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I had kept my vow and returned to Cuban soil. Fidel was dead and Cuba was in turmoil. The United States government had allowed me to take a team into Cuba as a sign of goodwill, in the hopes that a democratic government would come to power. Now all I had to do was find Felicita and live happily ever after.
Who was I kidding? There were so many qualifiers to that statement. If the Communists remained in power I was not going to be very popular. If I were lucky, I’d only be expelled from the country. I’d have to leave alone again. In spite of all this, I had to try. I had to find Felicita and see if she still felt the same way about me. As for me, my heart ached for her. I was trying to appear calm and in control for my two team members. In reality, I was scared shitless. I was nervous that she had found someone else, or that political realities would continue to keep us apart. Or that something had happened to her while I was gone.
I took a deep breath and felt that funny ache in my chest that told me my heart still longed for Felicita. I led Brian and Stacy towards the customs building. They were looking around wide-eyed. I remember what it was like to set foot in Cuba for the first time. I looked around trying to see what was different. At first glance, it was like any other tropical airport with palm trees along the runway and the signs in Spanish. At second glance, security was tight. Armed guards were around all the planes.
We entered the arrival terminal. The huddled mass of passengers waited for a turn with the Immigration inspector. Things were moving very slowly. I was still wondering what it was that seemed so strange when it occurred to me that there was only one inspector on duty. Last time, all the positions were manned. This time, everybody had to wait in a single line to be buzzed into the tiny booth. Maybe all the workers were still staying away from work, roaming the streets and waiting to see what would happen.
The usual order that prevailed in Cuba was breaking down. To someone who had seen it before, things were not working very well. To the casual observer, it was typical of a banana republic. This bothered me. Order had yet to be established. That could be good or bad for the dissidents, because the Communists would have to come down hard to restore order, perhaps even igniting a civil war.
In spite of the single inspector, it didn’t take very long for us to get our turns. There were not many people on the plane. Most people seemed to be waiting to see what would happen in Cuba before coming in. Not me. I couldn’t wait. I hoped I wasn’t endangering my friends by my recklessness.
I was next. I entered the booth and heard the door lock behind me. The woman behind the glass looked nervous and maybe tired. Last time, she was cheery and I was nervous. She asked the usual questions about if it was my first visit, why I was here and who I was traveling with. I explained that I was here on business with two other people. She showed no surprise at my answers. She stamped my papers and unlocked the exit door. Again, the feeling I got from the officials wasn’t the same. It was obvious something was up. I exited the booth. The scene that greeted me made my jaw drop.
Customs Inspection in Cuba had been very orderly nine months ago. There was a nervousness in the passengers. The Inspectors had a sureness about them, maybe a surliness. Today, the system was breaking down. There was a crowd here; apparently the passengers from a previous flight were still waiting. From what I picked up in conversations, the baggage delivery was very slow. People were arguing. They were even arguing with the Inspectors. The lights were not working very well, so it was darker than usual. The sunny weather outside helped, but the room looked dingier. Then I noticed that the usual starched and ironed uniforms on the soldiers were rumpled and dirty. Either they had gotten dressed in a hurry, or they hadn’t been relieved by the next shift. Whatever the case, the powder keg could erupt. I started to feel a concern for our safety.
I heard a buzz behind me and Brian stepped out of the door. He came up to stand beside me and survey the scene.
“Typical banana republic,” he snorted.
“No. This isn’t normal. It is usually very orderly. The emotions of everyone are wrong. Things are getting out of control here. This isn’t good.”
As I said the last part, his eyes swung from the crowd to mine. I nodded.
The sound of a motor behind me made me turn around. The electricity must have still been off. The conveyor belt was not running. A tractor had pulled the train of baggage carts to an open door on the runway side of the building. Two men were on top of the trailers and were throwing pieces of luggage through the door onto the floor. That wasn’t going to calm the passengers.
The door buzzed again and Stacy exited. “That wasn’t so bad,” she said. Then she saw the confusion in the room. “What the hell is all this?”
“Disorder,” I said evenly. “We need to try to get out of here as quickly as we can.” I regretted being so honest when I saw the look in her face. Her fear was reappearing.
We didn’t dare approach the baggage area until all of the luggage had been “unloaded”. Then, it became an exercise of crawling over the pile and finding our bags. Disorder and aggravation were growing in the people. We found our bags and moved in the direction of the exit. Angry passengers were shouting at the inspectors. The inspectors were shouting back. Then I saw something I had never seen in Cuba before – never in any Customs office in any country before. One of the inspectors stepped onto a bench and shouted to get everyone’s attention. This looked bad. He drew his pistol and waved it. I prepared for a massacre. To my surprise, he told everyone to get out and the agents blocking the exits moved to the sides of the building. The wave of humanity flowed through the door onto the street. I was in shock. If things were breaking down like this, the situation in the entire country was a ticking time bomb.
We flowed with the crowd. I had watched the crazed inspector from a distance. I had wanted to look at his face as I went past to try to judge the emotion triggering his decision, but I didn’t want to make eye contact with him. I knew enough about mob behavior to avoid being singled out. I averted my eyes and focused instead at the exit. We made it out of there. Once on the street, I ushered the others to the left, away from the opening.
“What just happened?” Brian asked.
“Not here,” I growled, an unintended edge to my voice. I realized it and regained control. “Later, OK?” He nodded. “Let’s look for our driver.”
I started scanning the crowd for the Havanatur sign. It wasn’t hard to find, because the crowd was small today. Whether it was because not many people were arriving or because people were clearing out quickly in fear that the inspector might change his mind and start shooting, I was able to find the driver quickly. I went up to him and gave him my name.
“Let’s go,” he said. He led us to the usual Ford van and we got in. The engine had not been left running so the interior was hot. After closing the door, the driver walked around to the other side, got in and started the engine.
“Aren’t there more passengers?” I asked the driver.
“No, just you three. Not many visitors to Cuba these days.”
I nodded in agreement. Brian nudged me and pointed to the dashboard. He was wondering about the same thing that had intrigued me on my first trip.
