SETTING: Modern day. Terracina, Italy. Beach shacks serving pasta, panini, and ice cream. A rainbow of beach umbrellas. A dead end street with a German name – Via Bad Homburg. A bare, dust-filled apartment, long-fallen into disuse.
Act I. Cast of characters.
E – Female, 30. The heroine. Serial expat. Breathtakingly gorgeous.
La Maga Circe – Female, millions of years old. A mountain that appears to float in the sea. Rumored to have been the home of Circe. So named for her resemblance to a witch’s jagged profile. Looms over the town; keeps watch.
The tourists – From other parts of Italy, Russia, Germany, and other European countries. They dance in the clubs along the boardwalk at night and plod around town wearing only bathing suits during the day. Speedos, imprisoning a variety of unsightly male bits. Baggy trunks, with Hot Buttered printed on the back. Bikini tops with the straps worn down. Brown skins. The Italians laugh, the Germans swim even when the water is too cold for everyone else. Double the population of the town from May to September.
Zio Enrico – Male, mid-40s. E’s young uncle. Lives in Colleferro, digs astrology, and wears purple suede shoes. Determined to learn English.
Mario – Male, mid-60s. The family’s business administrator who, as our heroes will learn in 2014, has embezzled most of her mother’s and her uncle’s inheritance. In 2010 he appears to be a family friend who has managed the apartment in her parents’ absence. In 2016 he can choke on his own vomit and E would be thrilled. Figlio di puttana. Gobo maledetto.
Leone – Male, age indeterminate. The local handyman in town who has been hired to fix some of the things that were broken in the apartment. Speaks local dialect, full of “sh” sounds and switches from “o” to “u” as in words like “ora” and “cosa.” Ura. Cusa. Lavatrish. Says: The apartment runs on gas, okay? You need to open the gas when you want to use it and close it when you don’t. Every day – open, close. Open, close. Understood? You understand Italian, right?
The DiVecchios – The upstairs neighbors, Eugenio and Maria. Parents to a beautiful little girl named Ilaria, one. Bafflingly kind to E. Have offered the use of their internet connection, an old red bicycle, and have even invited her over to their apartment for dinner. Spaghetti alle vongole. Swordfish steaks. Gelato. Fresh melon. Lots of wine. Note – it takes E three glasses of wine to start forgetting Italian verbs, and four to start forgetting Italian nouns. The DiVecchios have given E a bag full of lemons from their tree.
Manuel – Male, early 30s. The man who runs the pensione across the street. Has offered to answer any questions E might have; let her use the hotel’s wireless for free before she got the password for the DiVecchio connection upstairs and when she didn’t have change for a three postcards she wanted to buy said: You can pay me later.
Signor Silvio – Male, mid-80s. Manuel’s father; the man who used to run the pensione. He is old now, and no longer “there.” Sits in a wheelchair out in the cortile and glares at E when she passes.
Toto – Signor Silvio’s dog. He lies in the bushes and barks at the motorcycles that putter along the street. A big German shepherd.