In the year 1348, while the Black Death went scything through Italy, ten young people took refuge in the countryside outside of Florence. To pass the time while they waited for the Reaper to be on his way, they told each other a series of stories.
On the third day of story-telling they elected Neifile as their queen of tales. She wanted to hear stories about people who attained the objects they desired, but only by virtue of their own efforts. There followed many windings and turnings, searchings and yearnings, until ten worthy objects were wrestled from the flux by even worthier hands.
Then, as on the previous two days, they all looked up from Boccaccio’s dusty pages and waited to hear the tale that I would tell.
“We enjoyed your first story and your second story very much,” Neifile said to me. “In fact, we spent much of last night discussing the themes they have in common – themes that are not at all unfamiliar to us. Money, sex, friendship, betrayal, the whims of fortune. Perhaps we don’t know what a Ford Fusion is, not precisely, but it doesn’t sound much different than a horse. We have been saying how strange and wonderful it is, that even across the chasm of seven hundred years we understand you so easily! We hope the understanding is mutual. (Did you like Filostrato’s story about the axeman, who pretended to be deaf and dumb so he could infiltrate the convent and enjoy the company of the nuns? That one was my favorite.) At any rate we beg you once more to speak freely and in keeping with your own times. Shock us and ravish us! Black Death or Covid, we are in the same predicament. The centuries cannot stand against us.”
I thanked Neifile for her kind words, and after warning them all that I couldn’t hope to rival Filostrato’s story about the nuns, I gave them another swill from the dregs of 2020.
the tale of Dick Long Harding
There was in recent years a certain man from Minnesota, whom we might as well call Dick Long Harding, for he developed in his middle age a rare and raging affliction. It was a condition that delighted both he and his girlfriend for the first several hours during which it occurred; but after a whole day of it she was sore in every hole and he was dangling at the edge of a heart attack. They decided together, breathlessly, in an apartment that was completely destroyed, that he should consult a doctor about his sudden insatiability.Continue reading “The Decameron Stories – Day Three”