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.It was then that he told us all the details of what happened.He told us how Ofelia had sat in a chair in the corner of her bedroom, dressed only in a tatty bathrobe, silent as she watched the paramedics working on Papa.Though it was her home, she seemed to know she was pushed to the margins of Papa’s life.Miami might be a freewheeling place, but it hadn’t reached the point at which mistresses were considered on a par with blood relatives.Mickey wasn’t particularly sensitive, but he said her expression had broken his heart when he left her there with a hollow promise to call later.She knew her days with Papa were over.As soon as he got in his car to follow the ambulance to Mercy Hospital, Mickey got on his cell phone and patched through a conference call with Sergio and me.I don’t know which was more shocking—the news that Papa had suffered a heart attack, or the fact that he’d had it in his lover’s bed, like a character in a telenovela.I knew it wasn’t unusual for men to cheat on their wives, especially Cuban men, but I didn’t think Papa was like that.I had never really given my parents’ marriage much thought, I realized.The fact that they were still married after all they had been through meant they were still in love, I figured.They had three children, so they must have had some sort of sex life.I realized that their marriage was a mystery, just like everyone else’s.No one knows the full truth, save for the two people involved.Sergio and I had immediately gone to the hospital, where we met Mickey outside the emergency room and went into full crisis mode on the issue of what to do about Mamá.Obviously we had to notify her, but we weren’t sure what we should say.It was possible, we realized, that Mamá knew about Ofelia, or at least suspected that Papa had a mistress.She was, after all, a Cuban woman married to a Cuban man.We agonized for half an hour while we waited for her to arrive.Then, rightly or wrongly, we decided to concoct a story about Papa falling ill while delivering some documents for Ofelia to work on.We simply couldn’t deal with giving Mamá the sordid details.But we were spared having to lie when Mamá arrived.Mamá identified herself at the front desk before she saw us, where a triage nurse handed her the paramedics’ report.It was all there: Ofelia, the bed.Mamá didn’t need to know any more.Mamá never discussed Papa’s heart attack with me or my brothers except as it related to his physical health.Mickey, Sergio, and I talked about it for a while, but soon they grew bored with the subject.For them, it simply wasn’t all that interesting that Papa had a mistress.They were Cuban men, and deeper explanations were unnecessary.For my part, I felt that I understood Mamá a little better.I wish I had known earlier, because it would have made a lot of things easier to understand.My opinion of Papa didn’t change much because the truth was that I had never really known him very well in the first place.Cuban men, especially of his generation, weren’t very involved with their children’s lives, especially that of their daughters.I was at least able to view him as a complex person, with human needs and desires, and not simply the ultimate authority at home, the breadwinner and decision-maker.I was then thirty-two years old, and I hadn’t begun to sort out the truth of my parents’ private lives.After Papa’s heart attack, I realized that all of my thoughts about marriage were filtered through my parents’ relationship.They weren’t exactly great role models, but they were all that I knew.I hoped they were happy, though a lot of the time I feared they weren’t.And now I was driving to meet Luther.I had a flash of my mother’s face in the emergency room, ashen, reading the paramedics’ report with a black expression.She was a lady at all costs, even in the face of catastrophe.I couldn’t have said what she was feeling in that moment.It wasn’t an image I wanted, or needed.Not when I was minutes away from meeting an old love who said it was urgent that we talk right away.[10]This time, the American had to wait for the Cuban.Luther was sitting in the middle of the blue three-seater bench in front of the wrought-iron gate that led to the docks, between Pier 6 and Pier 7.He was engrossed with looking out to sea and didn’t notice me arriving.Knowing that parking legally at Dinner Key Marina was next to impossible, and not wanting to keep Luther waiting any longer, I steered the Escalade into an empty spot with a big official sign warning “Marina Decal Parking Only.” The sign was intimidating, suggesting death or severe injury for violators, but I decided to take a chance and leave my car, without the sacrosanct decal, there.Dinner Key was the isthmus jutting off Coconut Grove, and housed the mayor of Miami’s offices.The Art Deco two-story whitewashed building with sky-blue accents had become a famous image during the Elian Gonzalez fiasco.Irate Miamians had thrown bananas at the mayor’s office door when he openly defied a government order demanding his cooperation in removing the six-year-old boy from his relatives before being returned to Cuba.The fruity projectiles symbolized people’s anger that the mayor was making Miami look like a banana republic.It wasn’t a high point in Miami history, but then nothing about the Elian Gonzalez tragedy had been a high point.Ever since then, I hadn’t been able to go to Dinner Key Marina without thinking about the whole disgraceful mess.There wasn’t much I could do about my looks just then, so I settled for a quick spritz of Chanel No.5.I decided to think like the French, and hope that perfume would mask all the ills of the world [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]