Monday, November 09, 2009

Absalom, 1

It looked like it was going to be another beautiful spring day in the Eternal City. The sun rose slowly through the morning mist into a blue sky crystal clear above him. He looked down on the still almost empty streets, with only a few early birds like him milling about. Mostly people heading for jobs where if they did it right, no one would think about them having done it. People like janitors, garbage men, maids and cleaners. People like him.

He stood from the chair, emptied his glass of Evian and walked in from the balcony. Passing through his bedroom he slowed down to cast a quick glance at the woman still sleeping in his bed. It had been a most pleasant night; she in her early twenties and eager to please. He, a bit older than that, but then more experienced. He couldn't really remember her name, but since she would with all certainty be gone when he returned, he didn't care all that much. Still, he silently walked up to the bed and kissed her on her cheek. With a last look at her delightful body stretched out only partially covered by the sheets, he pulled them up over her and left the room. She didn’t even stir.

He took a long look at himself in the grand hallway mirror. It was a full body mirror in a golden baroque type frame and it gave him a perfect view of himself from top to toe. A view of a tall, well built muscular man in his early thirties with bronzed skin cropped black hair and meticulously groomed three day stubble; dressed in a monogrammed tailor made white shirt and accompanying beige slacks. The momentary distraction complete, he turned from the mirror, reached for and slipped on his handcrafted brown sandals and walked out the door. He jogged down the stairs, gave the already arrived doorman a courtesy nod and headed out on the Via di Monte Giordano.

Walking down the almost empty street towards the Tiber he stopped by a hole in the wall type trattoria and joined a few of his fellow early birds for an espresso and a quick glance at today’s Gazetto Dello Sport. It looked like Lazio had lost another game in the Serie A, this time against Bari. “Mierda”, he thought as he drained his cup and walked back out on the street. “Looks like the old glory days won’t be back this season either”. He walked briskly as the Via di Monte Giordano turned into the Via di Panico and then skipped through traffic to get across the Tiber at Ponte Sant’Angelo.

He cast a quick glance up at the Castel Sant’Angelo and couldn’t resist smiling as he thought about the legends, rumors and stories that had been told about it. It had only been a couple of years since a knuckleheaded American had decided to make it the secret headquarters of some secret cabal or other, the Illuminati he seemed to remember. “If they only knew… if they only knew”, he thought to himself. Now having turned onto the Via della Conziliazione he saw his final destination tower up a few hundred meters further on, a few tourists already milling about on the square in front.

As he walked onto the Pizza San Pietro, he reached for his cell phone and speed dialed one. After two rings a calm, yet firm voice on the other side sounded:

“Pronto”

“I’m here, where do you want me?”

“Ah, figlio mio, just wait for the car to pick you up in five minutes and we’ll talk when you get here.

Without giving him a chance to say goodbye, the voice hung up and left him standing in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.

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