Mr. Jules was the first English-speaking person I met in Rome. His flamboyant sense of humor worked like a charm and quickly gained my friendship. It wasn’t until later; I found out that he was in fact, a con man, posing as my tour guide with the intent to lead me into a heap of misfortune. 

At the end, I could still hear him chatting in my head, “Dumb Americano,” while indulging in the same watered down shots of amaretto I generously bought us at Twenty-Fours; the bar beside the airport. 

I had no formal itinerary, so going on his advice; I took a bus to the Monzulli Museum of Roman history. Mr. Jules said it was a landmark; a real must see. Funny I had never heard of the place before and that’s after all, what intrigued me.

Along the way, the bus made a quick stop to pick up more passengers. Up the first two-steps, walked in the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life. She had an hour-glass figure, flawless face, and long flowing hair dark as midnight. It was lightly frosted with silver streaks and red highlights. She smiled at the driver and then in slow motion, while passing me by, gently licked her cherry red lips and then puffed them outwards, making the same motion as if blowing smoke rings. A light gust of wind traveled behind her from outside carrying the strong robust smell of spaghetti sauce. Looking out the window, I ascertained it was coming from the bakery across the street.

Just beside the bakery, my eye then caught a group of streetwalkers: three vividly dressed young girls and a middle-aged man with a slight limp, sporting a black fedora and bronze walking cane. They looked like they were headed to a masquerade party, but when the man suddenly gave one of the girls a quick back-hand across her face; I quickly ascertained he was their pimp. 

For no reason at all, he proceeded to slap the other two girls. I had the notion to exit the bus and apprehend the pimp, but the exit door shut and we took off again.

A minute later, my thoughts about the incident were interrupted when the bus suddenly hit a huge pothole. Unbeknownst to me, the beautiful woman with the rich cherry red lips had been standing just behind me when the bus jarred her forward. She tumbled off her feet and fell directly into my lap. 

While this could be considered as an embarrassing incident, she simply lifted herself up, and then in a roundabout glance, gave me a flirtatious wink. In an instant, I was filled with a carnal energy, but that feeling was soon overtaken by fear, when I noticed that the pothole we hit brought our bus, mere feet from the edge of a bluff. Everyone had risen to their feet, scared for their lives except one woman.

A lady, I figured in her mid-fifty’s was watching me the whole time. When I looked back at her, she spit into her hand and then crinkled her upper lip, revealing a set of crooked brown teeth. It was disgusting.

The bus took off again. Not even a minute down the road, I felt another, Kaboom!—the bus had hit another pot hole.

 “What the hell is going on? I admonished the bus driver, seeing as we had bounced off the road yet again.

“Lui è idiota,” Some guy inadvertently yelled.

The bus bumped along with grass, next to the road. A second later, I found the beautiful woman with the rich cherry red lips back in my lap. She looked unconscious. 

Just as I was about to call out for help, she opened her eyes. I asked her if she was ok. She nodded. From the reaction on her face, it was as if she had no idea what just happened to her. This time, she was slow to get off my lap. I didn’t care. I introduced myself with a simple hello, partially covering my mouth, checking to make sure my breath didn’t smell. 

She responded back in broken English, “Ok, sir, you good too, honey…” Her breath hit me with the sweet smell of marijuana. She touched her lip, as she rose to her feet. I began to sense I was going to have a happy ending at the end of this bus ride. 

It suddenly got hot on the bus, probably from everyone’s apparent nervousness over our crazy bus driver. He was just a teenager; maybe around nine-teen I figured. The whole time, he was calm, even after our narrow escape with death.

By now, I was utterly drawn into every aspect of the beautiful woman with the rich cherry red lips. With her back to me, I started to scope her out.

Hmm—Pointy white shiny heels with silver soles—Emerald green corduroys—A light blue jeans-jacket with white tassels. I bet her breasts look great underneath that jacket. Just then, she took it off.

Underneath, she wore a skinny pink colored spaghetti shirt. Around her lightly freckled neck, a medallion of St. Marta sat, along with a tattoo of some kind; it looked like a galloping chestnut mare. Her long black hair against her neck covered most of it up.

In slow motion, she stretched her arm outwards and hung it over the pull bars on the bus and I got a surprise; her hairy armpits. Surprisingly, it didn’t detour me from wanting to get to know her better. 

The bus then abruptly stopped; a few people got off including the beautiful woman with the rich cherry red lips. I decided to follow her.

I hadn’t paid attention but I was in the middle of the country side now. I noticed a few small farmhouses off the side. I smelled manure in the air. The bus took off and I impulsively called out to her, “Hey.” She didn’t respond, just kept walking forward.

I jogged after her. She looked over at me, smiled, and then immediately grabbed my hand, placing it on hers. I hinted to her, about the marijuana, like I was taking a toke off of a joint. She responded by pulling out a small baggy with a few buds in it.

I looked around and asked her where we were, meanwhile fiddling through my backpack, looking for some rolling paper.

“Not far,” she said. 

“So you do speak English?” She shook her head.

“No sir,” she mumbled. She then pointed over towards a barn. I figured that’s where she was taking me. I couldn’t wait to set my back-pack down. It was heavy. Everything I owned was in it. 

We didn’t head into the barn at first, but around the corner, where a pack of fawn pigmy goats penned up by a flimsy barbed-wire fence stood. Off to the left, I saw a small brick house. I suddenly heard someone call out from inside. “Mordrana!”

She ducked and we dashed into the barn. Once inside, she whispered, “Here you wait,” then tapped me gently on my crotch, then fled back out of the barn. I grinned, took off my back-pack, and then all my clothes. I had found a nice comfy spot where she’d be able to find me when she returned. I lit up the joint and waited in the dark.

My mind drifted off momentarily.

I thought about my friends back home and telling them all about this experience.

A few minutes later, I heard Mordrana come back into the barn. I lay there buck naked, with a half-smoked joint in my hand, in complete anticipation to make love to her. In addition to my previous thoughts, I had envisioned every climactic moment we would be having. 

I still couldn’t see her through the darkness. 

“Mordrana?” I called out to her. Rather than her voice, I heard a two angry males say, “Inanamoto.”

In a panic, I reached out for my backpack, but it was gone. The last thing I remembered was seeing stars before I woke back up with just the clothes on my back in a smelly garbage dumpster, just behind Twenty-fours; the same place I had first met Mr. Jules. 

I staggered to my feet and meandered past the window of the bar to see the beautiful woman with the rich cherry red lips: Mordrana, laughing it up with Mr. Jules. It seems this wasn’t the first time; they pulled off this caper together.


, Editor: Suzanne Davidovak
Author: James A. McDonnell
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