1969: US Senate Assigned Task Force on What the Hell We Should Do about All These Hijacking Cubana Exiles, Black Power Desperadoes, and Hippie Draft Dodgers Who Wanna Get the Fuck Outta Dodge and Find Home in Some Sunny Communist Paradise
Proposal 23*—Rejected as effective but inane
Make all passengers wear professional-grade boxing gloves through the duration of their flights, diminishing their capacity to brandish concealed weapons, namely, guns, knives, homemade bombs with unconvincing wiring, jumbo-size bug spray with Zippo lighters, and/or mayo jars of acid, clear as well-brewed moonshine. For extra measure, play the Cubana national anthem before every takeoff (foreign and domestic) and arrest anyone who murmurs along, eyes glazed over with fluorescent dreams.
The Old Lady waits in the aisle seat, all buckled up, a plump black pocketbook plopped on her starched, canary-yellow lap. She smiles at each new passenger murmuring seat numbers like promises. Most smile back, toothless, still counting, pulled ahead by long-limbed air hostesses with bright lipsticked greetings. WelcomeAboard!WelcomeToPamAmAirlines, and the Old Lady whispers along, welcomewelcomeaboard.
One of them will be hers, her seatmate. She waits, expectant. Sips the sharp air wafting off their damp coats, that old cold smell of New York slush and car fumes. This finally-leaving New York—the bright cabin lights, the plush carpets, the murmur of voices accustomed to other places—will not seem real until her seatmate arrives. This is the face that nineteen-year-old Cuban American Alonso Esteban Alvarez Pereira sees when he stops beside her, checking his seat number.
“So you’re the lucky window seat.”
“Take my seat if you like,” Alonso’s voice is soft, genteel. “I don’t mind.”
“No, no. Would never.”
Though there is plenty of space, the Old Lady shyly tilts her legs away to make room for him—a tender gesture, something like the shy Havana schoolgirls Alonso chased in the streets as a boy, snatching at their hair ribbons. But as soon as fragments come, he gulps then back, bites his tongue. Not now, he thinks. Keep calm. He sits, unbuttons his jacket. He is seated. He is safe now. No one can stop him. He stares out the window at the falling dark, the glint of the wet tarmac, the flashes of lights from other planes leaving, for everyone’s leaving, thinks Alonso.
“This is my first time flying.” The Old Lady leans over him, peeking out the window. “Imagine. Miami!”
“Yes, Miami’s nice.”
“You don’t like flying, do you?”
“You just never had a good travel buddy. Don’t you worry. I come prepared.” She taps the side of her big black pocketbook, leather slick like a wet eel, and bottomless. The Old Lady slips open the metal clasp, reaches in, and out comes a crisp bundle of postcards, papercut sharp.
“Aren’t they pretty? Bought anything on the rack that was nice and sunny. Here,” she says, slipping him a Technicolor card. Miami Beach! stands blazoned in block print, each letter a window opened wide onto sun-drenched scenes. A swordfish on a fishing line glints from the insides of the fat H, while a chorus row of swimsuited girls grin and wave from the plump M, their faces only blotches. Maybe they’re smiling, thinks Alonso.
“That one’s just for you,” says the Old Lady. “Don’t you just wanna dip your toes in each little place?”
Alonso stares at the little figurines running in and out of each letter of their cardboard paradise. A fat orange drips from a branch protruding from Miami’s slender I, a bodiless hand caught mid-pluck. Alonso thinks of crawling along the tree limb, the bark scraping skin as he inches closer and closer, until the bough breaks and his stomach sinks as if he’s falling falling, until Alonso remembers, you’re on a plane, damn fool, concentrate, the plane is taking off, and sure enough the Old Lady is grabbing his arm, and out the window the sleet of rain collapses as they break through the bank of clouds into the weatherless air.
“Is that what’s it like then? Not bad, not bad.” The Old Lady’s fingers linger in the crook of his elbow. He pats the Old Lady’s small hand, and it stays there, unassuming, as if her hand already knows its place.
The Old Lady looks at her seatmate closely. He is almost white, with something something, like all the other Cuban fellas she meets in New York. Black hair straight and thick as brush bristles, unwieldy under a mother’s hand. And too skinny, like a boy dressed up in daddy’s clothes. Like what her son looked like at that age, long before everything happened to him. The Old Lady thinks this young man will be a good boy.
