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Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)

“He snaps his fingers and peremptorily orders a tiny cup for me. No sooner said than done.

“Have a sip.

“I may not like it, I say.

“Have one anyway. He pours some for me and some for him.

“The brew is quite delicious. The glass is scarcely bigger than my grandmother’s thimble, with which she used to darn socks.

“Have another sip—just to make sure.

“I down this one as well. No question about it. It’s a little like grappa, only stronger but less tart.

“Meanwhile, the night clerk keeps staring at me. I don’t like being stared at so intensely. His glance is almost unbearable. I can almost detect the beginnings of a giggle.

“You’re staring at me, I finally say.

“I know.

“Why are you staring?

“He leans over to my side of the table: Because I like you.

“Look—, I begin.

“Have another. Pours himself one, one for me.

“Let me put it this way: I’m not—

“But he won’t let me finish.

“All the more reason why you should have another.

“My mind is flashing red signals all over the place. They get you drunk, they take you somewhere, they rob you clean, and when you complain to the police, who are no less corrupt than the thieves themselves, they make all manner of allegations about you, and have pictures to prove it. Another worry sweeps over me: the bill from the bar could turn out to be astronomical while the one doing the ordering downs dyed tea and pretends to get drunk. Oldest trick in the book—what am I, born yesterday?

“I don’t think I’m really interested. Please, let’s just—

“Have another.

“Smiles.

“I’m about to repeat my tired protestation, but I can already hear him say, Have another. I’m almost on the point of laughing.

“He sees my laugh, doesn’t care where it’s coming from, all he cares is I’m smiling.

“Now he’s pouring himself one.

“Look, amigo, I hope you don’t think I’m paying for these drinks.

“Little bourgeois me has finally spoken out. I know all about these mincing niceties that always, always end up taking advantage of foreigners.

“I didn’t ask you to pay for the drinks. Or, for that matter, to pay me.

“Ironically, he is not offended. He must have known this was coming. Must have done it a million times—comes with the job, probably.

“Here, have another—in the name of friendship.

“Friendship?

“You have nothing to fear from me.

“I’m not sleeping with you.

“Maybe you won’t. Maybe you will. The night is young. And I haven’t given up.

“At which point he removes his cap and lets down so much hair that I couldn’t understand how such a huge tumble could have been wrapped and tucked under so small a bonnet. He was a woman.

“Disappointed?

“No, on the contrary.

“The tiny wrists, the bashful air, the softest skin under the sun, tenderness that seemed to spill out of her eyes, not with the smirking boldness of those who’ve been around but with the most heartrending promises of utter sweetness and chastity in bed. Was I disappointed? Perhaps—because the sting of the situation had been dispelled.