“Yes, a new Ford van, imported from Canada.” They both gave me an amazed look. “Get used to it. The Cubans found many ways of getting around the embargo.” Brian grinned and shook his head. I didn’t give him a chance to comment because I immediately turned to the driver and started quizzing him.
He was quite willing to talk. Maybe he realized we were Americans and not secret police. Perhaps the secret police were not feared as much anymore. Whatever the reason, he provided a wealth of information. He apologized for the heat, explaining that he wasn’t running the air conditioner because gasoline was in short supply. To emphasize this, he pointed to an Oro Negro as we went past. There was a long line and it appeared that what fuel was available was being heavily rationed. It was then I noticed fewer large cars on the road and more motorcycles, horse drawn carts and scooters.
Scooters! A yellow Coco Taxi went by and I nearly wrenched my neck trying to get a look at the driver. I kept one eye on the driver and the other looking for yellow scooters. Felicita could very well be at work today, driving around the city.
Our driver told of widespread shortages. Food, fuel, even toilet paper were all in short supply. Stores rationed what little they had to sell. It had begun when the rumors started about Fidel’s death. On the street was fear of a civil war. Even if the transition were bloodless, the new government would have to struggle to keep its people supplied with life’s necessities.
I asked him about rumors of a fledgling democracy. He looked at me in the rear view mirror, wide-eyed. I had an inspiration and pulled out my passport. I showed him the cover, and then opened it to show my picture. “Estados Unidos,” I reassured him. He cast a glance at the others. “Show him your passports,” I ordered. Brian and Stacy complied and he relaxed. “We’re here to help,” I said. He spoke now in a quieter tone. Frankly, I was surprised he spoke at all.
“Raul controls the military,” he started. I nodded. I already knew that much. “There are stories that some of his generals don’t want him to succeed Fidel. There might be a fight – between soldiers loyal to the different sides.” I motioned for him to continue. He looked really nervous. I reached into my pocket and handed him a twenty-dollar bill. He smiled and pocketed Andrew Jackson before continuing. “My wife heard there is a group trying to form a government, a free government, in the city. The people want to support them, but they are scared. If Raul is victorious…”
I nodded, understanding his fear. I didn’t want to push him too far. I was aware that we could go home, but he would have to live here whatever happened. While we were having the conversation, I had seen a few yellow scooters go by, all driven by young men. It was Stacy who made the connection.
“The picture on your desk, the girl! She was driving a scooter, wasn’t she?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“That’s who we’re looking for. That’s Felicita.” With that, she joined in my search. Brian also helped out as I conversed with the driver. There was going to be a state funeral for Fidel at the Plaza de la Revolucion, with a great procession from the capitol.
All too soon, we arrived at the Hotel Nacional. The driver pulled under the canopy and helped us out. The hotel staff was eager to help. Apparently, they didn’t have much else to do. I tipped the driver again, thanking him for “everything”. He smiled and clapped me on the back.
A bellman took our bags inside and we climbed the marble steps into the lobby. As I walked through the door, I stopped suddenly. Brian and Stacy bumped into me. I barely noticed. I was here! I was really here! This is where I had spent that week with Felicita. We had walked hand-in-hand down this very corridor. I looked around. The photo display of Fidel and Che was still there, only now it was draped in black crepe. I recovered, turned right and led the way to the check-in desk.
The clerk at the desk looked bored. I gave our names and she handed over the forms we had to fill out. This time, I wasn’t so nervous about putting down my name, home address and passport number. While we were filling out the forms, I had an idea.
“Are you very busy this week?” I asked the clerk.
“No, there are not many tourists coming to Havana until things settle down. We should get more guests for the funeral.”
“I wonder, would it be possible for me to request a particular room?” I asked for the room I had stayed in last time. It was available. “Is there also a connecting room available?” She checked and it was. I turned to my two companions. “Do you want separate rooms?” I knew the answer before I asked the question.
Stacy smiled shyly; Brian looked at her and said, “One room will be fine, Chris,”
“Give us those two rooms, please.” The clerk nodded her agreement. We finished with the paperwork, the clerk handed each of us a room key and a bellman was called. He led the way to the elevator.
While we waited for the elevator, Brian noticed the mail chute. “Hey, look at this. Rochester, New York.”
I looked at the ornate brass mail chute, smiling as I remembered my last time here. “Before the embargo, we had a lot of trade with Cuba. With luck, we’ll be trading partners again very soon.”
The big metal needle over the door moved down to 1 and the elevator doors opened. We entered, followed by the bellman pushing the cart. Once the doors closed the bellman addressed us in English.
“Is this your first time in Cuba?” he asked. Brian and Stacy nodded.
“I’ve stayed with you before, last year,” I explained.
“And how was your stay at the Nacional?”
“It was delightful,” I told him, smiling as I reminisced. “I only hated going home.” Wasn’t that the truth?
“Things are a little disturbed right now. Don’t worry. It will all be fine in a few days. Stay near the hotel, especially at night, and you won’t have anything to worry about. We have excellent restaurants, bars and nightclubs on the premises. We also have a swimming pool.”
By the time he finished his speech, we had arrived at our floor. The door opened and I took the lead to the room. I knew the direction by heart. I put the key in the lock, opened the door, and entered the room. It was exactly as I had left it nine months ago. I looked at the bed, our bed, and the open curtains beyond. I remembered making love to Felicita as she looked out that window at the lights of Havana curving along the shoreline in the distance. I remembered how she had modeled her new lingerie for me on our last night. I was smiling as I relived our time together.
When I caught myself, I focused on the others. They were watching me and smiling. To their credit, Brian and Stacy didn’t ask any questions. I think they knew.
The bellman cleared his throat and began what must be the standard spiel for American guests. “You can call any telephone in the world on that telephone. We get American television by satellite. There is Coca-Cola in the refrigerator…” I’d heard it all before. I wasn’t amazed this time, but my two companions were. It was funny watching their faces. I’m sure I looked just as stunned the first time I heard it.
