"Fedeltà" drabbles by Neville Hunt

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Turning on a sixpence

Fedeltà #339

“I’m only teasing you!” Livia reassured Paolo, speaking in such a delightful way that Paolo realised how much he loved her voice. He dismissed her rather-too-close-for-comfort comments.

What happened next took him completely by surprise.

Livia burst out crying at the other end of the line. These weren’t mock tears to get her way that Paolo had experienced with other women. This seemed like real grief.

“What is it Livia? What’s up” he asked quickly with real concern.

“You know!... I’ve lost my husband, that’s what,” she sobbed, “and Luka’s lost his father. I’m a widow!”

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Fedeltà #338

‘Why did what Livia had said sound ominous?’ thought Paolo, ‘but then am I just getting paranoid?’

He told of the events of the last night in Cambridgeshire, of him crashing down at Tony’s house and then his interview with the police. Of course he avoided mentioning the night visits and his lunch and early evening tete a tete.

He was taken aback when Livia said “Sleeping in the same house as the sisters eh? I hope they controlled themselves! And you too!” She appeared to giggle at the end of the phone.

‘Witch!’ thought Paolo, ‘does she know somehow?’

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Back home

Fedeltà #337

Arriving home, Paolo decided he must call Livia, he couldn’t avoid it. He nonetheless worried that despite the distance she seemed to see into his soul.

Livia ignored his first attempt. ‘Best not seem too eager’ she thought.

She picked up next attempt and heard a tentative “Livia?” to which she answered, “Oh hello Paolo” in a friendly fashion indicating she was pleased to hear from him. In reality she was pissed off, but she wasn’t going to let that show.

“I’ve read the news Paolo. Tell me what you’ve been doing and I’ll tell what I’ve been doing too...”

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Fedeltà #336

Paolo’s trip home after seeing Sofia went without incident although he was a bit jumpy all the way, looking out for the figure of Franco. Paolo couldn’t help thinking that when it came to a ‘tail’, why would Tony choose Franco, who was very distinctive, built like a brick shithouse and looking like he’d gone 15 rounds with Tyson. He was hardly invisible.

But then maybe Tony’s wanted his quarry to know they were being tailed. From confidently working alongside Tony as close ‘friend’, he was suddenly getting a bit spooked by him

And the three women were worrying Paolo...

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Fedeltà #335

Livia finished her call to Tony. She now knew she had him on her side, whatever that was worth, and wasn’t under suspicion. She also knew he had stumped up £400,000 for Terry and that knowledge was essential in her dealings with Paolo.

‘By the way,’ she thought, “Why hasn’t bloody Paolo called me? Does he think he’s going it alone, the little shit? Just let him try!”

With that, she lay back in her cabin. Adrian would be dropping by again soon and although she’d done a circuit in the ship’s gym earlier, a little more exercise wouldn’t hurt.

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How huge?

Fedeltà #334

“Tony... why did they do this? What could Terry have done? He wasn’t exactly confrontational was he? Was it money? Did they demand a ransom? Did they make you pay?”

Tony’s guilt trip forced him to reveal something that ordinarily he would not have done. He had to let Livia know that he had done everything he could to save Terry.

“Promise not to tell the cops, but they got a huge ransom from me and still the fuckers killed Terry!”

“How huge is huge?” Livia slipped in.

“Four hundred fucking grand.”

“Wow Tony, you must have loved Terry.”


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Fedeltà #333

“That’s good of you Tony. You must be feeling shit too. Yes, we need to talk. We need to talk about who could have done this terrible thing to my Terry.” Here Livia broke down again sobbing.

“I know it’s the wrong time Liv, but you got any ideas who? Inside job maybe? I can’t think we’ve pissed off anyone recently. Who, who, who Liv?”

Tony never called Livia Liv. She noticed. ‘Yes!’ she thought.

Tony was carrying a lot of guilt. Livia was part of that guilt and he felt uncharacteristically close to her.

Livia didn’t do guilt though!

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A matter of trust

Fedeltà #332

“You don’t trust them? How come? About clothes? Thought you was all friends now!” Tony’s antennae were working overtime. “Or do you think one of them could have something to do with Terry....?” Tony trailed off.

“Or both.” said Livia cryptically.

“In cahoots you mean?” asked Tony, continuing, “Just what do you know Livia?”

Livia planned to stop there. “Nothing... but I’m starting to suspect everyone!”

“What even me?” asked Tony.

“Course not!”

Tony decided “I’ll go round your house myself and get you something black and suitable then I’ll collect you from Southampton with it. We need to talk.”

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Not them!

Fedeltà #331

“Look Tony,” Livia said tearfully, “I’ll see if I can get airlifted somehow so I can get home quickly. I must get back to Luka.”

“Why? What’s the point? It ain’t gonna bring Terry back and Luka don’t need to know yet anyway. Just money down the drain. Take your time and try to get yourself composed, because the cops are sure to want to speak to you the minute you’re back.”

“OK, but can someone go round my house and get me something black to wear?”

“I’ll ask Marcia or Sofia...”

“No, sorry, but I don’t trust them Tony.”

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Widow’s weeds

Fedeltà #330

When she’d calmed down a bit more Livia asked.

“Has Luka been told? Poor boy, he idolised his dad.” That wasn’t strictly true as, influenced by his mother Livia, Luka thought Terry was a bit of a fool and he resented the fact that he was very obviously the ‘junior’ twin.

“No” said Tony, “not yet. They only found the body earlier today.”

