only in Miami

There’s something distinctly Miamian about an old Cuban man in a finely pressed guayabera standing in front of a barbershop on a stormy summer day in South Florida.

I nodded politely as I walked past him and turned into the barbershop only to find it empty despite the brightly lit ‘OPEN’ sign. It was then when I realized that the old man loitering outside was the barber on duty. He also happened to be the barber on duty the day of a deadly shoot-out on the street behind the shop. He said the crackling of the thunder reminded him of it.

This was 1986. He heard cars ramming each other and coming to screeching stops. Then came the crack of the bullets and the people ducking into the barbershop for cover.

He went on to tell me the story of the people behind the carnage: a pair of robbers who had been terrorizing banks in the area. At one point, they shot a man for his vehicle, left him for dead, then used his car in other robberies and eventually in the gunfight with the FBI.

Only in Miami could go to the barbershop for a trim and end up having a scene from Cocaine Cowboys described to you in a first person point of view. In Spanish.

I really thought he was talking Cocaine Cowboys but I couldn’t quite place which part. I asked him about this but he simply restated that they were bank robbers and not drug dealers, even though the area was littered with those at the time. He said I was confusing his story with the barrage at Dadeland in 1979.

It took me about 10 seconds to Google the story. The entry, he could have written himself. At least the Spanish version of it.

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