Act XVI, Scene I
"Therefore, since I cannot prove a lover, to entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain, and hate the idle pleasures of these days." ~ Richard the Third, Act I, Scene I
I was contemplating the sunset beyond the verdant hills when I heard the door to my office open, followed by the sound of a vaguely familiar female voice –a voice that could only be described as honeyed gravel.*
“Excuse me, Mr. Mayor? They say you speak English.”
“Indeed I do.” I swiveled my chair around to face my visitors. No sooner had they caught sight of my face than they screamed my detestable former stage name in unified horror.
“The Simpsons!” I shouted back, equally horrified.
Bart – the bane of my existence – was the first to recover from our collective shock and step forward brazenly. “Sideshow Bob? Of all the regione, in all the villagi, in all of Italia,” he cried out angrily, gripping the edge of my desk and pointing an accusing finger at me, “you had to be il mayore of this one!”
“I can assure you, I’m as sorry to see you as you are to see me,” I replied with impeccable calm, although inwardly I was still reeling in disbelief.
“How’d you wind up here?” asked Lisa, the daughter. Her tone wasn’t harsh or mocking, but rather genuinely curious.
“Yes, tell us your story,” said Homer, “but it better have a beginning, a middle and an end. And you’d better make us root for the protagonist!” he added menacingly.
I decided to humor them. After all, it was I who had the upper hand now, I who had risen through the ranks to become the head and the heart of an entire community, while they remained the same stereotypical, corn-fed, blue-collar Americans that I could comfortably look down my nose at.
“My tale begins after I had once again attempted to murder Bart.”
Homer nodded. “Okay, so far I’m rootin’ for ya.”
I told them the abridged version of how I had come to be mayor of Salsiccia, omitting, of course, certain details of a familial nature. My hopes that I could be rid of the Simpsons before Francesca returned from her latest date were dashed the moment my faux trophy wife walked in with Gino in her arms. Right when I was finishing my story, as if on cue. Damn that woman and her insufferable nosiness. Did I pester her about her about her various beaus and boy toys? Well… maybe a little.
“Roberto!” she called out, donning a smile I didn’t trust. “Amore!”
Behind that cordial mask her dark eyes glittered inquisitively, suspiciously. In the brief time we’d been together, the Simpsons were my first and only out-of-town guests. Most everyone I knew lived far away, in either Britain or America, and Francesca was well aware of that. I don’t fault her for her curiosity. It is human nature, after all.
The exact details of my criminal past I’d kept mum when we agreed to “marry,” and although she made no direct inquiries, I found she had little respect for my privacy, as evidenced by her constant eavesdropping on private phone calls and meetings.
I resisted an unpleasant smirk at her arrival and instead curled my lips into a convincing smile, and without missing a beat, introduced the Simpsons to my “bride” and “son.”
“Holy moly!” Homer exclaimed, “I always thought you were… you know… out loud and proud!”
I shrugged. “Well, I experimented in college, as one does.” The exact details of said experimentation I prefer not to divulge, thank you very much.
“Yeah, I never went to college,” Homer replied.
I gave him a deadpan look. “Stop the presses.”
It was then that Marge stepped forward, introducing Francesca to her family. “Hello, I’m Marge. This is my husband Homer, my daughters, Lisa and Maggie, and my son, Bart Simpson.”
“Bart Seempson?” Francesca repeated the dreaded name, and I felt the blood drain from my face. “The name Roberto cries when he has-a the bad dream!"
Although I knew that I sometimes talk in my sleep, I was unaware that Francesca had ever heard me, as we rarely shared a bed for non-carnal purposes. Indeed, we even had separate bedrooms on opposite sides of the house. She couldn’t possibly have heard me all the way from her own room, could she?
“Bart Simpson! Bart Simpson! Bart Simpson! I make like my daddy!” shouted Gino while stabbing the air with an imaginary knife. “Ack! Ack! Ack!”
Apparently they could both hear me screaming in my sleep. Fantastic.
With an admittedly nervous chuckle, I lifted the boy from his mother’s arms and set him on the floor. He was usually better behaved whenever I handled him.
“Yes, Bart and I used to go, er, fly-fishing together!”
Gino ran around in circles shouting “Die, Bart! Die, Bart!” until he stepped on his toy rake and was effectively silenced by the handle hitting him in the face. I never thought I could feel such satisfaction in seeing it happen to another person for once, although at the same time I deeply empathized with the boy. It was an odd combination of feelings, to say the least.
And then Francesca did the unthinkable.
“You shall all stay for dinner,” she announced, “and tell me more about my wonderful Roberto.” Here she turned to me, and brushed her fingers through my hair with a dreamy sigh. “He makes love like a man who just got out of jail.”
I felt myself blushing, then, before I knew it, Francesca was kissing me on the lips. My surprise was so great that it took me a moment to return the gesture, although I suspect that I failed to do so convincingly. Of the various uses for her mouth, kissing was not one of them. No matter what lust-driven lengths we were taken to together, I was spared not a single kiss.
It was a different story when it came to Gino, of course. She gladly kissed his every bump and bruise, and at every bedtime gave him a kiss good night. The tenderness she showed her son was unlike anything else this woman had to offer. I sometimes believed that Gino was the only male she could ever truly love. Not that I minded at all. But sometimes…
With a little chuckle to ease the tension, I gently ushered Francesca toward the door.
“Haha, yes, you crave my skillful touch," I purred. "Now go, take the boy and shut the door. I’ll rock your world anon.”
That was a promise, for I decided right then and there that she owed me for taking it upon herself to invite my archenemies to dinner. I was by no means a forceful man (rape and domestic violence were among the few crimes I truly despised) but I’d be damned if I was going to let Francesca get away with this. She was clearly doing all of this out of spite, and I had no doubt that she would soon try to wheedle the Simpsons for information about me.
The instant my office door was closed, I turned to face my guests, dropping down on one knee with my hands clasped pleadingly.
“Simpsons! I beg of you! Please don’t destroy the new life I’ve created here! Surely even the most heinous criminal deserves a seventh chance?”
“Bob! You haven’t told your wife about all the terrible things you’ve done?” Marge asked incredulously.
“Yeah! I tell Marge everything,” Homer added. “Not necessarily in words, but in body language. You know, sneaking around and such.”
Bart crossed his arms and glared at me. “Bob, your family will find out the truth,” he growled. “Sooner or later you’ll try to kill me again. Watch, I’ll prove it.” He stepped forward and lifted the front of his shirt, exposing his abdomen in what was no doubt meant to be an enticing display. “Come on, Bob! Slice, dice and serve on rice!”
“You little scamp!” I chuckled, kneeling before him to pull his shirt back down, while a darker part of me wanted nothing more than to plunge a knife into that belly and rip out his entrails. “You know, you’ll make some murderer very happy one day. But it shan’t be me!” I ruffled his hair and stood up.
“Bart, Bob is a family man now,” Marge said. “You can’t be a bad person if you have a family!”
The older girl – Lisa – spoke up. “And literature is filled with tales of redemption, from Jean Valjean to the voice of Buzz Lightyear, Tim Allen.”
Then Homer stepped forward, addressing me directly. “Alright Bob, we won’t tell your beautiful new family that you’re a homicidal psychopath IF you fix up our car.”
I breathed a sigh of relief and gave a grateful bow. “Grazie! Now I can’t undo the past, but I can try to make it up to you. My humble little town is at your service!”
Little did I know that that fateful decree would mark the beginning of the end of my decadent new life.
*”Honeyed gravel” is how Marge’s voice actress, Julie Kavner, describes her voice.
ACT XVII nevuela.deviantart.com/art/Bei…