Category: mystery(comedy)


The third book of the “Misadventures of Cardinal Fratelli” series is now available in paperback. Unlike the previous volumes, this book combines a murder mystery with its comedic element. and trust me, Cardinal Fratelli is hilarious as ever!

 

http://www.amazon.com/Misadventures-Cardinal-Fratelli-Constable/dp/1478164131/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1341470816&sr=1-8

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Chapter 12.

The Upset.

 

Fratelli’s heart thumped in his chest. Slowly, he stooped down and examined the shoes. Discovering one side badly damaged, and a piece scraped off, he almost shrieked. Covering his mouth, he stood, tiptoed down the hallway and peered into the parlor where Gino was working. Maybe this was a coincidence? After all, fancy shoes did damage easily. How could he be so sure the missing piece came from that same shoe?

He shook his head, trying to think clearly. Suddenly, an idea emerged in his mind. Coming back into the parlor, Fratelli sat in a nearby chair, watching as Gino diligently painted. His delicate hand molded shapes and colors. Mary’s swaddled figure, he outlined in deep blue. He hated to interrupt but asked anyway:

“I sure feel sorry for what happened to your friend Diego, he was your friend right?”

Gino stopped, looked over his shoulder and replied, “We worked together every now and then…I really didn’t know him well.”

“Oh.”

Fratelli clasped his hands. He really didn’t know what else to say. He just sat…and observed. However, his anxiety grew very perceptible to Gino who turned and politely stated, “Your Eminence, I know you are very interested in my work- and I’m honored by this, however, I feel your presence is distracting me.”

“I apologize.”

Why should he apologize? It was his own house…well, the Church’s house… Fratelli moved past the door then silently peered around the threshold.

“I know you are still there, Good Eminence…”

“Oh.”

He crept back to where Gino’s shoes were and again looked closely at the damaged one. Feeling shivers, he wondered if a murderer were right here, in his house.

Dreadfully nervous, Fratelli summoned Dina and met with her in the kitchen. In case things became dangerous, he wanted her away from the house. Seeing his uneasiness, she asked him:

“Your Eminence, what is the matter now?”

“I want you to get Ernesto for me…”

“But it’s noon and it’s raining, and he may be very busy at work.”

Thinking quickly, Fratelli answered:
“Then I give you the rest of the day off, go home!”

She began protesting then hushed, eyed him strangely and seeing he was serious, gathered her things to leave. He waited until she left before walking into the parlor.

“I’m going to the market,” he announced.

Gino gazed at him.

“It’s raining, Your Eminence.”

“Well I like the rain!” he asserted, proudly crossing his arms.

Although he didn’t say anything more, Gino’s face displayed a fine smile. The cardinal added:

“You can stay here and help yourself to the wine, I’ll return shortly.”

Fratelli donned his shoes, grabbed his draping, red cloak, wrapped it around himself and dashed outside.

Soon as he stepped onto the street, his robes became wet. Lifting them up around his knees, he sprinted across the piazza. He hoped to find Ernesto soon as he looked rather foolish out there in the rain; a soggy, red figure running down the street.

He suddenly halted in front of a figure on horseback.

“Ernesto, is that you?”

“Yes, Angelo. What are you doing out here? You are soaking wet.”

Dropping the hem of his cassock, letting it clump forlornly around his feet, he replied, “Yes…I’m aware of that.”

Ernesto dismounted and escorted Fratelli beneath an alcove. Cold water rushed from the roof, away from them and pooled along a ditch on the street. The cardinal removed his red skullcap and wrung water out of it. Then he futilely put it back on his soaked head.

“Your Eminence, just look at you!”

“Ernesto, there’s something I must tell you…I found a pair of alligator shoes- and one’s missing a piece from it. The same color as the one you had shown me.”

“Where?”

“At my house- at my house! They belong to Gino Siglio!”

Ernesto’s eyes widened. He paced back to his horse and quickly mounted. Passing Fratelli, he said:

“Go ahead home Angelo and I’ll follow you…”

Reluctantly, Fratelli plodded home, walking over rain puddles though doing his best to avoid them. His shoes were drenched, his finery water-logged and heavy. He looked altogether pathetic by the time he reached home. Ernesto waited beneath a tree as he came inside, tracking mud and water all over the carpet. Dina would be very upset at him…

He removed his shoes and put his red cap atop the hat rack. It slid, weighed down by moisture and fell. Fratelli sighed, shrugging. He promised he’d pick it up later.

Fratelli went into the parlor and discovered it dark and empty. Gino was nowhere to be seen! Running back, he told Ernesto and the constable came in after him. He looked for the shoes but found them neither.

“It seems he knew what you were up to, Your Eminence… What did you tell him before you left?”

“I said I was going to the market.”

