A los dulces hombres cubanos, doquier estén.
For sweet Cuban men, wherever they might be.
translated by Erin Goodman
from NER 42.1 (2021)
ell, well, if it isn’t a child of Zunilda . . .”
A toothless Black man shouted in my face in Central Park, right where 72nd Street becomes Terrace Drive. He was leaving, I was arriving, and I turned to see if Zunilda’s children were behind me, because if I can be sure of anything in my chronic uncertainty it’s that my mother’s name is not Zunilda. Behind us, seven ugly white birds were fearlessly crossing a narrow, sun-bathed path. I never know if they’re geese or ducks or swans, but there were seven, I do remember that. Not a sign of the illustrious Zunilda’s children, though. I half smiled at those lit-up drunken eyes and kept moving on the grass, toward the raucous sound of drums by the lake. Boats full of cautious tourists also pulled up to check out the unusual attraction. You could see them avidly checking their Hachette, Lonely Planet, and Fodor’s guidebooks, rereading the passages about the lake, which was merely described as a “peaceful and scenic setting for rowing a boat, having lunch, or just watching time go by.” But, whatever, you know . . . click, click, cameras at the ready, this is New York, and there’s a place for everything. Even for a replica of a Havana ’hood, with its maracas and congas, and of course, for Zunilda’s children—whoever they might be—making noise and all sorts of gesticulations, and the loudest guaguancó.
As soon as I got to the center of the hullabaloo I bought some tamales, which is the second reason—the first being Andicito himself—why every so often I go to Central Park on a Sunday afternoon. The grease was running down my lips, and despite the spicy salsa I caught a whiff of marijuana while a funny old man, playful as a timeless Elegguá with a deep and salty voice, offered me 50ml bottles filled with rum or firewater or whatever, a dollar each. “So nice to see you, my princess. Let me introduce myself. I’m Hugo, but not Chávez,” he rushed to clarify with his flaming mouth almost brushing up against my ear, after he’d managed to sell me one of his mysterious vials. “Hugo, like the hurricane of ’89. What a year, eh, girl? How much was destroyed that year? Hehe,” and he moved his left wrist weighed down with two watches that were also probably for sale (although I didn’t dare ask). “But you know what, despite it all, mamacita, Hugo Chávez and I have something in common, yup, and that is, hehe, that I’d build a petroleum processing plant right next to your house, so that you never get cold on me, my holy prieta. And you know, with winter about to arrive . . .” I couldn’t stop myself from chortling, I didn’t even try. Besides, the drums and the clave thrust my laughter up out of my throat, and there it went, drifting in the air far above the trees, over the Met, flying above the Guggenheim, it kept going and going, my laughter dancing like a Sunday kite between the buildings on the Upper East Side. But finally the poor thing came back, scared I guess of the East River’s glacial water, and here it was, an open yellow skirt, that’s how my Ochún cackle returned to the edge of the lake, picking itself up to crouch before him, my Andicito, who stood there with his arms crossed, at the peak of the rumba. There he was, calmly observing the scene with his own laughter, which was more docile than mine. He, who didn’t know how to dance and remained rooted there, with my roar prostrate at his feet. Andy García Jr. aka Humbertico Rodríguez, trumpeter in the Charanga Típica from Queens, the Mayari Blues Trio, the Latin Combo Alturas del Hudson, and in any other little band that bubbled up on the scene.