When he had finished, the bellman opened the door that connected to the other room and, taking Brian’s key, walked around down the hall to open their room. He then divided up the luggage between the two rooms, making sure we had everything we needed. Brian tipped him and he left us. The others were in their room, getting settled and freshening up. I was alone. I sat on the bed, gently moving my hand over the bedspread, remembering the lovemaking with Felicita. I looked at each part of the room, remembering what we had done there. It was like stepping inside a dream, like living a story instead of just reading it. I thought about the almost ritualistic way she undressed me. I could hear the sounds she made as she came, clutching at the clean white sheets. I looked at the bathroom door and saw her emerging from the shower, water droplets clinging to her naked body, and reaching for a towel. I could do everything but touch Felicita.
It was the realization that I couldn’t touch her, at least not yet, which brought tears to my eyes. I felt the tears sting, even tasted their saltiness as the tears ran down my face. I was sitting there, crying softly, when I heard a soft knock on the doorframe to my left.
Stacy’s voice broke the silence, a gentle voice that was just barely above a whisper. “Chris? Can I come in?” I turned to her and nodded, motioning her in with my hand. I couldn’t speak, not yet. She sat down next to me on the bed. She was looking into my eyes. “This was your room, the two of you, wasn’t it?” I nodded, starting to cry a little harder. I was grateful that Brian was still in his room. “This bed, this room, it all happened here.” Her voice was so soft it was almost reverent. She understood what I was feeling. “It must be strange to come back here and see everything as it was.”
“Not everything. One thing is missing,” I said, breaking the profound silence she was trying to maintain.
“We’ll find her. She is out there somewhere –“ Stacy turned to face the window that was behind us and waved her arm to indicate the city beyond the glass. “Felicita is out there somewhere, waiting for you.”
“Thank you.” My voice was breaking, the agony and passion I was feeling evident in my words.
We were quiet for a moment, pondering her promise. “Do you have a picture of her, so we can know who we’re looking for?” Stacy asked.
I thought for a moment, my mind sluggish with emotion, and then remembered my computer. I jumped up and retrieved the device, booting it up and setting it on the bed between us. We watched the black screen, then the Windows logo and finally the wallpaper as The Microsoft Sound floated through the room, cutting the stillness. I opened Polyview and browsed through the special folder I had kept hidden in there. I pulled up an image of an angel, that lovely face which still made my heart quicken and my stomach feel tight.
“She’s beautiful,” Stacy breathed.
“Yes, she is.” I didn’t realize how impolite that sounded. I should have been receiving a compliment. Instead, I was stating a fact. “This is Felicita.” Seeing her image, here in this room, made me feel a little dizzy.
Stacy didn’t notice. Her tone was business-like. She had a mission. “Let’s go find her.” She didn’t wait for an answer. She got up, went into her room, and returned with Brian in tow. I looked up at them.
“You’ll do this for me?” I asked my friends.
Stacy nodded, then pointed to the screen for Brian’s benefit. They were going to help me find my lost love. I stood while Brian shut down the computer. “We never know when we’ll lose power,” he explained. “Need to conserve the battery.” Stacy hugged me. I held on to her. For a moment, feeling the softness of a woman’s body, in this room, I was again holding Felicita. I realized what I was doing and let her go. I was losing my focus.
We went downstairs and out the front of the hotel. On the walk, I was explaining how she drove a scooter. At least, she did when I was here before. They had seen the pictures of her and the scooter so they would be able to help me look. We walked up the palm lined driveway and turned left, headed for the taxi stand. I was walking faster and faster. Finally, unable to contain myself, I was practically running up the hill. I got to the stand before the other two. I frantically looked around at all the drivers. They, in turn, looked expectantly at me. They thought I was looking for a taxi. I was looking for a driver – a specific driver. I didn’t find her. It would have been an amazing coincidence if I had found her that quickly. I explained who I was looking for and asked if the drivers knew her. None of them did. My heart dropped. Brian and Stacy had caught up to me by now and were listening to the exchange.
“What about her cousin?” Stacy asked. “Remember, Chris? You told us her cousin also worked here.”
I tried that, but he was also not known to these drivers. I asked if the drivers rotated where they worked. I was told that they did that regularly, to give all the drivers a chance to work for the foreign tourists. That gave me fresh hope – quickly dashed by the realization that Felicita could be anywhere in the city. And Havana is a big city.
“What if we get in a taxi and look around? We’ll cover more ground that way.” It was Brian suggesting that.
“Great idea!” I agreed. “Each of us should take a different scooter. Look for a female driver. There aren’t many of them.”
The drivers liked that suggestion because it meant three of them were going to get hired instead of only one. Before long, three scooters left the Hotel Nacional, going in different directions. I sent my driver in the direction of Pan.Com, where Felicita had taken me the first day. I saw many yellow scooters, but none had female drivers. As I had realized on my previous trip, the scooters were great for getting in and out of tight spaces. It looked like as many locals were using the scooters to navigate around the snarled traffic as tourists. In fact, we saw few tourists. I certainly understood. This was not the time to be vacationing in Cuba.
I made sure the driver understood I wanted to get close enough to any other Coco Taxi scooters we came across so I could see the driver. It was like the clichéd “Follow that cab!” scene in an old movie. We drove for three hours before returning to the hotel. I knew there was no point continuing after dark. I wouldn’t be able to tell anything about the other drivers, and I remembered Felicita didn’t like to work after dark because of her long trip home. Brian and Stacy seemed to come to the same conclusion as they returned shortly after I did. I looked hopefully at each of them as they approached, but my heart sank as each sadly shook their head. I thanked the three drivers and tipped them well. We walked back to the hotel to have dinner.
“When does Gustavo arrive?” Brian asked as we entered the building.
“Friday afternoon. He’s taking the same flight we did. He couldn’t leave until then. Something about a family matter,” I answered.
“Can’t say I blame him,” Stacy said.
“I agree. I told him to take all the time he needed. I knew we wouldn’t need him for a few days at least. He said he’d be ready to come over on Friday. He’ll check into the hotel and wait for us here.”
With that thought in mind, I stopped at the desk and explained that Gustavo would be checking in. I requested that he be given a room near ours when he did. The room across the hall from mine was available and would be held for him. I thanked the clerk and turned to the others.
