He’s in his mid-forties and back in Italy for the first time in almost twenty years. He’s with his much younger wife and her girlfriend.
They’re staying with his family, enjoying his mother’s cooking, and reconnecting with extended family members.
He’s also enjoying introducing the two young ladies to his friends and showing them about town. Today he’s decided they should make a stop at one of his favorite cafes, the one he frequented often when he was young.
He parks the car and goes over to the ticket machine. He stands there with his wife on one side of him and her girlfriend on the other as he reads the instructions. The outdoor tables are crowded with people sipping their coffee and basking in the warm spring sun.
A prickling at the back of his neck causes him to turn. He sees that all eyes are on him. Perhaps not unusual for he and the girls are strangers and this is small town Italy.
He turns back to the ticket machine. “Turn and walk away,” he says under his breath.
“What?” the girls ask.
“Just turn and walk away.”
“Why?” the girls ask as the three of them walk back towards the car.
“That wasn’t a ticket machine,” he says. “That was a dispenser for condoms.”