The problem was very simple.
It was the simplest question of yes or no.
Of light or dark.
It was the question of speaking or remaining quiet.
It was the difference between X and Y.
It was life or death…
And yet, for Pablo Manfora, the issue raised many deliberations, and set off a whole avalanche of problems on the small Neapolitan country village of Muccapazza in southern Italy.
You see, unfortunately, the first issue was that for at least half a day, officially Pablo Manfora was dead. Clearly dead. It was only the ominous knocking from the coffin as the mourners marched down to the graveyard that warned the villagers of any sudden change.
And ergo, what should have been a simple issue of black and white, of life and death, became the most complicated and talked about problem in the history of Muccapazza.
To start with, poor old Pablo Manfora had to convince himself he was indeed alive. Next, the stubborn villagers, some of whom - so distraught at the loss of a good funeral - were intent on burying him anyway, had to be persuaded otherwise.
And sadly, it turned out to be a lot harder than it should have been to persuade the villagers that Pablo was alive. For you see, one would assume in life you live, you love, you learn, you cry when your sad, you shout for joy when your happy, you thank God for the good times, you curse the Government for bad times and so on…
Yet Pablo Manfora, if you understand my meaning, was in life as he was in death….and after death he was gloomier and even more surly than before.
And the parson had to be found, and the gossipers had to be informed, and the parson had to be paid to officially rectify, and confirm that Pablo was alive, and the papers had to be signed, and the stomachs had to be fed, and the farmers had to be told…
And the problems rolled on and on and on.
Consequently, a problem that should have been solved in a split second (dead or alive) was dragged out for a whole day; and it was only the next morning after Pablo's resurrection that he found himself officially living…
Of course, the villagers went with great mirth for many years, even after Pablo's natural death (of which many tourists came to see the trick again), and told everyone who would listen about that curious afternoon.
It was in this manner, some years before any of the adventures that Alexandria Fortune encountered as a detective, in a trattoria in the countryside of Napoli, which the young dark haired Alexandria Fortune, Detective Sergeant Johan Jyhan, Inspector Waffle and Chief Inspector Bombolone of the Test River Police Force found themselves hearing of the very story recounted.
Sadly, Alexandria Fortune paid little attention to story for reasons I will explain later, and Inspector Waffle paid little attention for reasons you don't need to know (that he is a lazy and arrogant sloth like creature), and only the wide, jovial Jamaican Bombolone in his white suit and hat, and the tall lanky strawberry blond D.S. Jyhan paid any particular attention in politeness, but also, because they were aware of the notorious Mafia group who often pulled off these kind of stunts for insurance reasons; that of the mysterious 'Giorni Felici'.
The reason I tell you this bizarre story will be revealed a little later on, but as I said, Alexandria Fortune was not interested in petty stories of life and death. For Fortune was distracted.
For Fortune was in love.