for everything I haven't had
so I won't have.
Late afternoon to go home and play at being alone,
Too late to spend it in some way in this seventies atmosphere that surrounds us like a smokescreen.
Like water for the veins of the heart.
Up there they're playing now American woman, get away from me.
It's the end of the world, our personal holocaust, it's the Café Cantante and it's the Kents once again reeling off melodies in the soft harshness of an electric guitar.
I don't know how I got here. I really do not know. I think.
Lastly I remember someone's house, the white dust by the window and the brown eyes of Nicole Kidman asking the silence for names. I remember empty streets, deserted people, trees covered in lights, and the July sun breaking my eyelids with its unbearable glare.
After I do not know.
I probably arrived here with some bundle of geeks, frayed pants and eyes of an alcoholic fossil and I let myself get the 10 pesos that I had left for the whole month at the box office.
Or maybe La Flaca blinded my eyelids and brought me here.
Only God knows, and perhaps God does not exist today.
What I do know is that I'm inside now and the effects of the dust have blown away in the wind like a Kansas song. Up there they change the subject and now it's the all right now of the Free entering without asking permission to our ears of sacred chameleons.
And again. End of the century, beginning of a new millennium, destruction of industrial capitalism, philosophical anguish of Marxist theories. We celebrate everything and nothing at the same time.
ritual of love
La Flaca comes stumbling through the crowd.
"I didn't know you were here," he says yelling at me.
So then I didn't go in with her. I guess.
"Well, you see," I tell him. You don't have to know everything.
All right now, baby, it's all right now
"Don't you have anything with you?" he asks me.
The Kents stop playing. Through the speakers you start to hear New Year's Day from U2. Nothing changes on New Year's Day and I will be with you again.
Under a red sky black and white crowds gather to storm the dance floor.
With the force of electric guitars, with boiling steel in the darkness of fingernails. And while Skinny tells me that everything here is in dollars and that people are checked before entering. Nobody has rum here and I'm dying of thirst, he says.
"Are you sure you didn't bring anything?"
Then he asks me if I don't want to rest. occupy a table I know he's also going to ask me if I have any money. I also know that I am going to say no.
We go to the tables. Let's see if by some divine miracle we find some empty. The Beatles take over the place, it's been a hard day's night and I've been working like a dog. And this will be the night of a hard day for you, for me and for Flaca if we don't find someone to invite us for a drink. I, the truth, I'm not very thirsty, but I know that in a while I will. And the girl next to me is a hawk in heat, a desert of nuts and liquid miseries in the middle of Nowhere.
Luckily, today God exists. Empty table and Adrián the German in a corner of the corner. Personally, I don't know Adrián very well, but at times like these we are all brothers, human and internationalists to the utmost (up with the poor of the world, long live the International). I know that he studies Biophysics and hangs out with Carlos and Junior. I know that he likes rock and I also know that he has money and that today, just for today, he can solve our problem.
We salute you.
"Are you really German?" Flaca asks.
"From Berlin," Adrián answers.
The girl is amazed as if she had never seen a German in her entire life. She then wants to know his name, even though he's been told before.
"Just like The Calling song," he says when he finds out again. Adrian smiles. I think he has never heard of The Calling in his entire life.
"And what's your name?" he asks her.
"Jeanette," says Skinny.
We sit. From the speakers are the Rolling Stones and their start me up.
Adrián goes to look for beers.
"I need you to do me a favor," Jeanette says, banging on the table to the beat of the song. Tomorrow is my birthday.
I'd like to ask how old he is, but I'm thinking right now of all the books they won't write about me when I'm gone. In all the songs that will not be composed. So many songs. Many.
I can't think of anything else.
Books and songs.
In nothing else.
"I'm 24. Thanks for asking."
I look at her. She keeps drumming on the table top to the beat of the song.
"I haven't asked you."
“For that very reason. You are always so kind.
"And you as subtle as Snow White." What is the favor?
"I don't want to make it to tomorrow," he says.
“I've got a gun in the house,” he yells over the disco music they're playing now. It's from my dad. I have also written a suicide note. Nothing will happen to you and you will have done me a great favor. You just have to pull the trigger. I dare not do it alone.
I don't know what to think at the moment. This seems like one of those stories by Raúl Flores where he only talks about suicides and music from the '60s.
"Are you crazy?" I ask.
She then says that she doesn't want to see her body age. She wants to be Marilyn Monroe, she wants to be Janis Joplin, celebrity dead, weekend dead. Like Nico, lit by candles at his funeral. Girl in white in milled silver coffin.
"Life has nothing for me anymore." What am I going to do in the rest of my time? get drunk? pill me? I don't know how to do anything else.
"You could try to study something."
"No," she says. Nothing to study. I'd rather die.
The German arrives with three beers in hand. cold. And La Flaca forgets for a while the topic of suicide to start talking about things that I'm sure she's never heard of in her life. International aid, war in Bosnia, Berlin wall, Third World living conditions, soccer world cups.
