Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chapter 15

"Angelo?  Angelo!"  Mrs. Di Marco called from the kitchen, becoming frustrated. She was in the middle of making biscuits and her hands were covered with flour. "Gio, can you get Angelo please?  He's not answering."

"Em, sorry my sweet, I'm in the bagno," came her husband's muffled reply.  
(bathroom, pronounced baan-yo)

Mrs. Di Marco made a noise of frustration and stopped to wash the flour and dough off of her hands before going toward Angelo's room to check on him. He'd been quiet all night.

She came back seconds later, a perplexed expression on her face.  By then her husband was in the kitchen.  He looked inquiringly at his wife. 

"Gio, did you see Angelo leave?"

"No, il mio amore," he replied, equally perplexed.  "One minute, please," he said, getting up and turning toward the door leading to the hallway. He went to the bottom of the stairs and called up.  "Paulie?  Johnny!"

They could hear footsteps on the floor above and a door opening.  "Yes dad?" came Paul's voice.

"Have you seen Angelo?"

"No, dad.  Well, I mean, I saw him earlier?  But he said he was going out.  Is everything all right?"

"Did he say where he was going?"

"Ummm, no sir, I just figured he was going to Amadeo's."

"What time did you talk to him?"

There was a slight pause, possibly as Paul looked at a clock, "I'd say around six?"

Mrs. Di Marco looked at the clock on the wall above the kitchen table and frowned.  It was nearly ten o' clock and she told her husband the time.

"Dad?  Everything ok?"

"I don't know, Paulie." Gio Di Marco replied with a concerned expression.  It wasn't like Angelo to go out so late without telling anyone where he was going.  He turned toward the phone but his wife was already there, dialing Amadeo's number.  Paul and Johnny ran down the stairs and stood silently beside their father as they listened to their mother's side of the conversation.

She quickly verified that Angelo had not gone to the Rossi home.  She hung up the phone and wrung her hands, as she often did when she was upset.  She couldn't help it but she immediately feared the worst.  She'd heard about the students at the school protecting each other but she wasn't sure if that protection included weekends, or Angelo, now that he no longer attended the school.  She worried that she would receive another phone call that her son was in the hospital.  An invisible hand squeezed her heart as she imagined the worst.

"Boys, check around the property first," Mr. Di Marco directed.  "Johnny, you check the upper garden and the spring, Paulie, get the lower ones, I'll check the barn."

They were all back within minutes, each looking at the other for word that Angelo had been found.

"Don't worry, ma.  We'll go out and look around for him, ok? You know how he gets when he walks, gets lost in his own little world and forgets the time?  We'll find him, mamma, don't worry, ok?" Johnny said.

"Yeah, ma, we'll find him," Paul said, putting an arm around his mother and giving her a gentle hug and a kiss on the cheek. "I'll take my bike and Johnny'll take the truck so we can cover more ground."

"I'll take the car.  You stay here just in case he comes back or calls," Joshua said, giving his wife a tender kiss.

"Ma, I'm sure we'll find him soon," Paul said bracingly.  He didn't say it aloud, but if worse came to worst he'd call his girlfriend and ask if she and her parents and brothers could join in the search.  Her oldest brother, Elric, was on the police force and he'd be able to put the word out as well. He didn't think it would be necessary, Angelo was probably sitting somewhere having an ice cream cone despite the time, but if his little brother didn't turn up soon, a few extra sets of eyes wouldn't hurt.

The Di Marco men scattered but not before Paul poured Mrs. Di Marco a cup of coffee and placed it, the little milk pitcher and the sugar in front of her, gave her another hug, and went to join the search.

Amadeo hung up the phone and picked it up again quickly, dialing Milo's number.

"No man, I haven't seen him all day, sorry."  Milo replied, "How long's he been gone?"

"Since about six," Amadeo replied anxiously.

"Look, I'll tell my dad, we'll go out and help look, k?"

"Thanks Mi," he said before hanging up.  When he turned around his parents were there, with curious expressions.  People didn't normally call so late unless it was an emergency.

"Angelo went out and no one knows where he is," he said, his brows furrowed with concern.  I'm going to ride around a bit and see if I can help find him," he turned toward the front door and had his hand on the knob before he heard his father's stern voice telling him to stop.

"You are not going anywhere on your bicycle this late at night!" he said sharply.  "If you insist on going out you'll go with me or you'll stay home and I'll go out by myself, ragazzino, understand me?" he said sternly. 
(little boy)

"But dad..."

