‘Waiting for Verdi’ – A Napoli Short Story

The four men sat in their comfortable arms chairs, each silently performing their tasks. A stream of light pours into the dusty room, seemingly unentered and untouched for weeks. Here is where Sarri’s squad players remain, having to entertain themselves without human contact for months.

This room holds Marko Rog, Lorenzo Tonelli, Adam Ounas and Amadou Diawara. Only the prospect of a Europa League substitute appearance keeps them from forcibly swallowing their own tongues to escape their hell. Hell, in this case, definitely is other people.

Marko Rog’s cross-stitching clicks away as he feverishly works on another woolly hat for Lorenzo Insigne. The other three glare, trying to avoid the insistent noise from pushing them over the edge, into the abyss of delirium. Adam Ounas, headphones in and with his eyes closed, repeats more of his self-assigned homework from a discarded Walkman cassette player: –

“Xǐshǒujiān zài nǎlǐ?”

Tonelli pauses briefly from combing conditioner into his now foot-long beard to exclaim,

“If he doesn’t stop shouting Chinese I’m going to break both of his legs.”

Amadou looks up from the reams of paper scattered in front of him.

“Guys, can you keep it down? Everyone knows that the middle part of a novel is the most challenging for an author. I need to concentrate.”

As Samuel Beckett once wrote:-

They do not move.

Then, suddenly, a light flashes up from the table. Marko Rog’s phone, now on its last remaining block of battery begins to chirp the familiar sounds of un giorno all’improvviso.

The four stare at each other. The outside world. Communicating. With. Them. Is this Mister Sarri? Has another knee exploded in the classic XI? Distant memories of their former companion in exile, Mario Rui remain. He’s been gone for a while now – his chair un-sat-upon. Hope.

Marko Rog, his limbs stiff from inaction reaches over to his phone,


“Hello, is that Marko?”

Rog, having not spoken to a stranger for months is uneasy in his conversational style.

“Y-y-y-yes. Who is this? Is that Mister Sarri?”

“No. Why- Ah, never mind. No, Marko – this is Giuseppe. Simone Verdi. Are you ok?”

The other three all spring from their chair and swarm around Marko’s phone.

“I’m fine. What can I do for you?”

“Well, I’m not sure about moving over to you guys. Will I play en-“

At this moment, the caveman-esque Tonelli, covered in beard conditioner and only vaguely resembling a human being seizes the phone.

“Send help. Please. We are stuck here. Send help. He-“

The familiar beep-beep-beep of a phone running out of battery echoes across the musky room. The four look at each other. Lost. Abandoned. Without hope.

Ounas puts his headphones in…

“Xǐshǒujiān zài n-“

His voice is cut off as Tonelli’s large hands gather around his throat but the sizeable mits relax as the bearded man realises the futility of his exchanges. The four return to their chairs.

They do not move.

By Frank Sidekick 

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