Monday, August 5, 2013

The Vulgar Tongue, viii


             Servi’s room was too cold.  He found the control for the air conditioner, but it only turned on and off.  So he turned it off, but soon the room was stuffy, so Servi opened the door that led out to a long balcony which ran along the length of the third floor.  When he was fully outside, he thought he smelled pot.  He looked down at one of the chaise lounges.   
             Beatrice was lying  in what appeared to be a nightgown.  She was crying.  Servi had on only boxer shorts.  He begged her pardon and backed toward the door, but she called him back.

            “I’m sorry you have to see us like this,” she said in English.  But unlike her earlier version of the language, this attempt sounded discordant.  “I told him that you shouldn’t come here.  That he can’t even help himself, how is he gonna help you?  But he said you were like family.  Him and family!” and she started to cry again.  Servi finally noted the accent: it was pure Brooklyn.  So curled up inside the Roman sophisticate with her tailored blouses and her short, pressed skirts was little Beatrice Grillo from Brooklyn by way of Oyster Bay.

            “Let me get a shirt on,” Servi said, taking a step back.

            “No, stay,” she said in Brooklynese.  “You wanna a hit of dis?”  She held up a joint.  “I smoke it when I’m sad, to dull the pain.  But all it seems to do is make me cry.  Good thing is it makes me forget why I am crying.”  Servi took two hits and sat on the chair next to her.

            “Don’t you see,” she started in again, and now Servi could see she was very stoned. “I says to him we can hardly help ourselves.  We are falling apart at the seams.  How are we gonna help Aaron Servi?”

            “I don’t need help,” Servi said, feeling the pot now. “I’m a big boy now.”

            “A big boy,” she said in Italian, and stopped weeping.  “No one is big Servi.  Everyone is grown up on the outside but we’re still children here,” she pointed to her breastbone.  “We still cry ourselves to sleep when it is dark, just like the smallest of children.”  Servi said nothing.  She took a deep drag of the joint and passed it to Servi.  He took another hit.

            “Just look at him!  Look at him!  A big baby with a bottle.  He can’t face the fact that my mother is now a part of this Tuscan soil, gone forever, so he makes his wine and drinks like a peasant on market day.  He’s like Noah after the flood:  he gets drunk in the muck instead of facing facts that the world is dead as he knows it.  Jesus Christ…” and she began to cry.  Servi gently took her hand.  She pulled him toward her and wept on his naked shoulder.

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