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I Give Devise and Bequeath (3)
Marco la Terra grew up in a large Italian family; the oldest son of Gianni and Maria la Terra, with three younger brothers, and two sisters, a mother who adored him, aunt Theresa who doted on him and his grandmother, all living in the same house. It was one of the noisiest households, in the street of noisy households. Sibling squabbles were a daily occurrence, with loud attempts at discipline from Maria, and interjections by Nonna, until finally a few smacks were distributed to anyone in reach irrespective of culpability of having started the raucous. Aunt Theresa always pulled Marco out of the combat zone and together they would listen and watch, like outsiders, the normal Italian family interaction. Meals were always served at the huge dining table, and as the delicious smells of Italian cookery wafted through the house, Gianni would come home. He was not a tall man, but had the presence of a giant. He would pick up his girls and give them a kiss on the forehead, pat each of his boys on the head. Then he entered the kitchen and kissed his wife tenderly, his mother respectfully, and his sister jauntily. "Andiamo, let's eat", he boomed, and the children would scurry to take place at the table, whilst mother and aunt would bring in the steaming dishes of spaghetti with meatball sauce, or bolongnaise, plates of freshly cut tomatoes and cucumbers, bowls of olive oil for dipping the warm, crusty bread. Red wine for the adults, red juice for the children and the table was complete.
Everyone seated, hands folded, heads bowed, total silence as aunt Theresa gave thanks. Amen hardly spoken and the noisy interaction of passing food along and everyone talking at once would start again. Gianni would slam his fist on the table and shout, "Silencio!". The mealtime ritual, would start as Gianni, quietly said, " Now one at time, tell me what you know today, starting with you mio cara". It always started with the youngest, ending with Marco. Five year-old Gena looked up at her father with her big eyes full of adoration, and said in the sweetest voice, "I heard Nonna swear today, she said….". "Never mind what she said", Gianni barely hiding a smile, looked at his mother who threw up her hands in the air gesticulating and threatening to move out as she had no privacy in this mad household. "Jesus, Santa Maria, what have I done to deserve such grandchildren!" Everyone giggled. Next in line was Benito, seven, then Maria, eight, followed by Carlo ten, John eleven and finally Marco. He always watched and listened as all the children, instead of talking about themselves, told on someone else in the room. When it was his turn he quietly told that he had received an A+ at school for composition. His father and mother gave out superlative pride-filled exclamations, and aunt Theresa, clapped her hands and joyfully expressed her opinion that they had a genius in the family, and that her nephew takes after her. Then Gianni would ask mother, whether the children had behaved today, and mother would smile and reply, they were perfect angels, causing the children to look at each other and smirk. Gianni would sit with his children in the large lounge room smoking a cigar after dinner whilst the women went into the kitchen again to do the dishes. Marco was the quiet one and after a while, mother would come in and send the children off to bed and only he, aged twelve and almost a man, was allowed to stay up and do his homework in the lounge room. His parents would talk for a while, softly not to disturb him, whilst Nonna and auntie put the children to bed. At 09:30 Gianni kissed his wife and left again. For Marco, his father was a mystery. His coming always a joy and his leaving always left Marco with a strange gut feeling the nature of which he could not yet determine. He knew by now that his father would always return late at night, and was usually sleeping when the children left for school in the mornings, but he was an enigma in the mind of his eldest son.
When Marco turned fourteen, he decided it was time for him to find out more about his father and having excused himself to go to bed early, he went to his room and waited. He being the eldest and most favoured son, was the only child with a room to himself. When his father left that evening Marco followed him. All he really knew was that his father worked for an organisation, which controlled the unions, and had other ventures. As his father drove off Marco pulled his bicycle from the front yard bushes and pedaling furiously to keep up at a distance, completely unaware that his father, in his line of work, had spotted him almost immediately. "Jesus, Maria and all the holy Saints", Gianni swore. " Tonight of all nights the boy decides he wants to become a man!" His driver,
Mario Contanto, asked what was the matter, and Gianni told him his son was following them. " Holy Mother of God, shall I stop?" Mario glanced at his boss. "No, no, he wants to grow up today, let him". The car stopped in front of an Italian club and Gianni got out and disappeared through the door. Marco also stopped at a reasonable distance. Within a minute Gianni came out again and got back into the car and drove off again. Marco pedaled hard to keep up with the car in front, always trying to hide himself at the same time. Gianni kept him in sight in the rear view mirror. Twenty minutes later they arrived at an industrial area, the big buildings affording Marco plenty of cover until he turned one corner and nearly crashed into the car. His father caught him in time and pulled him off his bicycle, whispering with menace as he spoke, "So you want to become a man tonight?" Before Marco could utter a frantic explanation, Gianni slapped him hard across the face and pulled him by his jacket and pushed him onto the back seat of the car. "Stay there and keep your head down, little man!", Gianni growled, his eyes showing a fury Marco had never seen before. He lay still there for a few minutes when he heard another car pull up in front, the lights briefly illuminating his space. Then it was dark again. Marco ventured to look out the front window. He saw his father talking to a stranger; a loud, venomous exchange in Italian ensued. Marco's heart nearly stopped beating when he watched, as if in slow motion, his father pull a gun out and shoot the other man. Terrified and exhilarated at the same time, he lay back down waiting for his father, a murderer, to get back into the car. He heard noises but did not dare to look again. Shortly after, the trunk of the car was opened and his bicycle was stashed inside. His father and Mario got into the car and with screeching wheels left the other car burning behind them.
"Sit up!" Gianni said. "So, bambino, are you a man now?"
Marco, not knowing whether this was a rhetorical question, quietly answered,
"Yes, Papa, I am a man now".
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Loved it, want more!
killea: Thank you so much, Bert
The Godfather part 666.....
killea: I wish, Noel
killea: Thank you for reading me, Jack
Superb writing june. But as it is with me and English, and maybe for many others, it is always so much more eloquent. It has so much more rhythm. It's because of our culture of music and movies I guess. I wonder how you would sound like if you would write in Dutch:-)
killea: I would no doubt sound fantastic! Did you read my poem Scheveningen? Thank you so much dddfish for the great FB
killea: thank you, Julien
killea: thank you for reading me and FB