Gone Lawn
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Gone Lawn 54
worm moon, 2024

Featured artwork, Capitol Reef Wash, by Kathleen Frank

new works

Salvatore Difalco

Pinnochio per Tutti

Gulio Palmocchio collects Pinocchios. Were it not true, I lack the imagination to contrive such a fiction. We met for lattes at a Portuguese cafe on Marley Avenue. Place hummed even pre-lunch. The hot table smoked with heavy fragrances. Gulio sported a tremendous white moustache of the old school. He rested a brown leather briefcase by his feet and shook my hand in manly fashion, a rarity these days. I wiped my hand on my trousers, perhaps unnecessarily, but I am that way.
“Gulio,” I said, “tell me everything.”
He stroked his moustache. “I need a latte before I do anything,” he said, eyeballing the plump, aproned server, a man perfectly tonsured by genetics. He loped over and we ordered.
“Anything to eat?” he asked.
Gulio shrugged. I shook my head. The waiter moved off.
We sat in silence until the lattes arrived. I spent those moments swimming in a whirlpool of churlish thoughts. I’m like that. Gulio stirred sugar into his latte and took a sip, foaming up his moustache. He backhanded his lips and leaned over.
“I have about seventy Pinocchio marionettes and dolls, all told,” he admitted.
I nodded. “Impressive,” I said.
“Yes,” he said. “For me Pinocchio represents the continuation of the Italian Renaissance, you see.”
Again, I nodded.
“Disney made a cartoon of an important Italian cultural icon,” he said, unable to conceal his disgust. “It’s cultural appropriation by any other name,” he added.
I sipped my latte. It tasted a little dusty. I added a packet of sugar twin and stirred.
“Aren’t you taking notes?” Gulio asked me.
“I have a good memory,” I said. “Taking notes interrupts the flow.”
He seemed to buy this. He went on to tell me all about his Pinocchio collection. I found the surfeit of details almost menacing. When he finished his latte he lifted the brown leather briefcase to the table, opened it, and removed from it a white T-shirt emblazoned with a Pinocchio image and the words Pinocchio Per Tutti.
“Will you wear it?’” Gulio asked. “As a favour?”
I found the request puzzling, but I conceded. “I will wear it,” I said.
“When?” he wanted to know.
I shrugged.
“Tell me when,” he insisted.
“Look,” I said, irked by his pushiness, “I’ll wear it when I wear it.”
He shook his head and snapped his briefcase shut. He abruptly departed, without looking back, but left the T-shirt on the table. I sat there and finished my latte. When the waiter appeared with the bill, I paid and asked him if he wanted a free Pinocchio T-shirt. He shrugged.
“I don’t like it,” he said. “I never liked Pinocchio.”
Fair enough, I thought. The world can be like that.

Salvatore Difalco lives in Toronto, Canada.