ARE YOU RICH?
I used to be embarrassed when someone asked me about my job. Actually what embarrassed me was not the question itself but my answer, because I had to tell that I didn’t have job and they couldn’t understand how could I deal with that…Then, usually the second answer came, the mistery of my spending money, having a car, dining out and treating my friends to food and drink, even people I barely knew. So I tried to avoid explanations. Or just told tales.
Since a couple of years things have changed, I simply tell the truth.
During the nineties I earned a lot of money ‘working’ as what is vulgarly defined as a gigolò. Yes, women used to pay me for company. It was not a matter of sex…well, I have to say not only sex. A woman, I mean whichever woman could find a guy in order to have sex, especially if she pays for it…There are a multitude of men ready to keep a woman satisfied, if we talk about sex. The point is that I was very valued because they paid me not only for my body but for my mind too, or rather they paid me for my mind. To talk and listen to them. They used to say I was rare, unique too.
The fact is that in a decade I earned more than a man could earn in a lifetime with a highly paid job.
Now I just have to do a couple of operations each week on the stock market – Although I’m not a professional trader, I’m good enough at it – and that is enough in order to have a well balanced life.
I kow what you are thinking: I’m lucky. Yes, I’m lucky, no doubt about it.
(THE HEART OF) THE STRANGER
The man typed on the smartphone, sipped his espresso, satisfied: it was not bad considering he was not in Italy but in a small town bar. He told the owner he had missed his train and now he had to wait a couple of hours for the next one. Actually the place was closed, anyway the owner allowed him to stay while he tidied up the hall.
“How come you came into this abandoned place?” Asked the owner, moving his arm: his intention was to hold the whole town and every single inhabitant of the area.
“I’m a journalist, a free lancer and I want to write an article about places like this”
“ Would people spend money to read about places like this?…” his face really concerned.
“Oh ya, if those people live in a big city…”
The door opened. A chubby and clumsy guy stood for a while waiting for comments about his new suite, a cheap thing he believed to be refined.
“Wow Hank…Now we can say you really are going to get married!…” said the owner. Then explained to the stranger that the guy was the bartender. He was up to be married and this night they have a party.
“Tomorrow is the day…” said Hank to the stranger.
“So, let’s celebrate…please open a bottle, the best you’ve got: it will be my pleasure to buy it and drink with you” said the man to the owner who smiling went in the back room. He came back with a larger smile carrying a bottle as a trophy.
“Pink champagne! From Chile!…”
The stranger made a bow, pretending to appreciate that crap not even good to wash hair.
They drank a couple of glasses each, the owner declaimed a sequence of toasts, that silly kind you can learn by heart and that is good in any occasion.
“How did you realise you really loved the girl you’re up to marry?” The stranger asked Hank. Hank became red in face, he wasn’t used to express sentences with more than three words.
“She…She…doesn’t treat me like an idiot…”
The stranger smiled at the owner.
“Now I will tell you a story” said the stranger “I have a friend. One day I asked him that question and he answered that he realised he and his girlfriend were in love with each other when she told him to put his laundry together with hers…one wash, two laundries…”
The owner and the bartender looked puzzled.
“I can guarantee, that was true love…Then, one day someone raped the girl, then killed her by beating her to death. My friend vanished, I don’t know where he is now, not even if he is dead or alive. I just had a letter from him. He asked me for revenge, and on one condition: to wait till that motherfucker who destroyed his life is in love with someone. The funny thing is that this friend of mine didn’t know I kill people for money…anyway I’m up to doing it just in name of friendship and with a lot of personal pleasure. And I am a sophisticated one, that’s why I’ve been waiting to get that motherfucker till the night before his wedding day”
Then the stranger took out a gun. A ‘klak’ was just heared. The face of Hank shot dead was no different, just that little hole in the middle of his forehead.
The stranger talked to the owner – he was litterally paralized – showing his smartphone.
