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October - 10/01/2011 to 10/31/2011
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stain Removal

Dear Tide:

I am writing to say what an excellent product you have. I used it all my life, as I had always been told it was the best. Now that I'm dead, I find it even better! In fact, about a month ago, I spilled some red wine on my new white robe. My inconsiderate and uncaring husband (Lucifer...the bastard) started to belittle me about how clumsy I was, and generally started becoming a pain in the neck.

One thing led to another and somehow I ended up with his blood on my new white robe! I grabbed my bottle of Tide with bleach alternative, to my surprise and satisfaction, all of the stains came out! In fact, the stains came out so well the purgatory Proprietor told me that DNA tests on my blouse were negative and that I was no longer considered a suspect in Lucifer's disappearance. What a relief! Occasionally confronting that bastard is bad enough without being a murder suspect! I thank you, once again, for having a great product.

Well, gotta go, have to write to the Hefty bag people.

Miss Havana

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Who Threw Cold Water on the Dog?

Of course, any discerning person would ask, “What kind of stupid title is ‘Who Threw Cold Water on the Dog?’ for a respectable blog” And, of course, I have a legitimate answer. First, who said this is a respectable blog? I am inherently wicked, so I try to avoid the appearance of too much respectability. Second, the title succinctly sums up the story of my life, so I thought I’d use it. But before we get to that, let me introduce myself. I am the one and only Miss Havana, beautiful former substitute teacher at Redmond High in Buck Township near Chicago.

No, I wasn’t fired, as the words “former substitute teacher” might imply. Almost everyone loved me there, some more than appropriate, but nothing I couldn’t handle. The problem was that not everyone did. Some, it’s sad to say, didn’t love me at all. In fact, there was such extreme resentment and jealousy that many were involved with my death. I know. I know. That got under my skin too, but I did get back at the bastards.

Being all male, Lucifer took to me like a lost pet when I arrived in hell with my gaggle of slayers. Using feminine wile, I weaseled the keys to his kingdom, and became the Queen of Darkness. The bastards who did me in paid dearly then, and will for eternity. But enough about them, we’re here to talk about me. My life looked good on the surface, but in truth, if I can use that phrase without choking on it, it wasn’t all that great. My childhood sucked. My mother was a drug addict, and males who should have protected me used me for their own pleasure.

I learned to survive at an early age, to exist using the attributes all beautiful women have, but my life was a series of painful events. If something good happened, the bad would soon follow. That’s what I mean by, “Who Threw Cold Water on the Dog?” In the old days people separated “joined” dogs by throwing cold water on them, but I don’t think they do that any more—dogs mate in private now. Anyway, I always knew the cold water was coming. And it did.

My teaching stint was short, and my death early. By age twenty-six, I was already Lucifer’s toy. For once I hoped for the cold water, but no, they don’t have that in hell. There, it was hot coals, but I always knew they were coming, until the day I rebelled. I thought it over for twenty-one years; then, captured Lucifer and took over his horde. Finally, I had it made…for eternity. Or did I? Once again the hot coals came, but this time in the form of my daughter, who usurped my authority before I could become firmly entrenched. That sucked.

Only through treachery and cunning did I free myself to live in the spirit world between heaven and hell, but even then the cold water came…in the literal sense. I learned the hard way that inhabiting the living in the throes of passion, as they reach the pinnacle of erotic satisfaction…is considered stealing! Crap! Who knew? And again I was abruptly jerked from something that could have been pleasant into a litany of rules. Why must it always be the same? Just once I’d like something to go right for the long term.

I bided my time tormenting my guide in heaven’s probation, but he eventually left. I was alone. Forlorn. Woe is me. But soon I realized the spirit world could be fun. I could control the bodies I inhabit, so I took over an advice columnist named Jackie. Here’s a sample of her work under my direction.

“Dear Miss Jackie: My neighbor squeals like a pig while having sex. I can hear this unsightly noise through the wall. How do I broach the subject with her? Sincerely, Itchy in Indiana.”

Oh, this is too easy. “Dear Itchy: Assuming I’ve read your signature block correctly, you need an invitation to her party. That could be tough because some women don’t like to share, despite the benefit of gaining some really good friends. Nevertheless, you should try to worm your way in. Be seductive and flirtatious with her, but always remember you must have her buy-in before getting his. Work your way into her heart and he’ll come along, if you get my drift. On the other hand, if I’ve misread your intent and you really want to stop the howling, try inviting your neighbor to dinner. Serve roast pork. Then, during dessert, casually bring up the pig slaughtering process. Throw in a few examples of those horrific squeals, and casually mention that those noises can penetrate apartment walls easily. Then ask if she's been killing pigs at night because it sounds like a damn slaughterhouse over there. You should have good sleep thereafter! Yours truly, Miss Jackie.”

Okay, being a literal ghost writer turned out to be a side job. What the world really needed was a sense of justice, and without a guide, what was a girl to do. Yes, you guessed it, I assumed the role of The Angel of Death. Cool, huh? But even that was fraught with questions, as I thought through the tough situation in Juarez:

“I don’t know, maybe I’ve been brought here to settle a particular score, perhaps to avenge Alejandra Andrade, one of the girls individually listed in Tom’s thick file. The seventeen-year-old was kidnapped on Valentine’s Day, 2001, and six days later her nude body was found wrapped in a blanket and dumped in an empty lot in front of the plastics plant where she worked. She had been choked, her face savagely beaten, and parts of her breasts removed.

“Or perhaps I should investigate the dead fourteen-year-old discovered with her hands bound behind her back and tape covering her face. Little is known about some of the murders, except that the victims share the common fate of throwaways around the world. They are flushed from life with little regard for the poor and vulnerable, and their bones are dug up in fields outside town or hidden five feet under a warehouse, like the mutilated bodies of eight young women discarded in a cotton field.