The loud music (Bad Company), the girl's quick accent and her erratic way of carrying on the conversation help Adrián's favorite phrase that afternoon to be “I don't understand”.
When Adrian says I don't understand she shrugs and says Forget about it, let's change the subject.
In fact, in seven minutes he has already talked about 11 different topics.
La Flaca is a barbarian changing the subject.
But I get tired fast.
"I'm going to dance," I say when the Kents come back on stage.
—Let's go with you—Adrián is crazy to get out of his corner.
The guy behind the guitar plays on the strings the riff unmistakable of smoke on the water. The one behind the dark glasses takes the microphone in his best Ian Gillan pose and sings.
We dance while he strangles his throat looking for the spirit of what is gone. Year 1973, LP Machine Head, when real music was still made. With desire, with wishes.
And we dance.
smoke on the water and Fortunate Son and Whole Lotta Love and eat togetherher and Heartache Tonight. We dance everything that comes. We are an unstoppable machine of youth and adrenaline, trapped in a time that is not ours but from which we have never, one way or another, managed to get out.
Tribute to lost time, light salad, violet amber, nuclear disarmament.
"Are you going to do it?" Flaca asks me at some point.
-Of course not. Who the hell do you think I am? Arnold the Terminator?
"Then I'm going," says Flaca. I'm tired of this. Thanks for nothing.
He gives us a kiss and leaves. He disappears into the crowd, his silhouette blurred by the smoke from the cigarettes they've been smoking all afternoon. Nicotine and marijuana for Jeanette who leaves us. Ballad of love for her marquise breasts and her Turkish star eyes.
In-A-Gadda-Da-Life, 18 minutes that we take the opportunity to rest while the Kents tear up their personal version of the classic Iron Butterfly theme.
“Do you want another beer?” Adrian asks.
We're going to get beers. The darkness surrounds us like ghosts from another time. The smoke gets into our eyes and it will probably make us cry at some point, but it certainly won't be now. There is always room for tears, but not now.
We return to the table with a couple of cans in hand. Then Adrián tells me how good this is and I feel as if I were in another country. New York Studio 54, Paris Moulin Rouge. Elsewhere. I don't know where and I don't care to know either.
"We just need a little bit of grass or powder," I tell him, perhaps to say anything. I'm with the slump of withdrawal running through my veins and I think I would need something to fill it.
"What do you Cubans drink?" the German asks me, with that Aryan look around his eyes.
"Anything," I murmur.
Adrián takes out his wallet and from it he takes out a transparent envelope. He puts it on the table.
—In Germany I take this— he says and separates two lines of pink powder.
He also takes out a twenty-dollar bill and rolls it up. give it to me I inhale through it and then return it to him.
At first you don't feel anything, but after five seconds it's as if a motorcycle started spinning in my heart. A song bursting my senses, seven moons penetrating my eyes, three clock hands turning back lost hours and recycled minutes.
"Man, what is that?"
"Don't ask," he says. You feel good?
Better than ever. Adrián puts everything away again. We finish the beers while up there they finish the song. To say goodbye, the Kents enter with their version of the Show me the way by Peter Frampton and that's it for them, at least for this Sunday.
Then the recorded music returns. Bon Jovi with Lay Your Hands On Me.
Flaca also returns. He has not been able to leave because they have closed with a padlock and, after all, he did not want to leave so much.
"Let's go over there," I tell them. This is at the end.
“Where are we going?” Adrián asks.
“Anywhere. To celebrate Jeanette's birthday.
Adrian is shocked. Do you have a birthday? Twenty-four tomorrow, says the other reluctantly, looking at me with a laser in her eyes.
That good. Cheerful everyone, happy birthdays, leaves in the wind, dust in the senses and everything calm. The German gives Jeanette a stripe. Birthday present, he says. Jeanette wants me to give her the twenty dollar bill as well, but everything seems to indicate that it won't be possible.
And so we are. Scratched like a math notebook, 20-somethings hoping for some miracle, sitting like high school kids. Striped, enjoying the flight. Motorcycles in the chest, songs in the heart, full moons in our quartz eyes.
Striped, enjoying the flight. Nothing more.
"I'm going to dance," Flaca yells. They come?
Let's all go together and free ourselves dancing old rock and roll.
Lynyrd Skynyrd make way for Sweet with Little Willy, You Really Got Me by The Kinks for Don't Bring Me Downn of ELO, slow ride, The Boys Are Back in Town, I Was Made For Loving You and finally closing gold again with the Beatles and Birthday. Pure white album, psychedelic, unforgettable.
Then everything ends and they take us out of the premises.
We all go outside and the sun hasn't set yet. Seems.
The light becomes unbearable and I don't know if it is due to the chemical effects on the veins or because there is really so much sun in the eyes, there is no god who can stand it.
