“I immediately spotted RamÃ³n sitting in his Peugeot across the street and waved. He waved back and started the car. He had probably been waiting there all day: there were twin patches of sweat under the arms of his short sleeved shirt and he had the dark under-eye circles of a man dehydrated.
â€œWell,â€ he said as we climbed into the backseat, with a small flash of his white grin, â€œLong day, hey?â€
â€œUnbelievably long,â€ I said.
â€œVery long day,â€ said Octavian.
â€œBut a good day,â€ he said cautiously, scanning both of our faces in the rear-view mirror. After holding my gaze for a moment his smile faded.
â€œI see,â€ he said. â€œI see how it went. You donâ€™t have to tell me nothing. You bullshit lawyers.â€
He gunned the accelerator in the milling mixed traffic of downtown Havana. I really thought he would smash the lot of us into the nearest wall or moped or doddery old Chevrolet. Instead he aimed the car at an elderly female pedestrian, clipping the immense bag of vegetables she was carrying with his fender. She screamed something at him in Spanish. The Chevrolet shrieked its horn. RamÃ³n drove on.
â€œHey!â€ I shouted, as we whizzed past another traffic light. â€œWhatâ€™s the matter with you? You could have killed her.â€
â€œRamÃ³n, my friend,â€ said Octavian steadily. â€œIâ€™m going to ask you to please show a little patience. We presented your case to the authorities at the embassy. Now itâ€™s going to take some time before we hear back from them. Thatâ€™s just how it works.â€
RamÃ³n relaxed, but you could see that his blood was up. The manâ€™s moods changed faster than the traffic lights he ignored.