Expensive Offers / Silvio Benítez Márquez

By Silvio Benitez

The racket wakes me up. On the corner a heated discussion spreads throughout the neighborhood. Nobody knows for certain what happened. I begin to get impatient and go to see what fuss has provoked such a tumult. A few meters away an indignant neighbor is exchanging swear words with a neighbor… coño… how much longer will we take this communist shit… compadre... not even over the dead grandmother’s tomb will they accept it. Now several items have been removed from the ration book, and at what prices, there’s no one that can put up with this… mi hermano

At last I arrive at the corner where the hot debate was generated. I start off like someone who is unconcerned to ask about the day’s agenda. I’m running behind on my itinerary and need to gather better information. Ariel — the little liar — comes over and in a frightened voice whispers in my ear the latest news, la china (Raul, whom we call “the Chinese girl”) took refined sugar off the ration book at a price of 8 cañitas (Cuban Pesos, CUP) and unrefined sugar at 6. My friend, how tough they’re making things, I don’t earn enough in one day to make myself a lemonade. I breath deeply and walk off toward the grocery to make certain.

Arriving I wait in front of the pizza stand and check if the rumors are true. I take a spin and head back to my home when a buddy calls me a bit suspiciously, I thought that it was to talk about the same theme. When I got close to him I saw that his face was transformed in sync with the news. My brother, how it pains me about the Industriales — our baseball team — and with your kid at every stretch of the competition the pay goes down. Today in Guantanamo they turned on the talented Armadito Ribero, one of the best pitchers of the team, you know how they’re going put things so they don’t even let you get to shore. I give him a wave and continue the march looking at the tenuous clouds thinking that it was the night before Valentine’s Day and I didn’t even have water to offer my sweatheart Alicia.

Translated by Dodi 2.0

February 17 2011