Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Missteps of the Princess

Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan, from the series "With ham, lettuce and peas"
This is not the first time I felt like telling Mariela Castro* that she should have remained silent. It’s a strange reaction in me, because normally I encourage others to express whatever they want to say. With her, however, it is hard for me, and there is something called decency which -- for those who, like her, are public and political figures -- is essential.

The first time was when she called Yoani Sanchez an “insignificant ‘cocky hen’.” That a politician would insult a journalist over an uncomfortable question is shameful enough, but that the heiress daughter should allow herself to call a Cuban citizen “insignificant” was, without a doubt, the height of cynicism on the part of our nomenklatura. However, it’s worth mentioning that the question posed by the author of Generation Y was not as uncomfortable as it could have been, and that Mariela’s overreaction is evidence of her allergy to freedom of the press. In my opinion, a truly difficult question would have been, for example, to ask why CENESEX (The National Center for Sex Education) doesn’t present the government with a claim on behalf of the homosexuals who suffered repression and abuse in the sixties, seventies and eighties, and who deserve compensation and an official apology. That question, I believe, would have given our princess a heart attack.

Now, CENESEX has this statement on its home page. It reminds me of a popular joke: The Special Period didn’t benefit me nor harm me, but quite the opposite. It turns out that Cuba has the exclusivity of being the only country in the Americas that “adds its vote to the group of countries that include homosexuality as a crime under the law, including the application of capital punishment for that reason, in five of them.” It’s worth mentioning that CENESEX is the only institution recognized by the government that supposedly represents the rights of homosexuals. What impudence, gentlemen, to read such a phrase on the page of the National Center for Sex Education,” and signed by its director!

*Translator’s note: Mariela Castro is the daughter of Raul, and director of CENESEX.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ministerial Scoliosis

If, instead of having a personal blog, I had decided to post fictional stories, my last visit to the Provincial Prosecutor would be one in which the protagonist ends up in the hospital, a victim of horrible back pains. The doctor would permanently prohibit her from stepping foot in any ministry ever again, because her backbone would break under the weight of the bureaucracy. The protagonist would argue her thousands of needs, but the doctor would be blunt: Not one ministry more, not even by phone may you lighten the load.

But I am not writing fiction, so I will relate -- omitting the cervical pain -- my latest adventures regarding my complaint about the apartheid during the "Ninth Exhibition of Young Filmmakers." I have not been to see any doctor to advise me to tell them all to go to hell, but rather the excellent lawyers of the Cuban Law Association who, on the contrary, encouraged and supported me in everything, so I will tell you here of some of my beautiful mornings at the Provincial Prosecutor at 25th and F in Vedado.

Under the law, the prosecutor has a period of sixty days to give me an answer, and this period having long expired, they are in breach of the law. My complaint is already eight months old, so when I arrived Friday morning with my attorney, Dr. Vallin, to ask for an explanation, a rush up the stairs to a receptionist whose face looked like she’d seen the devil, gave me to understand that my case was not even remotely nearing completion.
Logo of Cuban Law Association

However, I do have the honor of truth, and I recognize that appearing with Doctor Vallin before a law collective, a prosecutor, or in court, is the equivalent of walking through Hollywood holding hands with Brad Pitt. Given this, our country’s Minister of Justice has hired two lawyers to defend herself from mine.

So it was that an hour after we sat ourselves down to wait, the prosecutor who had issued this document under the stairs almost at the back -- I know it sounds complicated but human limits have not yet been defined -- and from the back also announced by telephone to someone, my paper in her hand, that this was certainly her signature but she had not the remotest memory of having signed it. She then said goodbye to the receptionist and left.

On her side, the poor receptionist -- in order not to have that hot potato in her hand, that is to say, me -- sent me to go inquire at the public waiting room. When she saw that Dr. Vallin rose with me, she sighed in resignation. She said -- in a nicer way -- that the prosecutor on the case was on vacation, that there was a new girl in the file room who had no idea where the documents were, and that probably those who had undertaken the act of repudiation in front of the Chaplin cinema were military; I’m not sure why she was telling me this last part. Given the irrefutable fact of the expired time, she asked for our patience and would we come back on Tuesday at 8:30 in the morning.

