Â by Gianluca Mercadante
– Yes, Dear?
– They’ve opened the summer cinema, Darling.
– I thought it was late autumn, Dear, given how hot it is at the moment.
– But… but… it’s never hot in late autumn!
– Precisely my point, Dear.
– I just don’t get you sometimes, Darling.
– Me neither, Dear.
– Ah, really? And what exactly is so hard to understand about the things I say?
– That’s not what I meant, Dear. I meant that I don’t understand myself either. Sometimes.
– And they say women are the complicated ones…
– Don’t go all sociologist on me now.
– Oh no, absolutely, let’s just leave it eh?
– I agree, Dear.
– For once…!
– What does that mean?
– What does it mean? Nothing, Darling. Free thoughts.
– I wouldn’t exactly call them free if you’re keeping them to yourself. Come on, Dear, share.
– You don’t have a Facebook account, Darling.
– What’s that got to do with it?
– You asked me to share my thoughts, Darling. Well, it just so happens that I do share my thoughts, on Facebook. Get yourself an account and you’ll be able to read them.
– Aaaanyway… so they’ve opened the summer cinema. Do you want to know which film I’d like to see?
– I’m dying of curiosity, Dear.
– Basically… well… if you put me on the spot… I’d say… all of them. I want to see them all.
– In other words, cutting out all the waffle, you want to go to the cinema every day, Dear?
– Sometimes they show the same film two or three evenings in a row. We don’t have to see the same one twice, Darling.
– I see. All right then. You go ahead, Dear.
– What about you? Aren’t you coming, Darling?
– I’m happy to stay at home, Dear, doesn’t bother me.
– But… but we’re husband and wife…!
– And that we shall remain, Dear, separated by cinema. Not least because the films you watch, Dear, are a load of crap.
– Crap, Dear. American video tape trash, Dear. Blockbusters for families, Dear, something-for-everyone, Dear.
– Everyone except you, obviously.
– Everyone except me, obviously.
– But… but Darling, I have to drive in the dark… aren’t you afraid to let your little wifey roam the streets of Milan by herself?
– Mi… Milan?!!
– Yes, of course Milan.
– Let me get this straight: you would travel more than 80 miles nearly every day to… to go and see an open-air film screening in Milan?!
– Yes. There’s never anything going on here in the provinces.
– Isn’t it just? We ought to write to the Mayor. It’s a shameful situation.
– No, that “ludicrous” was in reference to something else, Dear, but let’s just leave it, I can’t be bothered to discuss it. Time to hit the sack, as they say. Good night.
– Yes, Dear?
– But… but… it’s not fair! I’ll get bored at the cinema by myself!
Honesty is the best policy
– Hi there!
– Oh, what a surprise! How are you doing?
– Same old same old. You? I haven’t seen you for donkey’s years.
– I went off to find myself.
– And did you?
– Yes, and I wasn’t in a hurry to recover.
– Where did you go to rediscover yourself?
– Ibiza — where else??
– It was nice to see you again.
– It was nice to see you again, too.
– It’s not true that it was nice to see you again.
– To be honest, it wasn’t nice for me either. I just said it for the sake of it.
– So did I.
– In actual fact: I couldn’t give a damn about you.
– You know, I feel the exact same way.
– We have that in common, then.
– As well as various friends on Facebook.
– Yes, true.
– Will you look me up?
– Of course I’ll look you up, I’ll send you a friend request.
– Ok. Speak soon.
– Good morning ladies and gentlemen.
– Good morning to you.
– I’m here to talk to you about my project.
– We know.
– We’re aware of that.
– Please go ahead.
– The title of the project is Tysan III.
– Tysan III?
– III Tysans?
– How many Tysans…?
– Just one, ladies and gentlemen, but the “three” next to the name gives it that edge.
– If you say so…
– Oh, well, as far as we’re concerned…
– Tysan III is a mega robot for families. Move over Grendizer, ladies and gentlemen, move over UFO Robot, move over Transformers, all of which offer a type of entertainment full of non-educational content. Tysan III is an unprecedented robot, never seen before on today’s market. Tysan III is good, polite, courteous. His conservative and pro-nuclear designers have taught him to understand the burden on the global economy left by his predecessors: entire cities raised to the ground, and for what? To destroy a baddie who would never have destroyed the robots, because otherwise the series would have come to an end after ten minutes! Tysan III, ladies and gentlemen, is the kind of robot we need today. But let’s take a look at the video clip.
