Copyright © Dan Salerno. All rights reserved.
Carmello & Gilda: A Christmas Story, one of the stories from 20 Short Ones
Carmello was minding his own business, sitting down off the beaten path, a half mile away from the 72nd Street entrance to Central Park on the West Side. He worked a the Eddie Bauer outlet on Columbus Avenue and since it was an unusually warm day in early December, he had spontaneously decided to spend his lunch hour soaking in the sun.
The weeks right after Thanksgiving were always the busiest at the store, and this shopping season had been a tough one. Despite reports of a down economy, you'd never be able to guess it by the store's traffic. Anyway Carmello was no economist, and he was looking forward to a few precious minutes of peace and quiet. He slowly closed his eyes and began to relax.
"Excuse me," came the soft, feminine voice.
Determined to stay in a state of comfort, Carmello kept his eyes shut while responding, "Yes?"
"Can I bother you for a second?"
He slowly nodded yes.
"I'm really sorry, but I'm good and lost."
Realizing this wasn't a native New Yorker talking, or if it were, it was one who was creative enough to come up with a pretty good pick-up line, he opened his eyes.
She was standing right in front of him, smiling; another sure sign she wasn't a native. "I'm so sorry, but I have absolutely no idea where I am. I mean, I know this is Central Park, but I sort of wandered in after crossing Fifth Avenue a while back."
"So, where are you headed?"
"That's the problem, for sure!" she answered back. "I can't seem to make up my mind. I mean, I was hired to do production but they've got me doing marketing. Which in itself isn't all bad, but the thing of it is, I suck at marketing. My degree is in English, so it's a stretch as it is. I've been pretty loyal for the past year with this situation, but I'm just about fed up. But then I think, hey, most people would give their right eye to be here."
"You said you were lost, so I was asking you where you were trying to go?" Carmello said.
"That's what I'm trying to tell you," she answered. "