On Tuesday morning she acknowledged us right away, despite the fact that my case has not been answered the whole world is aware of it. This time the wait was about an hour and a half, more or less. When the secretary sent me to the first floor she said, literally,

“Go up alone.”

“I prefer to go with him.”

Everyone knows that without an attorney you won’t even make it to first base. In addition, given the choice of going up without Dr.Vallin, and not going up at all, I prefer the latter. There we were seen by another prosecutor: my prosecutor is still on vacation and, IF there is an answer in my case, the fact is they don’t know because she’s on vacation. Such is life, although the law is not very clear about it.

Before I leave, the secretary draws up a claim report. They called me on the phone to let me know what is happening with my case (the person who called today was not the person charged with my case) and a piece of paper extended the deadline to respond for sixty more days.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Journalism as a Living Faith: Telephone Interview with Pedro Argüelles Morán #liberanlosya

In 2003, 75 Cubans were arrested in four days. Their crime? Being pro-democracy political activists, fighters for human rights, or simply journalists independent of the hegemonic line of the only Cuban political party, the Communists. Pedro Argüelles Morán was one of them.

Seven years later -- in the same arbitrary way as the imprisonments -- we learned through a communication from the Cuban Catholic Church that the government had agreed to free them within -- an unfair paradox -- four months.

This November 7, the long period the Cuban government allowed itself to restore freedom to these innocents expired, and we are faced with a sad certainty: of the 75, the only ones who have been released are those who agreed to accept a painful condition: exile. Of those who dream of returning to their homes, only one is in his house. The eleven remaining in prison are witnesses to the dripping of a lie, the unfulfilled promise of a government that does not keep its word.

1 - Pedro, you are sixty-two years old, you have spent seven years in prison and been sentenced to twenty. The Cuban government agreed to release you but did not keep its word. You are recognized as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, and you are one of the independent journalists who wants to live in Cuba and you demand to leave your cell for your home. Tell me what you did in 2003 before being arrested.

I would like to correct an error: I have been a prisoner for seven years, eight months and two days. I practiced as a freelance journalist in the province of Ciego de Avila. We had a tiny new agency, “The Avila Independent Journalists Cooperative” (CAPI). And we were several brothers: Pablo Pacheco Ávila, my friend and companion; Oscar Ayala Muñoz, from Morón, a tremendous person, economist, professor of economics at the University of Ciego de Avila, and some other brothers.

We tried to write about reality, we denounced the Human Rights violations, and wrote about those issues the official press would not touch with a ten foot pole. In short, we did independent reporting.

2 - What were the publications?

We put packets of information on the Internet, particularly on Nueva Press Cubana and Radio Marti and other media, especially on-line. We had no particular purpose nor exclusivity in the news we issued: the information was open to all the media who wanted to use it.

3 - It seems essential to know the details of your arrest. When was it, what time, what happened? Were there irregularities?

I was kidnapped and help hostage by Castro’s Political Police on March 18, 2003. Days earlier I had half-locked myself in the house to read some books that had arrived (banned by the dictatorship, of course, and classified as “enemy propaganda”). They were the memoirs of Huber Matos, When the Night Comes; Narcotrafficking: Revolutionary Task, by Norberto Fuentes, and at the moment I was kidnapped I was reading, The Secret Wars of Fidel Castro, by Juan Francisco Benemeli. I had only read 80 or 90 pages when I was taken. That day my wife went to Havana to spend a few days with her son. About a quarter to four in the afternoon I was going downstairs -- I live on the third floor -- to go to the supermarket when an invasion of thirteen or fourteen agents from the Political Police were coming up. They intercepted me on the stairs, I didn’t make it to the second floor. I was told I could not go anywhere, I was under arrest, and they searched the house.

One officer had a video camera and another a still camera and they were taking photos the whole time.

The search began after four, because they put on this act of looking for two witnesses. Something that struck me was that none of my neighbors wanted to participate and they were slow to get started. Finally they found two people and when one of them showed his ID card to assent to the act, I could see that his address was in Havana, he wasn’t even from here in Ciego de Avila; the other one was from SEPSA -- Specialized Service for the Protection of Society Anonymous -- that is from an agency of the Ministry of the Interior that watches over the hard-currency stores and those things. He, of course, could not refuse and he did live in my building but on the other staircase.

