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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
When Marsha pulls out a handful of diamonds from beneath a loose floor tile in an Italian cathedral, live bodies soon become corpses, her flight with her lover, Grant, becomes hopelessly headlong, and her final destination, her destiny, is murky at best, and deadly at worst.

Submitted: June 24, 2017

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Submitted: June 24, 2017




A Short Story in Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Eleven


Other than plowing into a giant bug storm, Antonio’s Vespa ride to Padua was mainly unremarkable. There were always a number of idiot tourists who either could not drive very well or were constantly weaving and slowing as they took pictures of anything Italian on either side of the strade. However, on the good side, the sun was declining and taking most of its blaze with it. Stiff breezes from the Gulf of Venice buffeted and cooled him, easily penetrating his soft leather jacket.

What a piece of crap; I need a Ducati; or a Harley

He took the exit for Padua and the Scrovegni Chapel at the steepest angle that his wussy Vespa would permit, which meant that he had to turn while sitting damned near straight up. This lamentable posture caused him to fishtail, almost flipping the fragile machine. Curses, both loud and deep, were swallowed by the screeching of the little tires.

It only took him four minutes to find the Alfa. He scooted past the virtually empty chapel parking lot, deployed his best intuition about Grant, and found the side street in minutes.

He dropped the Vespa and ran to the Alfa where he wrenched open the unlocked door, dove into the carpeted driver’s floor area, and tore back the carpeting.

“Oh no, Goddamn it; oh fucking no; oh, shit; we’re dead.’’

A pedestrian being hauled along by a German Shepherd, stopped to ask if she could help.

To his credit—and Aunt Maria’s tutoring him in the polite ways of the Italian world—he only shook his head, sighed, and dribbled out a “no thanks; it’s okay; just a broken gear shifter.”

The Good Samaritan, a middle-aged woman with dyed indigo hair and slim legs, allowed herself to be dragged off toward a good pooping field by her master hound.

“Well, okay, good luck.” was tossed back over a narrow wrenched shoulder. Then she quickly disappeared.

Antonio rolled out of the driver’s well onto the grubby grass beside the buckled sidewalk and quietly cried in anguish. Soon he was sobbing with genuine—and warranted—fear.

The diamonds that he and Raphael found on the cathedral floor were spilled next to a dead body. Raphael swore he saw a man slip into the shadows of the fourth chapel down, next to an unoccupied confessional booth. All he could remember was the flash of something on his feet. The light seemed to glint off his shoes for some reason that neither young man could fathom.

Jesus, now he’ll back and want to kill us too. We can’t even bargain. Oh Christ.

He loaded the Vespa into the trunk of the Alfa where he tied it down with some rope he had brought from his aunt and uncle’s place.

what the hell is that that they run, anyway? Or was that all just for the two who robbed them? Just a set-up. They sure did a great job. Where did they put all their furniture? Now they’re in diamonds as well. I wonder if they work for the guy we saw in the cathedral?

All of a sudden, Antonio’s thoughts consisted of clips; snippets; scenes; sound bytes; bits of conversations; imaginings; suppositions; denials. He wanted to put on his helmet as though the addition of something to enclose his head would somehow stem the flow of disjointed visual noise that assaulted his inner sanctum. Instead, he threw his helmet into the back seat and turned the ignition.

The drive back to Frappiana gave Antonio plenty of time to sigh, moan, cry, posit questions, search for answers, ask other questions, and generally twist his mind into a knot that produced a major headache.

 Rocco’s car still sat on its grassy roost.

A sickly silence greeted Antonio after he got out of the car. The front gate stood at the same open width as when he had left. The normally chatty birds and squirrels were mute.

He ran at top speed along the path and into the house. While he called their names, he forced down a rising gorge of bile and dread; then fear and horror; finally vomit and terror.

Maria lay in the doorway of the back room. His Uncle was sprawled close to her where had been beaten and then shot while he tried to protect his wife. Besides the cigarette burns on her eyelids and throat, there was a line of three small holes across her forehead. Uncle Rocco’s forehead bore a similar pattern. Antonio remembered the body in the cathedral and fouled himself.

* **

Marsha stretched her naked body in such a manner that Grant fell upon her for one last round before breakfast. After an hour, the exhausted lovers sat up and reviewed the room service menu.

“Well, I guess nobody found the car; or at least they didn’t find us.” Murmured a thoroughly satisfied Marsha. 
Grant grunted. “And if they did get the car they had no way of tracking us. I don’t remember ever giving my last name—or either of them asking for it. It was in our passports. Hmmm. Well, so far, aces. Wonder if today will bring deuces; but, who knows, maybe a Royal Flush.” 

Grant leaned a little harder against the padded headboard and breathed in deeply. This coincided with naked Marsha opening their huge window and inadvertently flashing any passersby.

“God, that feels good, hon,” flinging out his arms and inhaling even more deeply, “I think our breakfast time is also our planning time. Probably better to have room service. The fewer people who see us the better. Were good so far. New crew on the day shift; here and at the restaurant. If no one has made us yet, they’re behind. We’ll go on that assumption, okay?”