I’d met Humbertico one freezing windy afternoon a few months before, when I stomped into a shady little bar in Williamsburg with the crazy idea of drumming up some action to scare the gray out of those relentless winter days. So, I went in and started singing some inconsequential salsa lyrics. “What’ll you give me to get you out of the water? What’ll you give me? What’ll you give me?” went the catchiest of the tunes. Predictably, we became involved, drama-free. How else could it be with such a beautiful boy? There was nothing romantic between us, just plain, old-school salsa. Maybe he wasn’t that good-looking, but he had such an Andy García thing going on that he didn’t even need to seduce me. It was obvious that I’d have to taste him. He said just the right bad words, in that irresistible caramel voice of his. Every muscle in the right place; the perfect, indecipherable tattoo on his left shoulder. He was my Cuban . . . my National Macho: gorgeous, funny, and patriotic in a way I could never have been. I think about him every once in a while, and there are two precise moments that still stick to my skin. The first is when he looked at me right before lifting my body from the couch and carrying me to his bedroom like the bride I’d never become, kissing me all the way, only to throw me onto his bed like a sack of potatoes (which I’m also certain I’m not). That happened on the night following that afternoon when I sang him some salsa rhymes and ended up swallowing all his sperm, to the last drop. There’s indeed some coherence to all this. My mouth always open: singing, sucking, swallowing. The other memory is of his gaze that day in Central Park: drums, tourists, and rum, all in one. The funny thing is that back in Havana I never had a boyfriend like him. His skin-tight print shirt showing off his muscles, and the calendar on his kitchen wall with a picture of an Asian chick in a red thong. He’s one of those Cubans who can solemnly recite José Martí’s “La rosa blanca” and assure you that a country is like a mother: you’ve only got one. Very Andy García in The Lost City. I couldn’t imagine him in Havana. What corner would he loiter on, taking out a white handkerchief to dry his sweat? Which bodega line would he stand in? Without his Ray-Bans, could he bear the sun during the interminable wait for the 400 bus, and for the hour it would take him to get from Old Havana to Guanabo beach? Ah, my national dude was such a stereotype. I suppose that for me to love him—did I love him?—was only possible after all these years in exile, after all those bodies that haven’t quite abandoned me, still hanging onto my flesh. Men from all over: Europeans, Africans, North and South Americans. Arms that would hold me with varying degrees of closeness, that made me scream a little, or shout my head off, or simply moan just enough to keep me in some kind of decent coital pose. After all my sexual wanderings, Humbertico showed up and brought back to me all of those habanero fluids that I’d forgotten. And that’s why I can’t even explain why one morning at 4:00 am, after waiting for hours at his door—sex addict that I was—I started calling him Andicito. To my surprise, it didn’t bother him.
Did I love him? How could I know. The only thing I know is that I felt rescued each time he picked me up by my hair in his bed and started shaking the both of us—him on top and me face-down—with a kind of fury that seemed transcendental to me. After so many romantic shipwrecks, I figured I’d come to safe harbor, because when he grabbed me I felt, well, we could say that I felt at home . . . He possessed me with the rage of the slave master discharging who-knows-how-much hate with each ejaculation, no matter where it landed—vulva, mouth, anus. At the same time, I could feel in him the hidden tenderness of the guy selling pork meat at the farmer’s market on 17th and K streets in Havana. That flavorful and acidic crush of ripe avocados and almost-rotten mangoes, of saltpeter and oil stains on the wharf in Regla. I don’t think he would’ve remembered the smell of the meat stands or of the boats and the weary reglanos crossing the bay to reach the other side of the city, but it was there, that Havana potion oozing from his pores as if from secret glands. “Are you always so violent, mijito?” I asked and he denied it profusely. I don’t think he noticed the excessive pressure his arm put on my stomach, how anxiously he forced his pointer finger into me, then the middle and ring fingers, too, tearing my anus, ramming, without hearing my screams, his fingers squeezing my nipples so hard, never hearing . . . Maybe he didn’t want to notice. In any case, that wasn’t really a transcendent or fundamental problem because, deep down, I didn’t love him. There was, however, one fact that was just as transcendent as it was fundamental, and that was that the man always left me undone, like a chocolate ice cream melting right over one of those Wifredo Lam rhombus designs on the concrete sidewalks of La Rampa.