I was very worried. They told me I was arrested and my wife had gone to the capital. I was alone in the apartment with my two dogs (two dachshunds) and I was worried about leaving them alone. I had to get someone to take care of them.
A little past five someone knocked on the door and when I opened it it was my wife. She explained that they came to look for her at the bus station and told her that her house was being searched.

Everything ended around eleven at night because they found my archive. Not that it was hidden, it was just in a room that I used as an office that didn’t have any light because the bulb was out. They found two or three bags filled with writings, denunciations, and the one in charge of the search said, “If we had to read them one by one we would be here until tomorrow, we will count them all.” There were about nine documents.

At that time they took me to the cells at State Security.

4 - Before concluding on the search.  Was the order signed by the relevant institutions? Did they meet the legal requirements for it to be valid?

They never showed me the search warrant. I asked, “Do you have a search warrant, an arrest warrant?” They said, “We have a search warrant,” and went into the house. They showed me neither the search warrant nor the arrest warrant.

There was a State Security official who supposedly made a record and wrote down what the others found. They found no bombs, nor revolvers, nor pistols, nor grenades, nothing. They found a typewriter, a video camera, pencils, pens, office supplies for carrying out independent journalism. In addition to books, magazines, literature, poetry. Nothing more. They presented this at my trial to say that I was a mercenary.

5 - Your family, how did they take the collapse of their lives?

Imagine it, my wife left for Havana and was intercepted: Your husband is arrested, they are searching your house. For many years I had been involved in pro-Human Rights activities and the independent journalism. Somehow I was used to it, I had already been in prison in ’95 and ’96. It wasn’t the first search nor the first arrest.

She knew there was a sword of Damocles hanging over  my head, possible imprisonment, but it always comes as a surprise. We did not know that they had started a crackdown that would last four days. For example, that same day, the 18th, Pablo came to the house in the middle of the search. A State Security agent told him, “Pablo Pacheco, get out of here, Argüelles is under arrest."

The following day, in the afternoon, I was in the cells, and I heard someone calling and calling me. It was Pablito, they had just arrested him and brought him to the cells. He knew, because he had talked to Raul Rivero, that the arrests were nationwide.

6 - Under what specific charges were you convicted and what was the procedure of the court? What evidence did they exhibit at the trial? Did your lawyer defend you?

When they were still in my house, I asked the captain, “Why are you arresting me?” And he told me, “For violation of Law 88.” The trial was on Friday, April 4, at the Court of Ciego de Avila Province.  It lasted from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon. There was a large police deployment, the car in which I was brought there was guarded by police patrols. They closed the streets around the court. An official from the prosecutor’s office asked us days earlier for a list of relatives who would attend the trial and if they weren’t relatives they could not attend.

When we arrived the room was full of people from the Communist Party, from the Army (FAR), the Interior Ministry (MININT), labor groups ... their people, pro-Castro. From my family only my wife and my sister attended, and from Pablo’s, his wife, his son, and I can’t remember if one brother came.

I did not have a lawyer and they assigned me one from the office. A girl who had just graduated, I was her first case. We only saw each other once before the trial, for half an hour, in the same room where State Security had interrogated me. Ultimately she, who was my defender, defended nothing because she couldn’t.

Pablito did appoint a lawyer. It was very amusing to me because when she referred to us she would say, “the counterrevolutionaries,” and I was thinking, “if this is our lawyer calling us counterrevolutionaries...” A curious detail: the same lawyer Pablo hired, a few years later she won the visa lottery and went with her husband to the United Stated. But my attorney played a much better role and never called me a counterrevolutionary. When I went to testify the president of the court torpedoed me, she wouldn’t let me say a single word and my lawyer even protested. During the lunch break she told me, “I’m going to keep on protesting. I’m going to complain because you have not been allowed to speak in your defense.”

The trial was completely rigged, they knew what was going to happen.  There were no witnesses on our behalf. The prosecutor brought people from Pablo’s CDR because in my block there weren’t any. At the request of my prosecutor -- that is, in the provisional findings of the prosecutor -- two prisoners from the Canaleta Provincial Prison here were supposed to testify at the trial, as a complaint, that I had talked to Radio Marti about their medical care. They weren’t there and then they presented a doctor from the Medical Services of the Ministry of the Interior, a dermatologist. She said that the consultation was Thursday or Friday at the prison and the medical care was very good.

