FRANCO PIRLO

By Sam Muñoz

 

My parents came from Italy to New York when I was just an infant.

I grew up on the lower East Side of Manhattan.

What a beautiful city mine was.

The hustle and bustle never got to me.

My friends would always come by the house: “Come, let’s play ball!”, they would tell me.

I remember the worry-free days when all I did was walk to Canal Street and buy an ice cream cone from Ms. Wong.

The best ice cream in the city, I tell ya.

There in New York everything went well.

My girlfriend, Rosaria, what a beautiful young girl she was.

I had big dreams: marry Rosaria, open up my own auto parts shop, and maybe even move to Detroit; I hear the car scene there is very good.

But then this war came outta nowhere and stopped everything.

I remember the last words I said to Rosaria before I left: “Don’t forget me.”

I was sent off to France and stationed there for two years.

What devastating things I saw.

A buddy of mine and I were stationed there.

We had to keep a lookout on the camp.

Then we notice the bone-thrilling vibration of the German aeroplanes.

“Take Cover!” was the last thing I said before we were barraged by the German bombs.

So many casualties really do leave a man scarred for life.

Bodies lying left and right.

Blood smeared all over my face.

A man running around searching for his arm.

What terrible things I saw.

But then the war was over.

Oh, how happy I was to go back to my homeland.

I could not wait to see the look on Rosaria’s face when I got to see her for the first time in what felt like a lifetime.

I went back to her house, knocked on the door, and was greeted with the most excruciating news ever.

Lost her to the Spanish flu.

I cried like a baby.

After all, what purpose was there to my life now?

I did not know what to do.

I had an aunt who lived in a small town called Spoon River.

She told me I should go live with her, and help her with her business.

Molte belle donne qui,” she would say to me – not knowing that the hole in my heart could never patched.

I would never be able to look at someone else the way I did Rosaria.

I moved in with my aunt, only to die of this godforbidden flu too.

Oh, how I wish I could go buy a cone from Ms. Wong again!

 

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