“Or maybe I’m supposed to put a stop to the vicious turf battles between the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels. Clearly, the killing of young women began when the cartels took over, as did attendant violence and lawlessness. Gangster wars continue to bring daily double-digit body count, rendering the massacre of women a distant evil.”

The killing in Juarez was horrific, and my response equally so. Frankly, I enjoyed the retribution, and wielded the arm of death with enthusiasm – vengeance was mine! And then came the cold water. I guess I wasn’t supposed to enjoy it so much because I ended up in God’s woodshed. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say this…you haven’t seen the last of Miss Havana!

To follow my hilarious exploits, please check out the following novels from Solstice Publishing (

The Substitute – Paranormal Comedy – Available Now. This novel offers a side-splitting romp through the final days of Miss Havana’s life, her trials in purgatory, and her afterlife with Lucifer.

The Substitute Blurb: Miss Havana’s public persona was far from the truth because, in her capacity as substitute teacher, the small community where she lived knew her as the breathtakingly beautiful young woman who demanded every student learn, but in her private life, ostensibly caring for aging parents in Chicago, she raced through the lives of powerful men, leaving a wake of destruction…and a deep desire for revenge. Little did she realize her conflicted life would end in a chaotic death at an early age, and to eternal conflict with the devil. Clever and witty, the reader will not guess the conclusion of this novel until the final paragraph.

Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! – Paranormal Comedy – Coming Soon. The second in the comedy series, this novel follows Miss Havana’s struggle in heaven’s probation and her self-appointed stint as “The Angel of Death” … until God dictates the surprise of her afterlife.

Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! Blurb: An act of selflessness lands Miss Havana in heaven’s probation, where she torments ‘The Brazilian’, herguide. She has a lot to learn, but even as she makes incremental steps of progress, her evil nature wreaks havoc. Her spirit frequently visits the surface, inhabiting an advice columnist by day and various assassins by night. She is chaos, and eventually appoints herself as the Angel of Death. The issues she confronts in the spirit are horrific, and her solutions so extreme God is forced to intervene. He rues sending her back to hell, where she will join forces with her evil daughter, Lilith, but doesn’t want her disrupting probation either. God’s solution is unique, clever and totally unexpected. Miss Havana could not anticipate her fate; nor will the reader.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

RD: Reaper's Door is pleased to welcome Miss Havana for an interview today.

MH: Why, thank you Reaper's Door. I trust you counted your coffee cups before I arrived.

RD: (Blushing while silently re-counting cups) Ah…yes…I…uh.

MH: Just kidding. I have plenty of cups from my last interview. Do you mind if I call you just plain Reaper?

RD: Not at all. And since you've already scored your quote of cups, it is especially good to have you. What do you wish to enlighten us with today?

MH: I just read South Dakota passed a law requiring counseling at pregnancy help centers and a three-day wait before having an abortion. Frankly, I think it would be better to require men to have counseling and a three-day wait before having sex.

RD: Ah…that’s not exactly what I had in mind, Miss Havana. Can we ratchet the discussion down a notch or two?

MH: Oh, sure. You probably want to know about my new release, right?

RD: (In stunned surprise) You write?

MH: I give advice…unique advice…and I’m the glamorous star of the novel, Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! Frankly, I’d rather talk about myself than a stodgy old novel writer.

RD: Okay, what makes you special?

MH: Excellent question, Reaper. Despite my many shortcomings in The Substitute, I still managed to impress the Big Guy. Imagine my surprise when He freed me from hell and placed me on probation at the outskirts of heaven – a once in an afterlife opportunity – a chance to prove I’m not totally evil after all. Death is kind of permanent; second chances are nice.

RD: But all your friends are in hell! Weren’t you lonely?

MH: Ah, it wasn’t so bad. My daughter loaned me the shadow creature Waldo when she could find him, and I even got to abuse Senator Wansworth again. That was fun. In fact, once I got The Brazilian out of my hair, I got to inhabit whoever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

RD: What do you mean by, “inhabit”?

MH: (Snickering) It’s like haunting, but with more control. A powerful spirit can make a body do anything. It’s like you’re the puppet master, and the living are your toys.

RD: Who’s The Brazilian and, dare I ask, why such a strange name?

MH: (Deep sigh) The Brazilian was my guide. He was supposed to show me the ropes and keep me out of trouble, but the slacker abandoned me before finishing his job. He probably had more waxing to do, but I guess that’s the answer to your second question. What a dweeb. Can you believe he’d interrupt a perfectly fine sexual encounter at precisely the wrong time, just to prevent me from stealing pleasure from the living? Give me a break! Being a spirit can be taxing! All work and no play makes for a boring afterlife!

RD: So your afterlife is boring?

MH: Oh, no. Not at all. I was speaking in general terms, about spirits with less ambition than I have. For those willing to take charge, say, by becoming the Angel of Death, things can be positively enthralling.

RD: You don’t mean THE Angel of Death, do you?

MH: Well, no one was doing the job at the time, so why not me? After all, you really don’t have to be an angel to do that particular job, you just need a finely honed sense of irony.

RD: So you just assumed the position on your own? Isn’t that like taking over the President’s job without holding an election?

MH: Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have, and maybe I got my hand slapped. Truth be told, I was accused of using a chainsaw when the real Angel of Death would have used a scalpel. I wasn’t making great strides with my twelve step program, so I needed to do something dramatic to deflect attention away from my lack of progress. Besides, I never understood why there has to be twelve steps? Why not something more manageable, like two or three?

RD: I assume you mean a program to overcome your addiction to evil, that twelve step program? How far did you get?

MH: Yes, that’s the one. Frankly, I had a real problem with step one. I’ve never been powerless over my addictions, although I probably should have lied about it. We lie about everything where I’m from.

RD: Are you lying now?

MH: I’m not sure. What was the question again?

RD: Are you lying now…about not being powerless over your addiction to evil?

MH: How about another cup of coffee? I’m really dry.