“It doesn’t seem fair. Here I am sunning myself on deck while Terry’s lying dead on the slab. But I missed him every day you know.”

“Yeah, I know” said Tony.

“And now I’ll be wearing black.”

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And the Oscar goes to...

Fedeltà #329

Livia kept howling down the phone. Tony, himself trying to come to terms with the situation, was surprisingly sympathetic and tried to calm her. It was probably good for him as it took his mind away from his own grief and self-flagellation. He was convinced that Livia was genuinely devastated. ’Maybe she did love Terry’ he thought.

When she calmed down a little she asked him what had happened.

“Tell me everything Tony, everything”

Tony told everything, except the fact that he actually had paid the ransom.

’Why hasn’t Paolo called to tell me about the body?’ thought Livia.

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Act 1

Fedeltà #328

Livia called Tony’s mobile. It was 8pm in Chigwell, where Tony had locked himself away. She didn't care when it was so long as there was enough time lapse for her to have seen BBC news on the Internet.

“Is it true, is it true? Is Terry dead? Have they found his body?”

Those three questions, followed by Tony’s affirmative grunt and “so they say... but I don’t believe them!” were instantly followed by Livia howling down the phone. Tony, still grieving, with guilt front of mind, was no match for Livia, who played to the gallery. She convinced Tony.

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Veuve Cliquot

Fedeltà #327

If Tony thought Livia was having a great time on the cruise, he was wrong. True, she had been having some fun at the start, but now she was bored of drinking champagne and sunbathing and even bored of the three fit young studs she had been playing cabin Olympics with. In prospect was the boring return home, where she wanted to be. But on the other hand, she knew the sense of being far away from home right now, providing her a cast iron alibi.

And she knew the moment she stepped ashore she must act the grieving widow.

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Fedeltà #326

Telling Tony it was very likely he would need to speak to him again in due course, DI Jackson then, surprisingly, told Tony he was very sorry for his loss and that the Met would do everything it could to track down and prosecute his brother’s killers.

As they left, Jackson asked, almost as an aside, if Tony knew where Terry’s wife was currently. Tony didn’t turn round, he merely said over his shoulder.

“Livia? Oh bloody Livia... she’s having a great time swanning round the Caribbean, otherwise I’d be asking her what she knows about this.”

’Interesting!’ thought Jackson.

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Calling a halt, for now

Fedeltà #325

The solicitor tried to comfort Tony, who wasn’t the kind of person you tried to comfort. Instead he asked DI Jackson.

“How can we be sure it’s Mr Monelli’s brother you found?”

“We can’t yet,”replied Jackson, “until we do a dental records or DNA check. The body was covered in slime. However, apparently the victim was missing all eight fingers.”

Hearing this, despite his anguish, Tony screamed “No, it ain’t Terry, he’s still alive. I know it. I’m his twin!”

The DI and solicitor exchanged a single look.

Jackson tried more questions for a while, but then called a halt.

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Fedeltà #324

“I can tell you Mr Monelli that we’ve just received news that the Cambridgeshire Police have found a body in New Bedford River where...”

DI Jackson couldn’t finish his sentence before Tony broke down howling. He was devastated and, Jackson concluded, only an Oscar winning actor could have put on a show like this. Lowlife scum Tony might be, but this wasn’t someone who had anything to do with murdering his own brother. This was genuine. The only way he might have contributed to his brother’s death was by failing to pay a ransom... but then Terry was already dead.

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Jump them

Fedeltà #323

“Early?” asked Jackson, “and just what did you plan to do when you got there early?”

“Had to check out the location, work out where they was keeping my brother then jump them.”

“Jump them? That was risky. And tell me, why weren’t you prepared to pay a ransom for your own twin brother? Did you two not get on?”

“Monellis don’t pay no ransoms, ever! We agreed that years ago.”

“So when you arrived there and saw the police, what were your thoughts?”

“Someone double-crossed us and was setting us up. We had to get the hell out.”

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Fedeltà #322

Jackson moved on to the ransom and in particular how it was that Tony was up in Cambridgeshire the night before when the police were searching the river... and why he sped off. Tony had an answer for this too.

“They wanted half a million and wanted to do an exchange when they would hand over Terry. Seemed to me a very old fashioned way to get the money, but since I wasn’t planning to pay no ransom, I agreed. They sent us the location for the satnav and a time ...Midnight. Me and Paolo needed to get there early.”

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Fedeltà #321

Jackson’s immediate assumption that the New York Mob had been involved didn’t fit well with him. Based on experience, any dealings with the Americans and particularly the FBI was trouble.

Tony didn’t want any suggestion that he might have been involved with the American Mafia either, so he went on.

“Paolo says it could been anyone from anywhere using Internet phones. Apparently anyone can have an American number or anywhere else if they want. Some people might want to seem like they gotta posh office in New York...”

“Or more likely want to be untraceable.” Jackson finished off Tony’s sentence.

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Fedeltà #320

Tony was at his nicest at Walthamstow Police Station.... on the advice of his solicitor, one of the few people who could tell Tony what to do because “I’m paying him enough!”

In the interview with DI Jackson, Tony was quite the opposite to how he’d been the night before up in Cambridgeshire. He volunteered just about everything except about transferring the ransom money. He even explained about how they’d tried to trace the texts, and that they’d apparently been sent from New York.

Jackson sighed. “Seems like you’ve been keeping some really bad company Mr Monelli... like the Mob!”