Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Torcedores

Since the age of eleven Lucho had worked in the factory hauling tobacco leaves off the carts as they pulled up to the dock. Now at seventeen, with his newly discovered talent he had ascended the ranks and had been given the title of Torcedores, expert cigar roller. It was a big deal. Many of his relatives worked there too, his father, two uncles and three brothers, all just laborers. All of them, with the exception of Lucho belonged to the Federacion de Grupos Anarquistas de Cuba and fought against the Caudillo, Gerardo Machado. It wasn’t that Lucho didn’t believe in the cause but he had seen first hand the some of the “accidents” of those who did belong. In his own way he thought of himself as a talisman, being the only one not in the Federacion and being the owners favorite Torcedores, so far his family had escaped any overt retribution and he wanted to keep it that way but he also wanted out. Out of the mediocre existence that his family had lived in for generations but most of all out of Cuba.

Each evening Lucho would walk to meet his best friend outside the gates of his home. They would make their way down to the cantina where they would entertain the rest of the patrons. Lucho played his guitar while his friend would croon for the ladies. There they thrived. He and his friend were complete opposites on the outside. Lucho came from humble factory workers, his best friend the son of the Mayor of Santiago. Lucho was not what some would call attractive but he was no slouch either, he could pass in the daylight. His friend on the other hand always had a bevy of beauties buzzing around him. On the inside though, the playing field was far more level. It was their love of music that erased their socio-economic differences and made them equals. It was also their desire to find a better life that kept then tight. They spent hours talking about the what if's.

Lucho would never forget that morning in June 1934, the day the factory burnt to the ground. An "accident" was the official report. As he walked towards the charred remains the air was thick with smoke; pungent, acrid, it smelled of Machado. At that same time, three blocks away the Caudillo’s men arrested the Mayor, stripped him of his office and stole most of their property. The family it was reported was being deported.

Lucho ran the three blocks to his friend’s home just as the gates swung open. He ran straight into the front end of the Mayors Cadillac V-16, which knocked him on his ass, nearly knocking him out. His friend, his best friend, the one he thought he might never see again, stuck his head around the open back door with a smile a mile wide. Not a word passed between them, just seconds. Lucho scrambled to his feet and jumped in. He would write his folk on the way to Miami.

Pulling his Coconut Fedora lower on his forehead Lucho, Desi and the rest of the band walked onto the stage and the crowd erupted. But with the passage of the years Lucho Abril Marroquin was to tell himself that of all the instructive experiences of that morning the most unforgettable had not been either the first or the second accident but what happened afterwards.


dive said...

Holy, crap, Prudence! A Desi Arnaz biography! You are simply too awesome for words.
This is wonderfully written and even better on re-reading.

Nice alliteration, too, with the "bevy of beauties buzzing …" You know I love alliteration.

I've just got to give this one full marks and a gold star.

Dear Prudence said...

HA HA, I knew you would get it. I really had such a hard time with this sentence. It took me until just yesterday and then the idea just suddenly popped into my head. I did take some poetic license, as we know Desi followed his dad here, they didn't all go in a group but the research was fun and some of the history is for real. Thanks Dive, the gold star means a lot coming from you.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

This is truly amazing, Prudence! I "got it" as soon as I read "Desi." That you actually did research for this piece says a lot about you...and Dive's assignments!!

Dear Prudence said...

Thanks Katherine! I tried to comment on your story yesterday and blogger told me I was not allowed! Tried a couple of different times and no luck, so Great Job! I really enjoyed it a lot!

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

Don't tell, but I re-opened my comments section. Hopefully, the evil ones won't notice...

So maybe try again next time?


neetzy said...

Wow! You are amazing. I thought it was Desi Arnaz as soon as I read "Desi". Beautifully written and well researched! I agree with Dive as I am a sucker for alliteration. Congrats on the Gold Star. Wear it Well!