Friday, 26 November 2010

Hotel Sayonara

Custer's last stand. The last abode I had in Napoli, not really, not the hotel...above the hotel. The flashing lights of Otel Sayonara and a pity the H was missing but appropriate as really it struggled for motel status. Really it was a seedy dive with the stench of men who had no place to shower wafting through the entryway. Take a tenner off just for having to endure the smell from the bottom of the stairs. Too late for a deep breath. The door had already buzzed open and shut.'re in it. You are in the shit girl. Maybe it was five men to a shower and six men to a toilet or maybe they just used the shower unless they had to do a dump. I could only guess the details and was relieved to find it was a men only otel. But for me, he would make an exception. He dangled the keys to room 19 with a sick glint in his eye and the spare key in his pocket. His jism master glance had me backing up a mile. I would have spit my guts out, but I was hungry.

The head of the English school was truly sorry. The phone rang off the hook with clients. Contract after contract. The aeronautical high school, the Media Statale, the toy factory in Pozzuoli...friendly Mr. Fracasso. Unanimous. No one had any spare change for ESL teachers once the Twin Towers hit the tubes. Talk of war, financial crisis, who knows ways of out this? no one. No one knew what was going to happen. They only knew how to close their purses as tightly as their lips and wait it out. Even NATO came up with a good excuse. Sorry, tightening surveillance and security. ESL teachers don't have clearance anymore. Half my pay packet for the month, a string of medallioned officials who had one on one lessons.They didn't panic in Rome, but Neapolitans love to panic. It's their default. Panic and default are the same button. They panic on normal days, but no day is ever normal in Naples. I knew nothing about the mafia when I lived there. They were a mythology. Glassed in under tinted bullet proof windows on Renato Muratore's black sedan, I was sure he was incapable of being anything but a nice man who preferred to study using the newspaper. His body guards were just out for the ride. And here we are in Little Bo Peepland--cognac and idioms in his private chambers. Renato didn't panic. That is why he is the boss....a boss with a choice of three cars to drive home in and serving up an agenda that took him several routes home.
So the default for me was to sleep on the floor of Mr. Sacco's school lobby and get up at 7 before the remaining students trickled in. Me just coming out the washroom after a sink basin shower. My back pack in the book closet right next to the xerox machine. After a week or so, he asked me to move on...then I ...I found the door open across from the school...a tidy but abandoned warehouse with stacks of books not dusty enough to be abandoned, but a warm place to sleep and keep my belongings. They found me one morning. I was coming home noticing that the books were piling up and moving. Not a ghost. Someone had actually been there. They came early...two men in suits peering at me sleeping....They said nothing. I left.
From there I went to Pedra Parisi's--a former student. Her parents' house a lovely place at the bottom of Mount Vesuvious. They gave me the top floor. I showered outside overlooking Capri and to the left, the cliffs of Amalfi, Positano, Sorrento and finally hidden away Ravello.

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