One Free Summer

Italy is the land of beauty corrupted

I was there

I followed a dream

I lived

A life

Of poverty

I had no money

No job

No prospects


I took a bus to the South to bask in the shadow of the volcano.

I hopped on the bus with no ticket

I saw land


Color and work

I found the old city

I followed a tourist group into Pompei

I saw ancient death and destruction

I saw the ruin the Earth can make

I saw the sudden end of life and history preserved.

I shared a sandwich with an Italian girl

And nothing more

For free

I hopped another bus back to Naples

I again paid no fair

And fell asleep

I woke to a tap on my shoulder

I see brown eyes

Grey hair

Tan skin

A blue wrinkled shirt

A badge hung crooked

A leather strap over a shoulder

A revolver in a holster

Cop scowl

Dove è il vostro biglietto?

I smiled

Io No comprendo

He took my shirt in a heavy fist

He pulled me out of my seat

He marched me off the bus

I heard whispers of oh my God

I felt my heart thump hard and fast and scared

In the heat

On the street

Near the Napoli garbage

The cop asked

Dove è il passaporto

He was angry

I thought about Naples jail

I thought about experiencing

The world

So what the fuck

I smiled

Dove è il passaporto

The cop was getting excited

I put my hands behind my back

I wondered whether I was going to get beat

I wondered if I was going to get shook down

I remembered

I have no money.

I am in Naples

I smile

Io no comprendo

The cop took a step

Towards me

I waited to see

Instead of touching me

Arresting me

Making me suffer

He pursed his lips and phished in my direction

And waved his hand

Dismissing me

And walked away

I smiled

and turned to the bay

The sun was setting

I basked in the orange glow of a crescendoing Italian day

I wondered what to do tomorrow

Maybe catch a train

Maybe see Firenza

Maybe go back to Roma

But it does not matter

I decide once again

Italy is the land of beauty corrupted

Published by Bryan Aiello

Raised on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Bryan served in the Army, graduated from the University of South Florida and now calls Brooklyn home. For more of his fiction and updates on his podcasts, follow him on Twitter: @bryaiello and Reddit: /u/voyage_of_roadkill.

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