“I put the cams out of order and left no prints…technology could be useful and I wear gloves not because of the cold…I take the glass and the cup I used with me, so I will leave no traces of me in this shit place. You could just say you were in the back room then you found Hank shut dead. If you’re not ok with that, I have to kill you too, my friend…So the ‘yes no’ question is: do you want to live?…Please answer”
“Yes…” The voice of the owner was just a whisper.
(MEET) THE STRANGER
The overdressed guy looked around collecting his thoughts, then answered.
“Stress…I don’t know what stresses me out, really. No parents pushing me for a good job or marriage…No wife longing for a romantic ‘soirè’ like two characters in her favorite soap opera. I like my job, so no stress from that.”
He drank from the brown cup white inside in front of him. Cappuccino. Then continued.
“No stress from you, someone I don’t know who takes pleasure in talking to me sitting at my table…I’m quite sure that a lot of people would be stressed out if a stranger starts a conversation sitting at their table, but I’m used to that: I don’t know why, but it seems that people like me, so people often approach me to talk and communicate. In a certain way, this facilitates my job”
The listener was about to ask something but the guy stopped him with a gesture.
“Mmm…maybe there is something that stress me out: talking to children. Yes, it stresses me out and I don’t know how to deal with that…funny, uh?…”
The guy stood up and smiled at the waitress approaching, then he gave her a banknote.
“Keep the change” then to the listener “You’re my guest, I paid for everything”
“At least tell me waht’s your job and how people like me facilitate that” said the listener.
The guy looked down, smiled then answered.
“I kill people and it’s easier when the target comes to me spontaneously…Don’t worry, our chatting had nothing to do with my job, otherwise this would be the very moment for you to die and, as you can see, you’re still alive”
Then the guy stepped out.
His cellphone vibrated.
“I don’t know why, anyway lately you’re bumbling and dawdling…that’s a fact. I was talking to him just one minute ago, damn…”
He stood listening, then continued.
“I’ve got no problem going back inside and killing him…The point is that I told him he wasn’t my target and I hate to lie”
AGENT GOODLORD, AT YOUR SERVICE…
The guy entered the room directly, he didn’t knock on the door like he usually did and like everyone should do.
He looked clearly agitated and worried.
“Sir, we’ve got a situation here…a tremendous one” he said.
The man was unsure to do: should he get angry at that entering without knocking or just to laugh at that ‘tremendous’?
He closed the folder he was reading from, then answered.
“Calm down Carlmichael and tell me what’s going on”
“It’s about the agent Goodlord and his task to protect the ambassador’s family”
The man waited for Carlmichael to continue. A few seconds passed. The man smiled.
“Please Carlmichael, go on”
“The agent Goodlord slept with the ambassador’s wife, sir…”
The man closed his eyes, it felt like someone had stabbed him.
“I know the ambassador cheats on his wife, let’s say she got revenge” he replied.
“Yes sir, but…”
Now Carlmichael had an expression like he was standing on nails, barefoot.
“Yes sir but what?…” said the man, strernly “Please, Carlmichael, go on”
“The agent Goodlord slept with the two ambassador’s daughters”
“Do you mean in two different times or…”
“Same time…They call it ‘threesome’”
The man went pale. His face turned in red, then faded to a light blue.
“I want Goodlord in here, asap” he ordered.
* * * * *
“Take that italian smirk off of your face…Yes, I know you are italian and changed your name to Sean Goodlord, my dear Giovanni Bonsignore…
Tell me what happened and tell me the truth”
“There’s nothing much to say…You send me there as a bodyguard and I guarded the bodies…”
The man didn’t appreciate the joke. He was about to talk but Goodlord continued.
“I can guarantee I did my best…The ambassador’s women were so satisfied” said Goodlord sneering.
It was like an explosion. The words the man used reached a profanity that himself didn’t know to have.
Then Goodlord left the room, that italian smile still on his face.
A colleague approached and asked “Tell me, ambassador’s family apart, why the boss is always angry with you?”
“Do you remember the day I was hired?” said Goodlord.
“Well, that very night I slept with his wife”
(DON’T TALK TO) THE STRANGER
He looked at the neon sign, a kegger made of blue, green and yellow lights, then entered the place.
