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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
After Marsha discovers diamonds under a floor tile in an Italian cathedral, hell on wheels rumbles after her and her lover, Grant, spewing bullets and corpses, Venice and Naples, the Carbinieri and the Camorra, in all the directions they want to go. What a rush.

Submitted: July 03, 2017

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Submitted: July 03, 2017




A Short Story in Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Fifteen


Salvatore DiMaggio wrestled with the idea. He knew that if he failed he would be dead within a day. Umberto Gianni was powerful. His influence spread all the way to Venice. He was also tightly connected to the Camorra—Primo de Lantro, and Vito Petroni.

“why am I even thinking about this?

Salvatore—Sal—had chafed under the excruciating yoke of boredom while performing as an accountant and gem appraiser for twenty years. His initial ambition was to be a rock star. His mother was very strong, his father was stronger and he,Salvatore, was very weak. He became an accountant.

Salvatore’s second ambition was to be a barber. He was an insane fan of American baseball. He read about Sal ‘The Barber’ Maglie, a pitcher for the New York Giants, who slung his artistry with such precision and so close to the batter, that he earned his sobriquet after only a few wins at the Polo Grounds. 

DiMaggio, a distant cousin of Joe, was physically ill suited for athletics and his thoughts of becoming a professional baseball player died in vivo but he was drawn to the idea of being a barber. Dean Martin sprang to mind.

Sal couldn’t sing worth a crap but he liked to talk to people, to joke, and he quickly accumulated a deep store of sports knowledge with the thought that he could reveal his bin of things sportif in banter with his customers. 

He planned to move to California and begin his barbering there, not far from an extraordinarily successful barber, a cousin, with the exact same name. 

Sal decided that he would simply switch to his middle name, Carmine. The logistics of practicing the barbering trade near a namesake never became a topic of serious consideration for Sal. He was hustled off into the accounting industry through a friend of his father, a stalwart of the accounting community who welcomed Salvatore with gifts and customers on the occasion of Sal’s nineteenth birthday.

Umberto Gianni had been an accounting client of Sal’s for fifteen years before Sal decided to undertake a sideline of assessing gems with a major in diamonds.

Umberto heard of Sal’s sideline and apparent expertise. Apparently, young DiMaggio had a gift for spotting the best and the worst in the sparkling rocks of the earth. Umberto hired him three years ago and Sal had handled many transactions for the Don but not all.

Umberto was a wise man, possessing sound experience in the ways of the world and especially the crooked ways of dishonest men who could ruin him with a bogus appraisal. As a result,Umberto alternated appraisals between Salvatore and Alessandro Domono.

Sal began his clandestine association with his venal client shortly after conducting an appraisal between Umberto and Sal’s new partner in crime. There was no agreement to do anything other than siphon off some of the value of Umberto’s stones. No rough stuff. No blackmail. Just some simple skimming.

Despite the innocuous form of Sal’s dishonesty, he realized that death was his certain doom were the Don to discover the treachery.

“Senor Gianni,” purred the voice of the prospective seller, Sal Dimaggio's new partner in crime, “perhaps it is time for that lunch on your terrace while our appraisers grapple with the true value of my offerings.”

“I agree, Senor, and the sooner the better. There have been some disturbing –even nasty—developments in the diamond business world recently. I need stabilization, order, assurances. I need a trustworthy supplier. My well established supplier has disappeared. Not with any of my money—or my gems—but he has gone. I had employed his services for eight years. A wonderful man. Ah well, such is the life on the outside, Senor.” 

Gianni abruptly realized that he was not only blatting on but also revealing much more information than anyone needed to know, especially a stranger. 
“Let’s pick a date,” Umberto breathed gruffly, “your call.”

“Tomorrow,” offered the stranger, “around two.”

“Fine. You have the address, yes?”

“Yes, Senor Gianni. Until tomorrow.” The connection broke.

Why am I feeling this tickle at the bottom of my gut? Why does this feel wrong?

Gianni rang DiMaggio. “Sal, tomorrow at two. Be here at one.”

“On the dot, Senor Gianni.”

Is this a good idea? If Umberto sees through me, I’m fish meal. If not, I’m very wealthy.

Salvatore DiMaggio chose one of the drivers of life, money, to govern his actions. He postponed the others—sex and power—until he had accumulated enough riches to finance those two.

* **

Aminata Azanga drew in a breath while she pushed the doorbell. Giulio’s house lay still. The three-storey structure stood back behind a magnificent tight row of cypresses and was enveloped at the back and along the sides by umbrella pines. The scent from the flora bred a smile for Aminiata. She wished that her mission was one in simpatico with the aroma therapy she was absorbing. She sighed and pushed the bell again. This time, she stood on her toes and cupped her hands on either side of her head while she peered through the glass rectangle above the baroque door knocker. The entrance hall was a dusky yellow where the filtered sunlight mixed with the dazzling colors created by Gina to cover their eye wateringly expensive furniture. No sign of Giulio, or anyone.

