Feel The Heat Closing In
“!Clase de bamba, clase de bamba!” is what the bird says every time I move.
It squawks too — if I don’t move — but clase de bamba is on repeat for the last 15 minutes. It’s a hot, dingy little office overstuffed with papers and old phone books — the White Pages. The White Pages! — dating back to 1959.
And hundreds of pictures of Fidel Castro strewn about in every pose imaginable: fulminating spittle in mid-diatribe at a lectern, smoking a cigar with García Marquez, hugging Allende, saluting troops with Pinochet, glad-handing a sugar cane field hand. Then there’s Fidel in a baseball uniform. Fidel and his brother Raul. Fidel and Che. Fidel, Raul and Che. Fidel and Kruschev. And my favorite, Fidel and Nixon smiling camera right.
It’s just endless, hundreds of pictures, and every one of them has a rifle sight painted in lipstick over Fidel’s face.
Seriously, lipstick. The open tube on the desk is Revlon Kiss Me Coral. Says so on the red dot on the tube.
The air conditioning unit is laboring something fierce, rattling in the window frame. And that fucking bird is going on about clase de bamba.
Skip tracing is a special way to meet humanity — its kindnesses, empathy, and its beautiful places. Especially the lovely places where this humanitarian lives and works. This Riggleman.
He’s a souse. It’s clear from the two dozen gin empties in the corner. The ashtray hasn’t been emptied since 1978. God damned clase de bamba must be his favorite thing to listen to. I couldn’t sit here all day with this mangy parrot going on and on.
I’m talking about the pre-millennium neuroses and the pumpkin-psychotropic blues.
It reminds me of Florida this sickly place. It’s hot, full of love bugs — sparing on the brotherly love — and it smells of piss and cigarettes.
Riggleman’s a fast one though. Always seems to be a half-a-step beyond the long arm. Betcha’ he’s shuffled off to Florida — the state shaped like a gun and an impotent penis all at once. The dangler at the bottom end of the good ‘ol U.S. of A.
Now there’s a picture.
“In a way, it’s an act of authorial control to withhold information, but I also see it as an utter evasion of authorial responsibility. I just sort of hand the system over to the reader and say, I don’t know what this means, but I’m out of here. Sure, I have my own feelings about what I am interested in investigating emotionally. But, in the end, my intention doesn’t matter.”
— Rumaan Alam / ThePaisReview.org, “Something to Hold On To: An Interview with Rumaan Alam”