Flash - Polumetis
The streets were crowded tight with cars, parked on sidewalks and medians. These cobbled roads were not created for modernity. The buildings that that towered around us spoke of age and history. I itched to escape the confines of the car, to explore this legendary city.
Lonnie had little interest in sight seeing. Sadly, this is all I would see of Milan.
“We're meeting Signor Ugo Beretta, he holds the key to our firearms contract,” Lonnie explained as we drove the hour and a half to Gardone. “He's from an old family...”
What he meant by old family was that Ugo Beretta himself was more than just old. He was ancient. I'd done my homework. I knew well the names he'd been known by, this god of metalworking and fire.
“He and his kind are a cunning lot, and they've seen it all. When you lean into him, do so cautiously, so they do not suspect.”
“I know, I know. Look pretty, not smart.” I sighed and leaned my forehead against the window.
The estate was impressive, the stone building towering above exquisitely manicured grounds. I'd only glimpsed such places during our drive, nestled amongst the trees and rich landscapes. The inside of the building was just as breathtaking; brimming with sculptures, paintings, brightly polished woods, stained glass and glinting ornamentation.
We sipped wine with Ugo and his two sons before heading to the walnut-paneled office. The Berettas had their own vineyard and aimed to impress. Yet it was not the wine that had left an impression on me.
The younger of the Signor's sons, Franco had caught my eye. He was tall, blue eyed and handsome, reminding me strangely of Lonnie before he'd gone hard and cold.
“I noticed that you have an interest in art,” Franco said softly, as to not interrupt the business at hand.
My furtive glances had given me away.
“There is so much in this house, I cannot help it." Oh, how I wished to tell him how much I adored the Impressionist piece hanging across from us, the bright colors, the bold strokes that painted the Italian landscape I'd seen only through the windows of our rental car.
“I could show you around, if you like.”
I studied the drink in my hand, yearning to accept the offer. Sharp words passed between Lonnie and Pietro. I did not catch the exact reason behind the argument, but the tone was clear.
It was for this reason I'd come: to soothe, to coax, to manipulate. For you see, intense emotions are not confined to the person in which they originate. These emotions may or may not effect other people, but I can see them, touch them, use them. Most importantly, they are always connected to the origin, their human source.
“Lonnie,” I cooed, glancing from him to Pietro and the silent Ugo sweetly. I calmed the fire within them. “Perhaps you should reword your proposal? You come off too forceful. These fine gentlemen are not the brutes we deal with back home.”
The tension broke, not with a snap and a recoil, but with subtle sense of calm. It'd been a misunderstanding. Lonnie had not proposed something insulting. He'd simply misspoke. Such was my power.
And yet, I felt dirty, used, though I knew that it was truly Pietro and Ugo who were the victims. I slipped away as the contracts were signed.
I found myself drawn to a modest painting. It was dark, the focus of the piece was the way light played upon the figures. Caravaggio, I remembered the style was called.
“Do you enjoy your work?” Came the soft voice of Franco.
“I enjoy this,” I replied.
“It is like you.”
“Though it feels as if the darkness dulls the flame, it is the light that consumes the dark,” he said.
“So, I am either a creeping shadow or threatening light?” I scoffed. “If you aim to compliment, you have woefully failed.”
“I humored this game your companion played,” he said, eyes glinting with flames of a deep, old power.
I took a deep breath and stepped back. Lonnie had said Ugo was the old god, not Franco, not the twenty-year-old boy.
“If only to watch you at work,” he purred in a way that set my heart thundering. “Think on what I told you." He towered above me, and all I could see, all I could focus on was the light with in those eyes.
“Light consumes the dark...” I whispered, my back pressed against the wall.
“Now, my dear. Which are you?”
* * *
Written for Round 1 of the Grand Prix Challenge at ChallengeCorner.
The prompt was Beretta. I chose to focus on the Beretta family, their 500 year old company and Hephaestus, the god of fire and metalworking.
Fabbrica d'Armi Pietro Beretta is an Italian firearms manufacturer.
The Val Trompia valley district in Italy, including the city of Gardone, runs through the Columbine Mountains which is a source of high-grade iron ore. During the Middle Ages it was the center of iron working and, in the beginning of the Renaissance Era it was known for its high quality gun making.
Maestro Bartolomeo Beretta was a master gun barrel maker living in Gardone. In 1526, Bartolomeo was paid by the Arsenal of Venice to make 185 arquebus barrels, making the Beretta company the oldest manufacturing company in the world. It is written that the bill of sale from 1526 is still in the company’s archives.
Bartolomeo Beretta’s son, Jacomo and his grandson, Giovannino, both became master gun barrel makers. This passed-on trade has continued for over 500 years.
The Beretta family has continuously controlled the company for the company’s entire history! Ugo Gussalli Beretta and his two sons, Pietro and Franco still maintain leadership of Beretta today.
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In a flashShort Story
Short works, flash fiction and drabbles. These pieces may be as short as one hundred words, or as long as one thousand. They may be speculative in nature, or just a bit of prose poetry. Some of these works may be found in my other collections. I wa...