A spring evening in Trastevere, Rome. Armando stood outside his apartment block and shifted from one foot to the other, attempting to stave off his growing need to urinate, exacerbated by the sharp night air and the bottles of Peroni he had drunk earlier. ‘Be patient.’ he kept telling himself.
A few minutes later he saw his chance. A middle-aged couple approached and unlocked the heavy dark wooden door to the apartment block. Armando guessed they must be staying in the B and B upstairs. Perfect, he could slip in behind them and creep quietly back into his own apartment before Lucia raised hell. He squeezed in behind them, but the man challenged him in English.
‘Hey! What are you doing? D’you live here? Show us your key!’
‘Of course I live here!’
‘I don’t believe it!’
‘You wanna meet my wife? Follow me!’ Armando shouted back, and led them down the marble steps to his basement flat.
‘Wait.’ He stormed into his unlocked flat and slammed the door.
‘What the hell’s going on?’ demanded Lucia.
‘Oh, some stupid tourists who think I’ve no right to be here, no right to be in my own apartment, with my own wife. You tell them there’s no problem.’ he yelled, pushing her roughly towards the door, opening it and quickly shoving her into the gap.
‘See. Here’s my wife.’
Lucia forced a smile. ‘We’re fine.’
Armando hurriedly dragged her back into the apartment and locked the door behind them. He had no idea what the interfering tourists would do next, and he didn’t care. Now he had to face Lucia and her ferocious questioning.
That evening’s gambling had cost him his key, his phone, his watch (a present from Lucia) and his wallet. This really would be the last time.
© Claire Stanfield