June 14, 2008
Angelo sits alone in his dimly lit kitchen. His dark blue shorts, trouser socks, and crewneck T-shirt accessorized only by the deep red pour of a 1997 Italian Solaia
He rests against the highback leather chair and gently caresses the stemless Riedel wine tumbler.
Finally, a private moment.
As he raises the glass to his lips, the scent of the wine arouses his senses; the smooth flow calms his palate, while the wine's boldness excites his throat. The velvet hammer.
Beyond the mahogany kitchen table is the darkened den. The walls are painted taupe, with the slightest hint of mint green, a color that his interior designer insisted encouraged tranquility.
A sixty-inch screen high-definition TV is attached to the wall, beneath it are sleekly designed teakwood tables and a matching computer desk. Nestled underneath the desk's top is a high-powered Beretta .45.
Angelo's gaze fixes on the TV as it flashes the day's headline news. Over the past hour, he has watched breaking news, sports highlights, and weather updates. He waits patiently for a hint of a discovery near the Fiume Arno.
The TV flickers. A feature highlighting one of Tuscany's well-known wineries piques Angelo's interest. He increases the volume.
"Me and my ancestors have devoted our entire lives—centuries, centuries"—his hands move as if down a timeline— "cultivating the land, perfecting the aging process, making the finest Brunello." The elderly winemaker pauses. "I defend my Brunello as pure... Others have tried to stop me, but they have failed."
Angelo studies his boss, Mr. Scrovino, the winemaker, as he is displayed across the TV screen. Mr. Scrovino's suit wraps his body like a banana peel: efficient, custom-fit, and worn by time.
The winemaker has a round face, with sagging jowls and bags under his eyes as if a perfectly round orange had been left too long in the sun. Yet the dye he uses on his hair is too dark, an obvious vanity. Not that Angelo has any right to fault a man for trying to fend off aging. Beneath the sag of his own skin, Angelo's body remains toned, his reflexes quick, and his mind as sharp as it has ever been. Injections, herbs, steroids, and vigorous exercise are Angelo's weapons to hold back time. But vanity is not what drives him.
He stares into the TV as he sets the wine tumbler on the edge of the table.
No, not vanity.
The TV speakers announce, "Breaking News up next, a gruesome discovery — on the Arno."
Angelo snaps out of his reverie. His cell phone buzzes, sending a vibration crackling across the table. He stands and grabs his phone.
"Pronto." The voice on the other end of the line is brusque, the message brief.
Angelo pushes "End." His boss was pleased.
Angelo turns his attention back to the TV screen as the scene unfolds.
"Ahhh mia cara ragazza, so they have found you." He presses the inside of his thumb to the inside tips of his fingers and draws his stubby fingers into a closed form, then raises them to his pursed lips, and blows a kiss towards the TV.
Angelo readies for his next meeting.
From the Arno to the park, he smiles.
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