Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "A Dangerous Thing with Style"

This poem came out of the March 7, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] curiosity. It also fills the "money" square in my 12-1-16 card for the iPod Shuffle Music Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Cuoio & Chiara thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

"A Dangerous Thing with Style"

"I've made some plans for today,"
Salvo said to Cuoio and Chiara
over breakfast one morning.

Cuoio leaned back, surprised.
His bodyguard rarely took the lead
with such enthusiasm, but seemed
quite excited about this. "Do tell?"

"I thought we could dress for an outing,
go down the boardwalk, then up to
the nicer shops," Salvo said. "There's
one in particular I'd like to show you --
a friend of mine runs the place."

A tilt of tone alerted Cuoio that Salvo
literally meant wearing a dress, which
was not something that he did very often.
"All right," said Cuoio. "That sounds like
a marvelous way to spend the day."

Sure enough, Salvo put on his china dress,
and Chiara slipped into the backless linen
that fluttered around her with every breeze.

Cuoio put on a casual beach suit made
of ivory linen, and left the shirt
unbuttoned at the throat.

The day was beautiful and
the trip pleasant, neither
too warm nor too cool.

They walked along the boardwalk
and Cuoio enjoyed the envious looks
that he got with from having someone
on each arm -- and a few doubletakes
from people who noticed that one of
his companions had a beard.

Salvo bought snacks as they walked,
panino con mortadella and then gelato,
waving off Cuoio's offer to pay.

"Save it for later," Salvo advised,
and Cuoio went along with it.

They looked at all the pretty shops,
waiting for Salvo to say which one
he had in mind as a goal.

"In here," Salvo said finally.

There was no sign or front window,
nothing but an ornate brown door
breaching the pale stone of the wall.

It turned out to be a tailor's shop,
its walls lined with suitcoats and trousers,
staffed by an older man who clucked
his tongue at Salvo and said, "Toes."

Salvo took a half-step closer
to Cuoio and said, "We're still
getting used to each other."

Chiara moved expertly along
the racks, while Cuoio waited
for any cue from Salvo.

"Fabrizio, this is my new boss,
Cuoio," said Salvo. "Cuoio, this is
my bodyguard mentor, Fabrizio."

"Ah!" said Cuoio, warming instantly.
"I'm very pleased to meet you."

"I was hoping you could show us
something discreet and secure,"
Salvo said to Fabrizio.

"Of course," the tailor said.

Cuoio could not see what he did,
but suddenly one section of the wall
swung back and Fabrizio ushered them
into the secret room beyond it. The wall
closed smoothly behind them.

The tailor showed them elegant suits
displayed on mannequins, which looked
like ordinary -- if very fine -- silk fabric.

Then Cuoio saw the labels underneath:
bulletproof, stabproof, taserproof,
and so on down the line.

"Extraordinary," he murmured.
Layering that over his own Toughness
would make him all but impenetrable.
"I don't see any prices, though?"

Salvo bounced a little in
his matching china sandals.
"Surprise," he said. "I have
a special discount here. Fabrizio
will fit the price to your budget."

"In that case, are there any dresses?"
Cuoio said, looking around. "And what
do you want for yourself, Salvo?"

Fabrizio chuckled at Salvo's stunned look.
"Oh, you have a good boss there."

"Just a waistcoat will do for me, if you
insist. If I get hit, I'll regenerate," said Salvo.
"And yes, there are dresses as well as suits."

Chiara perked right up at that,
but wrinkled her nose at the first one.
"Too boring," she said. "I suppose it's
fine for more conservative tastes, but do
you have anything suitable to my station?"

"Perhaps this," Fabrizio suggested,
indicating a dress with gold grommets
framing a deep V-shaped neckline.

"Much better," Chiara agreed.
"Cuoio? What are you looking for?"

"I'm not that picky," he said.
"Any suit will do for me."

Fabrizio made that scolding sound
again, and spent twenty minutes
limping around the little room,
showing off this suit and that one.

