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Authors: Daniel Chavarria

Adios Muchachos

BOOK: Adios Muchachos
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“Daniel Chavarría is a prince of a fellow, larger than life and twice as much fun.”

—Lawrence Block, author of
Eight Million Ways to Die

Daniel Chavarría
is a Uruguayan writer with two passions: Classical literature and whores. His novels, short stories, literary journalism, and screenplays have reached audiences across Latin America and Europe. Chavarría has won numerous literary awards around the world, including a 1992 Dashiell Hammett Award. For years, he was a professor of Latin, Greek, and Classical literature, devoting much of his time and energy to researching the origins and evolution of prostitution. In 2002, Akashic Books will publish an English translation of one of Chavarría's most celebrated novels,
The Eye of Cybele,
about an illustrious Greek whore in the time of Pericles.
Adios Muchachos
is Chavarría’s first novel in English translation.

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to real events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published by Akashic Books
©2001 Daniel Chavarría
Translation ©2001 Carlos Lopez

Bicycle icon and art assistance by Thomas Alberty
Digital imaging by Richard P. Waltman

eISBN:978-1-617750-84-7
ISBN:1-888451-16-5
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 00-109264
All rights reserved
First printing

Akashic Books
PO Box 1456
New York, NY 10009
email: [email protected]
www.akashicbooks.com

To Hilda, for the wise smile
with which she received this novel;
To Daniela Chavarría Vaz, just because.

Contents

TITLE PAGE

COPYRIGHT PAGE

1996
FROM THE BICYCLE TO THE SCREEN

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

1996
MARTINIS AND OLIVES

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

1996
SCRIPT AND PROPS FOR A MOVIE WITH A HAPPY ENDING

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Fourty

Chapter Fourty-One

1998
EPILOGUE

Chapter
One

When Alicia decided to become a bicycle hooker, her mother agreed to sell a ring that had been in the family for five generations. She got $350 for it, and for $280 they bought an English mountain-bike, one with wide tires and lots of speeds, on which Alicia launched her hunt for moneyed foreigners.

It was not until two months later, however, that Alicia perfected her technique. She got rid of the English bike, for which she received $120 and a heavy old Chinese bike on which she developed her “lost pedal” routine. That was when her real success began.

The hoax was conceived and executed in the inner courtyard of an old building on Amargura Street. The author was Pepone, a bicycle genius who specialized in
“Substitutive Cyclomechanics,”
according to the sheet of aluminum lettered in red lead that hung at the entrance to his tenement.

For two bottles of
aguardiente
rum, Pepone fixed the locknut on the pedal with a linchpin that Alicia could easily remove. All she had to do was lean over a little, without stopping her pedaling, and with a slight tug bring about, whenever she felt like it, the spectacular loss of a pedal.

The next step in her routine was to clamp on the brakes, which sent her flying into a face-down (ass-up) landing on the pavement. With a good pair of gloves and a lot of practice, Alicia had the fall down to a science and was ultimately able to get through it without a scratch.

The accident would always take place about sixty feet in front of some expensive car whose foreign driver had already been entranced by the rhythmic gyrations of that—oh, so maximus!—gluteus churning on the seat she had purposely set much too high on the frame.

It was simple. Whenever a car that should have passed her actually reduced speed and fell in behind, it was a sure sign that the fish was on the hook.

Chapter
Two

In a spacious meeting room at the Ministry of Tourism, ten people were chatting around a large table that could have easily accommodated many more. The staff had set out napkins, ashtrays, and bottles of mineral water, and two elegant executive assistants were distributing documents, while a waiter worked his way around the room serving coffee.

An extremely well-dressed and good-looking man (“
Mr. Victor King
,” according to the acrylic nameplate set before him) rose from his seat, walked over to the stand displaying a large map of Cuba, and, picking up a collapsible pointer, began to draw attention to a number of spots on the northern coast of the island. Then he reached out with his other hand and pointed to some crosses on the lower part. Like an aureole surrounding the map, the different hues of light green, yellow, and white signaled the varying depths of the island shelf.

Speaking perfect Spanish with a slight Mexican accent, King addressed his audience: “As I’ve already explained, all of these blue points around the island are places where galleons were lost in the century and a half between 1596 and 1760. There is a wealth of information about them in the
Archivos de Indias
in Spain, and we are convinced that Cuba has the unique privilege of being in a position to develop a kind of hands-on nautical tourism, tied in with the search for the treasures lost on the ocean floor.”

Behind a wall of frosted glass panels, the two secretaries had their own agenda:

“The guy is a hunk!”

“Just like Mel Gibson.”

“Yeeees! I knew he reminded me of someone.”

Having finished his presentation, Victor returned to his seat and addressed one of the men on the other side of the table: “As you can see, Mr. Minister, the possibilities are infinite.”

The minister’s gaze panned right by Victor and stopped on the man sitting beside him, a blond European, around five-foot-nine, fortyish, with a ruddy complexion and a pleasant demeanor.
“Mr. Hendryck Groote
” was balding, and the hair he had left around the temples and the back of his head was long enough to tie into a samurai ponytail. His
guayabera
was at least a size too big on him.

“Yes,” the minister said, “I’ve read the report and, frankly, I find it very attractive. But I’ve talked it over with a few of our specialists and they feel that, if we want to set out to find sunken ships without endangering the future of submarine archeology in our territorial waters, we would have to purchase some very expensive equipment, somewhere in the vicinity of $20 million. Would you be in a position to put up that kind of investment?”

The minister stared at the others, quite certain that he had made an impression.

A man with a colossal nose finished lighting a Cohiba cigar for Groote and addressed the minister, continuing the conversation in English: “Mr. Minister, $20 million would hardly be enough for the project we have in mind.”

“Holy shit, what a nose! Who the hell is he?”

“His name is Jan van Dongen. They say he’s Groote’s pit bull …”

“… because we would be working in several different locations at the same time.”

“And if we go ahead with this project,” Groote interrupted, “our investment in equipment will be over $120 million …”

Hendr yck Groote spoke English with a strong accent—German or Dutch, the secretaries thought—and despite his delicate features, his gaze was sharp and his manner was clearly that of a man accustomed to wielding power. He smoked, puffing quickly on his cigar, with a grimace of displeasure and without inhaling. He never took his eyes off the minister.

“… which together with the $230 million for development of the three hotels would bring our investment up to $350 million.”

BOOK: Adios Muchachos
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