Such a Shrew

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Evening in Siracusa_xeronesExcerpt from Death In Bagheria, a work in progress

Thursday, March 23, 1871

Yawning and yanking his great bulk out of the chair, Colonna greeted the pair and gestured for them to sit. “What happened to you?” He smiled at her, winking in Captain Badali’s direction.

Ignoring the inspector’s attempt at camaraderie, Badali stood silent.

“After months of deliberation, Sister Genoveffa has concluded that her mother was murdered. She asked me to investigate. Gave me her mother’s journal penned shortly before the poor woman’s final agony and, as I entered the piazza on my way home, it was plucked from my hands by a gang of ruffians.”

Colonna chewed one end of his mustache. “Yes, I know all about your new commission and the diary.”

“But how could you?” She looked her watch pin. “I met with the nun only a short while ago.”

“Experience, my dear. I make it my business to know everything, sometimes before it occurs.”

“Creating evidence as needed?” she asked.

“Burning the midnight oil, aren’t we?” he asked.

“Speak for yourself.” Serafina gazed at his girth. “It appears that life and your wife’s cooking have been kind to you.” She felt a twinge of remorse as soon as the words flew from her lips; sometimes she was such a shrew. After all, Colonna did have a certain—what to call it—perspicacity? Not quite the word, but she’d grant him the shrewdness of a peasant. Her son never tired of warning her that she was envious of his position. Was it true? She doubted it. The last time they’d worked together, she tortured herself into collaborating with Colonna, forcing herself to confide in him, asking him to question his beliefs and re-open a case he considered closed. She was amazed that her efforts had wrung some semblance of canny advice from his lips, to say nothing of the commissioner’s increased admiration for her. Lest she forget, when all was said and done, in these times of treachery, the fat inspector managed not only to survive, but to prosper; and far be it from her to suggest that a thick greasing was the reason his wheels never squeaked.

Photo: Evening in Siracusa. Credit: xerones (Flickr), Creative Commons.

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