“You’re Cuban, aren’t you? I bet I’m right?”
“Born there. Yes, Ma’am.”
“Poor thing. Bet you’re itching to go back. Know I would be.”
Alonso looks at her. Smiles tightly. He goes for the Marlboros tucked in his jacket pocket.
“You wouldn’t like it there.” He lights up. Flicks the ashtray between them.
“Oh, it can’t be all that bad? What that man Castro is doing? Plenty misguided. But he’s a man with vision.”
“You still wouldn’t like it there.”
“Oh,” says the Old Lady. The certain softness of her face crackles a little. Alonso can see it. A crease down her forehead, feathering out in endless webs across her brow, like her face is a postcard folded in two. Then the line is gone. She’s smiling.
“So silly you are. By the way . . .” She slips out one thick card from the bundle. “You wouldn’t have a pen on you, would you?”
Alonso slips her a pen, a cheap complimentary Hilton New York one from his mother. He shuts his eyes, lets his head sink in the soft headrest. Light fades under his eyelids. And for a while, Alonso is not sure for how long, the Old Lady is nothing, nothing until sounds creep through the edges of his sleep. The scratch of cut-rate ink, the click of a purse clasp unclipped, the dull chime of the summons button, the HelloMa’mHowMayIHelpYouToday of the air hostess. And the hardness of the Old Lady’s bony elbow poking into his side.
“Be a doll, my dear, and take this note to the pilot. He’ll be needing that,” he hears the Old Lady says. And then a dull quiet. No crisp OfCourseMa’mRightAway. But a breathless, shallow quiet. The one just before the screams of a firing squad. A quiet that’s noisy, that buzzes.
Alonso opens his eyes. The Old Lady’s tiny hand is clenching a fat gun, the nozzle between his ribs. The air hostess stares at the postcard, flicks her eyes to the gun nozzle, her nylon eyelashes twitching like insect wings back and forth.
“You’ll need to clear out first class for us, dear,” says the Old Lady. “Best we be close to the pilot.”
“I’ve never been hijacked before,” the air hostess says. She cannot help but smile. A genuine postcard smile.
1969: US Senate Assigned Task Force on What The Hell We Should Do about These . . . et cetera.
Proposal 13—Rejected as effective, but expensive
Construct somewhere in the reclaimed swamplands of South Florida a convincing replica of Havana’s José Martí International Airport. Plant an excessive number of royal palm trees. For exiled Cuban hijackers sick for home, they will not notice that the surrounding lands are irrevocably flat, soppy, peppered with alligators and nothing like Cuba’s curvaceous innards. For the American-born runaways, said discrepancies will not matter. The endless stretch of earth as bare-bones green as when Ponce De León first laid eyes on it will be enough. The swampy emptiness will be all they have ever dreamed of. They will gulp down its virgin air as the authorities take them away, unaware that they have never left the continental United States.
The Old Lady nestles into the cool leather of the first-class seat facing Alonso. The fat black bag sits on her lap, bulbous, satisfied. The Old Lady claims that a bomb is wired for explosion inside. As a trigger, a long, delicate gold chain dangles from her wedding ring and passes through the bag’s clasped lip. A neat and convincing diagram had been provided on another neon-tinted postcard (Greetings from Nassau!). The gun is set tightly in her clenched fist, unwavering from him. She sips from her fine flute of champagne, looks out the window, but there is nothing but black.
“What a shame,” says the Old Lady. “Would have been nice to see the sea as we pass over.” She frowns. The air hostess had taken them quietly to the front, Alonso ahead, the Old Lady behind. Their fellow passengers had watched the procession: the slender hostess, the tall, slim, boyish man, and the petite gentlewoman in canary yellows with a gun. Some had gaped. Others had murmured about yet another delayed flight, another unexpected stay in Havana. Some returned to their crosswords, wordless. Only the lone first-class passenger, a fellow old lady in tweed, had objected, demanded why in heavens should she give up her first-class seat for a criminal? Why not just wrestle the damn gun from her?
CompanyPolicySoSorryForTheInconvience, one hostess had offered, smiling at the captive. YouWillBeReimburshedForAllYourTroubles. Another hostess had brought complimentary champagne and cigars, but Alonso leaves them untouched. Sweat leaks through his gray suit. He watches the Old Lady, laughing softly as the champagne bubbles tickle her nose.
