Authors: Luca Rossi
by Luca Rossi
Copyright 2013 Luca Rossi
Jasmine Fantini – May 12, 2013
She’s young, beautiful and sensual. She’s a star, and for me, unattainable.
I’ve been following her since the beginning of her career. Showgirl, dancer, singer, actress, hostess…everyone loves Jasmine Fantini. Everything she touches turns to gold.
Blonde hair, baby face, piercing eyes, slightly pronounced lips, upturned nose and disarming smile. Her naturalness and sincerity make her stand out among the jet set. And today audiences are going wild over her.
I’m going to see her. After years of pursuit, I’ll soon be close to her. She’s having dinner at Il Sicomoro, a restaurant in Piazza San Babila, Milan. About a hundred of us are waiting outside for her.
As soon as news got out about her dining downtown, Twitter went abuzz with guesses on which restaurant she’d be at. The most fashionable places were scrupulously patrolled. Finally
got a tip from a friend of his, a waiter. He tweeted that he checked his MasterCard balance online, borrowed a jacket and tie from another friend and went to Il Sicomoro, where he sat at a table that cost him a fortune. But just a little while later he was able to post a photo of Jasmine on his Instagram.
She's facing away from the camera, her hair swept back, wearing a silver evening gown and a necklace that looked like it was made from diamonds. The fashionistas tweeted that it was an Armani Privé dress.
After no more than fifteen minutes, the very central Piazza San Babila was crowded with people. The cops, unusually efficient, created a pathway with crush barriers from the entrance of the restaurant to the Bentley parked a few hundred yards away. It could have been parked closer, but Jasmine always said she didn’t mind a quick dip in the crowd, since she loved her fans and wanted to feel close to them.
My stomach hurts: I’ve been squashed against the crush barrier for almost an hour. Everyone behind me has their smartphones ready to take pictures they’ll post on their blogs and social networks.
I left my Galaxy in my jacket pocket. No pictures - I just want to see her and feel, if only for a moment, that we share the same air.
It’s her. Here she comes. I feel like I’m going to lose it. She seems to be laughing heartily towards her escort, John Artwood, the actor she worked with in her latest Hollywood film. She leans against his arm, giggling. The gesture makes me hate him fervently. Then Jasmine turns to look in front of her. Our hearts stop beating. We hold our breath. For a second the shouts subside to hushed murmurs. Jasmine brings a hand to her lips, then makes a sweeping gesture towards us. She sent us a kiss!
The crowd explodes. Every kind of compliment and declaration of love flies through the air. The cops struggle to keep the crush barriers steady. People are shoving so hard behind me that the pain in my stomach almost takes my breath away.
I see her coming towards us, flanked and followed by photographers. Every once in a while she shakes a few hands that make it over the cop-crush barrier-photographer barricade. She stops to sign a couple autographs. I think she even responds to something someone said. Then she moves on.
She’s almost made it to where I stand. If she shakes my hand, if she says so much as a word to me, I don’t know what I’ll do!
When she’s just a few steps away, the two cops in front of me squeeze together. I hold my hand out over their shoulders, but it hits the back of a photographer.
She’s right in front of me, but I can’t see her anymore.
“Jasmine, I love you!” I tell her with all of the strength I can muster from my body, squashed against the crush barrier.
For a second it seems like she's about to turn around, but she moves ahead a few more steps, stopping to sign another autograph.
Well, she heard my voice, at least. I try to console myself.
I catch a last glimpse of her gorgeous legs as she gets into the Bentley.
I will never forget this moment.
Lightning – August 10, 2014
“When is this crisis going to end? I can't take it anymore!”
Alessio doesn't know how to respond. Pudgy, thick goggles, shirt hanging out of his jeans. He's practically the prototype of a nerd.
We run a rather successful web agency called Starweb. We're expanding our business, and it's been going pretty well, but young entrepreneurs run into lots of obstacles in Italy. The fiscal pressure is unbearable and every day we wind up fighting with the banks over credit limits and loans, not to mention customs agencies and tax collectors.
“If we moved to an emerging country it'd take a lot of work at first, but we'd still get short-term results if we were in a growing economy. And the government wouldn't try to kill us with taxes,” I continue.
For years Italy has provided the global example of a nation that massacres entrepreneurs with unfair taxes and bureaucracy. People can't take it anymore. Companies close and start up again elsewhere. The only people left either don't know where to go, are idealists or are lazy. The others try their luck elsewhere.
Alessio and I have been having the same conversation for months.
“Tons of people know us online. Thirty-seven percent of our sales already come from clients outside of Italy. True, things would probably drop off a little here and it wouldn't be easy to serve our old clients once we're abroad, but at least we'd find companies to collaborate with that want to invest and believe in the future. They'd be perfect clients!” I tell him.
Alessio likes the idea as much as I do: we both have friends and contacts all over the world, thanks to the internet. He looks at me sadly.
“Could we bring her along with us?” I immediately regret having suggested the idea.
Alessio lost both of his parents in an accident when he was little. Since then, he's lived with his grandma for practically his whole life. The two are really close and adore one another. She made sure that he didn't miss out on any of the affection his parents would have given him. And now he wants to pay her back any way he can.
