Critique of: Missing chicken leg

havana-cuba-1214387This story is written by a person named Beny Rey. This writer is a published author of the books Vivir Es Esto and Myself for Dummies. I came across Beny on and I was asked to critique this story. What do you think? Is this story good? Was I far in my critique? What did I miss that you noticed?


Missing chicken leg

Armando hugged Laura at the airport, right at the passengers exit.

She has been anxiously waiting for him while praying for the plane to

safely arrive, and of course to arrive on time.

The chapter planes from Miami, Florida, US, bound to Havana, Cuba, are

mainly dedicated to transport Cubans residing in US to visit their relatives

in the island. At least now, after both Government agreements the number

of those flights has notably increased, building that way a frequent family

personal communication bridge.

– Well, tell me how are you doing please? – Armando asked his girlfriend

while hugging her.

– I feel terrific, especially at this very moment… But not before, because

it was 6 months ago when you came last.

– Laura please, I already explained it to you, my life is work hard, help

my ill mother, study English, continue my education … and you.

There is practically no room for anything else.


“Laura please, I already explained it to you, my life is work hard, help my ill mother, study English, continue my education … and you. There is practically no room for anything else.”

“Laura, please. I already explained it to you. My life consist of working, taking care of my ill mother, continuing my education… and you. There is no room for anything else.”

– Fully understandable Armando. I just love you very much – There

were tear drops rolling down on her face.

– There is always a place for you on my heart. And that’s why I’m

here now – Armando kisses her one more time – Let’s stop talking

please… it’s time to grab a taxi – Laura wasn’t a bombshell figure,

but she was pretty and her curvy body definitely always impressed

him – We should go to a hotel.

He purchased a bouquet of flowers and both went to the hotel. The new

Cuba Government policy allowing private enterprise showed some

positive results, the so closed communist state that was imposed for

years became at the end a very frustrating failure, everything was

state controlled.

After the sparks generating night in the hotel, the following day

the couple went to visit family members.

– Armando, how glad I am to see you here among us – his aunt

Marcela was very happy to see him – How are you please?


“How are you please?”

“How are you?”

– I am OK auntie, and super happy to be with you.

– Thanks Armando, we are all well aware of it. You came at the proper

time… We try to celebrate my grandson’s birthday, just for tomorrow – Her

aunt was excited, suddenly she stopped the conversation.


“Thanks Armando, we are all well aware of it. You came at the proper time… We try to celebrate my grandson’s birthday, just for tomorrow – Her aunt was excited, suddenly she stopped the conversation.”

I was confused when Aunt Marcela said “We try to celebrate my grandson’s birthday” because she was speaking to her grandson. I am unsure if a transition is supposed to take place and she is now speaking to Laura. But the previous dialog was all Aunt Marcela and Armando.

Also, to me at least, this sounds like a complete sentence.

Lastly, just two paragraphs up she was Armando’s aunt and it said, “His aunt

Marcela was very happy to see him.” Now it says her aunt in this sentence. I’m not sure if they are brother and sister – the type of story I run away from. Will you clear this confusion up for me?

– What happens Auntie? Blow it out please.

– That we do not have a cake to celebrate it… well we can not afford it.

– Sad auntie, that is really sad, I never understood why this supposed to be

Government for the workers does not even supply cake for a kid birthday.


– What happens Auntie? Blow it out please.


– That we do not have a cake to celebrate it… well we can not afford it.


– Sad auntie, that is really sad, I never understood why this supposed to be

Government for the workers does not even supply cake for a kid birthday.

This dialog confuses me. I suggest reading it over and seeing if it makes sense to you. It could just be me, however.

– The hell with the Cuban Communist Government!!!, that is shit – His Aunt

stopped him- We can get it now from the private business, only three

blocks away from here. They’ve chocolate cakes… but they do not take

Cuban pesos, only US dollars, and we do not have it.

– But how come auntie? You must pay in US dollars in a country where the

workers get paid in Cuban pesos?

– I do not know why my nephew… Could you please at least buy a cake for

the party?

– Of course that I will – Armando categorically replied – Laura, let’s go

now to order it please.


“Of course that I will.”

“Of course Aunt Marcela. I will.”

– Our situation in the island is difficult – Laura commented – Expect more

of these… let’s call them people requests… a lot more to come, be ready

for it. Cubans now need everything, but they also want everything…

most of the times without caring for the sacrifices of their relatives living

abroad… it’s a matter of “take”, “take” and “take”.


“Cubans now need everything, but they also want everything…”

“Cubans today has many needs, but they also have many wants also.”

– What?

– Yes my love… and you always paying.

– Jesus… where am I please?

– You are in Cuba Armando, as simple as that.

The cake was going to be delivered, so they walked back, hand by hand.

Armando’s face said it all.

– Laura I’ve a question for you, whose birthday is in your family these

days please?

– None Armando, and at least I am different – She assured him – Let’s

stop to meet my family.

