We See What We Want To See

It has been awhile since my last post! I did not take the Summer off from writing, I joined a Summer Fiction Writing Group and actually wrote 7 chapters of a historical novel I hope to publish. The Chatham Writers Group resumed activities after Labor Day and following is my first submittal for the new writing season. My story is based on an actual event that occurred at an assisted living facility my wife worked at in the early 1980’s. The names of the characters and facilities have been changed to protect the innocent…. The prompt the story was written to was “Enclothed Cognition”, how what we wear impacts how we think and how we remember.

We See What We Want To See

Massimo DiLorenzo marveled at the glorious sunrise.  The window of his 4th floor apartment at the Savin Arms afforded him a panoramic view of Long Island Sound.  To his left in the distance was Lighthouse Park in East Haven. To his right, the sandy expanse of beach curved to Point Beach in Milford.  Looking straight ahead, Massimo saw a freighter slowly steaming  along the stone breakwater towards a gap that permitted entrance to the harbor of New Haven.  The morning was clear enough that he could see Long Island itself, appearing as an irregular brown outline beyond the ship. The rising sun lent a golden tint to the calm waters of the Sound.  Massimo  reluctantly turned from the morning seascape to prepare for his day.

After showering and shaving, Massimo meticulously trimmed his moustache and waxed the tips to magnificent handle bars at the corners of his mouth.  “Bello”, he said looking at his reflection in the mirror.  Deciding to pass on eating breakfast in the Savin Arms dining room, Massimo chose to eat a banana and a granola bar in his apartment instead.  His plan for the day involved going to New Haven to withdraw some cash from his bank account and he felt compelled to dress appropriately.  From his closet he selected a navy blue pinstripe suit, a light blue dress shirt with a white collar, a red silk paisley tie and matching silk pocket handkerchief. To hold up his trousers he picked a set of navy blue galluses with a red diamond pattern stitched on them.  A pair of brown wing tipped shoes completed his outfit for the day.  Before getting dressed, Massimo dialed 777-7777 for New Haven Yellow Cab Company and indicated what time he wanted to be picked up.  Securing his tie with an onyx and gold pin and smoothing his jacket, he gave himself the once over and said “Bello” one more time.  He confidently strode from his apartment to await the arrival of the cab.

Turning his cab into the circular driveway of the Savin Arms, Luca Giovatti spied a tall, trim man with a wild shock of salt & pepper hair and a handle bar moustache waving to him.  He was impeccably dressed.  Luca was greatly impressed with his fare’s appearance.  Rolling to a stop, Luca jumped from his car to get the door for his dapper passenger.  “Mister DiLorenzo?” Luca asked.

“Si. Yes. Call me Massimo,” his fare replied in heavily accented English.

“Massimo it is then,” said Luca with a smile.

With his fare comfortably situated in his cab, Luca asked, “Where to sir, I mean Massimo?”

“New Haven Bank and Trust, next to the Knights of Columbus, downtown.”

“I speak Italian, Massimo, if you would feel more comfortable,” Luca offered.

“No , English is good,” replied Massimo.

Traffic was light that morning, took less than 20 minutes for Luca to get to the bank.  He was even able to park at the curb.  Luca jogged to get the door for his passenger, Massimo exited and said, “Wait here, I won’t be long.”  Luca watched with admiration as he strode to the double door of the bank; straight backed, shoulders square, the epitome of confidence in his killer suit.

Entering the bank, Massimo nodded to the security guard.  Taking in the dapper man, the guard nodded back and said, “Good Morning, sir.”

As he passed them, the bank tellers all greeted him with, “Good Morning, sir.”    

Massimo ignored them and continued walking to the row of offices at the back of the bank lobby.

Nestor Findern looked up from his desk to see a well dressed, distinguished looking man walking towards the bank offices.  He appeared to be someone of importance so Nestor got up from his chair and walked out of his office to greet the visitor.  Extending his hand he said  “Good Morning sir!  I am Nestor Findern, assistant bank manager.  May I be of some assistance?”  

Massimo ignored the hand that reached out to him.  He simply said his name and said, “I need to withdraw $5000 from my account.”

Findern was about to say that one of the tellers could help with that, but the man looked important.  It was odd though, he never remembered seeing this gentleman in the bank before.  “Maybe he has other people do his banking for him, he looks like a big shot,” thought Findern.  “I can certainly help you with that Mr. DiLorenzo.  Please step into my office.” 

Nestor began scanning the list of accounts.  He flipped a few pages back and forth, eyebrows knotted in confusion.  Glancing up for a moment, he noticed that Mr. DiLorenzo was not paying any attention, but rather seemed to be fixated on a framed print of hydrangeas on the office wall.  Clearing his throat, Nestor said, “Mr. DiLorenzo, ahh, I am sorry, but we don’thave an account listed under your name.  Would it go by the name of a business?”

“What? No! Bah, forget it!”  DiLorenzo stood and stormed out of the bank.  Perplexed, Findern watched him leave.  He thought the back of DiLorenzo’s shirt collar looked frayed.  DiLorenzo had Luca drive him to three more banks.  The outcome was the same at each bank.

Luca saw Massimo stalk out of the last bank, he looked to be tired now, and agitated.  “Is everything alright, sir?”, he asked.  “Take me home”, was the abrupt reply.  As he held the door for his passenger, Luca was struck by the rather weathered look of Massimo’s wingtips.  And one of his pant cuffs was hanging down. “Is that a piece of scotch tape holding up the cuff?  I didn’t notice that before,” he thought.

Stopping at the Savin Arms, Luca punched his meter and said, “That will be $127.50, please, Massimo.”  But he was speaking to an empty seat.  Massimo was already walking through the doors of the Savin Arms.  Luca ran after him and entered the building.  Looking around he did not see Massimo, just some woman arguing loudly with, well, with nobody.  She was yelling at an empty chair.   Spotting a door with the word “Executive Director”,  Luca knocked on it and entered.  There were two people in the office, a man and a woman.  “Excuse me, I am looking for Mr. DiLorenzo.  He owes me some cab fare.”

The woman looked at her colleague and sighed, “He did it again.”  Turning back to Luca the woman said, “All I am willing to say is Mr. DiLorenzo is a resident of this facility.  I’ll need an invoice for the cab fare.  I’ll contact your dispatcher not to provide cabs to this facility without my authorization.  Our residents are not able these types of decisions independently.”

“But he looked so polished, so professional.  That suit made him look like a banker,” said Luca.

“People see what they want to see.  Sorry for your troubles,” the woman said and turned back to the stack of papers on her desk.

Ernie Stricsek

Chatham Writers Group


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s