Arius folded time for almost twenty-five minutes in order to get Olivia and her dog, Chester, back to the house safely from the water falls in the woods. The prolonged period of use takes a severe drain on an immortal, this is when they are at their weakest and are most vulnerable. Arius laid at the entry way of Olivia’s house, Chester was using this particular immortal for a pillow as he also rested from the previous harrowing experience. Olivia is up again and checking on her two heroes, she gazes upon them thanking whatever gods will listen to her humble thoughts. She looks at Arius, he is so dirty from being in the woods, and the torn and bloody clothing make her shudder. She steps closer to the two of them, and focus’ in on the holes in his shirt. She is surprised to see what looks like a cut in the shirt from a knife penetration. There is blood, yet no wound, maybe she got hit in the head just a little bit too hard she’s thinking. She then pans to his face “What a great looking guy, and to think not only is he my neighbor, but he can also handle himself” her thoughts then move on to other subjects. As she looks closer at his face, she then has a revelation, she screams silently in her mind ”Oh my god! it can’t be him”
The year is 1979, Olivia is only 5 years old, she and her mother, Gina, are living in Italy, Napoli to be exact. Olivia has not seen her father for quite some time, her mother however does not have the heart to tell her daughter that her father was killed by the local mob. Instead she spins tales of her father being a captain of a boat that takes the rich folks out to sea to enjoy the beautiful views of the Italian coast. Being single in this town is tough enough, but being a widow and a single mother places you right in the sights of every young man looking to nail the so-called La vedova cornea, or horny widow.
The local mob, known as the Camorra, have been running this town as long as Gina can remember. They smuggle cigarettes and drugs with a little bit of counterfeiting thrown in to keep the local law puppets in line. Olivia’s father, Franco, was not a mobster, he was only a local handyman, and an honest one at that. But the Camorra felt that for some reason he needed protection, and as long as Franco was willing to pay the pizzo, or protection money, he would be able to find work and his tools would not be stolen. But, Franco refused them, and the very next day his work truck was burned to the ground. Franco was furious, and confronted the men, one of them told him to fuck off, so he punched him and knocked him out. The other guy pulled a gun on Franco, but it did not fire when the trigger was pulled. Franco then took the gun from the thug and beat him with it. The two mobsters were humiliated, their bosses were also embarrassed and lost face because of his men. Sadly, Franco was found dead two days later after someone called him to come and give a quote on a possible job. His body was found, well, at least some of his parts were found, just enough to identify him, he was found in the country at the side of the road. Everyone knew why he was killed and who likely did it, but no one would dare bring the men to justice.
Olivia’s mom was the local beauty and desired by many. Shortly after her husband’s death, even while she was still in mourning, she was approached by some of the Camorra who told her that they could rescue and protect her from strange and dangerous men, since now she was a widow with a small child. She said that she would think about it and get back to them, but she knew they would need an answer soon, those strange and dangerous men might start showing up sooner than she would expect. Around that time she met a man, Olivia only knew him as zio, or uncle, who took a liking to Gina and her daughter and took them under his wings. “He did this out of the kindness of his own heart” her mother would say later when she told her the truth about what had happened in Italy when Olivia was older. He would bring food, leave money, drop off toys and dolls for Olivia whenever possible, and play with her for hours on end, and spend time with them both. Life was good for a while, until the men showed up.
One day Olivia was playing out in the front yard, when some men came. They grabbed Olivia by the arm, they pulled her kicking and screaming all the way to the house. Inside they threw Olivia down in front of her mother at her feet. Gina scooped Olivia up as fast as she could and held the frightened child tightly against her. Gina said nothing but just stared angrily at the men, she waited to hear what they would say, her first thought was that she wished that zio was here, but it was just her and the three men. She knew them all, the three of them were just thugs and bullies, Enrico was the leader of the trio while Tony and Peter were his henchman.