It was quite crowded but not noisy. Just a bunch of rowdy guys sneering around the billiard table when one of them missed a shot.
He approached the bar and asked the bartender for a table.
“I’ve got some stuff to read” he said showing a couple of books and a notebook.
The bartender, taking a look around the place, called a waitress telling her to escort the newbie to a table in the rear of the hall.
“I hope there will be enough light” he muttered, noticing the customer at his right smiling while taking a sip from a pitcher of red beer. He smiled too, then he followed the waitress. He sat and ordered a red beer. The waitress wrote the order down wordlessly, then she turned around and started to wiggling her hips, on purpose.
After ten, maybe fifteen minutes the ‘smiling guy’ approached the table, getting two pitchers in one hand.
“May I?…” the man said grabbing a chair with his free hand and putting the pitchers on the table.
“Be my guest” he answered, realizing that the man would have sat anyway.
“I noticed that we drink the same kind, so I brought these two reds…cheers”
“Oh, thank you…Its’ good to bum a beer every now and then, uh?…” he said, lifting the pitcher up.
“Oh, no…you didn’t bum anything: I offered you that beer…You’re Italian, right?”
“My accent doesn’t lie…”
“Actually I realized that from your face…and anyone could gather that from your suite: it is so dressy…” then the man pointed the books “…And, as a confirmation, a proof, you’re reading ‘La Divina Commedia’…are you rehersing a lesson or something?”
He smiled and nodded “You are a very good observer…Actually I read ‘La Divina Commedia’ just for fun and, believe me, this has nothing to do with being italian, that’s for sure…”
The man laughed holding his hand out,“My name’s Robert”
“Andrea, please to meet you”
Andrea drank his pint up, his face looking satisfied.
“Wow…” said Robert “You’re thirsty, mate…”
“I was, now I feel far better…My turn”
Andrea stood up and walked toward the bar. After a couple of minutes he came back with two pitchers in one hand and two shots in the other.
“Red beer and bourbon…Let’s do it seriously!”
Time passed and several glasses were emptied.
“Excuse me…I need…” said Robert point his finger at the toilet, then he stood up clumsily.
Andrea smiled and watched Robert walking slowly and bumping into every person or thing on his way to the bathroom.
The smile faded away. No one noticed his hand moving over the pitcher.
Robert came back and sat down relieved.
“So, what do you do for a living?…” asked Robert.
“Mmm…demanding question, or maybe demanding answer…”
Robert smiled encouraging Andrea to answer with a steely look.
“I kill people”
Robert went on with his smiling but there was something inside of him that told him ‘this is not a joke’.
“Are you serious?…” asked Robert.
“Sure I am. Maybe I am the best. Look, there are a lot of guys good at killing people but they do that by one or two means, rarely three or more. I mean, there are people good with a gun, a handgun, knives, bombs and explosives…poison and, why not, people good with their bare hands. I’m good with all of those. But I have a secret…and this secret is my very strength: I study my target, then I choose the best way to take his life”.
“Who was your last…target?” asked Robert. Some beads of sweat were glittering on his forehead.
Andrea smiled for few seconds, staring at Robert.
“Not ‘was’…Who ‘is’. I’m working right now”
“Do you mean you’re about to kill someone right now?…”
“I was in this bar earlier. My target didn’t notice me: I was wearing overalls, a skullcap and glasses. I looked like a lot of other guys in here. It was very simple to realise that my target would have noticed a well dressed guy carrying books, especially if this guy drank his favorite beer…Besides, my target likes to talk to strangers: he considers himself a sort of a host in this small town”
“What?…” whispered Robert.
“It’s ok. I mean, you feel strange, your throat hurts and you can hardly speak…You went for a piss, then I got you. It’s not my favorite means but it never fails. Poison”
Robert struggled to say something but there was no sound. Now drops were streaming his forehead.
“This is funny…the more you are distressed, the more your blood pressure rises up, the more your heart rate goes up, the more the poison has effect…”
Then Robert slowly slumped over, his eyes wide open. Andrea took his head in his hands and put it on the table, gently. He stood up and with a sign let the bartender understand that Robert was drunk.
