John Palcewski (forioscribe) wrote,
John Palcewski

The Consul Is Sorry

The Consul’s suit was Armani. His shoes Gucci. His watch Patek Phillipe. His Fifth Avenue office Cararra marble & Louis XIV antique. “As you may know, Mr. Stephens,” he said, “Italy is a democratic country.”
“Yes,” James replied, “but despite that I believe a crime has been committed. Does a man in your country have the right to lock up his daughter in a remote monastery?”
“Perhaps these things may have happened generations ago. But not now. How old is this daughter?”
“Twenty eight.”
“You say she is married?”
“Well, it appears she is an adult and able to make her own decisions, no?”
“Nevertheless she is being held against her will.”
“What about her husband?”
“Yes, indeed: what about her husband? Apparently his father-in-law has intimidated him to the point of paralysis. I’ve read about ‘padre podesta.’”
“I am sorry. I do not understand that term.”
“I believe it means that in Italy a father has all power and may do what he sees fit with his children.”
The Consul shook his head. “As I say, perhaps this was the case 50 years ago. Not now.”
“And as I keep reminding you, Vittoria is locked up. Surely there is something you can do.”
“What do you propose?”
“Call the monastery. Ask some questions. I’ll be happy to reimburse you for the long distance charges.”
“Very well. Give me its name and location.”
“I don’t know its name. But it’s near Portofino.”
“How near Portfino?”
“I don’t know. Except that it must be on the coast because she and her father got there by hired boat.”
“This is impossible,” the Consul said. He rose from the settee and went behind his desk.
“But surely there is some sort of directory that lists monasteries.”
The Consul laughed. “My dear sir, some of these religious communities have no telephone, no electricity, and indeed no address. You can not therefore expect to find them listed in a phone book.”
“So you will not help me.”
“There is nothing I can do.”

James thought for a moment.
“Tell me, what action would you take if someone you cared about was kidnapped and taken away?”
“There is no evidence of kidnapping here. This woman, after all, is an adult.”
“So what shall I do? Pretend this has not happened?”
“I am sorry,” the Consul said.


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