That was my Cuban, how exotic!, my Andy García. My shaggy, dark-haired Cuban American with that look that says “here I am, stay still there, soon I’ll go down on you.” But we never hugged. Not even on a street corner on a windy day under the walk/don’t walk sign, not in his car crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, not among the sweaty bodies in Central Park, not under an umbrella on one of those rainy New York days that soak you because the merciless skyscrapers don’t have awnings, not even on the couch where he’d pick me up and bring me to his bed and take me, turn me over and upside down, grab me and let me go, throw me and kiss me, but not hug me. He never hugs me. Never. The whole thing in, then out, then the tip, a little more. It drives me crazy. He comes outside. Doesn’t wear a condom. “That shit doesn’t work for me,” he says. I think he’s really crazy. He says it doesn’t feel the same. That he doesn’t know if he’d be able to come with a condom on. I don’t deny it, the latex is annoying. I must be the one who’s really crazy, I know. The Zika virus is all the rage right now and what with tri-therapy we’ve forgotten all about the ’90s. But AIDS is still around and hepatitis and all these STDs. And now rumor has it that oral sex causes cancer. I should stop—escape, not show up, not wait for him. I don’t love him. But sex is a drug and I beg for it. Drips of semen on my bellybutton, he puts them back inside me with his fingers. He really thinks he’s the Master. He lets me suffer. He rubs my clitoris. He thinks I’m suffering. And he kisses me again. Is he the Master? No hugs. He humiliates me. Just a kiss. Hard. And I don’t resist. Such a fool for his sex.
When it’s over and the stupor has passed, we doze awkwardly, our shoulders touching; but our bodies don’t embrace. He gets up to pee, comes back, then goes to grab a glass of water and gives it to me. I take it, I thank him, I’d like to ask if I can hug him and instead we talk about deep stuff like life and death and our country and exile. Anyway, we never hugged, and there was nothing to embrace. And, in fact, we didn’t talk; he talked. In his bed I’d have preferred to be a bit less cynical and to have sat down each morning to read the New York Times cover to cover, or Granma or Libération even if online and with a three-week delay. And I would’ve loved to be able to feel genuinely outraged before the injustices in every corner of this cruel world, so I could participate in his postcoital dissertations. But I didn’t care about anything. I’m not a political animal. I don’t even like Cosmo magazine. The last thing I remember having read cover to cover was an issue of Sputnik, circa 1988, that landed on the island to inform us of what everyone else in the world already knew: that Stalin had been a tyrant and Brezhnev was an ass-hole. Or something like that. And since the news about perestroika and glasnost
came printed on such shiny paper all the way from Moscow, my friends and I believed back then that in Havana we had the right to raise our voices and revolt like our Soviet comrades were doing. Yeah, we naïvely thought that we could shout our dissent to the rhythm of some guaguancó or timba or merengue, depending on the rioter’s musical taste. But we all know how the story ends: nothing happened. A mere конец right after the credits. And Elegguá on the floor laughing and dancing reggaeton.
Politically apathetic now, I simply couldn’t help but fall asleep while Andicito from Brooklyn railed against the Pentagon and ISIS, Havana and Miami and other Trojan war stories. And that’s when, wise as I am, I decided to take advantage of his violent outbursts to caress his tattoos, trying to hold onto something for when that beauty would inevitably vanish into thin air.
