— Mr. Ramirez’s driver, he sent me. You are expected for a meal.
— Give me a minute. I’ll meet you outside.
I jump out of bed to put on a clean shirt and suit. I run a quick comb through my hair and meet the man outside the hotel. Fucking heat. He opens the car door for me and gets behind the wheel.
We head towards what seems to be the nerve center of Esperanza. A concrete tower stands out. I guess that it is there that self-proclaimed ruler is hiding. I was right, the vehicle stops in front of the building and the striped suit tanned man comes to open the door again.
Two uniformed men are standing in front of the building’s door. I look at them for a second. The spotless white of their jacket is violently divided by a blood red line, spreading from the shoulder to the hip. I guess it’s a stylized interpretation of the national flag. A matching beret and pants complete the outfit. They are heavily armed.
The man with me mumbles a few words in Spanish. The two soldiers look me up and down and approach me dangerously.
— Whoa, no kidding !
— Mr. Duncan, I’m sorry, they have to check you.
I jaw clenched submit to their pathetic inspection. This fucking country is even worse than I thought. They finally let us into the building.
I whistle in awe. Unlike the rest of the city, the luxury of this place is real. The huge entrance hall is mainly made of marble. On each wall are giant portraits of what I imagine to be the leaders of Yara’s political movement. All adorned in the same white red striped uniform. It is generally said that I have expensive tastes. However, these are not commensurate with the wealth displayed here.
An new escort shows up and takes me in, leaving the driver in the lobby. I am led into a sumptuous room upstairs. I am asked to sit on the large white leather sofa and wait. Here too, excess is the rule. The room is also marble white. A gigantic desk in precious wood, which seems to be the origin of all decisions and operations, sits in the center.
The portraits of different sizes represent the same two people : a tanned man in his fifties and a child. The adult’s features are hard and serene at the same time. He appears to be a local man, given his dark hair and eyes. His uniform is not quite the same as the other paintings. It is simpler but just as flashy. My gaze falls on the kid’s pictures. He can’t even be fifteen years old. Something catches my eye : he looks sad in all the portraits. I imagine he is the swarthy man’s son, given his similar outfit and the way the adult systematically places his hands on his shoulders.
A door at the opposite end of the room opens. He walks in. The man from the portraits.