From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
7.2 (1987): 3-7.
Copyright © 1981, The Cervantes Society of America
|FROM THE EDITOR|
WITH THIS ISSUE
I end my editorship of Cervantes. These have been eight
extraordinarily stimulating and rewarding years. My sincere thanks to my
conscientious and discriminating Associate Editors, whose judgment has earned
for our bulletin a satisfying measure of respect in the profession, and to
the CSA membership for your consistent support. My special thanks, for fine
work and for much more than routine professional consideration, to Tom Lathrop,
who actually produces the journal, right down to those engaging and pertinent
I leave you with a Kentucky story. It is an unfinished one, I am sorry to say, but there is some hope that more may be forthcoming.
IN A SMALL TOWN in central Iowa it might have been Woolstock, Thor, or Badger, or possibly even Humbolt, but at any rate somewhat to the north of Fort Dodge there lived one of those good old boys that drive a jacked-up pickup truck with a fishing pole in the gun rack, a playboy air freshener hung on the rearview mirror, and an America, Love It or Leave it bumper sticker. His dress tended towards jeans, T-shirts and cowboy boots, which, combined with his wide, regular features and stocky, muscular build, made him appear to be the very foundation of the American heartland. He earned his livelihood driving a tractor for an agroconglomerate's corn holdings,
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and if he didn't earn $18 an hour like his brother who moved to Detroit and
worked assembly for GM, he at least made enough to maintain
payments on his double-wide trailer and keep himself well supplied with gasoline
and beer. He was born too late for the Vietnam war but early enough to remember
it, which put his age around 30. He had never married, although several times
he had come close. During the week he kept steady and dependable hours. Rising
at 6:00, he would shower quickly, breakfast on a cup of coffee and four pop
tarts, make two bologna or ham salad sandwiches for lunch, fill his coffee
thermos, and punch in at work by 7:00. Upon his return in the evening he
would fry a Minute steak, boil some frozen peas or corn, sandwich his steak
in a bun, remove a beer from the refrigerator and retire to his easy chair
facing the TV. He took a simple pleasure in the
Pssht as he opened his first beer. On Saturday nights he would
get mildly rowdy with the boys down at the Crossroads, but seldom became
obnoxious. He was, as the song goes, just a good ol' boy, never meanin'
You must know that this good old boy devoted his leisure (which was weekday evenings and daytime weekends) to watching videos of modern chivalry, and so intense was his fascination that he would watch late into the night so that he was tired the next day, and on Saturdays he sometimes was late arriving at the bar. He watched The Exterminator, Commando, Death Wish II, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Conan the Barbarian, and every Clint Eastwood movie he could find. He faithfully watched the A-Team, Airwolf, and MacGyver, and on Saturday mornings he would watch GI Joe and the Transformers and He-Man. He even watched The Scarecrow and Mrs. King.
But there were none he liked so well as those written around the famous Sylvester Stallone the Rocky and Rocky II, III and IV series and especially the Rambos, for such was the prowess and invincibility of the great Stallone that the dread tide of Communism was swept away before the very sneer of this single man. There he often found laid out the answers to the problems of the world, so simply and clearly cut, that it was a wonderment to him why Uncle Sam had not adopted them and why Communists and other enemies of democracy still ran their rampant courses around the globe.
Over this sort of folderol the poor old boy lost his wits, and he used to lie awake of a night with the crack of machine guns and the explosions of grenades and the curses of vanquished Communists
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echoing between his ears. He was rather uneasy as to how Rambo could escape
from 75 Communists firing upon him at point blank range with no more than
mere flesh wounds, but concluded by attributing it to weapons poorly made
under the socialist regime, for he had heard of the Soviet maxim: They
pretend to pay us and we pretend to work. Against such shoddy arms
a single man with US-made equipment might easily defeat 75
times 75 adversaries in a single confrontation.
Many an argument did he have with the bartender at his local dive (a learned man and a graduate of Des Moines Bartending Institute) as to which had been the better freedom fighter, Stallone as Rambo or Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. George Martin, the mechanic at the corner 76 Station, however, used to say that neither of them came up to Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Exterminator, and that if there was any that could compare with him it was Richard Dean Anderson as MacGyver, because he had a scientific trick for every direful circumstance, while in being shot at and missed was not a whit behind him.
In short, he became so absorbed in his videos that he spent his nights from sunset to sunrise, and his weekends from dawn to dark, pouring over them, quick reverse and instant replay; and what with little sleep and much TV his brain turned to mush and he lost his wits. His imagination was stuffed with all he had watched about intrigues, international exploits, skirmishes, incursions, excursions, valor, and timely helicopter appearances. It became so firmly planted in his mind that the whole fabric of invention and fancy he had seen with his own eyes was true, that to him no nightly TV news was better substantiated. To have a bout with kicking the Ayatollah's ass he would have given his fishing boat, and thrown his outboard motor into the bargain.
