Segment 6: When a Third World Came West

            We walked further down the road, against crowds of girls wearing more short, tight dresses, plastic white, bangle bracelets, and blond hair that frizzed because of the humidity. Everyone was dressing loose tonight because the weather had broke from the night before, the rain had stopped, and it was the first day when it wasn’t storming.  Sam veered right into a pizza place that was one row long, packed with people elbowing their way into shoving dollar bills towards two men behind a spit valve that covered half crusts of pizza pies.  It looked good.  I followed Sam and I went into my brown pocket purse, sifting around for a cigarette since I wanted to spend my cash back with the guy with curly hair at the Red Velvet, and not here.  I put the unlit cigarette to my mouth and searched around for Sam who’d disappeared.  I saw him in the back, behind the counter and the register asking a busy worker for something.  Two minutes later and he was pushing passed a girl with a red cropped shirt pasted to her chest and long fake purple nails trying to make up her mind out loud about which slice of pizza she wanted.  When he was finally threw and out the door with a red backpack, I put my cigarette in my mouth waiting for a light from him. 

            “Where are you from?” I asked.

            “Italy.”

            “Italy?”  I inhaled my cigarette and looked at more swarms of the crowded clubbers coming our way and thought about when I trekked with my roommate Jenn up and down the coast.

             “You did?” He asked.

            “We went all over the place from Milan to Rome, Florence, everywhere.”  He handed me a lighter.  I felt myself slowing down, stalling as he and I got closer to the Red Velvet.  I had to make up my mind about what I was gonna say, if I was gonna invite him over or if I was gonna say goodbye.

            I inhaled more smoke, I could smell it on my fingers and in my hair and kicked some stones on the sidewalk and told Sam that I had to meet my friends across the street at the Red Velvet.  “You wanna come across the street with me?  You’ll like my friends.  They’re all from different places too.  Virginia will love it that you’re from Italy.”  I blew out smoke to the side of me.  “She loves foreign guys.” 

            He looked around and I realized I’d make him uncomfortable.  I kept looking back at the club looking for Robbie.  Sam kicked some stones too and started walking across the street, watching down the one-way for cars.

            We came in and I couldn’t see Robbie for all the girls and people hovered around him.  I wasn’t even sure if it was him.  It was about 10:30 and the bar by now was more crowded with only some bar stools at the far end near the back of the wooden counter next to the window.  I thought twice about saying hi to Robbie because it had been on my mind to search for the guy with the curly hair so I could give him the money I got out from the bank machine.  I thought I saw him where I left him, over by the curtained doorway.  “ Here, you wanna sit down?”  I patted a stool near the window and said to Sam that I had to be right back cause I had to pee.   I put out my cigarette in a blue ashtray filled with nin butts and ordered two Budweisers before I left, trying to keep my voice down so that Robbie wouldn’t recognize it.  I spotted my guy, sitting down talking next to another guy on a couch some space between them, the girl he was talking to earlier standing near the corner and talking to a girl with brown, short cropped hair in a yellow turtleneck. Odd for Florida.  I stayed staring at the curly haired guy from a safe distance.  He looked up from the conversation with his friend and set his drink down on the table. He got up and followed me through the same hallway in the back, behind the door less entryway through the curtain that we’d gone through before.  I turned to see Sam looking the other way and quickly disappeared behind it.

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