-What do we do now?
There are not many things to do on a day like this. Feeling like a Monday in the middle of a Sunday afternoon. Nothing can get worse than yesterday.
Someday I will see the sunlight without blinking, but it seems that today it will not be possible. Today is a day when God appears at intervals, and we have nothing but the strength of our gaze to challenge him. Look God straight in the eye and ask for some divine intervention.
Always Sunday afternoon.
"Let's go to my house," says la Flaca and we agree.
We crossed deserted rainy streets and arrived at his house.
"What do you have here?" I ask.
She says anything. Put on some music, too, he says. And what occurs to me to put is Pink Floyd, super depressing wave for a sunset, mega depressing for a Sunday but that's how I feel and why am I going to tell you.
We hear Pink Floyd. TheWall.
So ya thought ya might like to go to the show?
to feel the warm thrill of confusion
"Do you have to put that on at this hour?"
I think so, but it's not worth explaining. It is a matter of intuitions. It's not you. It's me. We are all. primitive community.
Tell me, is something eluding you, sunshine?
Is this not what you expected to see?
If you'd like to find out what's behind these cold eyes
you'll just have to claw your way through the disguise
(PinkFloyd, In the Flesh)
La Flaca returns with glasses of water. I guess they're thirsty, he says. I was dying of thirst, he also says.
We thank you.
If you should go skating on the thin ice of modern life
dragging behind you the silent reproach
of a million tear stained eyes
don't be surprised, when a crack in the ice
appears under your feet
“Feels horrible,” he murmurs. Twenty four years.
Adrian listens to her. I already know what comes next; I've heard it before. He recites the same speech as before and ends the same way. Adrián listens to her and hasn't said “I don't understand” at any time. It seems that this time he does understand.
"I don't want to reach 24," says Flaca and goes to the room.
You slip out of your depth and out of your mind
with your fear flowing out behind you
as you claw the thin ice.
(PinkFloyd, The Thin Ice)
Come back with a revolver. Six bullet drum.
"Can you help me?" he asks Adrián.
"Why me?" the German wonders.
"Well," Jeanette says. This one doesn't want to and it seems to me that you don't care. With so many people you killed in the war, I imagine that one more Cuban girl wouldn't make any difference.
The German takes the weapon in his hands. He looks at it, although it must not be the first time he has held one. Check it out. Then he leans it against Jeanette's head.
"Wait," she yells. Give me one more line first.
Complacent Adrián takes out the envelope and separates three little lines. For him, for me, and for the suicidal girl. We inhale.
"Now yes," says Flaca and closes her eyes.
Adrián puts the barrel of the gun against the girl's forehead again and pulls the trigger, with his best modern neo-Nazi pose.
A storm of blood, bone, and brain matter should follow from the other side of Jeanette's head, but all you hear is the metallic click of the hammer and the click of a non-existent bullet being fired.
We fell silent. Flaca opens her eyes. I guess the ghost of a tear in them.
"What happened?" he asks.
"He's got no bullets," he says, in a voice like a Berlin iceberg.
"He's got no bullets," the girl murmurs. It has no bullets.
He covers his eyes. I guess he cries. But I am not one to know. I imagine.
"No bullets!" he yells and laughs.
Laugh and cry at the same time. He wake up. Take that thing off, he says, take off Pink Floyd, put on something to dance to. Put on Nirvana, put on Pearl Jam, The Offspring, Garbage, I don't know, whatever comes to mind. Anything but Pink Floyd.
Jeanette wants to dance.
—And the 24 years? Are you going to celebrate them?
"I want to live until I'm 97!" Flaca shouts. I want to dance! Put on some happy music, dammit!
Then he tells us, Guys, you don't know how you feel, you should try. It's better than fuck, better than an orgasm, it gets your heart racing. It really does.
Luckily there were no bullets, she says relieved and goes to ask the neighbor for a little rum. Adrian has been staring into space the whole time; a frozen smile in the eyes.
"Would you have?" I ask him.
He does not answer. He just opens the palm of his left hand and shows me what's inside. Six brand new bullets, blanked. Six deaths wrapped in shiny lead.
"The question is if she would have done it," he says after a while.
I don't tell him anything. And when Flaca returns with half a bottle of wine, I don't tell her anything either. Everything is what one wants to be, I think. There are moments to experience silence, to feel the cold of the night around your steps, but those moments pass and then no one remembers them.
So we gathered in a circle and listened to Pearl Jam. We exhaust what remains of the powder and mix it with the wine. Everything tastes like glory to us.
And we danced. Like puppets, hanging from a billboard. Like glass goblins in the window of a convenience store. Our soul goes away and we dance.
With the strength of the gods.
With the fury of our brown eyes.
And I think we could reach the moon dancing.
To the dark side of the moon.
Nothing can stop us. I think.
Do you hear me?
That's why we dance.
And then we dance some more.