RD: Of course. (Rustles around looking for a cup) I don’t get it, there were seven cups here a moment ago. (Looks around at empty guest chair). Miss Havana? Where are you?

The Substitute – Paranormal Comedy by Solstice Publishing. This novel offers a hilarious romp through the final days of Miss Havana’s life, her trials in purgatory, and her afterlife with Lucifer.

The Substitute Blurb: Miss Havana’s public persona was far from the truth because, in her capacity as substitute teacher, the small community where she lived knew her as the breathtakingly beautiful young woman who demanded every student learn, but in her private life, ostensibly caring for aging parents in Chicago, she raced through the lives of powerful men, leaving a wake of destruction…and a deep desire for revenge. Little did she realize her conflicted life would end in a chaotic death at an early age, and to eternal conflict with the devil. Clever and witty, the reader will not guess the conclusion of this novel until the final paragraph.

Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! – Paranormal Comedy Coming Soon to Solstice Publishing. The second in the comedy series, this novel follows Miss Havana’s struggle in heaven’s probation and her self-appointed stint as “The Angel of Death” … until God dictates the surprise of her afterlife.

Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! Blurb: An act of selflessness lands Miss Havana in heaven’s probation, where she torments ‘The Brazilian’, her guide. She has a lot to learn, but even as she makes incremental steps of progress, her evil nature wreaks havoc. Her spirit frequently visits the surface, inhabiting an advice columnist by day and various assassins by night. She is chaos, and eventually appoints herself as the Angel of Death. The issues she confronts in the spirit are horrific, and her solutions so extreme God is forced to intervene. He rues sending her back to hell, where she will join forces with her evil daughter, Lilith, but doesn’t want her disrupting probation either. God’s solution is unique, clever and totally unexpected. Miss Havana could not anticipate her fate; nor will the reader.

Thank you, Reaper, for having me on your blog today. I hope you find your coffee cups before your next guest.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Miss Havana on Love

While I lived, love was simple. If Mr. Right wanted to love me, he needed to bring money and lots of it. That worked when drugs didn’t, booze couldn’t and sex was a temporary fix. I believed easy girls opened their legs, smart girls open their minds and foolish girls opened their hearts. I was smart and easy, but never foolish.

Maybe I’ve grown a little since my death, servitude with Lucifer and stint in heaven’s probation, but I see things differently now that observing love has stabbed me in the heart. While I lived, I believed there was a "lie" in believe, "over" in lover, "end" in friend, "if" in life and after Monday and Tuesday, the rest of the week was simply “WTF!” Back then, had I been a bird, I would’ve shit on you just to light the fuse on your tampon. Now I know a man doesn't need to undo your top to see a better view of your heart, and that love is being able to pee in front of him, fart on him, eat whatever and how much you want and constantly win arguments.

I don’t talk about it much, but here’s a scene from my staring role in Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! when I began to get a clue about love. Yes, even I can learn by observing:

Jack returns in three hours. As promised, he has new child car seats, supplies for the children, just in case they are short on things at home, Jackie’s clothes, and a huge surprise. When the children have been fed and are playing in their rooms, he takes Jackie by the hand, pulls a small box from his coat pocket and kneels. “I should have asked you sooner. Will you marry me?”

No pretense. No preparation. No warning. Jackie is stunned. “I…I don’t know. Would you ask if my sister were alive? Is this a sympathy proposal?”

He smiles and shakes his head. “My time with you has been the happiest of my life. I love you, Jackie, with every fiber of my soul, I love you. Your sister’s death might have encouraged me to act sooner, but there’s no question I would have asked at some point. I want to be with you. I want to love you. I want to be part of your life, to raise these children with you. Let’s do it together. They need a family. So do we.”

She sheds more tears, but these are different; these are tears of joy. She kneels in front of him and pulls him close, sobbing deeply. “Then yes. I love you, too, so very much. This will be a our family, and we’ll do it together.”

I can’t stand it. The love between them rips my soul more strongly than Lucifer’s demons ever could. I want to bawl. I need to leave. At no time while I lived did any man love me like that. For that matter, I never loved another with such passion as she loves him. Why, oh why, did I waste my life?

The more I observed, the more I hurt. I tried many times to join with those two during the pleasure of passion, but was immediately reprimanded for attempting to steal pleasure from the living. Sternly warned by my guide that I mustn’t engage in theft while on probation, I gradually learned what many of the living knew all along. Men and women are different, and not just physically—their mind’s process data in vastly different ways. She needs affection, conversation, honesty and openness, financial support and family commitment. He needs sex, recreational companionship, an attractive spouse, domestic support and admiration. To my surprise, the top five needs of each gender don’t overlap at all.

Let’s look at these top five briefly. Men see life as sex you can't have, while women don’t care much about it at all. Women need affection, which is vastly different from sex. Sex isn’t one of her top five, but affection isn’t one of his either. It’s one of God’s little jokes.

Now, before you take issues with me, remember God has given me the ability to understand what people want to hear, and then say what they need to hear. That’s the reason I have an advice column and you don’t. You need to hear this. Judge me all you want, but don't think I'll give a damn. My point in mentioning this is simply to say, ladies, if you deny his need, there will be trouble, and guys, if you deny her need, there will be hell to pay. Want to get along? Give a little romance, guys, to get a little sex. Easy enough. A card, some flowers, a gentle thank you, snuggling just for the heck of it—you get the idea.

So what’s next? Ah, yes. Conversation vs. recreational companionship. He wants someone to play with; she wants to talk. Men view meaningful conversation like medicine. It can cure some things but can be harmful if taken in excess. “Whine, whine, whine. I'm so miserable when you’re gone, it's almost like you're still here.” Listen with your hearts, guys, she needs to talk about how she feels about the events of her day, not about your favorite fishing hole.

