DIRE STRAITS, Chapter 3B
August 24, 2011
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El Floridita was, without a doubt, a tourist trap. Everyone there seemed to be Canadian, Venezuelan, European or, in a few cases, Russian. Derek caught an attractive woman with reddish hair studying him. He didn’t know why, but he got a Russian vibe off her.
He and Coro pushed their way to the bar and, of course, ordered Daiquiris. They were large enough, overpriced, and he liked it. The waiters in their white shirts and red aprons were pros. He relaxed a bit. Coro said, “So, what do you think of Havana?”
“Very nice. Like the weather. Much better than Toronto.”
“I have never seen snow.”
“You’re not missing much.”
He scanned the bar. He wasn’t too wild about their location at the bar, back to the door, so he shifted on his stool so he could better scan the place.
“They say that Hemingway invented the Daiquiri,” she said. “I don’t think so.”
He shrugged. “I’m skeptical.”
“Do you like Hemingway?”
She studied him. “What don’t you like about him?”
“Machismo for machismo’s sake, I guess. It’s all about war and hunting and fishing. There’s more there, of course, but…” He shrugged. “I liked ‘The Old Man And The Sea.’”
“I like ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls.’”
“The war story.”
“And a love story.”
“I guess you’re right. Which part did you like best?”
“The love story, of course. The earth moves when they make love.”
He laughed. “Again, Papa Hemingway, excuse my skepticism.” He then excused himself and found the restroom. Taking out the slip of paper, he saw that it had a word – Corona – and a number – 12. Both were code. The Corona was a simple code for a location from a list he had memorized. This one referred to the statue to Jose Marti in front of the Inglaterra Hotel in Central Park. The number, 12, was actually a time, but not to be overly obvious, you always added 90 minutes to the time. He was supposed to meet someone at that location at 1:30 in the morning.
He flushed the paper, washed his hands and returned to Coro, who asked him if he wanted to eat there or find someplace else. Knocking off his daiquiri, he said, “Dinner and dancing, senorita!” and grinned.
“Now you’re talking!”