The Swindler

Jorge Milanes Despaigne

Photo: James NG

I always tell my mother that when she’s alone, she needs to lock the front porch gate.  When I come home, I always ask her him how her day was.

“Oh child, I had a bad day,” she told me the other day.

“Why?” I asked.

“In the afternoon I was sitting out on the porch and there came along this tall, very well-dressed, young woman who asked me if I was Luisa.  I responded to her that I was.  Very kindly, she told me that she was a friend of your sister Sonia, who had sent her to see me since I’m more trustworthy than Mercedes (pointing to the house next door).

“The young woman said she was looking for a place to rent for some friends of hers, an Italian couple who would be arriving in three days and wanted a house outside the city. She then asked me if she could have some water. She told me that she was worn out and couldn’t continue on looking for a place.

“I was calling over to Mercedes when the young women asked to come up on the porch to rest her feet.  I opened the gate and we sat there on the porch for a while with our neighbor. Then Merci went back to her house.

“I continued chatting with the woman until I noticed that she was staring at my ears.  She asked me, “Can I see those earrings? They’re beautiful…”

Listening to my mother, I was getting worried and upset. I told her, “How many times do I have to tell you not to open the gate for anybody if you don’t know them!  So what else happened?”

“Well, she stood up and tried to adjust my earring that she said was loose.”

“And what did you do?” I asked, already expecting the worst.

“I gave her a slap and called her a thief.  What nerve! I told her I was going to call the police, so the little crook got up and went flying out the gate.”

“But that’s not everything, child.  A little later, our other neighbor Virgen came over and asked to see my niece, the one who I had sent to the bank to change her 100 euros.  “Oh, my God! I hadn’t sent send anybody to the bank…”

2 thoughts on “The Swindler

  • Good story Jorge. Poverty breeds crime, without some other moral suasion to keep it in check. It’s starting to sound like the “revolution” doesn’t have that moral suasion anymore from what I’m reading about the increase in crime and corruption on the island. Give people the legal means to improve their circumstances and look out, they fly with it. Unfortunately the Cuban government doesn’t allow people the freedom to improve their lot legally. It’s starting to happen but the reforms are slow and limited and the government still maintains a heavy bureaucratic hand to control and micromanage people’s efforts.

  • Wonderful! Jorge, don’t worry too much about your mother…

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