I went to visit my grandmother in Santa Fe. The old woman is 193 and she thinks it’s time to benefit her family with the assets she no longer uses. And so she let me know that she was giving me the motorbike of her nephew who left the country illegally three years ago and is not allowed to return since he was charged with desertion from the ranks of the Ministry of the Interior.
You can’t imagine my surprise when I saw that it was nothing more nor less than a Suzuki (the classic vehicle of State Security). My God! What the fuck am I going to do with this? I could not sneer at my grandmother’s gift, it might give her a heart attack, so I thanked her.
- Thanks, Grandma, I’m going to call for a truck to come and get it. - No, my grandson, if the bike’s good, you can ride it home.
Those words reverberated in my mind. Ride a Suzuki from Santa Fe to Vedado. And if someone sees me riding there? Nonsense!
- Ride, ride – my grandma said – and then tell me how it went. - That’s good, Grandma. - But why are you crying sweetheart? - From excitement, Grandma, from excitement.
I got on that bike and rode the fucking thing all the way to 5th Avenue. All the familiar faces were dying every time I turned the throttle. A police officer stuck out his hand… shit… I stopped and thought he was about to ticket me but then BOOM!, he jumped on the back
- Take me over there, I’m going to be late – he said quietly.
What the fuck, I’m on a Suzuki with a cop on the back. At the traffic light at the roundabout I hit the red light. An almendrón shared-taxi stops next to me with passengers and I hear a voice:
- Hello? You’re not with Porno Para Ricardo are you? Three kids were crowded at the window looking stunned. - No, no, no, that’s not me – I replied. - I think it’s him – said another. - No, I’m not fucking him!
The light turned green and I was out of there like a bullet.
- Ah, so you are part of Porno para Ricardo. I always knew there had to be someone there who was one of us. - Yes, well… you know… we are always infiltrating everything. - Look, let me off here, I’m close, and good luck with your work.
He got off and left. This can’t go on. I got off the Suzuki and flagged down a truck who took it home for me.
- How much do I owe? – I asked the truck driver. - Ah, but you are going to pay me, officer? - You motherfucker! Take it! – and he put the bill in his pocket.
I took the Suzuki in and immediately called the CI:
- Come, come, I have something urgent I have to talk to you guys about.
They came in 2 minutes and 25 seconds, it would seem they were 50 feet away.
- Well Ciro, we’re happy that you’ve finally decided to cooperate, we want to know w… - It’s not that. What I need is to get rid of this – I interrupted, indicating the bike. It’s a problem when they see me riding this and if it’s all the same to you maybe I’d like to exchange it for something more modest, I don’t know… a Carpati… any piece of shit.
- Listen, you! We’re not here to deal in motorbikes. You hear me?! – one of them shouted. - Did you say a Carpati? – the other one asked. I have a Carpati. - But Alejandro! What do you say… Rodney! - Hey, he’s offering to exchange paste for pearls – replied Alejandro. What do you say Rodney. - Look Ciro, keep this thing here, tomorrow I’ll bring the Carpati and you give me the Suzuki. - Done. And now, get out of my house!
The door closes and the phone rings: Ringggggg!
- Hello. - Hello, I’d like to speak with Ciro please. - This is Ciro. - Hey, they told me they saw you today on 5th Avenue…
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.