Antonio's Glove by Tonii Marie Kelly - Read Online
Antonio's Glove
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Cuba 1980

Fifteen year old, aspiring artist Tomas Santos' belief in Fidel Castro begins to crack when he's ordered to turn against his best friend. As his doubts continue to grow, Tomas gets comfort only from a baseball glove that mysteriously links him to older brother, Antonio.

Suddenly the full force of Castro's oppressive regime falls on the family and his father is sent to prison. Their food rations are cut, they are shunned by friends and neighbors. Tomas' father wants the family to escape from Cuba and hints at a plan involving empty coffins.

As he struggles to please his father, Tomas is still linked to his brother through the mitt, which has powers he does not understand. Then the family learns that Antonio died fighting the war in Angola from Javier Rodriguez, a neighborhood spy chief with his own dark reasons for wanting the glove.

Tomas is plunged into the paranormal world of Santeria, a Cuban style voodoo. Any time he sleeps with the glove nearby, he has a recurring nightmare about his brother. Is Antonio trying to tell him something from beyond the grave?

Rodriguez continues to pressure the family. Tomas tries to escape on a raft. At the last moment, Antonio returns, claiming Tomas' help to succeed in a secret mission. It's a dangerous game with every move creating more risk for his friends and family. Suddenly and unexpected opportunity opens up. With ten thousand people claiming asylum from the Peruvian Embassy in Havana, Castro does the unthinkable and opens Mariel Bay with an

that Miami Cubans can come to collect their relatives.

Tomas has a final opportunity to escape. Will Antonio let him go?

Published: Tonii Marie Kelly on
ISBN: 9781502251961
List price: $2.99
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Antonio's Glove - Tonii Marie Kelly

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eBook Copyright and License Notes

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return this eBook and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author’s work. Only you allow digital book pirates to survive!

Copyright © 2015 by Tonii Marie Kelly

All rights reserved

All of the characters in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. They are the product of the author's imagination and used fictitiously.

Warning: the unauthorized reproduction, copying, sharing or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Cover Design created by International Bestselling Author, Ashley Fontainne

Photographs from Dollar Photo Club

© Clayllama Dollar Photo Club – baseball glove & ball

© Selensergen Dollar Photo Club – Cuban flag

© Bramgino Dollar Photo Club – barbed wire wall

© Lipowski Dollar Photo Club - skull


I began writing to prove to my son that a person can do anything if they stick to it. Eamonn, I haven’t lost my mind after all.

I am grateful for the valued friendships that kept me working. Viccy who worked with me the whole way, Carmel who made me finish and Renee, who wanted to read more. I am indebted to Elaine Raco Chase for sharing her expertise.

Chapter One

Matanzas, Cuba, February 21, 1980

Tomás Santos kicked through the rubble of burnt underbrush, a machete in hand to cut the green stalks of sugar cane. He studied the geometry of the fallen plant debris when a sudden movement disrupted the vegetative grid. Something raced through the field toward him. That warning kept Tomás from stepping on a thick black snake now coiled to attack. For a startled instant, the snake and Tomás stared at one another. Swearing, he fumbled with his machete, nearly dropping it. The snake hissed, ready to strike. Then Hector Morales lopped off the head with one mighty slash. Tomás leaped back to avoid the snapping fangs.

I thought they were supposed to be driven away by fire? He kicked the dismembered head into the underbrush.

They are. I never saw one go right towards anybody before. This one must have been confused by the fire and smoke. I hope we don't see another! Hector took off his thick glasses and rubbed the lenses with his shirt, his usual response to stress.

Did that snake seem weird to you? Tomás swung his machete at the dead body, slicing the remains in half, then half again. Something feels wrong today.

Now that you mention it, I'd almost say it was looking for you. No, Hector amended, I meant it was looking at you, don't I? But that's ridiculous.

Hey, are you okay? He watched Hector reset the black frames over his face. Now he looked right, and Tomás wished he hadn’t asked such a stupid question.

Okay? Didn’t I just save your butt from a vicious attack? Hector laughed and punched Tomás on the arm. Get back to work, we don’t want to be here all day.

Chapter Two

Havana, Cuba, March 2, 1980

Tomás studied the picture of a Cuban boa. According to his science textbook, this was the snake Hector killed. It usually avoided people, just eating rodents and small mammals. Well, that one was after me!

He ran a hand through the thatch of dark brown curls that fell to the collar of his once-white shirt. At the front of the classroom, the teacher droned on about Fidel Castro's innovative theories of a scientific revolutionary process. Again.