Enrico stepped forward “Gina, what did you not understand about us protecting you from strangers? What do you go and do? But get caught up with someone who is not from here. Who knows what he would do to you and your daughter?”. Gina’s blood boiled “How dare you speak of protection from you and the rest of your kind. You killed my Franco and now you want me to pay you for some false sense of protection” She stepped forward “I would rather die then become the girlfriend or wife of one of you lowlife gangster wannabes” she then spat on the floor in front of Enrico. Tony and Peter moved towards Gina, she quickly cowers back turning her daughter away from the men, should they strike her, but Enrico quickly motioned for them to stop. “Gina, that was not very nice, evil words will get you nowhere. We are concerned for you, and of course your lovely daughter. But I asked you nicely to pay for protection, and you refused. So I am afraid that I will need to show you what happens if you do not have our protection. A shame your new boyfriend is not here to help you, Peter, Tony, show our lovely beauty queen what befalls those who refuse us”. Gina prepared for the worst, she covered Olivia, hoping to shield her, or at least minimize any actions against them. As Peter reached to grab Gina, she saw something hit his arm, and it broke clean in two. Peter fell to his knees screaming in agony, she could see the bone sticking out of his arm.
A body moved between Gina and the men, it was the man they called zio. Standing there defiantly, zio had a club in his hand “So, is this what you so called men have become? Preying on helpless woman and children? Cowards by anyone’s standards if you ask me”. Peter could not stop screaming as he held his arm to try to ease the pain. Enrico moved toward zio “You think that I am some kind of coward?” Enrico pulled out a gun and shot Peter, he fell to the floor silenced, Gina cried out at this display of callous cruelty. Enrico looked smug “So my friend, I have to ask you, how far are you willing to go to get the job done”. Zio just smiled “Further then you think” Enrico went to pull the gun up to shoot zio, zio rushed him, he swung the club and knocked the gun out of Enrico’s hand. Zio then swung the club back and smacked Enrico in the side of the head, he then dropped to the ground. Just then Tony thought he would grab the girl and Gina, She screamed, Zio then spun around and kicked Tony’s legs out from underneath him, he fell hard with a resounding thud. Enrico scrambled to his feet, staggered a bit then saw the gun that had been knocked from his hands, he went towards it.
Enrico knew the only way to stop this was to take care of Gina and that brat of hers. He quickly got to the gun, turned to face Gina, who was in the corner huddled with her daughter. Tony stood up, and faced Zio, he had his back to Enrico. Zio could see that Enrico was aiming the gun at Gina, so he rushed Tony and pushed him, just then Enrico fired the pistol. Tony was between the mother and her child when the bullet hit him. His chest felt like a white-hot poker had been stuck into it, he curled up before he hit the ground and landed on his back. Enrico was caught off guard, that was enough time for Zio to throw the club and hit Enrico’s hand, the gun flew and landed near Gina.
Enrico turned to face zio, his face was filled with rage, he reached into the inside of his jacket and pulled out a switch blade stiletto knife. It seemed to sing as he pushed the button to release the blade from the body of the knife. The two men faced off with each other, Enrico was a little nervous “You piece of shit, how dare you interfere with Camorra business, she belongs to this town, you are but an outsider trying to change our ways”. Zio felt angry by his comments “You are nothing more than a bully, a coward and a low life. I have seen the likes of you too many times to count. But the end is always the same, they die crying like the rats that they are”. Enrico grew angrier “I’ll show you who is the coward, how dare you tell me what to do in my town” he then came at Zio with the knife, Zio deflected the knife with one hand and sent it off to the side, he then used his other hand to strike Enrico in the face, after which he then grabbed Enrico and allowed his momentum to carry him to the floor. Zio smiled “Is that two or three times that I already humiliated you, I forget?”. Enrico was livid, his pride had been damaged here, he quickly jumped to his feet “You will die tonight by my blade, I promise to be dancing on your grave by morning”. Zio looked him in the eye and spoke just under his breath with disgust “Boy, if I had a penny for every time I heard that one”, Enrico closed the distance, he slashed and stabbed at Zio, but his blade came up empty every time.
Zio laughed “If I had wanted to dance, I would have asked Gina. Obviously knife fighting is not your strong point, maybe dress making suits you better” he goaded Enrico on purpose, rage causes mistakes, and this man was about to make a fatal one. Enrico, breathing heavily, made a last futile attempt at putting the knife into Zio. In one swift move, Zio takes Enrico’s hand and twists it until the knife pops out of his hand, Zio grabs it in mid-air with his free hand and is then able to take the knife and lay the edge of the blade against the throat of Enrico. The blade is sharp, just pressing it against Enrico’s neck causes a minor cut and some bleeding to appear on the skin, Zio then speaks “It’s your choice my friend, promise to leave Gina and Olivia alone, and this ends here. Or, I slice your throat as if I am preparing a pig for slaughter and we watch you die, then I’ll just drop your stinking body into the sewer where it belongs”. Enrico is still trying to catch his breath, he looks at Zio and smugly tells him “You really don’t think that you can win do you?”. Zio looked a bit confused at this response from Enrico, then a wry smile played across his face. Bang!Bang! two shots rang out behind them, Zio turned to see Tony, only a few feet away, fall face first to the ground with a knife in his hand, after he hit the floor, you could see Gina holding the gun and pointing it in Tony’s direction.
