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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
Corpses and Italian vistas clog the days of Grant and Marsha after Marsha discovers diamonds hidden beneath a loose tile in a cathedral near Padua.
It's a race to a finish, somewhere between Venice and Naples, packed with adventure, love, and danger. Mostly.

Submitted: June 25, 2017

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Submitted: June 25, 2017




A Short Story in Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Twelve


Vito Petroni pushed Claudia away while he tried to pull up his underwear and answer his cell phone. He had difficulty managing both. He barely raised his pants over his cheeks. Claudia laughed and turned her sterling breasts along with their bullet-hard nipples, away from his lips, reaching for a towel and a cigarette.

“That chowder head  bogus doc just called me,” wheezed Pietro, “he and his wife were roughed up by a couple of Yank tourists; one a military goon with some special forces training, like firing Glocks past your ears for information; like that. Anyway, they—him and a broad—apparently feel they’ve been wronged somehow and want some answers. They have Umberto’s name and mine. Rocco couldn’t remember if he gave them yours. He doesn’t think so but you need to know. So I’m telling you what they told me. And Maria spilled about the ‘Love Boat’.”

Vito finished pulling on his underpants and struggled to remove his sheepish smile while Claudia danced naked in an amazingly provocative manner on the other side of the bed. He forced himself to look away.

”What do you want me to do? Are they coming here; do they know . . ”

“No idea,” broke in Trapani, “they’re probably coming here first. I’m closest. They were in Frappiana and on their way to Padua. We think. Anyway. Wanted to let you know so you can prepare. And they have a couple of Glocks and this cowboy knows how to use them. Her, I don’t know, but probably. Figure he taught her.”

Vito focused all his concentration.  “What’s this really all about, Pietro? Are these two working for somebody, do you think?”
“No,” gasped the dying Don, “Rocco is positive they’re only tourists and got caught up in this whole thing after they—the woman—apparently found diamonds in the cathedral under a floor tile she was examining. Sounds bogus, right?  But there’s nothing else to tie them in. Maria and her asshole husband tore up all their clothing and found nothing. They also checked all their papers, a diary, and timetables, and there’s nothing at all putting them in any kind of loop involving the diamonds.”

“What about Alonzo?”

Trapani paused to be sure that his remarks were well considered and that Vito understood the rather unusual circumstances about Alonzo Betta. He drew in a fortifying breath.

“You know Betta has been supplying us for over eight years. Never missed a shipment. Never asks questions. Yeah, there are rumors that he gave some of the stones to a professor in Rome, from the professor’s girlfriend in Goma. But I’ve never got any proof. I had a few men check out this professor, a Giulio Angotti and his wife Gina. Nothing. Clean. If has any stones, he’s hiding them away somewhere and not spending any kind of money that would mean he had sold some. He’s a prof at a small salary,. His wife works, for Christ’s sake. And they raised four kids. Best I could find out he has a ton of student loans to pay off. And they have some other debts. She’s a director for a tech company in The Technology Park, east of Rome, Makes good money, but not diamond money. So, no, I don’t think there’s shit to these rumors. Anyway, I trust Alonzo,” remembering, “by the way, have you seen him?”

Vito replied immediately. “No; and that’s strange, because he is always dropping by, mainly to look at my girlfriend, the sick bastard. But he’s harmless. Has a wife and kids in Rwanda. Imagine that for Christ’s sake, especially every time you’re feeling depressed. How you could be with a wife in Rwanda.”

Pietro Trapani gave a silent sigh.

a wife anywhere would be okay with me at this time. Not earlier, true; but now, yes. Anywhere.

He sighed again and felt sorry for himself, something he usually reserved for Christmas Eve and his birthday. However, the impending end of his time on the coil heightened his awareness, and wanting someone with him for his last days had been a prime subject of his thoughts lately.

yes, a wife anywhere would be wonderful

“Yeah,” Pietro, with a false laugh, “can you imagine; and Rwanda. Christ, that’s got to be the end of the civilized earth.Jesus, what a thought,” changing thoughts quickly, “but I’m a little worried about Alonzo. If you haven’t heard from him in the next two or three days—or you haven’t had him tracked down, give me a call. I’ll do some searching of my own.”

The two men agreed to keep each other informed.

“Thanks for the tip on the Yanks, Pietro. Watch your back. Let me know when they hit town, Then I can stop worrying about them busting in here,” He was surprised at how nervous he was becoming, “I worry so much about home invasions. And then there’s Claudia. Can’t even imagine the amount of the ransom some assholes would want for her.” He turned to look at his kept woman but she was gone. He felt depressed.

“Ciao, Pietro.”

*  *  *

Gina Angotti edged to her husband’s side where he stood staring from their living room window.
“What is it, darling?” She pressed her breasts against his elbow while she encircled his waist with her arm, “we’ve been married thirty-two years. I can tell in a flash when something’s bothering you. Tell me, darling. Let me share this with you. Maybe I can help.” 

