«Dino’s Hills» Chapter 4

(Photo property of FBC, Omnia Caelum Studios Valencia, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter 4
(1977)

Ah, the melodic and quite rhythmic sounds of the UH-1, my beloved Huey, guaranteed to scare the shit out of these germs…that’s what we called the communist guerrillas…that are trying to make of this country another Cuba.

And I was right, not a single shot and the threat was gone. Those cowboys up there at just about 150 metres from the Earth are my heroes for sure. I let out the air I was holding, I guess for about three or four minutes, took a deep, cleansing breath, and looked for Sandra.

“Corporal, you alright?”

“Yeah,” she whispered.

We were both looking up at the chopper, still low in the sky, but flying back eastward, towards the Caribbean coast, back to base, or wherever it was that they came from. Knowing that was above my pay grade I guess because no one ever told me.

“I think we should do the same thing.”

“What?”

“Head back home.”

“No class today?”

“Maybe, but I think a stop at the student bar, a few cold ones and some quality time with the pinball machine will make me much happier.”

“Then it’s a plan,” she said with a smile that made me think of her as a little girl who has just agreed with her mother that it would be better to go for ice cream than to the dentist.

I went right to my room after a few beers. I was still a little shaken up. It wasn’t the fact that they fired at us, I’ve been in combat before. What scared me was that they didn’t kill us. The shots were either a warning or a way of them telling us that no matter what we did, no matter what we brought with us, this was their territory, their land, they knew it well…we didn’t…and they could do whatever they wanted to us. We were a handful, they were everybody.

This country had come out of a revolution where they ousted the communists that had come into power through their own revolution. They had endured an uncertain time when guerrilla fighters would shoot up stores, buses, trains, anything that they associated with the government or with “the rich”. These hit men would ride through the cities on motorcycles and the guy in back would be the shooter.

Finally a military man took control of the government. He set up a sort of “benign” dictatorship to get the country back on track, to fix the economy, and most importantly to rid the population of the threat of violence at the hands of the marauding communists on motorcycles. It became illegal to ride two on a bike, of any type.

It was January 1977. Scientists had just discovered the bacteria that causes this strange disease that had been troubling the minds of all and that they called Legionnaires’ disease. President Ford had pardoned ‘Tokyo Rose’ on his last day in office as President of the United States and Jimmy Carter had been sworn in as the nation’s thirty ninth president, and the great blizzard had hit upstate New York. The hottest song on the hit parade was “Tonight’s the Night” by the one and only Rod Stewart…

I was twenty two years old and a sergeant…E-5…in the United States Army. As soon as I finished my fourth year in university I’m going into OCS, no doubt. I’m not interested in rising through the ranks but I want to be able to make a few decisions and becoming an officer is the way to start. Although everybody tells me I am wrong, I follow my own drummer.

My phone rang at 0237 hours. Was that the fucking phone, or did I just dream this? No, shit, there it is again, it’s the phone and nothing good can come through that line at this hour so I quickly shook the sleep from my head and replied.

“I’ll be right there sir.”

C.2021, Francisco Bravo Cabrera, 24 NOV 2021, Valencia, Spain

POEM: “Fish”

The city is the fishbowl where I live,

I am a fish…

Not a gold one,

not a guppy,

not a meaty one that you can trap and fry,

Not a pretty one at all…

I have scales of iron,

teeth like knives,

my colour is as black as night,

and from the deep and dark I rise…

The city is my fishbowl

and the water seems quite foul,

as I swim through streets and avenues, without a light,

without a sound…

C.2021, Francisco Bravo Cabrera, 23 NOV 2021, València, Spain 🇪🇸

Art Digital at Omnia Caelum Studios Valencia

(FBC at «work», C.2021, All Rights Reserved)
(C.2021, All Rights Reserved)

Digital Art is not something new, but it has evolved in many ways…

I think of creating art as the search, so searching can lead you to many places and to do many things, such as using digital formats to experiment with, learn and express…

Cheers…

FICTION: «Dino’s Hills» Ch.3

Smith & Wesson Model 39-2 Pistol | Cowan's Auction House: The Midwest's  Most Trusted Auction House / Antiques / Fine Art / Art Appraisals
(Stock photograph, public domain)

Chapter 3
(Extra-curricular training)

“You will look without looking, listen without letting anyone know you are listening, and you have to, in a matter of brief seconds, absorb the environment you are in. Any and every detail can count and they’re all important. Don’t take anyone or anything for granted. The job you are doing, they are doing too, don’t lose sight of that and don’t forget you are being looked at, judged, sized up. You are suspicious to them…”

“I would say we are suspicious to a lot of people, including the university’s administration…”

“And don’t interrupt me, goddamit!”

Silence. The Colonel looked at me with a silent, but extremely powerful stare. He looked like a Greek statue of one of those generals about to go and defend Sparta from the Persians or the Medes.

“Look here,” he guided me to a different room, windows were closed, it was dark. He walked towards a table and switched on an overhead lamp that cast a circular glow upon the items on the table.