One day and completely out of the blue in the middle of one of his rants about censorship in Cuba, he asked me if I liked Álvarez Guedes’s stories. He probably assumed that back on the island we didn’t know about the famous Miami comedian, the best Cuban humorist, the emperor of jokes. He was wrong. I laughed hysterically to keep from crying. I laughed and laughed even knowing that my chuckle wouldn’t manage to scare off that other, forced laughter, from the times when I was almost a teenager in Havana and my schoolmates would incessantly repeat those racist Guillermo Álvarez Guedes jokes right in front of me. Refreshing criollo humor, isn’t it? That was then, in an era of pionero neckerchiefs and proletarian marches. I was in fifth grade and my classmate Yosvany used to call me negra cocotimba, roughly and calmly undoing the fine ribbons that my mother would send from Moscow and my grandmother braided into my hair every morning, after sharply combing from the roots. Me and my patent leather shoes that my dad would buy me at the Centrum Warenhaus in Alexanderplatz. “No one should ever see you with your hair tangled and your shoes dirty like some abandoned Black ghetto chick.” But Yosvany was consistent in undoing my braids daily while I was out staining my patent leather shoes playing with the kids; and now Andy Jr., who barely even used a blue neckerchief—or maybe he did, but I haven’t asked him about it—with his adorable dark-haired mane keeps moving inside me to his own rhythm. Oh, the transcendent things in life! Fancying himself a Zen kind of guy, he’d scattered his supposedly sacred pebbles, fishbowls, snail shells, mini-waterfalls, incense, and all kind of curious spells throughout the apartment. It was all the same to me: Hallelujah, Salam Alaikum, Amen, Patria o Muerte, Venceremos! . . . Whatever.
The funny thing is that despite Álvarez Guedes and the pebbles, I couldn’t drag myself away from him. There was something deeply transcendental—as I never tire of saying—in that patriotic sex that I approached not without a bit of fear, but within which everything escaped from my sight, my mind, my memory. These were just a few quick trysts, but Andicito would do his best to demonstrate that he definitely was—well, all Cubans are, that is, we are—the very best in bed. I never questioned that, to be honest. And for that reason I didn’t really understand why he was putting so much effort into it. “How many times did you come?” he’d ask me and since I never knew, I’d lie: “Hmm, let’s say five . . . I like that number.” But who cares, why would it matter to me, since I always came anyway, with or without counting. I was all too happy not to keep track. And it’s precisely because I didn’t keep track of my orgasms, and because those particular ones seemed eternal to me, because of that magic, that so many Sundays I went back to Central Park, looking for him. Until that afternoon when a drunk guy from Guanabacoa followed me to the Hunter College subway station yelling that I had cheated on him with his best friend while he was doing time in the slammer, and that you can’t do that to a man, bitch, and he would show me, arrrgg, he threatened, baring his gold canines like I imagine the wicked wolf did to Little Red Riding Hood. I sincerely have a lot of respect for people from the Villa de Guanabacoa, starting with Bola de Nieve and ending with Rita Montaner, without forgetting of course the Great Enriquito, who was an All-Star priest, excelling at every religion: babalawo, congo, abakuá . . . Besides, at that time I still had a bit of an instinct for self-preservation. So, as soon as I managed to escape from the Guanabacoan enragé, when I was finally safe, sitting in the subway and hyperventilating like Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs, I solemnly swore to myself that I’d never again step foot in that Central Park Sunday rumba scene.
Oh, I’m such an inconsistent, oblivious girl! Only a few weeks went by—the number of which I also didn’t note—before I decided to descend once again into the sandunguero darkness of New York’sCubanunderworld. I missed Andicito, or his body, his tattoos, or his politico-Zen loquacity; or maybe I was just sick of my insipid morning coffee, always too bitter or too sweet or simply undrinkable after too many minutes boiling on the stove because I hadn’t noticed it was ready. Let’s just say that I went back to Andicito on an anthropological mission: I wanted to find out how to make delicious Cuban coffee that would set my mornings on the right track.
His cafecito was the real mystery for me.
Since Andicito would only ever begin that obscure ritual while I was asleep—finally resting after all his pushing, hair-pulling, spanks, pinches, and grimaces as he climaxed—I could never decipher how much sugar he added, how much coffee, how he stirred the spoon at the bottom of the small cup. I’d only awaken when the aroma reached me, slowly bringing a smile to my face, and all at once I’d begin the day anew: fresh, disoriented, imagining that it was my grandmother next to my bed with that tiny cup of coffee in her hand. It was as if Elegguá were playing tricks on us, changing our destinies, so I couldn’t explain to myself how Andy Jr.’s coffee was so good. How could it be, since I left the island much later and he was brought here as a kid through the Mariel port, only six years old and with no memory of coffee.
