There is little enough food as it is."

"Excellent point." The big bearded man rolled his fine cigar from one side of his mouth to the other, like a bear with a candy cane. "And what about the time we allowed any Cuban to leave through the port of Mariel?" he asked. "Thousands did. It was an embarrassment. It made Cuba look like a place to flee from."

"No," said his brother, in his other capacity of Defense Minister. "For they were traitors to Socialism, and what need have we to feed them?"

"Another excellent point. I shall make a speech tomorrow. It will be about the importance of food to the Revolution."

The sound of enthusiastic applause rippled around the marble room like unseeable doves.

Pounding feet came up to the door, and someone on the other side began to knock furiously.

"El Presidente!" a voice cried. "It is the Americans! They have returned! They are attacking!"

"Where?"

"Playa Giron!"

At the mention of that legendary place of class struggle, the eyes of the presidential advisers went round, their expressions turning sick.

"We are lost!" they cried, visions of Tripoli and Baghdad flashing through their rum-besotted minds.

"No," rumbled their Maximum Leader. "This is exactly what the Revolution requires."

"Que?"

"An enemy to vanquish."

The Leader of the Revolution stormed into the two-story home in a Havana suburb that had served as his emergency command post since before the first Bay of Pigs.

"Report," he snapped.

A captain seated before a radio took off his earphones and said, "A militia man discovered the incursion three hours ago."

"Three hours! Why was I not notified before this?"

"He was unable to contact us by telephone. It had fallen into disrepair."

"Then he had failed Socialism. He should have maintained the instrument better. He understood its importance. Have him shot."

"But he was a hero of the first Bay of Pigs, Comrade Fidel."

"And he was a failure of the second," the Cuban president said dismissively. "Tell me of the campaign."

"I have ordered the invaders destroyed to the last man."

"Mulo! What good are dead invaders?"

"Dead invaders cannot establish beachheads."

"And dead invaders cannot be interrogated!" El Lider snapped. "I want prisoners, not corpses!"

"Si, comrade." The captain returned to his World War II surplus radio set and began issuing rapid orders in Spanish. He listened through headphones and looked up to the hulking figure of his comandante en jefe.

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