Vissany slipped her arm into the stone mouth of the god Oceanus and, with a smile on her face, began to spout lies.
“I’m as pious as an angel. I’m as wicked as a clown. I eat whatever and whenever I want and never get fat. I loathe rabbits and ravioli. I once kicked a pregnant woman in the stomach and watched her water burst between her legs. I live in an abbey and pray everyday at noon and midnight. I learned to drive when I was twelve and once drove off a rocky cliff into the Aegean. If I kiss you you’ll die from heartache. If I spit on you you’ll cherish the spot. I can never grow old or ugly. I fart like a fisher-woman and I sing like a nightingale. And I hate you with all my being.”
She withdrew her hand, delicate with conch-shell-pink nails, flourished it like a queen and invited Dominic to his turn at the task.
Dominic hesitated. “I know all about the legend of the Mouth of Truth. I hear the back of it is stained black with blood.”
“So, you are superstitious, I knew it.” Vissany’s words echoed hollow in the small alcove of the Basilica. “But, just in case, I’ll take a peak behind…” She tried to wedge her head between the large carved medallion and the wall, to no avail. “There’s nothing back there. Go on. It’s just some silly myth.”
“Nothing you fibbed about was serious. The Mouth knows if you’re serious or not.”
“It doesn’t know a damn thing. Now stick your hand in there or I’m going to remember, forever, that you’re a sissy.”
The cadence of her speaking seem to reverberate in the space, ringing Dominic’s ears.
Vissany continued, “And sissies don’t get laid.”
Dominic’s whole being sagged like a dead-air sail, even his suit jacket wrinkled in-place and now looked too large for his shoulders. He signed heavily but walked to the edifice, held out his right hand, pushed up his sleeve and stopped. “I’ll tell the truth first, to see what happens.”
He fed his fingers across the rocky lips and then deeper, between the stone teeth. He smacked his own dry mouth and cleared his throat. “I like pizza with pineapple. I hate traffic and old American cars. I love to dance when no one is looking…”
“Lame-O. Come on Donny.”
“OK, OK. One more truth, then I’ll switch.” He turned and looked into Vissany’s eyes. “I love Vissany with all my…”
Dominic’s scream burst out of the church, down the cobbled streets of the Italian village and sent shivers through the hearts of men who sip dark coffee from small white cups using the only hand that remained.