Saturday, April 2, 2011

U.M Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fourteen

I called Steve's sister, Denise, at 2:00 in the morning, hoping she was up, getting herself ready for whatever Easter event she had arranged. Denise was never a church-goer, but when the boys were little she made sure they knew about Easter and Christmas, the two major events related to Christ’s life.  Funny, I thought, that’s the way we brought up Ryan too, semi-atheist, semi-Buddhist, half-christian.
“Are you still in Venice?” She asked, still covered up in sleepy wrinkles.
“Yes, and still no sign of Steve.”
“ How long has it been?”
“Over twenty-four hours. The police kept me for hours talking about all the people we met, the places we stopped at, every detail. I’m worried now.”
“ Is there anything I can do?”
“Yeah. Call Ryan for me. His cell phone is not working and they are on spring break and nobody is answering the dorm’s phone. Call him and wish him Happy Easter for me. Go ahead and tell him that we are extending the trip by a few days, not that he would even pay attention to our whereabouts.”
“ I called him. He’s gone camping.” 
“I have to find a way to get back home, or I’ll  lose my teaching job.” I told her.
“That’s the least of your problems. How about your credit card? Your money?”
“The hotel is paid till tomorrow, no, today. I need to get a replacement card for my other expenses.”
“ If  Steve isn’t back, call your card company for new cards. For heaven sake, Silvia, this is not the end of the world. These things happen all the time.”
 I knew that, and I kept telling myself  things were going to be fine.
After that call, I fell asleep, a deep sleep, lulled by the idea that family would come back together again, that Denise had managed to be the person least likely to be depended on, and here she was taking care of me.  I slept for hours, until the front desk called to tell me I had a visitor waiting for me.
Marianna was picking me up to spend Easter Day with her family. 
A vision in pink, Marianna was waiting at the hotel bar.  We drank our coffee and ate our cornetto before a decision was reached. She convinced me to check out of the hotel and wait for Steve at her place. 
"I'm not sure."
"The police will communicate with Sergio from now on, and he knows how to get us."
"We need to get back to our teaching job and..."
"In a few days all this will be behind you. Don't fret. What does Steve teach ?” She inquired.
“History and world religions, a subject  he studied after he returned from the Peace Corps in Morocco.”
“We still keep in touch with friends in Morocco. We were  meeting them in Rome. Steve had their letter in his money belt.”
“Sergio should know about this.” Marianna looked concerned.
“What difference does it make?” I said nervously, now into a new wave of conjectures, “Marianna, this is crazy. How can anyone in their right mind think a teacher like Steve would be suspected of anything.  We break our backs every year to educate a whole bunch of immigrant children, make them appreciate the history and the principles this country stands for.  Everything is  gone mad.”
“Right now, everybody is suspicious of everybody else. You can talk to Sergio, get  advice during Easter dinner.  Then, you can decide. I do wish you could spend some time in Lucania. You made this long trip, and you are missing the best part.”
“Thank you, Marianna.  Thank you.  I’m most grateful.”

The conversation with Denise returned to haunt me.
            “What do you mean, they suspect him ? It’s a joke, right?”
“Denise, this is scary! ”
“You are blowing this out of proportion.  What about these people in Italy?  How do you know they’re on the level.  Maybe they’re planning to blackmail him, ask for ransom.  Did you think about that?”
“No I called them.   I’m waiting for the embassy, according to the police.  I should be o.k to travel back as soon as this is settled. 
“What happened to your  passport?”
“The police is holding on to it. Right now I am not even sure what’s going on. They are investigating us. They asked if we contacted anybody else.  Like the friends from  Morocco. You know the Sadish.”
“What the heck! ”
“The police is following up on everything and everybody, like the German couple we were with last time I was with Steve.”
“A couple  on the tour.  I could be shipped out to  Guantanamo.”
“You are kidding? I say get back before Ryan starts to panic. ”
“Tell Ryan to call me from a land line, not his cell. But not yet.  I will tell you when and where in a couple of days. We might be traveling to my hometown and wait there for police and embassy information.   I’ll take an unpaid leave if I am stuck here. My mother left me a house here.  Maybe this is a sign.”
I wondered if I put Denise and Ryan  in jeopardy with my calls.
I wondered who was complicating my life, and who I could  trust from now on.

Mariann drove  to Chioggia, south of Venice, to an isolated villa that housed her nephew and his family, and his in-laws and guests from nearby towns.  I was one of fifteen-twenty guests. Everyone seemed to know my situation, and reassured me that I was in good hands with Sergio’s attention to my case. At six in the afternoon, we said goodbye to Marianna’s family, and drove down to Lucania. The ride down the Italian expressway from Venice to Lucania was fast and efficient.  Marianna drove at top speed the entire time, with few stops and few problems. She acted as though the speed and the distance did not bother her at all.
We arrived  late.  A couple met us at the door, under a star lit sky and a rising moon.


  1. I'm always disappointed when I get to the end...I want more!

  2. Eva, it's nowhere near the end. Steve is still missing and Silvia has nothing under control.
    There are so many things to discover, yet.
    Thanks for following this couple's troubles.

  3. but what happened from the last chapter about the letters???? Rosaria, I think you are trying to drive me mad :)

  4. Normal, Silvia will be revealing more info from the letters. All in good time.
    BTW, I love your feedback.

  5. on and on - here i go -