Midnight Tango - a fiction short story
Havana, Cuba 1983
Angelina impatiently tapped her long fingernails on the old wooden bar. "How much longer must I wait?" she asked, her dark brown eyes flashing.
"Hey, you want the job or not?" asked the bartender shrugging. He was old and wizened with a white beard and hair.
She did. This nightclub, for which she was auditioning for the head dance position was in Old Havana, but had become the most famous nightclub in the city. Twenty years ago the great Che Guevara, Cuba's national hero and leader had once sat at these nightclub's tables.
A love triangle involving Guevara and the nightclub's dancer and waiter had resulted in two murders that night, right here in this nightclub. The dancer because of her pained lover, the waiter, had died in mistaken gunshots meant for Guevara but caught by the dancer. Guevara's retaliation had been swift - cutting down and machine gunning the waiter with no less than forty or more gunshot wounds to his body. Both the waiter and the dancer had bled out on the nightclub floor before ambulances arrived.
This nightclub was now infamous and notorious, packed each night because of its romantic and murderous history. It had experienced a revival and Pedro, the owner now had quite a waiting list of customers waiting for a chance to enter and to get a table to watch the dance show.
Pedro was now rich by Cuban standards and his nightclub was the 'go to' spot for tourists from all over the world and for the native Cubans who could afford to got there.
Angelina looked at her watch. Ten minutes past the time of her audition. No one did this to her. What was keeping the owner?
She let out a loud sigh. The bartender handed her a mojito. "Here, drink this while you're waiting," he said eyeing her svelte body up and down.
"I'm Havana's best dancer - no one keeps me waiting like this. The owner is fortunate I'm even auditioning for him," she said pushing the mojito back to the bartender. "No thanks," she said "it will dull my timing and reflexes."
Suddenly Pedro burst into the bar area. "Senorita Angelina," he said as he bent and kissed her lovely, silky hand, "I am sorry to keep you waiting. I know you are the best and most talented and celebrated dancer in Havana. But I had an important phone call arrive just as you did. My apologies. Let's get on with the audition."
Well, at least he apologized, thought Angelina, and acknowledged her great talent. Angelina raised her head a little and looked at Pedro. He was a thin man, balding and about sixty years of age. He followed her to the stage and she handed her music to the musicians.
They started with playing the salsa music she had given them and Angelina dazzled them all with her steps and body moves.
Suddenly, almost out of nowhere, a male dancer appeared and slipped his arm around her waist and gently took her hand. He was tall, dark and with flashing blue eyes that met Angelina's flashing dark ones.
He moved symbiotically with her, their bodies melded together in perfect harmony as the music changed suddenly to a tango.
Angelina went with the music and showed off her intricate steps and burning passion for the tango and her partner reciprocated. He grabbed her thigh as she wrapped her shapely leg around his waist. He bent her back and down, his flashing passionate eyes never leaving hers. She was limber and her long dark hair gently brushed the floor. He snapped her up, their foreheads touching, their eyes locked, and the electric sparks between them were palpable.
The music abruptly changed again, to a rumba and instinctively Angelina changed her steps and body movements as did her partner. Their eyes continued to be locked together in a fiery passion as their bodies moved in tandem.
Angelina had never experienced a thrill or a passion dancing with anyone else before. Angelina danced at a level she had never achieved before. She was mesmerized and tantalized by her partner. Their fiery eyes remained locked.
The music suddenly ended, the male dancer bowed and said, "Gracias, Senorita," and walked away through the dark doorway and was gone.
Angelina's chest heaved up and down as she tried to catch her breath. She was breathing hard as much from the passion as from the dancing and her perspiration was palpable to those around her. Her spine tingled with the rush of heat and anticipation - anticipation that had just sauntered through the darkened doorway.
"That was excellent dancing," said Pedro as a wry smile formed on his face. The passion between the two had been felt by everyone in the room. Pedro had found his dancer. . .
Working the tango
Angelina reported to work each evening at the nightclub. She and the tall male dancer were the premiere and highlight performance each night at midnight - their tango enthralled the customers with her silky, skin catching dress, the sides split nearly up to her waist revealing her shapely legs. His tall smoldering looks enhanced hers perfectly. The two of them dancing together dazzled the audience with their passion - the electric sparks they produced and that flew between them were palpable to the audience.
At the end of their tango dance each night, her partner always thanked her and then disappeared through the door never to be seen until the following midnight dance. Their performance became know as the "Midnight Tango" all over the city of Havana.