The prosecutor asked for 26 years and they sentenced me to twenty years. The provincial court clerk gave me the sentence the morning after the trial.

7 - The Cuban jails are unpresentable. The rapporteur for torture and ill-treatment was unable to visit Cuba last year because the Cuban government would not allow it. Tell me about your life in prison, the journalist behind bars, how you managed to hold onto your morals and principles in such terrible conditions.

I always speak for myself and also my brothers, but in this case for myself: I am very convinced of what I'm doing and since I began this fight in 1992 I knew everything that I was exposing myself to. I knew the risks I would run and the sacrifices that I would have to make. They could expel me from my workplace. They would monitor me and I would be declared an official non-person for denouncing human rights violations. Because Cuba is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In here we live in appalling conditions, incredible overcrowding, poor nutrition and medical care. The snitching -- speaking in popular terms -- is enormous, the police informers are in the thousands. I am constantly observed, there are many eyes on me because every time there is a violation of human rights I investigate and denounce it, at the risk of what might happen.

To work and write in prison is not easy. Life here is hard: this is not a day care center or a school in the countryside, nor an urban school. It’s a prison with a series of psychedelic elements, psychiatric cases, mentally retarded, dangerous people who have murdered, raped, who have committed all sorts of crimes. People who will never leave prison. It’s a social dump and you’re forced to live with it. There are, of course, normal people, good people who never should have come to prison or who were punished excessively for some nonsense.

All the time the police tell you what to do, who you can talk to, who you can meet. But we have to carry on even though the environment is hostile.

The sanitary conditions are appalling. I am in a cubicle with room for two people and there are six people here, there are two triple bunks. The bathrooms are holes in the ground and we get water twice a day. The water isn’t drinkable and it’s for everything: drinking, bathing, cleaning.

Health care is terrible. For example, there is a boy here who from the tenth day had X-rays ordered and he still hasn’t had them: either there’s no guard to take him or there is a guard but the technician didn’t come. There are cases where the doctor will come and prescribe a medicine and then you’ll wait eight or ten days and the medicine doesn’t come. There’s nothing. Sometimes you make it to the infirmary and there’s not even any pain medication.

Generally, if you go to the infirmary it’s for your amusement -- they themselves say that -- because you see the doctor and he ignores you. There have been many deaths here in the prison for lack of medical attention. I’ve reported a few.

The prison staff always justifies the deaths in some way. In short, the system is one thing: everything belongs to the State and responds to the government. The doctors are young people who have just graduated and this is their first work experience as part of their social service obligation. Before they start work they meet with the director of the prison and he tells them the prisoners pretend to feel ill so they can go to the infirmary to traffic in drugs or to look at the nurses. Then the doctor sees you as a faker and treats you like one. On the other hand the doctors, the women, start to have sex with the prison director and then they feel protected no matter how bad their professional work is.

8 - Do you think you will finally be released? What is the first thing you will do when you are a free man again?

I would speak of my release, though I feel free even though I’m a prisoner. I think that yes, some time, some day of some month of some year, I will be released. The first thing would be to call my brother Guillermo El Coco Fariñas and tell him I’m at home with my wife. And my first outing would be to go to Santa Clara and give him a hug.

Then I will continue my struggle peacefully, civilly, for the respect for rights, freedom, and the dignity of the human person.

But even if I am not released, from here in the Canaleta prison, or from any other prison where they confine me, I will continue defending the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Tragicomic Anecdote

Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan

Sometimes we say, "What happens to me does not happen to anyone else," without actually measuring the real possibilities of an extraordinary personal event being unique in the world. But when I heard the story that I now share with you I was, in fact, struck dumb. Not only by the strangeness of the situation, but because, once again, it made me feel like crying to see the state of alienation (using the language of Marxism) that a communist society can bring an individual to.

He was sitting at the stop waiting for the bus to Playa when an old woman begged him to accompany her to Calixto García Hospital.

“Son, please, I can’t walk and I have a doctor’s appointment.”

Going in the opposite direction for altruism is typical of noble souls, and he, well, he is one. Abandoning his own journey, he stopped a taxi on Linea Street and got in with the old woman, headed to 27th and G in the Vedado district.

