Act 2, Scene 8
Three is Company Too

Ancient Rome, The Italian Renaissance, And Postmodern Love

by Frederick Noble

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Heather and I skipped out of the group photo the program took of most of the group and took Mel and Bec in search of the pool in the town down in the valley. We rushed to the tourist office just as they were closing for siesta and they told us which bus to catch. We changed into swimsuits and rushed to the bus top just in time. Bec chatted with the driver to confirm - he denied that his bus is the one that gets to the pool but he said it would get us close enough to walk (Bec's semi-fluent Italiano came in very handy.) The driver charged us 1000 lire and we climbed aboard. A couple of kilometers later he stopped and pointed out the door. We looked out, confused, but hopped out anyway. Fortunately and a guy in yellow jeans was also getting off and he said he’d show us the way. We followed him down a back street to an immense empty parking lot in the middle of a weedy field. He gestured toward the lone building in the distance, rattled off some Italiano and headed the other way.
He may as well have vanished in a puff of smoke and laughter.
"This doesn't look like the pool you can see from the hill." I said as we headed toward the building. We wandered around the structure in the dead silence of a Tuscan siesta, hoping that the pool was perhaps hidden around back. We discovered that the building did indeed house an indoor pool but was, of course, closed. Looking around, there was nothing but distant apartments, utterly silent and shuttered, and the wind blew trash across the pavement like tumbleweeds in an old Western movie. We headed in the direction of the pool we’d seen from Cortona. At least we hoped it was the direction we headed.
Between the apartment buildings it was quiet - too quiet. Hoping we hadn't stumbled into someDawn of the Dead film, we hurried along. Bec couldn’t quite keep up the pace and soon she realized she was the archetypal straggler that is always the first one to get eaten.
"Is that old woman sucking the brains out of that cat? Oh God, I'm falling behind, just like in the movies! Wait, wait for me!"
"What old woman?"
"She was just over there... she's gone!" Bec caught up quickly. "My mother always told me 'never trust a man in lemon jeans!'"
I dug through the dictionary and finally find the word I was searching for.
"Cervello" I said in a long moan, walking along with my arms outstretched. "Cervelloooo..."
"What's cervello?"
After the laughter subsided, we all walked like zombies down the middle of the street groaning "cervello." I hoped for some wakeful local to be looking down from their window just then but I didn't spot anyone.
We made it into the main part of town and found the only open business, "Bar Extra," and ordered drinks. The odd looking old woman behind the counter moved about as fast as a zombie and delivered us each a glass of blood.
They turned out to be incredibly bad Koolaid-ish fruit drinks. We settled on the sidewalk to await the bus home, giving up on the pool. We theorized that Mr. Lemonjeans and the bus driver were having a good laugh at our expense. Right about then when who should come walking by but ol' Mr. Lemonjeans himself. He avoided our accusatory stares, confirming our theory.
Back at the bus stop, we climbed aboard and found the same bus driver as before, except this time he charged us 2000 lire on the way up instead of the 1000 he'd charged us on the way down. Had he been able to understand me I doubt I could have resisted saying "Very funny, asshole."

That evening we were invited to Rick's place for pre-dinner drinks and munchies.
Rick had participated in the program once every year or so for several years.
“It ends up costing about as much as it pays” he said.
I thought it was a pretty damn good deal for him. He alternated between a a house in the country one year and a place in town the next. This year he’d opted for an apartment in town. He decided he’d have a few of his favorite students over for drinks, namely Heather and myself. Bec and Melanie were invited along as well. He’d completely charmed all the girls on the program, despite him being twice their age. I liked him too. He could tell some hilarious stories about growing up in Louisiana that rivaled my redneck tales of Georgia.
So, dressed as nicely as we could, we picked up a bottle of wine and headed over to his place. At the top of a quaint, but almost frighteningly steep and narrow spiral staircase was his third-story apartment. It was furnished with sturdy antiques, a nice sized kitchen, bedroom and a living room with a wonderful view of the valley out the large window.
Sitting around listening to Otis Redding on the stereo, sampling the local wines, eating crackers with cheese and olive paste, Rick telling tall tales, three beautiful women telling torrid tales of their own youth...
I just stretched out on his couch with eyes shut and soaked it all in. It was like the old Lowenbrau commercial, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

There was a local restaurant that we passed on the way home from class every night that had the most fantastic smells emanating from it, so we headed there for dinner. I looked over the menu and couldn’t find a translation for the word “scallopini” in the dictionary. Looking over the list of ways it’s prepared, such as lemon and butter sauce, I assumed it meant scallops. But when it arrived at the table it was obviously veal. But I abandoned political correctness for an evening and gobbled it up. Heather selected the rabbit, which turned out to be the top dish in the delicious spectrum for the night. More wine and it was time for gelato.

