Meet Ramón

“I immediately spotted Ramón 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.

“Well,” he said as we climbed into the backseat, with a small flash of his white grin, “Long day, hey?”

“Unbelievably long,” I said.

“Very long day,” said Octavian.

“But a good day,” he said cautiously, scanning both of our faces in the rear-view mirror. After holding my gaze for a moment his smile faded.

“I see,” he said. “I see how it went. You don’t have to tell me nothing. You bullshit lawyers.”

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. Ramón drove on.

“Hey!” I shouted, as we whizzed past another traffic light. “What’s the matter with you? You could have killed her.”

“Ramón, my friend,” said Octavian steadily. “I’m going to ask you to please show a little patience. We presented your case to the authorities at the embassy. Now it’s going to take some time before we hear back from them. That’s just how it works.”

Ramón relaxed, but you could see that his blood was up. The man’s moods changed faster than the traffic lights he ignored.

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