Dario was the eternal student; at thirty-five he still lived at home. Officially he was at work on his thesis in nationalization and the post-war Italian economy but, if truth were known, he wasn’t doing anything very much except hanging out with Gavin.
When Gavin went to the Maltese, Dario always turned up. When Gavin was off to a party, Dario would tag along. When Gavin was going to a gig in Rome, he would always find Dario among the audience. Dario was what the locals call “piccicoso” or sticky. He stuck to you, like the pads of a fly on a hot summer’s day.
One day, Gavin got so fed up with him told him where to go.
They happened to be sitting in Gavin’s flat; Dario was stretched on Gavin’s sofa with a joint rolled by Gavin.
On the coffee table was a pair of sunglasses belonging to Gavin. Dario picked up the sunglasses and threw them across the room. Retrieving the sunglasses, he crushed them under foot. “Shithead,” he said; then he stormed out of the flat.
Gavin did not hear anything from Dario after that.
About a year later, they met, by chance, on the seafront.
Dario was with a girl whose name was Cecilia. He seemed please to see Gavin.
“Mummy’s Boy. You still haven’t paid for my sunglasses.”
Dario came back into Gavin’s life. When Gavin went out, Dario would still tag along, but it wasn’t quite the same because Dario had finished his degree and was going to get married to Cecilia.
Dario asked Gavin if he would give speech in English. “No one will understand,” he said, “except you, me and Cecilia.”
“I’ll do it,” said Gavin, “on the condition I get to slag you off.”
“Shithead,” said Dario.