“I need a drink,” I said. My friends looked like they agreed. We had some time before dinner and we all needed to relax. I led the way out onto the veranda and across the lawn to an outdoor bar off to the right. I deliberately sat at a particular table, next to a certain large clay pot. There was only one chair at that table, so I pulled two over from the next table. Once we were all seated, I suggested mojitos to start the night. Neither Stacy nor Brian had had one before. When the waitress left to get the drinks, I explained about the mojito, and about the Havana Club rum. I still had a little back home from what I had smuggled, but I naturally couldn’t share it with anyone.
I suddenly remembered why I had come here and jumped out of my chair. I got to my knees and started examining the clay pot.
“Is anything wrong?” Stacy asked, a very concerned tone coloring her voice.
I realized what this must have looked like and laughed. While I kept scanning the surface of the pot, I explained to my two friends about the marker and the tradition of writing your name on the pot. “There!” I exclaimed, pointing with a trembling finger. Before my eyes, I saw what I had written – on my last night here nine long months ago. Christopher + Felicita, with a heart drawn around it. I lightly touched the writing. It was as if I had to touch it to be sure it was real. Stacy had gotten up and was leaning over my shoulder to see what I had found.
“Oh,” she said. Then, “You took her here?”
I nodded. “On our last night together. We sat at this table.”
About that time, the waitress brought our drinks and a felt tip marker. “Tradition,” she said. She didn’t elaborate when she saw us examining the writing on the pot. I looked up and nodded.
After admiring my writing on the pot, I returned to my chair and lifted my glass. “To a successful opening,” I toasted, referring to our business in Havana.
“To a successful search,” Stacy added.
“And peace,” Brian concluded.
I lifted the glass to my mouth, taking in the aroma of molasses as I tasted the mojito. Havana Club – the rum of Cuba. Whenever I tasted it, I didn’t visualize the label, but the back of a t-shirt instead.
We enjoyed the breeze off the harbor and the cool drinks. My friends liked the mojitos, and the Havana Club. They were also surprised to learn that this was the birthplace of the daiquiri. To celebrate, we had some of those as well. This put me in a better mood after the day’s unsuccessful search for Felitica. As darkness descended and the lights around the bar came on, we walked back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I asked at the desk if we needed a reservation for the restaurant. The clerk suppressed laughter and told me that the hotel was almost deserted.
Back in the room, I jumped in the shower. I couldn’t help remembering the last shower I took in that spot. I was pressed against a very slippery Felicita. The memory got me quickly erect. I wondered what she was doing at that moment, totally unaware that I was here. Not having time to take advantage of the situation, I finished the shower quickly and dressed. I knocked on the door to the other room and the others joined me. We chatted about the day as we headed down to the restaurant. I think it was finally hitting Brian and Stacy that they were really in Cuba. It was exciting, and dangerous, to really be there.
I couldn’t sit at the table I had used with Felicita because it wasn’t big enough for three people. We were seated at a larger table. As I sat there, looking at the tiled floor and carved ceiling, the etched glass door and the embroidered napkins, I couldn’t help wondering – and hoping – if we would soon be four having dinner together. Five, I reminded myself. Gustavo would be joining us in a few days.
I had my usual Ropa Vieja. The others made a face when they heard me mention it, because of the name. I explained what it was and the waiter told them how it was an excellent choice, a traditional Cuban dish. On that recommendation, they decided to try it as well. We had a good time. My companions talked excitedly of what they had seen of the city today. They looked forward to living here for a time. Brian asked how long we might be there.
“I’m not sure. If things go well, this will be a permanent office. I’ll manage it, so I plan to move here. I’ll need a staff, but I’m not asking you to commit now. I picked each of you because you’re my first choices to head up the staff. The choice is yours to make, after we know more of what the situation will be like.”
That satisfied them. We talked business for a time, and then drifted back to discussing seeing the sights, before the food arrived. We all enjoyed the food. I loved Cuban cooking from the first taste. I could see the other two were being won over as well. That was a good thing, considering that we were going to be living there, maybe for a long time.
After dinner, there was talk about seeing a show or a few nightclubs. I feigned off, saying I was tired after the long day. Brian and Stacy also wanted to head back to their room. We rode up in the elevator together. I said goodnight at their door and proceeded to my own room. Behind me, I heard their door close. I was alone in the room. What had been our room. At first, I sat on the bed, feeling the mattress give a little beneath me, and remembered in great detail what we had done there. It didn’t take long for me to get an erection. I smiled, remembering how easily Felicita had gotten me hard. I thought of starting up the computer to look through the pictures of us together but decided instead to relive the memories in my head. Sometimes, the mind can create more realistic images than any photograph. In my mind that night, Felicita was lovelier than ever before. I lay back on the bed, imagining that I was holding her close.
It was at about that point I realized how the hotel’s construction was not as solid as what I was used to in other places. I could faintly hear Brian and Stacy talking in their room. I couldn’t make out the words, just the sound. Call it the buzz of conversation if you will. I cast those thoughts aside and thought of Felicita. Stacy’s quiet laughter pierced my thoughts. A shrill shriek from her came next. I never noticed before how thin the walls were. I guess that was because I was always the one making the noise. Tonight, I was going to hear what the guests in the next room had to endure when Felicita was here with me. Payback can be a bitch.
When I sat down on the bed, the mattress barely made a sound. What Brian and Stacy were doing on their mattress wasn’t nearly so gentle. I could hear the rhythmic squeak of the box spring. I knew the pattern well. Next I heard Stacy, who was quite vocal when she came, I learned. I wanted to be thinking of making love to Felicita. Stacy’s moans and shrieks kept putting her face in my mind instead. I found myself imagining what Stacy looked like naked. She must be on her back now, with the bed covers thrown to the foot of the bed. Her legs would be spread wide, her breasts swaying forward and backward with Brian’s thrusts. Then the headboard started knocking against the wall for emphasis. It was a symphony – Ohhh, squeak, bang, Ooh, squick, Ohhh, squeak, bang, and so on.
