Nothingness. Silence. Blackness. Then a fragment of an image, a memory, a thought, a random synaptic firing. Another. Slowly the fragments begin to link, merge, and form a sense of consciousness. A sound in the distance shatters the quiet, a car alarm, quickly silenced, but enough of an intrusion to heighten the emerging sense of awareness.
Discomfort. Sheets twisted, a throbbing pain between the eyes. Dampness. Bright red liquid covering the sheet lying across the right leg. Brief panic, until noticing with stinging eyes the overturned wine glass. The room is too hot. Sweat dampens the parts of the sheet not soaked with Grenashe.
A presence. Movement. Breath. The sheets shift as a person to the left repositions. A strange, but vaguely familiar woman. Long black hair falling across her bare shoulder and breast. What is her name? How did she get there? Was she paid to be there? Will she ask the same questions about him when her nothingness, silence, and blackness form into fragments of consciousness?
Recollection. The club. The music. The dancing. The drinks. The drugs. The woman, alone at a table medicating herself against the spreading cancer of emptiness, loneliness, and the inability to find meaning and fulfillment in life and love. The meeting of eyes. The sharing of drinks. The lines of blow. The temporary relief found in a knowingly empty connection but a connection nonetheless. The limo ride back to Le Sirenuse from Chaplin’s Pub.
Finally all of the fragments had formed the narrative of the past twenty-four hours. It was a common chapter, really no different than countless other chapters. Only the places and the characters were different, with the series of events remaining predictable, and repeating from place to place with person to person.
Built into the hillside of Positano, Italy overlooking boutiques and pastel houses, the Le Sirenuse consistently ranks near the top of the list of the world’s most exclusive, and expensive resorts. With panoramic views, marble bathrooms, whirlpool tubs, and the air permeated with the aroma of bottled lemon trees, it’s rooms are nearly always filled with the rich and the famous from around the world. Liam Francis, however, has found the accommodations only mildly satisfying, and a bit below his status.
The voice startled Liam from the inner world of his thoughts as he lay in twisted, dampened sheets still piecing together the previous night, thinking about the nights to come, and how none of them ever seemed to produce any lasting sense of happiness.
“English please. I speak English. Good morning.”
“I’m sorry amore. How was your rest?”
Amore. Liam knew that word too. Love. It sounded the same in many of the places where he’d woken up recently. And the hearing of the word sparked a mild anger deep inside of him. Not because this particular woman had used it to address him. But that countless women had used it.
In a dozen different languages in as many different places women had spoken the word to him in recent months. Falling asleep. Making love. Waking. Walking on a boulevard. The word, perhaps the most important word in human history, had fallen casually from the lips of women who could never grasp the magic it was supposed to carry. Every conversation beginning with amore in Liam’s life had ended with the sound of walking away. The echo of a slamming door. Or the sting of deception and betrayal.
“I slept fine. Thanks. You should probably get dressed. I need to get ready to catch my flight.”
“Your flight? I thought you said last night you were going to be here for several weeks.”
“You heard wrong. I have business in Morocco.”
Liam threw the sheets off of himself, pulled on his jeans, and walked unsteadily to the bathroom. After a few moments he returned to the suite to find the woman, was her name Martina, fastening her bra then reaching for her dress.
After putting herself together Martina walked into the main room of the suite to find Liam standing in front of the windows looking out over the city with a glass of juice and vodka.
“Do you at least have time for breakfast before you go?”
“No,” Liam replied with a cold determination to not prolong their connection any longer.
“Did you enjoy our evening together, Liam? You don’t seem like the same person who spoke to me with sweet words at Chaplin’s last night. Were you just trying to get me to come home with you so you could have your fun then send me away?”
“It was fine, what I remember of it. I’m sorry. I really need to get ready to go. Maybe I’ll see you again when I return to Positano. “There’s five-hundred Euro on the counter. Use it for a taxi.”
“Liam a taxi isn’t going to cost five-hundred Euro.”
“That’s fine, just keep the rest and buy yourself something nice,” Liam said while staring out the window. He hadn’t made eye contact with Martina since she came from the bedroom.
“I don’t want your money Liam. I’m not a fucking whore. Don’t bother looking for me if you return to Positano. You’re the same as everyone, only looking for someone to sleep with. Go fuck yourself.”
With his eyes fixed on the pastel houses below Liam heard the door slam. Unmoved. A familiar sound following familiar words all carrying the same familiar feeling, or lack of feeling.
After sliding open the the door to the balcony and settling himself into the chaise and feeling the sun on his face, Liam finished his drink, closed his eyes, and fell back asleep.
He had nowhere to go.
He had nothing to do.
Tonight would be another night in Positano.