Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Rome Journal: A Hearse Pulls Up to Glorioso

                                   photo: FLevy
A Mercedes hearse pulled up on the Viale Gloriso, a cul-de-sac which leads to an auspicious set of steps  New Yorkers are more inured to the old Cadillac hearses. A brand new Mercedes hearse is almost too styish for its mordant task. There was no coffin in the hearse, which attracted the attention of onlookers sitting outside  the narrow bistro, abutting a store selling bespoke sneakers. Was the hearse there to pick up a body or was the driver simply cruising through the neighborhood after finishing a job? Pretty soon the presence of the hearse became normalized. As no body was forthcoming, life soon returned to normal. The owner of the Tabacchi at the corner of Glorioso and Dandolo, which is always crowded due to its size, sits behind the kind of bullet proof window that you find in pawn shops or short stay motels back in the States. Along with the cigarettes, lottery tickes and bus passes that such vest-pocket stores specialize in, the padrone seems to do a brisk business in crucifixes. If the hearse had been come to pick up a body, the grieving family might have availed themselves of the kind of religious items that come in handy during times of crisis. The owner of the Tabacchi wore thick glasses and seldom looked up from his cash register, but the crosses gave him a beatific air. As a customer handed over a 20 Euro bill for their purchase, they knew they were dealing with someone who had said their Hail Marys and would hence fork up the correct change. If the hearse driver smoked, he might have picked up a pack of the popular MS brand of smokes on his way to his next funeral.

read "Died Young" by Francis Levy, The Brooklyn Rail

and listen to "Function at the Junction" by Shorty Long

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