Parties and Pistols
“I can’t take this anymore, going to parties with a gun, I mean, I’ve had enough, what sort of life is this! Do you know how many times have cheated death in the last week? Week? What week! In the last 48 hours for crissake! How long do you think this is going to last? They ain’t gonna always miss you know? I want out of this! I’ve repaid my fkng debt you hear me? Get me a fkng ticket out of this garbage can, now!”
I yelled over the phone, sweat trickling over my cheek, burning over my bruised cheekbone. It’s hot in this damned slice of the world.
“Yes, yes, yes, I heard this before. In words, you have resigned already 25 times in the last 3 years, have you noticed that? You want out? Piss off then. Go. Who cares! See if I care! You may be the best we’ve got in that shit-hole of a country but hey, go on, be my guest, and while you’re at it, why don’t you blow your fucking cover as well? Do a Franchino on us you twat”
Maresciallo Midden would take none of it. Again and again I had shown frustration and stress yet I wasn’t being substituted. “Your work rate bla bla bla…the success of Operation x, y and z…your field knowledge bla-bla-bla” and that’s when I wasn’t getting the old “Democracy! Freedom!” speeches.
Stuff that. I have spent my whole life dodging bullets and handcuffs. I have been a football-hooligan, a drug dealer, a robber, a counterfeiter, a “family” associate, a “Fascist” extremist and now an agent for a non-specified Italian “security” service agency. So anonymous it has no name. So secretive, I do not know my superiors. So closed I often wonder if there’s anybody else besides Maresciallo Midden and me in this. But I can’t do this any more. I have 17 bodies in my conscience and a grand total of 768 years in jail sentences handed out to people I’ve caught. Were they all bad? Yes. Yes they were but my conscience is asking me precisely WHAT makes me better than them. I killed, robbed, cheated just like any of them. And no, I have not asked for forgiveness to a God who looks away while I pull that trigger.
God…here’s someone that owes me answers.
Is the killing of a made man by a made man any more of a killing than the killing of a drug baron by an “agent”? Am I killing because otherwise justice cannot be done? There are limits, many limits, to “democratic” rule after all and someone has to protect that rule.
I am just tired for that person to be me.
Wow. If only the bullet that’s looking for me could giv’a fuck about any of that...
Ari was sitting right next to me when these thoughts were being loud in my mind. He knew them full well. Ari works for something very similar to my thing. Similar…but how many times we actually thought it was the same? Oh yes, difference: he gets paid in dollars while I get paid in Euros. Some fucking difference. We could never find another difference and often speculated whether we were working for the same “agency”? The recruitment seems to be the same after all. Ari robbed, dealt and did more or less the same stuff I did before being talent-spotted like me.
“Here’s that Pina-Colada Mauro. Forgetaboutit” and every time he says that forgetaboutit I think “is this from a movie or is this from reality?” I never asked really. One day I will but I am not sure I’ll like the answer either way.
Maresciallo Midden, as usual, would finish the conversation with “you’re the best at this Mauro, think careful please” and I never understood what that “careful” meant. I never understood but always felt somewhat uneasy. I have paid many dues; could I not just walk away from “it” now? Or was I in another “family” I could not leave? Bottom line, I had had enough of Latin America, Mafiosi, explosives’ traders, expatriates, fugitives, drug brokers, drug growers, drug users (woopy!) and agents of every single national police/security force on earth.
I had enough of parties on boats filled with cocaine, enough of that metallic bulge in my waist, enough of half-sleeps, enough of half women and enough of a half-life, enough of a job that kept me tied to a phone and a gun.
15 bullets in my Beretta, one per jail-term years I swapped with this life. Thank you Maresciallo Midden. I am not sure that 15 years in jail would have been as bad as 5 years of this.
Ari looked at the ice melting in that Pina Colada and I wondered yet again what did he did he swap with to choose this.
“We’re the silent heroes” he often smirks. Heroes.
The world has lived without me for millions of years so, why can’t it leave without me now?
We often spent time laughing about the most absurd things or spent hours in silence after an “eventful” day. Ari and I were not paired together but always find time to meet and do stuff. This is a pretty lonely life really. When you meet women and people and you just cannot tell them why you find smiling with your eyes difficult. Ari and I almost traded bullets before trading a look that made both realise we were in the same sinking boat.
I value his unspoken friendship more than anything now. Neither one of us will see old age. Neither one has seen home in years. Neither has any hope of seeing home again. Neither one of us has a woman that can be called My Woman. I have seen a photo of a child in his room once. Must have been a 10 years’ old girl in an American school uniform. I never asked who she was. I know who she is. She is the same girl I haven’t seen in 3 years. My daughter. He has one too but there is no point in talking about it. Certain things are better left unsaid; they can drive a man crazy.
