Smelly and I met Chris while asking for directions to La Boca Veritas to recreate an Audrey Hepburn episode that wouldn’t involve a black dress. The three of us chatted as the sky turned pink. We paced the tree-lined strip along the Tevere as I deleted photographs to accommodate sunset by the river moments.
A balding dark man leaned against a parked car, his hand moving frenetically. Only a moment of a beat passed before I whipped my head around. Was I seeing things? Oh yes, oh yes I was. “He’s jerking off.” Neither Smelly nor Chris knew about what I was whispering.
“Right there,” I say through clenched teeth while pointing with my whole head.
“Oh dear God,” Chris says as he quickly jerks away. Smelly won’t even look.
We continue walking, and I occasionally turn back. “Smelly, did you see that?”
“How did you miss that?”
“I didn’t want to look. I mean, what if it was true?”
He jerked off by the river, smiling with summer teeth (some are here, some are there). In a moment, camera in hand, I was certain I needed to capture this for the blog. I turned back and pointed the camera in his direction. I was ready to fight fire with fire.
The Jerk concealed his face abruptly, as if he were discovered with an illicit lover. He ran away.
“Holy shite. I so wish I snagged that on film for the blog.” What was wrong with me? It’s not like I’d actually put that on my blog. It’s too disturbing, still, I wanted to the option. Then the three of us continued to head toward our restaurant destination speaking of what had just happened to us.
I was certain we should cross the street, but Smelly and Chris felt safer crossing at the intersection. When we finally approached the intersection, The Jerk was kneeling on the cement in an alcove along the river. His eyes were tented with a handkerchief. He was ready to die. “To die” in Shakespeare’s day meant to have an orgasm. You’re getting closer.
Later that night I dreamt in Italian. There wasn’t any talking or confusion, but I was in Europe. I tried to will my dreams toward my bed at home, toward Linus, even, but the steering got away from me. I felt incredibly dirty, not in a good way. The witnessing of the executioner haunted my thoughts. I get a pit in my stomach knowing complete sickos like this exist. Fiddlers. He was smiling, laughing then he whispered, “Wait to take the photograph. Wait. I’ll cum for you.”
My camera never fired, and I didn’t stick around to see if he had.