From The Sky - Part VI

"Delvecchio's then," Gio agreed. "We will go; the three of us. I will make reservations. I will tell them, '…please reserve a table for my brother Ernesto Tarentella and another table, far across the room, for Gio Tarentella and his guest, Miss… Miss…' Oh, my, but I've forgotten your name!"

"And me as well," added Ernesto. "Oh, it's inexcusable. It is because you are so beautiful! We have been overwhelmed and we've both forgotten it."

"No you haven't," the woman said as she turned smartly away from them and walked to the door. And then she was gone, leaving both men bemused.

"We haven't?" Ernesto half-whispered.

"No, you haven't," Sal sighed. "She didn't tell you."

"Oh, what beautiful hair!" Ernesto half-whispered, his eyes softening, almost glistening.

"It shimmers; did you see how the light dances on it?" offered Gio.

"No, no…it is more like there are embers somewhere deep below. It glows from within; it shimmers."

"Oh, and her eyes," sighed Gio again. "They pull you in, don't they? Like magnets. And the color!"

"A pale hazel, I think" Ernesto said softly, his eyebrows gently arching.

"Yes, with little flecks of gold."

"She must have a very beautiful German name, brother. Something wonderful, not plain. Melissan, perhaps, or Rosamund or maybe Anastasia."

"Anastasia is a Russian name, brother."

"No," interrupted Sal as she prepared to run some bread through the slicer, "You're both wrong, I'm sure it's Italian."

"It is of no matter," said Gio with a sharp wave of dismissal, "I'll know her name soon enough. She's stolen my heart. I will win hers."

"Such an imagination you have, little brother," Ernesto shot back. "She's already decided. Didn't you see the way she looked at me?"

"Yes. She was horrified. She thinks you are a disease."

The great war between brothers was underway.

More insults were exchanged, and the words grew steadily more heated. At first Grandfather and Uncle stopped if a customer walked in, but soon they were hurling invectives at each other without regard for who might be within earshot. They argued even as Sal, red-faced, handed nervous customers their loaves of bread or bags of pastry. Aunt Sal says it went on for nearly half an hour, this fighting over a woman neither had ever seen before and might never see again. By the time they were finished, they were so close to each other their noses were nearly touching; their faces scarlet and on the verge of purpling.

Ernesto's last words: "She will be mine. It is a certainty, brother. Etch it in stone." He stomps off to the office, leaving his brother fuming.

Gio's oath: "Go carve your little stone, Ernesto! But there will be a gold ring on her finger one day, and my name will be etched there forever while your rock crumbles into dust!" Uncle storms to the back of the bakery.

Sal is left alone at the counter to ponder what lay ahead and to hope …in vain she was sure …that perhaps, just perhaps, the woman would not return.

"No," she sighed aloud. "The wheel turns. It can't be stopped."

The door opened, and an elderly couple entered. She put aside the brewing drama, gave them warm smiles, and sold them fresh bread. But she was right; a great wheel was in motion. It would turn relentlessly until the day, decades later, when a mangled chunk of jet engine smashed through Gio's house and finally brought it to a halt.

Fresh bread...


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