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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Marsha and Grant find a cache of diamonds worth millions. Grant wants to take a few; Marsha most certainly does not.
Circumstances remove the choice from their hands and plunge them into the depths of the Italian underworld.

Submitted: August 11, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 11, 2016




A Short Story in Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Two


It was at least thirty seconds before either blinked. Then they both bent over to look at the diamonds and bumped heads. They both laughed while they rubbed their heads and attempted less painful routes for their heads and eyes to examine their find.

“Grant; look.” Grant was looking; and then he sat back and screwed up his face.

Jesus, Marsha, (she had begged him to quit swearing so much; he hadn’t realized that damn and hell were swear words, but his mother and his sister poked him in the small of his back on that one too.) “What to do?”

“What to do? Are you crazy Grant? What to do? These belongto someone; and I bet they’re not your local merchants either; no; not your baker or fusilli maker; this stuff must be worthmillions.”

“Well, how can you tell that, honey? They’re just sparkling stones. Maybe some kids put them here for a treasure hunt; or an Italian form of Paper Chase; who knows, it could. . . ”

“Grant,” loudly, causing a spooky echo to reverberate at least six times off the surrounding cold columns of the church, “I studied diamonds at a class six years ago,” picking up a couple of the stones and holding them within an inch of her right eye, “these are real. And I mean , really real, as in: they’re worthmillions—and not dollars; euros.

"This is a cache,” looking around, seeing no one, “and the owner could pop in here any second,” and she shoved the stones on the floor into the hole and dropped in the two from her hand on top of them.

In a deft move, she replaced and patted down the diamond–shaped piece of marble.

Grant was amazed on many levels. He was particularly appreciative of the speed and dexterity shown by Marsha’s hands. He tried to remember if she had ever demonstrated these particular talents while they were making love; he filed this arousing discovery in his erotica bank.

“But Marsha; we can take just a couple; they’ll never notice; and even if they did, we’ll be long gone; and how would they know it was us? I didn’t see any security cameras, did you?”

Marsha was winding up a storm of negatives when a priest appeared out of a confessional booth next to a side chapel and began to approach them.

Something about the way the priest was walking tickled an alert nerve in Grant’s security network. The priest was coming closer now and accelerating, while his right hand disappeared under his cassock.

Grant could feel Marsha easing behind him and grabbing his waist.

Up came a Glock 9 along with some broken English, “I’ll have diamonds or you killed.” Short but telling.

Marsha screamed, “We don’t have them; I put them back; we really did; you can check for yourself.” holding Grant even tighter.

“On floor; both; now.” 

His priestly garb was genuine, but both Marsha and Grant had entered many shops carrying clerical wear and they both immediately assumed that this short reddish-haired imposter had copped a set of priest clothes.

They both instantly dropped to their knees. They heard the gunman directly behind them and believed he was going to execute them.

Before either could issue a plea for mercy or a scream of terror, the faux-priest gunman slammed the handle of the Glock into the side of their heads.

Suddenly a staccato of gunfire threatened to deafen them as the echoes and reverberations of the shots bounced in crazy patterns of numbing vibrations from end to end and side to side of the cathedral.

As Grant began to black out, he pitched forward and turned his head.

When his jaw smacked the marble floor, he saw a puzzled look of surprise on the face of the reddish-haired man, whose head had smacked down beside Grant’s. There were three small holes in a line across his forehead.

Marsha missed seeing the fall from grace, but heard the breaking facial bones of the Glock-man as she fell into a painful spiraling combination of orange flashes and gyrating blackness.

*  *  *

Marsha could feel someone arranging the hair on the top of her head. She was frowning before she managed—barely—to open one eye. Where there had been total blackness, now everything was white.

The smell of mercurochrome, ether, rubbing alcohol and cigarette smoke set her gorge on an upward movement while she struggled to open the other eye and squeeze her nose shut with both hands. Then she took a deep breath and prepared to face whatever world she had dropped into.

A graying man of forty or so with smiling thin lips and a Marlboro dangling from his lower lip was carefully placing strands of her hair in a pattern above the wide bandage that girdled her forehead. She turned her head slightly to escape the smoke; and from that position she recognized  the worn dilapidated fixtures and furniture of some manner of urgent care center or drop-in clinic.

