ROUGH DIAMONDS: SS: TEN

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
The Cathedral San Giovanni in Frappiana, Italy has a loose floor tile. When Marsha and Grant investigate, they find diamonds. Quickly, they are mugged and interrogated while housed in bogus hospital.
Escape and adventure follow, with international jewel gangs after their tails . . . and their diamonds.

Submitted: June 22, 2017

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Submitted: June 22, 2017

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ROUGH DIAMONDS

A Short Story in Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Ten

 

Aminata did not trust her father, or rather, thought that if any suspicions were to arise, he would be the first to be questioned—investigated. Aminata believed that he would assist the authorities and walk away from all the hassle involved regardless of the possibility that Aminata’s find could be claimed by her and her family under several existing charters and decrees as well as some basic laws of the mining industry.

When Aminata visited Italy for the first time, she called on Giulio. He was twenty years older than she and married but this did not dampen either her ardor or her purpose.

She brought several gifts from her own family as well as gifts from the other two families whose children Giulio had so devotedly imbued with more than sufficient knowledge to gain them access to higher learning.

The presents were mostly crafts and food with an occasional semi-precious stone. 

However, on her third visit, some five years later, Aminata brought Giuilo a unique gift card with a message and a PO box in Goma. The inscription in the card read: ‘Giulio, my darling . . .  professor, please write to this address and a gift will arrive shortly after. That’s all. Love. Aminata’.

When Giulio sent off a note to the PO box, he did so with a smile and zero expectations. He viewed the entire card from Aminata, as well as her apparent love for him, as simply a regional custom involving the lifelong infatuation of one that has helped you, not unlike the Chinese requirement that you continue to look after a person you have saved for the rest of their life.

A few days later, Giulio received a call from a man who introduced himself as Alonzo Betta, a salesman form Naples whose products were rare herbs and potions from a special corner of Africa.

Betta insisted on a meeting. Giulio agreed only after Betta invoked Aminata’s name. Betta demanded that Giulio be alone. Not even his wife. No one. With creases of humor and suspicion lining his face, Giulio, with a nervous laugh, agreed.

They met at an outdoor restaurant in EUR. Giulio had been there many times to be alone with his thoughts and his problems. He knew every person who frequented the restaurant as well as the bar. He felt perfectly secure and unobserved. Betta appeared to be comfortable with the venue. Within minutes of their meeting, he relaxed and accepted a Peroni from Giulio before beginning their bizarre encounter.

Giulio asked Betta about his connection with Aminata. Alonzo told Giulio that he had been a friend of the family for over twenty years while he plied his way through the waters of the Goma region as well as Rwanda, in pursuit of his delights and delicacies. He adored Aminata and considered himself her honorary godfather, a title he invented for himself but which pleased Aminata as well as her family.

“Aminata has the greatest respect for you, Professor Angotti, and I think she still loves you after all this time as well. She asked me to ask you if you were still happily married—or, married at all. I think she still has hopes, despite your age difference.” He smiled over the top of his beer while Giulio fidgeted, shifted in his chair, and generally gave the impression of one who is both embarrassed and annoyed; annoyed with Aminata for continuing to covet him and annoyed at himself for being unsuccessful in eliminating her obsession with him.
He nodded at Betta with a wry smile and thoughts of ‘if only I could get her married off to a good guy in Goma; but no, I’m saddled with this albatross of her undying and unending love until . . . Christ, when? Forever?’

He said. “She continues to be the most beautiful and delightful woman I know next to my wife.” He said this last with a sigh, which Betta correctly interpreted to involve love and reality; age and circumstance. Alonzo was a man of the world.

“Aminata asked me to give you these. You are to tell no one where you got them. They are legitimate. They are not blood. She has a source and vouches for their legality. Unfortunately, the laws of her country and Italy do not mesh. Complications could arise. Too many questions could lead to endless involvement with any number of departments of the government. Endless questions. Endless appointments. Your career in education would become secondary and on and on like this.

“Most of this what I’m telling you are her words but many are mine. As one who has to deal with Customs every few weeks, I can assure you that what I say is true and what she predicts would in fact come true.

