Following on from Marietta as
Roberto walked towards the cafe nearby Rialto, crossing the many little bridges over the waterways to the master of them all. He was on the breakfast shift as usual. He’d be working later than he should, what with the tourist season beginning but that was fine, he’d get some decent tips from the brash Americans on their European fly through.
The tables outside were being set with red and green cloths by his amigo, Lauro, as he approached. Dressed in his black trousers and white shirt, Lauro was a good looking boy but didn’t posses the same Mediterranean swarthiness or charm of Roberto that kept a captive audience in any situation. Lauro had tried to emulate his friends style but it usually fell flat.
“Ciao.” The two friends hugged briefly and Lauro studied the darkened face of his friend. The smell of rich espresso coffee drifted out from the cafeteria doors and floated on the fetid air of the warming Grand Canal.
“You’ve been watching her again, haven’t you. You gotta let her go. It’s past, amigo.”
Roberto glanced up with tortured eyes and shook his head. He couldn’t let her go. He’d tried and the harder he’d tried, the more she possessed him.
“What about Nina? Go with her. Take your mind of it, man I know I would. The regazza is begging for you. Marietta will be married tomorrow and you have to move on.” Lauro set about placing the cutlery and shining the ones stained with water marks with a red paper napkin. Lauro didn’t understand Roberto. Nina was every guy’s dream. Just the sound of her name made him horny. She’d give out to Roberto in a heartbeat. All he’d ever got from her was a drunken kiss after the masked ball. And god he’d worked hard on her that night.
“I can’t let it happen.” Roberto said slowly, palming his stubbled chin and gazing, transfixed at the table in front of him.
“You have no choice amigo, what are you gonna do, kill the guy?”
Roberto worked his shift and played his part, seducing the tourists and pulling in the pretty girls from other shores as they sauntered along San Marco street. Lauro watched his friend at work, fascinated by his skill and the naivety of the tourists who were dazzled by his ways and felt the familiar pang of jealousy.
Late in the afternoon, when the next workers came to take over their shift, the two friends sat at a back table of the cafe eating risotto ai funghi and drinking the remaining half bottle of Bardolino left by a party of diners. The mask of Roberto now removed and the vision of agony and frustration revealing themselves. As Lauro ate his lunch, Roberto sat writing on the back of his invoice pad, lost in a world of his own.
“What are you doing, amigo?” Lauro tapped his friends hand with his used fork as he chewed on a mouthful of food.
He watched as Roberto signed off from his writing with his name. A big curving ‘R’ with the rest of the letters rounded and clinging to their line. Even that was handsome, thought Lauro. Even the way his name looked on a piece of cafeteria paper.
“It’s a note, to Marietta.” Roberto stared at at him, holding the folded paper forward as he continued. “I want you to go to her house, tonight, tell her to meet me at 7pm. Beg her. I’m going to see Hugo and see if I can talk the stupid, old guy out of the wedding.” He pushed the note under Lauros dish and stood up.
Lauro placed his fork down, steadily. “This is a mistake, amigo. Think about it. You can’t stop this. “Per Carita, you lost this one. Be done.”
“Please. Just do it.” Roberto scraped his chair back under the table and left.
It was already just after 6 pm when Roberto reached Hugo’s home. He’d walked rather than catch the water taxi as he’d needed the time to calm down and collect his thoughts. Role play the scenario in his head and think about what he was going to say. As soon as he had seen the house, the rage had flared up again. It was a modest but pretty looking place and where his love would be living tomorrow as a kept woman.
Hugo was in the kitchen preparing a light supper after his long day at work. It had been a good day though, a day where all his work colleagues had been in high spirits about his wedding tomorrow. They’d sat and drank the vineyard wine at lunchtime and tried to get him drunk but he’d only had one glass. He wanted to feel perfect tomorrow and remember every detail. This was going to be the most wonderful day of his life. Enzio, his father-in-law to be had handed over 2,000 euros before he’d left for home. A small gift to take his daughter on honeymoon somewhere. As he placed the flowers he’d bought for his brides arrival tomorrow, in a vase on the kitchen table, he imagined being away somewhere with Marietta and exploring everything about her.
He heard a loud knock at his back door just as his pasta needed draining. He poured it quickly into a colander and went to answer, expecting his neighbour with his wedding suit.
Roberto stared at Hugo as he opened the door, wondering how Marietta would be able to look at this face everyday for the rest of her life. How would she be able to sleep with this old man. It repulsed him.
“ We need to talk.” Roberto tried to make the words sound as even as he could. He clenched his fists tightly in his pocket as he waited for Hugo to respond.
“We have nothing to speak about. Please leave.” Hugo responded calmly, bracing the doorway.
Roberto had never hated anyone so much in his life at that moment. He raged forward, pushing Hugo hard in the chest and breaking his stance. Hugo stumbled back, crashing into the farmhouse table behind him. Roberto seized his opportunity, grabbing his shirt collar and pinning him to the table.
“You marry her and I swear that I will kill you.” He spat. “You don’t touch her, you don’t go near her, she is mine.”
Hugo desperately tried to free himself, punching the sides of Roberto’s torso with his free hands. “You are a crazy fool. She chose to marry me. It is I who will give her a life not you. You are a regazzo inutile, you can do nothing for such a fine girl.”