"A meno che non si vuole una bella sculacciata farai quello che ti dicono! Capito?"  (Unless you want a good spanking you'll do what you're told, understand?)

Amadeo looked toward his brother.  "Yes, sir," he replied, willing away the fire he felt heating up his cheeks.  It was probably futile but he hoped that his brother wouldn't keep repeating their father's threat, otherwise Con would be teasing him for the rest of the week.

Mr. Rossi warmed up the car and honked the horn once to let Amadeo know he was ready to go.  Amadeo ran out of the house and jumped into the car.

"Any ideas where he might have gone, 'Deo?" his father asked as he pulled away from the curb.

"Lots of ideas but nothing definite," Angelo replied with a sigh.  "He loves to read, so he could have gone to the library or one of the bookstores, but they'd be closed by now.  He likes to go to the park to feed the ducks, or watch the fish, but it'd be too dark to see much of anything by now.  The railroad...  he likes to watch the trains sometimes... same problem though, they stop running at six."

"OK, those are a start.  Any friends he might have gone to visit?"  Mr. Rossi asked, then smacked himself on the forehead.  "Forget I asked that.  All right then, let's start with the park, that's closest I think."

When they arrived at the park it seemed, as expected, completely deserted, however they both knew that there were plenty of areas that weren't visible from the street. 

Mr. Rossi pulled the car to the curb to take a closer look.  "I really don't like this, Dae.  It's too late, there are too many hidden places where punks could be hiding."  He stopped talking.  He had no idea how worldly his son was but he didn't want to be the one to introduce him to the less seemly side of humanity. 

"How about we take a quick walk around together.  Safety in numbers and all that." Amadeo suggested, although he was pretty sure what his father's response would be.

"Not safe if we run into a gang.  Let's just drive around the periphery. Get the flashlight out of the cubby.  I know the beam won't reach far but it's better than nothing."

Halfway through their search they were pulled over by a police car.  Thankfully it was their friend and neighbor, Gage Roberts, and his partner Glen Carrigan. 

"I thought this was your car," Gage said with a grin.  "What on earth you folks doin' out here this time 'o night?  Snipe hunting?" he joked.

Johnny Rossi tried to smile back but failed miserably.  "No, sorry.  The Di Marco kid is missing.  His folks said he left the house about six and no one's seen or heard from him since."

"Di Marco?"

"Yeah, lives on the old Lombardi farm.  His mother inherited the place when her brother died.  Are you familiar with it?"

Gage frowned trying to remember.  "Lombardi... Pascal, or somethin' like that?  Yeah. I remember 'im.  Quiet guy.  Just him and a few other guys workin' the farm.  I'd run inta him or one of the others now and again at the farmer's market.  Real nice guys but... well..."

Johnny frowned slightly.  "But?"

"Well, there was a lot of gossip about them but... you know how it is with gossip.  Mountains and molehills an' all that," the officer grinned.

"Nothing bad?" Johnny asked, unable to conceal his curiosity.

"Nah, nothin' illegal or anything like that.  It's just that they weren't mixers, pretty much kept themselves to themselves.  So 'o course that lead to a lotta speculation by folks with nothin' better to do about what a bunch of bachelors did on the farm."

Johnny shook his head, not understanding.

"Word was the lot of em was light in the loafers, know what I mean?  But hey, they didn't bother no one.  They paid their bills, they were good neighbors from what I heard, and it's not like they went around... ahhh..." he stopped, realizing that there was a child in the car.  "Well, you know what I mean," he finished with an embarrassed smile.  "So anyway, about this kid," he said, getting back to business, "You said he went missing around six?  How old is he?"

"Sixteen," John answered.

"I didn't get any notice over the radio about it," Gage replied, sounding a little put out.  He looked over at his partner as though he'd had something to do with the lack of information.  Glen who had so far been standing silently by, merely shrugged in response.

"The family hasn't called yet," John replied.  "His brothers and his father are out looking for him.  We were trying to check the park but there's just so far we can see."

"Smart move.  It's just not safe anymore to take a walk in the park after dark anymore.  So, what's the kid look like?  We can keep an eye out for 'im while we're doin' our route," Gage said, pulling out his notebook and a pencil.

John looked to his son and gestured from him to the police officer.

"Ummm, about 5'5", large dark brown eyes, dark brown hair, slender..." Amadeo faltered.

"Any idea what he was wearing?"

"No sir," Amadeo answered.  "Sorry."

