The Alley Behind the Italian Restaurant

The Italian restaurant owner argues with the waitress about how there could not possibly be a leak in the ceiling, and that the water pooling in the hallway must be from something else.

I sit at a small table facing the back door, facing you.

We order dinner and contemplate a map of Italy.

The owner stares out of the white iron-scrolled door into the alley.

I am saying inane things to you to drown out the argument.

I can’t find the coordinates for Florence, but we should go there. And See Rome.

An ambulance arrives at the duplex across the alley.

They sell large cannoli and small cannoli, here. 

The paramedics in this neighborhood wear bulletproof vests.  I see them hauling a sheet-covered-stretcher down the stairs of an old duplex, partially obscured by the form of the Italian.

He turns from the screen door and puts on upbeat music.

The waitress glares at him from the corner.

You see the fear in my face.

You ask what’s wrong.

I cannot stand the incongruities.

The alley.  Our little stores of potential future pleasures, our play-acted tragedies, all of life amounts to Not A-God-Damned-Thing.

I think somebody died.

You search my face while I pretend to locate Florence on the map.  Despite my stalling tactic, I do not come up with anything more intelligent to say.

Life is terrifying.  Death is fucked.

Short-lived carnal appetites drive humanity forward.

The gnocchi is divine.  We order the large cannoli.