Armando proudly visited her parents, their house was clean, perhaps

to impress him. A big hug followed.

– Armando thanks for your visit, we are glad to have you here – Her

father was very emotional – We are all very happy to have you as

our family member.

– I am happy too. Your welcome motivates me… Don’t know what to say.

Emotions are catching me.

– Sit down Armando please – Laura’s mother went to prepare coffee. They

all sit down around the table – Sorry the state of our house, we tried to

repair it but it wasn’t possible.

– It’s ok, for me it’s ok. Do not worry about it – Armando was very clear.

– We all know that you’re a very humble person! – Laura emphasized it.

– But it’s necessary to do something in our house if you are going to finally

marry – Laura’s father interrupted the conversation – We need a new

bed, and very badly, no doubts about it.

– What about the one that you already have in the room? – Armando


– Missing springs, Laura wakes up every morning with back pain.

Laura herself for sure can not buy it, she has no dollars – Laura’s father

stopped briefly, then he continued – The Cuban pesos mean nothing, it’s

useful for nothing. Everything is on US dollars, the ones that we don’t

have here… the currency of our enemies according to Fidel Castro.

– Laura – Gonzalo grabbed her hand – We are together, that’s the most

important thing.

– Thanks, it’s so sweet from you, what would I do without you?

– We also need to repair the holes – her father explained – I mean at

the walls. Remember that you are going to stay here sometime, and the

roof too, it rains more inside that outside.


“It rains more inside that outside.”

“It rains more inside than outside.”

– Also paying in US dollars?

– Of course Armando, the former hatred US dollar, the enemy money, is

our current God, the almighty US Dollar – He was very specific – Ah!

the walls should be painted as well. Remember that you can not afford a

hotel that frequently. We need to also buy a pressure-cook. But it doesn’t

mean right now, all of these can wait for the wedding.


“Remember that you can not afford a hotel that frequently.”

“Remember, we cannot afford to frequently pay to sleep in hotel rooms.”

Also, there is an awkward break right here from the rest of the dialog

– Laura, let’s take a break, it’s too much for me to assimilate… I’m

going to invite my brother to go to a bar – They both waved a taxi – It’s

difficult to assimilate this situation, I knew that things were bad,

but not that bad, pure misery, misery that even corrupted the people

mentality as well.

– Pedro my brother – the taxi continued taking them to a bar, including

Pedro – I’m so glad to see you again. How are you man?

– Considering the circumstances on this island society… I would say

that my situation is 50G – 50S. Bro it means 50% good and 50% shit. Well

here that’s normal. I can not hope for more.

– I know Pedro, I am fully aware of this, now more than ever before, let’s

put it aside at least for now – The taxi stopped and they all went to the

bar – How is this place?

– Well, it’s a private business, now the Government allows them. The

same Government who prohibited it for years.

– Yes the place is good – this time Laura interrupted – It’s also famous

for their services. If this were a state run bar it would have been a disaster,

like anything coming from the government would be pure shit, and the

shit always come down the hill… that defaults to us.

They all laughed – Brother I want to congratulate you, your fiancé Laura is

very pretty, nice and smart… so you are lucky.

In the bar they drank some “mojitos” and had home made ham sandwiches.

Of course Armando paid it all, he also put $3 something for the waiter

on a counter small plate. Pedro saw it while his brother and Laura went to

the restrooms. Then they all walked out to catch another taxi.

– Armando why you did not give at least a couple of dollars to the waiter

please? He was very nice with us… for sure he is a very poor guy.

– But Laura, I just put more than $3 on the plate for him.

– Well I saw nothing on it -Laura was surprised – It was empty when we

came back from the restrooms.

– What!!! – Armando shook his head – Let me ask the waiter – He went to the

bar counter.

– It was the other man who took it, the one who came with you – The

waiter didn’t sound happy, he replied after Armando asked him – He

took it from the plate while you went for a leak.

– Thanks for your service man -Armando handed him a couple of dollars

and exited again.

– Pedro do not do it again, ask me if you need some dollars please. If I

have then you’ll have too.

– Sorry brother, but I needed it to buy milk for my daughter, she is

already seven years old, after that age the Government does not supply

milk anymore. I go to either black market or to the new private business

enterprise, they both charge dollars.

– Stop, and stop now! – Armando cut him off – ask me if you need a couple of

dollars, period!

The taxi dropped Pedro at his, from there Armando and Laura continued by


– Ah! Armando, before I forget, thanks for the cellular phone, now it’s

easier for us to keep our communication – Laura kissed him – Well

assuming that you pay its monthly re-charge.

– What’s that please… Another Cuban communist invention?

– You already know how is the situation here. Armando you paid

in dollars for the phone, from US you need to pay for the monthly

continuous cellular service too, here it’s called the re-charge.

– How much is that Laura?

– $20 monthly is enough, sometimes they offer promotions. All

of this is paid from US through the internet.

