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Literature feat. Music Illustration: Pepe Menéndez. Illustration: Pepe Menéndez.

a yellow angel

We were on the threshold of my apartment. We had argued. Moonlight took my hands, squeezed them, and slowly I felt her fingers give way.

I wanted to look into his eyes, yet he avoided me. I gently forced her chin up. He did not resist.

"I'm sorry about what happened," he said.

Before saying goodbye, he brought his hand to my face, then he wanted to kiss me, but that touch on my cheek was hardly a kiss.

I saw her come down the stairs. She didn't turn around, I didn't want to call her either. I had spent a whole day walking around my house, waiting for her: books, a snack, a desperate zapping between the four channels on the television, cups of coffee and half a bottle of wine. Moonlight promised me that she would be at my apartment by mid-morning and by late afternoon I had not heard from her. So I tried to make sense of some notes that I wanted to include in the Altahabana Notebook —I had been humming an old ballad composed by my friend Ariel for a couple of days, I wanted to write about the strange connections that I made of the verses of that ballad with an accumulation of memories and ideas, let's say unconnected: the writing of a song, death , keeping a diary, the days with Grethel, the image of two rainbows on the same August afternoon in Altahabana.

I opened several documents on my computer, but nothing I could write made sense. After erasing the seventh document I went to the kitchen. I poured myself the last cup of coffee, so I decided to try my music collection —thanks to Grethel I could call my records a collection.

I chose a CD.

boomerang heart —Under that title I had compiled, in mp3 files, the recordings of the band Habana Abierta.

I turned on the player and went to the window. On that CD I recorded all the Habana Abierta albums and the solo albums of some of its members: Alejandro Gutiérrez, Vanito Caballero, Kelvis Ochoa, Boris Larramendi. They are good, they left. Like stampede. They ended up putting together their hubbub in a bar in Madrid. Those Cubans, nostalgic and angry, have mapped the map of my generation or just my own map. In it I find the routes that take me from one year to another, from one friend to another. I walk and stand in front of a thin line, that line marks the departure of many of them towards Europe, the United States or any other corner of the world. From my place behind the line I see them conversing with an immigration officer, they only carry a backpack as luggage and cannot hide the slight trembling in their fingers as they take the ticket and passport.

To dare to retrace any of the tracks of boomerang heart it could also last until a hot morning at the end of June 2006 —Tuesday 30, Colón Cemetery, 10:30 am—. There will be dozens of open graves, it will be the day of exhumation of remains and each family will have before them a rotten, open wooden box. I'll be watching as they tear up the dress that covers my grandmother's remains, her stockings, and bits of dry skin. They will deposit the bones in a small gray box, they will do it with some care to store it later in a collective vault.

One route leads me to another, going through them I could end up in front of the women I've known so far, all of them: the ones I never conquered and those with whom I had good and bad times. That is why the first chords of the album by Vanito and Lucha Almada were enough to see me in front of Moonlight, because those Cubans from Habana Abierta, nostalgic and rabid, have drawn like few others the map of my generation —or perhaps my personal map—. The album selling it all It was a recording from the 90's and I had met Moonlight at the beginning of 2006, however my Minina was there: her torments, the moments of peace, hard sex, sweat, alcohol and music. With the chords her beautiful face —whose features were, in a certain way, catlike—, her body, her manners, came to my memory. Those chords also forced me to remember the phone call in which he promised to go to my apartment: “We will be together for a couple of days, my baby, without leaving your house, and I am about to close the door of mine, I will hang up, so I'll kiss you real soon."

I smiled listening to her. We would be two days together. Without leaving. And we could do it because we needed nothing outside of my apartment five floors above Altahabana. So I asked him if it was true that he would be available for a whole weekend:

“So much time just for me? I'm sorry to tell you that I find it hard to believe."

She laughed, she knew what he was talking about:

“I am willing to do it, nothing will change my mind. And I won't go empty handed my loveI'll take it all."

Lucha almada and Vanito pointed to the map. The beats of the drums and the beats of the bass marked the route that would take me to Moonlight. A really difficult path. It was impossible to know what he might find on that route. I remember asking him what time he would be here and he said, “Early, I'd like to wake you up. I would like to reach out and hug you, touch you. Have you thought that when we wake up we are big babies? We did not hit anything, we were very foolish from sleep, with the mark of the sheets and the warm body.

I had never thought about that: "A baby, a huge baby full of aftertaste and bad breath, wouldn't you mind kissing me like that, Minina?"  

And he replied: “I will get used to your aftertaste. It will excite me to feel your breath and the smell of the sheets. It will excite me a lot to see your swollen face and the legañas, your body warm as a kettle of chocolate.

I got excited after remembering that conversation. I was standing in front of the window and my penis turned into a bone. Lasted. The songs on the album traced a range of routes that took me away from Moonlight and then, after a journey, brought me closer to her again: my Minina in front of me, I imagined her taking off her shoes, a slight smile, and the tip of her tongue she licks her lips, her hands crawling all over her body until she seizes a wooden rod, threaded between her mahogany curls, to gently remove it and set them free.

A stripper.

a beautiful stripper.


Stripping just for me to the beat of the music.

