Che’s Beatle Girlfriend
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
No doubt her name was Una. Or Agatha. Or Lil. Or Ide. O Brighid. Or Sinead. Or Nora. Or Tilde. Or perhaps Alaidh or Hilde. Any one of those Irish names reminiscent of other names whose etymology is tirelessly, anxiously, apocryphally Anglo.
For a native of civilized America—meaning, uncultured—her name, her names, is, are no more than hieroglyphics without an etymology, all just sounds twisted up in Barbie’s chin and the proper palate of the Irish girl named: Una, Agatha, Lil, Ide, Brighid, Sinead, Nora, Tilde or perhaps Alaidh or Hilde or all of them in one.
In any case, she’s always wearing that inert object over her head, which on camera rivaled a wet beret like his, like Che’s, in 1964. And since Ernesto Guevara is missing his emblematic beret during an interview translated by an interpreter—she literally interpreted, as in performed, his role—we can assume that Che had just placed his beret on her, like a bonnet on her hair, a colonel’s crown, the aura of a magical capture in order to allure her with his New Man smile, his big Cantinflas*-style mustache, the comically tender answers of a magnanimous conquistador. Such is the complicit tenderness of assassins and suicide victims.
Una, Agatha, Lil, Ide, Brighid, Sinead, Nora, Tilde or perhaps Alaidhilde, sometimes looks like a pioneer. If Che laughs, she is happy and confuses that laughter with her own. The professional journalist that hired her is suddenly a nuisance in this scene of seduction. That’s why the introverted Irishman is, in fact, treated like an idiot by Che and the girl: both answer his professional questions with mutual, intimate irony; they elude high politics and exchange practically pornographic codes on the fringes of power.
The UN, for example, is much less important here than Una, Agatha, Lil, Ide, Brighid, Sinead, Nora, Tilde or perhaps Alaidhilde. The girl addresses Che with feminine adjectives: she plays with tongue twisters perhaps to provoke him in his manliness. She pretends that she doesn’t know how to pronounce properly, that she will need to be punished in private for having behaved so badly in public. And who better to castigate her than a castigator. And who better to violate her golden vagina than an executioner dressed in olive green.
It’s obvious that the end of this interview will be an irresistible, ridiculous, anti-biographical and extra-diegetic scene like all fornication between strangers, where Ernesto Guevara (the lighthouse of America back then), wielding his phallus of dubious hygiene in the warm air of the furnace; and in his English (which is better than he lets on), he invites Una, Agatha, Lil, Ide, Brighid, Sinead, Nora, Tilde or perhaps Alaidhilde to do the splits in a hotel room paid for by some Cuban administration in Revolution.
It’s also obvious that Una, Agatha, Lil, Ide, Brighid, Sinead, Nora, Tilde or perhaps Alaidhilde will go and she will open her pelvis and, without removing her clothes, sit atop the hero of horror. She’s not even 20 years old. She is—was—a virgin, although during her nights of childish terrorism she dreamed about being a guerrilla fighter, a decade before this phase of guerrillas and electric guitars. Now she prefers to dance to the Beatles, in spite of herself. And that music inspires this adventure of bleeding to the point of concern between her first world thighs; and, of course, that female smell of iron is the only thing that actually excites the star commander with asthma: the blood inspires and saves this executioner, who in turn will be executed almost as young as he was in that 1964 interview in an Ireland that is unrecognizable and irreconcilable from an Irish woman’s crotch.
There’s a word she’s trying to say, but it trips on her tongue. The “twist and shout” rich girl shakes while straddling and scratches her vocal chords between her paycheck and her illusion of freedom slogans. Then Che corrects her. It’s one of those words that, from being repeated so many times, have not one but infinite etymologies: and one absolute, totalitarian meaning. The interviewer says, “government.” The interpreter stutters: “govermiento.” The interviewed censures: “gobierno.”
It’s a kind of tournament trio of word-zap, of war-zap. And the video is cut off immediately after.
Today there is no other visible trace of this interview anywhere on the Internet. It’s possible that it was never published in any newspaper or on T.V. It’s even possible that the whole thing is a montage from before or after the digital age. There was no dialogue, but rather delirium: desire that always tidies up. There is also no historical evidence that Ernesto Guevara ever loved another human being the same way—and one can tell from his homicidal, homagno** eyes on camera (more than in bed)—that he loved his Beatles maniac interpreter.
So this unmarred image must have been the only one presentable not long after that, in Che’s interview with God.
*Cantinflas (1911-1993) was a comedic film actor (writer and producer) from Mexico who usually sported a unique mustache.
**Homagno, a neologism, is the name of a poem and a “character” representing “man’s greatness” (homo/man + magno/magnitude) in this and at least two other poems by José Martí.
Translated by: Kathy Fox and Alicia Barraqué Ellison