Girls at Terence’s House

10 Apr

They are tropical Barbies half hoping to saddle up. They have the illusion of climbing on to forge themselves a future of first world fantasy, leaving behind the provincial backwater and the label of being the reserve team of the Cuban Revolution.

The girls I’m talking about go to Terence’s house, the Haitian who owns the snails, the voodoo shrines and is in complete communication with the enggún (the dead).

They go to the home of Luisitio, a neighborhood fortune-teller who takes them through every turn of the deck of cards, the drawing speaks of the European or Canadian prince who will take them on Iberia, Air France or Air Canada on the far side of the hell-fire invented by the fifty-year-old Cuban bureaucracy.

At the spiritual consultations sometimes they bring a bunch of hens, a sheep, honey from the bees, sugar cane brandy and sugar cane, pesos, dollars, magua (hard cash), for those who send and receive the messages from the superior beings to put them at their ease and so nothing goes wrong with this coming and going through the fate that only the gods have the right to reveal.

In the long line one morning at the house of the black man, Terence, you meet those who come first, to be invisible to the anti-prostitution police of the tourist resorts; others, already in business looking for their Romeo return at the promised time and before they have enough to fix the kitchen table, the bath, and boy a plastic water tank for the roof.

Purely out of curiosity I inquired and for me, I have to work hard, I’m told, looking for what Terence will ask me for: I must bring from grounds of the hospital, the prison, the police station, cuttings of the shrubs and herbs “Amansa Guapo,” “Rompesaragüey,” “Rompecamisa” and “Yo puedo más que tú,” as well as güira tree honey, brandy and a clay pot to put it all in for Terence, in case he decides to consult with me.

I knew Milenis, who had been to Italy twice but for a year and a half had a huge problem: his son had been postponing his return and the promise of bringing him again, and it has worried him greatly. He confessed he hadn’t stopped receiving the five hundred Euros bi-monthly, but he’d had to reduce consumption for fear that things might get worse, and one day the blessed support would be cut off and everything would vanish in the air. He’s holding a cloth bag with a “delivery” for “the priest,” but couldn’t tell me what it was: “It’s not done, son. You can lose everything.”

It’s eleven in the morning, the sun is gleaming on all the galvanized zinc roofs, and shines on the faces, the uncovered shoulders, the elongated figures of these provincial princesses. They wait with all the patience they can. I am allergic to lines and I walk on. Inside Terence intones a prayer and the house fills with the scents of basil, melted wax and perfumed salves.

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