Grandma Pina was born in 1930. She's lived in the Porta Vittoria neighborhood forever and couldn't imagine living somewhere else, away from her friends, her café, her usual walks. It's all part of the sweet routine for an elderly lady who, in these very streets, survived the Allied bombing, the roundups by the Germans, a life of hard work and the death of her son, Alessio's father.
Yes, it's true. Alessio can't leave Milan. And I can't leave Alessio.
“Come on, it'll get better. These assholes in the government will understand sooner or later that things can't keep going this way. And besides, we're the best. As soon as the economy gets better, our sales will triple! How about a friendly match of Doom 4?”
A rhetorical question. He adores playing shooter games by Id Software and is even one of the world's best in multiplayer. With me, he's like a cat playing with a mouse. Generally, when I want to make him feel better, I let him exterminate me for a few hours.
Before starting the game on my Dell, I glance at the Facebook page of Jasmine Fantini. I'm one of the 3,248,697 people who like her public profile.
She just posted a photo of herself in Syria.
“At least she was able to make it big abroad,” Alessio says, still a little dejected.
Everyone in the world knows Jasmine, but she's originally from a little town near Parma. The Americans think she's the new Sophia Loren. In just a few years, she was able to eclipse other beautiful and famous actresses, like Maddalena Alessi.
She was appointed a UN ambassador and the images in front of my eyes show her helping the Syrian people who've been hit hard by a war that's lasted too long.
While I think about Jasmine, out of the corner of my eye, I notice a strange glow outside of the window.
“Did you see that?” I ask Alessio.
“It seemed like a flash.”
“Like a flash in the sky!”
“I didn't see anything!”
“It looked like the sky, for just a second, was all lit up.”
“Listen, if you stop wasting bullets, I'll let you take the laser-canon.”
“Look, I'm serious here – let's see if there's something about it on Twitter.”
In fact, nobody had seen anything.
“Were you smoking something?”
Alessio is a little unnerved. He knows full well that I've never tried any type of drug in my life.
The mouse in my hand seems to be moving on its own. I'm kicking ass. We're at twenty-one to five in Deathmatch mode. That's never happened before.
Our two avatars move around spasmodically searching for one another. I've killed him with every type of weapon. I make the twenty-second kill with three pistol shots to the head, from behind.
“Come on, not the pistol! I can't believe it!” he complains.
I smile at him. I don't know what to say. Even I'm a little surprised.
“Up until now you've won, just barely, the last eight hundred forty seven games!” I declare. “It doesn't seem all that crazy that I'd defeat you every once in a while!”
“Maybe Fantini has a special effect on you?”
The office phone rings. I look at the time on my Galaxy's screensaver.
7:45 pm! Who would be calling this late?
“Good evening,” a low and slightly hoarse voice says. “This is Giorgio De Martinis from Sabauda Bank. Can I talk to Mr. Alberto Ferrari?”
“Of course,” I answer. “Speaking.”
My heart races. We recently pitched an innovative electronic payment system to Sabauda Bank. It's one of the top five banks in Europe, and if they were interested in our services, we would be able to take the market by storm and introduce the new technology to loads of dealers. It would be a gigantic boon for our little business.
“We've looked over your proposal, and we find it very interesting. Would you be able to come by our office and discuss things further?” he asks, calmly.
“Sure. When would you like to meet?”
“I meant now, actually.”
I look at Alessio, who's listening on the speakerphone. He's as incredulous as I am.
“I'll be there in ten minutes.”
Success – December 15, 2014
Alessio and I had created an innovative payment system based on the biometric data of users. It can be used with any latest generation smartphone. We immediately sent in our patent request, which was approved. We actually weren't entirely convinced that we could sell our invention, but it didn't sound like a bad idea.
Just a few months after we signed the agreement with Sabauda Bank, our invention became the fastest diffused payment system in human history. First the Italians, then their European neighbors got used to buying things in stores and transferring money using smartphones equipped with our app.
All those sleepless nights caused by the economic crisis last summer are but a memory now, and Starweb hires new staff every day, both in Italy and in the other offices that we're opening abroad. We work every day of the week, sometimes all night long.
“I still can't believe that they put their faith in the hi-tech fantasies of two kids,” I say absent-mindedly.
Alessio looks up from his PC running on Ubuntu Linux. The thick lenses of his glasses make his eyes look super tiny. “But our idea is revolutionary!”
“True, but banks aren't interested in innovation. They generally take on new technologies years after everyone else does. And then they give the big contracts to people they know, like a company run by some manager's wife. There's no way they could have simply believed in our project.”
Alessio is the technological whiz, while I handle the business end of things. He has a hard time understanding how things work in the market. “Anyway, we're in the game now, and with what we're making, we can afford to invest in even more growth.”
We're making the transition from a web agency to a software house with interests in different sectors. Sometimes I feel like it's all happening too quickly.
Distracted, I click on the favorites bar of my Google Chrome browser.
Jasmine Fantini's most recent Facebook post is from the set of her latest film. She's the starring actress in a new Hollywood science fiction epic, playing the part of a space explorer. On a planet covered with ocean and no land, she's the only one who believes that a species of intelligent life capable of sending signals into space exists underwater. When she succeeds in making contact with the aliens, not only do they turn out to be highly evolved, but they also help her discover something that will change the fate of the Earth.