Steven met me at the front. I was a little bit late. I still had to get a ticket and he waited in line for me while I went and found a bathroom.
The first things we saw inside were five pictures of a Cuban soldier. In each picture he wore a different uniform. In one his face was painted. He had the same expression in each one.
Steven’s cell phone rang.
“Hey… yeah, I just got back inside. We are near some… photos… of some guy… in a bunch of military outfits,” he said.
“Okay. Then we’re coming right your way.”
“Sure. Wait around there.”
He hung up his phone.
The next room was filled with Cuban military uniforms. Each stood upright, as if worn by a mannequin. They were arranged equidistantly, seven in each row and I don’t know how many to the back. The uniforms were black and had large gold buttons down the front.
“These are incredible,” said a woman next to me.
Steven and I stared at the uniforms. His phone rang.
“I know, we’re coming,” he said.
“No, I’m not lost.” He hung up his phone.
We walked into the next room. More photos of more Cubans. There was a photo of a man kissing a woman on the cheek. In the photo next to it the same man and woman were smiling at the camera.
“Cubans are the most beautiful people,” said a girl to man she was with, “So beautiful.”
“We should go this way,” said Steven. “Verna should be in one of these next rooms.”
The next room looked like a giant honeycomb. Most of the compartments were empty, but Cuban flags were stuck inside some. Music played over small, black speakers.
“What time does the band play?” A man asked.
“I think four o’clock,” said another man.
“This music is beautiful,” said a woman.
“What is it?” said the first man.
“I think it’s the Cuban national anthem,” said the second.
“It’s a beautiful song,” said the first.
Steven’s phone rang.
“Hey. Where are you?” he said.
“What?” He turned around and looked out the large window behind us. “No… I don’t see you.” Steven started to walk toward the window. “Oh!” He laughed and hung up his phone. He walked to the window and waved. His girlfriend Verna was waving from the other side. She was with her sister, who looked just like Verna. I waved and the sister waved. There was a steel fence on their side of the window. Verna waved at me and pretended to introduce her sister and me. Verna’s sister stretched her hand toward the window as if to shake mine, and I reached my hand toward hers.
“We’ll meet you over here,” said Steven exaggeratedly. They couldn’t hear him. But they could read his lips.
Steven and I waved and walked to our right. Verna and her sister walked to their left.
The next room contained designer suits and dresses. They looked European, but were Cuban.
“Check out this one,” said a girl.
“Oh, man, that thing is exotic,” said a second girl.
A phone rang. It was the second girl’s.
“Hey, where are you?” she said.
Steven had stopped to look at a dress, so I did too.
“We’re in the room… with the… um, there’s a bunch of designer suits and dresses,” said the second girl.
“Yeah, you should totally check it out. It’s next to the room with the honeycomb thing.”
“That’s the one… yeah, let’s meet… in like, five minutes?”
She hung up.
Steven’s phone rang.
“We’re coming,” Steven sang into the phone. “No, I just stopped to look at the dresses… we’re leaving now.”
“Come on, they’re in here,” he said to me.
We walked into the next room. Photographs of beaches lined the walls.
“It looks like that place in Florida, huh?” said a man.
“It does,” said another man.
We kept walking into the next room. More photographs. Steven stopped and looked around.
“She said they’d be in here,” he turned around in a few circles and then stopped. “Where the hell are they? That should be the door they’d come through.” He gestured to a door on the opposite side of the room.
“You’re right,” I said.
Steven pulled out his phone and pressed a button.
“Hey, I thought you were coming in here,” he said.
“No, we’re meeting in this room, there’s a bunch of photos… well, I don’t know where else you could have gone. What do you see?”
I walked over to look at some of the photos.
“Doesn’t this guy look like John?” said a woman, pointing to a Cuban boy talking on a cell phone, standing in front of a palm tree.
“John who?” said a man.
“John Carollo,” she said.
“Wow… it does. It does look like him. Where is he these days?”
“Brazil. Hmmm. I used to want to go there. Now I’m like, ‘Who cares.’”
“I know, me too.”
Steven walked over to me. “They should be here any second. They went to the wrong room somehow.”
We looked at the photograph of the boy with the phone.
“Gee,” Steven said, “A boy with a cell phone.”
Simultaneously, Steven and I turned and looked around for some sign of Verna or her sister.
Steven’s phone rang.