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A Bay of Pigs

When Matt got to the powder blue Nissan Stanza, it was raining again. He knocked on the foggy window, then pulled his hoodie over his head and shoved his hands into his pockets. The window rolled down and a putrid cloud of thick cigar smoke poured out. When it cleared, the man that Matt called Mr. Castro had his fingers laced through the hair of a blond young man, guiding the head up and down over his crotch. Between joyless groans, Mr. Castro asked, “What flies, socio?”

Matt scratched his cheek and stammered. Mr. Castro turned his head and looked at him through mirrored aviator sunglasses. The yellow glow of street lamps reflected off of them like pupils. “I asked a question,” he said. “Did the cat eat your tongue?”

“If it’s a bad time—”

“There is no such thing as good time.” Mr. Castro’s mouth formed a hard line as the blond started slurping. Cigar smoke belched from lips buried somewhere beneath his enormous, curly beard, and he pushed the blond’s head down, eliciting panicked gags. At last, Mr. Castro let him go and the young man sat up in the passenger seat. He was handsome and athletic, and his letter jacket was fresh and clean. He wiped his plump, pink lips with his fingers while holding out the other hand. Mr. Castro stared out of the Stanza’s windshield as he reached into his old military jacket and retrieved a little plastic baggie filled with fine white powder. The blond took it, opened the passenger door, and hurried down the shiny wet sidewalk, pulling his letter jacket tight.

Mr. Castro pointed after him and sucked on his cigar. “You watch, he keeps his head down. He will go back to his pretty jeva and fuck her hard so he forget that he just sucked off a guy for a little llelo.” He smiled at Matt and laughed like an engine starting on a cold morning. He patted the passenger seat. When Matt sat down, he grimaced because it was still warm.

“You’re not going to make me do… that, are you?” Matt asked, closing the Stanza’s door. Mr. Castro laughed again through the cigar clamped between his teeth.

“No,” he said. “I just like hitting pretty rich white boys like that down some pegs. Money, it does not mean something to them. So do not worry. I am no maricón, and you are not pretty or rich. I never make you do it before, and I don’t start tonight.”

Matt did not know what maricón meant, and didn’t particularly care. He hated Miami, and more than the city he hated small talk with his drug dealers. He reached into his back pocket and got out his wallet. Mr. Castro raised his eyebrows and took the cigar out of his mouth. “You don’t waste no time, huh, socio?” He stroked his big black beard and grinned like a cartoon character. Mr. Castro laughed again, rolling his fat cigar back and forth between his thumb and fingertips. He asked, “You like music?”

Matt looked up from his wallet. “Yeah, everyone likes music,” he said.

“What music you listen to?”

Matt narrowed his eyes and thumbed his nose. “I don’t know, old stuff.”

“Old? Old like what? Old like jazz? Before the missile crisis I listen to a lot of jazz. My papa, he grew the tobacco, made lots of money with the cigar factories. We were lucky and had a record player and—”

“I’ve got fifty bucks,” Matt said. “What can you give me with that?” He stared into his own eyes reflected in the mirrored sunglasses. Mr. Castro just put the cigar back between his teeth and the humor drained from his face.

“Do I bore you?” he asked through the cigar. His voice was hard and cold like granite.

“No, no, it’s just late, man, and I’m tired—”

“So I make you sleepy?”

“Look, I’ve just got somewhere to be.”

Thick curls of smoke rolled out of Mr. Castro’s mouth. “You don’t like me or something?”

“Man, no, it’s not that, I just… when I go to the store and get milk,” Matt looked away from Mr. Castro and started gesticulating. “When I go to the store and get milk, I don’t make friends with the cashier, you know?” Even though he could not see Mr. Castro’s eyes, Matt knew the man was leering. The smoke was suffocating and stung Matt’s eyes as he wondered if this was even worth it. There were other dealers. Professional guys who just gave him the dope and took his money. They didn’t ask about music. Mr. Castro just always had the best stuff.

Mr. Castro snubbed out the cigar in the pop-out ashtray under the radio. He said, “You know, you come to me like a clock. I know you good, probably better than you think. But you don’t know me even a little. How do you know I don’t maybe put poison in your heroin?”

“I trust you, man,” Matt said.

“You maybe shouldn’t. When you don’t know a man, you don’t know what he is capable of. That is why Mr. Kennedy was so scared when Cuba had the missiles. He did not know what we were capable of.”

Matt just sighed and ran his fingers through his hair, offering Mr. Castro the money. But the man with the big black beard just shook his head and pushed it away. He reached down to his crotch and unzipped his pants.

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