Good, but not my favorite Marcello story.
|"So, how long have you been banging my wife?"
This was not supposed to happen. This was not what Marcello had in mind. He was to meet with the mystery woman at the bistro to say goodbye, it was fun while it lasted, thank you for helping me fulfill a fantasy.
It was supposed to be just the two of them. They'd order drinks and a snack, laugh a little at their uncommon experience together and, very likely towards the end of the encounter, reveal their names. This was what Marcello thought it would happen.
When he arrived ten minutes early, Marcello found that the mystery woman was already sitting at the table and drinking Pellegrino. It felt strange. Marcello joined her, surprise on his face. The mystery woman gave Marcello a cold look, a malicious smile was her greeting. They did small talk, Marcello teased her once, but she was unresponsive, unlike the previous times. Since it was a special occasion, Marcello ordered a Bellini.
Nicole, the server, delivered his drink in no time.
The man dressed in blue Armani suit came out of nowhere and took a seat at their table.
"So, how long have you been banging my wife?"
"Meet my husband," said the mystery woman to Marcello.
"My pleasure," said the man as he offered his right hand. Marcello refused the handshake.
"It's my turn to play a game now," said the mystery woman.
"I bet you are not familiar with that side of my wife," said the man, a strong Spanish accent.
"We've been playing his game so far," said the mystery woman.
"Yes, you told me so," said the man. To Marcello: "So, how long have you been banging her? Two weeks?"
"Not that long Enzo!" said the mystery woman, giggling. "We met two weeks ago at the Atlanta Film and Video Festival."
"I already know that."
"When we met, we both knew we would end up having sex. So he suggested that, before getting into it, I should help him make a fantasy of his come true."
"And that is?"
"One of his favorite movies is Last Tango in Paris. He wanted us to kind of repeat what the characters, Paul and Jeanne, do in the movie."
"I haven't seen that movie," said the man.
"You should, darling!"
"So, what happened next?"
"Paul, the character played by Marlon Brando, refuses to know the girl's name, nor does he want to reveal his," explained the mystery woman.
"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard," said the man, with a guffaw that Marcello found disgusting.
"They have wild sex throughout the movie, but they never get to know each other. No names, Paul says all the time. That's what this guy wanted, too. As far as I am concerned, he doesn't know my name yet."
"Do you know his?"
"Nope. His face is somewhat familiar, though. I might have seen him on a magazine, but can't tell for sure."
"So, you've been banging my wife and you don't know her name?" Another disgusting guffaw.
"We rendezvoused for sex at cheap motels. It was his idea," said the mystery woman. To Marcello: "Listen, I enjoyed your game. I thought you are going to enjoy mine. After all, we are consenting adults, aren't we?"
Marcello looked away, his Bellini untouched. The scene had a paralyzing effect on him.
"This is my game," the mystery woman continued. "My husband and I have a very open relationship with a twist. At some point into an affair, we must meet the third sex-party in person. It often comes as a surprise for the third party. As far as your face goes, I can tell you are very surprised, carissimo."
A loud, obnoxious guffaw from the man in blue Armani suit.
Marcello, his eyes wide open, wiped his lips with a napkin.
"Let's make the introductions," said the man. "This is my wife Barbara." As he pronounced her name the man grabbed her hand and kissed it, softly.
"And this is my husband Enzo." A giggle.
Enzo and Barbara looked at Marcello. In unison: "And you are?"
Marcello sipped his drink in quiet exasperation.
"This is quite disappointing. I expected you to behave as the gentleman I assumed you were," said the mystery woman, said Barbara.
"No hard feelings here," said the man. "I am a businessman. This is what my wife likes to do and I respect that."
"Next time Enzo wants to see me fucking another man." Barbara.
"I'd like to see you fucking him. I like the guy. He seems discreet." Enzo.
Barbara. "He said to me, more than once, that I am a great fuck. Unforgettable, he said."
Enzo. "Then you guys should arrange a final meeting and I will join you. No worries, pal. I just want to view the two of you in action."
