Mark Terry

Thursday, August 18, 2011


August 18, 2011
A Derek Stillwater Novella
Copyright Mark Terry 2011

            Sitting in the hotel bar, Derek took a sip of his Tinima Bay beer. Juan Osorio had ordered rum. Osorio was trying to be a friendly Cuban, all Caribbean charm and manners, but Derek thought the man’s humor never made it to his eyes and his body language indicated more than a modest portion of unease.
            The bar had a very Caribbean feel – padded chairs in orange and blue and peach; tropical plants, granite-topped tables, walls painted with murals of Cubo-African women carrying baskets on their heads in front of the beach.
            “So, Senor Osorio,” Derek said. “Thanks for meeting me. I wasn’t aware that anyone from CBC was meeting me here. I have a meeting with Arlo Benita tomorrow morning, but I’m sure you know that.”
            “Si,” Osorio said with a broad smile. “We will send a driver to pick you up and deliver you to the facility. How does nine o’clock sound?”
            It sounds, Derek thought, like the DI wanted to keep an eye on him. He decided to test that out. “Thank you for the courtesy,” he said. “But I’m sure I can make my way there on my own. I’ll have the concierge call me a cab.”
            “But I insist,” Osorio said. “We take care of our business partners here in Cuba. You are our guest.”
            “Well, if you put it that way. Of course. Your English is very good, by the way.”
            “Thank you,” Osorio said with a nod. “Do you speak Spanish, Senor?”
            “Not really, no.”
            Something moved in Osorio’s expression, something rippling beneath the surface. “So you will be needing a translator tomorrow?”
            “Perhaps. I was assured that there were several people of the CBC’s executive team that spoke excellent English and there would be no problem.”
            “Of course, of course,” Osorio said. “But I believe this is can be helped. We will provide a translator.” He pulled a notebook from his pocket and checked something, nodding. “Si. She will do. Along with your driver, Coro Gomez will assist you with any translations and anything else you might need.”
            A minder. “Gracias,” Derek said with a nod. Off to his left he saw the bartender, a tall, slender Cuban woman with dark hair streaked with blond highlights, catch his eye. The Company had indicated there would be a contact at the bar of the hotel who would help him with messaging. He showed no signs he had seen anything.
            “Is there anything else I can do for you, Senor Hamill?”
            No, you’ve done plenty. “No, I think I’m good,” Derek said.
            Osorio finished his rum and said, “Shall I accompany you to your room? Do you need anything?”
            “I think I’ll finish my beer. And thank you. You’ve been more than generous.”
            “I hope you enjoy your stay in Cuba. Will you be dining in the hotel this evening or going out to see the city’s sites? We have many wonderful nightclubs.”
            Wouldn’t you like to know? “I haven’t decided yet. I have some business papers to go over, but it would be a shame to come to Cuba and not explore a little bit.”
            “Very good. Your ride will be here at 8:30 in the morning. Have a good evening.”
            Derek watched Osorio disappear. A few minutes later the bartender drifted his way and asked him if he needed anything. He said he was fine. She left a bill for him to sign and returned to her post at the bar.
            Sipping the beer, which had a mild fruitiness to it, Derek idly glanced at the bill. He was picking up the tab for Osorio, he saw. In addition, the bartender, whose name was Maria, had underlined her name with two lines, apparently for emphasis. It was one of a series of codes he had memorized. It indicated he was to pick up a message at a dead drop after 7:00 that evening in Old Havana.
            And so it begins, he thought…
* * *

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