The Grape Harvest Part 5 is the continuation of my Italy Travel Fiction segment that I began in April. This is a 7-10 part series following Mike, a newly successful author along his travels in Italy. Do not let the banal description steer you away from this story of introspection, compulsion, and deviance. Here are links to the first 4 chapters.
Mike: (to Viola) you knew that Roberto had truffles today didn’t you?
Viola: I AM my father’s daughter
Mike: he still gets these via trade; his guy told him that he could get $1500 each for the small fist truffles but that because the winery had been so good to him in the lean years that there would never be any wavering in the agreement which dated back 22 years to the first November after Roberto’s father fell ill.
Viola: Roberto’s poem on the winery wall?
Mike: yeah, perhaps the most compelling argument that life and our direction is not nearly so neat as we would like to make it. Roberto was a successful man, but family….
Viola: I love you Dad
Mike: are you sure?
Viola: you silly, silly man, with the big dangerous imagination…you know I am not going to repeat myself
Mike: so, a walk in the vineyards before lunch?
Viola: I have all day
Mike: I need to go to the room a bit
Viola: missing something?
Mike: the opposite
Mike: have another coffee
Viola: then it would be my turn
Mike: dai! (come on)
Viola: have fun
Mike loved being anal retentive. In all the therapy from the divorce, the sessions in prison, and the countless scheduled interruptions Mike never admitted any frustration with his need to control his bathroom moments. The paid agreements with 3 cellmates over the 6 year sentence were an easy sacrifice for privacy. Larry, deuce, and Milwaukee all happily accepted payments to take morning rec shifts so that the author could experience consistent defecation time. Even the guards were known to have avoided Mike’s cage during the 8am hour and he could not help but feel a bit of joy knowing that the very funds that put him in federal prison were the same monies he used to buy this modicum of contemplative release.
As Viola disappeared from view the feeling intensified as if something in need of air to breathe wanted to leave his body. The wine-stained book on the nightstand was the only thought keeping his pant’s dry and as he pulled tightly on his abdomen he let his mind drift for all of a moment to the firearm tucked into his trousers. The misery clothing weighed down by the Beretta was not part of the plan. A proper shit was unencumbered by weight although the tightness of dress pants, particularly these Hugo Boss pants, was essential around the shins as the push would be beautiful. Of course there were times when sickness forced a nude release but this was not one of those days. This was a perfect day for a perfect BM, the name Mike’s family used during his potty training.
Mike opened the door to the room and locked it behind him. As he breathed in deeply for the final hold he flicked on the bathroom light and the very rarely seen, Italian exhaust fan. The soothing white noise filled the room as Mike carefully took off his black T-Shirt and dusted the shoulders with the back of his right hand. He smiled quickly to himself in the dressing mirror as he pulled the pistol from his pants and set it down on the dresser. The image of his bare chest and the firearm in the mirror compelled him to grab the iPhone for a self-portrait.
Mike: (to himself in breathy mumbles) fuck…this is stupid…I mean it would be a good shot but my belly is fucking bloated from the gluten…ugh…fading..fading….OK…
He left the camera beside the gun and adjusted his hair, flicked away the imaginary flakes from his neck and upper back just before he entered the bathroom and locked the door behind him. As he unfastened his belt he remembered the book was still on the dresser.
Mike: (much louder to self) goddamnit you stupid moron!
With his belt undone, he flung open the door of the bathroom and saw the German father from breakfast pulling himself up from under the bed. The two men lunged for the gun on the dresser and the force of their mutual arrival left them both on the floor and several feet from the weapon. The muted thud of their falls barely audible to the combatants shook both bed and dresser as Mike’s iPhone fell to the ground. In the dreamlike stoppage of time that occurs in moments of greatest tension Mike knew he had let his guard down. An :I love you moment” and his passion for a good morning crap had clouded the memory of the mystery note from before breakfast. Now, the creepy father with the molester mustache was there to write Mike’s last chapter.
The German knew Mike’s habits, and that he would be unarmed and vulnerable during his ritual evacuation. The hit-man hun had never expected Mike to make a hasty restroom retreat for requisite reading material so he had taken his time exiting his pillowy hiding spot. Now, rather than a convenient murder staged as suicide he was going to have to battle the anal author to the death.
Both men stumbled to their feet suggesting neither was nimble as they perceived themselves to be. As they met once again at the dresser the two grappled. The author and the alpine fashion-plate tugged and pulled at one another like little boys fighting to play with a new train set. The brawlers fell to the floor in a heap and the German managed to squeeze Mike into a headlock. Mike’s left arm was the only barrier between the assailant’s grip and his own neck.
