“What’s so good about it? Believe me, Diego, being one of the world’s last communist dictators isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.”

“Oh, Fidel, not the concert embargo again.”

“Yes, Diego, the concert embargo. I’ve outlasted nine U.S. presidents, yet I still can’t get a good seat for BS2000. Is this any way for a despot to live?”

“Maybe the new Yanqui president will be different.”

“Perhaps. But only if I can get him away from Cheney. Caramba! Talk about a wet blanket. He doesn’t even know the difference between Paul Simon and Eddie Money. Is it any wonder his heart can’t keep a steady beat? And to think they let such people run their country. Ay yi yi, what’s the world coming to?

“I would not know, Fidel. You keep jamming CNN.”

“You know how I feel about Señor Turner, Diego. How can I respect any man who would let Jane Fonda get away? Every time I look at that 60s picture of her on the antiaircraft gun, my pulse quickens as if I’m front row center for Sting. But all of that is in the past. What’s on the agenda, today?”

“You have a 10 o’clock appointment.”

“What? Another appointment? I don’t know, Diego. The business of running a workers’ paradise is starting to take its toll on me. I’m not the dashing young Marxist that kicked Batista’s butt and took his John Lee Hooker albums so many years ago. I think I’ll just stay in my hacienda and listen to the Vince Neil CDs that little Elián brought back from Miami.”

“But, Fidel, the gentlemen came a long way to see you. They say they have a plan for an off shore business that could revitalize our economy.”

“I know about their plan, Diego. They’re no better than the other capitalists that have come to Havana. McDonalds, Wendys, Hooters, they all want a piece of our beloved Cuba. But no one listens to me when I say I want comps for Eric Clapton or the Irish meal seats for U2. Cancel the appointment, Diego. Send them back to where they came from.”

“But, Fidel, it’s almost 10 o’clock. They’ll be very disappointed if you send them back.

“I have no patience for bourgeois pigs this morning. Tell them to come back another day.”

“But they’re desperate, Fidel. The young señor told me they’re ready to move their base of operations immediately.”

“Did you say, ‘desperate? Ha! Not unlike Bill Clinton when I showed him that trick with the cigar, eh? Okay, Diego. I may never live to see the day Head East graces our Havana stage, but I’ll show those Yanqui fools what I’m made of, that I can still twist the cajones of power. Send them in.”

“At once, El Presidente.”

“Oh, Diego?”

“Yes, Fidel?”

“On second thought, only send in the young señor. I do not trust that CEO of theirs, and listening to that lawyer, Boies, gives me gas. Yes, send in Señor Fanning.”

“As you wish, Fidel.”