(CHAPTER 4 … …)
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
I turn on the TV.
They are rebroadcasting an old Roundtable show where Fidel smiles showing his dental prosthesis. He has his arm in a cast but with the other he gesticulates more. He talks of the dollar, that curse without which life would not be drinkable.
Fidel ranted about the pros and cons of the U.S. dollar circulating at will on the Isle of Freedom. He affirms there has already been enough audacity. If it bothers him, he will put an impossible tax on it. He takes the measure of the idea. He plays the fool. The panelists unanimously support him. They almost push him into the middle of the ring. The people of Cuba point thumbs down, each one eating off a tin plate in front of the TV. The poor dollar, it will lose this theatrical sporting competition. And in the end Fidel imposes that impossible tax. Tames that bull of the stars and bars and an eye more pineal than inscrutable. It’s taken him less than an hour to erase a decade of Yankee national heroes as icons of our national salvation.
It’s a Roundtable from mid 2005, I think. A year of hurricanes and power outages. The year in which Fidel tripped in public and broke his kneecap into one thousand nine hundred and fifty-nine pieces, I believe. His last year in power. And not even he knew it. On this morning’s rebroadcast Fidel still doesn’t know it. So he is immortal, I think.
I turn off the TV.
The crack in the ex-Soviet picture tube leaves a smell of ozone in the room. Electron-216.
Flashes through the blinds.
After a while distant thunder is heard, perhaps on the open sea beyond the wall of the Malecon and the forked lighthouse of Morro Castle.
An echo rolls far away, out there. In life, I believe, nowhere.