E is for Exposition or Epic, depending on how you choose to read it.
S. was a country boy from Ireland with an innate sophistication. So when he moved to New York around the age of nineteen, he fit right in.
[That’s how the six-hundred words began. The process of arriving from A to B requires brainpower you’re loath to devote, when point C is your coveted point. In my case, point C had to do with being chased by a bull in Ireland. But in order to find a compelling, rather than an arbitrary beginning, I was forced to start at the actual beginning and keep going until something hit.
I wrote six-hundred words of mostly telling instead of showing, summary instead of scene and almost no character description before I stumbled on to my true beginning — only to find I had no use for the six-hundred words of exposition. But rather than “murder my babies” or “kill my darlings,” however the phrase goes, I decided it might be interesting for my letter E post to be a demonstration of exposition using those six-hundred words.
As exposition, summary, self-contained story and occasion to break the fourth wall within the last three paragraphs, said E post aligns with my goal to experiment with and exercise my writing process in this A to Z Challenge. Let’s continue.]
By the time I was seventeen and S. was twenty-one, we were both regulars at a Euro-centric nightclub called Nell’s and it didn’t seem weird to invite him to come along to Italy on the summer trip I was about to take with a girlfriend. Of course, we didn’t expect him to say yes, or get it together in time for our flight the next day. But he did. With only enough money, it turned out, for a one-way ticket on our flight. So in essence, he became our stowaway. We shared our food and water with him, and between the three of us, scraped together the money to buy him a month-long train ticket for unlimited travel within Italy. When we weren’t sleeping on the trains, we would sneak him into our Pensione. But his lack of funds took its toll on us and he ended up staying in Venice to wait for money to be wired to him.
The three of us had traveled together for over three weeks and spent that last night sleeping in docked, covered gondolas. We woke up achy and damp. It was sad to leave him, but we could barely afford decent food and lodging for ourselves before having taken on a grown stowaway with an endless appetite. We gave him what money we could and traveled south to visit the Amalfi Coast.
I didn’t think too much about him the first couple of days. But by the third day, unexpectedly, every Cure song through my headphones, every sun-scorched brick, every bite of mozzarella panino, every sip of aqua minerale, would somehow or other remind me of him, and a constant ache developed in my chest.
Many months passed, during which many events took place, including my decision to stay in Italy to live and study after my girlfriend left, and finding myself living on the streets of Florence for three weeks. But this is not that story. This is the story of the constant ache in my chest regarding S. after leaving him and not knowing what became of him. [It wasn’t that story either; it was supposed to be about a bull chasing me in Ireland.]
There were no cellphones or email back then, and if I’d had contact information for his family in Ireland, I would have gladly braved the public telephone houses. Instead, I returned to Venice two or three times in search of him, imagining all I needed was to hang out among the pigeons in Piazza San Marco long enough and he would appear. But he didn’t.
It was January by the time I found myself back in New York and back at Nell’s. I never stopped thinking about S., never stopped asking our mutual acquaintances about him and the ache in my chest grew. But one night, there he was. He was seated on a plush velvet sofa among wood-paneled walls, clean-shaven and smoking a cigarette with aristocratic grace. I rushed to the couch, threw myself on his lap, wrapped my arms around his neck and planted several dozen kisses on his cheeks and forehead.
Due to strikes, holidays and general Italian bureaucracy, he had been homeless in Venice for weeks before money reached him. After, he’d made his way down to Morocco where the family of one of our Nell’s friends had a mansion and treated him like a foreign prince on visit. He eventually made it back to Ireland, earned some money and flew back to New York to resume his life.
On the sofa at Nell’s, the joy in his eyes matched mine and we became inseparable for the next five years.
~ Part of the A to Z Challenge ~
A post a day except Sunday for the month of April to cover topics beginning with each letter of the alphabet. Events always real, names always changed.
Cathartic Monkeyism returns in May.
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