A Storyby Adam Atlas
They made us sign the fraudulent contract. The fraudulent contract said we’d be paid four times what we were really being paid. We had to sign the fraudulent contract because the owners of the language institute had money to launder. It was the third week of classes, and they gave us twenty-four hours to make up our minds. If we didn’t sign, we’d be fired. That’s the way they do things here in Naples. All the other language institutes had already been staffed for the year, so finding another full-time job would be impossible. A couple of teachers, two American girls, started to cry. A guy from Colorado walked out. “I won’t stand for this!” he said. Those three had just graduated from college. So had everyone else, everyone but me. They were here for a year, two at the most. They could quit whenever they wanted and go back home, to America or England or Canada. I’d already been here for years and I wasn’t going to go back. My mother had escaped from the hospital again and was living in her car. That’s what my father told me. I wasn’t going to get involved: I’d made my choice when I moved to Italy. So I signed. While I was signing I was thinking of a student, a girl in her midtwenties who had stared at me hard in class.