This is the third time Alonso has been held hostage on a hijacked plane. The first at fifteen, held as a bargaining chip by a Cuban Vietnam vet who had claimed he knew him from back home. Sold rice to his mother. Fought alongside his father for Castro. The Leóns from Camaguey, no? No? And ain’t the food shit, here? Poor Americans can’t cook rice to save themselves. Alonso had said he liked the rice here just fine. That no, he was not León’s boy, but the man would ask again like beats on a drum, holding an army knife to Alonso’s neck while pinching his fleshy, still-prepubescent checks like some demented uncle. They got as far as Baltimore, the Camaguey rice vet a crumple when they took him away.
And at seventeen, a sweet nineteen-year-old with auburn eyelashes held his cabin hostage with two tiny pistols as delicate as tampons. She had waved her arms in graceful arcs, asking her fellow passengers if they wanted Capitalist Tyranny or Freedom?—as calmly as if she were announcing in-flight menu options. She had looked at him pleadingly, leaned down and grabbed his knee, one pistol still in her hands, metal inside his thigh. You, she said. Don’t you wanna be free? Bet you do. You’re a free man. And seventeen-year-old Alonso could only nod, veering his eyes away from the pistol and her air-conditioned nipples crisp under her thin shirt. She lasted farther, not surrendering until Atlanta—as if each hijack crept him closer and closer to Cuba.
They pick you out because they see something in you, his mother would say. They see what they’re looking for. Everybody does. She would grab his shoulders and beat the dust off his jacket with her palm and stare through him a beat too long, as if she saw something too—the life of white gloves and satin she should have had if they did not have to leave. She was the most beautiful in these moments, her face bright and young again, almost how he remembered her as before they left. Even in her Hilton New York Hotel receptionist suit, orange polyester scarf tied jauntily around her neck.
Then again, she would say, it’s your own damn fault, you damn burro, flying every New Year’s to your burro papa in Miami. The New-York-to-Miami route was the most hijacked in the skies. And there was something about the turning gyre of a new year—something that made people dream of socialist sunlight.
But Alonso would go, always go. Saved up funds busing tables to spend New Year’s Day crouched in some smoky bar, sipping cola while his father huddled with other Miami exiles, the New Year’s plotting to take back Cuba stretched over domino tables. And though Alonso never joined, he liked being close by, perched on a bar stool at the periphery of their plans, nodding along, his father finally grinning, cheeks flushed, happy only when plotting the things to come.
When his mother asks why the hell he goes, what the hell he is looking for, Alonso can never say. He does not want the Cuba his father wants, the one his mother still remembers but never speaks of, as if words alone would make them crack. His first nine years before he left are only postcards. Sun-kissed, dusty postcards of schoolgirl hair ribbons. Dry knees on church stools, praying. Hands pressed against the Malecón, harbor breeze against his face. Neat, tidy.
The Old Lady is staring at him now, champagne in one hand, gun in the other. She has the same face as his mother when she’s staring at him, thinking of other things. She is just waiting for him to ask.
“Where are you planning on taking us?” Alonso is a good boy. He will play his part.
The Old Lady smiles. “Thought you’d never ask.”
“Are we going to Cuba?”
“Oh no, dear. In a perfect world, yes. But that’s too darn messy. No.” She sips her champagne. “We’re going to Coyaba. Gave latitude and longitude all nice and neat for them on that postcard.”
“Never heard of the place.”
“Oh you wouldn’t, dear.” The Lady looks out the window again, squinting at the shadows below. “It was a top secret army base island back in the day, smack in the middle of nowhere out there. Very hush hush. But the knuckleheads left it behind, and you can’t find it now unless you know where you’re going. Nobody knows about it but nuclear people and pilots flying there.”
“How do you know about it?”
“My son told me. My boy’s a Navy pilot. Flew there all the time. Brought all the head honchos in. It’s a big ol’ base, with a nice landing strip and a bunker stuffed with supplies. But they never appreciated him, my boy, so he had to go, had to hide from them, and he made his own world there and he’s waiting for me. Yes. Just waiting for me.” Her eyes are gone again, the gun hand gripping the handles of her pocketbook.
“You know, they named it after an old island name for heaven,” she murmurs, like the words were not quite for him to hear. “My baby boy said that’s what heaven was to the natives there. Not some pie in the sky. Just another little old island their little canoes just couldn’t get to in this life. It’s that funny? Now there’s not a place in world you can’t get to.” She pats the armrest affectionately, as if the whole plane were a cat nestled in her lap.
