9. Story of a salesman, Part II

or The wedding that broke three hearts

Mario entered the house right after the chatting flower lady, following her to a spacious room he had not seen in his previous visit, on the other side of the corridor. He perfectly knew that in almost any household that kind of room was used on only two occasions: wedding buffets and funeral wakes. After some small talk, he asked again the flower lady where he could find Mrs Agramanti and finally, he was pointed to the kitchen. He thanked again the lady and walked towards the kitchen.

Mario hoped to find Mrs Agramanti alone and this time, he was lucky. Approaching the kitchen, he could not hear a single voice coming from there, but some sniffing and the regular bumping of a knife on the cutting board. He tapped gently on the kitchen door with a single knuckle and after an additional sniff, a tearful voice told him to come in. He opened the door and recognised the little lady he had met before, standing in front of a big table. Strangely, it seemed to Mario that she was even smaller and tinier than the last month. Her hair was even whiter and her eyes were all reddened from cutting what seemed an amount of onions outrageous for a wedding buffet. She had a dirty cloth in one hand and a big sharp knife in the other one. She nodded at him.

“Good morning, Mr Venturi.”

“Good morning, Mrs Agramanti. I’m happy you remember me. Sorry to come in a busy moment.”

The tiny woman nodded again. Then she gestured him to take a seat as she was doing the same. Mario obeyed. He was rather curious to know more. Once seated, Mrs Agramanti pierced the cutting board with the knife, letting the thing stand there up straight.

“The wedding was due the next month. They moved up the date.”

“Oh, I see – he wasn’t really seeing anything except for all those onions – I suppose that your daughter shall not be interested anymore in an apprenticeship as a seller at our company.”

“She was never interested. It was me. I hoped to stop this madness.”
She was going to dry her eyes with the dirty cloth but Mario stopped her and offered his handkerchief instead. She took it and thanked the man. She dried her eyes and held back new tears.

“How come than a mother is against her child wedding?”

“It happens when the groom is twice the age of the bride.”

Mario did rapidly some calculations.
“Your daughter just graduated… the man is 38 years old?”

“The man is forty and he plays my silly daughter like a fiddle.”

“Mrs Agramanti, you understand that maybe with a man of that age…”

“He has lovers. I have reason to believe more than one.”

“But maybe, now that he is going to marry your youthful daughter…”
She smiled sadly at him. Mario nodded.

“I hoped you would seduce her.”

“Mrs Agramanti!”

“With your job! She’s so passionate when she does something. Always trying and doing her best. She hasn’t seen a thing of this world and she’s also very naive, but in her special pure way she’s also deeply charming. Your clients would have loved my Sandra.”

He patted her hand, still wet with onions juice. Her nails were short and translucent.

“Mr Venturi, would you still talk to her?”

“Mrs Agramanti.”

“Call me Etta. I’ve told you my darkest secret.”

“Alright, Etta. But you should call me Mario, then.”

“Ok.”

“Etta, I’m afraid a lot of mothers share the same dark secret as you and they carry it in silence for the happiness of their children. Trying to talk your daughter out this wedding will only poison your relationship.”

“I know. It’s too late to persuade her not to marry that silver fox. But, please, go see her. She’s in her room, waiting for the beautician to put useless crap on her already perfect face. Then you will come down and tell me if she isn’t charming. Alright?”

“If this will please you, I’ll do it.”

“Thanks – finally she smiled with a little less sadness in her eyes – moreover, I have to finish this spell to kill my son-in-law.”
Then she chuckled and Mario laughed with her.

“Oh! Now I understand all these onions!”

“They are essential to cover up the real deal, you know strange mushrooms, clear mandrake…”

“Of course!”

Mario nodded to the white tiny lady, whose eyes had gained a shimmering glaze, stoop up and reached the door. She picked up the knife and started to mince the onions again.

Already at the door, Mario turned again towards her, with a cunning smile.
“But you can’t be the witch who used to roam this plain. Someone in town told me that truly was your husband the one who defeat her, a long time ago.”

Mrs Agramanti stopped her work, rather amused.
“I see that you know at least a piece of the story. Remind me to tell you all the tale.”

“You promise?”

“I do. When you’ll come to collect your handkerchief, I’ll tell you all the story. The true one.”

“Mrs… Etta. You have a deal – he paused – and a friend.”

Mario exited the kitchen, closed the door and, in the dark corridor, found himself in front of an enchanting slender creature. The girl was dressed in a peach chiffon dress, which made pop her exquisite tanned complexion and enriched with delicate nuances her light brown hair. Looking at her downturned wistful eyes and her wavy old-fashioned hairdo, Mario’s thought went at the divas of the Hollywood golden era. There was nothing too innocent or naive in that desirable young lady and Mario could picture rather well how a mature man like him could fall under her spell and abandon all of his lovers to secure that creature to his bed.

“The bride?”

“She’s waiting for you upstairs, if – the girl paused inspecting him – if you are the one appointed to put on her makeup. We are running out of time and she didn’t let me help her in any way.”

Mario received the news with one of his best smiles.

“I suppose you are the bridesmaid.”

The diva raised a half moon shaped eyebrow.
“And I suppose you are the beautician.”

“You suppose well – he nodded and smiled – the stairs are…?”

She pointed at the opposite end of the corridor with one hand. Mario thanked her and walked rapidly in that direction.
“But… where’s your beauty case?”

Mario stopped, turned toward her, and tapped the inner pocket of his jacket, where he used to keep his set of cosmetics mini sized testers.

“I’ve everything I need, the bride requested a very light makeup.”

“Of course!”

Said the bridesmaid rather annoyed and she entered the buffet room. Something seemed to sadden her deeply. Mario ventured on the stairs with a heavy heart. If the bridesmaid’s eyes were not red and puffy for the air filled with onions vapours but for a sincere cry, it could only mean that she was one of the groom’s lovers.

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