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Chapter One – The Genovese Connection

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Chapter One – The Genovese Connection

1973 – Somewhere in France

I stole a weary glance at my 17-year-old classmate Ronald, trying to hitch a ride on the hottest day that summer, so far.

Having started our trip in Holland two days earlier, our progress on the ‘Autoroute du Soleil,’ the principal freeway between Paris and the French Riviera, had virtually grinded to a halt. Nobody seemed willing to give us a ride; most drivers weary from the dense traffic and suffocating heat. The hour was getting late, but a bright full moon transformed the night into a surrealistic kind of movie-scene.

My attention was drawn to a car in the distance, stopping briefly to drop off a passenger, and I watched the silhouette of a young woman disappear into the moon-cast shadow of a Chestnut tree, only to reappear moments later, as she stepped into the moonlight. Intrigued by her exotic appearance, I noticed she was evaluating us cheekily as she approached us wearing a radiant smile.

The-Genovese-Connection-by-Angelica-Pastorelli300x450“Ciao, I’m Catharina. Could you guys keep me company while I figure out how to get to Italy from here? I’m a bit squeamish alone at night.”

Her piercing gaze showed no sign of inhibition, as she engaged us in conversation in a quite candid manner. An exchange of introductory small-talk followed during which I forced myself to say something coherent, feeling inexplicably tense but exultant at the same time. Ronald, essentially an introverted person, rolled up his sleeves in a feeble attempt to maintain his composure.

Minutes later, seated on the grass of the meadow bordering the road, Catharina was asking me direct and personal questions that I found myself incapable of dodging. A weird sense of being complete strangers and best friends at the same time added to the hallucinatory quality of our first encounter.

Fidgeting with his transistor-radio, as if trying to find a news channel, Ronald made himself scarce, as if he instinctively appreciated our need for female privacy. Looking alienated, he wandered off, holding the radio to his ear. I felt I should have called out and ask him to come back – convince him there was no reason he should feel excluded, but for some reason I suppressed that impulse. Catharina’s mesmerizing presence restrained me and lulled me into a state of indifference regarding his emotions.

As a consequence, our dialogue became even more transcendent and private. When an owl in a nearby tree cried its oohoo into the night, in a reflex my gaze was drawn to its sound, but when I turned my attention back to Catharina, I could have sworn she had moved in closer…

She told me she was from Catania, Sicily, but currently lived with her mother and small brother in the port city of Genoa, on the Ligurian Sea.

Suddenly she looked at me with a crooked smile. “Do you like boys?”

Feverishly trying to articulate an encompassing answer, I felt I was starting to blush, but managed to blurt out in my defense: “Sure I do, what’s wrong with that?”

Her gaze became unfocused as she stared into the far distance. “Just asking… so you and Ronald…”

Wondering why her question made me feel uneasy, I felt a pressing need to finish her sentence before she would.

“… Are just good school-friends! – He’s a wonderful person and the best travel companion I could wish for!”

All of a sudden she seemed to have lost all interest in me formulating a defense, and I waited for what seemed like forever for her to make a final assessment. She quietly reclined and rested on her elbows.

“I see… Well, it doesn’t concern me anyhow…”

Feeling inexplicably cornered, I was hoping intensely she wouldn’t be able to sense my apprehension. Then something re-activated my vocal chords, and I looked her in the eye.

“No… it really does not concern you.”

Looking relaxed and serene, Catharina returned my gaze.

“Good, I’m glad we’ve got that covered. Now tell me… do you like girls?”

Obviously, I should have seen this question coming as a logical sequel, still nothing could have prepared me for it.

“I, eh, I’m not sure what you mean.”

“Of course, you do, dear Angelica.”

She leaned over to me while stealing a glance at Ronald in the distance.

“You are the reason I’m still here, and you just sent your friend off for a stroll.”

Feebly attempting to voice an objection, I never managed to speak my peace. We just glared at one another in silence. Finally, Catharina took a deep breath.

“I realize this makes you uncomfortable. It shouldn’t, you know; I can pick out a girl’s girl a mile away.”

My heart skipped a beat when she softly put her hand on my knee.

“I’m not a girl’s girl!”

 

Out of earshot, rolled up in his sleeping bag, Ronald was still soundly asleep when the first-bird twitter made me aware of the breaking of dawn. Although mentally recharged from our extensive conversations, I felt hung over from passing a sleepless night, and unable to rid myself completely of a gloomy feeling that an indefinite tragedy was in the making. Catharina, on the other hand, looked fresh as a rose petal, as if she just had her eight-hour beauty sleep.

