For The Last Time

 

“Boy, give me another whisky and I’ll tell you the story for the very last time”, the boy with his incredibly practicality already prepared that order and comfortably sat closer to the counter, ready to listen to that story again, ready to believe to that story once again. “It was 1943, the 13th of July, there were around 40 degrees in Catania but below those costumes it felt like three times warmer. I remember that slope incredibly well. The Algerian landscape is very different from ours; it seemed like the sea wasn’t there, in the south and it just felt like an endless land.” That was the only story he told that had some pauses during which he’d rest the cigar on his lips and he’d breath deeply like he was inhaling his memories. “We were hunted and after two days of hard struggle, while Vito, God rest his soul and I were on patrol, the Arabs surprised our army comrades forcing them to surrender.” When telling this part of the story, he always thumped anything he had under his eyes, grumbling mainly racist insults. “But Vito and I had a target; we had to blow that base at any means and then we had to reach El Carruba from where they would take us back in Italy. Before that, we had to do some dirty work. Back in the days, boy, it was different, there weren’t all these Arabs and communists, we fought for Italy and Italians, now you are all wimp! And we became wimp, too! Anyway, after three nights and two days of marching, Vito, Procida and I met there. Two whole days without food or water, we only had Simpanina[1] tablets. I still have one, it’s always in my pocket” and this was the moment in which he’d take the tablet from the inside pocket of the jacket and he’d drop it on the counter, even if nobody could verify its authenticity. He’d always have a tablet in his pocket; it was his only proof. “We had no idea of how to enter within the base. Then I had an idea; the Trojan horse. There was a village distant around 15 kilometres from the base and every soldier knows that in the villages close to military bases there is a business that can’t miss: prostitution” and then he’d snigger: “Have you ever been in the army, boy? You should! It’s not that bad”, winking. “Vito had a decent, almost fluent French and we persuaded twelve whores to work with us for a whole night, paying them only 70 Italian lire[2]! You should have seen them! The Italian State should make us a statue in Piazza di Spagna for our moral valour!” At that point he started again to swear against those ‘damned Arabs’: “We stuck it to them! We walked in, the fourteen of us, the whores, Vito and I, dressed up as pink rabbits!” this was the point of the story in which everybody started to laugh. “It was one of the costumes the girls used for their shows. And it worked. We entered the base after the soldiers had fun and fell asleep and we blew up everything! Ten charges of dynamite each, twenty in total between Vito and I. We never reached El Carruba as they captured and deported us to Loreto where we’ve been released thanks to the armistice!” Usually, at this point of the story, he’d try to find a theatrical exit which every time was different. This time he had finished his whisky; he left the empty glass on the counter after having the last sip. “That time I’ve learned not to trust people dressed up as rabbits, especially if pink. Keep that in mind, boy!” and at that point he’d bring the cigar to his mouth and place the hat on his head while walking out from the bar. The dismayed silence after this story could only be compared to the bursting laughs of the next few minutes. Every time he told that story happened the same.
Never trust people dressed up as rabbits, especially if pink.

 

[1] Simpamina is the commercial name of a pharmaceutical product sold in Italy until 1972, they were basically tablets of amphetamine, largely used by the army.

[2] The previous Italian currency