“As usual…” muttered the bartender.
Then Andrea left the building.
He took out a cellphone putting the earphones on.
“I’m done, who’s next” and waited for an answer “Ok, got it”
THREE YEARS OF TRAINING
I can’t remember if it was difficult at the beginning. Maybe it was not that simple. I mean everything: eating, washing dishes, showering, using a screwdriver and the razor too – a straight razor, not a modern one… – and, obviously, writing.
I had a sort of warning during a dinner. A friend of mine, looking at me using a fork to eat some spaghetti, said “I don’t remember you being left handed”.
I just smiled, then answered “I’m not…I played tennis this morning and now my hand and elbow hurt…You know, I haven’t been playing tennis for a long time” and held the fork with the right hand.
So, I went on with my ‘training’ discreetly. Three years. It took three years to become a perfect left handed, actually an ambidextrous.
Then I made my move.
I reached the place after a long trip and I found it the same as thirty years before: an old fashioned, dirty and stinking dive. The owner didn’t recognize me, since the last time he saw me I was just a child crying over his dying dog.
I drank three pitchers of beer and four of five shots, so no matter when I ‘accidentally’ broke a bottle and injured an arm of the owner. I apologized sluttering and trying to hold him, his blood soiling my shirt. Then I asked for a room: I was too drunk to drive. The man repressed his rage since I looked so inoffensive and gave me a key.
“First floor, first door” then he said to a guy – there was a group drinking and smoking inside – to help me.
It took a couple of hours then the last customer left the place.
He didn’t hear me, not even when I stood behind him. He fell onto the ground with no sounds, just a soft thud.
No way to accuse me of anything: the guys testified that I held the man the night before, so any blood or DNA test should have been useless. Besides, the cut was from right to left, so the murderer had to be left handed and all the world knew I wasn’t.
The moral?…Don’t shoot a dog just because he bothers you: you’ll be punished.
So strange. Every year the same: I can’t believe that the weather is able to change in a couple of days…Look, I don’t mean that the sun is wearing off so I can’t got to the beach like I did seven or ten days before, no…But is like closing a book: from now on you have to read another one.
I can recognize the signs. It is this thin rain whose sound I can hear through the window, right now.
I can see and hear some birds, too. Maybe they are gathering, ready to follow their ‘chief’ in the flight that will take them to a warmer land. They are used to hopping around the bottom of a tree, approaching one another and touching each other with their beaks. The whole scene looks like a dance, a minuet. Just three or four of them stay quiet in the rain, now and then apparently looking to the sky. These three or four birds look like they’re uptight. Perhaps they are the ones in charge to lead the flock during the misterious and maybe dangerous forthcoming trip.
I like food, definitely. I really do love it and that’s a fact. Nevertheless I ain’t slave to food: to be a slave to something (or even someone) is not love but just insanity, sickness.
So I like to talk about food and listen to people who are talking about it.
Obviously, concerning conversations about food, it’s easy to touch upon diets…
Seriously, how many times do we bomp into or hang out with people who have the ultimate solution to every problem or disorder concerning food?
I could say that seventy, eighty percent of these times this sort of ”master of diets” it’s a woman, but I don’t want to sound impolite or rude…I just say that as a matter of fact and, anyway, this ain’t the point. The very thing I want to focus and that I would like to clarify is: why these people who, according to what they say, spend their life following diets and being so good in giving advice on how to stay in shape are the most overweight people that occur me to know?
I’ve got a feeling that this is a mistery I will never solve.
The guy was overdressed for that place: a dirty place with awful furniture with customers inside smoking cheap cigarettes all the time. He was there for a specific reason, anyway: the cook was a sort of a wizard.
He stood up and smiled to the waiter, an old man with more moustache than years.
“Tell Terence that the spaghetti alla Norma were delicious, as usual”
The waiter nodded, probably smiling.
A big man seated at a table between two friends repeated the sentence in an affected way, making his mates smile.