– Jesus, you living in Cuba but your phone is paid in dollars from

US!!!… who is this world can understand it. If the Cuban

Government could control the air, I would then need to pay in

US dollars for you all to breathe – Armando noticed that

Laura did not comment anything – Ok Laura, for $20 monthly

we will keep our contact alive.

The fifth day of his visit found Armando and Laura alone at

her house, her parents went to stay overnight with relatives in

another town. That way they could intimidate and at least be

alone in a home, their home on temporarily basis.


“That way they could intimidate and at least be alone in a home, their home on temporarily basis.”

I have no idea what you were trying to say here.

After their passion calmed down, they both decided to get some

groceries and prepare food, it was going to be a dinner with privacy,

a very needed privacy. Of course they went to an “only dollars store” for

groceries. Got chicken, rice, vegetables, cooking oil, tomato sauce, garlic

and onion, well some beers too. Dinner was scheduled for

approximately 6:00 pm, so they started to prepare it earlier, Laura

took the cooking lead, she showed abilities doing it. When the food was

finally ready, she covered the bowls and pots to take a shower before

dinner. Armando was taking a nap. Someone knocking at the door

interrupted Laura …

– Marta I did not know that you were coming – Laura welcomed her


– I wanted to see Armando, I could not wait more, I hope he remembers me.

– Of course he remembers you, but he is now sleeping… can you comeback

later please?

– Sure Laura, it’s okay for me because I need to prepare… or try to prepare

some food for my husband, our three kids and myself.

– Thanks for your understanding, do not speak loud please.

– Ok.. but in moment like this I would like to yell!!!

– Why Marta? – Laura was surprised – your words worry me.

– Because I can not invite Armando to our house, I have not even coffee

to offer.

– It’s okay, do not worry that Armando knows the cuban situation. You

are not alone. Marta believe me, he is fully aware of it.

– I only have potatoes for tonight, 5 persons to be fed with few potatoes.

Don’t know what to do – Marta watched the kitchen, specially the

covered pots, she experienced the rich smell coming out from them- Laura

realized it.

– Okay, do not say anything, but at least for tonight you will have something

more than potatoes.

Laura got food from the one she cooked previously and gave it to her sister

to take home. Only then Marta happily walked out, Laura finally took a


– Armando good that you’re up. How do you feel?

– I feel terrific, happy and hungry.

– Well, let’s get ready to rumble!!! – Laura filled the plates and served the

dinning table. Armando opened two beers and poured them into glasses.

Then they sat down, Laura prayed,

– Wow Laura, the rice got chicken taste, and the chicken and salad are

delicious, healthy and fresh – Armando started to enjoy it – How lucky


– Thanks a lot, it means so much for me. I am here for you.

Suddenly Armando stopped eating, he noticed something weird – Laura,

where is your chicken?

– I am okay, do not worry.

– For sure that I worry, where is your chicken leg please?

– Well, my sister Marta came while you were sleeping… they had no food

for tonight…

– So they’re eating the rest of the chicken now – Armando was so serious,

like never before – May be they are acting like cats at this moment, eating

with closed eyes, it does not matter how they got the food.

– Armando please, she has three kids.

– Yes I know it – he cut his chicken leg into two and gave half to

Laura – Take it, we are together. Do not close your eyes please – Armando

meditated for while.

– Laura, at this very moment I remember Charles Chaplin, he experienced

the meaning of being poor, he was very poor, among the poorest. He

also knew the meaning of being rich, he was very rich, among the

richest – Emotion captured him while talking – Chaplin then clearly stated

that it was a lot better to be rich – Both Armando and Laura laughed – Well

in my case I experienced life in both the Capitalist and the Communist

Cuba, my life is currently in US – Armando stopped for few

seconds – and now as an American citizen, I am informing everybody

that the United States is well better than Cuba – They laughed, hand by

hand again.


Final Thoughts

Your writing style is… interesting. I myself play around with my writing style finding one that fits me test. When I first scanned the document I thought it was a poem. It’s not I know.


But I did find it difficult to determine who was speaking at times. There are little indications that says who is speaking.


The dialog between characters could also be improved. I don’t know if English is your first language but it may be beneficial to observe and study how native English speakers speak to one another.


The story talks a lot about money troubles and hating the US. I’m sure there are more reasons than just money to hate the United States. Or rather, blame the United States for their problems. How hard is it to get US dollars in Cuba? US dollars are legal tender in a lot of places.


I found this to give me a laugh, “Armando opened two beers and poured them into glasses. Then they sat down, Laura prayed.” Considering the passage Proverbs 23:29-32.


After reading all the way to the end I am struggling to see what am I supposed to take away from all of this. The majority of the document talked about how much Cuba sucks and toward the end how rich the US is. Either the theme here is life in Cuba sucks and America is better or I’m missing something.

It would help if you get an editor to read and rewrite your story into a more legible document. Good luck with your short story and I hope this has helped you.


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