Angelina didn't even know her partner's name because Pedro wanted it that way. He didn't want the magic and mysterious passion they had between them to be broken. And his decision worked.
The waiting list to get into the nightclub each night grew longer and longer. Night after night their 'Midnight Tango' electrified the audience. The nightclub was sold out most nights. Each night Pedro watched their performance with a wry smile. What a money maker he had with these two dancers.
But, as time went on, Angelina wanted to know where her amazing partner disappeared to each night. Where did he disappear to after their 'Midnight Tangos?' Angelina had to find out.
She inquired of the bartender, but he just shrugged. She knew that would happened. He never revealed anything although he had worked there since Pedro had opened the place. She asked the musicians and the other dancers, but they had no idea where he went either. They, too, never knew his name. She asked Pedro, but he just smiled wryly and refused to reveal it.
Angelina could stand it no longer. The searing passion she felt each night for her dance partner abruptly crashed and was taken from her when he left -- only to be revived the next night at midnight. She couldn't stand the toying of her emotions. She had to find out why he only showed up at midnight for the 'Midnight Tango.'
Another Cuban story
So, one evening Angelina called in sick to Pedro and the nightclub. Her understudy, she knew, could handle the dance with her partner. She knew some of the passion would be lacking and the audience not as thrilled, but for one night that was okay. She was determined to follow her dance partner after the midnight performance and see where he went and what he did.
She dressed completely in black and pinned back her dark hair. She was hiding in a dark doorway outside near the backstage door to the nightclub when the 'Midnight Tango' dance ended. Immediately, her dance partner in his black trousers and white shirt tucked in and unbuttoned to the waist to reveal his muscular and lightly haired chest, never noticed Angelina as he rushed out the door and down the street.
He walked so fast, Angelina almost had to lightly jog to keep up with him. He walked and wove in and out of the narrow Old Havana streets. Angelina kept a safe distance behind him so he wouldn't see or hear her. Never once did he look back behind him.
He finally stopped at a solid steel door, gave a special knock and the door opened just wide enough for him to slip in. Then the door slammed shut. There was no way for Angelina to get in through the that door, she knew that.
She noticed a light came on one story above - she could see it through the edges of the dark drawn blind. Hmmm she could climb the rod iron decorative pieces on the outside of the building to get herself up to the balcony outside the window.
Her lithe and limber body was just flexible enough to accomplish that. She looked up and down the street and saw no one. This was her chance. She quickly grabbed on to the rod iron pole and pulled herself up. She used the rod iron decorative pieces as stepping stones across to the balcony. She could just about reach the balcony railing.
She hauled herself up and quietly steadied herself on the balcony. Still there was no one outside on the silent, narrow street. So far so good. She leaned her ear against the window and heard low muffled voices but couldn't make out what was being said. Eventually, she heard nothing - silence, but the light remained on.
She tried the window and to her ultimate surprise it wasn't locked. She silently drew up the window and noiselessly moved the blind to peek inside the room.
What she saw shocked, astounded and sickened her. There was her dance partner completely naked with another completely naked man. Both were lounging and sitting on a bed. Her dance partner was tying a rubber hose around his arm and then the other man injected a syringe into a vein in his arm. Her partner's head flipped back and she saw his entire body relax. The other naked man ripped the syringe out of his arm along with releasing the rubber hose. Then he grabbed her partner and the two men entered into a long passionate kiss.
Angelina froze and made an audible gasp. Before she even realized what was happening, the two men looked her way. Her dance partner's dilated, filmy eyes locked with hers - his passion gone, his look numbed. The other naked man reacted immediately as he ran to the window, grabbed Angelina and pulled her inside the room.
"What do you think you are doing here?" he snarled. Her dance partner remained limp on the bed. Suddenly the naked man that had grabbed her and pinned her to him was brandishing a knife, from where she had no idea. Before, she could scream or shout, he had stabbed her in the neck. Her blood spurted out from her carotid artery.
As she slowly sank to the floor, her dance partner's diluted gaze followed her, but his limp body was unable to move. Angelina fell to the floor, the life seeping out of her as she bled.
The next morning when the police arrived on the scene, they found her blood soaked body on the floor, and the naked body of a man with his throat slashed on the bed. They went through her clothing to find her government identification card. On it was her photo with the name -- Anna Maria Guevara.
Such was the ending of the greatest dance duo in Havana's history. Pedro sadly had a mural of them dancing painted on one of the nightclub's wall as a tribute to their passionate 'Midnight Tango.'
Copyright (c) 2013 Suzannah Wolf Walker all rights reserved
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