"Che schifo," Marcello thought, still struggling to get himself over the moral beating. Marcello was contemplating leaving the table right away, willing to take the sour experience with him for many years to come, ready to review his take on having sex with complete strangers, maybe even developing a more conservative approach, from fearless to fearing man. This very possibility mortified him, greatly.
"What's your answer? Do you think you can make it?" asked the man.
Marcello held his head with both hands, as if saying, this is fucking unbelievable. As he turned to his left side, he noticed these three men in dark suits walking in line up to the table.
"Enzo Antonini," said the tallest of them. "When they told me that I could get you busted in this place, I didn't believe them."
The man in the blue Armani suit spoke in his softest voice: "Can't you see I am in a meeting?"
"Time for another one," said the tall man. To Marcello: "I am U.S. Customs special agent Dave Keegan." He nodded to the man behind him: "This is FBI special agent Kevin Sanchez." Another nod to the man behind Sanchez: "And this is DEA special agent Joseph Bitar."
Barbara looked at Keegan, Sanchez and Bitar in awe. Her mouth open, wordless. Marcello, his mouth shut, starting to accept the idea that there must be a God.
"Enzo Antonini. It's been a while since the last time. This time you must respond for your attempt to sneak a cash-stuffed suitcase into Argentina," said Keegan.
Sanchez fixed his eyes in Marcello's. "Mr. Antonini was on an Argentine government-chartered flight."
Bitar expanded the picture to Barbara: "It seems that he was a special guest of the Argentine delegation that was on that flight that made a one-day stop-over in Venezuela."
Keegan to Barbara: "Your husband is quite bold." To Enzo Antonini: "What made you think that you could get one-million dollars in a suitcase into Argentina?"
Sanchez to Marcello: "It appears that there's something fishy going on with these Argentine officials, too. It appears that they didn't expect the customs people at the Buenos Aires airport to check this particular suitcase."
Keegan to Marcello: "Undeclared money. What a shame. Next thing he did, he just left the money behind. Customs officials couldn't stop him because he hadn't committed a crime but a mere customs violation. The man fled the country six months ago, his whereabouts unknown until now."
Bitar to Barbara: "So, we understand that your husband is Venezuelan and has become American citizen five years back."
Keegan to Enzo: "America, what a generous country."
Sanchez to Enzo: "Alright, Mr. Antonini. Please follow us."
Keegan to Enzo: "You can call your lawyer from the station. Sooner or later we'll find out where that money came from and what it was for, right?"
Marcello and Barbara watched the four men leave the bistro, no words exchanged. Marcello, a feeling of poetic justice growing deep inside him, turned to Barbara: "You know what? I lied."
"When I said that you are a great fuck? You aren't. You are plain ordinary, a woman who only knows the basic positions and has no initiative whatsoever."
"What the fuck are you talking about?"
"You are not a memorable lover. You are forgettable."
Barbara, shock and ire enveloping her, clasped the glass of Bellini and threw it at Marcello, soaking most of his white Lacoste polo shirt. She pushed the table away and strode to the front door.
Marcello to the patrons looking at the scene, aghast: "I am sorry. She went mad when I told her that this time she had to pay." Marcello left the scene right after tossing a fifty-dollar bill on the table.
Once outside he saw Barbara running to her Lexus SUV. Marcello ran after her.
Barbara climbed into the car, started the engine and pulled reverse gear.
Still running, Marcello's right hand reached to his hip and snapped off the iPhone.
Barbara heard him call out her name and stopped for a second, the passenger window rolling down.
"I need something from you," Marcello said, panting next to the car.
"What the fuck do you want?"
"I just. . ." Marcello aimed the iPhone at Barbara and captured her shock and awe. "I just want a memento."
"Fuck you!" she yelled at him, the car roaring out of the parking lot.
Poetic justice has strange ways to manifest itself, thought Marcello as he watched the photo of Barbara, the unforgettable player.
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