Most dates center around showing each other affection and talking. Try treating the woman in your life in that way. And ladies, leave the ugly looks behind. If looks could kill, the male race would have died out eons ago. Be prepared to hike, go boating, ski or some similar activity. For me, rugby is totally out, but I can offer a couple of tips for good conversation: don’t use it to punish each other, don’t use it to force the other to agree to your point of view, and don’t dwell on past mistakes. Enough said.

Honesty and openness vs. an attractive spouse is a personal favorite of mine—need number three for women vs. men. I’ve always told men, if you want a perfect girl, go buy a Barbie, while in response I’ve heard, “Time may be a great healer but its a lousy beautician.” Okay, maybe it sucks on both sides, but let’s look a tad deeper. What a man really wants is the woman he married, and men aren’t completely oblivious either. If he married a natural girl who later turns into Tammy Faye, then he might resent it. With fake tan, fake eyes, fake hair and fake nails, he might respond, “Bitch, were you made in China?”

On the other hand, honesty is a big thing for women—love is not an excuse to put up with shit that you shouldn't. Guys, screw with a woman’s trust, and you will destroy both her sense of security and your relationship. Lying sucks. Cheating sucks. Don’t do it.

Girls, there are limits on this score you should heed. After an evening fight one husband taunted, “Good night mother of three” and his wife replied, “Good night father of none.” That might be taking honesty to the wrong place. Trust also means keeping jealousy in check. Remember, love might be blind but jealousy has 20-20 vision.

Which brings us to financial support vs. domestic support. It’s the hunter-gatherer thing. Women expect men to bring home the mastodon, while men expect women to keep the cave clean and the children in check. It’s a fair balance that needs to be maintained between reasonable people. Happy couples live on what they need, not what they want. They also budget and live by it. But here’s a news flash, guys: in many modern families, both partners work. That means both should share the domestic chores too. Demanding the cave be cleaned while she’s hunting the mastodon will get you tossed out of the cave. Do your share.

Lastly, a tough one, her need for family commitment vs. his for admiration. This is like saying she and her kids are a package. Guys, you need to accept both. Being a good father means taking time with the kids, helping them mature and being part of the solution to their problems while not contributing to them. A basic rule is any dick can make a baby, but it takes a real man to be a father. The corollary is the best husbands are the best fathers.

Now, ladies, about this admiration thing, I understand the difference between men and pigs is that pigs don't turn into men when they drink. That can be a problem. I also understand the way to find a perfect man is to put on nice clothes, do your hair and make-up, cook, and then give up because none of them are perfect. I know, I know, many of you believe your knight in shining armor turned out to be a loser in aluminum foil, but if you knew that going in and the man you wanted when you married him is still in there, then he needs to be admired by you. If you show him genuine admiration, he will bend over backward to try to please you. Men need approval; don’t force them outside your relationship to find it.

Thank you for reading today. If I offended anyone, get over it. I leave you with this toast: here’s to the men who won us, the losers that lost us and the lucky guys yet to meet us,

Miss Havana

Note: Miss Havana is the outrageous leading lady in The Substitute, a novel available in PDF from and in Kindle format from (search the Kindle store using the key words James L. Hatch). The Substitute is the first of a paranormal comedy trilogy staring Miss Havana. The second novel, Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! is being edited for publication by Solstice Publishing. The third, The Training Bra, is currently being written.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Earth-Shaking Events of March

As a former substitute teacher, I always have plenty to say about most everything, but even I was surprised at all the vital events associated with this very special month. For example, who knew National Noodle Month and National Craft Month coincided with National Frozen Food Month? They do! Really. Perhaps you were already aware of that, but being the devilishly curious sort I am, I needed to know if more earth-shattering events lined up in March like a rare alignment of planets!

I frantically Googled…and then looked up wide-eyed from the vivid colors on my computer screen, gazing across the peaceful snow-covered limestone formations out my back window and over the serenity of the lake beyond. My mouth dropped agape in near shock. There are more, many more, and I was awed by the plethora of incredibly important March events that scrolled up on my screen!

Just considering the critically important individual days of March nearly made me swoon. Did you know that March 1st is National Pig Day? I suspect not! It’s simply amazing that most people completely ignore it, as well as National Pound Cake Day on the 4th; Multiple Personality Day on the 5th; Barbie’s birthday on March 9th; Buzzard Day on March 13th, an important carry-over from the Great Hinkley Varmint Hunt of December 24, 1818, that has unfairly taken a backseat to the beginning of daylight savings time; Potato Chip day on the 14th; Submarine Day and the birthday of the rubber band on March 17th, both of which have somehow been overshadowed by St. Patrick’s Day; Sparky the Fire Dog’s birthday on the 18th, again unfairly overcome by Johnny Appleseed Day; National Teenagers Day on the 21st, which, let’s be real, no one celebrates except with a headache; National Goof Off Day on the 22nd, which everyone seems to celebrate every day; National Toast day on the 22nd, which is generally eclipsed by National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day on the 24th; Something on a Stick Day on the 28th (really); and let’s not forget, Tater Day on the 31st.

Why, the opportunities to party down simply boggle the mind. However, beyond these vital important days of note, and ignoring that the second week of March coincides with both National Bubble Gum Week and National Crochet Week, I was shaken to the core to realize that today, March 9, 2011, is…National Panic Day! Trust me, I would not kid you about something so serious. On this day, everything you know—everything I know—could simply disappear. Poof, it’s all gone! You must restrain yourself in light of this new knowledge, and try not to press the panic button until the day is over. But then, if the day reaches a peaceful conclusion, you might not need to press the panic button at all. Not knowing what could happen, here are some suggestions to help you through the day:

a. The fetal position. Try it. It’s very comforting, especially when properly robed in a ‘Snuggie’ and accompanied by new age music and aroma therapy. By the way, did you know that new age music played backwards sounds like new age music?

b. Use a pillow. Fold one over your face and scream into it, ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!’ To be most effective, you must scream at least ten times or until your voice fades, whichever comes last, but don’t hold the pillow over your face while breathing—only while screaming.

c. Watch violent movies. I recommend the Steven Segal series because the sound of other people’s bones breaking can be quite comforting, especially if you are in the midst of a nasty divorce.

d. Blitzed. This is a good state to be in if everything goes “POOF!”

e. Adopt a cat. Cat ownership will make you feel so insignificant you won’t care if it all ends.

f. Pierce your eyebrows. It will make you even less relevant than owning a cat. Two piercings and people won’t even know you’re in the room.

g. Deep breathing in a paper bag helps in most all panic situations, if you can find one. Plastic bags aren’t recommended.

h. Finally, better living through chemistry. Try Prozac.

