“Shh. Not so loud. Somebody might hear us…What are these, let’s see, these six short boards on the wall, painted the same beige like the rest of the wall. But they’re different… kind of like the rungs of a ladder but without the sides... which they don’t need when they are nailed to the wall. Sergio, maybe there’s some kind of attic up there.”
“No, my gorgeous Gloria, the attic is above the main part of the villa, not this tower. Besides, if there was something, there would be a door or hatch. And there isn’t any.”
“But maybe there was. Look, even though it’s painted over, there’s a rectangular indentation in the ceiling.”
“Rectangular indentation? If you want me to understand your English, cousin Gloria, don’t use such big… Okay, I see what you mean. What now?”
“Now that you know what a rectangular indentation is, how about if you take the point of, um, my barrette here and see if you can poke through the indentation.”
“I can’t reach.”
“You mean my Super Sergio is not able to do it?”
“Okay give me your hair thing. But it’s gonna be tricky. With those boards on the wall just a few centimeters wide, I’ll only be able to put the sides of my feet on them. Plus they’ll be hard to hold on to.”
“I’m sure you can do it. Such a great soccer... I mean great football player, great athlete that you are.”
“Ah, well there you are correct… And look, correct about being able to poke through the ceiling. I’ll see if I can make a cut all the way around.”
“I think you did it, Sergie. See if you can push it open.”
“I can’t. I think it actually moved a little, but standing on these skinny rungs, I
can hardly push up.”
“How about if you put one foot on my shoulder? That will give you better leverage.”
“I don’t want to step on your shoulder. I’m afraid I might hurt you.”
“I’m stronger than you think, Sergie. Don’t forget, you aren’t the only athlete here.”
“Okay, but if I’m too heavy tell me… Wow, it worked! I’m going up.”
“I’m right behind you.”
“You were right, Gloria. A little attic space… with four little, dirty windows. Look, here’s a piece of burlap. I’ll wipe the dust off them. See there, now you can see the sinking island of Venice in all her glory, seven kilometers across the bay.”
“Do the other side too, so we can see the Adriatic.”
“Wait. I think I just heard the twins. Quick, let’s close the hatch.”
_ _ _
“I didn’t hear anything, girls,” Lucia declared. “Are you sure you heard somebody?”
“We thought we heard your brother,” Ramona Replied.
“And that door down there to the stairs was open,” added Roberta.
“Well there is nobody here. But come on, we’ll go see if we can find out where Sergio and your big sister are.”
_ _ _
“They’re not going to find us. Nobody can find us. Sweet cousin Gloria, what a great secret place you discovered for us. Look, here’s an old calendar. And it’s from… Wow! It says August, 1905.”
“Gee, that’s over one hundred years ago. Can you believe it?”
“What if we are… Actually, I’ll bet we really are the only ones to be up here in at least the last one hundred years.”
“I guess that would mean this old mattress is at least that old too.”
“Let’s turn it over, Gloria. The other side shouldn’t be so dusty.”
“You’re right. Now come sit down beside me. I want to ask you something.”
“Oh no, am I in trouble? What is it, my sweet cousin?”
“There, you did it again. Is that all I am to you, Sergie, just your sweet cousin?”
“No. Of course not. You know you’re much more than that. More than just sweet to me.”
“Well, you know I feel so much for you. I think about you a lot, even when I try not to. Gloria, you know. I know you know. How I love you is too strong. Too strong a love for loving a cousin.”
“So what if am your cousin?”
“Some of the feelings I have for you are not the type you are supposed to have for a cousin.”
“Why not? In Italy you can marry cousins. They do it a lot in Sicily. I Googled it.”
“Really? Are you sure?”
“Yes, really. So come on, I would like a kiss, my sweet and dearest Sergio, to prove I am more to you than just any cousin... Hey, a kiss on the cheek doesn’t prove anything, Big Chicken. What we need is a real kiss on the lips, like this...”
