Danger In Havana – Episode 21

NOW we go to see my friend Carlos and see his casa particular, yes?” Norelvis said.

“You must be tired after that journey,” Mark said to Bryony.

She was touched by this man’s care of her.

She’d spent so much time looking after Anna, and looking after Warren, it occurred to her, as they left the hotel and got back in the car.

Warren was the sort of guy who could spend hours at his computer. Working; he’d always seemed to be working.

He went away so often for work, and she knew it was hard for him staying in hotels, away from his family. Living out of a suitcase so often couldn’t be much fun.

She’d always got his clothes ready and done his packing.

It was her way of saying “I’m with you, even when we’re in two different countries”.

Bryony had asked Warren on the odd occasion about his work, but he didn’t like to talk about it.

“I spend enough time doing it.”

He would smile and close his laptop whenever she came to deliver another coffee.

She had a part-time job at the local bookshop which she loved. She also loved telling Warren funny stories about the people who came in to buy books.

There was the couple, a husband and wife, who would order and come in to collect every new book about Elvis Presley. It was surprising people were still writing books about the legendary singer even though he was long gone.

Bryony found it difficult not to chuckle every time they came in. They both wore black leather Elvis jackets and tight Elvis trousers.

Both had jet black dyed hair. He wore his in the spitting image of his idol, but even his wife, though her hair was long and down to her waist, sported an Elvis quiff.

Every time Bryony regaled Warren with stories about them, she’d delight in his laughter. It was good to entertain a man who worked so hard, before he opened his laptop again to go back to whatever IT project it was he was toiling over.

Bryony would go off to read, but she was always aware she had to entertain her husband or he’d work himself into the ground.

She suspected that hard work was what had caused his heart attack.

It made her terribly sad that, try as hard as she could to make life easier for him, doing the washing, cleaning the house, entertaining him, she hadn’t been able to stop him working himself to death.

Now, though, here was Mark, looking after her, bringing her drinks and making sure she was comfortable.

It occurred to her that Warren never really had done that.

He had been interesting, able to converse at length with Anna about her art history, and full of intellectual energy, but he wasn’t one to do the simple things like bring her a cup of tea or cook her a meal.


* * * *

They had arrived at the house of Norelvis’s friend Carlos, who came out to greet them like long-lost friends.

“Welcome, welcome to Trinidad,” he said in excellent English. “Here, let me help you with your bags.”

It was a very pleasant house, a cut above the others in the dusty street. Where the others had simple whitewashed walls or plain grey concrete, Carlos’s had Spanish patterned tiles.

Inside was a small but welcoming hallway with cool tiled floors and potted palms. A gate at the end of the passageway looked out on to a little garden with clucking chickens running about and, in the distance, the rolling Cuban hills.

“How long have you been running your guest house?” Bryony asked.

“About five years now. I am a teacher in the local college, as is my wife. She is off with my two children, staying with her mother on the other side of town.

“All our relatives are close by: aunts, uncles, in-laws, cousins all within walking distance. That’s the way we like it in Cuba, he family is everything.”

There was a room for Bryony, and one for Mark.

Both were small but very cosy, with a table and chair for reading, a small TV and a balcony running across the back of the house.

It was common to both rooms and had ancient metalwork, cushioned chairs and a table for drinks.

“Now,” Carlos told them, “I will show you the room where you will be having your meals.”

At the front of the house, the small dining-room looked over the road and again had French windows and a large wrought-iron balcony.

But it was such a quiet sleepy little road, with just children playing, horses and carts rolling by and the odd cowboy on horseback wandering back into the hills.

Bryony guessed it would be lovely to sit here over dinner or breakfast and watch the world drift by.

“Now.” Carlos looked proud as he stretched his arms, looking more like the lord of the manor than the owner of a small casa particular. “This is where I shall later serve dinner. What food do you both like most?”

“Anything is fine,” Bryony said.

“Me, too, I’m not fussy.” Mark nodded.

“Good, I shall go off to the market now and buy provisions. Today, I hear they have had in excellent fish, if you like that and shellfish, I shall do you a typical Cuban fish stew. I am a good cook.”

“I can second that,” Norelvis said. “I am only sorry I will not be staying to eat Carlos’s food.”

“Are you not staying here with us?” Bryony asked.

“No, I have another friend a few roads away. I shall stay with him, and be available whenever you need taxi.

“Just call me on telephone. Carlos, he has the number.”

After the long drive, Bryony needed a rest and a wash and brush up, so she and Mark agreed to meet for an early dinner at seven and parted.


Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, I have found my perfect place on the “Friend” as I’m obsessed with reading and never go anywhere without a book! I read all of our stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!