VIMINI                                                         

Do you think so?

It appears to be his heart.

VIMINI removes a Polaroid SX-70 Land camera. She unfolds it and aims it brazenly at OLIVER.

She takes a photo.

OLIVER

(blinking from the flash)

How old are you?

VIMINI

I'm ten.

OLIVER is amazed and intrigued by this intelligent child.

VIMINI (CONT'D)

So, you are Elio's boyfriend?

OLIVER

What?

No!   We are...

VIMINI holds up her hand stopping OLIVER mid-sentence.

VIMINI

Please, don't deny it.

I've heard you mentioned...often.

OLIVER

Have you? (beat)

You're a very interesting little girl, you know that?

VIMINI

Thank you.

I think you are quite nice too.

We should be great friends, Mister Oliver.

OLIVER

Yes, you're right.

I believe we should, Miss Vimini.

VIMINI

Life is short and I've no one to tell my secrets to.

OLIVER

You must have friends your own age?

VIMINI

God no. Ten year olds?

They are silly little creatures, the lot of them.

Come, let's walk to the cafeteria.

I need some hot chocolate,

and we can bring coffee back for the others.

OLIVER hesitates. He looks over toward ELIO trying to capture his attention.

 

OLIVER

...But, shouldn't we stay here?

Your mother will worry...

VIMINI

My mother has her hands full with Zia Annella.

And she knows I can take care of myself.

VIMINI begins walking down the corridor toward a bank of elevators. She presses the UP button.

But OLIVER hasn't budged. VIMINI looks exasperated.

VIMINI (CONT'D)

Andiamo, Americano!

OLIVER smiles and hurries toward her.

OLIVER

What if something happens while we are gone?

VIMINI

If it's bad news they will all be crying when we get back.

OLIVER

What if it's good news?

VIMINI

Oh, then they will all be crying when we get back.

This is Italy.

INT. NURSES STATION - CONCORDIA HOSPITAL, ROME - LATER

DR. BRUNO, a thin, bald man in a white coat is speaking to ANNELLA and ELIO while the others eavesdrop. He holds a clipboard and wears glasses.

ELIO

Where is he now?

DR. BRUNO

He is resting in ICU.  As I said, we have given him some medication and if he continues to improve we would like to do the procedure tonight.

ANNELLA

Explain it to me again, please. You are going to graft a new artery into his heart?

DR. BRUNO

Yes, exactly, an artery from his leg.  There is a lack of blood reaching the Professor's left main coronary artery.

He suffered severe angina at the concert.

ELIO

But not a heart attack?

DR. BRUNO

No, but he is in great danger.

The chest pain, the shortness of breath...

all symptoms of the disease.

The surgery should be done tonight.

ANNELLA

Is he awake?

DR. BRUNO

Yes. He has already agreed to the procedure.

And he wishes to see you both before we begin.

They nod solemnly and follow the doctor down the hallway.

 

INT. ICU - CONCORDIA HOSPITAL, ROME - NIGHT

The Professor wears a green hospital gown and rests in bed. He has an oxygen mask on his face and an IV in his arm, along with multiple other wires and straps leading to various machines. A heart monitor beeps loudly next to him. He smiles when he sees his family enter the room.

DR. BRUNO (CONT'D)

Two minutes only, Professoré.

We must prepare you for your bypass.

The Professor reaches to remove his mask. ANNELLA grasps him, kisses him. ELIO holds his hand.

ANNELLA

Mon amour, you gave us quite a fright.

PERLMAN

(to Elio)

I'm sorry I ruined your concert.

ELIO

Papa, you didn't.

PERLMAN

(To Annella)

You have been the love of my life.

Perhaps my heart could not hold so much love.

ANNELLA

Caro, you are speaking nonsense.

It must be the drugs they are giving you.

They smile.

ANNELLA (CONT'D)

You will have this little surgery and then you will come

home with us for New Year's.

Do you understand me?

PERLMAN

Of course.

Was that Oliver before?

ELIO

Yes Papa, he caught you when you fell.

PERLMAN

He has a beard now? (beat)

It ages him.

We must speak about my new book.

The NURSE enters and tries to make them leave.

ANNELLA

Yes, mon amour.

There will be plenty of time to talk about your book with Oliver.

Now you must rest.

I love you.

They embrace again. Tears now stream down ANNELLA's face as she runs from the room sobbing. PERLMAN pulls ELIO close.

PERLMAN

You must tell them all not to worry.

ELIO

And what should I tell myself?

He winks at ELIO.

PERLMAN

Of all the many things I've done in my life...

I am the proudest of you.

My son, I love you.

ELIO is now crying too. He hugs his father and slowly leaves the room.

