by Gianluca Mercadante
Love is a collaborative feeling
– Darling, I have to talk to you.
– Go ahead, light of my life.
– That’s exactly it, I wanted to talk to you about light: I’ve noticed that your eyes don’t tend to light up.
– I’ll have to get some camomile eye masks.
– I suspect it’s because you’re so tired, Darling. I’m very worried about you. The amount of work you’ve taken on is tremendous. I’d like to help you out a bit, around the house at least.
– I’ve already done everything.
– I’ve no doubt about that. But the tune has got to change. Let’s share the work out a bit, at least at home, as I said. Besides, it’s another way of spending time together, don’t you think?
– Yes, yes it is, you’re right… but… but you know… you know I have trouble asking for things.
– Well, let me tell you that I don’t — and never will — have a problem with you asking me to do things. In fact, you must ask me, Darling. Okay?
– Let’s try it then, shall we?
– I’m glad you agree. Love ia a collaborative feeling.
(bi-bip, bi-bip, bi-bip, bi-bip)
– That’s the washing machine, Darling. You’ll take care of it, won’t you?
Last night I found my wife’s turd in the toilet
Last night I found my wife’s turd in the toilet.
To be honest, it wasn’t an ugly turd. I’m not an expert or anything, of course, but… it was a nice looking turd, a sweet little rectangular parallelepiped lying motionless at the bottom of the bowl, by mistake, in the clean water.
It was hers; there’s no-one else in the house who could have used the bathroom. The only bathroom.
So, in front of the toilet, with the lid up and my hand ready to unzip my fly in order to proceed with what I set out to do every night before joining her in bed, I stood there, dumbstruck, admiring a part of her floating in the khazi.
It had happened to me once before with my parents when I was a child; I’d had fun trying to guess which of them was the pooer from the shape of the turd.
It’s a shame neither Mum nor Dad liked croissants.
Last night, on the other hand, I preferred to examine my wife’s turd from a more sober point of view, ignoring for another few minutes that urge in my lower abdomen which had made me, and continued to make me, stay there.
Perhaps I was looking at a neighbour’s bodily refuse which had reached our flat through the twists and turns of our building’s sewage pipes, or perhaps it had travelled through the sewage system of our entire town?
Or perhaps, last night, my mind finally gave vent to a secret frustration in my subconscious, finally giving shape, in the toilet shared by me and my wife, to the concept of a perfect turd.
The perfect turd.
The supreme shit.
The primordial poo.
The custom-made crap.
No matter how many times I turned it over and over in my mind, the crux of the matter was: I had to accept the fact that my wife’s body produces turds.
I had a wee and, deep in thought, flushed everything down.
We’ve been married for a year.
Joanna is a nurse; I’m a labourer.
We earn around one thousand one hundred pounds a month between us. We’ve got a thirty-year mortgage, a six-year loan for our furniture, we’re paying off our two cars in instalments — and I’ve got a motorbike too, which we might be forced to sell.
We made an oath before God to be faithful to one another, in sickness and in health, until death do us part, and so on.
They united us in Christ, but not in shit.
Loved up hypochondriacs
– Sweetie, I have something very important to confess.
– Go ahead, darling, I’m listening.
– Well… it’s about a side to my personality which I don’t like to talk about very much, but… well, I love you, you know? I want there to be a future between us, and I’m afraid that if you discover this hidden side to me once our relationship is well underway, you might… well, you might leave me.
– Good lord, darling, is it as terrifying as that?
– It is for me, sweetie.
– Come on then, spill the beans. We’ll sort everything out together.
– I’m… I’m a hypochondriac.
– Is that all? So what? I am too!
– Yep. Last night I went to bed convinced that a heart attack was building up inside me.
– Fascinating, that’s happened to me loads of times!
– And don’t get me started on my heart palpitations…
– You should feel mine. Have you ever thought you had a tumour?
– Pretty much six days a week… actually, make it seven. What can I say, sweetie, it’s par for the course. They say tumours don’t even cause any pain at the start, so I might have oodles of them. One day on my spleen, the next day on my sphincter…
– And on your brain?
– I don’t have a constant headache for nothing.
– Do you remember when I had that bad cold last week?
– Of course I do. You left me on my own on my birthday, you were afraid I would catch it. I definitely remember that, darling.