How many times do we have to hear the same thing? Still, it’s good to be out of the sun. For the previous fourteen days Tomás and the other students labored at a rural school to harvest sugar cane, sleeping together at night in a rough barracks built near the fields. His back ached from long hours spent cutting cane.

Any lesson is better than that. Tomás shielded a piece of paper under his text and began to draw the girl before him, Gabriela Rodriguez. He sketched carefully, stopping when the battered desk made his pencil skip. He studied the texture it gave the shading he'd added to her hair.

Would you like to return to the fields, Santos? One of your options includes agricultural studies, if academic work is too dull for you. Señor Agosto loomed over him, one hand held out for the drawing. His rimless glasses reflected light from the overhead bulbs, giving him blank ovals where his eyes should have been.

No one dared to break the hushed atmosphere by laughing. Tomás handed over the sketch with a renewed appreciation for his classroom. Thirty scarred wooden desks left little space to move around. Pictures of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara broke the dark symmetry of the blackboards along the concrete walls, and the floor was scuffed green linoleum.

Best of all, the girls sit next to the boys. No, I don't want to go back to Matanzas. No sir. One of the most important differences between Fidel's model of revolution and the Soviet Union's is the use of agriculture to educate each student. I am grateful to have been allowed to study the harvesting of sugar cane, but feel I can be more useful to the revolution in other ways. Maybe that will avoid another note in my dossier. The student’s dossier, a civilian passport, recorded everything a citizen did. Or what I didn't do. Tomás watched Agosto compare the drawing to the back of Gabriela’s head.

Your 'artistry' will make you a good engineer. But your indifference to education is anti-social. That attitude will make it hard for you to get to a university. Next time, your lack of attention will be recorded. Señor Agosto returned to his desk, dropping the sketch in a trash can.

Cut cane my whole life? Tomás’ brown eyes closed. I can’t spend my life hacking at woody plants with a machete. Those farmers had deep furrowed creases along every plane of their faces. If I had paper, I’d have captured every line and wrinkle.

The past two weeks completed his required seven weeks of rural labor. He was free to study the rest of the year, but was already fifteen. Without a university placement, military service began at sixteen, as it had for his older brother, Antonio. That dossier meant the difference between staying home to study or getting sent off to the army.

Tomás brushed his damp hands against his brown pants. I could join the Young Pioneers. But I need time to study the quality of light and shadow on different textures. I can't go to Communist meetings all evening. Antonio was a Pioneer, but what good did that do? When he went into the army, he dropped off the face of the earth.

An impatient knock interrupted Señor Agosto's recitation of the day's homework. The school's political officer waved Agosto to the opened door for a message. The officer withdrew and Agosto walked over to Hector Morales to whisper a question.

Tomás was close enough to hear the word eggs, but couldn’t make out the rest. He saw sudden alarm in Hector's eyes.

Agosto straightened and said, "No weapons training this afternoon, students. You’re all needed to assist in an acto de repudio. It will require all your revolutionary commitment. We go to the Morales household in Barrio Cayo Hueso."

Tomás stiffened. He participated in other actos, demonstrations against traitors to the Cuban revolution. But this one? Hector Morales had his back in the cane fields. Hector was one of the Barrio Cayo Hueso boys. Hector was his friend.

This can't be right. But Fidel is never wrong . . . is he? Hector, there's a mistake, Tomás hissed. Hector did not respond. He looked stunned and confused. But the rest of the class felt no confusion. The denunciation process had begun.

Already students shifted in their seats away him. Tomás knew that to go to Hector's aid would only worsen things. But how can I denounce my friend? And afterwards, ostracize him and his family?

Bitter frustration sent acid rolling up from his stomach into his mouth. His olive skin flushed under his tan. Without thinking, Tomás reached into his book bag for Antonio's old baseball glove. The heft of the leather grounded him, calmed his anger. Dissent was impossible, of course. Antonio said this could happen. He said to be cool, think of our family. But Hector and I are family, too. Aren't we?

The entire class waited outside Escuela Secondaria Che Guevara for transportation to Barrio Cayo Hueso. An angry Tomás kicked the crumbling curb to avoid looking at the other students. He studied the patched masonry of the school, a concrete box set amid aging hotels converted to apartments. He saw a chicken pecking for bugs in the street. It ran away, wings high, as a red Studebaker drove by, honking at the cyclists and pedestrians.

