Sunday, February 6, 2011

Vesti la giubba by Manolo Gonzalez

The lights on the street were beginning to flicker alive as she walked into her dark and empty apartment on the Via Ghibellina. She locked the door behind her and didn’t bother turning on the lights in her studio. Why would she? She loathed the apartment and everything in it. Everything to her was tainted, and used, and unmentionable. She was not happy with the apartment just as she was not happy with her life, wallowing in misery and the depths of stagnation. She dropped the wooden rosary, which she had taken with her earlier to evening mass at the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, on a sparse wooden table. She had gone to pray; at least that was her plan. But, as every day beforehand, instead of praying she had ended up repenting and begging for mercy when her day of judgment came; a day that could not come soon enough. Defeated as she always felt after prayer, she had no choice but to continue down her path until that day came, and until then, as they say, the show must go on, no matter how perverse or unsavory the show might be. Thus, she reopened a bottle of cheap vino rosso saved from the previous night’s ritual, and poured some into her dusty Bordeaux glass with the twisted stem.  She drank her wine in the dark silence of her apartment with only the rays from a street lamp providing a dim light that filtered through her blinds casting a shadow along her face. It was completely dark outside. Silent and brooding, she walked into her washroom and lit a weak light over the sink. She opened an old bottle of red nail polish and methodically began to coat her chipped nails in a red that had long lost its gleam. Next she picked up a black eye-pen, a sad excuse for eyeliner with about only two more sharpens left in its length, and slowly, but not carefully, drew out the outlines of her eyes. Why should she make the effort to be careful in applying the blackness around her eyes, she thought as she stared at herself in the oxidized mirror over the basin. Her eyes and lips sagged, and her hair rumpled. The laugh lines around her mouth had ceased to be laugh lines and had become a jumbled web of ridged dermis that ended upon thin, pale lips. Neither a smile nor a twitch did she give herself in the mirror. The show must go on and this is all part of the act. She did not care for this show anymore, but to her dismay, she had no choice but to let it go on and on! Smile and the world smiles with you, they say! She raised her red lipstick to her lips and began painting a smile on those lifeless lips. Laugh, clown! Laugh! Ridi, Pagliaccio! Laugh at the grief that poisons your heart! Her lips, now as red as her bloodshot eyes, twist into a distorted feigned smile; a smile lifeless and unconvincing. There is a knock on the door. She walks to her locked door and opens it. A man wearing a suit almost as dark as her lined eyes holds up a hundred Euro bill to her face. With her red, twisted, and feigned smile, she leads in her first customer of the night and locks the door behind her.

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