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by Emanuele Pettener

part 4 of 5

Boca Raton, in south Florida: a week in Tommaso Egerri’s life. Tommaso, a young Italian man, has been hired by an old fat woman — Grassona — to write erotic short-stories for her magazine, The Weekly Boca’s Erotic Mouth.

Tom’s life is not easy: he’s short on inspiration, he has to deal with his paranoid friend Arthur, who is obsessed by the idea that his wife is cheating on him, and he must escape Grassona’s attempts of seduction. Beside that, he keeps meeting famous dead people: Jim Morrison, Dean Martin, Nietzsche. Tom’s only consolation is a girl named Alice, whom he meets in a swimming-pool...

But I was not depressed, I felt some wisdom in my lower stomach. I switched the TV on. In the noon parlor of my favorite show, my favorite anchor man was not dealing with tragic stories or TV quizzes, therefore he was neither afflicted nor merry but frowning with a cultivated expression: he was interviewing a young writer of my age, and this irritated me to death already.

“My book has its roots in society, a bored society, a society that rejects the maladjusted person only because he’s maladjusted. So this book of mine may scandalize the well-to-do and make us understand that the maladjusted does not exist, the drug addict and the AIDS patient do not exist as isolated entities, but the drug addict and the AIDS patient are the fruits of this society. A sick society, I’m not afraid to say.”

The anchorman was finding his habitat again, one made of sufferings and daily pains, and his cultivated look was getting back to that of a participant, an introspective one, ideally fixed and full of pity for a Mourning Humanity. “What can we all do for those who suffer?”

“First of all we must understand that none of us is innocent. We are all guilty, and when we see a youth with a needle in his vein we should blush a little...”

“We should feel ashamed, don’t be afraid to say it. Unfortunately people do not understand these things.”

“Of course. In my book I ask: why does a young person take drugs? Why does a girl prostitute her body? And I give all the answers. The cause is the unease of young people. What help can a young man have from his family, a broken family, with his father drunk in a bar and his mother watching soap operas? What help can they have from a society that does not offer a thing, neither hope nor a job? But I discovered more humanity in the glass eyes of a heroin addict than in the fake manners of a good father.”

I was so moved by the depth of these concepts that I went to the bathroom to vomit. And while I was vomiting, I thought it was really unfair that someone so ugly and so sad could have a career while I couldn’t. God, I thought, if I were able to bear all these hypocrisies in a four-minute talk, I should be able to kiss Grassona too. So I stopped vomiting, resumed writing obsessively, picked up the phone, and called Grassona. Other people’s idiocies always make me brave.

She was icy. I asked her, “Give me another chance.” Farewell, she said. “Can we go to the beach tomorrow?” No. “Yes.” No. “Yes.” No. “Yes.” Yes.

That evening I finally went back to the swimming pool. For the occasion I used a pair of dark black boxers, so tight that they even got me excited when I looked at myself in the mirror. I slowly walked around the pool — holy cow, I’m a sex symbol — then I saw her.

She was in lane six and was swimming very determinedly and resolutely, so I dragged my cream-colored slippers to the racks, I opened my bathrobe with a skilled, confident gesture, threw the slippers like an empty glass of whiskey, wore that ridiculous blue bathing cap, compulsory for hygiene but positively anti-aesthetic — and then I sat in a plastic pose on lane number six.

I crossed my legs, propped my elbow on my knee and my chin on my hand: I looked like Rodin’s Thinker thinking about taking a bath. Then she arrived, saw me, took off her goggles, and smiled at me. It was the kindest smile, dense with promises, in her lightly reddened eyes an unusual emotion was shining — and she was beautiful!

“Hello, Tom.”

Salve, baby. You were waiting for me...”

“Come on, dive in! What are you waiting for?”

“How’s the water?”

“A little cold today, but don’t tell me a muscle man like you is scared of cold water?”

“Me? Ah, ah! In the salmon season, I swim with them against the current of Norwegian rivers, naked.”

“Mmmh... you shouldn’t be bad...”

Here she blushed a lot, at least I thought. Her potato nose was crimson red, and it seemed to me that the red was running down to her neck and burning the upper part of her breasts.

Oh God, I liked those breasts. I intuited them, I almost smelled them. And her imperfections moved me, strange to say. She was so nice. And niceties and emotion were manifesting themselves in my dark, black, tight boxers.

“Perhaps, I can show you the triple mortal dive that I learned when working at the Nairobi circus.”

“Yes, come on!”

“Maybe not, it’s been too long,” and I slipped into the water from feet to head like an Oreo in milk. Once completely immersed, I could see her body, her big but solid thighs, her bathing suit narrowing between her legs, her hard and beautiful breasts.

Oh God, I liked those breasts. I emerged. She smiled, perhaps knowing that I had eaten her with my eyes, then suddenly she left again, slowly but surely, like a swimming frog. I took off behind her, and I wanted to pass her by, then I realized that I felt wonderful behind her. She really swam like a frog, her thighs opening and closing, her buttocks’ muscles unlocking and clenching in front of my eyes’ insatiability.

Life... life seemed beautiful again. Perhaps in that moment, light in my fluid movements, with my muzzle happily close to the shaved groin of this young girl, I could have even kissed Grassona, but yes... who cares? My body is melting in this liquid, languidly slowing, following her long flight, all in an alliteration of L’s.

I feel her ankles brushing against me, almost kicking my face, and I would grab her feet and drag her back and dive to kiss her buttocks, oh... how deep in this water are Grassona, my job, everything!

And we swam, swam, swam. Every lap was more confident, but at the thirtieth lap I was lifeless. She dutifully said we were only halfway through.

“Oh, you want to swim only sixty laps? Why not seventy-five?”

“No... I’m not a man... I don’t have your muscles.”

Her continuous speaking about my muscles was flattering me. But I was dead tired. And I wanted to kiss her. I wanted to touch her. Her breasts were driving me crazy.

But she left again. And I followed again. Every lap she was moving further ahead, and I used all the desperation of my nerves not to be left behind. She did not stop once. Damn.

To resist, I imagined everything: to be a secret agent following the most dangerous enemy (I captured the ten most dangerous enemies), to be chased by a tiger shark (whose jaws remained empty, like those of the piranha school chasing me in Nicaragua, and the terrible anaconda that almost got me in a Venezuelan swamp). My lungs were in shreds, I couldn’t feel my arms anymore, I seriously feared for my clavicles...

But finally the end came. She looked at me smiling: “You have been so nice to slow down behind me...”

“Trifles. Do you mind if I stay for two more laps?”

Proceed to part 5...

Copyright © 2008 by Emanuele Pettener

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