Having woken Ronald, and contemplating the promise of another scorcher of a day, we had breakfast in the open air with bread and cheese from a nearby shop. Catharina’s behavior towards Ronald was civil, with only a hint of indifference. Still she invited us both to come with her to Genoa, with the promise of a place to stay in her mother’s apartment. Ronald looked uneasy about this suggestion, and tried to express various objections, but as we hadn’t settled upon a final destination for our trip beforehand, he sulkily agreed to come along.

We were munching our sandwiches in silence, when Catharina suddenly got up, and walked in her hip-swaying manner over to a telephone booth in the distance. She spent at least ten minutes in what seemed to be an animated conversation; her gesticulations confirming her origins. Upon her return she looked somewhat subdued, and didn’t speak while we were packing our stuff, getting ready for another day of travel.

A black Mercedes with a German license plate stopped with screeching brakes at Catharina’s first thumb-sign. The seemingly sympathetic middle-aged driver helped us put our bags in the trunk, and away we sped southwards, the sun as our beacon.

The German gentleman dropped us off in picturesque Montreux, on the Swiss Riviera. Saying goodbye, and thanking him for the ride, I was completely surprised when he pressed a 20 D-Mark note in my hand. He explained he had a daughter my age that ran away from home, and desperately wished someone would do her the same favor one day.

Things are looking up; I thought as we used the D-Marks to buy enough provisions to last us for days. Carrying our bags to the nearest highway, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by a swarm of enormous bumblebees that appeared to come out of holes in the ground. They didn’t sting or attack us, but as there were so many of them, in a reflex, we started to run for safety. Ronald used a plastic plate he brought along as a bat to keep them at bay. Out of breath we reached a place in the shadow, while Ronald, watching over us, bashed the last giant bees with his plate.

Relieved and feeling safe again, we teased one another apprehensively about our exaggerated reaction, and Catharina, standing behind me, whispered in my ear: “That was fun, wasn’t it?”
With a jolt, I realized she had touched my earlobe with her lips…

 

Our next three rides brought us all the way to Genoa’s city limits, from where we took the subway to Catharina’s home. The concierge, at the end of the entrance corridor of the apartment building, obviously knew Catharina well. She limped out of her booth to greet her with a grating voice and a smile that revealed a single tooth, and then pressed the button for the elevator. Packed together like sardines in the small cabin, the three of us were hauled noisily upwards to the fifth floor, where it came to a halt with a groan and a loud click.

Catharina’s mother, a small, gentle woman wearing an apron, was standing in the doorway. To my surprise she embraced us jovially as if we were family, and ushered us into her apartment where the air was pregnant with the scent of fresh Basil and Garlic. Following her inside, I noticed a rusty enamel plaque next to the door featuring a faded number 5*. Within minutes, we were seated around the kitchen table, relishing a most tantalizing ‘Spaghetti Al Pesto Alla Genovese.’

(continued in: Chapter Two – Latin Dreams)

Spaghetti Al Pesto Alla Genovese

Chapter One   The Genovese Connection   5

(continued in: Chapter Two – Latin Dreams)

Chapter One – The Genovese Connection was last modified: July 12th, 2014 by Angie

27 Responses to "Chapter One – The Genovese Connection"

  1. Paula Shene  Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 22:38

    can’t wait for the next installment!

  2. B.R. Stateham
    B.r. Stateham  Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 23:42

    Angie, this is a very good intro to a book that possibly gets darker and darker and perhaps . . .. spookier? The only thing I’d do is purely mechanical. I’d separate the conversations so as not to be so confusing–unless this style is European thing–in which case, disregard. Finding someone to edit is a good idea. It’s edited decently already–but one needs a different pair of eyes trained in that task to do a really good job.

    Finish it. Shop it around. Join the rest of us starving writers. Maybe you’ll be the lucky one and actually get a big contract to sign.

  3. B.R. Stateham
    B.r. Stateham  Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 23:43

    Oh, one other thing. The title–it sounds like a Robert Ludlum book. You might want to play with that some.

  4. Bart van Ouwerkerk  Monday, September 27, 2010 at 12:42

    Bravo, Angie!
    You finally started to publish your own stuff.

  5. Carla Rosselini  Monday, September 27, 2010 at 13:42

    This is good material, Angie. I’d love to read more because you pull the reader into your creation.
    Carla

  6. Kathy Ann Barney
    Kathy A. Barney  Monday, September 27, 2010 at 17:19

    Certainly I can’t wait for the next chapter to unfold. Well written and intriguing def! The story had me at “1973 – somewhere in France”.

