He had his home, a wife and three daughters. He lived under the skies of Havana like a real caballero. Every winter, when the temperature outside dropped as low as 15 C, Sophia, his wife, took out his trenchcoat from the wooden chest and made sure he put it on for work in the morning. Lazaro, she told him, push your glasses up your nose and don’t forget to don your trenchcoat, a horrible wind is blowing outside. And before she could turn back to the breakfast she was preparing for the children at exactly 6.30 am, he had already plunged his arm in one sleeve. Goodbye, Sophia, he would call out while closing the door behind him. His wife woke the girls, dressed them and supervised them so they ate all the slices of buttered bread and jam, slapped their bottoms if they gave up eating midway, send hem first to kindergarten then - to school.
Afterward Sophia was alone at home – one of those Havana houses with a little front staircase, with a wooden door and brass ring on it, with a big round doorbell and a plate: family Alvares. The room you entered once you have stepped across its threshold was almost as big as a tennis court. In the middle there was a broad square table, uncovered, and around it were scattered six chairs upholstered in a blue checkered material. In one corner you could see a TV and a low yellow sofa, while the wall across led to a terrace overlooking the backyard – generally a filthy darkened place; the remaining two rooms narrowed towards two separate hallways – one leading to the family bedroom, the other – to the nursery. There were also two bathrooms each with its own shower cubicle, two squatting type closets, washbasins and oval mirrors in which every morning and evening the members of the Alvares family were trying to discover their true inner nature.
Lazaro, Sophia often startled him at such moments, your dinner is getting cold. If you wait for one more minute, you will be eating crocodile meat instead of veal. The man knew this simile well – during the first year of their marriage, when his wife still used the wrong words, for she was a Bulgarian and had only lived in Cuba for two months, he was honestly amused. But eight years later he found them rather stupid.
All right, my dear, he called out from the bathroom and saw how the mirror across gave him a sarcastic smile. Then he produced the necessary emotion so that he could acquire his usual homely though slightly strict facade and walked to the dining table. His daughters have long since finished their meal, his wife, her back to him, was intently fixed on the television screen, letting out little sparse clouds from her eternal cigarette. Lazaro swallowed the crocodile meat and contrary to all rules he poured himself a double tequila which he drank in slow gulps while staring at the black-and-white photo, hung above the front door, featuring the Alvares family in front of the Capitolia.
You aren’t a real man, Lazaro, she tapped him on the
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