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“Exactly,” said Antonio, as though he had heard her thoughts. “So one day, a beautiful young girl who lived in the Arab district of Palermo was taking care of some plants and flowers on the balcony of her house when suddenly a dashing Moorish merchant passed by and they immediately fell in love with one another. Their love story continued until the young girl discovered that her lover already had a wife and children waiting for him back in his home country.”
“Poor girl,” sighed Sarah.
“One night while he slept in her bed, the girl, crazed with jealousy, thought of a way to make him stay with her forever! Without thinking, she cut off his head and decided to use it as a vase to grow her beautiful basil plants. As people walked by her balcony, they became jealous of her flourishing plant, and they began creating colourful vases with clay heads that looked just like her vase. It is a strange story, no?”
“That’s a ghastly legend!” Sarah agreed. “I loved looking at the pottery but now I’m not sure I want to take one home with me. It might give me nightmares.”
“It’s just a legend. You shouldn’t be afraid. Think of it as a story of eternal love.”
As Antonio walked her back to the hotel, he glanced at the time. His wife would be wondering how a business dinner would go so late. He would have to postpone the seduction phase until tomorrow.
“Would you like to come in and have one last drink at the bar?” Sarah asked. “My treat!”
“My dear, I would like nothing better but I am afraid that I might not be able to restrain myself. You look so beautiful in the moonlight. Perhaps I can meet you here tomorrow and we could enjoy lunch together? Would you like that?”
“Have a refreshing sleep and I’ll wait for you in the lobby at one o’clock. I’ll have my assistant take over the shop at mid-day tomorrow so we can enjoy the whole afternoon. Bring a bathing suit.”
Antonio put his hands on her bare shoulders and Sarah closed her eyes and felt a soft, promising, kiss.
The next morning Antonio walked briskly towards his shop. He knew that Angelina, his shop assistant, would be there tending to the customers. He wanted to pick out a gift to take to Sarah. As he approached the store, he saw people with their cameras and phones pointed at his doorway, taking pictures while police stood at the entrance. He pushed through the crowd and into the shop. All around the store lay broken pieces of pottery. The huge platters and decorative lemons and small trinkets, the very expensive Teste di Moro, all had been knocked from their shelves, all were shattered on the floor. Angelina was in tears.
“Mama Mia!, what has happened here?” Antonio shouted.
Angelina looked up at him with contempt. “Your new amica just came by the shop,” she said. “She wanted to surprise you. She told me about your dinner last night. I told her you were off for the entire day. I told her I was your fiancé so I could help. She didn’t believe me so I explained that although we are engaged, you are still in the process of getting a divorce from your wife. Then she went a little crazy and started ranting. I asked her to leave but she picked up an olive dish and threw it against the wall and then went completely insane and started breaking everything. She said she was going to kill you. I was terrified! I ran out and called the police. She got away before they arrived. How could you, Antonio? You promised that I was the only one in your life. Bad enough that you still live with Carla! I hate you! Bastardo!”
Angelina picked up a massive fruit bowl, practically the only item that was still intact, and threw it to the ground where it smashed into a dozen shards. She stumbled out the door sobbing. “I hope you rot in hell!”
Antonio looked around at all the damage. Thousands of dollars worth. Angelina, hysterical. Carla would hear about this and make his life even worse. And somewhere in town was a madwoman who had vowed to kill him.
A policeman came up to take his statement. “Somehow, I’ve managed to make three woman very angry with me,” Antonio said, breaking down emotionally.
The officer was embarrassed. “Now, now, signore, let’s keep our heads!” he said.
“I hope so,” said Antonio clutching his neck.