In a word, his wits being quite gone, he hit upon the strangest notion that ever madman in this world hit upon. He fancied it was right and requisite, no less for his own greater renown (not to mention all the chicks) than in the service of his country, that he should make a commando of himself, roaming the world over in camouflage fatigues in his four-by-four pickup in quest of routing the enemies of freedom. He would put into practice all that he had seen as being the usual practices of those who were above the law peace through aggression, fame and fortune through off-the-record intrigues, and freedom through conquest. Already the poor man saw himself crowned by the might of his arm field General of CIA
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Nicaraguan affairs at least. And so, carried away by the intense enjoyment
he found in these pleasant fancies, he began at once to put his scheme into
The first thing he did was to visit the local Army surplus outlet. He stocked up on 25 outfits of camouflage fatigues, 13 mess kits (for any recruits he made in his journeys), and 47 P38 can openers at 25 cents apiece. He also procured a dozen cases of World War II Army C-rations, 20 canteens, 10 five- gallon jerry cans for extra fuel for crossing interminable deserts and impenetrable jungles in his highstepping bronco, and various other sundries which caught his eye and fancy. In short, he made such an array of worthy investments that he went home believing his battles all won but the shouting, leaving the store owner blessing the happy hour he had crossed his threshold.
A quick trip to Radio Shack and an evening's tedious installation saw The Bronc outfitted with the latest in communication technology a long, sleek device of black and chrome suspended beneath the dash, bristling with knobs and buttons and softly glowing with little red lights and digital displays state-of-the-art. It was CB AM/FM, cassette deck, short wave, police scanner, airline frequency, and radar detector all in one, with a calculator built in to boot. Welcome to the 80's, he told himself as he tightened the last bolt on his coup de grace a mini satellite dish mounted behind the spotlights atop the cab.
From an underworld international arms dealer residing in Humbolt (for who would suspect Humbolt, Iowa?), through an acquaintance of a friend of the bartender he obtained four M-16 machine guns and enough ammo to sack an average city. He also included in his arsenal a rocket launcher and ten rounds, a gross case of grenades, and a flame thrower.
The acquisition of these supplies laid waste to his bank account, so he resolved to continue in his employment until he could sell his trailer. This deed was accomplished in a shorter time than one would imagine in depressed Iowa, for he sold it at a substantial discount, still leaving him traveling funds after the principal was paid. The next day he told his boss to take this job and shove it, something he had always wanted to say, more because he liked the ring of the words than from a dislike of his job. On his way home (he had three days to vacate the trailer) he stopped by the Rexall Drug store on sudden inspiration. How could he have forgotten sunglasses? What kind of field marshall or general or whatever was ever without his aviator
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mirror shades? So he wheeled up to the curb, jumped down and hurried in.
He was distraught to find their selection contained only little kids' Mickey
Mousers and some black and silver teenybopper wraparounds. But in trying
on the wraps and examining his reflection in the stand's 3"x5"
mirror, they kinda grew on him. He paid the cashier and left,
and after he climbed up and impassively stared at himself in the rearview,
he was convinced that none of the shadowmen who run the world from behind
one-way glass could compare with his own image of invincibility. He cranked
up the Bronc, cranked up the radio, and kicked in that big four-barrel
and you heard them back tires whine.
The bartender was hanging out with George at the 76 Station, leaning back in a chair against the open garage door frame, cup of coffee in one hand and cigarette in the other, lazily blowing smoke rings. George, inside under a car on a lift, craned his head to one side as he sought the oil pan plug. Down the street an engine roared, tires squalled, and a brown flash streaked past. George spit towards the trash barrel, and missed. What in the hell was that? he said. Jim's a gettin' it, for sure," said the bartender.
Once at the trailer, he virtually flung his supplies into the back of the truck as he scurried up and down the stepladder. It was a tight fit, but then he didn't have a long-bed campertop truck for nothing. And sitting up in the air in that baby, monster tires whining below him on the southbound freeway, the Soldier of Fortune glanced around his mobile command center, adjusted his grip on the wheel, and sat back in the saddle. Go ahead, he said softly to no one in particular, make my day. All he needed now was for an ultra-super-incredibly hush-hush government agency to make contact with him. A few exploits to make his name known in the right circles, and he could take his pick, he'd get so many offers.*
*Translated (from English to American) and adapted by Daniel Occoquan for an undergraduate Don Quixote class taught at Berea College by Patricia S. Finch, winter, 1987.
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