“Oh, now you did it. Now I’m not going to be able to sleep at all tonight.”
“What did I do, Sergie? Whatever I did, you did to me too.”
“Not exactly. But, um, look at this. Look at this really, really, old chest. Wow, the wood is so old, dried out and shrunk that now it has cracks down the sides. Let’s see what’s in it... Oh, too bad. Empty.”
“Great. Some old wooden thing is more interesting to you than me. But wait a minute. Through the cracks you can see where the bottom goes across, then about six inches below that there’s another bottom. The second one must be the real bottom. So there has to be some kind of hidden compartment.”
“Maybe there’s a treasure. A million Euro. Gloria, we could be rich!”
“Turn it over, Sergie… See, the bottom is cut in half. It looks like one half can slide beneath the other… And it does.”
“Oh, it’s just books. Where’s my million Euro?Or I guess back then, million lire.”
“But maybe not just any books. Like, why were they hidden up here like that?”
“Yeah, you’re right. Gloria, maybe there’s a treasure map or something like that in one.”
“Maybe. Let’s check out the titles and see what they’re about.”
“You know what. You’re doing it again. I can’t think with your chest against my back like that. And I’m afraid to move.”
“Well I’m not.”
“Okay, Big Baby. You’re no fun. What are the titles?”
“I don’t think they have titles. Just numbers. This one says 1600 - 1604.”
“Let me see. Look, those are years. The first page says: ‘Day one of the year 1600: a new century and year that shall, like all hitherto, unfold in accord with destiny’s capricious and oft cruel decree.’Wow, the year 1600! That’s four hundred and sixteen years ago. And here we thought that calendar was so old. I wonder why they - or at least this one - is English, not Italian. That’s weird. How far back do they go, Sergie?”
“This one says 1597 - 1599, this one 1605 - 1611, and the fourth says 1593 through 1596. So 1593 is the earliest.”
“Let’s see how it begins in 1593... ‘Henceforth, I, Christopher Marlowe, shall endeavor to maintain this log of each day’s uncertain events. For Verily, from this 29th day of May, 1593, tumult shall follow and naught will remain of the life I have known. Anon this motherland I’ll tread no more. I shall be dispatched. But not in the manner feigned. Alas, on the morrow I bid bittersweet England adieu, ne’r hither to return.’”
“What is that language? I can’t tell what he’s saying?”
“It must be old English: the way they talked back in 1593.”
“But you American cousins are supposed to be perfecting our new English, so when we visit my gorgeous kissing cousin next summer no one can tell we are not real Yankees. I can’t understand this old English. Do you understand it? Can you tell what this Christopher Marlowe guy is saying?”
“Probably, but you just said we’re kissing cousins, so you’ve go to prove it.”
“Okay. But first let’s see if we can find out what this is about.”
“All right. But don’t forget the kissing thing. So obviously Christopher Marlowe is this guy who is beginning a log, a journal or diary. He says it’s because the future is uncertain, and there will be tumult, which I think means like everything getting tumbled upside down. So he wants to keep a record of what happens. Then he says he won’t walk in his homeland any more because he is being dispatched, which means sent away… But I don’t know what he means by saying ‘not in the manner feigned.’ Anyway, he is being sent away and will never return to England again.”
“Wow, that’s interesting, don’t you think? Let’s read some more. What I mean is, how about if you read the old English then kind of translate it to new English for me, if you can. Do you think you can translate from the old to the new, my Sweet Cannoli?”
“I guess, more or less. But it might be slow and difficult and take a lot of my brain power. And I didn’t get my kiss yet.”
“All right. Just one kiss.”
“Okay, first you’ve got to turn towards me and give me a hug.”
“Sorry. Not part of the deal. Too dangerous. I stay on my stomach.”
“You’re so difficult, Sergie. All right, then for now I guess I’ll just have to be satisfied with taking your fuzzy cheeks in my hands like this and giving you just one sweet kiss.”
“I felt that.”