"Tell me again why we live in Georgia?"
"'Cause we're stupid."
Frederick Noble and Shawn Littleton

These arms of mine
They are lonely
Lonely and feeling blue
These arms of mine
They are yearning
Yearning from wanting you
And if you
Would let them
Hold you
Oh how grateful I will be
These arms of mine
They are burning
Burning from wanting you
These arms of mine
They are wanting
Wanting to hold you
And if you
Would let them
Hold you
Oh how grateful I will be
Come on, come on baby
Just be my little woman
Just be my lover
Oh, I need me somebody,
Somebody, to treat me right
Ohh, I need your arms, loving arms to hold me tight
And I-I-I need, I need your, I need your tender lips to
Hold me, hold me
These Arms Of Mine, by Otis Redding

Melanie and Heather had been friends for years. Heather had always wanted to seduce Mel, she told me before the evening began.
“So do it,” I said.
“She always tells me she’s not interested.”
“Well, let’s pour a bunch of wine in her and see what happens.”
So we sat at the outdoor cafe and sucked down several roudns of wine and cappuccino with the girls. Bec had the hots for one of the local vespa vermin, a cute guy with long black hair and a little goatee. He joined us at the table for a while but I could tell he wasn’t really interested in Bec. We tried to arrange it so that they’d end up together anyway. When it looked like we were successful we grabbed Mel and slipped away, headed up the hill to the dorm.
My roommate wasn’t home, as usual, so Heather and Mel piled into his bed. I turned the lights out to set the mood (and avoid any prying eyes through my courtyard window) and climbed into my bed. Had there been room I’d have jumped into the bed with them but they were only cots barely big enough for one. Besides, I didn’t want to spoil Heather’s chances. Mel was Heather’s friend, and had a boyfriend back home. She might go for some fun with her best girlfriend but I doubted she’d be interested in adding a male in the mix.
Or maybe I’m just a wimp.
Regardless, I settled for some audible voyeurism, waiting for my eyes to adjust. I could hear Heather’s kisses, and Mel’s moans, a mix of protest and pleasure. She groaned a few no’s but it didn’t sound like she really minded that much. Eventually I could see the outlines of two friends having a building session of drunken sex.

Come and knock on our door!
Come and knock on our door!
We've been waiting for you!
We've been waiting for you!
Where the kisses are hers and hers are his, Three's Company too!
Come and dance on our floor!
Come and dance on our floor!
Take a step that is new!
Take a step that is new!
We've a loveable place that needs your face, Three's Company too!
You'll see that life is a ball again!
Laughter is calling for you!
Down at our rendezvous!
Down at our rendezvous!
Three's Company too!
Theme from Three's Company

Then I heard Bec’s voice out in the hall, lost and confused in search of us.
I realized we hadn’t even told her where the dorm was, much less told her what room we were in, so I have no clue how she found us and I felt guilty about it. I hopped up and guided her to the room. She was positively smashed, and somewhat upset that the vespa vermin had fled the minute we’d left them alone.
She apologized for stumbling in, we apologized for abandoning her. We shoved the two bunks together and all piled in. Bec joked nervously that it looked like we were trying to start an orgy. Nobody really responded but Bec's nervous jokes made it clear she wasn’t interested. It didn’t look like there was hope for Heather and Mel’s interrupted session, but moments later Bec dozed off and started snoring loudly.
Or maybe they didn’t care if Bec heard their activity, I don’t know, but it was only a few minutes before they were back at it. Mel’s moans were punctuated by Bec’s snores, leading to giggles by everyone. It was surreal evening.

Melanie and Bec got up hideously early the next morning to catch their train. They said their goodbyes in zombie mode and I closed the door behind them.
Heather, hungover, disheveled, and smelling of sex told me she felt terribly guilty for what she’d done.
“Why??” I asked.
“Because I use my friends for sex and they get hurt.”
“Do you think Mel will still be your friend?”
“Yes, always.”
“And do you think this changes anything between you two?”
“So what’s the problem?”
Later Heather thanked me.
“For what?” I asked.
“Giving me Melanie.”
“You did it. I just helped the process along.” I said, and I meant it. I was glad she’d had the chance.

But then there was the nagging “We met some local boys” comment she’d dropped on me in the middle of the night a couple of nights back. Heck, you might have forgotten about it, I almost had myself. Until Heather reminded me of her upcoming date later in the day.

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