March is also well-known for both people and events. Who can forget the astrologer who warned Caesar to be on guard on March 15th, 44 BC? Caesar greeted him smugly on the way to the Senate, feeling quite self-assured that dire forecasts of bodily harm were completely off base, ‘The Ides of March has come’, and the seer responded with sadness, ‘Aye, Caesar, but not gone.’ Yes, March is truly a noble month, where pleasantries are exchanges in all circumstances.

Of course, ‘Near Miss Day’ is a day that simply can’t be missed. The day is so named because 4581 Asclepius, a small asteroid of the Apollo group, passed within 680,000 km of Earth on March 22, 1989. Unfamiliar with it’s name? You might remember it by it’s alternate designation, “B 1989 FC Category Apollo asteroid Orbital elements C Epoch November 26, 2005 JD 2453700. 5 Eccentricity”. Asclepius is named after the Greek demigod of medicine and healing, not for its potential for destruction, but it received special note because it passed through the exact position of Earth only six hours earlier, a close call on the cosmic scale of things. A tiny deviation in orbital mechanics, and Asclepius would have punched our lights out, releasing energy equivalent to a 600 megaton atomic bomb, which itself is the equivalent of one Hiroshima-sized atomic bomb detonating every second for 50 days. Clearly, ‘Near Miss Day’ is a day to be celebrated with the whole family.

And let’s not forget my personal favorite, the vernal equinox, or as my people call it, Ostara—the day of equal darkness, ‘equinox’ literally meaning “equal night”. That event occurs between March 19 and March 21, and starts the clock for Easter, which falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. As I indicated in my book, The Substitute, Lucifer still claims he got a bad wrap for that one, but Lilith settled that score once and for all!

Oh, pardon, I digress. The Vernal Equinox sets the date for Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday as I always called it when Mrs. Wansworth was present. Mardi Gras was a personal party time favorite of mine when I lived, and it was extremely reliable, always being exactly forty-six days before Easter. But the Vernal Equinox has been around much longer than Easter. In fact, since the Earth began turning. Even early Egyptians built the Great Sphinx so that it points directly toward the rising Sun on that day.

The Vernal Equinox is also the day when Wiccans and Neopagans gather in a circle around a fire to celebrate, some ‘star clad’, which is a fun topic in itself. When a bell rings thrice, a parchment is passed from person to person. Each writes what they want most, thus affirming their heart’s desire and helping them to attain it. The leader then takes the parchment to the altar and lights it, allowing the ashes to fall into a soil-lined bowl before mixing the ashes and soil with a special knife. The participants dance around the circle, hugging and kissing each other in a time of merriment, drinking and feasting. Ah, yes, fond memories celebrating fertility, a topic I can go on and on about, but my time is up.

It’s been most extraordinary being with you today, but before I go I’d like to push my book, The Substitute. I, Miss Havana, am the star of that novel, but my public persona is far from the truth because, in my capacity as substitute teacher, the small community where I lived knew me as the breathtakingly beautiful young woman who demanded every student learn (the fools), but in my private life, ostensibly caring for aging parents in Chicago, I raced through the lives of powerful men, leaving a wake of destruction…and a deep desire for revenge. Little did I realize my conflicted life would end in a chaotic a death at an early age, and to eternal conflict with the devil. The Substitute is clever and witty, your really should get a copy from or, and I promise you won’t guess the conclusion until the final paragraph!

Excerpt from The Substitute told from Lucifers POV during his first day on the surface for some time:

The extremely dark sunglasses I take from Fred tone down the sun’s glare and make me look cool, but from my bus stop vantage point, things appear to have changed a lot since my last visit here, especially the quantity of people and the complexity of everything around me. However, I suspect people remain essentially the same as I knew them in the distant past, even though they’ve replaced their stinking camels with stinking automobiles.

A large brown delivery truck whizzes by, oblivious to everything but the green light ahead, and splashes water from a gutter puddle onto an old lady nearby. Not that I care about the old lady. I don’t in the slightest, but it seems a call to irony if I’ve ever seen one, as well as an opportunity to disrupt the orderly flow of things. I change the oncoming light to green with a single thought and another large truck carrying sugar races through the intersection to meet the first squarely in the middle. Both spill their cargo onto the ground, blocking the intersection completely. Ah, chaos. Before I amble on, I ensure every ant in the vicinity rushes in to check out the free meal spread across the ground.

I stretch my arms and crack my knuckles, feeling smug that I’ve still “got it”, and briskly step out toward Burger Town, but few people notice me. That will have to change. I’ve grown to expect far more adoration over eternity—or at least a little fear. I will demand it here as well after I rid myself of the black-and-yellow checkered shirt provided by my employer. Although, in my not so delicately modified condition, I suspect the fawning of women will be wasted on me. Waldo is in for some very rough times when we return to my home.

Burger Town is a beehive of activity as I enter fashionably late. I casually pick up an apron and hair net on my way through the kitchen, trying to look as much like the other toiling fools as possible. Taking time to enjoy the refreshing moist heat and smell of searing meat, a touch of home to be sure, I note with interest the smoking rancid oil would be a nice aroma therapy addition to my own d├ęcor.