“I Know you felt it. And you liked it, didn’t you?”
“I’m not saying.”
“I know you did, Sergie. And next time, if you aren’t such a chicken, maybe you’ll even let my tongue actually find yours.”
“I’m not promising. We’ll see. But for now let’s see what happens with the Englishman.”
“That sounds like a yes to me. Okay, let’s see why Christopher Marlowe intended to leave Britain for good. Or as he says, ‘ne’r hither to return.’”
‘“The putrid Privy Council is to blame. Though they are to serve and advise the Queen, certainly they should not be privy to Her Highness’s most delicate operations. With the Pope having declared Her Highness illegitimate and Catholics having plotted against her life for disavowing the Pope, naturally espionage needs to be conducted in order to keep a close eye on what the Catholics are up to.
Yes, the writing they found in Kyd’s apartment was by my hand. Indeed I did compose the threatening posters against the protestant refugees, which the Council deems heretical and thus in their eyes deserving torture, and probably execution. But the posters were created as instruments of espionage so I could gain confidence of the Catholic insurgents and be admitted into their circle.
“Gloria, wait a minute. What is this all about? Do you understand it? I pretty much understand the words but I’m not sure what is going on. Like, what is a Privy Council?”
“Well he says it is to serve the Queen. It appears it’s like a court of law that can imprison, torture and even execute people. Then Marlowe says the Catholics had tried to kill the Queen and want her overthrown because she rejects the authority of the Pope. So he says, ‘naturally espionage needs to be conducted.’ Espionage means spying.”
“Okay, so he is a spy and he is spying against the Catholics. Then to be trusted by them and get in good with the Catholics he is spying on, he makes these posters denouncing Protestants, who are aligned with the Queen, right?”
“Yes. And since the posters are inflammatory and against those with the same religious views as the Queen, creating and posting them is a crime that apparently can result in torture and execution. So since the Privy Council doesn’t know or doesn’t believe Marlowe’s actions were in his role as a spy, they intend to put him on trial. Okay, so now let’s see what happens next.”
‘“A half dozen years ago, the story was different when Cambridge University threatened to withhold my Master of Arts degree because it was rumored I intended to study for the Catholic priesthood. The most honorable Sir William Cecil had his ally on the Council, Sir Francis Walsingham, reveal the rumor was a ruse employed to gain trust of the Catholics, thereby convincing the Privy Council to intervene on my behalf. But upon Sir Francis’s unfortunate death in 1590, Sir William Cecil replaced him on the Council with his own son, Sir Robert, expecting the latter’s unquestioned loyalty.
However, Sir William was not aware that his son had learned of the intimate connection from birth between Sir William and myself, and that Sir Robert, his legitimate but small, hunchbacked son, was extremely jealous of myself and my successes. Sir Robert claimed he could not dissuade the other members when the Privy Council deemed my posters too libelous and the threats made against Protestant refugees too serious to go unpunished. But I think even Sir William is now aware that Sir Robert, his illformed dwarf son, was more informed than his father knew, and in consequence intensely desired my demise.’”
“Wait. Gloria, didn’t he just say that earlier the Privy Council did decide in his favor, after they were told the rumors of him being sympathetic to Catholics was a trick to get in good with the Catholics? So I don’t get what changed.”
“Yeah, that’s strange... Oh, but here he says that earlier this Sir William Cecil had an ally on the Privy Council who convinced them Marlowe was actually serving the Queen. But that guy died and Sir William Cecil replaced him with his son, Sir Robert Cecil. So it looks like this William Cecil does know Marlowe is a spy and also has a lot of influence over the Privy Council, since he can appoint members to it.”
“Right, But if this Sir William replaced the guy that died with his own son on the Council, Marlowe shouldn’t be in danger now. So what changed to put Marlowe in such danger now?”
“Good question, Sergie. Marlow says he has been intimately connected to Sir William Cecil since birth, something that Sir William doesn’t think his legitimate son, Sir Robert, who it seems is kind of deformed, knows about. But Marlowe says Sir William Cecil’s son does know about the connection between them, and is very jealous of it.”