“You’ll like it there,” she says. “I just know it. Soon as I saw you I knew you’d be a fella raring to go. I just knew. I just knew it. And my clever little boy found a whole world for us . . .” Her voice falters off. Her champagne glass is empty. She presses the summons button, and an air hostess wafts in, all smiles. Alonso looks away.
He could take her. Tackle her. Grab the gun. No one else seems willing—airline policy. He imagines himself springing forward, grabbing at the Old Lady’s arms. Her old lady neck. Squeeze tight. The gun firing. Him taking the bullet. He looks at his hands. They are a man’s hands. Hairy knuckles, and there is new light crawling over them. He looks out the portal window and somehow it’s dawning, sunlight swelling over the peaks and valleys of the clouds, and the clouds break, and underneath the sea shimmers silvery and precious.
They are over water now, thinks Alonso. Not old New York harbor water but Caribbean water, endless, deepest, still as glass.
They are past Florida, then. This is the farthest he has ever come. Ever since he left Cuba. His mother beating the dust from his little nine-year-old shoulders, wiping smut from his chin, stuffing letters he cannot understand in his fingers, papa saying, you’re being paranoid, dear, and mama ignoring him, murmuring, we’re right behind you, Alonso, go ahead, find your seat on the big plane, and nine-year-old Alonso running to the loading stairs, feet slapping on the tarmac, little chest throbbing with the surging air of takeoffs, the sky filled with sounds of leaving, his feet only joining the chorus, right into the arms of a powder-blue air hostess, all smiles, pinning him with silver wings, and he not knowing that mama and papa are not behind, that they have lied, that they are not coming, not knowing at all until the floor trembles underneath him and his little eardrums pop hard, and he cries, Mama! out the soundless window where no tarmac stands, no parents, no nothing but sea, ceaseless sea that will keep his parents away from him for two years, and when they finally come they aren’t his parents anymore but stripped plantain peels of themselves, and nineteen-year-old Alonso bites his tongue at the old familiar peanut pebble rage curled up against the roof of his mouth, salty.
He has never left, thinks Alonso. He has just been on a plane, flying around, waiting for a hijacker who would finally take him home.
The Old Lady looks at the boy. She wants to tell him he will be safe. It’ll all be fine. That, yes, Coyaba is just a nuclear pit stop. The airstrip and the warehouses eat up much of the island. But there are still trees, banana trees and coconut trees waiting to be plucked. And tiny deer with Bambi-bowed legs that chase each other on the air strip. And a fine, preserved stretch of pale pink sand where her son and the other pilots would run after flight missions, boring their bare feet though the sand, pinching for shells with their toes, finding equilibrium. Nothing else worked so well, her son told her. Murmuring about pink sand while pacing the mustard shag carpet of her New York apartment, barefoot, wall to wall, toes nubs of clenched flesh scraping each coordinate numeral, latitude and longitude, into the polyester strands, only to erase it with one swipe of his foot to start again, so he won’t forget, again and again, until her son looked like some long-legged bird scraping for insects.
He had signed up for a second deployment. It was the only way to find his way back there, he said. And when the letters and the postcards stopped coming and the office said he’d gone AWOL, had disappeared in the sky, she knew better than to believe them, the liars, the tyrants, the whole pack of blind men who could not see who her son could be. Her son must have found his way back, to the pink sand between his toes, to feeding tarmac deer. The hijack was necessary. She had to find a way to him. The extra passengers were only an inconvenience. Not everyone could stay, of course (that’s heaven for you). Some would have to go. But her son would try to accommodate as many as the island could. Like this boy, with her son’s brush-bristle hair.
1969: US Senate Assigned Task Force on What the Hell We Should Do about These . . . et cetera.
Proposal 4: Accepted, adopted post-haste in November of 1969, before the Old Lady hijacks PamAm flight 2231 to coordinates of unknown destination.
As proposed by the FAA’s chief psychologist, John Dailey, airlines adopt a subtle screening process to identity travelers statistically likely to go berserk (three in every thousand). Ticket agents will pull aside potential desperadoes for further inspection, based on a seventy-point checklist of red light behavioral cues, including
1) failing to maintain eye contact 2) not giving a “flying” fuck about what happens to their luggage 3) looking like they have never been hugged and/or kissed by their mothers 4) weeping openly at the ticket counter, murmuring about virgin sands under their breaths.