Like me, he has tears. I have seen him cry and it’s always good to see others are humans like you, always good to see you are not the only one that cries after an operation.
Yet I have never seen him blink over pulling that trigger and I am sure he thinks the same about me. This is why we stick together, we drink stupid together and I smoke dope to his face, the puritan p***k .
But hey, I take care of difficult people for a living and so does he. From removal to elimination to disposal. This is my punishment and my job and in this one tend to think very little but execute a lot.
Ari slept in his white tuxedo and his panama over his face. His creased shirt’s a mess of food and drink and blood stains. We had no time for a beauty parlour before crashing this morning. A night spent avoiding getting killed take its toll on your wardrobe I guess. But it was yet another job well done and it was only stress that was making me yell at MM.
“You’re coming home, happy?”
Maresciallo Midden said with a triumphant voice over the phone.
“Home as in home?”
“Home as in as close as you can get, yes”
“Home as in Rome?”
“Home as in Rome, yes”
“I don’t believe you”
“You better, you have a Caracas flight bound to Rome at 18.45pm tomorrow ”
“You’re having me on!”
“Well, miss that flight then!”
“But it’s in Venezuela and I am in Chile!”
“One more reason to believe me and hurry”
I had just about 24 hours to get me there…. how the fuck…Aridog! He must have CIA contacts for a dodgy flight!
“Maybe I can help, are you going then?”
His voice sounded feeling-less, I knew instantly that my departure would mean his end. I had never considered that. Never considered what this kind-ship of souls meant to both of us. I knew now. I knew. All of a sudden I knew. I knew I was his only friend just as much as he was my only friend. I knew instantly that my departure meant the beginning of his end. There is no way you can live that life on your own.
I felt sorry for him and sorry for me. I felt I was leaving him to die. Both of us were far too buried in that life to ever be able to make it out of that alive if alone.
But I could not stay. I had to seize this opportunity.
We hugged, no more words were said. We both knew this was the end, we both knew we’d never see each other again. Never. There are no written laws about this but there is one certainty; I have to forget I ever knew him and he has to forget he ever knew me for knowledge is dangerous. In bad times, the less you know, the higher the chances of survival really….that basic rule I had learned in Palermo looking at the lifeless body of Salvatore “Papigio`” Due Bibbie (two Bibles).
He knew the difference between right and wrong, he knew the Bible, he knew the afterlife and he knew too many family secrets. The day we got to him, he was praying on an altar he had built with his own hands in a Catania safe house. 22 years on the run never leaving Sicily. 22 years, 14 of which as boss of the Catanese faction. He sat in the Cupola. He was a respected and feared man. Feared yet fair and this is why the Catania Mafia had the lowest killing count. 22 years just to end clutching a Bible while my Beretta exploded all the 15 bullets. Me and another 3 had put an end to that. If only…if only I could turn back time. That was the second and last of my “family” killing. The reaction of the Catanese faction was unexpected in its ferocity. All my fellow murder-companions got killed in the following 5 months. At the end of the 8th month of war, peace came back and its price was my execution.
Here’s when Maresciallo Midden entered and saved my life. I can still remember his first words
“Do you want to live”?
There was nobody to answer to in the cell I was. No window, no table, no bed, no nothing bar the chair I was sitting on.
“Yes I do”
I meekly replied. I was tired and resigned. How many times had I cheated death of my scalp?
“Are you a patriot”?
What sort of question is that! I thought.
“Because, if you are, and your history tells me you are, then, maybe we can change this life of yours…. I have been watching you”
but no voice came back to that. I understood. I had heard of strange recruitment practices from a contact in the Italian services and suddenly realised this was my recruitment. Did I ask why was I chosen? No. I was just glad I was. Maybe and just maybe I could lead a “normal” life now? Maybe I could sleep at night?
Maybe I was never going to fear my shadow again?
Ari looked at me and smiled. He could smile the brightest of smiles and I often wondered how can you be a killer with a smile like that. He was happy one of us was going to make it.
“Let me call a friend, I go back with this guy a long time, he’s a friend of ours”…..
A friend of ours? Ours? I got it now. That way of saying something tells me all I need to know about that “fuggerabourit” he always comes up with. Make no questions Mauro and you’ll get all the answers between the lines. Ari was a made guy. Ari was a made guy that took the fall for someone else. It happens and his family is probably being “looked after” and held in high esteem now. I’ve seen this before. He took a rap that wasn’t his, done some time and got talent spotted.
