Chapter Two Thousand Thirty-Six
25th December 1970
Rural Santa Cruz Province
“This is the worst birthday ever” Kiki finally said when Che asked her why she seemed so upset.
They had been walking cross country in a generally north-western direction for the last few days after they had left the Estancia. The rolling hills of the Patagonian Steppe made for slow going. They were also avoiding roads, hopefully Chilean patrols as well, and moving in a direction that any pursuers wouldn’t expect. Kiki had never paid a whole lot of attention about how heavy her medical bag was, but with the shoulder strap cutting into her, it was sort of hard to ignore. Che suggested that she leave it behind and she had burst into tears. That bag, a gift from her father, was a part of who she was. Kiki could no sooner leave behind her left arm. All the frustrations of the previous days had boiled over, especially when she realized what day it was.
“This sheep infested country is just an awful place” Kiki sobbed, “It took me away from the people I love. Left me stuck in the middle of nowhere. Then there are the nightmares that I’ve had since I got here.”
“Nightmares?” Che asked. He had observed that she was a restless sleeper over the last few weeks they had been stuck together. Was that actually out of the ordinary? He was also aware that she had a pistol and a small, razor sharp knife she wasn’t afraid to use. So, waking her up was out of the question.
“I started having them about the time I arrived in this God forsaken country” Kiki said as she kicked a rock and it rolled away down the hillside ahead of them. “That was back in August. The greatest hits are waking up as someone else, my teeth falling out, and finally, the one where my husband and oldest brother are trying to kill each other.”
“I am not a Psychiatrist” Che said, “It sounds to me like you should speak to one of them about that sort of thing. And happy birthday by the way. How old are you now? If you don’t me asking.”
Che didn’t really care how she was, it was just something to stop her from the spiral of self-pity that he had seen her enter into once before, just after she had dropped that Chilean Officer. It seemed like there were moments when she was determined to be miserable and be a pain to everyone else unfortunate enough to be around her.
“Twenty-nine” Kiki replied and that was when a pair of jetfighters streaked across the sky. “My idiot husband flies those.”
“I doubt he’s an idiot if he flies one of those” Che said.
“With me out here and out of communication with my Regiment, he’s going to be in a state” Kiki said, “He is going to want to come looking for me, but he can’t, not on his own. That is where him being an idiot comes in. The Oberst in charge of his Air Wing is going to ask who wants to volunteer to come to Argentina and Benjamin will be the first to raise his hand. That is the sort of predictably idiotic behavior I’m talking about.”
“And here I was thinking that romance was dead” Che said.
“Romance is hardly romantic if it gets you killed” Kiki replied.
“That is an amazing thing coming from a Princess” Che said with a smirk, “Don’t let Disney hear you.”
“Seriously, fuck Disney” Kiki said, her previously morose attitude was gone. “Do you have any idea how much trouble those people have caused me? And for anyone who thinks my life is romantic. Does any of this shit look romantic to you?”
She gestured to the landscape ahead of them. A lot of dirt and scrub brush, however, the Andes were on the horizon.
“We can see the mountains from here” Che said.
“Not helping” Kiki replied, “Chile is just across there.”
“If we are going to get north of this mess, we will need to cross the mountains, a couple different times” Che said, “It’s a journey I’ve made a few times, just not during a war and in much better company.”
“How far north?” Kiki asked, “And what do you mean by better company?”
“Bolivia has declared itself neutral” Che said, “If we…”
“Is that a joke?” Kiki asked, “That’s thousands of kilometers north of here.”
“Unless you fancy crossing the front lines and risk having whatever happened a few days ago happen again, except with more guns pointed at you, then you need to think in terms of wider geography” Che said, “That doesn’t mean we are walking the whole way though.”
There were a few details Che had left out of the plan, like the final destination. There was also his involvement in the war to consider. Getting Kristina to safety and back with her own people would make him a hero. After that he could bow out, resume his life, and hopefully no one would say shit about it. Of course, he didn’t exactly have a whole lot of faith that the Government in Buenos Aires were not going to be complete bastards and shove him right back where he had been before.
“This plan of yours had better work” Kiki said crossly.
That made for two of them.