Ugly heart, beauty outside


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what leads you where you go....?

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Chapter 1

Our hearts lead us where they may. They drive who we are, where we go, and what we see. They guide how we see, and feel. They encourage us and discourage us, push us, pull us and they are our barometer for all. Right now mine was in a storm, raging and lost without a port.

Heart ahoy.

These were my only thoughts as I lay pondering my next step. I breathed deep and easy, keeping my heartbeat steady. Crosshairs rise and fall, pulse, pulse.

Kill or be killed.

The rain that fell was thick and heavy, falling straight down without slant, intent on wetting everything under God’s sun. It ran in rivulets down windows, in the gutters, pelting the sea of umbrellas marching underneath it. I watched it through my scope, the view clear despite the rain. Technology and guarantees of an excellent shot somewhere unread in the brochure. Just apply nine pounds of pressure to the trigger. The people moving in my scope, appeared zoomed, moving in slow motion.  I could hear and feel the rain all around me, drumming a cadence to my own, falling onto my poncho, onto my hands exposed, beading raindrops in the hairs.

Crosshairs rise and fall, pulse, pulse.

All the while I wait.

He would come soon.

And my heart would choose.


100 years ago this story began, a boy, a man and an argument over a loaf of bread. Yeast, salt, sugar, flour, water and an egg.

And from there life after life, grudge after grudge carried, hand to hand and heart to heart. 

Blood to blood.

How stupid we are.

The Ccpriano family was not yet at war with the Shiavelli clan. That day was to come. Guns hadn't yet been fired through glass into flesh, bullets piercing and tearing epidermis. Knives not used to slit throats and puncture lungs whilst gripped tight in Italian fingers. Butchers blocks were still being used for rump and tenderloin, not for the purpose of separating limb from torso.  The story of the origin of the war would be told and retold and slowly changed over the years. Old wives tales used to make children sleep. And with each drop of blood another sentence would be rewritten. But right now it hadn't happened; the story remained unchanged, unspoken. 

Until the end of this day when it would begin.

Giovanni had been asked to deliver a loaf of bread, pane di casa to be exact.

La casa in this instance was the house of Ccpriano.

Dutifully, for he was afraid of his father, Giovanni placed the loaf, still warm to the touch, into the basket of his bicycle. It sat wrapped in white linen, nestled in the brown weaved basket. It gave a soft delicate fragrance.

"It's heavy papa." He noticed. 

"Si" His father replied. "Yes it is"

The Scarselli pink diamond had spent the better part of its life in a tower in Northern Italy. Simply called la torre, the tower was anything but. It sat surrounded by a moat of grey green waters, rippled occasionally by the specifically sourced crocodiles that lived within the murk. This moat itself was fringed with a thick, untrained gorse bush, ripe with thorns and flowers as enticingly fragrant as it was unpassable. The walls of la torre were hewn from rough rock, denying any purchase for climbing fingers. The westerly side faced away from the wind and was mossy, damply overgrown with soft lichen. On the easterly side, battered by the wind, bare, hard rock stood impassive and stoic. High in the northern aspect lay an open single window and inside that room lived the Scarselli pink diamond. The decision to build this structure wasn’t taken lightly by the owner, placing the case in such a way as to catch the light at precisely 4pm each afternoon. It was then that the light would splinter the diamond and create a spectrum of colour so magnificent it could take one’s breath. At that time each day he could be found eying his treasure, seated in the only chair in the room. Hands crossed on his big stomach, confident that it was safe from the prying eyes and hands of all of his enemies.

The locals called the tower “torre impenetrabile” The impenetrable tower.

The man who stole this diamond in these most unusual circumstances was an historian of Italian architecture. His extensive study had led him to peruse historical constructs, and design throughout the century. Purely by chance did he come to learn that 100 years before a tunnel existed in this very estate that should by his calculations run under the torre impenetrabile. This in itself was no major discovery. The dinner at which he mentioned it, and the fact that his best friend was a thief however was the only catalyst required. This confluence of occurrences led to a theft that would change the lives of 1000 others after his, and to reach into the very heart of mine on that day.

Suffice to say, the diamond was stolen and on that very day the first death occurred, quite by accident.

At 3.45pm  Ricardo Torelli Shiavelli climbed the stairs to view his Scarselli pink diamond. A fat greasy man, indulged and pampered, he took his time walking the quiet stone staircase to the tower room. His cane tapped at each stair, each laboured breath. At 4.00pm promptly he opened the heavy iron door only to discover the diamond gone from its velvet case. Only a hollow indent, and muddy footprints remained. Simple sunlight streamed through the window, no spectrum of beauty awaited him. The shock of this discovery was too much for his heart and caused him to drop dead on the spot. Thus beginning a blood feud that with 9 pounds of pressure I could end.

Since that day it had been hidden, in shoes, socks, intestines, and bowels. Passed from hand to hand and family to family until now.

Now it had been washed and baked and hidden in bread. A special Italian bread called, Pane di casa. Warm, yeasty Pane di casa.

The blood spilled on that day still beats in my heart now. 

Giovanni rode his old bicycle over the uneven streets of Sicily. It was autumn time and the change of season had turned the small town into a blaze of bronze. Mothers reached for blankets and the air was tinged with the smell of burning woodstoves. Rust coloured leaves tumbled slowly through the chilly air as he rode, his breath misting before him. A leaf stuck to his sweater. The cobbles of Sicily pushed his tyres this way and that.

He never saw the black car that pulled up next to him. Nor did he see the blackened snout of the machine gun that would take his life in a hail of bullets.

A little boy caught in a war, bleeding on cobbled stones and oak leaf stuck to his sweater.

Giovanni was my blood line, three generations removed, and the man I was waiting for was responsible for his death.


Well not directly, he was, as I was the last descendant of his family name.


The last son, the last child, the last one.

I was the last Ccpriano.

The last son, the last child, the last one.

And one of us was going to die today.



The rain eases momentarily allowing the sun a moment to brighten my heart. A hint of warmth a lovers caress upon my skin, creates immediate goose bumps. For a moment in that stillness I realize the gift of life, its simplicity and beauty. Then I squeeze.

Nine pounds of pressure.

The bullet enters his right eye, shattering, matter, bone, blood and exiting cleanly with a large fragment of  skull. The pink mist is hidden in the splatter. 5 degrees of rotation and nine more pounds releases another bullet. Another life extinguished.

So simply.

So completely.

5 more times I deliver death until there is only one left standing. He doesn't run, nor tried to hide. He has known this time was coming, just as I have.

Now it is upon us.

 I look closely at the features of the man who has been in my dreams longer than I can remember, from before I was born and long after I will be dead. The dark hair, classic Sicilian features, strong and defined. He stands proud, tall, looks directly the scope. My imagination tells me he can see me, but I know I’m too far away.


In that singular moment we connect, heart to heart across that distance. The moment has come to end this thing that I didn’t start.

My heart falters unsure.

Maybe that's my hearts choice.

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Ash Davies

Loving this so far John, keep it up :)

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Ash? the founder of Tablo? Really?
Stefanie Almendarez

Wow! Hi John, had to leave a comment after reading this your first chapter! You have a way with words, and I'm sure you've heard it before. I want to thank you for writing, plus sharing this on Tablo - so inspiring. Inspires me as a writer to keep writing, to use words to paint images like you have. To trust the flow, perhaps to learn a new language even, read the dictionary or a poetry book! God bless, and please keep writing! :)

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Wow Stefanie thank you very much for your kind words. I'm trying to see if and what comes of this gift.. meantime I'm just writing..thank you very much for bothering to comment and your exceptionally kind words.. thank you..

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