Someone tapped her on the shoulder. Aminata instinctively jumped, bumping her head on the low protruding lintel.

“Hi, stranger, looking for someone?” Giulio stood behind her wearing a wide smile. Aminata jumped into his arms and hugged him. She wanted to kiss him, as she always did since they first met when she was a child. She restrained herself—again—and simply brushed kisses past both his cheeks.

“Giulio; let me look at you; it’s been a while.”
 She released Professor Angotti and stepped back to view her eternal love.

“You look tired. You’ve been working too hard. Let me in and I’ll fix you some coffee; or a drink. Where’s Gina?”

“At work, as usual. She works more now but that’s going to change. We’re making a few adjustments in our marriage; well, in our finances, we want to . .”

“That’s why I’m here,” broke in Aminata, “to talk about finances; well, more particularly, about my gifts to you; and Alonzo.”

Her face shaded over at the mention of Alonzo. Giulio was unlocking the door and missed her look and its obvious meaning.

“Come in; come in. Here, let me take your jacket . . . and your case.”

“No, I’ll keep the case for now, thanks Giulio; here’s my jacket.”

She wiggled out of her long colorful patchwork jacket that Guilio appraised at well over five thousand dollars and handed it to her host. He reached across her into the hall closet, extracted a wooden hanger, and placed the hanger back on a fine dowel.

“Here, sit Aminata, or not,” smiling,” you know where everything is; I’ll have a double scotch. All the coffee fixings are there on the counter. You’ll see our new granite counters  . . . and all the new cabinets as well; just about everything is new.”

Aminata didn’t have to look. She had information that the professor was spending freely all of a sudden and she wondered if this outflow of cash was because of the matter which brought her to see him on this particular occasion.
From the kitchen, “Sounds terrific. Expensive, all this kitchen work, isn’t it?”

“Damn right. Way too expensive. Must be another Mafia front. Argue with the price and you’re tied to what would have been the last piece of granite on your sideboard and next thing you know, you’re swimming past the fishes to the bottom of the sea, off Ostia Antica.” He laughed again, this time, less buoyantly.

Aminata appeared in the doorway of the kitchen where she leaned in a provocative pose against the door frame while holding Giulio’s scotch in one hand and a Peroni in the other. 
“That’s why I’m here Giulio.” Aminata pushed herself away for the door frame and walked toward Giulio as he sat in a high-backed chair facing the splendid view of the Parco and the Colosseum. 

Aminata was now almost forty and clearly at the peak of her beauty. She had the mid-black sheen skin of the Goma region. Her hair was pulled back so tightly that any incipient wrinkles were tugged to the perimeter where they disappeared beneath her hairline. The arresting almond-shaped eyes held a steady warmth, a slow burning black force that suggested a conflagration should she be wronged. Her chin and lips comprised a secluded area of intense interest to the viewer, her lips being almost full, resting over a determined chin.

“Oh, really?” puzzled Giulio, “and about who or what, Aminata.?”

“About diamonds; about you, Giulio. I think you’ve been ripping me off.”
Giulio spun to confront her gaze. His face wore an expression that Aminata had never seen before. Anger and hate.

“Yes, Giulio, you have been lying to us all, all these years, haven’t you; even to your wife. You’ve pretended and lied and deceived Gina. And me. But not any more, my darling professor.”

Aminata slid a Berretta px4 Storm from beneath the folds of her pleated dress and walked up to Giulio where she slammed it against the side of his head. With her other hand, she handed him his scotch.

* **

“I don’t know him but I know a few men who do,” offered Gilberto Pandretti, “he’s kind of a big shit in town, you know; runs a lot of rackets and stuff. But I hear he’s not all that bad if you work for him. Anyway, I got a group of names . . . for a price.”

He gave Marsha and Grant a shit-eating grin, which told the two of them that the lad had shaken down many others before them, probably mostly tourists, and probably, again, mostly Americans.

Grant laughed and immediately dug out twenty euros and pressed them into the surprisingly clean hand of the not unattractive youth, a young man who would become another Italian stud in a few years.

"Grazie, mille,” smiled Gilberto, while he pocketed his newfound wealth. He took a small, expensive smartphone from his jeans and quickly scrolled up the names and address of his buddies who would know Trapani. He then extended the list of eight names by adding names of fathers, uncles, and grandparents of the listed youths who might even do some work for the Don.

Grant gave Gilberto his email and the Italian sent the information to his newly acquired American touch.

“These guys will definitely get you to the Don. But here’s his address and phone number just in case these guys are slow or you’re in a real hurry.” He quickly tapped Trapani’s vitals to Grant’s phone.

“There, well, come through this way and you can sneak around to the back of the station if you want or I can show you a route to a trajeto that will take you across the Grand Canal and deliver you to another canal with a vaporetto and some hotels, if that’s what you’re looking for.” He paused to check the looks on the faces of his new friends. Both wore open but tired expressions. 

Marsha offered a simple. “Yes, a trajeto.

End of Chapter Fifteen

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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