“We cannot use the agency for this. We’re not supposed to work together. Our friend says there’s no problem. He knows someone that knows someone here with a light plane. You’ll fly with that in 3 hours”
It’s amazing. Last night we tried to disrupt the Mafia and the Cartels business and today I fly with their air force. This is one complicated business of Russian dolls. One into another not knowing neither how many there are or what they look like. I only hope the plane provider is from another “family”.
“Do me a favour mate”
“Once a month, call this number from Europe, ask of Judy Gardener, tell her you tele-sell books, she will give you another number, she will say that person is interested, call that number and try a pitch-sale, you will be successful and that person will pay by credit card over the phone. The middle 12 numbers of that card is a phone number, call that number and say you are a friend of a friend in need, they will keep you on hold for a bit then the line will drop”
“And stand by the phone. It will ring back within minutes. A man will ask you what need you have. Say Spiritual. The line will fall again. Get back to that phone at precisely the same time plus 3 hours two days after. It will ring. Pick it up and just say Tony Two Dogs has paid his due. The person on the phone will be a young girl. She will reply yes or no. If it is yes, I am dead.”
“Dead. Don’t make questions to the girl on the phone and just hang up. If that’s the case I want you to call this number direct and tell my wife I died with her name in my mouth”
Air’s wife and the hope to meet her again and tell her all the truth is the only thing that kept him alive this long. To save her he told her he was going away with another woman, he needed her to hate him. He needed her to tell the police and the Mob all she knew about him and to be true in her hate of him.
Anything short than true hate would have got her killed in revenge. Alive she was more useful to them but only if they thought she’d grass him out if she could.
“Ari, I will. But I will also tell her everything else, she will not know what we did but she will know you loved her every minute of every day. This I promise.”
The Caracas flight landed in Rome half hour later than scheduled. Maresciallo Midden promised I was going to go through customs in a flash and then find my daughter and my mum out there waiting.
As I stood up from my seat, the woman sitting besides me, whom I did not talk at all on my flight as I was immersed in my thoughts, looked at me and said “Mauro, sit down please. Wait a minute”
I looked at her and sat down again. I had learned not to be surprised of total strangers suddenly knowing my name. She was another “agent”.
Once all the passengers were off, this tall and beautiful woman came in the plane, walked towards me and simply asked
“Do you want your gun back now”?
“My gun? What am I going to do with “my gun” now? No, thanks, why?”
“Because you are at work my dear”
“At work? No I am not, I am just coming back home” “home? Ah, home yes. Just not yet thought, you’ll have to come with me first, we’re going to have a chat about your future”
“And I need my gun to do that?”
“Ahahahahah, no you don’t but I just thought you’d want it back. After all you know what it’s like “feeling naked” don’t you?”
“I don’t feel naked, thanks. I feel relieved actually!” “Oh well, you can have it back later then, just follow me now”
“Where are we going?”
“I don’t need a driver to get home”
“You know which home I mean”
Yes I did know what she meant immediately. I knew from the moment the other woman asked me to sit down. This was going to be a longer than I expected journey home…
“Ok, take a sit, d’you want an espresso?”
“No, I’m a ok thanks. Where’s Maresciallo Midden?”
She smiled but didn’t reply….
”Is he coming or not? He told me I was going home, my home.”
“You have no home and you know that”
“I mean home as in where my mother lives with my daughter!”
“Ah, yes. Sure but that’s not home. This is home. This office, this gun, this building, this is home for us Mauro and you should know that by now”
“I do, I so fucking do.” I admitted.
“So, Maresciallo Midden? Is he going to dignify me with his lordship presence or am I just here for coffee?” “Now Mauro. You are going to learn something not many people know. I am Maresciallo Midden and let’s never get back to this ever again”
I knew better than making questions. Maresciallo Midden, a cruel bastard I always thought was in his late 40s. Ah, marvel of technology. Now I realise why that voice always seemed a bit metallic. Duped by my own superiors…. knowledge is dangerous…. if I ever got caught I would have never been able to reveal my own boss identity! Sometimes I just don’t know if I ever left the mafia really.
“But you know what? You’re in no state to talk right now. I am not going to tell you why you are here. But you’ll be back after the weekend and then you will know. Go to your daughter now”
What was all that about? Why could I not just have made to go home without this charade?
“How am I going to come back if I don’t even know where I am?”
“Are you being stupid now Mauro?”
Yes I was I realised. I don’t need to know where I am and I don’t need to know how I am going to be back here Monday. It will just happen.