“Oh, Angelo that is so transparent!”

“I am sorry, so sorry Ernesto. I failed you.”

“No you didn’t, you helped me. Putting Gino to flight only makes him look all the more guilty. Now let’s find him.”

Chapter 2.

Unexpected Things.

As Cardinal Fratelli leaned back in his chair, smiling, glad to have a moment of peace, someone wrapped on the door. Slightly opening it, he peeked his head through and saw Dina, the kitchen-maid standing there. She wore a light blue dress, her brown hair tied-back and tugged the door fully open.

“Your Eminence, I know you aren’t feeling well today but your brother is here. He wants to see you immediately,” she said.

Fratelli walked out and at the hallway’s end, he met a tall, muscular man with handsome features and amber eyes just like his own.

“Angelo, you have to come to my house at once!” he stammered, “Michele is very sick!”

“Ernesto, wait, I’ll be out in a minute…let me fetch my gloves…”

“You don’t need those,” Ernesto replied and jerked his arm, leading out the door.

In the front-yard of Fratelli’s villa waited a small, uncovered coach. Ernesto climbed atop and helped Fratelli after him. The cardinal sat uncomfortably. He shifted abruptly, clutching the armrest beside him when their driver urged the horses forward. As trees blurred past, leaving the city and crossing open country, Fratelli glanced aside. Used to smoother transport, he closed his eyes against bumps and jolts. At last everything stilled. Ernesto jumped down and left Fratelli struggling to plant his feet solidly on the ground.

Before a stately farmhouse, built of wood and dull-yellow brick, he stood beside Ernesto who tugged the door open then shouted, “Michele, we are here!”

Michele’s figure emerged from another room, her dainty, olive-toned skin shining dully in afternoon sunlight. Moving aside her silken black curls, she stared with rich, dark-brown eyes.

“My, you poor creature, you look exhausted!” Fratelli cried.

Ernesto elbowed him.

“No Michele dearest, you look beautiful” he said- then asked the cardinal, “Doesn’t she look just stunning?”

“Oh, yes!”

Scowling, Michele plumped down on the couch nearby. Soon as she did so, a bell rang out as her brown-pointed; Siamese cat came running into the room.

“Oh Bella…” Michele sighed, taking the cat into her arms.

Seeing Fratelli standing so close, Bella peered curiously with pristine, blue eyes, and mewed.

“She wishes for an audience with you, Angelo,” Michele said.

She handed Bella to Fratelli. He uneasily pried the cat’s claws from his fine sleeve and uncomfortably held her. Perceiving this discomfort, the cat squirmed, landed a nice tear in Fratelli’s red cassock then jumped down. Sticking a finger through the hole, he groaned.

“Are you feeling better, Michele, my dear?” Ernesto asked, sitting next to her.

“I believe so…” she replied, “I keep thinking that maybe… I’m pregnant.”

“You are!”

Fratelli stirred, his lips curling with joy, his hands nervously folded and he inquired, “Am I going to become an uncle?”

“I don’t know…” she answered.

“How can’t you know!” Ernesto cried

He took his wife’s hand. His deep amber eyes stared at her, begging.

“Ernesto, these things are complicated…” Fratelli stated.

Now glancing up towards him, Ernesto remarked, “and how do you know?”

The cardinal blushed, looked again at the hole in his garb and responded, “I’ve read about it…of course.”

“You two!” Michele said, “Are starting to make me feel worse.”

Simultaneously, both men stepped away, letting light shine from the window onto her comely face. She breathed deeply, appearing quite relieved. They remained, sat and conversed for about an hour. Ernesto retrieved a brass time-piece from his trousers and hesitantly announced:

“It’s getting late, should I take His Eminence home?”

“How I wish you could just stay here…” Michele told Fratelli who anxiously eyed the window.

The skies had darkened somewhat as grey clouds covered the sun. They were thick, gauzy bands but not menacing or harboring a storm. Returning his attention to them, Fratelli spoke:

“Let us share a glass of wine first- to celebrate.”

Smiling, Michele stood but Ernesto stopped her and went into the kitchen himself. Resting back in her seat, she snickered childishly, holding within those mysteries a woman could hold. After Ernesto returned, Fratelli unseated, took the wine-bottle and blessed it with a swift gesture.

“Thanks be to God!” he gasped.

Twilight already engulfed the city in shadows when Fratelli arrived home on horseback, led by Ernesto. He dismounted, stroked the horse’s neck and shook his brother’s hand.

“You have my blessing and profound congratulations,” he said.

“But…we really don’t know?”

Fratelli laughed, “I suppose not. Be careful, sleep well my brother.”

As the cardinal turned his back, striding indoors, Ernesto gripped the reigns of his horse and circled. His stern face betrayed no excitement but surely, he felt it. Pacing at a trot, he glanced homewards and smiled wide against the setting sun.

