I as if Tram line 8 paves the way for interesting people and experiences.

On the 25th of February 2017, after my last class of the day, I walked over to the tram stop called Belli. A tram came within seconds of my arrival, packed so I waited for another one. But a man got out of the tram with 2 luggage bags and a cigarette in his mouth. The one big luggage bag was black and the other cheetah print. He was clumsy as his bags were heavy and thanked a lady he was speaking to inside the tram. The mysterious man, average height, dirty skin, salt & pepper hair stood straight, looked to his left and then his right; that’s when he saw me.

I had my earphones in and was looking around the area while waiting for the tram.

This mysterious man starts walking over to me and I feel questioned. He asked me if it was some specific Italian area to what I replied, “No, this is Belli”. He asked if I speak Italian, I said no, I speak English and understand bits and pieces of Italian. Then he carries on to ask about background and what I am doing in Rome. At first, I was defensive and closed off because it is easy for some Italian men to get the wrong impression. Yet, for some reason, I spoke to him about my background and my current studies. I felt relaxed and trusting in him, for some odd reason.

I asked him about his life to which he responded: “My life is scary and I don’t want to scare you” For some reason I said: “Don’t worry, I don’t scare easily” (Hello dumbass) He looked at me, laughed and challenged my answer. Again…hello dumbass! I laughed and thought to myself, why did you say that? But I was curious and I needed to know his story.

He said he was born in Italy (I forgot the exact place) and at age four, his parents moved back to New York City. He went to school, tried to find a job and when he didn’t succeed, he found a loophole. Easy money, no bosses… why not try heroin dealing? He sold heroin among other drugs, such as cocaine as it was the most popular drugs to sell, especially to the wealthy elite. With the money, he made, he bought himself a nice apartment, nice furniture and a 9m for safety.

Obviously, with drugs comes sex.

He had a sexual partner, a Spanish woman named Julia who would come by his house for sex and drugs. They had a meeting agreement as his life was quite dangerous, she had to contact him before going to his house and in turn, he would know, for his safety too.

One day, Julia did not contact him prior coming to his house and knocked on the door. When he looked through the peephole, he saw her standing there. Angry he opened the door and started yelling at her, asking her why she came without informing him beforehand. Just then, a mysterious man came from outside and shot at him. He shot him four times.

Vincenzo then reveals his lower hip to me, showing his scar.

He fell back and tumbled over his coffee table, bleeding and in pain. He then reached for his gun and blindly shot at the figure before him. A bullet hit the man’s heart through his stomach and died immediately.

Afraid and hysterical, Julia starts sobbing and offers to phone the ambulance. Vincenzo yells at her and says she could be glad he doesn’t put a bullet through her skull because of her kid and then tells her to leave and never come back, nor contact the authorities.

He cleaned himself up, cleaned the room up and got rid of the body. He went on with his life and his dealing, never heard from Julia again and he was fine with that, however, 2 months after the ordeal the police show up at his house and arrest him for the murder of the mysterious man.

Julia snitched on him.

He spent 25 years in prison for murder and drug dealing. He completed his sentence and was a free man. He went on with his life, knowing that Julia snitched, he felt resentment but understood why she did it.

A few months after his release, the police tracked him down and deported him back to Italy, as he was born here. They allowed him to pack his possessions and flew him to Fiumicino airport where they told him that he is no longer an American problem.

Now he is in Rome, homeless, no money on him and a criminal record that will haunt him forever.

I felt such deep heartache. Yes, he took the wrong path in life and he knew better, but he will never get a chance to fix his mistakes. He will never get a second chance and one day, he might die and no one will care.

I realised how crucial it is to make the right decisions in life and to not find an easy way out. Life is hard and difficult and at times will be so unfair. I felt a sense of humility and empathy for him but I was happy that I didn’t brush him off. I am happy to have missed the other 3 trams’ that passed, just to hear his story.

Finally, I am glad that his story gave me more motivation to help people and realise that everyone has a story worth telling.

I greeted him as the 4th tram approached, shook his hand, and told him that I hope to see him again.

That is the story of the well-spoken, very animated, and interesting man named Vincenzo.

Featured image from Jim Hubbard Photo gallery on Pinterest  – Homeless Shoes Washington D.C (1986)