• The Opera Lively Serial Novel "Opera Deadly" - Chapter 15

    This chapter was written by member Vesteralen:

    Chapter 15

    “Antonio, I heard what happened to that Crivelli woman yesterday.” The old woman paused and nervously fingered her handkerchief. “Those other recent deaths of opera people didn’t register with me, for some reason. But, when I heard about the latest –“ She paused again and looked him straight in the eyes. “What I want to know is – did you have anything to do with it?”

    Forli looked at his aunt with about as sheepish a look as his normally mature and grim visage could display. After a few seconds, he simply said. “Yes.”

    “I thought so,” said the old woman as she sat back in her chair. With a sigh, she went on. “And it’s all because of me, I suppose. I told you that that woman should be punished and should know the reason why.” Forli nodded. “And did she know?” she asked him.

    “I couldn’t risk it, Zia Caterina. If I gave her the knowledge and she shared it with someone else, it could have tied us in with it.”

    “Oh, Antonio, Antonio……And, all those other deaths? Are they a part of it, too?”

    “Zia, I had to cover my tracks. If Crivelli was the only target, the police would have searched more carefully through her career and they may have seen a possible link with poor, dear Beatrice. And fortune favored me with a perfect cover. The ones who actually committed the acts had a rather arcane motive of their own that has the police chasing the wrong thread altogether.”

    Caterina said nothing for a long time. Then finally, she turned her weary eyes on her nephew again. “When I said ‘punished’, I had no idea in my mind of this kind of thing.” A few seconds later – “I’d like you to go now, Antonio. Please don’t come back.”

    Tony Forli drove away from his aunt’s home in a bitter mood. But, after a few minutes of thinking about how things had developed so far, his normal attitude of smug superiority began to return. “Give her time…She’ll come around,” he thought.

    Sure, there had been regrettable aspects of the matter. The death of the Freeman woman was not part of his plan, no matter what it is she claimed to know. It could only have reinforced the misleading Napoleonic thread of the matter.

    The guy who was knifed – Duchamp, was it? That was unfortunate as well. Ricardo claimed that instead of just listening to the staged argument they had planned, the fool decided to jump in and try to help Carlo, and literally just ran into his drawn knife. Hard to believe, but…

    Ricardo himself paid the price, too. He had amended the instructions after he sent him off to get John. “Give him time to do what he’s going to do. Then, afterwards, be sure that what happens to him looks like suicide or an accident.” How could he know that that unpredictable Walewski would have the amazing good fortune to turn the tables on his pursuer at the last minute?

    But, no harm done. Walewski was fool enough to make his way back here, anyway. My men easily overpowered him and locked him up. I’ll wait till the right time to deliver his body to the police.

    The police! No worries about Joe Green and that Karen woman. They are so distracted with each other and so easily misled – no threat at all. But, my old enemy Risi. That’s a different matter. It’s a good thing Ricardo has been in this country for such a short time. Maybe even Risi won’t be able to trace him back to me. But, I need to be careful. I might have to deal with Risi myself before this is over.

    Now, just to give everything a little time to die down. The police will be convinced about the Napoleon connection when Walewski’s body is found – a suicide. Then, I can move on to the final chapter in this plot – the one who has to not only pay, but know the reason!

    “Dear Nonna,

    By the time you get this letter, you’ll have heard what has happened to me.

    I still have no regrets that I never tried to use your money to further my career. You’ve been so good to me from the time I was your orphaned six year old granddaughter. You never laughed at me when I told you I wanted to be an ‘oppwa star’. But, when it came down to the real thing, I just had to make it on my own. You understood. And, I thank you.

    My last letter to you was full of happiness. Landing the part of Tosca in Zurich seemed like the perfect ending to eight years of study and trudging the boards. I started rehearsals in total elation and confidence.

    After two days, however, my confidence turned to fear. I had seen the way the director was looking at me and it made me uneasy. On the third day, he dropped the bomb. We were going to be performing in the heart of regietheater, and the director, powerful as he was in the opera world, had till now only worked in the States and occasionally in Britain. This was his first opportunity to make a splash in Europe, and the splash was going to be me.

    He had it all worked out. In the pardon scene, he was going to just ignore the verbal clues of the score and have Scarpia tear off my clothes piece by piece, so that when I came to the big aria – yes, you can guess.

    I refused. Outside of the fact that I’ve always told myself I would never do that kind of thing, what would it do to my career? After years of work, my first big role – and no one would talk about my amazing performance and superb vocal talent. I would just be known as the girl who sang “Vissi d’arte” in the nude. I would not do it.

    I held out for two more days as he got almost insane with anger. Finally, in the midst of another one of his tirades, when I was seriously considering a compromise of sorts, an assistant came up and whispered something in his ear. He turned, and I could see over his shoulder..her.
    Crivelli was walking up the aisle toward us.

    “Francesa, darling! Have you come back to us?” he cried.

    “I’m considering….I’m considering. How are things going? Is this my replacement?” she said looking at me. “So pretty. And, a voice to match, I dare say.”

    Then he started, explaining the whole matter to her. After which she turned to me and said, “Let me give you a piece of advice, my darling. Never refuse to obey the director. He can ruin your career if he’s your enemy. As your friend and ally, he can make it.”

    The whole thing seemed so staged to me. It was like they had it worked out between them – a final piece of emotional blackmail. I don’t know which one of them was more stunned when I stormed off the stage and left the theater.

    So now, it’s over. Maybe she’ll sing the part for him. If so, I’m sure she won’t be doing it the way he had in mind. But, my career…my life, is over. No one can fix things for me now. They did it to me, but I did it to myself as well.

    It’s an evil old world, isn’t it Nana? I won’t be sorry to leave it. But, I’ll be sorry for you. Please don’t take it too hard. I’ll love you to the end .

    Your heart-broken Beatrice”

    The tears streamed down the old lady’s face as she finished reading it for the hundredth time. “O Antonio. This was not the way…this was not the way!”

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