“Take a look at your new best friend. This your assigned weapon, it ain’t just a Smith & Wesson M39. It’s the ‘hush puppy’, the modified one called Mk 22 Mod 0, 9mm, with a fourteen round magazine. Here”, handing it to me, “get the feel of it, the other’s for Sandra, go fetch her sergeant, you’re dismissed.”

“Yes sir.” The pistol safely in my pocked I walked out wondering when I’d get the fourteen rounds and a couple of extra magazines…

Leaving the room and out the door I turned right and walked down the wooden stairwell to the basement where Sandra had been reading one of my rock and roll magazine, one that was quite popular and that I always read called CREEM.

“You into rock Sandra?”

“Yeah, more or less, Doobie Brothers, the best!”

“They’ll never surpass the lads from Liverpool.”

“The Stones have, remember the Beatles broke up a few years ago.”

“Get up there corporal, the man’s waiting, he’s got a little something for you.” I said as I pulled out the Mk 22.

“Cool serge, that’s special forces, Navy Seals kinda hardware they’ve given you.” She smiled and made a pistol gesture with her left hand, pointing it towards the ceiling.

“Go get yours, we’ve more classes to attend to today.”

“On the double sir!” and she climbed the stairs two by two, or three by four…

“The day here starts at 0600 hours, that’s when the sun rises over this forsaken jungle, swamp, forest, whatever you wanna call it, so be alert and greet that yellow ball in the sky with dignity and respect,” said the Top. He was twice our age and twice stronger, meaner and disciplined. I guess three solid tours in Vietnam will change your personality forever. He was our new contact and instructor.

“Twenty metres metres from your eyes you’ll spot the first one. No matter what he says or does, he is the enemy. The one you see. Thirty metres behind him, or her, is his back-up and the one that’s gonna send you to your maker and ten steps to the back-up’s right, or left, is his. Be aware, be fast, don’t hesitate, he ain’t no innocent civilian. Fire continuously, empty out that clip cause you’ll have to neutralise the backups or it’s all over for you, you’ll be dead in thirty seconds. This is how these bastards operate. They’re trained by the fucking Cubans and the Soviets. They’ll challenge you, they’ll risk their fucking life just to get you. They know you’re here”

We practised until 0830 hours that morning. We killed imaginary bad guys in the forest, behind every tree, under bushes, up in the branches, anywhere and everywhere they could possibly hide. We were sharp, not a branch or leaf had a chance to fire back.

The Top, First Sergeant that is, top dude in our chain of command…the Colonel didn’t count, we really didn’t know where he came from…picked up an attaché and marched away towards civilisation. He looked funny carrying something an accountant would be hauling off to the office. Then we sat against a tall pine, I took out a cigarette, a Lark, the brand I smoked at the time because I think I read that those were the ones John Lennon smoked, and passed one over to Sandra.

“We’ve class at 0930 hours, Philosophy of Law I think.”

“No, it’s social psychology…”

“Sociology,” I interrupted.

Then I heard the machine gun and felt the bullets ripping through the tree-trunk right above my head…

“Sandy, take cover!”

We slid quickly behind the tree, hugging the ground, thanking Mother Earth for her generosity in giving us a place to shelter, at least momentarily until we could assess the situation.

I counted thirty seconds and no more bullets coming in our direction. Silence…

“They fired from…”

“They’ll hear you serge.”

“They’ve eyes on us Sandy, it doesn’t matter.”

(C.2021, Chapter 3, Fiction by Francisco Bravo Cabrera, 21 NOV 2021, Valencia, Spain)

(Esp/Eng)…Cuadros y pinturas/Art: Aquí algo de lo que he pintado durante este año 2021/Some of my work during 2021. Omnia Caelum Studios Valencia…

(Verano, 2021, Costa egea de Turquía, sobre mirando las ruinas de la antigua ciudad griega de Erythrae, Ἐρυθραί/Summer 2021, Aegean Coast of Turkey, overlooking the ancient Greek city Erythrae, Ἐρυθραί)

No me quejo, ni del confinamiento del 2020 ni de la nueva normalidad, reconozco la necesidad de ajustarse, protegerse, vacunarse y usar la mascarilla, asi que he seguido mi rumbo y mi manera de trabajar. Aquí os muestro algunas de las obras del 2021. Os invito a nuestro Instagram donde si las he publicado todas: @Francisco_Bravo_Cabrera y os doy un abrazo desde mi València…

I did not complain about the confinement we went through in 2020, nor the new normal of now. I recognise there is a danger and a need to adjust, protect oneself, get vaccinated and wear the mask. Here now I show you some of the art-work I have done throughout 2021. I also invite you to our Instagram: @Francisco_Bravo_Cabrera where I publish more of them. Big hug to all from my city, València…

(Art is a very human expression, therefore only humans can make art. Art is not intuitive, it is contrived, planned out, researched, in fact, art is the search…FBC)

Gracias…

Cheers…

Poem: “Central Park”

(Photo property of FBC, Omnia Caelum Studios València, C.2021, All Rights Reserved)

No one on Earth can change the course of history.

No one should doubt, there’s absolutes and laws,

and right and wrong and Ten Commandments, written deep upon the stone.

