I had no intention of continuing this story today; however, the overwhelming support of my fellow bloggers has pushed me to go forward. This will be the penultimate chapter. Cheers!
Mike looked down at the floor of the A5. He noticed little dirt or anything that would suggest the car had been parked at a country villa. He thought this woman must have slaves doing her bidding to keep the car this clean on the infamous white rock roads of Puglia.
The windows were down and the car was streaming along the coast road to Savelletri. Mike was impressed at how little traffic there was along the sea. For so many days now it seemed the stream of preening and bronzed revelers would not cease until there was a snowfall; but he knew better. Italians could care less about the actual weather, it was seasons that dictate the cycle of life here. It was now late August and the hordes were returning to Rome, Milan, and Turin, leaving the roads empty and the ditches filled with refuse.
Litter made Mike sick to his stomach and there was plenty along this stunning stretch of sand. Mike never failed to notice the absence of trash in the Italian north and could not understand why the monied came down here and take industrial-sized shits on this piece of paradise. Mike promised himself he would do his best to defecate on the steps of La Galleria Nazionale the next time he was in Milan; or better yet he thought, leave it in a PRADA bag along with a half-eaten BIG MAC.
The woman was concentrating mightily on the road, not noticing that Mike was once again wiping away blood from his knee. It was clear that the wound would heal and there would be a scar. Mike knew there would likely be more before the day was finished.
Woman - are we there yet?
Mike - noooot yeeet
Woman - why are we going to a Greek restaurant in Italy?
Mike - how long have you been here?
Woman - too long
Mike - well then, I am assuming if you see another bowl of pasta you might fall faint , so I am hooking you up here
Woman - hooking me up or we are hooking up?
Mike - you are so subtle so hard to read
Woman - ha...watch this!
The woman pressed hard on the accelerator of the A5. The engine took itself by surprise as the wheels began to tear at the asphalt. Mike grabbed the handle above the door and breathed in very deeply. It was difficult enough for Mike to be out of control and it was clear the woman loved it.
Mike - this is a pretty windy road
Woman - no it isn't, I can see miles ahead of me...are you blind?
Mike - no, I am scared!
Woman - you don't trust me?
Mike - do you?
Woman - do I what?
Mike - trust yourself?
The woman jammed on the brakes and the tell-tale chug of the ABS system brought the car to a sudden and undramatic halt.
Mike - middle of the road huh?
Woman - DRIVE!
Mike - OK
Mike got out and his knee as his knee nearly gave way he narrowly missed being hit by a passing scooter. The woman again laughed at Mike as she slid into the passenger seat.
Woman - my God this door handle is sweaty
Mike - can you blame me?
Woman - how is the knee?
Mike - well my left is worse than my right so this clutch is a bit of a challenge
Woman - I can drive
Mike - no you can't!
Woman - fuck you, you are just a pussy
Mike - I wish that was all I was
Woman - how much further?
Mike - you got somewhere to be?
Woman - why are you here? why do you know so much about this place? why did you pick this town?
Mike - it kind of picked me
Woman - direct answers are not really your bag huh?
Mike - I came here to spend time along the sea and relive something I continue to believe I can relive
Woman - in the meantime you just hustle tourists?
Mike - I am surely the one who gets hustled
Woman - what the hell is that? (looking at a very small vehicle just in front of the car)
Mike - That is an APE (ah-peh)
Woman - what the hell do you do with it?
Mike - it is the most common farm tool in Puglia
Woman - look at that little old man driving it, he is soooo cute. Let's pass him, I want to wave at him
Mike - sure thing
Mike waits for a group of about 7 cyclists to pass in the oncoming lane and gives the A5 a little gas as they pull up next to the faded blue three-wheeled cart. The bags of lime in the bed of the truck-like midget car are leaking a bit and strewing streams of chalk along the sea road. The chalk bounces and in the early afternoon light appears as the images of animals disappearing from a magicians magic hat. The woman is fixated on the driver of the APE.
Woman - ciao buen señor ¿cómo estás hoy
Mike - Spanish again?
Woman - all I got
Mike - ciao signore come va? che bella giornata!
The Old Man - Sanda Tarèse pagò pe' ssènde é jji sèndeche nudde
Woman - What did he say?
Mike - (pressing on the gas and blowing by the Ape) - essentially, you need to shut the fuck up because you have nothing to say!
Woman - ahhh
Mike - sweet, we are here
They pull onto a white rock road and dust flies in all directions. The whitewashed building like all the others along the sea was trimmed in blue and looked much like a cafe in Santorini. In classic and cheesy Greek-style lettering was a sign that said SANTOS
Mike - the calamari here is unreal
Woman - maybe they could scrape some off of your knee if they run low...I mean are they going to let you in here bleeding
Mike - I probably won't be the only bloody person here
Woman - is this a restaurant or triage?
Mike - after the amount of food we are going to eat it might be both
Woman - OH MY GOD! Look at the ocean
Mike - it's a sea
Woman - its fucking water your pedantic motherfucker!
Mike - calma, Madonna!
Woman - do not speak French to me
Mike - does it make you wet?
Woman - yuck, you are such a silly little man
Mike - I do my best
The server came over after at least 5 full minutes of standing at the counter and staring intermittently at the sea and his phone. He was a young man of less than 30 years, air-brushed perfect skin, dark eyes, and sun-bleached brown hair. This was the kind of guy who preferred to spend 16-20 hours a day in a Speedo, and he could. He was in no hurry and there was not a single other person in the restaurant. The server took their order and brought over two icy Mythos beers before disappearing out the back door while pulling his smokes from some impossibly tight space between his shirt and the golden skin of his chest.
Woman - if this place is so good, why is it empty?
Mike - it's too early
Woman - Its 1:20 in the afternoon
Mike - yeah, lunch really gets' going about 1:55
Woman - so precisely?
Mike - yeah, it is really 2, but the early bird Italians get here at 1:55 to grab the seats they like while the slackers from the beach get here about 2:01 and always have this look of surprise on their face that so many people would be here. You would think that after, I don't know, 8 or 9 generations of people with the same looks on their faces that more than a handful might start to be early.
Woman - then there would be no dance
Mike - wow, you catch on quickly. Day to-day life for someone who makes $1000 a month must be more exciting than the money can buy. Drama is a 12 hour matinée called daylight and these people embrace it so perfectly
Woman - it would make me crazy
Mike - you say that, but hang out here long enough and the joy of fighting over the price of a toilet brush or other such banality becomes therapeutic. The rituals of making things difficult here that we find so easy to accomplish at home fills the days. I call it the principle of 4 things
Woman - this I gotta hear
Mike - in essence, a productive day in southern Italy is about accomplishing 4 things.
Woman - eat, smoke, fuck, and argue?
Mike - you must have Italian blood in you.
Woman - I have no idea, I am adopted
Mike - oh yeah?
Woman - I have never really wanted to know my birth parents. I always figured, fuck them for leaving me on a doorstep
Mike - they really did that?
Woman - yes, and I floated down the Nile like Moses...no dumbass it was a figure of speech
Mike - typically I don't let people call me names
Woman - but today you will let me do or say anything I want... because I have the car... and the vagina
Mike - check please!
...to be continued