I didn’t ask him if he remembered the eggs. I never asked him anything about the 1980s Havana madness, because I assumed that when Andicito remembered, he’d picture me as one of those pioneros throwing eggs and shouting, “Go away, go away!” to our traitors, the counterrevolutionaries. It was a carnival of blue and red neckerchiefs in the streets where sooner or later the mischievous Elegguá always appeared, for better or worse. But how is it possible that he could remember the exact proportions for making coffee and so many other nationalistic and mostly folkloric things, while I, dragging myself, could only beg him to let me taste his brew. The enigmas of exile and patriotism, I suppose. Only Elegguá knows.
Anyway, back to what matters here. There’s no point in beating around the bush. Whether it’s the cafecito or Elegguá, those are just excuses. The truth is that I am crazy, a very crazy woman, crazy for sex or at least for the good kind of sex that Andy gave me. I’m sorry, Humbertico. For good sex I was capable of making my own way through the entire New York sewer system. So one night I went to find him—or tried to—at a Latin jazz gig at the back of a famous but tasteless Latino restaurant somewhere on Broadway. And there we were again, in the middle of a noisy, suffocating break between sets, our bodies almost but not actually touching. Something had stopped me and stopped him, and we faced each other rigidly, but at the same time almost on top of each other, almost beneath one another. Very together. Not inside. That could never have been. That would have been a hug. There and not there. It was as if we couldn’t touch each other in front of everyone. It wasn’t exactly prudishness, because the place’s boisterous clientele would never notice anything, let alone us. They were too caught up in their explosive Saturday night in Manhattan, all frenetic asses and bellybuttons, everyone happy that finally the pseudo-Latin jazz-timba-salsa band that Andicito was playing in had stopped and DJ Suavito was able to mix some fucking reggaeton. Andicito suffered through that, seeing that his tropical Coltrane variations weren’t as in demand as Pitbull’s crap. But that, just like most of what I’m telling you here, is not important. The point is that there, I didn’t touch him and he didn’t touch me. Only hours later in bed would he throw himself on my body, not before first wondering whether or not to turn off the lights, put on music, burn a candle or some incense, turn over the sacred pebbles, make a secret request to his quartzes, or search for some Álvarez Guedes jokes on YouTube (he’d have to educate us ignorant Cuban islanders, and teach us what highly sophisticated humor is). Too many hesitations, too much prolegomena, when between the two of us there was only one thing that needed to be done. And the point was to do it well. Period!
That night, however, before he threw himself on top of me, we managed to have a brief verbal exchange. “I have to tell you that things have changed a bit,” he said. I sat calmly on the bed prepared to hear the worst. Which, if you’re in love, it was. I suppose I should have yelled, cried, damned him, stood up, gotten dressed, thrown a heel at his head, disfigured him, drowned his beak in the toilet, or at least gone to the kitchen and thrown some dirty dishes at him while stealing his coffeemaker to see if I could manage to brew that perfect Cuban cafecito once and for all—although the logical thing would have been to douse him with kerosene and burn him alive, which is what one would expect from a flawlessly infuriated habanera. Anyway, that was the range of possible reactions I imagine when someone, a few moments away from the final romp in the hay, tells you that he’s getting back together with his ex-girlfriend, the blond vegan from Venice Beach who was coming in pursuit of him, her candied Latin Lover. “Ay, that’s great, papi. True love. I’m happy for you, that you’ve found it,” I answered in my most ironic tone, but, fool that I am, I didn’t even notice that he didn’t catch the sarcasm in my voice. “Love, love, I don’t believe in those superficial things,” and off he went on his rambling about nature and the spontaneity of existence, daily enlightenment, karma, and wonderment, all of those fundamental concepts of life and death that I neither understood nor listened to. Or that I didn’t understand even though I listened. Still, his ability to philosophize impressed me or rather frightened me. So much conviction left me stupefied. It was as mysterious as his morning coffee. And about love . . . “Are you high?” (was what I thought, although I had the tact not to say it out loud). And that’s how my Tropical Macho ended up, as a twisted specimen impossible to decode. Maybe it’s because I could never muster much enthusiasm for the telenovelas on Telemundo or Univision. Whatever. At 3:00 am and with that precious body in front of me, the world shouldn’t have to be so complicated. I stopped listening to him and let him run out of words so that the Zen or non-Zen silence would drag him to me and he’d finally decide to do what he was meant to. As for me, I let go and took myself out of the race. I gave Andicito over to that super-cool chick who’d be landing soon from LA. Justice and cosmic order. Meanwhile, I was in chaos. Touching bottom. The dark dregs of a cup of coffee. All I wanted was to get on with it and have sex, which is why I was there in the first place. Alas, Andy was feeling talkative.