Gina had maintained her foundational beauty. The architecture of her face remained stunning. High cheek bones, a solid but gentle jaw line, a perfectly straight Roman nose, two full lips, and almond-shaped green eyes completed this portrait of Italian beauty, middle-aged version. Life had forced a minor curve in her shoulders which she disguised most of the time by forcing herself to stand up straight. This movement displayed her generous breast to their best advantage and tightened her remarkable tail that had defied gravity over the entire length of her time with her husband.

Giulio pursed his lips while he gently nodded his head in agreement with his wife’s statements and suggestions. He turned away from their view of the Parco Del Colle Oppio and the Colosseum and wrapped Gina in his arms. Giulio had maintained his fitness over the years with running and lifting weights. He was a strong man. His strength made him feel young and powerful. Nevertheless, his good conditioning failed all attempts to subdue his worries. He was a man who could only deal with the physical problems of life. Worry, anxiety, fear—and others, combined to keep him on edge, despite the sense of power he enjoyed as a result of his training.

“I haven’t heard from a good friend for over a month. I’m afraid something may have happened to him.”

“Like what?”

“Well, I don’t know, but I feel as though something bad has happened, Something final.,” turning to Gina, “ like he may be dead.”

Gina drew back somewhat but continued to hold her husband. “What on earth makes you feel that, darling? And who is this friend I’ve never heard about?” She molded her body to his as best she could manage and transmitted her love to him with her warmth.

Giulio felt a quick surge of love for this woman who had borne his four children, worked relentlessly to pay off their debts, and had been a loving partner to him without fail for decades.

A sudden flood of compunction and tears caused him to turn and collapse into her arms. She eased him to the couch here he willingly flattened out and placed a hand over his dampening eyes. However, his mouth remained exposed and Gina read a bottomless torment in his expression. He wept quietly. Gina sat in a large wing chair near his head and rubbed his forehead with a steady gentle motion designed to release his tension and loosen his tongue.

After several minutes, “Gina, this is the time to tell you about something that has been going on for eight years. I couldn’t tell you before because your knowledge would have placed you in great danger. But now, there is a greater danger and we need to plan our approach to all this together.”  He sat up and swung his legs around to the floor. He took Gina’s hand and drew her to him. He hugged and kissed her for a long time before releasing her and beginning his revelations.

“It all started over thirty years ago while I was teaching English in Goma.”

Gina had heard so many stories soooo many times about her husband’s life in the Congo that a sense of impending boredom rushed into her mind. That sensation was shortly replaced with a completely different feeling, one which she would recall later as being like that of a young girl being read a story of adventure and surprise, danger and untold wealth. And it was all true.

“All the diamonds are in our safety deposit box at the bank. I have never touched them, let alone sold one. Perhaps I was wrong. The value of one or two would pay off all the children’s loans as well as our mortgage plus any other debts. I just didn’t think it was the right thing to do at that time—or any time since then; until now.

“Alonzo, the man who brought me the gems, has disappeared, or at least he hasn’t come by or called and I have this hollow feeling inside that tells me he’s dead. From  what—or even if it’s connected with the diamonds, I don’t know, but I feel like he’s dead all the same.”

Gina pulled him close and kissed him. For some reason, she felt no particular shock from the confession of her husband. They had lived an extremely comfortable life due in the most part to her stock options quadrupling in value as the tech boom favored her company. No repressed complaint, no hidden rancor, no gnawing negative opinion shot to the surface for airing in this heart to heart talk. Gina paused for a moment, gave a soft sigh, smiled again, and pulled her husband to her where she kissed him fully and deeply for a very long time.

*  *  *

Antonio arranged to meet Raphael in the copse of olive trees behind the cathedral. They agreed to rendezvous near midnight to insure that they were not disturbed. For sixty seconds of every minute of the endless hours before their hookup, both young men agonized about the possible scenarios facing them, all of which ended with their deaths.

The mental images of his dead Aunt and Uncle refused to exit Antonio's inner eye. Blinking and sobbing helped, but a line of three bullet holes continued to jump his mental screen and he fell into despair before their horror.

Antonio trod softly between the redolent trees, looking for their favorite, the one with the thicker trunk that stood on the perimeter of the grove marking a panoramic view of the city below. 

The night was moonless, with a slight chill, unusual for the season. Antonio breathed deeply while wondering if the cold was an augury of a foul finish to their conference.

When their meeting tree loomed before him, Antonio noticed a couple of flashes of light near the base of the tree, blurred somewhat by the milky vapor of the early morning. 

Without warning, a large strong arm yanked his neck backward to a totally defenseless position. Words were spoken. A blade dented the skin of Antonio’s throat.


End of Chapter Twelve

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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