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lucrezia_icon.gif romero_icon.gif

Scene Title Almost
Synopsis Broken down into the components of its Greek etymology, the word nostalgia means the pain of returning home.
Date January 28, 2009


This time, Teo's life does flash before his eyes. Not his whole life, though. He simply does not have enough time for that. It is also obnoxiously out of chronological order, as if some idiot tripped on the power cord to his slideshow carousel, scattered pictures across the floor, fucking lost half, then slapped the remainder back in post-haste in hopes that Teodoro wouldn't notice he had an STD in one frame and a no pubic curls in the next. In this butchered montage, he doesn't even get around to thinking about New York, those on the Invierno, or Alexander, so he does not actually even get as far as the last of his firsts. However, even this is better— more classic, more appropriate— than the guilty stab of recollection that he left the bathroom light on or the notion of grapefruit, as has fraught his encounters with death in the past. He also remembers, for once, to think:

Please forgive m—

You know. Anyway. Anyway, they go like this:

At Grandmother Bennati's funeral, Lucrezia cried more than Amadora. This was initially startling because she wasn't in front of a camera, again because she was underneath a veil more black than sheer and very quiet. Secondly because, though this took him a moment to realize, she was not only or even mostly grieving by proxy or in advance for herself. Teo helped to carry the casket; he was just tall enough to pass off the gap between his shoulder and the bottom with his hand. There was a wooden box of white doves and twenty pounds of calla lilies, and not all of their cooing and the rustling could conceal the whimpers of the late signora Bennati's beautiful daughters. He was wearing the first suit he ever owned that didn't have short pants. Lucrezia made him stand with his mother.

The third time he had sex which was the first time he was any good at it. There was truancy, a blanket spread out on a dock behind the slum row, and Michele murmuring filthy things in his ear. Their eyelids and skin stuck together, mucusy, reminded him of newborn mice. He had melted a candle to the slats. Figured that was romance. He refused to tell her where he had got them or where he was going afterward. Back then, he was too young to be forewarned or forearmed against the loneliness of keeping secrets: he did not know that withholding answers would give her reason not avoid asking for them as they grew older and, eventually, apart.

The first time Teodoro ever falsely led someone to believe he loved them, it was his father. Paolo was having a very bad week with the rumors about his wife. He lost his keys. Teo found them for him. It was pathetic: Paolo was so drunk. He cried. He cried so much, and overturned the table, the couch, dragged out all of Amadora's gowns to hold, kept apologizing for not being the father with the big arms and Porsche, forgot that Teo was supposed to be at school. Teo told him a list of places to check and knew that he couldn't hear anyway, but — fuck it. You know. Someone should have been there to do it.

He stole old man Fazi's dinghy once. He likes to say he did it for Romero, who was very sick at the time: fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit and out of school for three whole days. He actually stole Romero before he stole the dinghy, right out of their house, grabbed him, slung his skinny stick-legs up piggy-back and fled on a raspy slappity of sandals almost before the younger boy knew what was happening. Teo had a bag of bottles and sandwiches clinched between his teeth and his second wind: everything they needed. He rowed for twenty minutes. They spent another twenty out there before Romero stopped complaining. Granted, he stopped mostly because Teo jumped in underwater and stayed too long, but afterward they peeled the sandwiches apart, shared them with the fishes, sang at Gianina (for every meter the voice goes, the heart goes one thousand!), and scratched letters off the hull to form rude acronyms. Teo left urine in the dinghy and the dinghy under a lumpy tangle of fishnets. Romero fell asleep on his back the walk home; went so quiet, so still, Teo started to get scared, the first time all day. By the next day, he was well and Teo was deliriously commiserating with rhodendrums and dead batteries. That was probably the beginning. You know… That was probably when Teo began to believe he could give people his health.

Though she tried to hide it, he could tell his mother did not like the present he took out all that money to buy. Lucrezia stroked his hair and reassured him that women have fallen in love for less. He does not actually remember what the present was—?

Old man Fazi wanted to kill him for years.

The bouncer from Somalia almost did it for him. Smashed Teo's skull with feet like cricket bats. It sounded like… spiking a football on his forehead, a migraine turned inside-out, and… all the other times he had courted head injury at people's feet, but louder. Closer, no distance to it; too close.

The Ballaro open air market was full of chickens, cabbage heads, citrus fruit carts so vibrant and fresh that the true colors stood out even under the blue tinge of endless tarpaulins, and barrels of fish, bottles of wine, price signs, and fat, gauzey-dressed layer cake women carrying woven baskets that took up as much street as they did. A lot of the buildings were old tan stone chiseled with decorative frescoes and notches low and deep enough for a nine-year-old to climb with his bare hands and sandaled feet. The sisters were turned to each other, mirrored, Lucrezia in maroon and Amadora in pink. He crept from Romero's side. Wound up at a second story window, staring down as heads turned toward him one by one, the process of revelation obstructed by needling sun flares and addled by the Mediterranean heat and heat fatigue. He crouched, squinted against the blazing sun, aimed to leap and catch at the string lights. Wondered, in a blinding, self-immolating flash of childish vanity— Who could I get to scream?

Mattias moves his trigger-finger back. The hammer knocks in, and Teo is out of time.

January 28th: Been Many Things
January 28th: No Sleep Till Brooklyn
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