“Oh, I think I see what Marlowe is hinting at. He calls Sir William’s son his legitimate son. Why does he add ‘legitimate’ instead of just saying ‘his son?’ And what does Marlowe mean by saying he has had an intimate connection with Sir William since birth? I think Marlowe is saying that he is this Sir William Cecil’s son as well, just not his legitimate son. And even though he isn’t the legitimate son, since the legitimate son is deformed and not talented like Marlowe, the legitimate one, Sir Robert Cecil, is jealous of Marlowe and wants him out of the way.”
“Nice work, Sergie. I think you figured it out. I wonder how Marlowe avoids prison, that is if he does.”
“Then please continue, G G.”
“G G better not be short for Gabby Gloria.”
“Of course not, Goofy. It stands for Gorgeous Gloria.”
“Or apparently Goofy Gloria. But okay. Now don’t interrupt.”
‘“I admit (due tarrying at the tavern before addressing the task) I may have exercised little restraint denouncing the Protestants. But how else was I to gain trust of the Catholic insurgents plotting against the Queen? Fortunately, Sir William has arranged for my apparent demise in a manner that will satisfy the Privy Council and the public.
And fortunately, as her generous compensation attests, Her Majesty has been most appreciative of my watchful eyes and alert ears ever since I kept tabs on the young Arabella and plans percolating for her to usurp the throne. Fortunately too, in perfect irony, my fickle pen that instigated this great misfortune is nevertheless to be my ransom for life ongoing. And indeed a life that shall go on in good form. For in her good taste, the Queen is most appreciative of the excellent plays my pen has produced and is very desirous of having the pleasure of witnessing more such fine works. Therefore she will covertly remain my indulgent patron so long as my pen continues bringing forth such well crafted and most pleasing dramas, under a nom de plume naturally. And in some distant realm not yet revealed. For after tomorrow this Christopher Marlowe will be but an apparition.
But as for today, my nose informs me that the widow Bull is now preparing a fine meal. So it’s time for a pint or two to whet the appetite.’”
“Wow, this is amazing, Gloria. What a story. Do you think it’s actually true?”
“It seems to be. I think these really must be this Christopher Marlowe’s diaries. And it looks like they might be very juicy ones too.”
“Come on, read some more. Let’s find out what happens.”
“Okay. But this isn’t easy. I have to focus, and the back of my neck feels stiff and tense. I think it needs some massaging…. That’s good, and a little lower between my shoulder blades too... Now, where were we?”
“‘May 30th, 1593
Yonder rooster heralds what is to be a most unusual and unsettling day. By midday Robbie Foley, Nick Skeres and Ingram Frizer, my mates in the espionage game, shall have arrived, the latter two seated upon a one horse cart. Then the widow Bull (a cousin of Sir William who has tight lips when paid well for her fine home temporarily becoming a private inn for the Queen’s business) will surely serve a delicious meal and ample ale.
In accord with Sir William’s plan, in the afternoon Robbie and Nick will take the cart but a league from here, where yesterday evening the Queen’s Coroner, Mr. Danby, was to oversee the hanging of an unfortunate soul, just one year my senior, convicted for the same crime of which I am accused. The difference of course being that in my case the crime was a deception in the Queen’s service. I am both grateful and in some discomfort about the fellow’s execution, even though I understand he received a reprieve of a day or so in the interest of having a fresh corpse to represent me. The crucial factor is that yesterday’s hanging allows Nick and Ingram to today retrieve the corpse that tomorrow is to be declared the deceased me.
While they are off on their little errand, Ingram will provide me with various documents and and other necessities, including I’m told a hastily garnered wardrobe. But most important is my new identity, which I am very curious to learn, as well as in which distant land I am to be deposited.