The officer sighed and raised his eyebrows.  He shook his head slightly.  "Kid like that's a prime target, 'specially at this time o' night.  Oh!  Sorry!" he said, seeing the look of fright that passed over Amadeo's face.  "I'm sure he'll be fine," he reassured quickly, "We'll keep an eye open for 'im."

"Thanks Gage.  Appreciated," John replied.

"No problem.  Drive safe. If we see 'im, we'll pick 'im up.  Who do we call?"

Amadeo quickly gave the officer the Di Marco phone number.

"All right then folks, do us a favor and if you find 'im let us know, k?"

"Will do," Mr. Rossi agreed.

With a smile and a friendly pat to the side of the car, the two officers got back into their car and drove off.  Glen looked at Gage who gave a slight nod.  Glen picked up the mic and radioed into the station, passing the word of the missing boy.  

They stopped at the railroad station, but Angelo was not sitting on the platform.

" 'Deo, did he say he sits and watches or does he walk the rails?  If he walks, without knowing which direction he went in, we'll never find him, especially if he's been going at it since six."

Amadeo scratched his head with an embarrassed expression.  "I didn't ask, I just figured he sat on the platform and watched them go by.  He asked me to come with him a couple of times but it just wasn't my thing."

"Book stores next?" John suggested.  "The A&W?  What time does Grammarcy's close?"

"Most of them are right down the main street.  The library and book stores are definitely closed," Amadeo answered uncertainly, glancing at his watch.  "We've been out looking for about forty five minutes. We can check them out anyway, then find a pay phone and call the house to see if anyone's found him yet."

"Couldn't hurt," his father agreed.  They drove slowly for several blocks on the lookout both for the boy and a pay phone.  Within minutes they'd found a pay phone at a gas station, but when they called the house Mrs. Di Marco tearliy reported that there'd been no word yet.

The Rossi's drove around town in steadily wider and wider circles, stopping every hour to check in at the Di Marco home.  Mrs. Di Marco did her best to keep herself under control but each time they called, Johnny Rossi could hear that control cracking a little more.  It was now one o' clock in the morning and they and the Di Marco's had been searching for three hours since discovering the boy missing.

They were just at the outskirts of town when suddenly, emerging from an alley, was Angelo, who began to cross the street without looking and stepped out in front of the Rossi's car.

Mr. Rossi stepped on the brakes and honked the horn lightly.  He was both happy to see the boy and half scared to death that he could have run the kid over.

Angelo stopped dead with a startled expression.  He scanned the street and finally focused on the Rossi car, which had stopped just inches away from him.

For a moment it looked as though Angelo were going to turn and run.

Mr. Rossi got out of the car with a stern expression and called to the boy.  "Angelo!  Don't you dare!"

Angelo blushed, embarrassed that he'd been read so easily.

"Get in the car," Mr. Rossi commanded.

Angelo, head bowed but keeping an eye on his friend's father, walked around to the passenger side of the car and slid into the back seat.

Amadeo immediately caught the scent of cigarette.  Mr. Rossi, who had gotten back into the car after assuring himself that the boy was in and settled, smelled it a moment later.

Figuring that his father would deal with that issue, Mr. Rossi demanded, "Where have you been?" 

"Just... around," Angelo answered quietly.

"Your family was worried, Angelo," Mr. Rossi scolded.  "You only told them you were going out, no one had any idea where you actually were."

Angelo, eyes fixed on the knees of his jeans, didn't answer.

Amadeo turned in his seat to look at his friend.  "Angelo, man, what's going on?  Where were you?" he asked, concerned and a little angry.

Angelo kept his eyes down and remained silent but gave a little shrug by way of an answer.

Amadeo shook his head in frustration and turned to face forward.  They'd only driven another block before Amadeo pointed to a gas station.  "There's a pay phone, dad. Do you want to call ahead and let them know we found him?"

Mr. Rossi wasn't certain that his young passenger wouldn't bolt if he pulled over to use the phone, but didn't want everyone else to continue looking if they called in.  He pulled over to the side of the road and turned toward Angelo with a severe expression on his face.

"You stay put, young man," he commanded.  "If I have to run after you, I will, and you won't like the consequences. Understand?"

Angelo looked up from beneath his long dark lashes with a guilty expression. "Yes, sir," he whispered before slouching down in the seat and training his gaze once again upon the knees of his jeans.

The phone call only took a few moments.  Amadeo could hear Mrs. Di Marco's joyful shout.

