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.
November 1, 2010