It made me laugh, because I knew what I was hearing was exactly what the people staying in their room had heard when I stayed here the time before. As funny as it was, it didn’t make me any less horny. I was now painfully hard and having thoughts of sex. I was imagining Felicita’s naked body, then Stacy’s. Then, both of them in bed with me at the same time. That did it. I needed to cum. I was going to cum, whether I used my hand or not. The desire was pent up for a few days and everything was coming to a head right now, right here. To avoid making a mess of things, I took off my clothes. My erection was tenting my underwear as I pushed off my pants. Soon I was naked, with my penis sticking up. I knew I hadn’t cum in a few days so I went to the bathroom to get a towel. Kleenex weren’t going to be able to handle the job.
I put the towel on the bed and lay on it, sinking back onto the mattress to the sounds of Stacy’s moans. I wrapped my right hand around my stiff shaft and started pumping in time to Stacy. My friends had no idea there was another person joining them in their lovemaking. I stroked, thinking first of Felicita. After a few minutes of this, Stacy’s body kept intruding in my thoughts so I gave in to temptation and tried imagining what it would be like to have sex with her. It was very exciting because I knew she was having sex at that very moment, only a few feet away. By the loudness of the knocking, it was apparent that their bed was against the same wall. Stacy was maybe two feet away, getting the shit fucked out of her by Brian. I, meanwhile, was fucking my right hand. The last time I came in this room, I was in almost the exact same spot. I was on top of Felicita, buried deep inside her.
Stacy’s moans reached a higher octave and I knew she was cumming. I sped up and slipped over the point of no return almost instantly, cumming at the same time as her. I came hard. I saw the cum shooting out of the end of my dick, landing somewhere between my legs. Seven white spurts were launched towards the end of the towel between my legs as I felt the ultimate pleasure. When my orgasm started, I was thinking of Stacy’s body. As I realized what I was doing, I immediately replaced the image of her with Felicita. I saw Felicita kneeling in front of me, her hand between her legs, as I shot my sperm on her chest. I think I moaned out loud as I came. I hoped, with a twinge of embarrassment, that my companions on the other side of the wall couldn’t hear that. I heard Brian moan deeply and the squeaking of the bed abruptly stopped.
I caught my breath, my thoughts now back to my Felicita. I felt guilty that I had thought of Stacy at that moment. In my heart, there was only Felicita. Why did I think of someone else? I knew the answer. Felicita wasn’t here and Stacy was. It was the same reason why I had made love to Ellen after I returned home. I got up and cleaned up the mess I had made instead of beating myself up over what I had done.
I was just settling back into bed when Stacy and Brian started up again. I started to laugh, but caught myself. If I could hear them, they could hear me – unless they were “busy”. I’d have to remember that. With a lot of luck, I’d be making noise with Felicita soon. I hoped.
I was really tired, so I managed to drop off to sleep in spite of the symphony going on next door. I woke up a few times. It was hard sleeping in a strange bed. So much was going through my head. Felicita, the political strife going on outside, concern over the safety of my team, the stress of opening a new office – and each one alone would be enough to keep me awake. I never heard my friends again that night. They must have gone to sleep shortly after I did.
When I woke up in the morning, I lay there on the sheets, daydreaming about Felicita. My morning erection beckoned, but I didn’t want to do anything about it. I wanted to save that for her. So, the sheets tented and I lay there as the rising sun slowly lit up the room more. I mostly thought back to my last day with Felicita. I cried a little, remembering our parting at the airport. I wondered how things went for her after I left her. I wouldn’t know the answers to that unless I found her. When I found her, I admonished myself. My thoughts were turning dark so I got up and showered. I thought over how I would look for her when I was in the shower. I could look for weeks and miss her on the streets. I had to get to the source of the problem. The source! Of course! I’d try to find her home. She had taken me there before. I’d take a taxi and try to find it again. I even had a few pictures of it.
I was getting dressed when I heard movement in the room next door. I knocked on the door and told them that I was going to get an early breakfast in the basement. I heard Brian’s muffled voice telling me that they would meet me there in twenty minutes.
I finished dressing and walked out into the hall. The halls of a hotel are always so quiet early in the morning. In the quiet, I imagined I could hear Felicita’s soft voice whispering to me. I had to find her soon. She was all I was thinking about. I had to know one way or the other how she felt before I’d be able to get any work done.
I picked up a copy of the Granma on the way down to the basement. The dining room was already open. I went in and sat down in my usual place. Looking out the plate glass window, I noticed the rowboats were heading out to sea. A waitress took my order for orange juice and I helped myself to the breakfast buffet. I especially loaded my plate with mango. The mango in Cuba is the best I have had anywhere. The mangoes there grow to the size of small watermelons and have a color deeper than any others. The mangoes we find in the grocery stores back home are a laughable imitation of Cuban mangoes. I also remembered to pass on the yogurt.
I had just sat back down and started going over the newspaper when my two friends arrived. True to the cliché, Stacy was glowing and Brian looked like he was still tired. I suppressed a grin, instead offering a cheery “Good morning.” They both ordered coffee. Stacy asked about the mango on my plate. The color was so intense that she didn’t recognize it.
While they were getting their food, I scanned the paper. The tone of the paper mirrored what we saw on the streets. With the government in limbo, the editors weren’t sure how to proceed. They apparently didn’t want to do anything to offend the next government – whatever government that might be. Most of the articles were retrospectives on Fidel and Cuba since the revolution, with a few talking about the upcoming funeral. After lying in state in the capitol, Fidel’s body would be moved to the Plaza de la Revolucion for burial. This was the opposite of what was done for Che Guevara in 1997, mainly because Fidel was the head of state. There would be a procession from the capitol to the Plaza de la Revolucion. There, where Fidel gave many of his speeches in his lifetime, he would rest for all eternity. It should be interesting to watch. I made a note to plan on attending it on Monday.
Brian and Stacy commented on the foods much as I did my first time. Stacy was especially fond of mango, so the Cuban mango was a special treat. As we ate, she looked up from her plate out the window and took a deep breath.
“It’s like the…” she started to say.