Chapter 1.

The Letter.

Golden sunlight peeked from behind clouds, touching the bustling streets and terra-cotta rooftops of Lucca. Near the city’s piazza, stood a glistening, grey cathedral. Its tall bell-tower soared upwards and cast cool shade over sunbaked pavement.

Suddenly, a figure burst from the large, wooden doors; wearing elegant clothes, obviously wealthy. A black-robed priest chased after then halted upon the steps, raised his first in the air and called out:

“Get away from here! I do not absolve people who aren’t sorry- your sin will be the death of you!”

The wealthy man turned and gestured with his hand, angrily shouting. Then, he hastily left.

Still huffing with irritation, the priest spun, seeing a flash of bright red crossing the nearby courtyard. Squinting against vibrant daylight, another man, brown-haired, in his early thirties, came forth. His draping, scarlet finery rustled from the wind and quickly, he snatched his small, red cap before it could blow away.

“Father Adreo, whatever is the matter?” he asked.

Anxious, Adreo stared down. He bowed reverently and replied, “Cardinal Fratelli, Your Eminence, I didn’t think I would see you so soon…I’m sorry this had to get your attention.”

“I was just strolling,” Fratelli said, “and heard you yelling. Are you upset? Do you wish to talk about it?”

“No…not really.”

For a moment, they stood awkwardly eyeing eachother.

Hesitantly, the cardinal began ascending the stairs but he stopped right in front of Adreo and stepped back. He waited silently- then spoke,

“Father, you are blocking the door…”

“Oh!” Adreo exclaimed and moved aside.

He blushed, his fair-skinned face turning red as the cardinal’s robes. Fratelli however, ignored him as he passed by. Entering into cold candle-lit air, he sighed; glad to escape from the summer sun. Walking solemnly with his hands folded, he chose a suitable place where he knelt quietly in prayer.

Peering up at the white, marble high-altar, he mumbled:

Good Lord, be my shelter and relief. You know everything and so, you indeed know I’ve had a headache all day. If this suffering cannot be removed, O God, please… at least spare me from yelling and stress…”

Immediately after he finished this prayer, delicately signing a cross, some loud noise clanged outside. Jumping afoot, he muttered, “What now?”

Exiting through a side door, Fratelli looked upon broken glass, scattered paint-brushes and a man who sat next to a fallen cart. Splatters of every imaginable color surrounded him. His black hair streaked yellow and blue, he glumly frowned. As Fratelli approached, gingerly lifting the hem of his garb far from the paint-splashed ground, he jolted and spoke:

“I’m so, so sorry! I had been scheduled to come here, work in the cathedral…but was so excited, I lost my bearings! One thing happened, then another! Please forgive me?”

Although concerned, feeling utmost sympathy for this man, Fratelli bluntly asked, “You were supposed to work here today? Why didn’t anyone inform me?”

“I’ll clean all this up, Your Eminence…I promise…”

“Why doesn’t anyone tell me these things!”

The cardinal stomped off, leaving the painter alone to bemoan his colorful mess.

Sun shone through tall windows. Seated in the rectory office, an older priest; grey-haired and quite short, browsed through a pile of letters. He raised his head when Fratelli rushed in.

“Did you see what happened outside?” the cardinal huffed.

“No, Your Eminence.”

“Father Rodrigo, the painter you sent here, without informing me of course…which is something we must speak about, he dropped all his things and the sidewalk… is now covered with every color of paint!”

“Lord have mercy!” Rodrigo gasped, folding one arm against his chest.

“You will help him clean it up,” Fratelli said, “Then come back here so we can discuss why you keep forgetting to tell me things!”

Avoiding Fratelli’s hot gaze, Rodrigo scurried out.

Musing to himself, Fratelli now rested.  Seated at the desk, he regarded the letters and began sorting them. One, addressed from London, England, caught his eye. Quickly, he opened the envelope and read aloud:

Dear, Angelo Cardinal Fratelli,

          I have not forgotten about you and the wonderful times we shared when we were two, mischievous youths. You had always been a great friend of mine and at last, I’ve taken opportunity for a vacation in Italy. Summers here in London are dreary and depressing, so this arrangement is perfect!

          I cannot wait to see you, visit and talk about where life has led us. In advance, I send this letter so preparations can be made for my reception. Don’t be too anxious, I’ll be there before you know it.

 

          Sincerely,

          Your Old Friend,

          Jack Holloway.

Feeling shivers of excitement, Fratelli set down the letter then picked it up and read again. Though a dull pain still throbbed in his head, he felt glad- even relieved. He hadn’t seen Jack for 7 years, since his ordination into priesthood. Truly, they would have so much to talk about!