You’ve met Celeste and her custodian, Sandro. The joyful, life affirming Glasgow Girls, Helen and Rachel. You’ve imagined the parties and darkness of the Ohana. I think wonderful readers, it is finally time to get acquainted with my last character.
The wait is over.
I bring you retired doctor, sailor, anthropologist and psychoanalyst, Antoni.
The Ohana, Part 3.
Not read Parts 1 and 2?
Go back, go back, go back………..
I smile at the waitress as she puts a cold Cortigiana Birra on the table.
She reminds me of Celeste.
Petite and dark and pretty.
I admit it, I am obsessed. Obsessed and needy.
A Psychoanalyst would say I got stuck at age four. I became obsessed with someone I couldn’t satisfy. I saw every man as wanting her. I chose to gift her the best of them.
I haven’t seen my wife in almost fifteen years.
My wife. I don’t like the term ex. Ex suggests I moved on. She moved on.
What have I achieved? A career, lives saved, lives born, lives ended. A yacht and two houses. Not so much a mid-life crisis, but an end-of-life one.
Bring the waitress back. Come talk to me. Young things like her keep me going.
My profile on the dating apps says: ‘dottore in pensione,’ ‘retired doctor, 63, anthropologist, psychoanalyst, sailing the med and beyond. Sun, sea, love. For a sailing adventure, contattami – contact me.’
I swipe the pictures. Painted young things with fake eyelashes, fake tans, fake boobs. They all look the same.
The beer is cold. Deliciously cold. It hurts my throat as I gulp.
Pleasure and pain. Cigarettes, vast seas, solitude, loneliness, control, good food, beautiful women.
“Cameriera, Bella Cameriera.” I call my beautiful waitress over. “Una birra Cortigianna mia bella”
I tip her with a large note. She tries to give it back, telling me it’s too much. I like helping. Maybe she’s a student? I don’t think she earns much here.
I made sure Celeste never had to waitress.
I used to get her to walk through the streets in front of me, as if we didn’t know each other. The sexiness of her stride, her confidence, the power she has over men. It still exhilarates me.
I was 43 when I met Celeste. Even then, I knew I didn’t have the libido and stamina of a 20-year old. Biology conspires against me.
First my libido, then my teeth.
I think if I make the ultimate sacrifice, she will love me as I love her.
It doesn’t quite turn out that way.
Eventually she falls in love with one of them.
A paragliding instructor, 24, bronzed, muscled and with the libido and appendage of a bull. She leaves me and my life falls apart.
I don’t see her again.
That was 15 years ago. 15 years.
The real reason the Black Dog doesn’t leave?
I’m drawn to those swipe-right Goddesses because of what they can give me.
Fat, bouncing, cherub babies.
Then I can die happy.
After Celeste came Marci.
Marci doesn’t bewitch in the same way as Celeste.
Marci is a navigator, a companion. Celeste has a wildness of spirit. Marci isn’t wild. Marci is obliging.
I think she likes the yacht. She always claims to. Eight years we sail together.
Then last Spring, Marci declares she doesn’t want to go back. She wants a break. Says it’s difficult to be a woman or to feel good about yourself based out a tiny, salty poke hole in the middle of the sea.
She says she wants to be able to wash her hair out properly, soak in a hot bath, not taste of salt, wake up on dry land, stretch in a normal-sized bed.
We argue. Argue horribly. She’s never screamed at me before.
She cries. Tells me I’m a control freak. It’s not control. I’m being gallant. A hero, a protector, doing the right thing.
Like Celeste, when I get up next morning, she’s gone.
Now my teeth are falling out.
And every so often my heart skips a beat.
I’m mostly retired from medicine. I see a patient every now and then, for old time’s sake. I give myself over to anthropology, psychotherapy and analysis of the human spirit, starting with my own.
Riposto, Roccella, Catone, Santa Maria.
I visit churches, museums, art galleries. I visit works of art.
I dine in expensive restaurants, drink fine wine.
What is money? It means nothing. I would give it all to the women who would have my babies.
Flicking through pictures of pouting women on dating apps is like a nervous tick. A way to fill the void. Something for my fingers to do, my eyes to look at, my soul to dream.
Loneliness is a terrible thing.
I jump when my phone buzzes. I did not instigate any conversations. Not one swipe. Someone joins me on my evening sojourns. I almost think it might be one of those pouting women watching me through my phone.
RACHEL: 16:43: Hey Antoni! Lunching with a gorgeous single friend, Helen. Showing her your pic. She thinks you’re quite the dream. Been telling her about our exploits in Naples. She fancies a trip!
Not a pouting woman, but an old friend. Someone I haven’t yet managed to annoy with my opinions.
How did I meet Rachel? It’s been a few years we’ve been messaging, back and forth.
I showed her round Naples, that’s right. ‘Exploits in Naples.’
Who is this? It’s not Rachel, Rachel is dark. She’s sent a picture of a friend. Nice!
I wish they were here. I could buy them both drinks and laugh. We would talk the night away. They would absorb Catania’s beauty and dance.
I’m lonely Rachel, that’s my problem. Pure and simple. That’s all it is. I need company.
Maybe they both plan to visit. Two women on the boat. Been a while since I’ve played that game. I don’t think I can satisfy even one.
You minx, Rachel Donaldson. You know, don’t you. You see through old Antoni. You’re trying to set me up.
I survey the photo. I zoom in. Teeth, hair, smile, cleavage. Maybe mid-30’s. Is she 40? Maybe. Maybe not quite. She looks fun. Another doctor, I assume. So not stupid.
I can play this game, Rachel-Minx.
ANTONI: 17:47 Tell your friend she is very beautiful. Helen was Zeus’ daughter, named shining light for her beauty. I see why.
All true. Helen is the Goddess of beauty and perfection.
Said to have been the most beautiful woman in the world.
I stare at the phone.
Come on girls, come and play. I’d like to see you both on my boat.
ANTONI: 17:54: Pass my number on if she wants to say hello.
I catch the pretty waitress’ eye and summon her.
Dance Bella Cameriera.
I am waking up.
I like playing games.
It keeps me alive.
The Ohana by Lauren Lloyd
Copyright © 2021 Lauren Lloyd
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof in any form. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored, in any form or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical without the express written permission of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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