Danger In Havana – Episode 16

WAIT they did, for a whole hour and a half until the cleaning lady finally emerged from the house carrying a cloth bag slung over her shoulder and in her other hand a bag of rubbish.

Cubans didn’t produce much rubbish. With there being so few goods to buy and a shortage of everything, including packaging, they made sure they re-used it all. Even the taxi bikes’ little sunshades were often repaired with old cardboard boxes and finished off with plastic bags to keep out the rain.

Bryony had even noticed, when they’d been searching earlier, that someone had made a paper chain to decorate a doorway out of old newspapers. She’d had to admire the Cubans’ resourcefulness.

There simply weren’t the mountains of rubbish here in Havana that people produced back in England.

As the maid disappeared down the street, Mark sprung into action.

“Come on.”

He shot forward to the front door, grabbed the rubbish bag and walked as quickly as possible with it in the other direction.

As soon as he saw a cab back on the main road, he hailed it to take them to the Hotel Parque Central.

“Come on,” he said to Bryony, “we need to sort this in private.”

* * * *

When they reached the hotel, he took Bryony up to his room and emptied the rubbish bag on to the carpet.

Thankfully, it wasn’t smelly rubbish, apart from a few orange peels. It was mainly papers.

Mark tossed stuff here and there, looking intently as he did so.

“What are you looking for?” Bryony asked.

“Anything. It’s surprising how much information you can put together on people’s lives from their rubbish. Ah, here we go.”

“What’s that?”

“An envelope, addressed to Otto Weber, Pedro Plantation, Trinidad.”

He held it up with glee like an Olympian holding up a gold medal.

“That’s all we need. We’re going to Trinidad.”

“Trinidad? That’s miles away, it’ll cost a fortune.”

“No, not Trinidad and Tobago – this is Trinidad, Cuba.”

Mark leaned over and grabbed a map.

“Here.” He punched the spot. “It’s a long drive – about four or five hours – but it’s certainly do-able.

“Trinidad is known as one of the older, more historical and well-preserved, towns in Cuba. It’s small but it’s quite lively. There’s a music scene, salsa bars and suchlike, a few notable buildings, and it’s not far from the coast.

“Outside it there are acres and acres of sugar and tobacco plantations, little farms and deserted countryside. It’s the perfect place to hide someone if you wanted to get them out of the way for some reason.”

“But what reason?”

“Who knows? But if you’re up for it, so am I. It might be the only way we’re going to find Anna. Why don’t you go and pack an overnight bag and I’ll see you in the foyer in an hour.”

“Let’s do it.”

For the first time since this whole mystery started, Bryony felt a chink of hope.

The two of them raised their hands in a high five.

“See you in a bit,” Bryony said. “And by the way, thank you, Mark. Thank you so much, for being here and for taking this seriously. Well, just for doing something to help.”

“It’s nothing,” he said, and that old gruff exterior returned.

He just didn’t know how much of a hero he was turning out to be.

*    *    *    *

They met an hour later. Bryony had to look for Mark. He wasn’t sitting in the foyer doing nothing, but was outside the front of the hotel, on the Paseo de Marti. Mark was in deep conversation with Norelvis, who looked excited and energised, and his brother, Alfonso, who looked stern, more like a father than a brother.

“I am only lending you my taxi because I think I can trust you with these people.” Alfonso was looking Norelvis straight in the eye. “Not only that, it will make us a good wage to bring back to our mother. But you be careful. That taxi is my livelihood, treat it well.”

Norelvis patted Alfonso on his bulging tummy.

“And you look after the taxi bike. Riding it instead of sitting in this taxi of yours, you will get fit and lose some fat. It will do us both good, yes?”

“Just remember me when I am old, my brother, and remember this opportunity I am giving you.”

Norelvis looked as proud as punch as he loaded Mark’s small suitcase and Bryony’s overnight bag into the Oldsmobile.

“So you’re driving, Norelvis?” Bryony said apprehensively.

He looked very young, in her mind, to be taking charge of such a fine and beautifully preserved car.

“I am good driver. And with this practice I will get better and better.” He took her hand earnestly. “Also, I want to find your Anna. She is very beautiful. Wherever she has gone we must find her, yes?”


Bryony felt a tear come to her eye at the concern of this young man and his willingness to give them his time.

“Mr Mark says we will find her,” Norelvis said, “and with me coming to help you two with the languages and driving like a very good chauffeur, we will find her. We will bring her back and we will punish very hard the people who have taken her.”

Bryony handed him her suitcase and climbed on to the baking-hot leather seat next to Mark. Buoyed by their optimism, her heart was full of confidence and she was delighted at last to be doing something to get her dearest Anna back.


Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!