Now I have no time to waste. I wish to feel England’s dark earth with its age old secrets beneath my feet one last time. I shall stroll down shaded lanes to the nearby Thames, where at the mouth of Deptford Creek a sturdy sloop should be anchored. I wish to assess in light of day the vessel that is this evening to provide my salvation. For when I am put aboard I expect my vision, beyond that which the shroud of darkness exacts, may be impaired. Fortunately, the current, the outgoing tide and this brisk northwest wind should quickly transport us beyond the Thames and the shores of Margate, where we’ll turn starboard, following the Channel southwest to the vast Atlantic.’”
“Look, he missed a day. The next date is June first. Let’s see what happened. Don’t stop reading.”
“Yes master. And don’t forget about my back… a little lower. That’s nice.”
‘“June 01, 1593
Yes, I can attest: a sturdy sloop indeed is The Halcyon. When consciousness finally revisited me yesterday afternoon (having departed shortly after I vomited most profusely on the cart-ride to the dinghy awaiting me at the mouth of Deptford Creek), I found myself on the floor beside the bunk in a tiny cabin. At first I had no idea what manner of enclosure confined me, as in terror I was slammed from wall to bunk and back again. But soon in that fierce gale the northwest wind had become, the loud, low-pitched whistling of the ropes secured to the mast, the creaking of the hull and violent tossing about from waves crashing down upon us, confirmed Neptune’s approval to proceed was now required. And proceed we did with alacrity, though the mainsail remained furled.
So violent was the storm that I could not take up my pen to record recent events until now, the early dawn of a new month - and new life - with nothing on the horizon in all directions but the now pacific Atlantic.
The day before yesterday, when I was officially murdered, the boys showed me a rowdy good time for my send off, and the widow kindly prepared a near feast of the type of fare that I expect shall become alien to me. Then when it came time for the three to draw straws, Ingram lost. Therefore he would be the one, in the heat of argument, to in our ruse be stabbed by Christopher Marlowe, then respond by killing him, that is to say me, in self defense.
But I could not bring myself to slash Ingram’s cheek as suggested, protesting I was fearful that due to my state of complete intoxication I might do more damage than intended. In truth, I also possessed some small anxiety that if I cut him, perhaps the fiction of him killing me in self-defense might inconveniently become reality. Fortunately Robbie, always quick to step forward, agreed to inflict the wound. And excellent work he did: A substantial gash across Ingram’s left cheek, not very deep but convincing.
Then Ingram with a towel wrapped about his face quickly mounted his horse. And (so he would tell the Queen’s Coroner, Mr. Danby) in great distress rode to confess that he just killed his friend, yet only in self-defense, during a heated argument over the reckoning of the tab.
Of what proceeded next, I can only relate what had been planned for matters I did not witness. Queen’s Coroner Danby, who knew an argument over the payment of the bill actually didn’t occur, and would not have happened since the Queen was being billed for all our expenses at Eleanor Bull’s home, would accompany Ingram to view the corpse. But he would do so in unhurried manner no doubt, I imagine after finishing his pipe and glass of whiskey and ensuring Ingram’s wound was cleansed and bandaged properly. In the meantime, the body that Nick and Ingram yesterday retrieved and hid in the shed would be hacked a few times upon its face by Robbie in order to conceal its identity, then placed on the floor of the dining room. That would allow Danby upon his arrival to certify it is actually my corpse on the floor..
While all that was to transpire, I was being transported by Nick in the cart to the waiting dinghy, where the captain has informed me we bade a rich farewell before I sank comatose to the deck. Soon Nick would have returned to the widow Bull’s home, allowing him and Robbie to testify that Ingram acted in self-defense, when the latter returned with Danby the coroner, thus allowing Ingram to remain free after a perfunctory trial.’”
“Don’t forget you’re supposed to be translating this to modern English.”
“Perfunctory means, like fake or just for show, and it is modern as well as old.”
“I thought that’s what it meant.”
“Shh. Then don’t interrupt. Keep quiet.”