Although older and more controlled, Hugo’s attempts to break free from Roberto were futile. The boy was lithe and fit and fuelled with a raging temper. Roberto lifted Hugo like a rag doll and slammed him back into the table with such force that the panels split in two and crashed to the floor with Hugo on top, knocked out cold between the old, splintered wood and broken roses. Roberto wanted to break the mans face and not stop until he was pummeled into nothing but the sight of him lying there, like a discarded marionette made him realise the trouble he was already in. He stood, motionless over the body, breathing hard and trying to gain control of his thoughts and the shaking in his legs from the surge of adrenalin. He glanced around him. Maybe someone had heard the commotion as the back door was still open where he’d forced his way in. He noticed the kitchen clock above it, 6.37pm. Merda! The meet with Marietta was at 7pm and he was cutting it mighty fine. He had to get through to her, he had to. Roberto turned from his nemesis and ran out of the house towards his love.
Lauro stood outside looking up at Marietta's window. The shutter doors were closed tight. Damn, he was hoping to attract her attention from there. He didn’t want to knock on the door and be greeted by Enzio. Her Father didn’t like him either. Not because he’d ever done anything wrong to the old man but because he was Roberto’s friend and guilty by association. As he stood, wondering how the hell he was going to get this stupid note to the virgin princess, he saw Isabella, Marietta’s friend, approaching the side door down the tiny Venetian street. He ran forward to attract her attention before she disappeared inside.
“Isabella! Isabella!” Lauro steadied himself and grabbed her shoulder. “Please, can you give this to Marietta. It’s from Roberto and he wants to meet her. Tonight.” He held the letter out for her to take. Isabella stared at it for a moment. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. She was her best friend; her bridesmaid for tomorrow. Maybe she should just leave it but she knew Marietta well. Her true heart was not with Hugo but with Roberto. This was possibly the last chance for her to either come to her senses or remain on the road she had chosen. Isabella snatched the letter from Lauro’s fingers. “I’ll see she gets it.”
Lauro watched as Isabella shut the door behind her. Should he wait? He checked the time. It was 6.38 pm and Roberto would be coming in 20 minutes. He hoped his friend hadn’t lost his temper at Hugo’s. Lauro knew this was a stupid idea and as much as he felt for his friend he was also secretly pleased that Roberto hadn’t got what he’d wanted. It made a nice change. Maybe it would knock him down a peg or two or make some of the other girls see him differently. He walked a few yards down and stood at the corner of a short alleyway with a dead end. He’d stay a few minutes just to be sure before he left. He leaned back against the wall and pulled the hip flask from his pocket. One more slug of cognac left. He knocked it back and felt the flush of fire as the liquid coated his throat. He saw the door open slowly. Marietta, in a thin white slip, bare footed, her long raven hair waving down to her waist. Lauro watched as she gently and carefully shut the door so her Father wouldn’t notice. So, she was coming out to meet Roberto. He didn’t think she would, not at this late stage. That guy seemed to get everything he wanted. Marietta stood still in the street, looking around for signs of Roberto in the dark night that was lit by one yellowing light. It made her look all the more beautiful. Like an angel. She tiptoed further down, nearing where he stood, in the shadows. The silky shift slip following her delicious contours as she moved. She reminded him of a frightened deer; lost and confused but somehow aware of unknown danger lurking nearby. It made him think. Imagine. Her beauty was so perfect it almost begged to be flawed.
As Marietta reached the corner Lauro pulled her by the arm and covered her mouth.
He walked behind her, keeping one arm behind her back and his other over her face until they reached the end of the short alley. The feel of her sashaying body as he held it close only heightened his need. He pressed her against the old wall and nuzzled his face into her hair. She smelt like spring flowers. Delicate and fragile. Mesmerising. “Shhhh... He whispered. “One move, one noise and I’ll cut you.” She whimpered and trembled, frightened but obedient. He removed the hand from her mouth slowly to test her. Just the occasional, gentle sob escaped as she forced herself to hold them in. To do as she was told like she always did. He allowed that hand to drop to the top of her thighs and feel its way under the silk to the soft, untouched warmth that had been barred from all men. Even from Roberto.
Roberto was running hard. Using the built up passion and anger inside him as a fuel to get to Marietta. He should have taken the vaporetto to be quicker but the queue of tourists, who couldn’t seem to walk around Venice, had been too long. He didn’t want to be near people. The time told him that he was already 3 minutes late. If he missed her he’d never forgive himself. As he reached the street where he’d watched her, brushing her hair in the window, he saw the flashing lights on the two cars of the carabinieri. Roberto stopped as he saw the gathering of people. Faces he recognised. Marietta’s crazy Father, shouting something in the street. He walked forward, quickly, not taking his eyes from the scene but unable to reach it before he was grabbed by the two officers and forced against the wall. His hands cuffed behind him as one of them pulled his head back roughly by his hair and said, “Roberto Rosellini. You are under arrest for the assault on Hugo Savelli and for the rape of Marietta Agosta.”
Labels: atozchallenge, betrayal, doors, love, marriage, Roberto, Venice