The Wrong Place?
Jorge Milanes Despaigne
HAVANA TIMES — “I want you to take me to Monte and Cienfuegos, to the place we went to see La China last year. She’s a volcano in bed!”
This is a daily request heard from Cubans and foreigners alike.
“Yes, for 5 CUC, I remember. But, from what I’ve heard, things have changed a lot down there, both the place and the people. I can go with you, you may be able to get what you want, though I don’t know whether you’ll be able to find the same girl. If you can’t get her, you’ll be able to get someone else. We’ll see how things are down there tomorrow.”
“Do you have any idea what prices are like today?”
“It was 10 CUC the hour, until a few days ago.”
The next day, according to Rey, they took a cab to the place they’d been to a year before. Alejandro also took money with him in case he decided to spend some time with a girl. Ultimately, his friend decided to stay at the entrance to the building and see what that “world” was like.
An hour later, he saw Alex come out of the building, saying goodbye to La China. Rey crossed the street and approached him.
“I had a marvelous time. You haven’t reconsidered?”
“No, I’m not into these kinds of things. If I do them, they have to be the way I want them. I don’t have the money for it.”
Hearing this reply, Alex asked him:
“What is it you want that supposedly I wouldn’t be able to afford?”
Rey thought that, were he to accept Alex’s offer, he would be able to have a taste of that world from the inside, as he wanted. He decided to be truthful.
“See that young man in the tank top, the one standing on the corner? Ask him how much he charges and, if you can afford it, bring him over.”
Surprised by this request, Alex didn’t say anything and headed over to the corner. He convinced the young man and brought him over. When asked his price, he replied: 10 CUC.
Rey went in, defying Alex’s look. Alex decided to wait outside.
The young man took him to a dark room in a nearby building. They went in.
Later, Rey would tell the following story: “I sat on the edge of the bed. He was going around the room without looking me in the eye and, apparently, wasn’t too pleased with my interrogation. One of the questions I asked him was why he was in this business. He replied he lived in Las Tunas, that he was married and had three kids to support…and that he wasn’t gay. He was alright for me, but I wanted some kind of provocation, something erotic. He only said to me:
“Friend, I think I made a mistake. I’m straight!”
“Then what are you doing here?”