Along the way she told him that she was alone in Cuba with no one to care for her, that social security had reduced the money allocated for her medications, that she was sick and as she got older she was sinking into a deep and devastating poverty. She had asked for a social worker to look after her, but it was a long process and nothing had yet come of it. He, silent, listened helplessly, feeling a heavy responsibility on his own shoulders.

They arrived at the clinic. Feeling so sorry for her deplorable state, they let her go to the front of the line. He stayed with her so that later he could take her home. As the minutes passed they began talking with the other sick people and to the complete stupefaction of the hero of this anecdote, the victim exclaimed:

“It’s true that we lack many things. But Fidel has never abandoned us!”

Her voice ragged and breaking, she devoted the last moment of the wait to praising this man, and when they finally called her they discovered her appointment wasn’t there and she would have to come back to see another doctor. He, still silent, walked her to another taxi and paid the driver to leave her at the door of her house. Before the car pulled away he told her,

“Madam, before we say goodbye I would like to let you know that I am a dissident.”

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Four Months #liberenlosYa (Free Them Now)

Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The pessimists, among whom I include myself, assumed that on the closing date, and only then, the prisoners from the group of 75 who did not accept “the airplane or prison” would be released. However, any negativity is infinitesimal when it comes to the lies of the Cuban government; to become accustomed to being duped over and over again is not a simple thing. When I hear the voice of Arguelles on the phone it pulls at my heart. I wait impatiently for the call that doesn’t come: that he is calling me from his home. But every week I’m disappointed, impatient, sad, to know that he is speaking from Canaleta prison in Ciego de Avila.

The falsehoods of Raul Castro, the Communist Party, and the entire governmental apparatus are our daily bread. So now all that’s left for me is to wait for a communication from the Catholic Church, no? After all, it was the Cardinal who said that the General said that in four months...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Distant Hill

My friend Evelyn is a happy woman. She has lived through a thousand hardships in her youth but now that she’s nearing forty she looks back and the balance is more than positive. For me, younger than she, she inspires my admiration: her daughter is lovely, she’s cruising right along in her career, and she lives according to her principles and ideas -- this latter something that is in danger of extinction. We met when I was seventeen and since then she has not voted nor participated in any of the scenes staged by the government, nor given in to fear or the double standards of the people.

Evelyn could not study at the university. When she was at the Lenin vocational school, her classmates rejected her for her politics. She went to the province and on appeal her class raised their hands a second time to mark her file for life. She was not an independent journalist, nor a member of any party, nor did she walk up and down the central hallway preaching the universal declaration of human rights. She was, simply, a teenager, half rocker, half folk-singer.

Years passed and of that group at the Lenin school almost none are left in Cuba. On Evelyn’s Facebook account she sometimes gets friend requests from those who once raised their hands to destroy her life. It seems they live in France, Canada, Spain or the United States and it’s like a big confession that washes away all their sins and gives them the right to demand unconditional forgiveness from their victims. But my friend doesn’t forget. She never seeks revenge, nor does she let the rancor fester. But, to the “Facebook friends,” and the little tea parties the group holds when they return to Cuba, they may get tired of inviting her: She will always say no.

Friday, November 5, 2010


We were waiting for a ride on 23rd when Ernesto Morales’ cell phone rang. It was Yoani Sánchez, worried about him because he could have taken AeroCaribbean Flight No. 883. We were stunned for a few seconds and then Ernesto told me:

“I was going to travel on that plane.”

I felt helpless to express the horror of a plummeting airplane, the safest transport there is, according to statistics. The safest and yet one of the most brutal when it  breaks the rule. With no survivors, the Havana-Santiago flight has left a trail of horror in the Cuban sky.