Cuoio wound up with a suit that was
just a shade lighter than black, with
a hint of midnight blue, lined with
a startling shade of scarlet.

He also kept coming back to
a pink dress shirt, even though
he knew that white would be better.

Chiara chuckled. "Get the pink too,
if you want it," she said. "You need
something for less formal occasions."

"You don't think it's too wild?" he said.

"If you're going to do a dangerous thing --
and our whole lifestyle counts as that -- then
do a dangerous thing with style," she said.

So Cuoio wound up buying that suit
and two shirts for himself, Chiara's dress,
plus a gray waistcoat that he hadn't even
seen Salvo picking out of the display.

They couldn't take anything home today,
of course, because it all had to be altered
to fit, which necessitated standing on a stool
for another ten minutes -- each! -- while
Fabrizio fussed around measuring them.

"Delivery next week," the tailor declared,
and then set the price at something Cuoio
felt certain was a fraction of the real cost.

It made him a little nervous, because he
still didn't understand all the nuances of
his new Family -- but if Salvo could muster
the courage to walk around in a dress and
introduce them to someone that he clearly
cared for a great deal, then Cuoio could
be brave enough to complete the deal.

Besides, it really was a splendid suit,
better than anything else Cuoio had.

"Good surprise?" Salvo asked as they left.

"It's a marvelous surprise," Cuoio said,
stepping back into the sunshine.

He wondered, then, if Salvo realized
how much it helped to have that added layer
of protection over himself and Chiara, and
to see that there were still opportunities for
the people who had to retire from field work.

It wasn't his own safety that Cuoio worried about.

His bodyguard, it seemed, was determined
to protect him from more than just material threats.

Salvo just smiled at him and suggested
that they stop for some ciambelle.

* * *


Fabrizio Barone -- He has light olive skin, brown eyes, and short white hair. He used to work as a bodyguard for the Marionettes until work-related injuries forced him out of the field. Then Fabrizio became a tailor who specializes in armored fashions.
Qualities: Master (+6) Dexterity, Expert (+4) Bodyguard, Expert (+4) Tailor, Good (+2) Personable, Good (+2) Visual-Spatial Intelligence
Poor (-2) Walks with a Limp

* * *

“Style is the answer to everything. A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing. To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without it. To do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art.”
Charles Bukowski

See Salvo's china dress and matching sandals.

Here is Chiara's white backless dress of linen, front view and back view.

This is Cuoio's beach suit.

A boardwalk typically runs along a waterfront, providing a pedestrian area between the beach (if any) and bordering shops. These seem more popular in Terramagne than here; I had a hard time finding a good picture.

Italian snacks are ubiquitous on the streets.

See the door and the interior of Fabrizio's shop.

Bulletproof fashions such as suits have emerged in local-America, although Terramagne has much better ones. Taserproof is another option. See Cuoio's bulletproof suit. Chiara rejected the first bulletproof dress as too boring, but was pleased with the one she picked out. This is Salvo's bulletproof waistcoat.

Discovering your personal style applies to suits, shirts, and other elements of a gentleman's wardrobe. It helps to understand the color wheel. Although many men hate them, some enjoy wearing pastels. Now here's the fascinating thing about pink: for a man who feels comfortable in it and can wear it with confidence, it's a power color. That's because most men can't or won't. It says you're utterly secure in your masculinity. There's actually a small but vivid trend of mobsters wearing pastels. A stylish and confident underboss will start experimenting with expressive shirts, and then there's always that one badass don rocking a pink or lavender business suit. Learn how to develop your own style.

Sudden disability often requires a career change. The Marionettes, along with some other supervillain organizations such as Kraken, make a point of ensuring that loyal members always have a place. So you'll see a number of supporting characters with disabilities in this context. Many careers suit people with disabilities. On average, Terramagne is much more assertive about finding jobs for disabled people compared to here. Fabrizio's current job not only requires a minimum of walking around, it capitalizes on his experience as a bodyguard by helping customers look sharp and stay safe.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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