INT. WAITING ROOM - CONCORDIA HOSPITAL, ROME - LATER 

Hours have passed and it is now deep in the night. OLIVER sits in the middle of a small couch. ELIO'S head is in his lap and he is fast asleep. VIMINI rests her head against his shoulder and she is also asleep. The two sisters whisper quietly to each other in FRENCH. MAFALDA holds a rosary and is praying.

Suddenly the door opens and JULIEN, still in full tuxedo and topcoat strides into the room.

He observes the group one by one and then looks sternly at OLIVER.

JULIEN

Ah, the usurper.

OLIVER rouses ELIO from his slumber.

OLIVER

You have a visitor.

ELIO is groggy and emotionally exhausted as he gets up to greet JULIEN. They walk together into the hallway.

JULIEN

How is your father?

ELIO

He's having open heart surgery at the moment.

JULIEN

Yes I know.

The cardiac department here is excellent.

He's in good hands.

ELIO begins to tear up again. They hug.

JULIEN (CONT'D)

My boy, I'm afraid you've terribly wrinkled your tuxedo.

ELIO

I can't believe I fell asleep. (beat)

I know what you're thinking...

but I have to be with my family now.

JULIEN nods.

JULIEN

I had a conversation with several members of the Board tonight.

We agreed to giving you a week off while we are here in Italy.

But we have Vienna and then Prague next...

do you think you will be able to join us?

ELIO

I have no idea, Jules.

This is my father for fuck's sake!

JULIEN

I understand, truly I do.

But if you linger the Philharmonic may consider it a breach of contract...

ELIO

(raising his hands)

J'en ai jusque-la! (I've had it up to here)

Breach of...??!!

Honestly, Maestro, I don't give a shit!

JULIEN

(looking toward Oliver)

Do you love him?

ELIO

What? Who?

What are you talking about?

JULIEN

(resigned)

Ah, so you do.

JULIEN looks one final time at ELIO and leaves. ELIO, still fuming, returns to the couch with OLIVER.

OLIVER

Are you okay?

ELIO looks to the doorway.

ELIO

He is such an asshole.

OLIVER

How long have you been sleeping with him?

ELIO

Who says that I am?

OLIVER

I've seen that look before.

I'm not judging, but for the record,

he does seem like an arrogant prick.

ELIO

Why Oliver, I do believe you're jealous.

OLIVER

Ha! What a goose!

Did you love him?

ELIO

You're being silly.

OLIVER shrugs.

ELIO (CONT'D)

Why did you follow me to Rome?

OLIVER

I don't know.

I gave you a goodbye kiss in London, but I guess it didn't take.

I had to see you one more time.

VIMINI walks over to them. She is holding a large bag.

VIMINI

What are you two talking about?

ELIO

Matters of the heart.

VIMINI hands them each a wrapped sandwich from the bag.

VIMINI

Here, mangiare.

They take the food and begin eating. VIMINI takes a photo of them.

ELIO

Vimini here is a genius, Oliver.

Isn't it true you're a genius?

VIMINI

So they say. But it seems to me I may not be.

OLIVER

Why is that?

VIMINI

It would be in rather bad taste for nature to have made me a genius.

OLIVER

Come again?

What are you talking about?

VIMINI

(to Elio)

He doesn't know, does he?

ELIO shakes his head.

VIMINI (CONT'D)

They say I may not live long.

OLIVER

(stunned)

Why do you they that?

I can't believe it.

How do you know?

VIMINI

Everyone knows.

Because I have leukemia.

I spend half my life in places just like this.

She waves the Polaroid impatiently, waiting for the image to appear.

OLIVER

But you're so beautiful, so healthy-looking, and so smart!

VIMINI

As I said, a bad joke.

OLIVER gets down on his knees so he can look at VIMINI eye-to-eye. He grasps her shoulders.

OLIVER

How can I help?

VIMINI

Just be my friend.

Read to me, listen to me.

And an occasional prayer on my behalf couldn't hurt.

INT. WAITING ROOM - CONCORDIA HOSPITAL, ROME - DAWN

DR. BRUNO enters the waiting room and walks directly to ANNELLA. Everyone is suddenly awake. He takes her hand.

DR. BRUNO

Your husband is doing well, Signora.

The procedure was a complete success.

Suddenly it's pandemonium. Everyone is hugging and crying and talking all at once.

ANNELLA

Grazi!

Thank God!

When can we bring him home?

DR. BRUNO

A day or two here in hospital.

Then you can leave Rome...but by train or car only.

No planes for awhile.

ELIO

Can we see him, Doctor?

DR. BRUNO

We must all rest now.

All of you must sleep and come back later, Doctor's orders.

TILDA

What a relief!

Grazi mille, Dottore.

DR. BRUNO

Not at all. And no need to dress so formally when we meet again.

They laugh. ELIO pulls OLIVER to one side and whispers to him.

ELIO 

Come with me to my hotel.

I don't want to be alone, and I don't want to lose sight of you.