A young man removes frozen meat patties from the freezer as I wander aimlessly toward the back of the establishment. I can’t resist picking one up and taking a bite, like having a refreshing Popsicle on a hot day. He looks at me with an absolutely blank expression, apparently having checked his emotions when he came to work, takes the partially eaten patty and throws it on the grill. “Look, dude, you’re not all that new here. You don’t eat ‘em, you fry ‘em…right there.”

Ah, sarcasm! If everyone is like this, I can see how Miss Havana learned to be so irritating. I begin frying the pile, but change things up a bit by adding a layer of flies between patties. I also concoct a touch of botulism for each slice of meat, knowing I’m doing everyone who will eat here today a big favor. While burgers generally cause considerable weight gain, these particular ones won’t. I snicker just thinking of the rampant diarrhea that will fill the customers’ evenings for the next few weeks, assuming they survive.

By eleven I’ve grown weary of playing with the meat patties. This job, unlike eternal judgment, has no requirement for creative expression whatsoever. I hand my yellow-and-black checkered shirt to my nearest neighbor, the guy handling the buns and cheese, and I walk out of the kitchen with the tune of “Take This Job and Shove It” playing in my mind, just as the lunch crowd is beginning to gather. Finally, recognition! But the boos and jeers of my co-workers, as I leave them short-handed, are somehow less satisfying than those from my normal gallery. In fact, many encourage my premature return to my home.

Thank you all for reading!

Miss Havana

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana

You all know I provide forthright answers to difficult questions, but did you know I am also the subject of two novels? The Substitute was the first, a hilarious romp through my brief life, death and stint in hell. Few are aware of the second, Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! now being considered for publication by Solstice Publishing. In the second, I am in probation somewhere on the outskirts of heaven. Here is a brief sample of the humor, which I personally believe is funnier than hell!

I tear open the envelope, but the heavy paper cuts my finger with a vengeance. I shake my hand with a snap and nearly scream a profanity, but catch myself. I haven’t forgotten The Brazilian’s warning: “Yo’ got to clean up yo’ act, Miss Havana, we don’ talk like that here! If yo’ don’ follow the rules, yo’ be highly disappointed with the outcome.” I can’t imagine what he means—like, would they really send me back to my former home where my daughter is in charge? Frankly, I think they wouldn’t like that outcome. My daughter and I could do a considerable amount of damage, and that would be especially true if Lucifer joined in. I could organize quite a comeback, especially if I could pry Lucifer’s lazy ass off his straight-backed chair.

What’s this, an invitation? It looks like a carefully folded doily. Do people really send shit like this anymore? I scan the invite as a trickle of blood from my finger runs raggedly down the doily, until I get to the last line. “RSVP, Regrets Only”. What the fuck?

What in my home is that about? Sure I have regrets, doesn’t everyone? I regret the two pounds I gained after high school—never lost those bastards. Regret getting pregnant on prom night, too, but I’m not sure I regret the abortion that followed. If there’s a party, how much shit would I have to list before I get a pass to the food and liquor? Crap! Parties, who needs them! I place the doily back into the envelope and put it in my pocket next to my new watch. It’s probably against some obscure rule to litter here, especially with The Brazilian sitting—. Whoa, where is that bastard? Damn I hate that.

After some time enjoying the sun, I head back along the path. I’m delighted to see the long table has been cleared of food; I hope dinner will even be more spectacular than breakfast and make a mental note, “Drop some food for the old broad in the wheelchair.”

Back in the barracks I’m faced with the same vexing problem—which one is my bed? I should have counted the number from the door. I pick one arbitrarily in the approximate area where I’m sure mine is located and am about to settle down when I notice a small book on the pillow two beds farther from the door. I could be a sign. I casually meander to it, and am certain it’s for me when I read the title: “The Twelve Step Program”.

I sigh deeply, sit on the bed and scan the book. It’s not much to look at or read, but it makes a great bed marker. There’s not a soul in sight, even the unpleasant Mrs. McBrady is missing, so I pull the invitation from my pocket to look it over again before crumpling it and tossing it on the floor. Lying down with my feet on the scratchy woolen blanket doesn’t help. I’m still fuming that I must dredge up irrelevant regrets just to get a drink.

Before I can drift off, however, The Brazilian appears. My cheery guide always seems high on caffeine, and this time is no different. He picks up the invitation and smoothes it out between his hands. “Why, Miss Havana, yo’ needs to deal with yo’ invite. The party just won’t be the same without yo’. I mean, this year, yo’ be the guest of honor!”

I sit up and immediately smooth the blanket to avoiding responding, but must admit it’s been a long damn time since I’ve been the center of attention. “They will have liquor, won’t they?”

The Brazilian seems taken back, but by now I’m absolutely certain he’s just acting. There’s nothing I can do that should surprise him. After all, he has my file, not to mention that his efforts to train me have fallen flat. He responds anyway. “Oh, Miss Havana, there be much better than liquor there. Yo’ just need to come. Yo’ll see. Yo’ don’t need to list all those regrets, either. Everyone there already knows yo’ soul be burdened with them.”

Oh, shit. Just what I need, another full exposure encounter group. Don’t they ever do anything here just for the fun of it? I sign deeply. “Okay, okay, I’ll go, but only if you tell me why they call you The Brazilian.”

He cocks his head and shakes his finger slowly. “Oh, that’s been eatin’ at yo’ for some time, ain’t it. Okay, since it’s nearly Christmas, I’ll tell yo’, like a early Christmas gift, but the secret gots to stay just between the two of us.”

He pauses, probably waiting for my agreement. I scoot to the edge of the bed, look him directly in the eyes and respond flatly, “Fine.”

“Okay, then. Yo’ knows me to be a fastidious fellow, a true meterosexual, so it shouldn’t surprise you that I got my name because I always waxed my privates when I existed below. My bottom was always smooth as a baby’s!”

He radiates pride as I slap my forehead. TMI! The image disgusts me. “Oh, crap, sorry I asked.”

