The Look of a Warrior

Tony Bryant is a black militant, a hijacker, a survivor of Cuban prisons, and a Castro-hating commando. And don't you forget it.

Instead, he says, Tony turned away from religion and family, and wandered into a shady world of vice. "There's so much we didn't know about," James Bryant laments. "He just wouldn't talk to us. Then one day a fella called to tell us he hijacked a plane and I got so sick I couldn't eat."

Bryant, who with his second wife raised Tony from age four to seventeen, still doesn't know much about his son's life, though Tony calls most Sundays. "It makes me sick, too, because what he's doing now is dangerous. Any minute we could get a call and hear he's dead. This last arrest almost killed us. We love him very much, but we just can't reach him." The old man's voice, dry and faint, breaks into a convulsive sob.

"I understand that when me and his mama got divorced, that hurt him. He was just a little kid. But we tried so hard to raise him right," James Bryant says. "He was such a friendly boy. So good in school...."

The voice returns, finally, like an unwilling decision. "Tony's very good at a lot of things," his father decides. "But he gets with the wrong crowd and that's the thing that ruins everything."

Tony Bryant is live on La Cubanisima, inflaming the tinderbox hearts of el exilio. Speaking softly, in Spanish that sounds Havana-native, he is telling radio host Jaime de Aldeaseca of the war on Cuban tourism.

"We will be making attacks against the tourist hotels and parks, because it is our belief that the Cuban people own that land. If they cannot enjoy them, then tourists do not deserve that luxury."

As the hour wears on, Bryant grows more insistent. "With me it is an obsession to see Cuba free," he proclaims. "It is my work to see that Castro is eliminated, physically."

The show peaks as he recounts the real story behind his July 4 raid. God was at work in that patch of choppy water off the coast of la isla. Prosecutors tried to obscure His work A the escape from Cuban gunboats, the odds-defying Coast Guard rescue. "But these things were clearly miracles," Bryant stresses. "What else can you call them?"

Even the show's engineer, a codger who rarely pays any attention to the voices pouring through his headphones, listens raptly, staring at the storyteller through soundproof glass.

Down in the lobby after the show, Bryant wedges a final moment from his crowded schedule. "One day I hope to sit on the beach in Cuba and watch the ocean, the waves, with two pretty little ladies on either side. That's the dream, man, the reason for it all." He leers, self-indulgent for a moment.

Within a blink, the warrior gaze has returned behind the dark glasses, daring the enemy A any enemy A to deny his dream.

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