“What part of Havana are you from?”
“Uh, from near the Plaza . . . the Revolution Square. Don’t worry, you’re not going to know what I’m talking about.”
“I really can’t stand how all you cubiches always think that us Cuban Americans don’t know anything about the island. It’s not true. We know all about it. Everything! We talk exactly like you. We say the same swear words. We cook like you. We visit when we can. I help out my cousins still on the island, you know. I talk to them on the phone every week. I send money . . . Ah, I really love my Cuban family . . .”
Uy, uy, uy, what a delicious creature. And I tried, obviously in vain, to keep blowing him because as they say, a closed mouth catches no flies, but he wouldn’t let me, instead he made a big scene of rejecting me. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I didn’t attempt anything else, I didn’t try to touch him or calm him down. I just covered myself in a sheet like a virgin about to be devoured by The Beast, because all of a sudden I felt slight, naked, alone, like a small defenseless insect. Luckily, he ran out of breath and had to stop. Contrary to popular belief, not all Cubans possess Fidel Castro’s (divine?) oratory grace . . . or disgrace.
“Hey, enough, chico, don’t get so upset, I know that you’re Cuban, very Cuban, more Cuban than a palm tree, than rum, tobacco, danzón, or whatever else, it’s okay, papito. Hey, you even make better coffee than me. Come on, come on, stop that tantrum. If you keep on like that you’ll have a heart attack and I don’t know where the nearest hospital is.”
I guess the threat of a heart attack calmed him down and I saw my chance. I went down on him and didn’t stop until the first moans left his lips. That’s what we needed. Everything else is superfluous. And it was great that way because he was so pissed off that he gave me his sperm with more fury than ever. So there we were again in that sexual struggle that only two Cubans can understand—a bit of nationalism never hurts—where there’s no winner or loser, just noise and a lot of sweat. It’s the game of up-and-down, the yes-but-no, the “I decide and you’re in charge, but either way I have the last word.” Who does? I’ll go slowly. Forward and backward. You’ll almost fall asleep it’s so suave and when you’re about to start snoring, here it comes. Boom, zas, like the wolf to the hare if you used to watch those Soviet cartoons, Ny, pogodi! Like Tom and Jerry if you escaped the island in time. The element of surprise is essential. “And you’ll yell, bitch, loud, so everyone knows I’m your papi.”