That looks like a 1959 Commander with those fins over the wheels. When we get jobs, Hector and I are going to save enough to buy a really decrepit car. Hector's so good with mechanical things. Now I'll never get to talk with him about it again. I'll bet we could have fixed it in no time.

Juan Aguilar, another of the Barrio Cayo Hueso gang, took one look and wisely decided to steer clear of Tomás in his current mood.

An old yellow school bus pulled up. Tomás could hear the engine's idle whining high. Maybe it will finally break down. He boarded in sullen silence and flung his book bag on the seat to keep everyone else away. But his mood changed when Gabriela Rodriguez paused at his row. He slipped the bag off the seat just in case she decided to sit with him.

She flipped back the loose curls of her dark auburn hair, posing in the aisle like a Russian film star, the one in that latest Soviet movie. Tomás couldn't remember the name of the film. Hector wants to see every movie that comes to Havana. He noticed the resemblance; he's always comparing girls to movie stars. But he never remembers Fidel's speeches. Maybe if he had, this wouldn’t have to happen.

Hey, mind if I sit down? She gave him a brilliant smile.

"Suit yourself. Anybody know why we're going to Hector's house for an acto?" Her hair smelled of oranges, not the state-issued shampoo his sister and all the other girls used. Tomás tried not to sniff, but couldn't help breathing deeply. He also tried not to stare at how her white shirt stretched apart at the front buttons. Damn, she's really filling out that shirt.

It's not our place to ask. Gabriela leaned against him to allow the other students to pass. Look Tomás, these demonstrations are upsetting but Hector's done them too. It isn't personal against him. It's not our fault his parents are enemies of Fidel.

Isn't personal? Hector Morales is my best friend. I can't imagine his parents doing anything subversive. Tomás hoped his own much-washed uniform was clean. Yeah, but Hector said the dirt on brown pants doesn't matter, what can show up against brown? He always made me laugh. No, he makes me laugh. I'm not denouncing my friend!

"Tomás, that's why you aren't on the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. You just don’t know how tough it is for my papí. He has a hard job running the CDR, rooting out these vicious parasites." Gabriela studied the remains of a crimson polish on her left thumbnail, then lightly flaked away a large chip.

So he says. Tomás murmured. His artist's eye evaluated the combination of the dark red flake against her brown skirt.

What do you mean? Her hazel eyes narrowed, and her fingertips beat a steady conga of disapproval against her thigh. Ignoring the curious glances of the other students, she searched Tomás' face for evidence of . . . what? Some kind of dissension?

How is Hector's mother subversive? She makes the best flan in the barrio. He wanted to say that aloud, but Tomás knew when he'd crossed a line. Instead, he pulled at an edge of ripped black vinyl that curled away from the bus seat and squinted out the window.

Hector was the last to get on. He glanced down the length of the bus. Only Tomás looked back. Hector wiped his face free of an oily sweat that made the black frames of his glasses slide down his nose.

Everyone hates me now, except Tomás. Hector's forehead puckered. Why's he sitting with Gabriela? Did she say something to her father because I told her she looks like Anastasia Vertinskaya in that movie, ‘The Enamoureds’? It's not against the law to see a movie.

Last week Tomás had sketched Hector in class: a funny caricature that captured his easy smile. Now Tomás itched for a pencil and paper. Today, I'd draw heavier shadows under his eyes, add those tense lines around his mouth. He looks like an old man instead of a fifteen-year-old kid. Even his skin looks gray, like he’s really sick. I'd be sick, too, in his place.

The wheezing bus hit a pothole in the broken pavement of 12th Street and everyone was jolted in their seats. Gabriela's foot bumped into the book bag. Tomás picked it up, careless of the dusty canvas against his uniform.

Gabriela moved away from the dirty bag on Tomás' lap. His eyes are such a gorgeous chocolate. He's got this fuzzy look to his chin by the afternoon. I'll bet he could get me into the nightclubs, he looks twenty- one! She edged closer and looked up at him through thick eyelashes. I could model for you if you wanted to practice your drawing.

Tomás recognized her exaggerated pose as a childish attempt at flirtation. But if he laughed, she would never forgive him and that could be dangerous. Some days you'd never know she's just turned fifteen. She doesn't know I've been drawing the back of her head since the first day of school. Thanks, I'd like that. You'd be a great model.

Flattered, Gabriela primped her hair and settled back, her suspicions forgotten.

Seated behind the driver, Hector puzzled out his family's treachery. His mother hadn’t given up being a Catholic. She'd had a few neighbors over for a mass, pretending it was a birthday party. How did they know about the extra eggs she got for her flan? On Sunday? A dead giveaway. "I told papí we were going to get in trouble," he whispered.

