The Professor And The Gangster
He smiled, a soft brown beard, a professor's jacket. We stood there looking at each other. Lesley came back from the bathroom. "Why are you standing out here, freezing to death? Get in." She drove from the gas station, and the professor kept looking at me. He must be an English teacher, and as I looked through the rear window, I pictured the life we would have. Cocktail parties steeped in witty talk, trips to Europe, the books we would publish together and Lesley maneuvered her faithful Dodge Dart onto the highway bringing me back to East Main Street, the screaming babies, the crowded railroad flat, the blaring TV, the welfare, the food stamps.
He got out of the car with a smooth masculine gracefulness and when I knew I was going to walk by I tried to think of something to say. My boyfriend beside me seemed too tall and American and white and clumsy. Pasolini described all Sicilian men as having an air of "shepherds asleep armed with knives."
I passed in front of him, the limo door open, the driver and bodyguards standing still, everyone looking at me as if our tableau was intended and our eyes met, I said, "permesso" and he said, "prego." I still sense the darkness of his dangerous eyes, the smoothness of his skin, the deepness of his voice.