11. Story of a salesman, Part III

or The wedding that broke three hearts

Despite his long career as a door-to-door salesman, Mario Venturi was not accustomed visiting the private rooms of his clients. Even when a professional relationship with a housewife or a retailer had become a lot less professional and a lot more passional, he rarely had ventured in their bedrooms. So, climbing up the stairs and walking in the dimly lighted corridor on the first floor of Mrs Agramanti’s house put him in great discomfort. He had just moved his second step along the corridor when the charming singing of a young female voice caught his ear. He followed the voice to a semi-open door and knocked gently on the white varnished wood.

“May I come in?”

The same sweet voice he had followed there, gave her consent and Mario moved an embarrassed step inside the room. Immersed in the sunlight that came through the open window, a tall blonde girl turned towards him. She was dressed in a shimmering white gown, which put a great effort at hiding as much as possible any luscious female feature under an ocean of silk. The short puffy sleeves were gigantic, the neckline more than conservative, the waistline rather loose, but still she looked adorable. Sha was adorable as a puppy, as a little baby, as a singing angel painted on a church wall. She was not the kind of beauty a man would lose his mind to, like the diva he had met on the ground floor. But as her mother had told him, she was enchanting in her own virtuous way.

Her smile was luminous and genuine. Her skin gleamed like porcelain, her curled hair shone like golden locks and she was looking at him with a smile and a question in her lustrous hazel eyes. Mario realised that he was staring at her without saying a word, but for the first time in his life, he didn’t know what to say.

“Sorry, have we met before? Were you a colleague of my dad?”

“I am… – he moved a step toward the bride with a hand on his heart – my name is Mario Venturi. I am a recent friend of your mother.”

“Mr Venturi, nice to meet you.”
She moved towards him offering a long strong hand. They greeted.

“What a strange moment. While you were standing at the door in silence, I almost took you for my Roberto. You share the same elegant figure of my groom.”

“Unfortunately, I am not.”
He smiled but was in great embarrassment. The idea of a girl as innocent as the one who was standing in front of him married to a man his age disgusted Mario deeply. He felt the urge to say something to distance himself from that thought.

“Your mother sent me here to help you with your makeup. My profession is selling cosmetics and I am rather expert with makeup.”

“Oh, thank you for your offering. Actually, I was waiting for my beautician but she still has not arrived. I know she had to go to the groom first, to shave him and do things, but still…”

“If you prefer to let her do your makeup I could run to the groom’s house and collect her for you.”
He desperately wanted to leave that room.

“Would you? – her smile broadened and disappeared in an instant – are you sure is not too much to ask?”

“Not at all. But, to prevent any further delay – Mario pulled out his slim beauty case from his jacket inner pocket – let me land you this.”

The bride looked puzzled at the little bag.

“It’s a mini beauty case. You can use it yourself or ask your bridesmaid to help you with the makeup if I am too late.”

“I suppose I can… Gioia has a heavy hand with this stuff, but I think I am out of choices.”

“You can ask me!”
Mario turned around and met the big blue eyes of a person of indeterminate age and gender, wearing black trousers and an immaculate white shirt. Hanging loosely from the collar of the shirt there was an untied bow tie, while a flower crown lay on smooth hands.

“Oh, you really did it!”
Said the bride, with pleasure in her voice.

“Of course, my dear.”
Answered the youth, passing over Mario and approaching the bride with the crown held high. She took the crown in her own hands and placed it on her head giggling. Mario had never felt more embarrassed. Silently, he tried to gain the door, but the bride called on him.

“Mr Venturi, please, wait. You don’t know where my groom lives. Let David escort you.”

One look at the young boy face and Mario knew that David was less than pleased with the idea.

“It’s not necessary, Miss Agramanti, find people’s houses is part of my job.”
He gave his best reassuring smile, greeted the two kids, and left the room. Descending the stairs, Mario tried to regain his usual indifference, but he couldn’t. He felt a personal urge to reach the groom’s house at look at him in the eye, if only for a brief moment. Passing over the kitchen door he sniffed a terrible smell coming from there. He knocked the door, trying to gain an answer from Mrs Agramanti, but all he could hear was her voice murmuring something similar to a prayer.

“Mrs Agramanti?”

“Let her be – said a female voice behind him – she’s trying to save a cat.”

“What? On her daughter’s wedding day?”
He turned around to face the bridesmaid. Her eyes seemed to be even redder and swollen than before. He reached his second inner pocket and took out a cream tester.
“Take it – the diva looked at him rather puzzled – it’s for your eyes. Trust me, it works.”

The bridesmaid took the tiny container and thanked him.

“What’s happening with the cat? Why Mrs Agramanti should be able to cure it?”
“I don’t know. As soon as her son entered the house with the poor thing, she closed himself in the kitchen with it.”

“And the bride?”

“Wasn’t she upstairs with you? I saw the doctor’ son going upstairs with her flower crown.”

“I think I saw him too – Mario looked at her, still sniffing and drying her eyes – there’s anybody who’s happy about this marriage?”

Annoyed, Mario passed over the girl and left the house. Once in his car, he told himself that he should leave San Martino and forget all about Mrs Agramanti and her childish girl, but he found himself in front of the groom’s house, anyway. As soon as he exited his car, he recognised the groom. He was a man about his age and about his size, slender, elegant, with a broad self-confident smile above a well-designed square chin. He was welcoming his guests right out of the front door. Mario approached the groom and told him they need to speak privately.

“Are you with the photographer, my friend?”

“I am with the witch.”
Mario didn’t know why he had said that, but the groom suddenly escorted him inside. He asked Mario to follow him upstairs, inside a small bedroom that could belong to a teenager and shut the door.

“What do you want?”

“Who sleeps here?”
Said Mario after a quick look around.

“Me. What do you want?”

“Sure you were nervous the night before your wedding.”
Told Mario pointing at the bed, which seemed to have sustained a furious battle.

“What the hell do you want? I don’t like to be menaced on my wedding day. Or any other day.”

“It was only a joke to gain your attention. I didn’t mean to menace you.”

“Well, you have my attention. What do you want?”

Mario felt that it was increasingly difficult for him to stay focused. He felt feverish and itchy, like if his skin was covered in bugs. His head was becoming heavier any minute and his legs started to hurt badly. He felt on his knees and tried to ask fo help but from his throat came only a long nasal scream. The groom, now more scared than angry, was above him. As his eyes were closing and his mind fading, Mario saw the groom coming closer and looking at him in a mixture of curiosity and disgust.

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