Turn right now? the bus driver barked.

No, no. It's farther along, you turn right on Calzade de Infanta, then right again at Principe Street. Hector chewed his lower lip. He nervously picked apart his science book, sending tiny drifts of paper to the floor.

The bus deposited the students in the Cayo Hueso Barrio. Gabriela gave Tomás an apologetic smile and wandered a few steps ahead. Her father, Javier Rodriguez, didn't like anyone standing close to his daughter. Rodriguez, a powerfully built man with an intensity that amplified his thick shoulders, graying brush-cut hair and blazing eyes, was there to orchestrate the acto. Gabriela waved at him with her right hand. He stopped his instructions long enough to grab her left and frowned at the nail polish. She pulled away to join the crowd gathered before the apartment building where Hector lived.

A dark-skinned woman, her head wrapped in a red and green turban, yelled: "Bastardos!" The growing crowd on the narrow sidewalk roared in agreement. The front door opened. Hector's parents came outside as required, shrinking away from the rocks and sticks hurled at them.

Another student, Manuel Ruiz, his broad face split by a grin, juggled a rock in one hand. He was small for fifteen, and his tightly curling hair bounced over his light brown eyes. He pointed at two policemen in their usual olive-drab uniforms parked in a dusty sedan across the street. Someone's getting arrested today.

Tomás hoped Hector wouldn't get arrested. Manuel is always looking for excitement.

An old man shouted: Idiots! You are too stupid to live. He struggled to create volume in the shrill cries, but his old voice cracked. Near him, Rodriguez scanned the other students. His gaze lingered on Tomás. He cocked his head as if to ask why Tomás just stood there.

Damn, I'm in trouble now. Only Rodriguez knows why the Morales are targeted, but everyone knows they could be tomorrow’s victim. Garbage, worthless scum, you should die, Tomás whispered, uncertain how this pain he inflicted helped Castro. He picked up a handful of pebbles. I won’t hurt anybody. Hector and I will laugh about this later.

Gabriela moved a few steps closer and muttered, "Por Dios, throw some rocks, Tomás! And shout a little louder." She began cursing in colorful language.

Hector was pushed through the restless mob until he faced his parents. Rodriguez jostled through the crowd, a rough stone in his hand. The CDR block commander offered the terrified teen the chunk of coral.

One voice shouted over the crowd, Throw it, just throw it.

Rodriguez gestured furiously for silence and then forced the rock into Hector’s hand. He threw it but fell short of hitting his father. His mother began to weep.

Tomás saw Manuel shouting too. His eagerness startled Tomás. Is he still angry about that big argument with Hector two weeks ago? Something about a foul pitch at baseball practice?

Someone hit Tomás on the back of the head. He realized he had been silent too long. Huge white rocks piled up on the ground around the Moraleses. Tomás' own chunk of coral scraped his palm. He could not look at the family as he lobbed his rock a few feet.

A new cry rent the air. Hector's father had been hit under the eye. Tomás saw his rock and one of the white ones near the man’s head. Now he realized the white one was a frozen egg, frequently used as a weapon during an acto. What a waste of eggs.

Señor Morales lay unmoving on the ground, bleeding from a deep cut under his eye.

"Dios mio, he's hit!" Hector ran to his father. Looking back at the crowd, he zeroed in on Tomás. I thought he was my only friend. Shock and hatred ignited Hector's astonished face.

Tomás saw the look and was appalled. Hector can’t think I did that.

The policemen began to wave away the rest of the protestors. Rodriguez slapped Tomás on the back, indicating his satisfaction with the acto's outcome with a wide grin. Manuel saw the gesture and turned away, scowling.

Two hours later Tomás retreated to the tiny room he shared with his brother. Antonio’s bed sheets were tucked carefully in at the corners, while his own bed was a mess with rumpled sheets and clothes piled up at one end. Tomás slid his hand into his brother's baseball glove, tossing an imaginary baseball high and catching it.

The smell of old leather intensified each time he flexed the mitt. It was too big, meant for another hand. Tomás could hear Antonio's voice in his mind. Stick to the old routines and maybe everything will be okay.

Hey, it's Clemente himself at the pitcher's mound. His sister Paloma mimed swinging a bat from the hallway. A home run! She ran in place, knees high, as if flying to home plate.

She always makes me feel better. Tomás plucked another phantom ball from the air. "Nah, I'm third