UNITED STATES—In 1899, the renowned soldier for hire, Joe Holly, defected to the Honduran Government army, a move that crumbled any semblance of integrity he may have had. Yet this move paid off handsomely, as Joe was commissioned to be a colonel and became police chief of Tegucigalpa by appointment by the current president. Soon thereafter, Joe defected again and became an aide to rebel Miguel Padilla Ortiz who rose Joe Holly from the rank of Colonel to General. Joe Holly had a good sense of humor about it:
“Now that I’m a general, it means I am in line for a presidency, according to the traditions of Bananaland.”
Perhaps to intimidate the local population and show his toughness, Joe Holly would pound down a glass of whisky and chew on the glass and spit blood.
At any rate, Sam Delaney began socializing on his yacht, the Selma, with the freshly exiled general and over the finest shrimp etouffee and vintages from his wine cellar and in the smoking room they conspired to depose the current resident of the Presidential palace. Delaney bought a decommissioned ship the USS Marlin that could do 15 knots an hour in the open sea, faster than anything in the Bananaland navy.
Joe Holly hired a hundred free-lance soldiers from around New Orleans, a place swimming with adventurers and mercenaries, like actors who picked up at the first whiff of a new role, they perked up at the first hint of the coming mission. Their first attempt at a coup was a failure, they were routed by the forces of the conservative president’s troops in La Ceiba.
They used a clever subterfuge. On Christmas Eve 1910, Sam Delaney, General Joe Holly and General Miguel Padilla Ortiz boarded that “yacht” that Sam Delaney recently acquired from the U.S. Navy along with the gang of soldiers for hire assembled by Joe Holly in New Orleans, loaded to the gunwales with ordnance they set off on their mission. “The banana man has launched his navy,” the Secret Service reported back to the president. They sailed the two nights and two days it took to get to the island next to Útila to attack and capture the ports of the Costa Norte. Trujillo and La Ceiba. The aging fort on Roatan was seized. Delaney quickly sold the former Navy ship to a planted buyer to circumvent the good neighbor act of 1794 that makes it against the law for an American citizen to wage war against a country at peace with the United States. After seizing the port of Trujillo, the Marlin was suddenly attacked by a U.S. gunboat and towed back to New Orleans.
After the failed revolution, the next year they tried again. If at first you don’t succeed, take a break or you go into exile in New Orleans like general and former president Miguel Padilla.
Upon a night in 1911, under a moonless cloak of darkness, there slipped away Joe Holly who was being trailed by Secret Service agents. Joe Holly felt a presence on him. It was inconsolable. Joe Holly, though not a couth and educated man, was right. The agents Fournier and Blue were after him, all right, and were on a mission to prevent that a coup on Bananaland being launched from New Orleans.
There is the everlasting legacy of President William McKinley, the Secret Service was created to protect, after McKinley was shot in a receiving line by an unhappy citizen. Congress was deaf to McKinley’s calls for neutrality and made its own call for war. The Spanish fleet was crippled in Cuba, and Cuba was freed from the rule of Madrid in 1901.
During the Ten Years War Cuba fought against Spain for its independence, soldiers drank an early version of molasses or honey, water and rum it matched their battle cry, “Cuba Libre,” the cry heard again on the Uncle Sam helped the island nation to gain its independence from Spain.
To be continued…
Graydon Miller is the Wizard of Fiction.