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Today's Story by Amarilys Gacio Rassler

He was a policeman who had arrested prostitutes the night before.

The Encounter Left Two Imprints

I pulled the collar of my coat around my neck and once again counted our luggage. I glanced around at the street before us and notice the gray like lead of this early morning in Rome. A sleepy sun still hiding under blankets of clouds while we waited for our taxi to come take us to the airport. Time to go home.

My husband stood by me chatting with the other couple who would join us going to the airport. The man, a retired chemist and his wife a homemaker, both from the mid-west, had been on the same tour we had just completed of southern Italy.

“You can’t be too careful in the kitchen you know,” the chemist said. I heard the same speech given through the tour to many in our group numerous times. My husband and I once again exchanged smiles.

“That Ebola is everywhere. It’ll get you!”

A dark sedan soon approached us. The brakes screeched.

The chemist glanced at his watch. “These Italians are always late,” we heard him whisper to his wife.

The two men got out of the car as we heard an explosion like a loud flat tire. I felt a hand on my elbow directing me inside the car. Baggage zoom into the trunk passengers were dashed into the back seat. My head was spinning. The confusion and rush that the Italians had getting us into the car left me dizzy. In the back seat, the chemist sat still rattling to my husband about his Ebola fears. Meanwhile the driver’s Italian rolled out fast and furious, like a loose ball of yarn down steep steps. And I caught some of its threads. La Cosa Nostra came out like a shrill into my ears! I strained to understand more.

He was middle height. Thinning coal black hair forty-three, forty-five. He drove as he spoke to his brother-in-law who talked back with his mouth and with his hands. And this is what I heard.

“You could have been killed. They could have been killed. What’re you going to do?”

The driver answered. “Quiet. Someone may know Italian. This is the risk you take in my job. Calm yourself.”

My coat felt heavy and hot and I wiped perspiration from my face. I heard myself spilling out the words.

Signori, io capisco Italiano.” All yarn seized rolling down steps. The Italian in the front passenger seat slapped his forehead. The car stopped at the light. The driver searched for me in his mirror. Our eyes met, locked, and something transcended. The first imprint.

He told his story in a soft Italian. He asked me not to share it with the others. It might upset them. He was a policeman who had arrested prostitutes the night before, workers for the Mafia. Now, he was sure they were hitting back. They had tried to shoot at the car when he stopped to get us. Taxi driving was his other job. He had a family. Three children, ten, seven, three.

I kept my eyes on the face on his mirror, hypnotized by his story, drinking in his burden, connecting with his soul.

Too fast, we arrived at the airport and again the two men rushed getting our luggage and money exchanged. The policeman thanked my husband for the fare and tip and came over to me.

Signora, grazie per ascoltare. Thank you for listening.”

I looked into his eyes again crushed at his situation. My Italian flowed straight from my heart.

Che Dio ti benedica!”

Grazie Signora. God bless you too.”

His hand once more held my elbow and then my hand. I felt his lips upon my cheek. The second imprint.


Amarilys Gacio Rassler, recently published her first book, Cuban-American, Dancing On The Hyphen. A book of poetry and prose, telling of how she escaped Cuba, as a Peter-Pan child. You can reach her through her facebook page or her website, guavanewton.com.

Read more stories by Amarilys Gacio Rassler


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