They take one finger, quickly slash it across their throat, and make a clicking sound. The sound is hard to describe, but the meaning is all too clear. Especially when it’s the answer to the question: “where’s your friend ?”
I went looking for two gentlemen I met in 2013. They used to hang out near Plaza Mayor in Trinidad, Cuba, smoking cigars, posing for tourists, and laughing at all the money they would earn. Armed with some 4×6 prints I had taken of them, it wasn’t difficult to get directions to where I could find them. It was difficult the first time I got “the slash”. I was graphically told that one of them had died only a few weeks ago. But, which one ?
When I found the gentleman, (thanks to Kate’s good eye) he was sitting with some hombres drinking rum and listening to four musicians playing for the tourists. Introductions were easy using the photos I had brought. He was happy to have the photos and told us he was going to give them to the man’s family. He assured us the family would be very grateful. I accepted the offer of a drink of straight rum. It was as if the moment had transformed into a wake. We were celebrating the memories of a dead friend.
I saw my friend another time before I left Trinidad. He was sitting in a familiar spot with only his dog. He was still smiling. Maybe it was the rum.