Note: I wrote this years ago. Couldn’t get it published anywhere so I’m posting it here.
I saw the traitor.
He sat beneath me, his eyes fluttering nervously and his breathing erratic and short. Tears welled up in his eyes as his fate was proclaimed. This man was a traitor. He had sold us out on several occasions. He was responsible for the deaths of at least four of our former mates.
Knowing this, I still faltered at the order. The commander pronounced that he would have to die; my rifle suddenly felt a great deal heavier. I did not want to kill this pathetic man, however distasteful he was.
I looked toward my fellow soldiers for help. We stood in a circle around the traitor, who was on his knees weeping like a little child. They looked from one person to the next as though hoping someone would fulfill the order.
Suddenly, there was rain. I felt it on the tip of my nose, and I used this as an excuse to pull my eyes away from the figure on the ground. It started slowly, with only a few scattered drops but then there was the sound of distant thunder and the rain came down, with ferocious quickness. Our commander watched us there, his hair and beard now damp. He shook his head expressionlessly and turned, walking towards a hut in the distance.
The long silence was broken by the blubbering of our disgraced comrade. We watched him, indecisively. Only recently, he had been a friend, a true comrade. Would we kill him now?
I gazed over at Ernesto. He stood watching the traitor silently. His eyes showed no hint of maliciousness but all the same it was a cold stare. Often times, Ernesto’s spirit had lifted our hearts. This man seemed, without hesitancy or doubt, unrelenting in his ultimate goal; our ultimate goal. I found myself envying him.
Suddenly I felt his eyes meet mine. I sensed his overwhelming certainty, his power, and his experience. I was afraid, he was not. I averted my eyes.
I stared at the mud for a moment, watching the rain hit the earth. I saw myself in the rain. Not just me, but all our comrades. We were insignificant little rain drops falling towards reality. I watched it intensely, finding myself wondering what exactly I was doing here, out in the mud; in the Cuban countryside. What was the point? I would just die.
There was a sigh.
Ernesto took out his .38 pistol, pointed the weapon directly at the side of the traitors head, and fired.
The traitor slumped to the ground soundlessly, face down in the mud. The rain now hit his body. I looked at Ernesto. His expression did not change. Not one bit.
He dropped down towards the dead man’s body. There was a golden watch upon its wrist, which should rightfully belong to them now. He grasped hold of it and attempted to unfasten it, but the rain made his fingers slippery. He struggled with it for a moment and then allowed it to snap back into the corpse’s hand for a second. His expression had not changed, yet I sensed a hesitancy which I had never seen before. It was quickly suppressed. With a violent jerk, he ripped the watch from the corpse’s wrist.
I had to wonder, why could he kill this man when none of us could? It was odd, but I noticed how his face was so set on what he was doing. Once again, I found myself in admiration of that man.
As I watched the corpse now with a mixed feeling of sadness, shock, and perhaps grim resolve, Ernesto simply put his pistol away and slowly walked towards the hut in which our leader had taken cover in. I wondered, as I viewed him crossing the field underneath a breaking rain cloud, what he felt about his cause, now stained by blood, not just of the enemies, but of his own comrades. Would he falter now? I could not say, but from his actions I would think not. Instead, I began to believe.
I believed in Cuba, I believed in Communism, and, above all, I believed in Ernesto.
I believe in Che.