OLIVER smiles and puts his arm around ELIO'S shoulder.

INT. PLATFORM - MILANO CENTRALE RAILWAY STATION - DAY

The entire group has traveled together by train from Rome to Milan. Porters are collecting all their bags and placing them on trollies. The group is going their separate ways.

OLIVER has a wheelchair and is helping PERLMAN into it. ANNELLA puts TINO on PERLMAN's lap. VIMINI takes some pictures. TILDA kisses her sister and brother-in-law.

TILDA

We will see you in a few days.

ANNELLA

You will come to the villa for New Year's, Oui?

ELIO is going to play for us.

TILDA

Of course. Vimini insists on it.

But we have a million things to do in Milan before then.

Who is driving you from here?

ANNELLA

Manfredi.

We've rented a limousine to take us the rest of the way home.

TILDA

Trés bon.

SONNY and CHER are hugging everyone and saying their goodbyes. They all agree to meet for the concert. VIMINI is hugging both ELIO and OLIVER.

OLIVER

We'll see you in a few days.

VIMINI

Do you promise?

OLIVER

Cross my heart.

PERLMAN

(to Vimini)

Give us a kiss.

VIMINI kisses her uncle.

VIMINI

Caio, Zio.

Take care of yourself.

PERLMAN

And you do the same, mio piccino.

OLIVER

Ready, Pro?

PERLMAN

Yes, yes.

ANNELLA waves brightly to a middle-aged man wearing a cap.

ANNELLA

Manfredi is there, avanti!

EXT. MAIN ENTRANCE - PERLMAN VILLA - DAY

It snows lightly as the car pulls into the driveway. OLIVER is the first out of the car, he stretches loudly and looks up at the villa.

OLIVER

I've missed this place.

ELIO

So have I.

But beware, this house is cold and drafty in the winter.

MARZIA and a very pregnant CHIARA come running out to meet them. ROBERTO, CHIARA'S husband follows carrying two small children. They are overjoyed to see OLIVER again.

OLIVER touches her belly.

OLIVER

How did this happen?

CHIARA

The usual way. I'm a married woman now.

OLIVER looks at ROBERTO and points. ROBERTO smiles proudly. They all laugh.

ROBERTO

(kidding)

I hope you aren't still in love with my wife.

OLIVER

We only flirted...

and she wasn't your wife back then.

CHIARA

Oliver was already in love with someone else.

CHIARA and MARZIA exchange glances.

OLIVER

Well, I'm a married man now too.

ELIO kisses MARZIA on the mouth.

ELIO

Tu m'as manqué.

(I missed you)

How are you?

MARZIA

Je me sens bien, je crois.

(I feel okay, I guess)

Hurry, let's get your papa inside.

They work together to get PERLMAN safely into the villa. MANFREDI begins to unload all the luggage. TINO runs around barking.

INT. LIVING ROOM - PERLMAN VILLA - CHRISTMAS EVE - DAY

ANNELLA begins to cry as she sees the girls have prepared the villa for their arrival.

Fires rage in all the fireplaces. The lamps are all lit and there are even Christmas lights twinkling.

The smell of food cooking wafts through the house.

OLIVER

I smell food!

ANNELLA

What have you girls done?

CHIARA

We cooked a Christmas Eve feast for our favorite Jewish family.

MARZIA and CHIARA begin gathering their things, preparing to leave. ROBERTO helps with the children and several bags. ELIO is already piling a plate with food.

ANNELLA

But where are you going?

You must all stay and eat with us.

MARZIA

Ah, we have our own family waiting.

CHIARA

Yes, grandparents to visit.

Santa Claus comes tonight!

Everyone hugs and kisses yet again.

OLIVER

I love Italy.

PERLMAN

I need a brandy and a cigar.

ANNELLA

Caro, you are going to bed.

PERLMAN

You've gone mad, woman.

I need to go to my study.

ANNELLA

We've had a long day.

You will rest now.

OLIVER

(chuckling)

I wouldn't fight her, Pro.

INT. MASTER BEDROOM - PERLMAN VILLA - CHRISTMAS EVE - DAY

OLIVER wheels PERLMAN inside the large room. TINO jumps up on the bed.

PERLMAN

(grumbling)

All right, I'll sit in bed, but I want all the paperwork

on my desk to be brought to me.

And Oliver, I want to discuss my book with you.

I have an idea.

ANNELLA (O.S.)

After your nap, mon amour!

PERLMAN shakes his head.

PERLMAN

She is back in her element now.

OLIVER

We can talk tonight,

Professor. I'd like a bit of advice as well.

INT. PERLMAN VILLA FOYER - DAY

OLIVER grabs his luggage and he and ELIO go upstairs to his room. MANFREDI and MAFALDA continue to bring in luggage.

NEXT

©2020 Marko Realmonte, storyteller

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