“Did you come?” he asked, and that’s when I really felt like running for the door. Did he not hear me screaming? What else did he need? Did I have to swear it to him before his Buddha while meditating in a lotus position in the corner of the room? Although thinking it through, it’s not a big deal. No need for drama; if he couldn’t detect my orgasms it was simply because he was too busy trying to fulfill his role of super-macho, the one who would “make me feel like a natural woman,” the unforgettable one. That’s what this is about, isn’t it? “Don’t worry, mijito, all that matters is that work ennobles us,” I said out loud this time, without a chance to regret those words before they came hurtling out of my past, unstoppable, towards him. He looked at me from above, exactly ninety miles north of my childhood. “What’s that? What are you talking about?” I squeezed his hard, white buns, awaiting more violence that would make him forget that famous phrase from my childhood, the motto of the hatted rabbits Bob and Bobek at 6:00 pm on the black-and-white KRIM-218 TV screen. What was the point of explaining or arguing, if my Andicito didn’t live on the island long enough to watch many Czech cartoons? My nails plunged into his skin, provoking the desired effect. Over his thighs, his arms, chest, penis, my fingers ran, looking for his anus. Uhmmm. Fuck Miami and Leningrad. Or Stalingrad? Saint Petersburg? But, please, don’t forget that in this bed, he’s the one in charge, the movie-star hunk. With one smack he had me on all fours and with no preamble he put it between my butt-cheeks, so I’d stop with my nonsense. How great! In the middle of the pain I remember that I had a flash of lucidity—or stupidity, I don’t know, it’s hard to be accurate when you’re on all fours—and I started to wonder where Andicito had picked up all of this know-how. In Hialeah, for sure—the “City of Progress.”
Between moans, I managed to escape on a transcendent voyage. I saw our Soviet boarding schools with separate dormitories for women and men whose boundaries, however, were never respected; dark hallways full of adolescent bodies, half-naked or scantily clad under our blue uniform miniskirts; the humid, pseudo-Amazonian Microjet banana plantations in Güines and, deep inside them, the croak-croak of the frogs to the rhythm of the innocent orgasms of the New Man and the New Woman . . . Oh, Comandante Guevara, if you could see us. And what about Florida? How did they learn to achieve that legendary proletarian orgy in Hialeah? It doesn’t matter, the end-result is the same. “Ahhhhh, come on, negra, come, come . . .” From below, I turned my head a bit, I wanted to look at him right in the moment of getting off inside me. But I didn’t get to see much because he was pushing my waist down. Crushed by my own scream. Was he about to come? I had to close my eyes. His big hand on my left cheek was too painful this time. It felt like a whipping. No, he never heard my scream. I kept my eyes closed, and it was a different sort of voyage. Much faster. I don’t know if he was riding me or whether it was his great grandfather riding my great grandmother in some tropical jungle near a slave barrack. Pain swings back and forth through the centuries and there’s no way to escape. I held still, focusing on the pleasure.
Hours later, in full daylight over Sunset Park, after the cafecito, a shower, kisses but no hugs, I got dressed, and as I was leaving I saw that he was downloading some Álvarez Guedes stories onto his iPhone. He had a gig that Saturday at a private party in Jersey City. With traffic, it would be a long trip, and what better way to make it go faster than with the company of the super Cuban storyteller? I suddenly thought of Onelio Jorge Cardoso’s stories from my childhood, recalling the rocking chair and the porch, sweet naps and the park of a small forgotten town. Cuentero mayor, he was called, and I was about to open my mouth, “I always liked his stories,” I would have said, but this time I was cautious enough to prevent the cataclysm. I looked at Andicito, I’m not sure with what expression on my face but that’s not relevant either, because he didn’t raise his gaze from the screen. All I remembered then was my involuntary disdain and his desperation for my orgasms that he couldn’t hear. I don’t think I ever told him where exactly I’d lived in Havana, or even here in New York. It didn’t matter if it was Queens, the Bronx, around the corner, or in the Village. I never gave him an address, a phone number. “See you on Facebook,” I mused.
I knew I’d be sad, not because of him but for me, because I was going to miss his hands turning me over ravenously. And, of course, I’d also miss that delicious Cuban coffee in the morning. I looked at him again. So handsome, Andy Jr., that national machito. I’d go after his pleasure like a junkie to a dealer, but then, well, I just grabbed my laptop, a bit tired or indifferent, and headed to the nearest Starbucks. They always serve espresso—single, with cream, a macchiato, chocolate—whatever you want. Perhaps Elegguá will know. ■