2001, by Ruth
The characters Rinaldo Pazzi and Laura Pazzi (nee Demagistre) were created by Thomas Harris.
They are used herein without permission, but in the spirit of admiration and
respect. No infringement of copyright is intended, and no profit, of any
kind, is made by the creator, maintainer or contributors to this site.
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Rinaldo Pazzi had a
love-hate relationship with his job.
Only hours ago was he hardly
able to control his satisfaction in the fact that Vivaldo Demagistre, a
wealthy and somewhat troublesome Cosa Nostra associate, had been found
murdered. In a seedy motel, no less, with a dead whore and a large bag
of dirty lira. Lira with traces of cocaine all over it – money the
Questura had been trailing for quite some time since a few underlings in
the Colombian mob had arrived in Florence.
Pazzi was also satisfied
that he knew where these Colombians were staying and, at that very
moment, a team of his men were on their way to bring them in for
What Rinaldo Pazzi could not
be pleased about was the fact that Demagistre’s family had to be told
about the incident, and that he himself had apparently been nominated to
share the news.
For a moment Pazzi
considered calling in one of his subordinates and having them do the job
for him. If there was one thing he did not look forward to, it was
having to tell a family that their good for nothing patriarch had been
found with his mistress, both wearing matching bullet holes in their
foreheads. The fact that they were covered in a blanket of coke-coated
lira would only add to the trauma.
But to show sympathy for
such a man’s family, who knew his occupation and behavior no less,
would mean showing weakness, and he would never hear the end of it.
“Pazzi couldn’t even
tell Signora Demagistre that her husband was shot!” he could already
hear his co-workers snickering behind his back.
And on that thought, office
humiliation and softness towards the mob being two of his worst fears,
Rinaldo Pazzi finally forced himself to walk up the steps of the
beautiful mansion and ring the doorbell.
When the melodic chime rang
inside the house, Laura Demagistre looked up from her magazine and
waited for the maid to hurry to the door. Scratch that, Laura, she
thought to herself, remembering how she had asked the servant to go
retrieve some boxes from the attic. She herself would have to be the one
to open the door and greet the guest.
The eldest daughter of the
Demagistre family was alone in the mansion that evening. Her mother, a
compulsive socialite, was out with some lady friends, and her younger
sisters had been invited to a dance. And her father… where was he? Oh,
out on business again. Laura sighed in frustration. It was business, he
called it, and they were never to inquire about it ever. Laura hated the
business, and soon learned to hate her father for his feverish devotion
towards it. What kind of business prevented Laura Demagistre to ever
really get to know the man who was supposed to mean the most to her?
She knew what kind of
business, but she tried not to think about it too much.
To avoid guilty thoughts,
Laura could easily have moved out – she was a woman now, and had been
for years. However, she still stayed in the family house – she felt
that, with her parents’ absence, she owed it to her sisters to stay
and give them the company she was never able to partake in. Giving the
gift of sisterly love far surpassed any guilt she might have felt for
living in a family that survived on drug deals, prostitution rings, and
generally breaking the law.
Laura pushed herself up from
the kitchen counter and sighed. She hoped it was something like a parcel
delivery – dealing with the business was not on her favorites list,
and her father’s colleagues came by often. Her mother knew enough to
at least entertain them or take a message, but she was generally
inexperienced in all business dealings and preferred to keep it that
Laura walked through the
spacious livingroom to the lobby and leaned up against the door. Her
hand was on the bolt, and she called out, “Buona notte, chi è esso?”
A beat, and “Polizia,”
came the reply.
Laura’s heart jumped. Polizia. Her father had dealings with them before – in the business,
who didn’t? He had never seemed to be lacking for connections
(“friends” he called them) in la polizia, but she could not take
comfort in that. Her father was not here, and she had no idea what to
say – no bullshitting, no defenses. No answers to whatever questions
they might ask. This was worse than the those of the business arriving
She closed her eyes and
uttered a plea for help, then unbolted the large wooden door and pulled
Upon seeing the beautiful
young woman, dark-eyed and dark-haired in a long dress of white cotton
gauze, Rinaldo Pazzi felt an immense amount of regret and sympathy
thrust upon him. He realized that tonight he would not be breaking the
news to an old, embittered mob wife.
Mob women weren’t allowed
to know much about their patriarchs’ dealings, but most of them had a
good idea of what went on. Rinaldo Pazzi tried to imagine the terror
that was running through the girl’s mind as she attempted to put on a
nonchalant face. Cops alarmed her and Pazzi did not like the thought of
making her feel alarmed. When he allowed himself to empathize with her,
he realized that he did not want to do this. Today, he would make
someone break down into sobs.
The woman stepped back
tentatively and offered a soft “Buona notte, Signore.” He nodded
respectfully and for a moment considered pretending like he had reached
the wrong residence.
In his mind he cursed
himself – That would only work on the telephone, idiot – she already
knows you’re a cop, and why else would you announce “polizia”
unless that had something to do with your visit? She’s not stupid, she
knows what kind of family she’s in. Too late to turn back now.
“This is the Demagistre
residence?” he asked, stalling. Rinaldo Pazzi silenced his inner
critic and listened as the young woman replied, “Si.” He was then
tentatively, but graciously invited in.
“Grazie,” he murmured,
stepping up through the entrance and finding himself in an extravagant
He turned around and looked
at her, the girl – one of the daughters, of course, and she was hardly
a girl. In her early twenties, he surmised, watching as her petite frame
slowly approached him. She had very nervous, anxious look on her round
face. As he thought before, she was only a daughter, and from the way
she looked at him without contempt, obviously a very uninvolved one at
that. Signora Demagistre would have been difficult with him – this
girl was only timid.
He knew that if she were
some stuffy, vain matriarch, he wouldn’t be stalling. For that he felt
So now you’re going soft
because it’s some pretty woman you have to break the news to, eh? he
thought scornfully to himself. I bet you’re just waiting for the
moment she breaks down – then you can offer her your shoulder to cry
on. You’d just love that, wouldn’t you, Commendatore?
He did not want to do this.
Laura recognized this man as the chief inspector of the Questura. The Questura, and he was
Il Commendatore – not just some common street
cop. Her father and some of his colleagues had spoken of him, Rinaldo
Pazzi, from time to time – disdainfully. And she always remembered her
father telling her that whomever his colleagues hated, they were
supposed to hate too. This man was her enemy, and her father’s enemy.
But as she took in the
appearance and manner of this man, she realized that she could not hate
him. He was imperious looking, but not near so as her father described
him. He was older, around her father’s age, and strongly framed, with
a determined but approachable look to him – he had expressive dark
eyes that looked almost remorseful. And though it might ease someone
else, the look he gave her terrified her. Remorse was something cops
he began, in a deep, grave voice. And stopped.
The tone of his voice she
did not like. “Si, Commendatore?”
He glanced around quickly,
then at her. “Is… your mother here?”
“No, Commendatore,” she
said, with concern. “Is there…?”
He sighed again, this time
painfully. It was as if he wanted to reach out to her, she thought. And
when a cop did that, it meant there was something very, very wrong.
He tried again. “I’m…
very sorry, Signorina,” Rinaldo Pazzi began softly. “Your
He did not need to say
Part 1 of 4
2001, by Ruth
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