– Yes, let’s have a look.
– Let’s watch it.
– Look, ladies and gentlemen: its head is shaped like a cup, a huge, smiling cup, politically apathetic, able to bring just enough hope into a simpleton’s life. The head is propped up on three dessert plates, because after all, ladies and gentlemen, it’s Tyson III we’re talking about here, and I needed to include something to do with “three” somewhere, didn’t I. Tyson III’s body is a thermos flask, in which our family-friendly robot keeps his secret weapon: herbal tea! Tysan III calms his enemies by spraying them with herbal tea, ladies and gentlemen. No more buildings blasted to smithereens by gamma rays, no more people escaping to the countryside surrounding Gotham City! Tysan III’s arms are made of teacups. When the enemy approaches, the flask pumps litres and litres of herbal tea into Tysan III’s head, which is hollow on the inside. With an unsuspectably swift movement of the head — we can see it now on the fifth slide — Tysan III tips the content of his head into the teacups, which break away from him like loads of little UFOs separated from the mothership. And they hit the enemy. And the enemy calms down, ladies and gentlemen, because herbal teas have a calming effect.
– And what about the feet?
– The feet?
– Two teaspoons, the long sort. You’ll struggle to notice them because they are extremely thin, but I can guarantee that in the series — if you decide to produce it, ladies and gentlemen — there’ll be an explanation as to how the manufacturers created them by melting an alloy that not even Superman can break through.
– What do you think, ladies and gentlemen?
– Next, please!
Talent agency requires new faces to introduce to the world of international politics.
Required traits: ability to blackmail, good actor, no sensitivity towards the environment and community, addicted to sex, fully and undisputably corrupt in all senses of the word, zero morals, freedom of religious expression, minimum sense of family and culture. Any candidate who manages to solve puzzles, for example, will be deemed unsuitable. They are too intelligent. They might even have their own personality, their own ideas. Completely unsuitable.
No time-wasters or nouveau riche. Phone for office hours.
Orders from above
– Doctor, I have allergies during spring.
– What about during the other seasons?
– The seasons aren’t what they used to be.
– I know what your problem is: you’re the nostalgic type. If you vote for me at the next elections, my political programme envisages the introduction of a law which allows the immediate, on-the-spot execution of any person declaring themselves to suffering from nostalgia. Isn’t that marvellous?
– So I don’t need any treatment?
– No, no treatment.
– No prescription?
– No prescription.
– Thank you, Doctor, thank you! You’ve definitely got my vote, I promise!
– Just give me two hundred euros for now. You know, for the consultation.
– There you are. Can I have a receipt?
– Here’s your receipt.
– These days it’s prescriptions that are being reduced, not tax receipts. Those were the days, back when you just stole and that was that. Now you have to declare what you steal. It’s the people who have never stopped paying to listen to lies.
Illustration by ManuelaCh
Gianluca Mercadante was born in 1976 in Vercelli. Dozens of his short stories have appeared in anthologies, magazines and in the Italian book series Giallo Mondadori.Â 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), “Io ho visto tutto” (Milanonera publishing, 2012), “CasinÃ² Hormonal” (Lite Editions publishing, 2013), “Caro scrittore in erba…” (Las Vegas publishing, 2013), “Noi aspettiamo fuori” (EffedÃ¬ publishing, 2014), and “CasinÃ² Hormonal — Versione Integrale” (Lite Editions publishing, 2015). Together with Daniele Manini, he has also been responsible for the anthology “Liscio assassino” (Zona publishing, 2014), appended to the band Banda Putiferio’s album with the same name. He has written literary criticism articles for the Italian daily newspaper “La Stampa” and for the magazines “Orizzonti”, “Pulp” and “Satisfiction”.
His most recent work, which has just been published, is “Caro lettore in erba…” (Las Vegas publishing, 2015).