‘“Whether all that did transpire according to the script and Christopher Marlowe (or Christofer Marley if you prefer) is now deemed dead and buried, I cannot say. I may have to await the arrival of a courier seeking my creative gems for Her Majesty’s court, many months from now, to learn whether Sir William’s plan succeeded in full.
On the other hand, yesterday I naturally did learn the new identity of this now phantom with pen in hand. When Ingram briefed me (prior to his short-straw draw and the slashed-cheek that came with it) he informed me that Her Majesty had decided my new name would be John Worthy. And I find it to be a fairly pleasing name.
As to why she chose that surname, well am I not considered a most worthy playwright? As far as the ‘John’ is concerned, my suspicion is it may be a nod to the one known as Elizabeth’s “Saucy Godson,” Sir John Harrington. And if indeed I do surmise there correctly, I must say I am not displeased. For like myself, Sir John is not afraid to shake up the folk-of-frivolous-finery with his writing.
I, now John Worthy Esquire, was also provided documentation substantiating that I am of a wealthy, landed gentry family. There are also several documents confirming my extended family has served the Queen well and enjoy her sincere appreciation. I was also provided a map of Guildford, the town in Surrey where the Worthy family holdings predominate, and information about the nature of the town. Yet, by coincidence, I happen to have already been familiar with the borough, having enjoyed a couple of lively evenings at the Angel Posting House & Livery, a fine tavern and inn.
The cause of my journey southward is put forth in a letter of suggested treatment by (so it claims) an eminent member of the College of Physicians. It states that a careful examination of the astrological forces at play in my chart indicates that a move to a southern clime is the best treatment for the severe depression I suffer. Also noted in it is that my depression is primarily due to a deep, unhealed wound sustained from an agonizingly unrequited love - Indeed a wound that would persist all the more painfully if the neglected John Worthy remained in an area where further encounter with the one having inflicted the wound is likely.
Of Course, Ingram also informed me what my hitherto unknown destination would be, while noting that Sir William said Elizabeth herself had selected it. I shall in exile be ensconced on an island, but certainly not a deserted one. A well appointed apartment in the island city of Venice is to be my abode. I gather Her Majesty anticipates such a stimulating environment will amply fertilize my tender sprouts of creativity. If so, I hope the fertilizing will not be too odiferous. And in that Venetian garden I also hope to find a beautiful... nay, a ravishing rose whose soft tender petals have just recently unfolded fully, and whom finds my presence most appealing.
Of hopes, however, the one most dear at present is that Neptune is in accord with the Queen’s schemes, so will keep the pirates at bay while also refraining from expressing himself in the violent manner with which our sturdy Halcyon was accosted soon after land became but a memory.’”
“This is getting boring. Let’s skip ahead a few months.”
“Boring? Don’t you want to see what happens during the rest of the voyage?”
“Not really. Maybe later. I mean, if he didn’t get to Venice we wouldn’t be reading this. I want to see what happens in your enchanting island-city. How far ahead do you think we should skip?”
“How about to about the middle of July?”
“Okay. Um, here’s July 9th.”
‘“Finally, after just the brief resupply moorings at A Coruña, Gibraltar and Palma, I disembarked for the final time from our trusty Halcyon this morning. Upon docking at the mouth of the Arno River, a coach was employed for the modest ride to the center of Pisa. After so much time on the generally gently somnolent sea, never was the rhythmic pounding of hooves and the jolts of a carriage more welcome. Yet as I contemplate my intended route up the Arno to Florence, over the hills to Bologna, then on to Padua and Venice, I expect there will be times when I sorely miss being gently cradled by the sea.’”
“Nope, still too early. We need to move ahead more.”
“You mean you don’t you want to see what happens along the way and when he stops in Pisa, Florence and Bologna. And in Padua.”
“Actually, what I’d like to see is if he finds, as he says, a ‘ravishing rose whose soft tender petals have just recently unfolded.’”
“What’s so important about a flower, a rose... Oh, he means a different kind of rose, a beautiful rose like you.”