He grins. “Sometimes it’s best to not know all the details, Miss Havana. Like dis here party. Yo’ just needs to come, open yo’self up to it, and not fret about the details. Yo’ needs to trust me. I is yo’ guide. I do yo’ no harm.”

What bullshit. It turned out to be an intervention! And they didn’t have booze. Is anything ever what it seems?

Yours in Spirit,

Miss Havana

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Neglected Husband

Dear Miss Havana: My wife of twenty-five years is totally disinterested in me, but anxious to get to work every day. That isn’t natural. She makes time for her work friends, but never for me. I fear she might be having an affair. Should I have her followed during her lunch hour? Sincerely, Insecure.

Dear Insecure: As Erma Bombeck once said, ‘I haven’t trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I’ve never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex.’ That’s probably the case with your wife, too. You don’t own her, but you can court her. Take her to dinner. Take her to a movie. Take her on a cruise. Leave the kids at home. When you hike your leg to claim ownership, you are pissing away your only chance of actually making your marriage work. Lose the ego. She probably just needs a little attention. If she likes men, they will be attracted to her and give her all the attention she craves, especially if you don’t. Try playing that game yourself, but don’t take too long. The good things that come to those who wait might be the things left by those who got there first. Best of luck. Miss Havana.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road

Dear Miss Havana: Why did the chicken cross the road? Thank you, Cluck.

Dear Cluck: I suspect you have very nice legs...and fine breasts as well, but that aside, the answer depends on your point of view:

SARAH PALIN: The chicken crossed the road because gosh-darn it, he's a maverick!

BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for change! The chicken wanted change!

JOHN MC CAIN: My friends, that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.

HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure right from Day One that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?

COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken.

AL GORE: I invented the chicken.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white? We need some red chickens.

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his current problems before adding new problems.

OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a NEW CAR so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he's guilty! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer's Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.

DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain, alone.

JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth? That's why they call it the 'other side.' Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the Liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like 'the other side.' That chicken should not be crossing the road. It's as plain and as simple as that.

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish it's lifelong dream of crossing the road.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2011, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken2011. This new platform is much more stable and will never reboot.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

Sincerely, Miss Havana

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Miss Havana Interview at Reaper's Door

Reaper's Door (RD): Welcome to our Reaper’s Door interview, Miss Havana. Would you like to say a few words of introduction before the serious questions begin?

Miss Havana (MH): Why thank you. It’s an honor for you to have me here, I’m sure. I see your topic for today is “Character Flaws”. As a substitute teacher at Readmond High near Chicago, I would like to begin by stating categorically I don’t have any. BTW, do I call you “Reaper” or “Door”?

RD: (Ignores inane question). No flaws? So you consider yourself naturally gifted?

MH: Oh, yes. I’m a natural blond.

RD: Can you tell us a little about the courses you teach?

MH: I think it’s vitally important to keep the students’ attention, so I ensure everything about me is fastidious. I keep my firm 34-26-36 figure fit and dress in immaculate form-fitting clothes. When I present my lessons, you can be sure every eye is on me, especially the boys. Oh, by the way, those numbers are from the bottom up.

RD: Er…ah…I hadn’t noticed. What subjects do you teach?

MH: Oh, I can handle anything, but they don’t let me teach boys PE.

RD: I can see the wisdom in that. Do you have any discipline problems with the students?

MH: When I first started, the students could be unruly at times, but I found a solution. Here, see. Once I began using this puppy, the problems ended.

RD: Uh, this is a blog, Miss Havana, no one can see your impressive paddle. Where on earth did you get that giant anyway?

MH: Oh, you do get personal, don’t you? Let’s just say the Phi Delta boys were more than happy to offer it to me after I tutored them one night.

RD: Oh, so you tutor at night? Aren’t the students tired then, and less receptive to learning?

MH: Oh, no. They were all quite perky.

RD: Let’s get to the meat of this interview. What can you tell me about character flaws?

MH: Well, I can tell you what I’ve observed. Character flaws are like hemorrhoids, you really can’t tell people have them until you get to know them better. I mean, have you ever met a stranger who introduced himself by telling you he had hemorrhoids right off? Character flaws are like that. People don’t tell you they have them, so you have to deduce them yourself.

RD: Can you provide a few examples of character flaws you’ve observed personally?

MH: But of course. Mr. Halstead sells drugs to other students, for example. I think that would be considered a character flaw by some. Not only that, but the bastard cheats his supplier. My ledger came up short several times in one month alone.

RD: Should we be using names? Aren’t things like that with minors confidential?

MH: Probably. Sorry.

RD: What else can you tell me, about flaws you’ve observed?

MH: I know from personal experience Senator Wansworth cheats on his wife. Even worse, he cheats on his mistress by failing to pay for services rendered. I mean, who would think it less expensive to hire a hit man than to pay a few dollars to a cash-strapped beautiful woman?

RD: Names, Miss Havana, are they really necessary?

MH: Oh, then I probably shouldn’t mention his bitch of a wife who’s trying to kill me on her own…er, trying to kill the Senator’s mistress on her own. She’s just a sore loser who hasn’t won the township beauty pageant since I came to town.

RD: Sounds like you might have a few enemies?

MH: Nothing I can’t handle, although Macky Lane scared me a little. You know him, don’t you? He runs the Slippery Silverfish bar and grill in Chicago. Do you have any idea how many people actually believe a silverfish is a fish?

RD: I suppose you are implying Macky Lane has flaws as well?

MH: Big time! I should have guessed when I used the ladies restroom in his facility. Did you know if you lift the fig leaf on the statue of David by the sinks, a red light comes on outside in the bar. I mean, one little peek and the whole world thinks you’re a pervert. Good grief! I also have it on good authority that the bastard hires Charles Darwin to silence people, but not the original. I’ll bet he has a big paddle like mine. That sucker works for me. One whack, and I don’t hear a peep out of anyone.

