Weinstein is having a drink, sweet strong coffee laced with vanilla and a jigger of over proof rum, with Ernest Hemingway on the hardwood veranda of Papa’s home in the green hills above Havana, Finca Vigia, or Lookout Farm in a language that often may greatly exceed the beauty of English. Far below Havana Bay glitters in clean desperate blue green morning light that is unique to the Caribbean. It is a time when the great writer is at the height of his power no matter what the critics are saying. Papa’s “Across The River and Into The Trees” has recently arrived to scorn by the putative arbiters of literary taste who have their heads firmly ensconced up their asses. Weinstein is aware in the dream he is having that there are no limits, anything is possible, anything can happen, but some good must come out of this dream despite, so far, nothing customarily erotic of it has reared its hoary head.
“Weinstein” Papa is saying, “I’ve lived all over the world. Nowhere have I been happier than I am in Cuba. There is music, laughter here. In the Gulf Stream I have seen two thousand pound Marlin, unhooked mind you, emerge from the cobalt sea and soar through an arc of forty yards in a glistening penumbra of spray and then leave you in a state of drooling, wondering if what you just witnessed was real.”
“Almita, mi pajarito hermosa, a couple more of these por favor”, Papa says.
The barely pubescent lithe barefoot girl, is she sixteen?, who has served the drinks, has shining black hair that falls to her waist as if it is the lightest silk, and flawless skin that is nearly the color of the lightly creamed rum-laced coffee. She is wearing a shoulderless floral sarong the hem of which bares fully her thighs. Her kind, dark, almond eyes, her adoring eyes do not wander from Papa’s as she slowly refills his cup while her free hand, with small fingernails as clean, delicate, pearlescent as sun bleached shells, Weinstein notices, rests lightly on the nape of his neck. Papa pats her lovely hand, and momentarily returns her gaze. “Ah, mi amorita”, he whispers, barely audibly.
Then “Paris is a fucking hellhole, Weinstein, I want no more of it”.
“I understand, Papa, trust me, I understand”.
At once a jeep with a lone driver at the wheel is visible jouncing up the dusty rutted road that leads to the arbored garden gate of the farmhouse. It has emerged abruptly from an unbroken canopy of lush tropical growth that rolls down the green hills from the edges of Papa’s fields all the way down to the old city far below strung along the coast of the blue black bay flecked white by the trade winds.
“It’s Fidel,” Papa says as the whine of the Jeep’s engine nears, “He’s coming up for another chat”.
Minutes later, the Jeep reaches the gate and squeals noisily to a stop, scattering a few chickens that had been pecking in the ochre dirt. The driver, a big, swarthy, fully bearded man dressed in olive combat fatigues, with a large automatic pistol holstered on his hip that Weinstein notices immediately, leaps from the vehicle, removes his visored cap, and with a bow and a grand flourish, greets Papa in booming Spanish.
“Papa, mi escribador favorito, como esta? Quien es el gringo? Su amigo, yo espero”.
“Si Fidel, si, he is my friend. His name is Weinstein. He wants to be a writer. I’m trying to tell him how impossible it is. Bienvenidos, Commandante. Come up. The coffee is hot and fine. Almita, mas café por favor. El Commandante esta aqui.”
Fidel strides up the stairs, two at a time. He bear hugs Papa with gusto, then shakes Weinstein’s hand with a firm even grip and then seats himself in a heavily cushioned rattan chair the winsome Indian girl Alma has pushed to the table for him. As she places his steaming fragrant drink before him, he regards her at some length with what appears to be an appreciative smile. He taps an ash from the cigar he is smoking.
“Ah Papa”, Fidel says as Alma pads softly back into the house leaving a scent that reminds Weinstein of a favored brand of soap, “You are doing quite well. This I see quite clearly. Our motherland too now that we have given Batista his just reward. The brothels, the casinos, the gangsters will follow him. Tell me, what have you heard from Kennedy?”
“He is worried, Fidel. He is under pressure. The Americans who own the hotels you are appropriating are angry. They are expecting him to take some action.”
“Action? What action? Cuba will not be bending over again to their imperialist scheming. They have had their way here too long while thieves have prospered and the people have suffered. We are going to build schools, clinics, housing. Let them do their whoring elsewhere. I have begged Kennedy, come to Havana. We will talk. Legitimate enterprise will be welcomed. We will trade our sugar, our coffee, our tobacco, our bananas, our sweat, and God willing as the Cuban people progress, both of our countries will benefit greatly from a healthy free trade of goods, of ideas. We have spilled our blood, Papa, and now we are realists. We have seen what we have seen in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bolivia, El Salvador, Chile, Panama, Argentina, Haiti, The Dominican Republic. Not here, not ever again.”
“Don’t give up on Kennedy, Fidel. He has his private vices but don’t we all? He is a good man, intelligent and idealistic like you. Some of his advisors are going to be a problem, and the CIA is restive, but two leaders determined to hang on to their integrity, their faith in what is just, in what is right should prevail, no?”
“You there, Senor Weinstein”, says Fidel, directly drilling Weinstein with his deep-set glittering eyes, “What do you think about this?”
“Uh, I don’t know Commandante, but like you I’m troubled by history. There is a lyric from an American musical. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In the meantime in between time ain’t we got fun. If I were to be so bold as to respectfully offer you a word of advice it would be to remember traits timeless and universal to human nature across the board. I wouldn’t expunge all the fun”.
“And what do you mean by ‘the fun’ if I may ask?”
Before Weinstein can attempt a reply, a soft rhythmic refrain begins to emanate from inside the house, the seductive liquid drumbeats and the mournful strings and the sweet winds of a Cuban mambo. The beautiful brown skinned girl Almita has put a record on Papa’s phonograph, and as the men can witness clearly through the open shutters of the broad veranda doors, she is swaying, undulating, barefoot dancing dreamily to the music on the shining hardwood floor with her almond eyes closed, her full naturally roseate lips slightly parted, completely unaware she is being observed in her soulful reverie.
“Some profound truths, Commandante”, says Weinstein in a tone only slightly above a whisper, “We hold to be self-evident.”
“There you have it, Weinstein” says Papa, “The damnable irrelevance, on many important occasions, of words. Someday it’s going to be a very big problem for me”.