There is the purest white and purest darkness,

we’re free to choose between what’s right and wrong,

travelling through our thoughts, strong winds and lightning,

travelling through our ears an old, old song.

I stood one day in Central Park,

snow covered the ground,

I thought of summer…

C.2021, Francisco Bravo Cabrera, 20 NOV 2021, València, Spain 🇪🇸

FICTION by FBC, «Dino’s Hills» Chapter 2

(Photo property of FBC, Omnia Caelum Studios Valencia, C.2021, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter 2
“The University”

It was 0900 hours, Monday morning. I was sitting in a small courtyard in the back of the School of Law of the principal autonomous university of the Central American country we were “visiting” which I will not name, no need to.

It was a typical January day for that country, rather cold, windy, dry and the sky looked like someone had sprayed it with grey paint. I looked at my student ID card and smiled. The picture, hell, it wasn’t that bad. In my backpack there was a brand new notebook and a book on legal psychology. I had to choose something I kind of knew about, so psychology…of something…it was.

After my second cigarette my school-mate showed up. Cute, brunette, soft spoken and quite pleasant. She wore jeans, sneakers a rather strange looking greenish coat and a brown…very ugly…scarf. Her lovely hair was flying in the breeze and she looked like she would rather be indoors, perhaps in a warm coffee shop.

“When’s dance starting?”

“In ten minutes, you’re late,” I said looking at my watch and trying to avoid eye contact.

“Then I’m right on time.”

“Right.”

Silence surrounded us as we sat and looked at the murals painted on the walls of the classroom buildings. Communist propaganda for sure. A picture of Salvador Allende, the fallen Chilean socialist dictator-to-be and of course a portrait of “Che” Guevara, the “Heroic Guerrilla”, patron saint of wanna-be communists. I don’t think the real communists cared too much about him. They saw through him and knew he was a phoney.

Then we heard commotion from the other side of the buildings. The dance had commenced. There were male and female voices chanting some stupid refrains or something, then cheers and indiscernible shouts. I suppose this is what you would probably hear from a mob…of some sort…when they’re congregating. But this was also our cue to perform our duty, which meant we needed to take a closer look.

“Let’s move out corporal,” I said to her without even looking at her pale white face, rosacea setting in, probably by the caress of the cold breeze and definitely trying to avoid those dark brown eyes that seemed to penetrate my soul and search out for my most tender points and…

We grabbed out back-packs and walked briskly…no running…towards the other side of the buildings. On that side there was a square, a huge open area that communicated, not only with the street, but with other sections of the university, especially with the Faculty offices and the Athenaeum.

“That’s him, isn’t it?” Spotting Chino. No emotion in her voice, totally professional.

“Yup.” I said as I looked at the fools that Chino and his cohorts had managed to brainwash.

The group, albeit noisy, was small, just about twelve “students”, probably from the School of Law and the School of Philosophy. The leaders were young men and women, but a little older than what you would think of as the average student. These were the “professional” students whose job was to disrupt, to create problems and to disseminate communist propaganda among the student body. Their function was to promote anything that would be chaotic.

The leader was a guy they called “Chino”, not because he was Chinese, but because he looked like he could have been. I had been briefed thoroughly on him. He was thirty four years old. He had graduated from Law School from this very university, but about eight years ago and now he was back as a Philosophy student. But that was his cover. His job was to agitate, to promote anarchy and to spread the gospel of Fidel Castro and Mao among the young, mouldable minds that attended this great centre of learning.

“Stand here, don’t get too close.” I ordered.

“They’ll disperse?”

“As soon as the cops come.”

“Is everything in place?”

“There’s nothing to put in place,” I thought for a moment then added, “All we have to do is point him out.”

“Ok.”

Suddenly a squad of uniformed, armed police charged the small group. The “students” turned towards them, looked, thought about making a stand, then had a second thought and all ran like water, in spread out in every direction. The police chased them unenthusiastically, yelling curses and waving their batons.

Then I saw the black van approach and stop just about 20 metres from the entrance to the square area where all the action was taking place. A tall man wearing a black overcoat and a NY Yankees baseball cap got out and looked in our direction.

In one fluid motion, that no one would notice or suspect was a signal, I took out a cigarette and as I was taking it to my mouth, I pointed towards Chino. This sign was not perceived by anyone, but the tall man with the Yankees cap knew it well. He looked…I thought he smiled…and nodded. Turning, without a second look, he returned to the van and they quickly sped silently away.

“He saw you?”

“Yup, he knows.”

After a few rather strange minutes of silence, watching as the police re-grouped, empty handed and laughing, Corporal Sandra, turned and said to me, “Are we going to class?”

“It’s our job, of course we’re going to class”

As I walked beside her I thought back to the day in the swamp and the Colonel and the re-assignment. My job was no longer to train, or to try to train these would-be soldiers. My job now was to gather “intelligence”. I would live as a university student, a foreign student, interested in the country and the history and people of Central America. And because of that I enrolled in Law School? It didn’t make sense, but that decision had been made by officers and who was I to question my superiors…

(C.2021, Chapter 2, Fiction by Francisco Bravo Cabrera, 19 NOV 2021, Valencia, Spain)