Writer on Writer

This, to my mind, is the first piece of fiction published on Whatever Words


The old man had liked the revolution. At least, in the famous bar, in the old town where a bronze statue posed, behind hung a picture – a photo – of him with the commandante. And when the Yankees had landed at the playa, he had been sad. He liked to shoot ducks there and he was sad.


He sat at a different table at the waterfront. It was farther forward and so marked the confidence he now felt. But it wobbled and was no good to write on and so he moved back to his old haunt. Back in the capital he was now drinking by midday, but not too much, and reading one of the old man’s latter stories. It was like it was what he was here to do. It was, after all, what he was here to do. The sun burned on the back of his neck and he worried that he was writing too much about loneliness. Coincidentally, every book he had brought along to read on his trip happened to be on the same theme, more or less. It was funny, he thought: switch from a first- to a third-person perspective and writing became fictional.

From where he was he knew that he was looking out towards what would have been “the glow”, but he would never be at sea that late at night. In a village four hours or more away was a faux bar to the old man. There was also a bar dedicated entirely to The Beatles and in that faux bar they played that song. To the old man, he thought, troubles had never seemed far away. Affairs, world wars, porpoises. All underwrote everything and, even the old man, he knew, sometimes lost track of what was fact and what was fiction.


Just once he had seen a woman wearing a choker, and it was arousing. Across the street and down the road was a bookshop inside which were sold English-language books of Latin revolutions. Not too many, though, he had recalled. Mainly from Martí through ’59 to 11 September 1973. He saw two tourists – a boy and a girl – having their photo taken in front of the grand standing of the Nacional and wondered if he would ever have a woman in a choker.

Once, he had been served a beer so cold that when he poured it, the foam of the foamy head had frozen into thin, foam beads. But that was rare. He picked up his book and thought of home.


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