All such cues must be behavioral because, as Dr. Dailey concludes, “there isn’t any common denominator except in behavior. Some will be tall, some short, some will have long hair, some not, some long nose, et cetera, et cetera. There is no way to tell a hijacker by looking at him.”
The First-Class Air Hostess peeps through the curtain at the hijacker and hostage, the chief pilot waiting behind her. The Old Lady’s a little red in the face after all that champagne. The gun hangs lax from her hand, and she peers again and again out the window, head bobbing back and forth. The hostess will have to lie to this lady.
She is the hostess who had given the Old Lady’s coordinates to the pilots, who both have been hijacked more than once. Experience has taught them to curse colorfully whenever an air hostess opens the cockpit door after takeoff.
“Christ. We’re almost there. What now?” the chief pilot had said, on cue. He had glimpsed over the postcard (Greetings from Turks and Caicos!) and passed it along to the copilot, who had promptly ripped it up into neat square pieces.
“The nerve. Coordinates in the middle of fucking nowhere,” the chief pilot had said. “I don’t care. We’re making it to Miami.”
“What should I tell her then, sir?”
“Tell her we’re taking her there. Right to the spot. And when I show her nothing but ocean blue, that’ll shut her up nicely.”
The First-Class Air Hostess’s eyelashed eyes had fluttered to the bits of postcard stuffed in the copilot’s pocket. “Are we really taking her there?”
The chief pilot turns to look at her properly for the first time since she entered the cockpit. His face is a blank sheet. In that moment she cannot tell if he is saying yes or no.
And as the pilots made their way to wherever they were going, she had played hostess. Imbibed them with complimentary champagne. Smiled. Biding her time until this moment, the moment when she must lie to the Old Lady, for a good hostess always knows when to lie.
“You ready?” the chief pilot says. “Junior here is gonna circle around a bit to make it convincing, then loop back to Miami.”
She must make her face still, stretch her jaw. The chief pilot looks at her like he thinks she herself is gonna go mad, but the First-Class Air Hostess ignores him. The right balance of servitude and sorrow is needed here, and she will not move until her face settles in.
“Ok, ready now,” she says. She is a hostess. This is what she does. Plays host to all fears, all fantasies. She parts the curtain. She smiles. The chief pilot follows her.
“This is the captain, Ma’am,” she says. “He wanted to show you personally. We’re at your requested destination.” She points out the window, to the blatant open ocean, bare of landfall, choppy, churning. They are low, lower than they should be. The hostess can see the lips of white foam.
The old lady hijacker grips the rim of her champagne glass. The First-Class Air Hostess touches her arm gently, and the Old Lady lets her take the glass away before it breaks.
“I don’t understand,” the Old Lady says. She looks to the pilot, her emptied hand to her pursed mouth. “Are you sure you got it right?”
“Yes Ma’am. We followed all your instructions.” The chief pilot tugs at his tie, eyes the champagne bottles. He is bored. He would like to get to Miami. To women who do not know him and don’t need to, for the uniform still says enough. This old woman too cannot resist it, he can tell. She is staring at him like she sees exactly what she wants. A pilot beaming in his uniform, pins bright as gems. He smiles.
The Old Lady stands up, gently, like rising from a church pew. Still clenching her bag. Gold chain trigger dangling from her ring. She smiles, too, lifting the gun over her tiny greyed head, a little bony finger with old lady roped veins wrapped around the trigger.
“Just letting you know, my dear. We’re not going back. You’re gonna circle around and around until you find it. Because my baby’s out there, waiting for me.” The Old Lady grips the gun, so comforting, so certain. “As long as there is a gun in my hand, there is an island out there. As long as there is a way, I will find it.”
Alonso watches them. They stand over him. The smiling air hostess and the smiling pilot. The old white lady, red-faced, waving the gun around her head. They are saying things, yes. Alonso can see their mouths moving, lips flapping, yes, but he cannot understand them. And Alonso panics, worries he has forgotten English and he will have to learn all over again from scratch, until he realizes their words barely have sound at all, though the Old Lady is screaming and the First-Class Air Hostess is insistent, for everything is drowning under the humming ache of his ears, as if every part of him, his fingernails, his teeth, his hair has been aged, matured, replaced, except these little nine-year-old eardrums pulsing as hard as they did that first flight when his parents sent him off into the skies, and he reaches out into the air, grabbing the Old Lady’s canary-yellow pleats.
