HAVANA TIMES — “Hey, it’s hard as hell to get it. It’s a mother… I don’t have any family, so for the past several days I’ve been visiting some friends who stay there.” He then gestured with his head, pointing to the psychiatric hospital that we were riding past in the bus just then.
“They have them locked up so they don’t join together with the other nutcases. Nonetheless, though, there are more of them out here than there are in there.”
I remained quiet, trying to interpreting any possible truth in his words.
I thought about how difficult it must be for a person at a certain age who doesn’t know where they stand. I was watching him carefully. He looked good physically and was carrying a plastic bag in his hands.
“Do you have family around here?” he asked.
“No, I’m from Santiago de las Vegas,” I replied. He then stood there silent for a few seconds and then I took the opportunity to question him.
“And you, what you do?” I asked.
Like someone trying to come up with a thoughtful response, he looked at me up and down and replied:
“I’ve been working on a very interesting novel for years, one with lots of chapters, characters, plots and subplots. Every day, whenever I add a new idea to it, I feel like I’m about to finish it. But whenever I show it to anybody they say the same thing.”
He then added: “I’m going to show you something. Look, this is my work, which took me a lot of effort.” He then pulled out a beat-up phonebook from out of his coat pocket, opened a page for me and began to read.