“Old Man and the Sea?” I finished.
“I noticed the same thing my first morning here. The village that inspired Hemingway to write that story isn’t far. We should visit it while we’re here.”
Brian didn’t share our interest in literature. He reached for the paper and looked it over. “No sports?” he asked.
“Cubans love baseball but this is a political newspaper,” I explained. “And, their ruler just died.”
Brian nodded and kept eating. He’s always been a good friend, but sometimes I just don’t get him.
I told them about the funeral and suggested we attend.
“It would be good for us to be seen attending. We’re the new guys in town opening up shop. The locals need to see us supporting their culture.”
The others agreed. Idle chatter filled most of the rest of the meal. As we were finishing, Brian spoke up again.
“What’s on tap today, boss?”
“I thought you two could see the sights. I’m going to try to find Felicita’s home.” That caught Stacy’s attention. “I’ve been there once before. I’m going to get a car and driver and try to retrace the route.”
“Would you like us to come with you?” Stacy asked.
“No, go sight-seeing. Get to know the city a little better. Tomorrow, we’ll start work in earnest.”
That satisfied them. They were anxious to see the “forbidden land”. I told them I’d meet them back at the hotel for dinner. I explained that the doorman could get them a driver to show them around, or the Havanatur office down the hall in the basement could book them on a city tour.
With that, we went our separate ways. I went back my room and picked up my notebook computer. I was going to pull up the pictures I took when Felicita took me there. That, coupled with a map, might enable me to find the place again.
I stopped at the front desk. I asked about a map of the area. Getting maps wasn’t as easy as it would be in the states, but they managed to find one for me. It wasn’t very detailed, but I would make do. Next, I asked to hire a car and driver for the day. I explained I needed to travel to the very outskirts of the city. They referred me to the doorman. I spoke to him and he signaled to one of the taxis parked on the palm-lined driveway. The uniformed doorman opened the door for me. I tipped him and got in.
The interior of the Mercedes was very cool and a little dark, owing to the tinted glass. The driver was Arabic and spoke English very well. That would help. While I spoke Spanish, his command of English would ensure we made ourselves understood to each other. I explained I was trying to find the home of a friend. I described where I thought it was. I leaned over the front seat and placed my computer on the seat next to him. He pulled to the side of the street and parked. I showed him the pictures I had of the drive. He looked through them twice and said that he thought he knew where that was.
I sat back, relieved, and relaxed as he drove. I held the computer in my lap and watched as the city passed by, then saw the buildings get sparser and the fields more prominent. The countryside looked familiar. I kept referring to the photographs and was excited that I could match some of the landmarks. We were at least in the same general area. I was glad that I had taken a few pictures of the outside of her house so I could pick it out.
In time, we were in what could be considered the countryside. The drive seemed longer than I had remembered. That might have been because I was so anxious to find Felicita. Thoughts of “Are we there yet?” kept running through my head as I sat in the back seat. This area had few cars on the road. Here tractors were as common as cars. The houses were small and in poor repair. Suddenly, I jumped up,
“Stop the car!” I yelled. The driver hit the brakes and I bumped hard into the back of the front seat. “I think that’s the house!” I was pointing at one house we had just passed and comparing it to the screen of the computer.
“I think you’re right,” my driver agreed as he put the car in reverse. He checked briefly in his mirror and hit the accelerator. The road was deserted, so there was no risk backing up so fast. His driving reminded me of an embassy chauffeur. He stopped as abruptly as he had accelerated and turned into the yard. I was through the door before the car had come to a stop in the yard.
“Felicita? Felicita?” I called as I ran to the door. I knocked on the wooden frame, feeling the peeling paint rough against my knuckles. The wooden door was open, a rusty screen door the only barrier. No one answered the door. I walked around the house. My heart pounded as I saw an older woman hanging damp clothes on the clothesline.
“Señora, I am looking for Felicita,” I called as I walked towards her. She turned around. My heart stopped. I couldn’t breathe. It was her. The woman was an older version of Felicita. This was her mother. I had found her home. She was here.
The woman turned around, two clothespins in her mouth and a wet shirt in her hands. She looked at me quizzically for what seemed like an eternity (but was probably a few seconds), and then recognition dawned across her face. The shirt fell to the ground. She blinked and spit out the clothespins. They fell, bouncing on the grass.
“Is it, are you, Christopher? It is you, isn’t it?” she asked.
I nodded. “I came back. I’m looking for Felicita.” My heart was beating again, ferociously now. I took a deep breath before asking the question. “Is she here?”
Her mother just looked at me for a few minutes, as if she couldn’t believe I was really there. Maybe she was angry that I had left, or that I had the audacity to come back. Maybe she was happy for her daughter that I had come back. Maybe there was news she didn’t relish having to tell me. I was to the point of reaching out and trying to wring the words from her tongue when she finally spoke.
“She’s not here, Christopher.”
I almost fell to the ground. A baseball bat hitting me on the back of the head would have had less effect than hearing those words.
She saw my reaction and stepped quickly to me, putting her arm around me. “Come inside and sit down. Let me get you something to drink.” Looking to the car, she added, “Invite your driver inside.”
I nodded, and waved to the driver. He got out of the car, looking very concerned for me. He couldn’t hear what we had been saying and he looked like he was concerned for my safety. He didn’t say anything, but stood on the other side of me as the three of us went into the house. She motioned us to the table and got us something to drink.
“Who’s here?” I heard an old man answering. If I hadn’t been so upset, I would have grinned. It was Felicita’s grandfather. He slowly got out of a chair and came to the table. I noticed that he moved a lot slower than he had last year.
“It’s Christopher. Remember?” her mother explained. “Felicita’s friend.”
“I remember,” the old man answered, apparently angry that she felt it necessary to explain. He sat down in the chair next to me and looked directly into my eyes. I didn’t know what to expect. I braced myself for whatever he would say or do.
“You came back.”
“Get your dollar ready, Christopher,” he spat, anger in his voice. “His balls, on the wall of a museum.” I saw his face pull up around his eyes, a toothy grin showing. He broke into laughter that quickly dissolved into a coughing fit.