She managed a feeble, “Where is this?”  The groomer stopped in mid-arrangement.

“Momento.” and he dropped the strands, disappeared behind Marsha and quickly reappeared with a tall attractive woman in a white smock. Her hair was short and streaked blonde. Her face was tanned and vibrant with happy eyes and generous smiling lips. She wore high heels of a gold and red fabric.

“Hello; how are you feeling?” coming right up beside Marsha and taking her wrist while she looked at a plain brown-strapped sports watch, “are you hungry?”

She smiled warmly into Marsha’s disconnected features and patted her on the back.” I think you’ll be just fine; got a big lump on he side of your forehead, but it’s way down and should be gone in a week or so.  Meantime, some Tylenol or our NSAIDS will stop any headaches.

“You’re in our modest clinic in town here; Frappiana, where some kids were playing capture the fort or Chase or some variation; anyway, they  found you both in a field on the other side of town.”

“You speak perfect English”, smiled Marsha.

“Thank you; I should ; four years at Stanford undergrad—physics; then Med School and before you ask, my husband also is a doctor and Italian. We chose here to live and set up our practice. We also fly about to other clients who hear about us. Somewhat like Australia and the flying doctor program over there; or is it ‘down there?” and she laughed with joy.

“Is Grant okay too?” with great concern and a creased brow, “I mean is he . . . well, alive and okay?”

“He is; he’s not as well off as you are at present; we want to keep him for at least another week or two.  He received a blow more to the frontal lobe; in fact I would guess that whoever hit him thought he was killing him,” pausing, “and if not for those kids, I think we would have died.

“You were out cold and I think they thought the blow to your head was in the same place as Grant’s but it wasn’t—thank goodness—it was more on the side of your forehead  and so you’re fine and he’s not; at least, not yet.”

She had stopped smiling. Marsha picked up on the ‘look’ right away and somewhere deep in her sub subconscious she knew the question that was coming and jumped in first.

“We were in the Cathedral, St, Giovanni and some guy in a priest’s clothes—who wasn’t a priest—hit us on the head  after . . .”  Marsha was looking straight into the eyes of the Doctor of no name and the first directive from her sub-subconscious told her to stop; now; right there

“He thought we were stealing some Cosmati Workshop tiles. A bit of an overreaction I think, but . . . ” and she convincingly shrugged her shoulders and gave a wan smile.

‘By the way, Doctor, what is your name?” Marsha squinted her eyes and pretended to be still half-dazed, and spoke again on purpose before the doctor could answer, “It’s a beautiful town; I certainly imagine you could hardly wait to live here; it seems to have everything.” 

She gushed more praise for the town and the quality  of the extraordinarily fine architecture of the other buildings on their ‘must-see' list.

The doctor smiled broadly, “Yes, by all means; you must look all around the town—well, some think it’s a city; I think of it as more of a burg, myself; but a very charming one,” she hastened to add.

“And so Grant is just where; like, right now?” Marsha’s voice was plugged with concern and something else she would only admit later.

“Oh; well, Marsha, we have him at our secure medical facility on the edge of town. The other doctors thought it would be wiser to keep him there because whoever hit him would certainly try again,” pausing, “whereas, in your case, we have you here and have posted two extra security guards at each entrance and they are asking for triple ID from anyone wanting to enter,” quickly adding, “ but you’re doing so well, that I think we could get you safely out of here in a day or so.

"How about some of Italy’s finest food? There’s a restaurant in town where my husband and I go often, and the proprietor . . . owner, Alexei, a Russian expatriate with a genius for Italian cooking, sends over food when we have visitors,” another trilling laugh, “I’ll go order some for you; what would you like . . .we have a menu around here somewhere,” calling, “Enrico,” louder, “Enrico.” Soto voce, “for Christ’s sake.”

A tidy little man looking like the lost Manuel in “FawltyTowers, popped up into Marsha’s view and stopped. He wore an expression of genuine surprise—and alarm.

He immediately walked closer to the doctor so that he could hear her instructions out of Marsha’s hearing.


End of Chapter Two

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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