I told her there was nothing worse than waiting for the hurricane. And this phone call.
She ignored me. Cracking her gum, she bopped around the room and looked for her beach towel.
I shook my head and blew her a kiss. She shrugged her shoulders, blew me a kiss and slammed the door. Suddenly the room was quiet. That glorious kind of quiet that almost hums. But man, the air was as heavy as my great Aunt Millie after Thanksgiving dinner.
I paced, played with the radio, and discovered a young musician named Tito Puente. The sweat now dripped down my neck. Even though it was barely noon, I was dying for some whiskey -- something from Kentucky. The way I felt, I'd even go for some of that rotgut hooch mixed with Passaic River sold during Prohibition. But all they seemed to have down here was Rum. Tons of it. To me, the swill tasted like coffin varnish.
But there was a storm coming and it was all I had.
* * *
Three hours later, I couldn't see a hole in a ladder. She'd been at Cafe' Sunburn all afternoon and trotted back into the bungalow looking like a ripe Jersey tomato.
"Did you fall asleep in the sun?" I asked.
She told me instead of tanning lotion she rubbed on some Cuban paprika to get some color. I'd say it worked.
"Whatcha doin'?" she asked.
I pointed to the phone. It meant that I was still waiting for the phone call that would bring me to him.
General Fulgencio Batista.
The magazine wanted me to find his human side. Whatever that meant. A dictator was a dictator any way I sliced it and this Clyde's tale was a common one: Seized power in a military coup, banned elections and followed up with right wing policies.
I was instructed by Esquire to specifically ask him about a charismatic young revolutionary named Castro and what's being discussed in hush-hush circles as 'The Movement.'
She noticed the music and started to bob her head. We were dime grinding a few minutes later when the phone rang.
I was expecting The General but instead, it was Castro's people. They, too, wanted to talk to me.
Before I left the shack, I couldn't help but notice the storm clouds roll in. I wiped the sweat off my brow and took one last swig of the rum. By now, it tasted like that Kentucky nectar.
"Will you be back for dinner?" she asked.
I assured her that I would be and kissed her on her head. "Here's hoping that Castro's not such a bad guy..."
Music: Tito Puente & His Orchestra - Timbalero