He arrived at G on Friday to join the crowd of other young people watching the wee hours of the night pass waiting for better times. For some inexplicable reason the police would only allow them “to be” on one of the two sidewalks of 23rd and having made an appointment earlier to meet a girl in the “prohibited zone,” decided to run the risk rather than lose his chance of the night.
The risk turned out to be higher than he’d calculated – naïve and crazy kid: an official welcomed him with a shove and asked for his ID card. Not producing it fast enough, they handcuffed him and before he could ask why he was already in the back of the patrol car.
He was thrown in a dungeon at 21 C. He thought he had forgotten to let go of the wrists. However, a look around allowed to check two things:
- All the detainees were handcuffed.
- There were many detainees.
They threw him in a dungeaon at 21st and C. He thought they’d forgotton to free his wrists. But a look around informed him of two things:
-- All the detainees were handcuffed.
-- There were a lot of detainees.
As he wasn’t even twenty yet, he was terrified. He didn’t know anything about his rights nor was he going to risk the night by defending them. Then again there is always a third option. He managed to whisper the magic words to an officer:
“Hey pal, I have fifty pesos. My mother is sick and I can’t get home too late.”
Half an hour later he was home. He summarized the story for me with a moral: “They made a lot of money Friday, we were a ton of people. Next time I’ll give them the money in the patrol car.”
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.