"I'll tell you everything when I get there, all right?" said Mr. Rossi with a smile.  "OK then, we'll be there soon."  He hung up the phone, waited a moment, then pulled out another dime and called the police department.  He explained how he'd run into Glen and Gage and how he'd promised to call them if the boy had been found.  

The dispatcher, a woman named Amarilla, thanked Mr. Rossi kindly and promised to alert the officers immediately.

Mr. Rossi's smile disappeared when he glanced into the back seat and saw his young charge.  He had no idea where the boy had gone but he had then disappeared for hours with no word to his family of whether he was alive or dead.

They arrived at the Di Marco home soon afterward.  As soon as Mr. Rossi turned his engine off, Mrs. Di Marco ran out to embrace her son.  Paul and Johnny joined them seconds later.

"Ma, dad just called.  We told him Ange is home, he's on his way back," Paul announced happily.

Mrs. Di Marco pulled her youngest into a hug, only to wrinkle her nose and release him seconds later with a frown on her face.

"Fumare?!" she demanded.

Angelo wouldn't look at her. 

"Vai in camera tua!" she commanded. She landed a sound smack to his backside when he turned soundlessly to obey her. "No!  Prima andare a fare il bagno, lavare i capelli e ottenere che puzza di sconto! Lavarsi i denti. Poi vai in camera tua!"  (Go to your room!  No!  First go take a bath, wash your hair and get that stink off! Brush your teeth. Then go to your room!)

It took the Rossi's several minutes to bring the Di Marco's up to speed.  By the time Johnny Rossi finished, Mr. Di Marco had arrived.  He repeatedly thanked the Rossi's for their assistance.

Mr. Rossi held a hand out to Mrs. Di Marco, who took it and drew the taller man into a grateful hug.  "Thank you, thank you, thank you," she said fervently.

"My pleasure, Mrs. Di Marco," he said, returning the hug.  "I think 'Deo and I need to get going though.  Good night."

"Good night," the Di Marco's responded.  They stood as a group and watched as the Rossi's backed down the dark driveway.  When the car disappeared around the corner.

"Johnny, get Angelo a clean pair of pajamas, please?" Mrs. Di Marco asked.

The two boys each gave their mother a kiss before going back into the house.

Mr. Di Marco turned toward his wife and gathered her into a comforting hug, stroking her hair and whispering in her ear.  They stood that way for several minutes until he drew back, looking into her beautiful blue eyes which picked up the light from the stars.  He had been calm up til that point, but when he saw the sorrow and worry reflected in her eyes he became angry again.  He gave her a hug and released her a little more roughly then he'd intended before stalking into the house, slamming the door behind him.

"Angelo!  Angelo!! Prendi qui. Ora!" he demanded.
(Get out here. Now!)

The sounds of splashing reached their ears.

"Angelo!  Ora!"

"Sì, papà! Sto arrivando!" came the slightly frantic reply.  
(Yes, dad!  I'm coming!)

Julia walked over to stand in front of her husband.  She took his face in her hands and gently forced him to look down at her.  "Gio," she said softly. "Remember... never while you're angry.  You are not your father, and you swore, you swore, never while you're angry."

Giosua focused on his wife's face.  Calm.  Serene.  Understanding.  Trusting.  So beautiful.  Her voice had an immediate tranquilizing effect on him and he wrapped her in another hug.

Angelo came out of the bathroom tentatively.  His face reflecting his guilt, remorse, and shame.

"Papa, per favor..."

"No, Angelo.  We're not talking about this right now. It's too late and we're all tired," Giosua said sternly, not trying to disguise his disappointment in his son.  "Get to bed now.  We'll talk about it in the morning," he said, tiredly.

"Dad... mamma, I'm sorry," he said, near tears.

Giosua wrapped a loose arm around his son and dragged him into a quick hug.

Angelo clutched his father, fighting tears.  "Please dad!  I'm sorry! Don't hate me? Please?"

Joshua and Julia surrounded their son and hugged him tightly.  "We don't hate you honey," his mother said.  "We could never hate you, not ever." she reassured.


"Bed, Angelo.  We'll talk about this in the morning," Giosua said firmly.  "Go on," he said, turning his youngest and sending him on his way with a sharp swat to his backside.

Giosua and Julia watched their son head to his room.  They locked the doors and windows, and turned off the lights.  Giosua put a comforting arm around his wife and walked with her to the bedroom, where they fell asleep, curled around each other, sleeping peacefully, knowing that their boys were all home and safe.

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