I did grin then, remembering our joke about Fidel. I nodded. I still wasn’t sure what was going on. I remembered he was a little senile. I was anxious to hear about what had happened to Felicita. I turned back to her mother, who was just setting glasses of cold lemonade on the table for my driver and me.
“Felicita is working in the city,” she said. I waited for the other shoe to drop. I expected the next news to be bad. She continued. “She used to pass by the hotel every day, looking for you. Her route changed, but she still passes there whenever she can. She misses you, Christopher. Her heart aches for you.”
“I’m back. I’m here to find her. If she still wants me.”
“Come with me,” she said. Her muscular arm was pulling me out of the chair by my arm. I followed her through the house. We entered a small bedroom. The closet door was partially ajar and I recognized one of the dresses hanging in there. I stiffened. It was a dress Felicita had worn. This was her bedroom. She had been in this very room! Maybe this morning! Her mother pointed to the dresser. There was a pile of U.S. currency lying on the white embroidered cloth that covered the top of the dresser. “Every time she gets an American dollar that has a C on it, she puts it here. She keeps them, to remember you.” I looked through them. Each bill had been issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and had a large C in the center of the Federal Reserve Bank Seal. She had kept each one. Her mother turned to walk out. As I started to follow, a frame on the wall caught my eye. It was a newspaper article. I walked over to it. I felt the hair on the back of my neck sticking up. It was the article in the Granma I had quoted to her. She had underlined Fidel’s words about love. She found the article and framed it. She kept it in her bedroom. I stood in that room, the smells of old wood in the still air, as I reread Fidel’s words (as she must have). If there must be happiness, if there must be love, if there must be smiles, it can only be with freedom and dignity. Well, the time for the freedom and dignity might be at hand. I was certainly ready for the happiness, love and smiles. I hoped she still was.
Her mother stopped when she didn’t hear me following. She saw me looking at the frame. “She cut that out of the paper when she got back from taking you to the airport. She looks at it everyday.” The old woman’s words gave me hope.
“When will she be back here?” I asked Felitica’s mother when we were back in the kitchen. I was ready to wait as long as necessary.
“It’s Thursday. She usually stays late in the city on Thursday. Go back to your hotel. I’ll tell her you were here looking for her. She’ll come find you.”
I started to protest, but she continued. “It may not be safe for a foreigner to be out here. You are safer in the city in these times. I don’t want anything to happen to you. She needs you. She will know how to find you. I will tell her you are looking for her. You are staying at the Nacional, yes?”
As much as I wanted to stay, I trusted the woman’s words. I nodded and motioned to my driver that it was time to leave. As we were walking out the door, I looked back towards Felicita’s bedroom. She had been in this room this morning! I was getting so close.
On the drive back to the hotel, my thoughts were filled with Felicita. I was determined to stay at the hotel and wait. I hardly noticed the countryside give way to the dirty buildings of the city. I hardly noticed the increased presence of soldiers on the street. On the way back, I had him take me to Pan.Com so I could get lunch. I paid him, tipping him well, and started to ask him to return for me in an hour. I stopped and considered another alternative. I let him leave.
I walked back into the open-air restaurant like I was stepping out of a time machine. Here, it was nine months ago. I was with my cute taxi driver, getting a taste of my first real Cuban sandwich. I walked towards the counter in the back of the restaurant, feeling the warm tropical breeze gently blowing past me. I ordered a sandwich and a Cristal, just like last time. Unlike last time, I sat alone. My memories kept me company. I looked to the side where the old man had been selling pirated CD’s. He wasn’t there today. I wondered what had happened to him.
My food was ready. I picked it up and sat down to eat. With each bite, I was reminded more of my love, of how much I missed her. I was on the verge of tears because I was missing her now more than ever. It was hard, knowing she was here in the city and I couldn’t find her. I remembered Fidel’s words - If there must be happiness, if there must be love, if there must be smiles,… . She had read those words every day. Perhaps tomorrow, maybe even tonight, there might be happiness, love and smiles – for both of us. I just had to wait a little longer.
I managed to eat and even enjoy the meal. The crunch of the crusty bread and the fresh taste of the pork were better here than anywhere else. I realized that I was enjoying meat and wondered if my Felicita was going to eat meat today. I remembered her stories about the availability of food. I wondered if the money I had left had run out yet.
I finished eating and returned to the counter. I asked if I could get a Coco Taxi to take me back to my hotel. The lady behind the counter suggested a car. It would be more comfortable. No, I insisted, I wanted Coco Taxi – the yellow scooters. She told me there was no way to call for one. They sometimes passed on the street. She suggested I should start walking to my hotel and try to flag one down. I thanked her and did just that.
The day was warm, almost cloudless, and I was started to really sweat in the sun. I had walked about a block when I heard that familiar putt-putt-putt coming up behind me. I turned around, but that scooter was driven by a young man, and already had two passengers. I kept walking. Two others passed, but were also full. I was beginning to think I’d have to walk all the way back to the Nacional when I saw one coming towards me that was empty. I flagged it down and asked to be taken to my hotel. I got in and we drove away. The driver, a young man with dark hair, wore the Havana Club t-shirt that was the standard uniform of the drivers. I could smell the gasoline fumes and feel the wind in my face. The sensations were like before, only without my lovely Felicita. I stopped the driver about half a block from the hotel and got out. I paid him and walked the rest of the way to the hotel. I wanted to walk past the taxi stand, just in case Felicita was there. She wasn’t, of course. I was beginning to realize that it was a big city. The odds of running into her were just about zero. She was, after all, a moving target. I would just have to wait at the hotel.
I went up to my room and entered without turning on the light. I put the computer down on the table and laid on the bed in the cool darkness for a time, lost in my memories. I had relived most of my former trip, just not the most important part. The next few hours were going to be the hardest wait of all. It was frustrating to be so close and still not be able to see her. I remembered that I hadn’t called the office yet to give them our phone number. I picked up the room phone and remembered the bellman’s instructions. I dialed the necessary codes, followed by the phone number of the office. When a voice answered, I asked to speak to Ross. Agnes came on next.