The well dressed guy smoothed the cuff of his blue blazer then turned his face to the big man.
“Do we know each other?”
“Are you talking to me? Who do you think you are, dude?” Said the big man standing up.
The other one smiled for a few seconds, then answered.
“I don’t think to be. I am. I am Antony Ray Corleone. Pleased to meet you”
The big man went pale. It was even possible to see that through the haze of smoke.
“Do you mean the Corleone family?” he said with a half broken voice.
“Yes, I do”
“That Corleone family?…”
“That Corleone family, sure…” said Antony Ray smiling again.
The big man fell onto the chair in the way an empty sack falls to the ground. To tell the truth, he truly looked like an empty sack…big, deflated and empty.
“You what? Maybe do you want to apologise?…Oh no, you don’t have to do that, really…You just will pay for everything the people in here are eating and drinking. Are you ok with that?”
“Su…Sure…” whispered the big man, his voice totally broken.
“Good. Just remember that in the coming days I’ll come by in person to confirm that and if I find out you cheated me, you won’t have any chance to apologise”
Then Antony Ray left the building. The sound of his footsteps was the only thing to be heard at that moment: even the flies were suspended in silence.
***There is a church downtown in Rome called ‘Sant’Antonio dei Portoghesi’.
Yesterday I was nearby this church, during a walk. I do like walking around Rome,
it is my own way to take possession of the city.
I am used to going into churches but it has nothing to do with God:
churches often house wonderful paintings and you can watch them for free.
So I look at the gate of ‘Sant’Antonio dei Portoghesi’ noticing people who are just getting in, so I get in too.
There are paintings, just like I mentioned.
There is a man playing an organ. I sit and listen to the music for about twenty minutes,
then another man approaches me and say that the church is about to close so invites me and the other listeners to leave,
giving us a program: there will be a few concerts in the next days.
We’ll have the chance to listen to music played by different organ players, good…
But the point that strikes me is: ‘the church is closing’.
Every church would have to be the house or God.
Can the house of God close?
*** From “Confession of an innocent sinner”
I guess you will agree that sitting on the water edge watching the calm sea
just agitated by people playing and swimming in the water is something really special.
What about doing that on the 18th of october with summerlike weather? I do think this is priceless…
So here I am, laying on my beach towel.
I’ve just had a swim and now I’m enjoying the sun all over my skin, my eyes are closed.
I put my sunglasses on and lift my back. Now I’m sitting embracing my knees trying to empty my head.
The dog that is approaching is funny, nonetheless it could be dangerous because if it doesn’t change direction,
it will walk right on my beach towel.
A woman, maybe the owner, talks to the dog like he was a baby.
“Pay attention, don’t do that…”
Then the dog walks on my beach towel, obviously.
“Oh, you bad girl…so nasty, nasty, nasty…” says the woman waving her index at the dog.
She doesn’t apologise, she goes to her place and starts to eat some spaghetti, feeding the dog with some bits of pasta.
I just stand up, and pick the towel up. With few steps I’m over at the woman and her spaghetti.
I shake the towel, the sand falls on the pasta.
“Now eat it, it will be so tasty, tasty, tasty…”
THE RIGHT THING
I’ve got problems. Maybe like some other people have, maybe a bit more.
I do think that you are not going to solve any problems unless you are relaxed.
I use a method, a very personal one. When I feel upset, I take a chair (my favorite is an old brown wooden one, very comfortable)
and I put it just in front of the window; then I sit on it, and take a long, deep breath.
I live beside a golf course. At the end of the course there is a straight road.
On the left side of the road (looking from my point of view) is a gas station.
In few words, I can release all my tensions just watching those golfers
hitting their little white and yellow balls with their clubs, a strange and quite crazy dance.
Sometimes I look over at the gas station. There is an open field, quite rough.
Every now and then I can see a herd of sheep pasturing in on this open and rough field.
I don’t know why, but if I had to choose between those tame sheep and the ‘crazy golf players dancers’,
I would prefer the sheep, definitely.