Mike awoke, and as was often the case did not immediately know where he was. In that space between light and shadow he dreamed. Mike called these awake dreams and often began speaking aloud to characters that were not present, even before he was unconscious and by all accounts, still awake.
This morning his dream framed images of his uncle shot at close range by his cousin and then a victim list on a television news broadcast. The confusion of time shifting always makes perfect sense in a dream and when Mike would become cognizant of an absurd shift is usually when he would wake or on other occasions fall deeper into the dream.
On this day the unfamiliar room was the catalyst that brought Mike from the awake dream. He had not paid much attention to the place the night before as the wine was much more interesting than the room. Although lovely, the sheer size of the place was much grander than any he had experienced in Italy before. This was certainly not Puglia he thought as he leaned back onto a second pillow and gave a fleeting last glance at the remnant dream images in his head.
Why would he dream about something so macabre while in a place of beauty he thought as he reached for his iPhone to check some of the photos from the evening prior. Indeed there was the final shot; closeups of wine globules beading along the side of the last bottle of Nebbiolo he had taken back to his room. There next to the phone on the side table was the bottle as well as the red-purple stain on the white linen doily. “Oops, that was stupid,” he said out loud.
It was Hard for him to believe he had been here before because of the foreign way in which the place felt. In addition, all the rooms were unique as was often the case with Italian lodging, and this was certainly not the room where he had stayed previously. As he glanced towards the window though, he knew he was at least in a familiar land.
The sun was beginning to ramp up for its daily fight with the fog and there was a muted light making its way through the sheer curtains. Ahh Piedmont, Seattle in a Farmer’s overalls, Mike had written on the notepad provided with the room. How could he use this in a post? Would any of his readers know what he meant by that?
He got to his feet and caught himself in the mirror. There was nothing like being nude in a foreign place he thought. It was refreshing to feel strange air on familiar places. The flooring was warmed from pipes beneath making the walk across the wood such a treat for the feet. Mike considered this elementary rhyme as he pulled the door open to the bathroom and entered the bright grey sky-lit room. At morning attention knew it would be difficult to release immediately and as he waited with no change in his condition he contemplated sitting on the toilet to relieve himself. Instead, he stared into the bathroom mirror for a different perspective of his body.
The hair on his chest was clipped to a pattern he could live with while his facial hair was strikingly absent. He had worn a beard since she told him he looked sexy with it all those years ago. Mike wanted to look sexy almost as much as he wanted to drink, just not quite.
As the urge to urinate became almost unbearable Mike ran his hands along his back, stepped back to a typically uncomfortable distance and fired away into the elegant porcelain bowl. This particular commode lacked the vulgar shit shelf of many European toilets. He knew after breakfast and coffee he would return here and the prospect of inspection was never a pleasing consideration while reading something relaxing. Mike wondered if all people considered the design of a bathroom to be either functional or decorative as he did.
He warmed a wash cloth at the sink and began to wipe the sleep from his eyes and the pillow styling from his newly cropped hair. His hair when cut and on the barbershop floor reminded him of big puffy balls of pubes. It was unfortunate, he had thought for most of his life, to have hair more appropriately textured for the scrubbing of pots and pans than running fingers through. So he never really let anyone touch it. Kind of like someone with a big stomach feels pain when it is jostled, Mike’s head was psychosomatically sensitive to touch.
After his daily wash cloth ritual he began to be stirred emotionally at the thought of the breakfast downstairs. At this villa there would be no less than 6 unpasteurized cheeses on offer along with a homemade jam derived from the juice and skins of second crop dolcetto grapes. He had always perceived dolcetto to have a taste like an intense jelly and when he learned that his suspicion was indeed a reality it made him giddy. Now, at long last he would be back in his breakfast heaven.
As Mike reached for his underwear that he had washed in the sink the night before, there came a knock at his door. Mike, frozen for a second not knowing what to do or say found the words just as the door was rapped a second time:
Mike - un attimo per piacere
Hotel Employee - abbiamo una lettera per lei Signore
Mike - per io? la lettera e per Mike...
HE – (interrupting) si e vero
Mike opened the door slightly so as not to expose his current malady and took the letter. When he looked down he realized it was in the Villa’s own stationary. He began to say something to the hotel employee but she was gone.
He tore open the envelope and inside was written a single word:
Colazione? (breakfast?) ….to be continued