– Well, sweetie, giving you my cold wasn’t actually my main concern.
– What do you mean…?!
– I thought I’d caught TB.
– I went onto Google, typed my symptoms into the search box and that’s what came up.
– Are you crazy?
– No, sweetie, I’m a hypochondriac.
– Rubbish! True hypochondriacs conjure up illnesses out of thin air, they don’t look them up on the internet! And to think I thought I’d found my soulmate in you.
– So… so it’s over?
– I’m afraid so. Darling.
– Yes, darling?
– I have a terrible pain in my chest.
– Go to sleep, darling.
– All right, sweetie.
– Finally we’re going to meet.
– That’s right. I didn’t think it would happen.
– And yet…
– And yet it has.
– Except by now it’s like we know each other. Like we’ve known each other our whole lives.
– Our whole lives? Come on, don’t exaggerate. Anyway, it’s not like we know absolutely everything about each other.
– Oh no..?
– Well, no. I wouldn’t say we do.
– I don’t agree. I know that you shave yourself, for example. I have trouble believing you tell that to every Tom, Dick and Harry.
– What’s that got to do with anything? Of course that’s something I would tell you. There are people that… I mean, I’ve been in situations where people… freeze up over that kind of thing.
– What a strange world we live in. In any case, I like it shaved.
– Okay, well, if this is the level we’re on, you even told me you have a wonky-…
– …-I didn’t say it was wonky, darling, I just wanted to let you know that it hangs to the left. Also politically.
– What the hell has POLITICS got to do with it??
– I love it when you get angry. Have I ever told you that angry girls turn me on like nothing else?
– Don’t change the subject; answer my question. What has politics got to do with sex?
– I was joking. I wanted to defuse the situation.
– Does it seem like the right time to defuse the situation? Defuse it by giving me a good old shag, my dear “member of the left party”.
– I’d like that, you know. I’d like that a lot.
– I don’t believe it. Discussions like this are more of a turn-off than pink and blue flowery onesies — all the more so when they are launched into out of nowhere like that. Politics is about as erotic as a draught excluder; although draught excluders actually serve a purpose.
– Help nothing. Learn to watch what you say when you talk to girls.
– Can I… how should I put it…make a small observation?
– Of course.
– We’re not… well, we’re not really talking to each other.
– Not yet. Look up.
– Where are you?
– That will remain a mystery until you stop messing around with your iPhone. I’m in front of you, on the pavement opposite. Next to the traffic lights.
– Are you the one with the pink bag?
– Dream on. I’m the who’s just arriving. The one with the Nightmare Before Christmas bag.
– But… but on Facebook…
– Photoshop works miracles.
– Right, well, we’ve met each other. Or recognised each other, rather.
– I… I don’t know what to say.
– You don’t have to say anything to me. You can talk to my lawyer, though. It’ll be worth you getting one as well, come to think of it.
– Anna, I…
– Find yourself a hotel, sweetie. I should get home in time to call the locksmith and change the locks. Bye bye.
Illustration by ManuelaCh
Gianluca MercadanteÂ was born in 1976 in Vercelli, Italy, where he resides and works. He has published “McLoveMenu” (Stampa Alternativa publishing, 2002, Parole di Sale prize), “Il Banco dei Somari” (NoReply publishing, 2005), “Nodo al Pettine — Confessioni di un parrucchiere anarchico” (AlacrÃ n publishing, 2006), “Polaroid” (Las Vegas publishing, 2008), “Il giardino nel recinto di vetro” (Birichino publishing, 2009), “Cherosene” (Las Vegas publishing, 2010), as well as the e-books “Io ho visto tutto” (Milanonera publishing, 2012), “CasinÃ² Hormonal” (Lite Editions publishing, 2013 — which has become a small literary sensation on the e-book market) and “Caro scrittore in erba…” (Las Vegas publishing, 2013). Dozens of his short stories have appeared in anthologies, specialised magazines and in the Italian book series Giallo Mondadori. He has written literary criticism articles for the Italian daily newspaper “La Stampa” and for the magazines “Pulp” and “Satisfiction”. His most recent work is entitled “Noi aspettiamo fuori” (EffedÃ¬ publishing, 2014).