Marsha was dropping her perfect powder blue dressing gown over her glowing naked figure. She sat down at the feet of her lover. 
“Absolutely, darling. In-house food and plans, plans, plans.”  She seemed to have shed her earlier fears but Grant chalked that off to her post-coital euphoria—or so he thought—hoped.
“Yes, ma’am. All ears. Let’s eat.”  

They spent very little time going through the breakfast offerings so that by the time their food arrived, they had showered, dressed, and put on resolute faces. They sat at a table by the window, absorbing both the pristine air off the Gulf and the sparkling rays of the sun.

Bacon, eggs, sausage, and American pancakes joined orange juice and coffee as the fuel of the morning. Both ate with earnest vigor, replenishing the calories and energy expended in their lovemaking. Both remained silent but they smiled at each other excessively, something that warmed both their hearts and triggered new sensations of belonging, of permanence—even commitment. Neither voiced a word about any of this.

“Well, my darling,” smiled Marsha with a look of abandon, “now is the time: Where and when, and most importantly, why?”

Grant did not expect a trifecta and paused while he summoned some  manner of coherence for his answer.

“We were on somebody’s list right from the get-go, honey. They thought we stole those diamonds which we obviously put back. However, they don’t seem to know that; and they sure as hell—that dippy medical duo—didn’t believe us. Crap. Well, the guy, Rocco, maybe he believed us, but Red-Shoes, she is absolutely convinced we took them and we’re hiding them somewhere, despite Rocco’s reasonable remarks to the contrary,” pausing to take a deep breath and a long drink of coffee, “but that’s all bullshit now because we scrammed and at least  under the law, flight often means guilt. Here it doesn’t, but Maria and her buddies, or bosses, don’t believe that; won’t believe that,” sighing, “so we have that gang after us.” 

Marsha moved closer. Her eyes, that were dreamy a moment ago, now sparkled with the jagged flashes of excitement. 

Grant continued. “Next, we have with the stones in our trash bag; from the Fiat," pausing, “geez, hon, do you think these could be the same stones you popped out of that hole under the tile? And if so, how the hell did they get under a carpet in Mad Dog’s car? Christ. This is becoming byzantine.” He stopped, hoping that Marsha would join in with some reasonable explanation for all the diamonds as well as the possible people who they might belong to. But she remained silent, thinking. 

Grant inhaled. “Then there are these guys in Venice and Naples, the names Mad Dog and Bogus Doc spouted while I was firing off some encouragement shots. Do we have that notebook somewhere handy?”

Marsha got up. “Yes, darling, in my backpack. Hang on; it’s right here.” She leaned over a suitcase rack, plucked up her backpack, and returned to the table. “Here we are.” She extracted a small folded spiral notebook. Grant waited for the names.

“Umberto in Naples. Pietro in Venice, and something called ‘ Love Boat’. That’s they. And some phone numbers.” She pursed her pouty lips while raising her eyebrows.

“Hmm,” was all Grant could initially manage. Then, appearing to inhale some macho energy drink as well as some balls-enlarging elixir, he got up and drew himself to his full height. “Goddamn it,Marsha—oops, sorry,” she only smiled, “these two guys may be on different sides but that doesn’t seem likely if our two dipshits coughed up their names. I think one of them would have said something, don’t you? I mean, if they were two different operations.” He gave Marsha a helpless look.

“Really, darling," exhaled Marsha, "I’m buffaloed. We have the stones in the cathedral, the stones under the carpet in the Fiat, and a number of characters who don’t appear to have a clue who they belong to or where any of these stones are. Then there’s that whoever or whatever I saw in the cathedral, the guy with the shiny shoes. Is he with any of these other people?” shaking her head slowly with frustration, “all I know is that at least two people; well, now probably at least four or more people think we have their diamonds and are probably coming for us right now, before we can even get out of here.” Her face clouded over with clear apprehension, an apprehension that was rapidly morphing into a full-scale terror.

Grant picked this up at once and rose to come to her side where he put his arm around her shoulders and drew her tightly to his side.

“Hey, sweetheart, you’re okay. We’re okay. They’re—no one is going to hurt us. We have a ton of diamonds and they want them, and they aren’t going to kill us until they get them. So we’re safe. We can plan our exit strategy when the time comes. In the meantime, we have full bellies, happy hearts, great memories,” chuckling; Marsha broke a smile. “and we have Italy  to explore. So let’s go to Venice and see this Pietro character and work out a deal if there’s one there. I can’t see any other good path at this point, can you?”
Marsha snuggled closer to his side and nodded. “No, Grant, I can’t. I see what you mean about keeping the diamonds. It sounds just suicidal to me in one way, but, you’re right. At least we have some bargaining power. Even if just enough to get us out of the country.”

Grant rolled his shoulders with purpose. “After we convince everyone that we don’t have any others and that diamond running’s not really our bag. But we can do that, So, let’s check the train schedule and go.”

Marsha nodded again and released her head from Grant’s side. He returned to their breakfast table after grabbing the train schedule from his nightstand.  

Marsha lifted her body to a sitting position and dug deep to haul up her good spirits, as we as all the confidence she could muster.

“There’s one leaving at eleven forty-four. Let’s get it.

End of Chapter Eleven

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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