In front of Vanito and his band and with his back to me, he took off the last piece of clothing. Brief. Black. I brushed her curls aside, kissed her neck, her cheek, her mouth. Lucha almada made a circle and Moonlight and I were in the center. Embraced. And when she broke the chorus I took her by the waist. Vanito walked towards us, with the guitar. He sang, me too but barely in a whisper. I don't control you Vanito sang, his eyes were closed and his head down, if I kneel you I can't be. I don't make you fall in love, Moon, I don't lie well I said, off key, as only a magpie can. And I took a deep breath. Vanito sang and I hugged Minina. Moonlight slipped her fingers between her waist and my hands, she let go of my hold. He was walking around me. He was looking at me. And I watched her walk. I tried to touch her but she avoided me, wet her lips with her tongue and smiled. My Minina seemed to purr. And he kept avoiding me. You move your body with such clear eloquence I said, with a soft croak. He jumped on me, and to the rhythm of the song I whispered in his ear: All this loneliness I can alleviate, close the door and lock it, and a hungry animal make my pride I licked his ear I can forget that our case is urgent.

We were nowhere near.

His skin against mine.

Moonlight's legs encircling my body.

Between her sex and my penis not only was the fabric of my shorts interposed, but also several kilometers of distance. She in her house, me in my apartment. And the denim shackled my sex. I wanted to release him but there was no point. Without Minina it didn't make sense. I was alone, remembering Moonlight thanks to the album by Vanito and Lucha almada. I was alone and there was no point in masturbating. 

Vanito was right: it was difficult to know what was best for me after kissing that woman who promised me, in a phone call, to bring me breakfast in bed. He was pointing the image of Moonlight at my temple and it wasn't wise to pull the trigger and blow my brains out. 

I moved away from the window, however I did not turn off the player.

A couple of drinks would do me good. I had bought two bottles of wine and I was no longer interested in keeping them, it was too late and I decided to fill one of the glasses. I tried not to think about anything, but I had the memory of that woman entrenched inside my head.

Thirty minutes after midnight the phone rang. Several times I asked who was calling because no one answered, until on the other end of the line they said: “I'm sorry, my ex came, he was in a very bad mood and asked me to talk. I'm really sorry I didn't go. Excuse me?".  

I was looking for a way to fit that question into the route to Moonlight. The path to her was truly eventful, at first I told her: "It was hard for me to believe that we would be together for so long." 

And the damned unexpected happened before she got to my apartment. I had a drink. Almost half the glass. So I asked him if he remembered that conversation. He was slow to respond: “I'm sorry I kept you waiting. I ask you to understand, I couldn't tell my ex to swallow his sadness... Although I really wanted to." 

I thought I heard a sob. What was I supposed to do? What should I reply? I had wine in the glass, however I poured myself again. I swallowed half the wine. The guy kept thinking about Moonlight. The guy was determined to fight, in his own way, but to fight. Each call, the visits, her terrible little face —a beautiful mixture of melancholy, apparent naivety and tenderness—, the evocation of the best days they had spent together or the gifts that she gave him at times in a cunning combination of tea, Hindu music and incense sticks were a good strategy for me. La Minina told me about the calls and visits, she told me: "I feel very sorry for him."

“Ahmel, I couldn't give up shit and go to your house. You had to see the face of that bastard. I was sorry, he told me I was sick and needed to talk. I know we had a plan, I thought that in an hour or two I would be able to cheer him up, get him off my back, but I ended badly and I didn't want to ruin your day.

I finished the cup.

"Your ex prepared for a long fight and beat us."

"What are you talking about? Are you delusional?"

"Trust me, I'm really sorry."

She said something, very loud. I did not understand or did not want to understand. 

“Sorry, excuse me, I need to hang up. It's too late and tomorrow I'll work on my Altahabana Notebook

"You've gone mad? Tomorrow you won't work on your damn notebook. I will come to your house and you will have to listen to me.”

hung up.

I stayed maybe a couple of minutes listening to the sound that marked the end of the phone call. I took the bottle but this time I didn't help myself. I stuck it against my forehead, my cheeks, I like my wine very cold and I wanted to feel the cold moisture of the bottle on my face, however I only managed to wet my face with a barely cool liquid.

I decided to leave the player on and go to the bedroom, it would turn off as soon as the record finished. Vanito scratched his chin and walked over to his gang. He pointed at me, clenched his fist thumbs down. Of course I felt like shit. It wasn't hard to notice. The guy who played the drums nodded. I left them in the living room, took the bottle to the refrigerator and went to my room. I looked for a book. boarding home. And I went to bed. I was rereading Guillermo Rosales but decided not to open it, going back to reading that novel was like playing Russian roulette but with only one bullet less in the magazine. I threw the book on the bed and covered it with the pillow. Vanito's guitar broke the silence with a ballad. A very sad subject. Nothing so close to a trap. I went to the living room. Vanito saw me, after a signal from him the band joined him and began to sing, no doubt they would make a new line on the map. my map

I went back to bed.

They with me.

But they made a space for Moonlight's image to fit. So I closed my eyes.

I fell asleep before the record finished.


Fragment of chapter seven of the novel training days, Czech Republic, FRA, 2012 / Ediciones La Palma, Collection G., 2016. 

Ahmel Echevarria More posts

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