I woke up today with a scenario in mind. I had been wondering for many months how I would write this particular scenario, as it is extremely important for my character, Cali. It is the reason that Cali has chosen Joan Jett has her favorite artist. For months I have labored over how much information I wanted to put into the 'revelation' and how much would be too much. Anyway, I wrote it and I wanted to share it with you.
The day was cool, and turning cold. Clouds hovered over the ancient town. They resembled a big multi-toned grey blanket that was waiting for the steady east wind to let it fall. The clouds didn’t loom, or threaten, they just sat low in the sky, and waited.
Cali’s mood was not reflected by the weather. Her head bobbed up and down in time with the music that her new ear buds pumped into her head. The music wasn’t particularly loud but, ear buds were not ear phones. They did little to keep the sound confined to only the person using them.
The railing beneath her fingertips had been touched by untold thousands of tourists and townsfolk throughout the centuries. Only the rain and the wind had ever washed it clean. Cali wondered about the things those hands had touched. She imagined that many of them had made history in one form or another. A smile creased her face. She ran a caressing hand along the rail. “It’s probably not that old.” Her voice was not meant to be heard by anyone, not even the seagulls.
She returned her attention to the water. Unlike the sky, the Mediterranean churned and frothed with the wind, and was becoming more unsettled. It would storm soon, and the rain that the storm would bring would most likely be cold. Fall had come to Italy about a week previously. When it did it had brought with it one cold weather system after the other, and rain had pounded the land, cleansing it. Months of dust and grime had washed down the cobbled streets and poured into the Sea, turning it to mud. The smell of polluted salt water filled her nose. She breathed deeply, and her smile returned.
Cali did not see him, for her eyes were on the gulls and their antics in the water. She could not hear him over the music in her ears. But, years of terror had honed her animal instincts. She felt him, not the way that a fly feels the presence of a fly swatter before it’s even raised. Cali was not trapped. No, she felt him in the way that a sleeping cat can feel the hand of their master before it strokes their fur. She did not fully trust him, but, she also did not fear him.
Nickola was still several strides away when she calmly turned to face him. His expression told her that he had thought that he was going to surprise her. He was the one surprised. She pulled the buds from her earsand let them dangle. Her smile faded but she remained relaxed.
“Hah, how do you do that?” He stopped just within an arm’s length of her. Not too close, but not too far either. They were comrades, and they were familiar and comfortable with each other but, they were not friends. “Surely you can hear nothing through that… so called music you listen to. What is that anyway? Is there a specific artist, although I use the term loosely?” He grunted and used his arms to help him speak in the manner of his people.
Cali almost reverently picked up the ear buds and cradled them in her palm. The muted sounds of a three string rock band washed over her mind and heart. They were making their guitars scream. The day felt strange, she felt strange, she felt like sharing. “Unlike most people Nickola, I have no fond music of my child hood. Music in our house consisted of Church hymns sung on Sunday and recaps of the same sung by my Grandmother. The only break in those songs was at Christmas, when we got an unending barrage of religious Christmas songs.” Her mind pulled away from the dark memories and latched onto a more pleasant one. “The first song that I heard that was not in either of those categories, was by this band. It was a song of rebellion and hope. It was sung with such passion… I could feel her rage, her pain and her resolution to control her own life, to spite what others wanted or felt was right.” She smiled and a small chuckle, that sounded more like a grunt, came with it. The Grandmother’s disgust and anger had only fueled Cali’s desire to hear more of the song. It would be many years before she found it again. But, when she did…she had devoted years collecting every piece of music that the band had ever recorded. Still, occasionally she was surprised by yet another song that they had released only in Japan or Europe. Nickola was waiting. “The singer had been put through some extreme and unwarranted scrutiny. She was… black balled, by the music community… well the part of the community that actually records and produces the music. But she persisted. She even went so far as to press her own first album and sell them out of the trunk of her manager’s car. It paid off. Today, she’s considered the Queen of Rock and Roll. But it was a hard road for her, and her music reflects her journey.”
He was nodding. “I understand. This music has touched your soul, and this woman and her story… she has touched it as well. I have never heard anyone say that a Rock song contained hope. But… I do not listen to Rock. I suppose the same words are sung in all genres. Perhaps someday, I will sit and listen to this band and see if they touch my soul as well. What is their name?”
“It’s Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. I’ll give you a copy of all of the music that I have of theirs before I leave. Maybe you’ll find something that you like.” A drop of rain hit her nose. Like expected, it was cold. She clicked the music off and rolled up her ear buds. “Time for us to go Nickola.”
He looked up at the sky. The clouds had darkened since he had arrived on the pier. A few fat drops of water struck his face. “Yes, the rain will not wait for us to walk to the car, I think. Perhaps we should make haste.”
It was raining in earnest when they ducked into his compact. Still they were not drenched, just a little soggy. He glanced at her. He seemed to be reconsidering what he was about to do.
Neither spoke for several moments. The rain pelted out a rhythm of its own making on the roof of the car. Finally, Nickola started the car. “I will take you to the place where your mother was…”
“Step mother… she was not my mother.” Cali’s voice remained calm but firm. She would never allow anyone to call that woman her mother.
“Yes… of course… step mother… I will take you to where she…lived, for the time that she was here.” He turned in his seat to look directly at her. “Understand please, this will not be pleasant. She was not… she was a…”He could not bring himself to say whatever it was he was trying to convey. But Cali already knew. She needed no reassurance or explanations.
For a moment she felt empathy for this man. He was a hit man, by definition, a murderer by trade. Yet, he had a huge heart. He had grownup into the organization. It was all he knew. Cali understood the contrary emotions involved in such a situation. She, in many ways was like him. In a rare moment of compassion, she was working on showing it more, she reached out and put her hand on top of his. “Nickola, I understand. My words, my desire…put her there. I must face what I did. Thank you for trying to spare me. But I am no innocent here. When I… condemned them… I just said the words and walked away. I never wanted to think about what they would suffer. I… told myself that they deserved it, for what they did to me.” She had to stop to collect the emotions that threatened to spill down her face. Not now, not today. I don’t deserve to cry. I’ve not earned the right to feel sorry for myself, not for what I’ve done to them. She raised her eyes to meet his again and turned in her seat to face him completely. “No-one deserves what happened to me, or to them. I have to face what I have done. I cannot hide from it any longer.” She swallowed the bile that rose in her throat. It burned, and she could smell it in her nose.
Nickola began to nod. He squeezed her hand. “Good. I will take you to your demons… and hope they do not swallow you whole.” He abruptly dropped her hand and turned back to the steering wheel. He buckled his seatbelt and put the car in drive. As he pulled out he said; “God grant we all have the courage to face the demons that we set loose upon this world. God grant that we all have the bravery of a child.”
Any further conversation was drown out by the staccato on the roof and the splashing of the tires.
////// I hope you liked it. Live well and be good to each other.