  7. Cynthia Emily Griggs - Niswonger
    Cynthia Emily Griggs - Niswonger  Monday, September 27, 2010 at 18:03

    Angie,
    You layer up your words to create fantastic pictures! I like the earthy touchable quality. I also adore the tie in with the number five and meaning along with the recipe. I agree with whoever suggested an editor. But, the shortest answer to your original question is yes I’d be interested to see how this story unfolds. Nicely done.
    ~Cynthia~

  8. Angie  Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 9:26

    Thank you all for your heartfelt support!

  9. Epic Dave  Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 19:53

    Really like this story, go on please. Cheers!

  10. Yolanda X  Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 3:43

    Dear Angie, thank you for telling this wonderful tale. I wonder where the semi- ends and the autobiography starts. I imagine you’ll keep us guessing all the way. I can dream away with this.

  11. Joan Candy  Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 20:21

    This story reads so easy and promises quite a lot!
    I wonder if you can keep us interested, as you obviously embarked upon an ambitious voyage, my friend. I’ll be watching you closely – best wishes!

  12. Daphne Shapiro  Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 20:42

    This is good, Angie. Don’t let us wait too long for the sequel, can’t stand that, lol.

  13. Sylvia Keppler  Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 4:49

    You most certainly know how to tell a tale. Had me from the first sentence. Where can this lead?
    I’ll be watching the next episode, surely!
    Syl

  14. Angie  Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 8:43

    Tomorrow (Friday) the next installment will be live

  15. Joan Candy  Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 18:28

    I want the final version.
    Is this published yet? Sure hope so!
    JC

  16. andrea anderson  Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 9:55

    “The air inside was pregnant.” Wow….I never heard or seen that word used in that way. But I guess you learn something everyday. Great Job! You left me wanting more.

  17. Roger Notstein  Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 9:41

    Many thanks for the story. I love the way you tell it. Makes me want to read more. I will start on chapter two now. Keep it up!

  18. Mr.J
    Brandon Jones  Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 10:13

    Brilliant.

    • Angie  Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 16:40

      Ohhh, what a surprise!
      You actually read the first chapter of my semi-autobiographical romantic thriller.
      I’m so pleased with your all encompassing remark :)
      Angie

  19. Nancy Duci Denofio  Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 18:16

    Wow! Angie I traveled with you, and I could feel a spirit with you – who told you many things she believed you should know. I believe in spirits, my Father’s side from Sicily and the Irish side from my Mother both did, besides all the research and real things which happened to me I would not call this a dream but awakening. Healing, reasons for travel, why people wear a gold cross from the inside of their clothing to the outside, and much more… but since this is about your story – it is a treasure of both aggressive behavior, travel #5, and the excitement of both a haunting by the unknown yet wise enough to listen with enough energy at the time to travel the world. I am convinced that when someone leaves this earth, they return for reason we will know one day, or even the same day. Excellent work, and like others I can’t wait for more. Hugs, Nancy

  20. Nancy Duci Denofio  Friday, March 22, 2013 at 16:43

    This is what drew me to you, and your world, I knew some where in space and time we must have crossed familiar paths. A wonderful piece of work, and a wonde3rful writer who gives to all with every breath she takes. I thank you. Nancy

  21. Daphne Shapiro  Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 12:43

    I started from the beginning, as it was too long ago I read this. Also because you told me you re-edited several parts. It’s even better now. Thanks!

  22. Robert Politz  Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 20:28

    I read this a while back and today, I read it again along with all the comments. Although it’s always good to get an editor’s opinion and guidance, I see a definite style here. And it’s a good one that should not be broken because it works. Bottom line…, I like it very much.

    Adding the recipe and the *5 is a great touch but watch the fonts in your edits or the noisy elevator might complain. {;p)

    Kudos Angie. You are on to something worthwhile here.

  23. Bartemans  Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 18:30

    I agree, Robert,
    She should stick with this format, as I think it reads like a movie script with all it’s potential.

  24. Sissy Pantelis
    Sissy Pantelis  Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 9:15

    Angie, I am so happy to read something by you and I am so happy to find out how well-written and attractive this story is! I am looking forward to reading the rest of the story.

  25. Angie  Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 10:27

    Thank you, Sissy,

    It’s so nice of you to read my story.
    If you want to read on, there is a link to the next chapter at the bottom of each chapter. Right now there are eight chapters online :D

  26. Sissy Pantelis
    Sissy Pantelis  Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 13:19

    Angie, be sure that I will read all of them!! I am already busy and I enjoy what I have read A LOT.
    I am looking forward to reading more!!! :D

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