RD: You do know that silencing someone in mobster talk means to kill them, don’t you?

MH: Really? That could explain a few things.

RD: Actually, I wanted to ask you about your paddle. Aren’t there rules against using corporal punishment on students?

MH: Gee, I don’t know about that. I’m really, really close to most of the school board members, and they’ve never mentioned a thing. I’ll see Billy tonight. I’ll ask.

RD: Billy?

MH: You know, the head of the school board. Frankly, he’s pretty enthusiastic about the paddle himself. He loves the way it excites me -- makes me itchy.

RD: I think I'll keep my teenage son away from your class!

MH: Very wise decision, but honestly, far too much has been made of that little incident with the quarterback two years back. I simply can't imagine what motivated him to touch me in that way. If Mr. Moxlie hadn't seen it, I probably wouldn't have cold cocked the poor kid. Guess he didn't know about my black belt.

RD: You remind me of a couple of teachers I had in High School, Miss Havana, have you ever been to Texas?

MH: Not yet, but Texas schools are something I should look into. I hear those southern boys do very well with their crayons, and I do like cowboys!

RD: Somehow I think after school would be more fun with you than being in class. Did you handle detention?

MH: Yes, to my delight, my paddle and I do detentions. Makes me shudder all over and wet in absolutely forbidden places...even led to "The Dance of Silence". Did you know an average student can make four laps around the front of the class holding his/her butt before gasping for a complete gulp of air? They never scream because they don't want their friends in the hall to know they're weak.

RD: You timed them, Miss Havana? What else have you discovered about students and their habits? Please share.

MH: Besides Mr. Halstead skimming his drug profits, I know for a fact the students call me "wish" behind my back. Pisses me off, but I understand. I enjoy looking at myself in the mirror too. Some also stutter when I call on them, apparently because their tongues are hard. I identified the one who ogled me through the hole in the toilet stall I was using when I stuck a pencil in his eye. I could go on, but perhaps I knew too much. I can tell you with deep satisfaction, as Lucifer's understudy, I got back at those who harmed me, especially the one who gave me cankles by slipping potassium chloride in my sleeping pills! My legs were a work of art before that bastard ruined them!

RD: Well, Miss Havana, I must certainly read about your adventures in The Substitute. I think your book will be most educational.

MH: Indeed so, and the lessons I offer as spirit simply drip with irony...and sometimes blood. After all, one must enjoy one's afterlife to the fullest.

RD: At risk of incriminating myself, I believe we should terminate this interview right here, Miss Havana. It was a pleasure having you.

MH: Likewise, I’m sure. BTW, and not to beat my own drum or anything, but you did realize my novel received a five star review at, did you not?

RD: (Silence).

Monday, January 24, 2011

Constipated Wife

Dear Miss Havana: My wife spends so many hours on the toilet, I fear she might grow onto the seat. She says her bowels haven’t moved in over a week, even though she sits in the restroom for hours morning and night. When I asked if she takes anything, she replied curtly, ‘Only a book’. Is there anything I can do? Yours Truly, Desperate.

Dear Desperate: It’s called a restroom for a reason. She might not be constipated but she certainly doesn’t give a crap. If she’s trying to balance her checkbook in there, maybe she just can’t budget? Whatever you do, please do not slip her laxatives on the sly. I recently heard of a man who tried that. It made his wife so regular she defecated every morning at exactly seven. Unfortunately, she didn’t get up until eight. You need to determine the real problem. If she’s constipated, get her to a doctor. If not, find another place for a home office. Very Truly Yours, Miss Havana.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Menopause, the change

Dear Miss Havana: My wife has changed since she got ‘the change’. She’s mean, inhospitable, hates sex and probably hates me even more. She has also become scatterbrained. Crap! How many middle-aged women does it take to change a light bulb anyway? Can anything be done? Sincerely, Frustrated.

Dear Frustrated: By ‘got the change’, I assume you mean menopause, but to answer your first question, one and only one. And to answer your second question, yes something can be done—you can help! Let me enlighten you as to why it takes only one menopausal woman to change a light bulb? Because no one else in the frigging house knows how or will. In fact, most men will sit in the dark for days before they’ll get off their fat ass to change the damn thing, assuming they could find the bulbs. The fact that they've been in the same place for the past twenty years doesn’t seem to register! If by some miracle they actually did find them, two days later the chair they dragged to stand on to change the stupid thing would still be in the same spot! And underneath it would be the wrapper for the freaking bulb because no one ever picks up a damn thing or carries out the trash! And don’t even get me started on who changes the toilet paper! Sincerely, Miss Havana.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hot Flashes

“Dear Miss Havana: While being a woman is a joy, entering menopause isn’t! So far I’ve survived without ripping my clothes off in public, but that could change. Although I’m still hot, it comes in flashes, flushes and power surges. I feel like I’ve lost my mind, and if I hear my husband say, “Quick grab your mother some ice!” one more time there could be bloodshed. If I were a pig, I’d complain about sweating like a fat human. The sweat is pouring off me now; I need help. Sincerely, The Sweating Flasher.”

"Dear Flasher: Karma’s a bitch, but don’t sell your home heating system just yet. As Maxine said, ‘Don’t think of it as hot flashes. Think of it as your inner child playing with matches.’ Attitude is everything until you get through this, so avoid bloodshed by using a name tag that says: ‘Menopause in progress, please go around and do not make eye contact.’ The sign alone will give your husband pause, time to think that a scalding hot shower will cool you down but could be a threat to him. I wish I could offer a quick fix, but alas, this is one storm you’ll have to weather yourself. Black Cohosh might help, but no promises. Mostly, try to get some counseling, not for you but for your husband. By the way, it’s impossible to fool him. He won’t think he's got you excited when you turn down the air conditioner because you won’t want his hot, sweaty body anywhere near you. Regrets, Miss Havana.”