Zio loosened his grip only slightly when the commotion began, this gave Enrico the chance he needed to grab a second knife hidden in his pocket. He popped it open and stabbed Zio in the back near his kidney, Zio dropped to one knee. “Now lets see who the big man is around here” Enrico blurted out. Just then, Zio slowly pulled the knife from his back. He turned to look at Enrico who had a surprised look on his face. Zio than spun around and drove it into Enrico just under the rib cage. Enrico let out a gasp, Zio held him and slowly brought him to the ground. Enrico was confused, he had stabbed this man, he should be dead, and it was as if a mosquito had bit him. Zio stared Enrico in the face, with his dying breath Enrico asked “Who are you, the devil himself?” Zio leaned forward, placed his lips next to Enrico’s ear and spoke so that only he could hear “I am Arius, an immortal, you never had a chance”. As life faded from Enrico’s body, a shocked look was etched into his face. Zio got up and stepped towards Gina who was still holding the gun, he gently grabbed it and took it from her. “Gina” he said “I came here to give you these before all this happened” With that he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a satchel.
He brought her to a table where he emptied the cloth bag onto it, she thought “How beautiful”. Out poured diamonds the size of olives and bigger, “Take one, and hide the rest where no one can find them, buy a flight out of here and go to New York, there I want you to meet an old friend of mine, he will help you to sell the stones, he is the only one I trust. There should be more than enough money from these to help you and Olivia become citizens and also to allow you to live well, but you must do it now”. Gina grabbed and hugged Zio for what seemed like forever, tears streaming down her face, she gently kissed Zio. “Olivia my darling, tell Zio thank you”. Olivia was not sure what had just happened, but she always obeyed her mother “Thank you Zio” she rushed over to him and hugged him as her mother did. They left later that night, Olivia never saw Zio again, that is until now.
She was staring at Arius as the morning light broke through the windows, Chester and Arius were laying together on the floor as if they have known each other for years. A smile gently appeared on her face, could this be Zio? This man before her looks no older than thirty, Zio would now be in his fifties or sixties. She had almost all but forgotten about Zio, and yet this man in front of her dredged up memories of a man who had saved her and her mother so many years ago. This is just silly, she thought, how could this be him, I was so young? Maybe it’s just wishful thinking. Then a sound was heard at the front door, someone fumbling with a set of keys to unlock the door. Olivia is thrust back into reality, and the here and now, just then the door opens “Buongiorno Olivia” The woman looks down and sees the dog and Arius “che cosa è questo?” she blurts out surprised. Her eyes widen in disbelief, the blood leaves here face “Madonna mio, Arius?” The woman seems to be weak at the knees and starts to dip, Olivia rushes to her mom and grabs her to hold her up, Chester awakens startled, and barks. Arius Jumps to his feet and looks at the two woman, he stares for a second, then a wave of memories envelop him as he is brought back to Italy and the sight of the two woman that he had helped so many years ago. He knew that he could not make up a story, as he is able to do with others, “Gina Giordano? Is that you my dear?” Tears streamed down the face of the woman known as Gina, good deeds burn deeply in the minds of those who appreciate when aid is given from the heart. In Italian Gina speaks out “Where have you been so many years my dear Zio, I have thought about you every day since we left Italy” Then as if it begins to settle in “But, look at you, you haven’t change a bit since we last saw you?”. Arius smiled, he gently took Gina’s hand and stroked it as he guided her deeper into the home, Olivia just stood there, entranced by what she saw, and what she felt, she was crying tears of joy. Arius brought Gina to a chair nearby and motioned for her to sit. “I have so much to tell you, but before I begin, I need to explain the truth to you of what you have seen here today”. Gina peered through her tear filled eyes at Olivia and then through the picture window at the rising sun, she then spoke softly “It is truly a beautiful day today”. The morning was just beginning for them, but once again, time had finally caught up with Arius.
© 2010 Steven Takacs
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