We took the elevator halfway down and then the fire escape the rest of the way. It deposited us in a back alley, a dirty stretch of cobblestones that ran between the upscale hotels, casinos and trendy restaurants. Miss Rosa stayed between me and Weatherby. She was scared, but I was certain she was tougher than she looked. We started moving down the alley. I hoped to reach the street, catch a taxi to the outskirts of Havana, and hitch a ride or go on foot from there.
The sun blazed down at us, and I felt sweat on the back of my neck and on my forehead. I wiped it away with my sleeve as we moved between dumpsters and lumps of garbage, all the stinking detritus from a gringo’s exotic playground. A couple drunks, maybe a dozen of them, lay slumped in the alley, nestled together on both sides like rats in a hole.
As we moved past them, one of their arms reached out and grabbed Miss Rosa’s leg. She didn’t scream, but tried to shake it off. “Let go, hijo de puta!” she hissed. “Let go, or I’ll cave your face in!”