“So am I just a beautiful rose, not somebody’s rose?”
“No, Glorious Gloria, you are not just a beautiful rose. You are my rose, or at least I hope so, oh most beautiful one.”
“You’re smiling. Are you just kidding? If you’re serious, I need a serious kiss. And a real hug.”
“I am serious.”
“....Oh, Sergie. Wow, that was even better than I imagine it when I dream about us together.”
“So you do that too. But now, about right now, well, want to do it again?”
“No... I’m just kidding. But this time take your hand... and put it here.”
“Oh, you are so nice…. and us being together like this is so nice, my… my rose with tender petals for lips. I mean tender lip petals. Well, you know.”
“Sergie, you’re a poet, or almost... Oh, wow! Look, you got hard! I like it like that against me.
“Wait. Wait, Gloria! We’ve got to stop. I go to Confession tomorrow. Now what am I going to do? I’m going to have tell Padre Perrotti that I was making out, and with my cousin. And that I got, you know, aroused.”
“Confession? You go to Confession?”
“Of Course. Don’t you?:
“Don’t be ridiculous. You think I’m gonna tell some guy about stuff that is none of his business?”
“But you all went to Mass with us last Sunday. So back home you at least go to Mass, right?”
“Sometimes, since our Confession is directly to the Big Guy in the sky. I remember we did go at Christmas, but Easter I’m not sure. Oh I remember, Mama bought us new dresses. So we went to Easter Mass too. But anyway, why don’t you just skip Confession?”
“Because Mama will ask me if I went.”
“Well why don’t you just tell Aunt Theresa that you did go?”
“I can’t. She will know if I’m not telling the truth. But now we better go find Lucia and the twins. They were looking for us earlier.”
“I guess so. But, Sergie, don’t tell them where we were… And don’t tell Padre Perrotti about us.”
“We won’t tell anybody about our secret attic. And yes, I think you’re right about what I say, or don’t say in Confession.”
“Yeah, what is there to confess or feel guilty about when it comes to you and me? What is wrong with us being happy together, perfect together?”
“And we are perfect together. Now that I’m with you again it’s like we have always been together. And it seems there’s always, well this kind of a sweet harmony with us?”
“A sweet harmony. Sergie, you hit the nail on the head. Hey, I’ve got this rechargeable flashlight - or actually more like a small lantern. How about if we sneak back up here tonight to read some more of the diary after everybody is sleeping?”
“That would be really cool. We just better make sure Mama doesn’t catch us or find out. Let’s wait until later to decide for sure.”
“Would you like some more pasta, Sergio,” Theresa asked her son.
“No thanks, Mama… I mean mother.”
“In America you can say, mama,” interjected his Aunt Natalia. “You don’t need to say ‘mother.’ My kids would call me Mama. Well, except for Miss Independent One here. She likes to call me Natalia, like we are sisters. Fortunately I like the sound of my name.”
“We do too, Natalia,” the giggling twins simultaneously added.
“And, Aunt Theresa, we would like some more pasta please,” Ramona requested without asking Roberta.
“See,” Lucia said. “I’m telling you they read each other’s mind. It’s really not fair,” she continued with a smile. “I know they ganged up on me this afternoon playing Monopoly, even though they didn’t say one word about it to each other. But I still love them.”
“We love you too, Favorite Cousin,” Roberta responded, without denying Lucia’s claim.
“You mean I’m not your favorite cousin,” Sergio chimed in with feigned alarm.
“Second favorite,” the twins simultaneous replied with enthusiasm.
“I think Sergio is somebody else’s favorite cousin,” suggested Lucia.
“Uncle Flavio,” Gloria interrupted, redirecting the conversation, “how long has Villa De Mare been in the family?”
“Oh, My Angel, Villa de Mare has been in your Aunt Theresa’s family for hundreds of years. I don’t recall exactly how long. My still beautiful bride is the expert on the villa’s past.”