The Grape Harvest Part 4 is the continuation of my Italy Travel Fiction segment that I began in April. This is a 7-10 part series following Mike, a newly successful author along his travels in Italy. Do not let the banal description steer you away from this story of introspection, compulsion, and deviance. Here are links to the first 3 chapters.
Mike unconsciously swallowed the remaining milky remnants of the cheese as he gulped to speak to the beautiful young woman staring right into his face.
Mike – Viola, how did you know I was here?
Viola – Daddy, you may be the author of Italy’s most hidden gems, but you are certainly not Italy’s most hidden writer
Mike – Miranda?
Viola – you know she loves me
Mike – secretary, mother, and principal…3 for one salary
Viola – give her a break she would not share that info with just anyone
Mike – Perugia?
Viola – its cool
Mike - la tua Italiano?
Viola - meglio
Mike – your mother?
Viola - non ce male
Mike – good, I am glad she is well…..hungry?
Viola – of course
The two stopped speaking and immediately grabbed plates for the breakfast buffet. The volume of cheeses on the buffet was in direct proportion to the amounts the two put on their table. There were 3 honeys today from chestnut, many flowers, and one from some mountain plant in Aosta. Viola was almost 23 and had finished University the prior year. Much to Mike’s chagrin she had studied theater and like Mike had little practical use for the degree. Mike’s last work had finally made him some money and he used the majority of it to pay for Viola to attend language school.
Viola had always wanted to know Italian and Mike had every intention she would have learned it from infancy, but a nasty divorce and an unfortunate mistake had buried Mike’s hope for a polyglot daughter. Now, after university she was getting a chance to learn the language in a way Mike had never experienced. Viola lived with a retired violin instructor and her husband who still sat in the family butcher shop all day critiquing his son’s cuts of lamb, beef, pork, and offal. She would almost always go down to the shop each day and pick up the order for the matronly violinist. As much as she loved to engage her growing Italian, Massimo, the son, and now bread winner for the family clearly had designs on Viola.
Massimo was nearly 40, lived in a semi-private part of the family villa along a dilapidated street in the center of Perugia. Viola could have stayed in any of the student homes sanctioned by the school but she preferred the idea of seeking her own path and disengaging from the bevy of English speakers at every language school in Europe. Most of her friends had studied in Florence at some point in their college career but Mike was steadfast in his assertion that no child of his would be allowed to matriculate the streets of Disneyland Italy and that Florence had sold its soul a few weeks after the Medici left power.
Viola, now free from the burden of university coursework, could spend her afternoons wandering Perugia seeking a new coffee shop or writing in her journal. Massimo had other ideas. Almost daily after lunch altogether with the family Massimo would offer Viola a walk through town or a ride on his vintage Moto Guzzi. Each day she would politely decline and go off on her own. She knew that Massimo would watch her as she stepped out into the alley and disappeared in as many unique directions as she could imagine.
Massimo was tall for an Umbrian. At around 6’2″ and over 200 pounds with graying temples a rugged but shaven face he was indeed a handsome man even with the very coarse hair that permeated his extremities and made his eyebrows seem drawn onto his skull with a Sharpie. His knife skills, while jeered at every turn from his own father, were known throughout the region for their mastery. He walked with a slight limp which was almost undetectable with the natural wobble in most people as they walked the cobblestone medieval streets of old town Perugia; but it was there, a soccer dream ended by a drunken afternoon crash on his first Vespa. Massimo knew Pirlo and Buffon before they were Italian heroes and they knew Massimo. Il Riccio was a superior defender and his coarse arm and leg hairs provided his apt nickname as he would leave stinging whelps upon the legs of helpless boys from Lazio in the most heated matches of the Italian junior ranks. The stars seemed to shine brightest when Massimo was on the pitch and their dim light now was only for the Easter lamb or a beautifully cut and wrapped veal roast. While many Italian men would welcome the honor of being the most reputable butcher in their region, Massimo hated his job and his father.
Mike looked up from his coffee to see Viola’s eyes as she took her final bite of Robiola. For the first time in his life he saw an adult across from him. A woman of beauty that far exceeded his own, she was the product of folly in Mike’s eyes and at the same time he could imagine no joy like he has known as a father. She had exceeded every academic expectation Mike had wanted for her and it became apparent by the time she was fifteen that she was more gifted in almost every way than Mike. Angie was Viola’s mother and the finest actress Mike had met. They had fucked during a particularly violent winter thunderstorm on the floor of the student government office and while the orgasm was unremarkable the results were and continued to be the most compelling thing Mike had every been part of creating. Mike and Angie tried it together until Viola was 5, until the police came to the door and she saw her father’s head ducked into the rear of the police car. It would be 7 years before they met again.
…to be continued