HAVANA TIMES, Feb 2 — The news spread like wildfire through the neighborhood. I was awakened by the phone. It was my cousin Lucia who had interrupted my early morning dreams.
“Rosa, get up!” she commanded, like some general giving orders to his troops to march into battle.
From my bed I didn’t ask what had happened. It couldn’t have been anything good with her calling me that early. I needed to be wide awake and ready for the bad news I was expecting.
“That cripple killed Any,” she simply said, nothing more. “That son of a bitch killed my cousin.”
“Are you crazy? What are you talking about?” I asked
“Damn it, he killed her just a little while ago, right here in the house, didn’t you hear the screaming?” she explained.
I didn’t let her say anything more. I went over to their house to find my aunt Mary, the mother of the alleged victim.
But no one was home. There was only an infernal trail of blood.
My cousin had quickly taken her to the hospital, but Any had only held on for a few moments after getting to the giant medical center.
My aunt, who had taken her to the clinic, was also affected. She wasn’t dying from blows by a machete or several stab wounds, like those of her daughter. She was dying of grief and sorrow after seeing her only daughter murdered under her own nose.
She was able to say that the couple had had several arguments. Any was the one who supported everyone, and her husband knew full well how she made her money.
He had never minded living off of her, nor had he cared about where she got the cash that satisfied his cravings for alcohol and gambling.
But that day he did care. At that moment he had wanted her only for himself. But it was too late; she had gotten used to having pockets full of bills, and she only knew one way to get them: sleeping with the first guy willing to pay a good price for her almost perfect body.
Her body was still lying in the city morgue, but I had to go to work to take care of some issues. I tried, for a moment, to forget the fact that Any was dead and that my aunt was dying inside from that damned husband, who should have been the one to die.
He didn’t need to be put behind bars again for the same thing; it hadn’t taught him anything.
I’m trying to forget but I can’t, the neighbors won’t let me. With each step I run into four or five people talking about it. They’re silent and merely look at me when I walk by. Then, once I’m past, they continue with their hearsay and gossip
It seems that nobody went to work this morning. I’m seeing faces that I hadn’t seen in months. Some are sad, some exasperated, others don’t know what to express, and I’m in no shape to try to decipher it.
One guy had the nerve to say to me that she had it coming. “Men have to be respected,” is what he said.
That made me want to do what I would have done to the cripple if I could have gotten my hands on him. But someone checked my outburst. “Men are respected when they respect themselves,” this person replied to the guy.
Finally, I gave up on going to work and ended up going home. I stayed home, I didn’t go back to the funeral home. I didn’t bid farewell to the cousin with whom I had played, grown up and went to school – the same cousin who didn’t look like the person of her childhood dreams, but who I had dearly loved.
* This is a true story that occurred a few days ago in the city of Guantanamo. The cousin of the murder victim is a close friend of mine.