|Incident at Lucca (standard:drama, 2761 words)|
|Author: Charles Rudolph||Added: Jan 08 2004||Views/Reads: 1688/1614||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Mike Crossetti, returning to Lucca,Italy,for the first time since his wife's death,confronts Italian crime. The story can be emblematic of current relations between the USA and Europe.|
Incident at Lucca Only four days in Lucca, Mike Crossetti had already formed the habit of spending late afternoons with the International Herald Tribune and an Amstel beer at an open café in a piazza near his hotel. The piazza was small, busy, with Renaissance flutings on its surrounding arcades. Finishing the paper and the beer, he’d go back to his room for a shower and an hour of shuteye before going to the ristorante for another anticipated two-plata dinner, lingering over his bottle of chianti, the kind he couldn’t get in the States. With his wife Marge, who died two years ago, he would have eaten earlier, but the later pattern suited his new life, once again a single person. Mike, a big-shouldered man of sixty-one years, had fair skin and reddish-gray hair from his northern Italian Tyrolian ancestry. He also had clear gray eyes and an athletic jaw. Never much of a traveler, he had nevertheless enjoyed the trips with Marge to the north of Italy, particularly to Lucca, her favorite place. She said that Lucca had so much history and sophistication, yet it was off the beaten track of tourists. She and Mike loved the long walks along the ramparts that walled the city. From Lucca, they would always travel north to Conegliano where Mike had distant cousins, and where he enjoyed driving the Strada del Prosecco through the Dolemite foothills, stopping at caves or roadside stands for the young sparkling white wine, and for cheese, prosciutto, and the fresh yeasty bread. Tomorrow morning Mike would be leaving Lucca, once again driving north to Conegliano – the first time without Marge. The trip, encouraged by his two sons – now that he was slipping into retirement, essentially giving them the reins of the business – was, they all agreed, a good time for re-energizing his life. Marge had loved Europe, always saying how civilized it was, always trying to lure Mike into traveling with her to other European places. But he would go only to northern Italy. In her quiet independence, she would then travel alone, or with a friend, bringing back prints, baskets, or pieces of curious pottery for their home. Mike didn’t mind the touches, but he insisted upon the William Remington canvas he had purchased in Wyoming as a young man having its place over the mantelpiece. Sitting now in the late sun of the piazza in Lucca, Mike emptied the bottle of Amstel into his narrow glass and folded his newspaper to the sports page. Noticing a flash in his right peripheral vision, a sudden movement, he instinctively turned there. Nothing. Only the movement of people passing in the shade of two arcades connecting in the corner of the piazza beyond which a narrow alley trailed away. Glancing at the penumbra, Mike quickly returned to his newspaper and an article about the World Cup matches that interested him mildly. He checked the baseball standings, and, reaching to finish his remaining beer, noticed the face of a man at a table diagonally to his left – a bony, almost orange face that struck a vague chord of remembrance. When the man glanced back, Mike returned to the printed page. Soon Mike glanced over again. Where the hell had he seen that guy before? With still no recognition, he blew it off and turned to the op-ed page. “Aren’t you the shortstop from Holy Cross who got four hits against me, including that pop fly single that won the game?” Mike’s eyes snapped up at the large man hovering above. It came back – the big kid who pitched for Umass in a playoff game a million years ago. “I’ll be damned,” Mike muttered. “You had a hell of a fastball.” The man patted his paunch. “Long gone. I’m Joe Sullivan.” “Mike Crossetti.” “I remember the name.” Click here to read the rest of this story (309 more lines)
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