Here is my contribution to last week’s Mid-Week Blues Buster from Jeff Tsuruoka.
This was the inspiration song, “Tu Vo’ Fa’ L’Americano” (You Want to be American?), sung by Fiorello, Jude Law & Matt Damon from “The Incredible Mr. Ripley”.
Cigarette smoke billowed through the orange-tinted spotlight, taking on strange undulating shapes as the dancers shimmied their way through the clouds.
The haze obfuscated the true self. Everyone became better looking, more cool, more charming: the ineffable boost that a buzz of booze and a good smoke could confer.
Except for her boyfriend. He oozed through the crowd and managed to look just as sleazy as he was. He grabbed her around the waist and swung her into the crowd, using her as a wedge to lever his way over to Marco, a prospective client.
The club squealed along with the trumpet, wailed along with the clarinet, throbbed along with the deep thrum of the slap bass. The overhead lamp swung with the bounce of the beat, gleaming off Eddie’s sweaty bald forehead.
Naples wore its most vivid colors tonight. Lemon yellows crashed into avocado greens; her subdued cream dress drowned in a sea of feminine attention-seeking. The heat was oppressive; even the walls of Perma-Stone siding had beads of sweat sliding along its face.
“Eddie, I wanna go,” she mumbled.
“Naw, Betty baby, I’ll show him the American way of doing business.”
He pushed her further into the crowd. Her heel caught in a crack in the terrazzo and she stumbled right into Marco’s arms, knocking his partner into another couple.
“Perdono, signore.” she stuttered. She had bumped her nose on his tie-tack, set with a ruby as big as her thumbnail.
Eddie was on them before she could even straighten the hem of her dress, “Mister Bertolazzi, I just wanted to introduce myself, Eddie Mayhew (rhymes with achoo). You won’t want to forget it because I’m going to show you something that’s gonna save you a lot of money.”
Marco held up a well-manicured hand to Eddie and turned to Betty. “Are you right?” he asked, in perfectly Italianate-accented English.
“Yes, thank you,” she said, flustered, retrieving a tissue from her handbag. “Please forgive my clumsiness.”
He offered his arm and escorted her off the dance floor, leaving Eddie in the wake of fifty other jostling couples. “I hear Americans are good to do business with.”