“Yes, Diego, I smile because I am a happy dictator. I am anxiously awaiting good news from MPL Communications in response to my invitation for Paul McCartney to play our island paradise.”

“I must admit, Fidel, I haven’t seen you in such a good mood since that night you had me drive you by the Yankees’ Camp X-Ray so that you could drop your trousers and show the Taliban prisoners your backside while Ted Nugent’s ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ blasted out of your car stereo.”

“I’m turning over a new leaf, Diego. No longer will I mope around my palatial hacienda cursing the concert embargo that has strangled our little jewel of the Caribbean for over 40 years. No longer will you hear me pine for an date featuring Moby and David Bowie or mope about because Kool & The Gang turned us down. You’re looking at a new Presidente for life, Diego.”

“I’m sure it will be better than the old one.”

“What was that, Diego?”

“Err… I said, ‘are you sure Sir Paul will agree to play Cuba?'”

“Accepting is only a formality, Diego. Señor McCartney is not in the habit of refusing favors for old friends.”

“Old friends? You know Sir Paul?”

“Sí. It was 1967, but we knew it better as the Summer Of Love. The lads and I were making the scene in San Francisco.”

“But didn’t someone recognize you, Fidel?”

“What was there to recognize? Fatigues, beard and the wild-eyed look of a fanatic? I fit right in with the crowd. Ah, Diego! Those were the days! The days when Rolling Socialist referred to me as the ‘Fifth ‘Beatle.'”

“And that is why you are smiling, Fidel? Because you think this McCartney concert is a sure thing?”

“Yes, Diego. That and my physician just treated me with something called Botox. I can do nothing but smile.”

“So, it doesn’t bother you that the Americans refuse to lift the embargo? That your pleas for Heart and Ozzfest 2002 fell on deaf ears? That you couldn’t even get an in-store appearance by Poison down at the Peoples Megastore?”

“I’m the happiest communist on the planet, Diego. But you spoke of mail. Perhaps the answer that I await is already here.”

“Yes, Fidel. Let’s see… Occupant… occupant… pre-approved VISA… Publishers Clearinghouse… No response, Fidel, but there is a free CD in here.”

“Bah! Just another AOL disc, Diego. They’ve been sending me those things by the hundreds, ever since I renewed my subscription to Entertainment Weekly. I keep sending them emails telling them I’m already a member, but they dismiss them as the ramblings of a washed-up dictator well past his golden years. Ach! If it wasn’t for the chat rooms, I would have dropped the service years ago. Are you certain there is no response about McCartney?”

Positive, Fidel.”

“I know I should never had made the offer contingent upon Paul playing the entire Back To The Egg album.”

“I’m so sorry, Fidel.”

“What is there to be sorry about, Diego? When I smile, all of Cuba smiles. The night is young, the ocean breezes are soothing and a beautiful Cuban evening such as this makes me glad to be alive. It makes me want to jump out and shout, “Viva la revolución! Viva Sir Paul! Viva la Botox!”

“Viva Diego!”

“Don’t push your luck, little man. Tell you what. I’ll grab a few CDs by Dokken and Slayer, and in the meantime, you can pull the car around.”

“Oh, no, Fidel, not again. Not the Taliban prisoners.”

“Yes, Diego, the Taliban prisoners. I think it’s about time they found out what a Havana moon is all about.”