Vittoria and Giovanni had the rest of yesterday afternoon and all of the evening to discuss the circumstances of her adoption. Right after Vittoria disappeared Francesca told me the old man said her birth mother was Maria Marrella, the famous movie star of the 70s. But then this might not actually be the case. Maybe Francesca heard Giovanni say only the woman’s last name, and she just assumed it was the actress. Who knows?
I wish I were a fly on the wall at that house right now.
When I saw Vittoria pop up on my IM box yesterday I hesitated. Should I tell her about Francesca’s scam about Giovanni’s heart attack or not?
“Are you all packed up and ready to go back home?” I asked.
“Yep,” she said, “I’ll be leaving in about a half an hour.”
“I know everyone is just desperate to see you.”
“Want to know how I know they are desperate?”
I outlined Francesca’s e-mail, my call to the ICU at Lennox Hill, the whole thing.
“Oh, my God. Francesca never lies.”
“It would be understandable in this case, don’t you think?”
“She never lies. She’ll tell you exactly what’s on her mind. What if my dad is in another hospital?”
“I don’t think so. Maybe Giovanni put her up to it.”
“Well…that’s possible. Yes, he’d do something like that.”
“The sly old devil.”
“This makes me mad.”
“I’m annoyed myself.”
“I think I’ll just stay here for a couple more weeks. Just to teach him a lesson.”
“No! If you do then he’ll really blow a gasket. He’s suffered enough.”
“He deserves it.”
“Go home now. Get this damned thing over with.”
“Are you sure he didn’t have a heart attack?”
“Think it through. Where else would they take him? If he wasn’t admitted, then there’s no heart attack.”
“All right what? Are you going to go home now?”
“Yes. I’ve got a few things I need to tell him.”
“Good. Drop me an e-mail as soon as you arrive.”
* * *
Last night I had a dream. I was back in America with Vittoria. We were at my place fooling around. She suddenly had a great idea. “Let’s make a picture for a Christmas card!” she said. “Ah, yes, excellent!” I said.
The perfect thing to send to all those relatives of hers who always made her feel out of place, like a stranger in a foreign country. Mom and Dad and her brothers and sister and aunts and uncles and a multitude of cousins—they all would see a real hot Italian cheesecake and the famous novelist!
So I put one of the Nikons on a tripod, set the self timer.
When I processed the film and printed the picture, however, we were deeply disappointed. I had carelessly aimed the camera. It was out of focus and both our heads were cut off. Now none of them will ever know who we really are.