Havana Noir – La Coca-Cola del Olvido

la_017_150w.jpgShe was a 54-year-old light-skinned black woman, a technical engineer at the H. Upmann Tobacco Factory by day and, under the cover of darkness, a black market beautician prowling the poorly-lit alleys of Centro Habana, trimming beards and plucking eyebrows for those too elderly to do so for themselves, giving pedicures and cleaning pores for those too young and too vain to see past their own noses.

She hadn’t always been this snide. Once, she too had believed in beauty, revered it even. As a child, she had chosen her career because of it. This was back in the days of Batista, when she had noticed that all the beautiful people in La Poma, that bottleneck of chaos and corruption and color that has forever been Havana, were all professionals—doctors, architects, lawyers, engineers. When the Revolution triumphed, on the eve of her tenth birthday, she had been immediately caught up in its spell of social justice, its promise of education (the path to professionalism) for everyone…

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