Danger In Havana – Episode 19

THE Oldsmobile rocked and bumped over craters in the road. Mark had been trying to get a signal on his phone for ages without success. Now he had one pip up on his screen and as they approached the centre of town, a couple more appeared.

Then a bleep to say he had a message. It was Simon Brent, his police colleague.

Phone me as soon as poss.

Mark felt a surge of adrenaline. This sounded like good news, as if Simon had something useful. If so, it would be the first useful thing since they had set off for Trinidad.

If Simon had found something out about Otto Weber which would give Mark some assurance that he hadn’t dragged Bryony here on a wild goose chase it would make him feel a lot easier and a lot more hopeful that they would find Anna safe and sound.

He looked at his phone and the signal had disappeared again.

He muttered a curse.

“What’s wrong?” Bryony asked.

“I just need to make a call back home, that’s all.”

“The signal, she is better near the big hotel.”

“Where’s that?”

“By the historical square. I take you there.” Norelvis turned the steering wheel to manoeuvre the stately car down a tiny side street, scattering a crowd of chickens. Soon they had pulled up alongside the Iberostar Grand Hotel, a beautiful old colonial style building painted peppermint green with wide wrought iron balconies.

“Let’s go in, I’ll treat us all to a drink to say thank you, Norelvis,” Mark said.

“Me, in a big hotel?” Norelvis was wide-eyed.

“Of course, you deserve it for being such an excellent driver and getting us here safe and sound.”

Mark ordered them all daiquiris and they were greeted by a member of staff with cold damp facecloths, perfect after such a hot dusty drive. They wiped their necks and throats and felt much refreshed.

Norelvis looked to be in his element, so proud to be in a hotel for once instead of hanging around outside touting for business.

Mark went off to make his phone call to Simon, leaving Bryony and Norelvis to cool off in the air-conditioned bar.

“One day,” the boy said, sipping his drink, his blue eyes bright and optimistic, “I dream of a Cuba where I can own a little house of my own. I would like to be in a small town like Trinidad, away from the mad rush of Havana, but near the sea. In my little house will be my beautiful wife and five beautiful children.”

“Five?” Bryony smiled as she downed the cool sweet liquid. “That’ll keep you busy.”

“It will keep my wife busy. The house and the children are her job and she will not want me to be under her feet. For I will be the great taxi man. I have been saving since I was tiny boy. I washed cars and mended taxi bikes enough to buy my own taxi bike.

“With the little bit of money I earn each week, I am building up to have my own business. I will have three Oldsmobiles of my own. One will be in peppermint green just like this hotel, one will be in bright pink like lipstick and ladies will want it to carry them round, and one will be in yellow, like sunshine to brighten up the lives of the old people. I will polish my cars every morning before I take tourist peoples like yourself for rides along the sea.

“And I will have staffs, two boys like me starting out. When my children grow, I will teach them to be taxi driver. We will be big family firm. Biggest in the little town of Trinidad. That is my dream.”

“It’s a good dream,” Bryony said.

“What is your dream, Mrs Bryony?”

“Well, I’d have to think about that.” Bryony twirled the thin-stemmed glass in her fingers. “Once I thought it was to own a big house, with a big garden and have an interesting job. But now maybe . . .”

She hesitated. When your life had been thrown upside down like a spilled pack of cards, and you had no idea what hand you were going to be dealt, you were wary of dreams. You didn’t like to hope for anything, in case it never happened. Hopes and dreams were scary things.

“Maybe a husband,” Norelvis said. “You pretty lady, you need husband. All lady needs good husband.”

Bryony managed a smile. She had not even contemplated another man in Warren’s place. Yet she did feel lonely at times, on a bright day back home when she would have liked to go for a walk hand in hand with someone and talk about everything and nothing in particular.

At nights, when she woke from a nightmare, turned for some comfort and found only the cold empty space beside her.

Yes, she felt lonely then.

But no, another husband would never be on the cards for her, Bryony had decided. It was a dream too far.

“My only dream is to find Anna,” she said and Norelvis nodded his head sagely.

“Of course, we must find Miss Anna. That is only dream you need.”

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!