8. Doctor Tedesco ordered Servi to remain in bed. But Servi kept rising to gaze out the window. Fog shrouded the district. When Servi lay down, he only felt a sense of diffused discomfort. But when he sat up, the spindles of pain coursed through his body, from the soles of his feet to his blue-tinted scalp. The pain was so subtle in its various manifestations, in the swerving paths it took through his body, nestling in every curve and cul-de-sac, that Servi had difficultly even forming an explanatory lexis for the good doctor.
“Should I find a translator?” the man finally asked. No, Servi told him, for it was not a matter of finding the Italian words. He couldn’t find the words in any language to clarify the sensation. Doctor Tedesco tried to get Servi appointments to have tests in one of Rome’s state hospitals, but there was a long wait, especially for a foreigner. So the doctor prescribed a bouquet of pills. One pill was blue and made Servi nauseous. Another was red and made him ravenous. A black pill so dehydrated him that he had to drink liter after liter of water and kept a bucket near his bed to relieve himself. A tan pill so bloated him that he could no longer see his ankle bones. One caused insomnia and another, swift narcolepsy. Servi sat or lay in his bed in and out of a chemical daze, lucid or hazy by degree, searching for the illusive position of comfort, which like the Fountain of Youth and King Solomon’s mines, was searched for with a singular devotion but never found.
His only visitors were Doctor Tedesco, the girl Maria, and Tony LaOmbra. Even from the lofty perch of his narcotic cloud, Servi noticed that Maria and Tony stood or sat too close to each other. Tony kept touching Maria’s arm and she laughed and smiled at him slyly.
“Typical American,” Tony teased, tugging hard on Servi’s bare foot. “Travels ta another country and gits sickasa dawg.” Tony LaOmbra drawled in his Metro New York argot and snapped his fingers. “Jesus fuckin’ Christ, forgot, you is Canadian. Well, same difference.”
“What is he saying?” Maria asked Servi and Servi told her it was hard to translate.
“Well, we should let you rest,” Maria said, and she and Tony quietly left the room, leaning close together and laughing, co-conspirators in the miasma of Servi’s perception.
With great effort, Servi hauled himself out of the bed. He leaned on the window sill and watched Maria and Tony retreat into the deep fog. They stopped just as their forms became indistinct and flat: two humanoid smears on the bank of a great ocular blur. But Servi thought he saw LaOmbra lean over to kiss Maria. Servi rubbed his bleary eyes, which he could hardly keep open. He had taken the pill which made sleep as urgent a necessity as drawing a breath. So Servi fell on the bed and banked into dreamless sleep.
Dear Aaron, his father wrote, your brother Frank is getting married. I don’t even know if this letter will ever reach you. He met a young lady in his law school class, and against my advice, they will be married this summer, before they graduate. So you see, you need to return for this wedding or else… Why don’t you wise up? America is where you belong…