We have new neighbors up in this hizz. Romanians – a small family; mommy, daddy, and little boy. The little one waves each time he sees me: Ciao! They live above me. I can see them when I step out onto my balcony to turn on my gas tank; see them smoking on their own balcony and the little boy looks down at me through the slats: waves gleefully. Ciao, I say back. I go inside and make my breakfast.
The DiVecchios – my other neighbors, parents of the screaming Emilia – are not into this Romanian invasion. Neither are my across-the-street neighbors, the folks who run the Pensione Ulisse. Don’t trust Romanians! they say. They’re gypsies. They’re under the radar. They come into our country and then they take our toys. Never trust a Romanian! They actually sound scared. As for me, I couldn’t give two craps whether or not the new neighbors are Romanian or from Mars; more annoying to me is that they’ve brought a special kind of circus to our building.
For example, there’s Pa, in a wife beater and backwards cap, thundering down the stairs. Then he’s shouting up at his woman from the street, in front of the lemon trees. Woman this, woman that. You know how it goes. Then Ma goes to her balcony and shouts back. Pa shouts up. Woman! Ma shouts down. Man! Day and night; day and night. Where’s my wife beater? Where’s my shot gun? Every morning I’m woken up by the dogs from the Pensione Ulisse, Emilia’s shrieks, and now this unholy dramz.
One morning, they’re at it again. I’m at my kitchen table, drinking tea, and I can see Pa outside my balcony window. And another thing, woman…! But then something catches my eye; a shiny metallic glint. I get up and open my balcony window. There, on my balcony, is a plate covered in tinfoil. Abandoned, like. Sad and lonely. I pick it up and peel back some of the foil. It’s a plate of pasta and roast lamb, flecked with sprigs of rosemary. Now what is a plate of pasta, lamb, and rosemary doing on my balcony? Could Maria have left it for me? But why would she leave it on my balcony, not on my doorstep?
“That’s mine!” I look up. It’s Pa, thrusting his hands through the slats of my balcony.
“Okay.” Now it all makes perfect sense. Because my balcony is obviously the perfect place to leave a plate of pasta. I hand him the plate. He winks at me.
“Oh, no problem.”
And then I go back inside. Pa keeps yelling. I finish my tea.