"When I first started my business, I would spend literally weeks being questioned, interrogated, followed, photographed. I felt like I was an enemy of the state and a drug smuggler as well. And a lot of other things too. So you must understand and believe that giving you these in this manner is the best way to handle all of this.”

“All of this? You mean this isn’t it, the last gift?”

“Oh no. She has decided to continue to supply you with gifts until she is satisfied that you have been sufficiently rewarded for all the kindnesses, not to say educational benefits, that you have given to her and her brothers and sisters as well as everything you gave to the children of the other two women. So, yes, there will be other gifts, and no, she is not to be dissuaded.”

On that first occasion, Alonzo presented Giulio Angotti with twelve flawless diamonds. The professor remembered the moment clearly. He gasped, choked, then reared back from the table, away from the diamonds as though they were alive and about to attack him. Alonzo instantly covered the gems.

After more beer and assurances as to the authenticity of the jewels, Guilio accepted them.

Now, eight years later, Alonzo was missing.

***

Pietro Trapani slouched toward the floor-length wooden shutters protecting him from the dazzling view of Venice where he had reluctantly moved his operations beyond the bounds of his beloved Sicily. Stooped, gaunt, riddled with liver cancer, Pietro was a dying example of a sixty-year-old man who had devoured his time on earth with generous helpings of booze and smokes.

Now the good times were all gone and he was left alone on stage with his miscalculations and memories. He opened the shutters with difficulty but was rewarded with the postcard perfect view of the Grand Canal, already stippled with everything imaginable that would float, including a police patrol speedboat embracing Brunetti.

Pietro held his ragged breathing until Brunetti and his hulk of an assistant whizzed past on their way to another DeLeon disaster. He exhaled while he pulled a bell cord that would summon Luca and a medical breakfast of juice, coffee, and pills.

A phone rang. Lorenzo had insisted that his boss carry a burner phone. Cheap and untraceable.

With some difficulty, Pietro plucked the ringing piece of plastic junk from his bathrobe pocket.

“Pronto."

"Rocco, Pietro. How are you?”

“Shitty to fucking awful. Thanks for asking.”

“Well this should cheer you up,”  Rocco had decided at the discussion with Maria and Antonio about her stolen car that he had just about had the course with all the diamond smuggler pricks who were causing him untold grief, “you’re going to get a call form a huge very pissed-off American who fires Glocks past your ears and bangs your head on the floor until you bleed. Nice hombre. He has a sidekick. Very pleasingly plump young woman with great tits and a good ass. But they’re not making a social call. They’ll want to know something about the operation and why they were roughed up, damn near killed. So, engarde.”

Pietro had never liked Dr. Bandini; never thought he really graduated from medical school. His drop dead gorgeous wife, however.
“Well, thanks for sharing this Rocco; any other shitstorm news you’d like to shower me with to begin my day?”

“Nah, Pietro, you’d just die on the spot and since we haven’t been paid yet, I see that as a risky business. By the way, where the hell is our money?”

Pietro held the phone away from his ear while he tried to imagine what was really upsetting Rocco. He had never sounded remotely like this in the five years of their relationship.

“Calm down, for Christ’s sake Rocco. I sent the goddamned money yesterday. Snail mail. The only goddamned safe communication left in the world. So back off. Now, what the hell do these two turds want to know about our operation that wouldn’t require that I kill them and let the Grand Canal bottom feeders have themselves a banquet?”

“Nothing. Kill them. Just thought I’d make your day. But be careful. The guy is ex-military; maybe SEAL or Ranger. Or some other handle for spook.”

“You don’t think he’s from the competition, do you?”

“Nah. I would have picked that up.”

“Government?”

“Not ours. I suppose he could be private for the African connection. But I really think he and the chick are just tourists and got caught up in all this shit. Maybe just say hello and let them go. They don’t really know shit. A couple of names.”

“What about ‘Love Boat’?”

“Yeah, well, yeah . . . Maria dropped that one along with Umberto, but I really can’t imag . .”

“Bullshit, Rocco. Can’t imagine”? Jesus fucking Christ, you idiot, the ‘Love Boat’ is the core. Christ, Rocco. Goddamned Maria. Now I have to kill them both.”

He sighed and turned to the stunning vista that was slowly bringing him around to approving of Venice.

Just in time to die.

 

End of Chapter Ten


© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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