Cigars, Diamonds, or Bullets
We number one shy of a dozen, dressed to the nines and seated around the heavily-grained table of Hotel Nacional’s grand ballroom. Through the high windows, propped open to let in the cool salt air, I can see Havana Harbor, smell it, taste it. Smoke curls over the dance floor, points of light glowing as made men chew the ends of their cigars. Motionless along the back of the room, hands clasped and suits crumpled from previous victims putting up a fight, the godfather’s men stand, faces unreadable.
“Don Daniel,” the godfather says, rolling his pig’s eyes in my direction. His mouth is turned down in a frown so deep it’s almost comical. Would be comical if it didn’t mean he might be about to order those crumpled men to drag me down to the harbor, wingtips kicking gravel and fists punching the salt air. Just like he had done with Don Alberto minutes before. The diamonds from the godfather’s enameled cigar case tickle at my breast, itching to be let out. “Don Daniel,” the godfather repeats. “Empty your pockets.”