“Wait, Ma’am,” he says. “I know where your son could be.”
“What?” The Old Lady turns to him, looks through him like everyone does, as if she’s seeing something beyond his face.
“If this good pilot could not find it, then your son couldn’t. And then there would be only one place left to go. Where the honchos can’t reach him.”
1969: US Senate Assigned Task Force on What The Hell We Should Do about These . . . et cetera.
Proposal 1: Rejected, for Castro didn’t want any US rejects, and also because, quiet as it’s kept, while reading every Senate committee member with sleepless eyes and day-old coffee slick along their tongue had let the proposal fall from their hands, let their eyelids fill with visions of rolling cigars, the scent under their fingers and the sun on their faces, before they catch themselves, shake their heads, forget, for those are the dreams that make a man homeless.
As proposed by the State Department to the committee: Let them go. Offer free one-way passage to Cuba for anyone who wishes to leave, so long as they never come back.
The Old Lady is not sure if she has made a mistake. Less and less sure as the fog of champagne dissipates and the face of the boy seated in front of her grows clearer. He is smiling at her. She has given up the gun to him, for he thought it was best. And he is such a good boy, the Old Lady thinks, whispers out loud, yoursuchagoodboysogoodsoclever. And he pats her on her arm, leans in, EverythingIsGoingToBeFine, he says, but in the way the air hostesses speak, that trained, high-pitched friendly way that reminds her of her boy when he was a child, when he did something bad, hands behind his back, full eye contact, speech seamless, without a breath. But the boy on the plane leans back, and he’s foggy again, so she’s not so clear who’s looking at her, and blurriness makes everything less hard to carry.
“He’ll be waiting for us?” she asks.
“That’s what the pilot said, Ma’am.” Alonso glances over at the First-Class Air Hostess. She has been smiling nonstop for hours. Her greetings face is as thin as nylon stocking. “He called ahead and they confirmed. He’ll be waiting for you on the tarmac when we land.”
“Ok,” she says, and peers through the window, the wisps of clouds dissipating as land below comes through, sun-licked mountains and valleys, rising and falling like eggshell crates. The Old Lady places her palms on the plastic shield, fingers splayed, and Alonso can’t help it but touch it too. Knocks the window with his knuckles, plays that old childhood game. Whether he’d be strong enough to break through it. The First-Class Air Hostess disappears through the curtain. She is going to buckle herself in. They will land soon. Through the curtain behind them, closing off business class, the other passengers buzz.
It is December 31st, the last day of 1969. His father must be waiting for him, back in Miami. His mother still on her shift, waiting for him to call.
The Old Lady looks at him, squints her eyes. “Why did you leave? Looks so lovely.”
“Yes, it looks nice,” he says as the mountains give way to the city, to grids of whitewashed streets. He leans in, forehead pressed against plastic. He tries to count each street, to find some logic, but they are moving too fast and the streets blur into whiteness, so nothing makes sense until the gray-blue lip of the Malecón emerges. They are so close, little black pebbles of people swamping the edge of land and sea.
He cannot remember anything. The land below is a blank. The earth sweeps under him, fresh, anew. He had never seen anything so lovely.
The Old Lady looks at him, at his black bristly hair, his clammy face against the window. She touches his hand, the one without the gun. “You can come with me, you know. They’ll take you back.”
Alonso smiles. “I’d love that.” They watch as the plane loops, turning to face the harbor head on, and for a moment the land disappears from view. They are left with nothing but sky and sea. Below, little fishing boats bob along and little fishermen shield their eyes to look up and witness what has come, standing and swaying in boats like the boats his parents escaped in, setting out into this same emptiness to find him, in this blue so ceaseless Alonso cannot tell if he’s coming or going, or if there’s a difference at all.
* All strategies described are genuine proposals considered by the US Senate’s 1969 Anti-hijacking Task Force, as submitted by concerned citizens.
Monique McIntosh is a short story writer and journalist from Kingston, Jamaica. She received her MFA in fiction from Florida Atlantic University, where she was the Lawrence Saunders fellow. Her stories have or will appear in Kweli Journal, and Moko Magazine. She now lives in Fort Lauderdale, where she reports on the Caribbean Diaspora in South Florida.