Mike: you motherfucking Kraut fuck!
German: keep screaming maybe zay will heah you
Mike: you’re not very good at this Hans
German: I know, but you ahhh tereeble…so day send me on my holiday to finish you
Mike: day..? day send you? (making fun of his accent)
German: go fuck you self small little man with small career…dis is why it end fo you heah..agreement ahr agreement
Mike was beginning to fade and at the same time his anger was mounting just as it had all those years before. He always hated dangerous animals and did his best to avoid camping with bears, swimming with sharks, or going on safari with lions. In essence, the idea of a lower life form taking his life was simply unacceptable. Now, a 2 dollar gun for hire with a million dollar mustache was about to do the job.
Although Mike’s right hand was free and he was steadily bringing the full force of his medium build upon the nose and eyes of the Teutonic titan the damage he was inflicting could do nothing to break the hold of the hun.
German: I did not expect you to come out so uhrly from de bahthroom…you like to take you time, read zeh books zat you could never vrite youself..
Mike: you fucked up my shit schedule..I was about to read the chapter on the indigenous varieties of red grapes here in Canale
German: instead I catch you wit deh pants down…ahhahahah!
Mike hated that the sweaty man was touching his bare skin. He had always considered a plethora of ways he could go out, and being iced was always a possibility considering his own past. He knew though that when it was time it would feel easier, the struggle would not exist. Now, all he could feel was a warming moist sensation on the back and the painful prod of an iron chin on the top of his head. He loathed clamminess on his skin and likened it to a woman touching his arm after she had been washing dishes. Dying was bad enough, losing to this low rent assassin was worse, and having the willies was simply too much to take.
The choking continued and as the dappled sun was getting spotty and the smells and sounds lesser by the second Mike heard a familiar tune. It was the Ligabue song – Le donne lo sanno – his iPhone ring! The fading writer scooped at the phone with his right foot and he could sense the German was attempting to squeeze harder.
Mike managed to get the phone to his fingertips on his free hand while he forced one last push against the chokehold with his occupied arm.
Mike: hey…hey! hey!
German: vaht? can’t you see I’m trying to kill someone?
Mike: (grabbing the iPhone fully) I think it’s for YOU!!
Mike leveled the iPhone in the hard plastic case directly into the right eye of the attacker. The German’s grip loosened just enough for Mike to spin clockwise and rattle the iPhone into the assaulter’s adam’s apple. The men separated and although free, Mike remained dazed and dizzily collapsed when he tried to get to his feet. The dumbfounded dad audibly choking now and grasping at his throat got to his knees and made for the dresser.
Mike spun on his back like an 80s break dancer and kicked the Bavarian bandit with both feet glancing his neck and eyes. The indirect blow slowed the German blitz long enough for Mike to get to his knees and rip his loosened belt from his pants. The simple silver buckle made a punchy thwack as it broke the German’s lip apart and it sounded even more menacing as it landed twice again on the eyebrow and tip of the attacker’s nose.
After the third belt strike Mike jumped to his feet and grabbed the pistol behind him. The German lunged forward as the first bullet tore open the left side of his neck and he twisted violently into the row of windows along the wall behind the bed.
Mike fired a second and third round quickly into the hun’s abdomen felling him in a heap on the floor under the windows. The German indeed slid down the wall smearing blood like some scene from Japanimation and the author noted this with a curious grin.
Mike: you sonofabitch! you fucked up my shit schedule!
German: don’t let my family see me like ziss
Mike: where are they?
German: zay went on zeh twuffehl hike
Mike: of course they did….man, you choked me really good..you almost got me
German: your fucking iPhone..why do you have it in zhat case?
Mike: mostly because I am clumsy and drop the thing all the time..you know, i threw it off a concrete embankment once when this fucking dentist tore my face apart trying to drain an infection. It literally went about 200 feet in the air and down on the street….not a scratch…can’t really say the same for you. I would love to call an ambulance, but you know I can’t do that
German: I know…
Mike: besides, now I am going to be constipated for a week…holding cells, questioning, Amanda Knox references…you fucking asshole!
Mike no longer had the urge to shit and it felt like there was a reptile in his stomach that had crawled up from his anus filling his bowel canal and preventing release. The discomfort in his gut only exacerbated his misery as he pulled and wiped at the attacker’s sweat on his back and kidney area.
Mike: man, you sweaty fuck…uhhhh! I am gross…nasty fat fuck!
German: ziss won’t be zeh end
Mike: I’m sure…..
Mike fired another round through the bridge of the German’s nose and he died. At that moment the iPhone text tone sounded and the message said “have you finished your business Dad? ready for that walk?”
…to be continued