List of the dead taken from Diario de Cuba

Cuban passengers:
1- Guillermo Pinero Barros, Cuba
2- Guillermo López López, Cuba
3- Mercedes Cruz Pérez, Cuba
4- Humberto Rodríguez López, Cuba
5- Humberto Espinosa Texidor, Cuba
6- Damaris Ocaña Robert, Cuba
7- Yolennis Díaz Delgado, Cuba
8- René Espinosa Mora, Cuba
9- Frank Román Valido, Cuba
10- Gladis Soublet Bravo, Cuba
11- Juan Mazorra Soublet, Cuba
12- José Arseo Valdés, Cuba
13- Isora Silva Hierrezuelo, Cuba
14- Olga de la Cruz de la Llera, Cuba
15- Rosa Calcedo Reyes, Cuba
16- Jorge Carballo Abreu, Cuba
17- Juan Manuel Pérez Salgado, Cuba
18- Carlos Prado Perera, Cuba
19- Ángel Prado Perera, Cuba
20- Aurora Pons Porrata, Cuba
21- Lourdes Figueroa Sangrong, Cuba
22- Rosmery Ochoa Gordon, Cuba
23- Carmen Miranda Martínez, Cuba
24- Maritza Alfonso Duarte, Cuba
25- Ricardo Junero Rodríguez, Cuba
26- Daineris Venero Acosta, Cuba
27- Andrea Gordon Figueroa, Cuba
28- Orlando Beirut Rodríguez, Cuba
29- Osmar Moreno Pérez, Cuba
30- Deisy Clemente Consuegra, Cuba
31- Leonor Ruiz Méndez, Cuba
32- José Ruiz Fernández, Cuba
33- Odalys Portales Silva, Cuba

Flight crew:
34- Ángel Villa Martínez, Cuba
35- Luis Lima Rodríguez, Cuba
36- Raciel Echevarría Lescano, Cuba
37- Martha María Torres Figueroa, Cuba
38- Fara Guillén Brito, Cuba
39- Juan Carlos Banderas Ferrer, Cuba
40- Andy César Galano, Cuba

Passengers of other nationalities:
41- Renata Enockl, Germany
42- Harald Niekaper Lars, Germany
43- Maria Pastores, Argentina
44- Alberto Croce, Argentina
45- Stella Croce, Argentina
46- Carlos Sánchez Marcelo, Argentina
47- Miriam Galucci de Sánchez, Argentina
48- Aruro González, Argentina
49- Silvia Ferrari, Argentina
50- Norma Peláez, Argentina
51- Virginio Viarengo, Argentina
52- Jacqueline Cunningham, Austria
53- Barbara Crossin, Austria
54- Manuel González Asencio, Spain
55- William Mangae Kambi, France
56- Hans Vanschuppen, Netherlands
57- Dirk Vandam, Netherlands
58- Walter Vanderberg, Netherlands
59- Rafaelle Pugliese, Italy
60- Yoko Umehara, Japan
61- Lorenzo Mendoza Cervantes, México
62- Daniel González Esquivel, México
63- Luis Pérez, México
64- Jesús Rangel Medina, México
65- Cynthia Pérez García, México
66- Mario Pérez Rulgines, México
67- Claudia García Castillo, México
68- Cándida Elchaer, Venezuela

Monday, November 1, 2010


Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan
He comes walking along the same sidewalk as me and can’t avoid greeting me. I understand. He’s weak because I was his fan. His ego is telling him, “That’s Claudia who really admired me and was always emailing me asking for my stories.” What he doesn’t know is that as a writer I admired his daring prose amid the meltdown, “after the socialist realism” had died. This guy who now says “Hi” with an ear-to-ear smile is a ghost who, in exchange for $100 dollars a month on his cell phone account, a new computer at home, a scooter, and a space that he will never be “laid off” from on Cubasí, writes nonsense about Yoani Sánchez and even dares to call her a terrorist.

I look at him stunned. I think if he had a shred of honor he wouldn’t say a single word to me. I laugh at myself. Honor?! What a great word for a Cuba so devastated! I want to tell him I’m very sorry about his death, about him selling his soul to the devil, that he shouldn’t acknowledge me, that he should ignore me the next time he sees me and that all he inspires in me is a deep and horrible contempt. But I feel sorry for him.

“I’ve read what you’re writing now about Yoani. Why do you let them use you like that? Why haven’t you written about me? Are you waiting for your orders?”
“It’s not like that.”

“Of course it’s like that. It’s a shame and an embarrassment. You know it yourself, you know it’s like that.”

We walk away from each other by backing up. He repeated, “It’s not like that,” as I mutely hurried away. I hope I never see him again.

When I got home I reread his first story that had so impressed me six years ago. I still liked it and  felt badly for this man who buried his pen in the putrid stomach of repression. I have no doubt: some souls die in life.