When I hear “Guevara” I don’t see Che, the golden contour on the poster in my 9th grade science classroom. When I hear “Guevara” I see Ernesto’s corpse, the monochrome image printed on a glossy page in a biography on my father’s bookshelf. Stacked bricks supporting pine two-by-four, red spine, yellow lettering, flanked by Thich Nhat Hanh and Tony Robbins. The dark blood, the stain on his chest, as black as the bullet holes in his neck against his white skin. His eyes, softly glancing through the page.
While my father was working in his office I would practice my shot between the columns and the windowsill, The blue foam ball cracking against the books, against Che, over and over. If you leave a young boy alone in a library long enough, he will find his way to The Rape of Nanking, to Iris Chang, to heads, breasts, severed and spiked, the eyeless faces painted in different shades of grey.
I have Rage Against the Machine’s album cover on my wall, the one without their logo, the one with the intersection and the cars. You can see people watching Thích Quảng Đức burn, walking past or crying. Sometimes, a timid morning sunrise shines through my blinds in such a way that the monk is still engulfed in amber and scarlet, and everyone is still watching.
In the summer the same sun beats into my parents’ bedroom where dad and I play mini hockey. If he gets too hot, he takes his shirt off. I can still remember the tattoo he has on his left bicep, from when he was a Royal Marine, the fading red and green stars, the nickname only his old friends call him when they visit from far away. A few years ago he covered it with Che. The same Guerrillero Heroico as the one on the classroom poster that read: hasta la victoria siempre. Yet his Che, etched in dark ink, lacks colour and looks a little more life-like.