Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

23 August 2009

The Hit Man

At a leather goods stall in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana a small, faded-yet-attractive woman in a shabby pin-striped costume suit is picking over the handbags and keeping up an incredibly fast running commentary to a couple of companions. She has hennaed hair, stiletto-pointed scarlet fingernails and a cigarette which she either waves like a baton, dropping ash on the merchandise, or shoves between her lips where it flies up and down as she speaks unceasingly and blinks away the smoke.

A small boy, whom I take to be her son, leaves the stone step where he has been waiting patiently under a women’s underwear display, walks over to her, tugs at her skirt and whines pleadingly. She mostly ignores him, but every now and then she gives him a smack on the head - not viciously, more like swatting a fly. I watch fascinated. Each time she swats him he glares at her with distaste. Finally, she having cuffed him for the umpteenth time, he raises the plastic space gun which has been hanging loosely from his right hand by its trigger guard, points it at the small of her back, squeezes the trigger and makes a plosive pout with his lips. Then he looks at me in passing, his big brown eyes amoral and impassive.

I realize that I have just seen a mafia hit man in the making and that he has wasted his mother.

From ‘Antipasto’ random samplings from various writings made over a few years of visits to a ‘New Zealander’s Italy’


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By Don Donovan