When I told her who I was, she became all excited. “Did you find her?” Agnes asked. I swear she was as anxious as I was. I told her that I hadn’t, but that I was still looking. She told me that I’d find her (I sure hoped she was right) and passed the call to Ross. I had to go through the same routine with him. I tried not to sound cynical. I told him how I had been to her home and found out that she still worked in Havana. He assured me she would find me when she heard I was there. I gave him the hotel phone number and our room numbers. Ross told me that he had heard from the Cancun manager and that Gustavo was still arriving tomorrow afternoon. Ross tried to cheer me up. He really cared about what I was going through. I filled him in on what the conditions were like in the city. We were still waiting. He reminded me to contact the Interests Section and I assured him I would just before we hung up.
I looked up the number for the United States office down the street and called. A woman answered. I explained who I was and that I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to speak to. She asked me to hold, and there was another ring. A man answered. He recognized my name. He said that he had been told to expect my call. I told him where we were staying and I could hear him writing it down. He was able to tell me a little more about conditions in the city. There had been a few pockets of unrest and troops had been sent in to quell any uprisings. He advised us to stay near the hotel, especially at night. He asked me to call in daily so I could be kept up to date on developments. He also suggested I watch CNN as they had the most continuous coverage. I thanked him and hung up.
It was only early afternoon so I had a lot of time on my hands. Too much time. Brian and Stacy were still out playing tourist. I got up and went downstairs. There was a delightful breeze blowing in from the harbor when I stepped onto the veranda. A waiter was grinding stalks of sugar cane and making mojitos. I bought one and sat in the shade of the veranda as I drank it. The cool liquid, the mint, and the Havana Club were all so soothing. I could have done this all afternoon, but I didn’t want to be drunk if Felicita showed up.
I was finishing the drink when I heard a voice in English say, “So that’s where you are.” It was Brian. They had returned and been looking for me. The two of them sat down opposite me and animatedly told me about their day. I listened politely to their excited recitation about the things they saw. I had seen it all before, with Felicita. Brian then told me what he has observed as far as security on the streets. I listened to this with rapt attention. He also told me that they had been advised not to venture out of the hotel at night. We were getting that a lot lately. There surely must be a good reason. Something must be about to happen.
Stacy got up out of her chair and knelt down in front of me. She took my hand in hers and, looking up into my eyes with concern, asked me how my day went. I told her about finding Felicita’s house and visiting with her family. I explained how her mother told me to wait at the hotel for her. Stacy said that she thought that was a good idea. I told her how difficult it was to just sit here and wait. Brian jumped in at that point about concerns for imminent military action. I filled them in on what the Interests Section told me. We decided to have an early dinner, and then stay around the hotel. Gustavo was arriving the next day and he would help us judge the situation.
We all returned to our rooms to get cleaned up for dinner. I took another shower alone. Each time I got into the shower, I was thinking of Felicita. I was remembering how her body looked with the water streaming off it. I was reliving how smooth her skin was, slick with soap. I was thinking about how it felt to rub her naked slippery body against mine. I became erect, painfully erect. I decided not to put it off any longer. I masturbated as I thought of her body. I longed to hold her against me. It didn’t take me long to ejaculate copiously as I fantasized about her.
With that out of the way, I was able to quickly shower and dress. I was putting on my shoes when Brian said, “Knock, knock,” just before opening the door and entering my room.
“We’re ready, boss. How about you?”
“All set. Let’s go.”
Stacy joined us and we left for the elevator.
“I hope things settle down soon. I’d like to try some other restaurants and see the clubs,” Stacy said as we rode downstairs.
“Once Gustavo is here, we’ll be able to better judge the risks. He’ll be able to pick up subtle signs, cultural things, that we are missing,” I answered. Brian nodded in agreement.
We ate again in the Comedor de Aquiar, just past the elevators. As before, we were almost the only people there. The service was very good, perhaps because the workers didn’t have much else to keep them busy. We tried getting information about the political situation out of the waiter, but he kept changing the subject. It was obvious he didn’t want to answer any political questions.
While I ate, my mind drifted back to Felicita. It was getting late. I doubted I would see her that night. Perhaps the next day. It was so hard to wait. My companions sensed my mood change and tried to get the conversation going again to cheer me up. I appreciated what they were doing, but I didn’t want to be cheered up. The happiness I sought could only come from one person.
After dinner, I wanted to go back to my room and sulk. My friends would have none of that. With each of them pulling on an arm, they dragged me back out onto the lawn, to the bar where we had spent the previous night. I relented and decided to have a drink or two with them. I didn’t see that they were going to give me any other choice. I appreciated what they were doing. It was just hard to show appreciation when I was so lonely.
As we approached the bar, I was disappointed to see that our table from the night before was taken. A woman was sitting there, her back to us. I wondered who she was waiting for. At least she would not be lonely tonight, I thought moodily. As on the previous night, there was only one chair at that table. Maybe she wasn’t waiting for someone after all. We took a nearby table which had four chairs. We ordered our drinks. As I waited for the waitress to deliver them, my eyes drifted to the woman at the table next to the clay pot. She was looking down at the pot, touching it. Almost reverently. Her hand was about at the spot where I had written on it. Then I noticed the color of her hair. It was chestnut brown – almost a reddish hue. There was something about her mannerism. Maybe it was the way she was sitting, or the way she touched – caressed really – the pot. There was a cool breeze coming in off the harbor, but that wasn’t it. I felt a sudden chill. It was colder than the breeze. I felt a tightness in my chest. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end. It was like an electric current surging through my body. The sights and sounds of the people around me faded away. It was like a spotlight had been focused on that table – on her. It couldn’t be, yet it had to be. I knew that body, that touch. I stood, not noticing the concerned looks of my friends. I swallowed hard and stepped towards that table. I had to swallow two more times before I could get the words out of my mouth. I was excited, scared and nervous all at once.
I finally managed to speak one word. “Felicita?”
To Be Continued in
Chapter 3 –
story is Copyright © 2004 by Strickland83. All rights reserved.
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