I had forgotten how beautiful my mother looked. A stunning blonde at 67. Blue mesmerising eyes. A warmth I had un-conceived to exist. There is no parallel to how I feel for my mother. There is no parallel of how she feels for me, not even for my brother or my sister…
First thing she did is hug me and lift her back left foot as if she was a young love-struck girl. “Bello de` mamma, are you hungry?” Am I hungry mom? I am hungry for rest, love, unconditional heaven and peace. “Guess what mamma’s done for you that you like them so much!”
“Gnocchi! Ma`! Gnocchi!”
How stupid can you feel? Gnocchi meant I was home and I just felt really happy for a moment.
Only then I realised how normal I just was not. I had been away 5 years and I had no luggage.
A bulge in the belt reminded me I wasn’t naked and that I still had “hand-luggage”.
I decided to go pick Al from school. Like a dad. Like dads do. I used to do it as often as I possibly could after all. I anticipate and worry but I smile.
Ari. Get the fuck out of here. Remember that Monica Morientes, Ari? The daughter of Mr Elmo Morientes you-know-who? ‘Member checking her for a month? School, boyfriends, bitchy mates? ‘member looking so stupid being caught eves-dropping to a girly conversation in that Colombian Apostolic nun’s convent? How do you explain Madre Superiora that you’re not 2 perverts but 2 agents trying to nick a father’s whereabouts in a conversation? Do you remember the sticks on the palms of the hands? Ernesto Madreguina’s cartel Paolo A’Morte didn’t beat us that bad man!
I wonder if anybody’s ever come and have a check on my daughter Al. Any man would explode at just the thought of someone watching his daughter. I don’t. I have a cold, basic, unpleasant, certain knowledge that I would kill anybody for getting close to her. I have killed for infinitely less and even when I had doubts. I have killed without proof. I have judged and killed in seconds.
But I have to wear a smile as I walk to the school. People on streets, mild afternoon confusion, busy people and shops. Leaves falling gently and gracefully from browned trees.
Is that really her? That beacon of beauty? She so looks like her mother…. good grief she is beautiful.
“Hey Dad…. you gonna walk me home?”
Her eyes were filled with emotion and we walked and talked for what seemed all the 3 years. Just like she had never been away, neither had I. She still talked to me everyday like I talked to her.
As we turned the corner, away from the school gates she swung her arm around me. Her love revealed and it was of an intensity I had never felt before.
“Dad. What nobody knows is that I know everything. Everything. And I love you and I will wait for you”
And she did. I felt she did. I felt tranquillity I could not comprehend but I felt at ease with. Yes. She knew. She knew my heart.
She remembers like my mum does of another time. Of many other times.
We all know somehow, this is just another time we’ll remember.
“You don’t touch a woman, you don’t touch a mother, and you don’t touch a daughter”
was what killed Zi` Papigio` I told myself when my mind was re-running everything on Monday. Would I die not to have to do that too? One day, the time might come when a woman can be in the other side of that 45.
He chose not to shoot Zi` Marcella. He knew she was Cotoletta from birth. He knew he was unleashing a vendetta by not shooting.
She’d have run away and raise another son to avenge his crimes.
“You don’t touch a woman, you don’t touch a mother, you don’t touch a daughter”
but when it was over, he knew he had to die and that’s why he asked for Santo to shot him first. A true man to his end he wanted to protect one of the Honoured Society’s pillars: Vendetta and still reconcile with his deep Christian faith not having killed “innocents” in his life.
Innocents….are there any? Is my mother innocent in the eyes of the parents of the man I shot in Praja Da Costa?
The phone rung. I was being sent for. Funny how things….procedures shall I say, don’t change.
“Meet this girl at Pascucci. Order an inverno. 5pm ok?” “yep”
I have always liked the Italian services meeting places. Restaurants, bars, rosticceries, trattories, bistro, tavole calde, pizzerie and generally wherever there was access to food. And it was a known thing that if you wanted to meet Italian agents and be on their good side in “funny places” you’d have better come up with a good place to eat. Pascucci still is the best frullato makers in Rome. Always has been. It goes back decades. Inverno is based on winterberries. A total delicacy. I’m going there an hour early. Who cares if they’re there 2 hours early? We’ll both pretend we’re not supposed to be there and have some great frullato! Like that meet we had in Fregene. Anguilla al sugo, 2 spigole, 1 carpaccio, fritto misto doppio, Trota di Bracciano, Tiramisu`, espresso doppio, Grappa, Sambuca and Frascati wine and Frascati wine later we realised we “oops” had to meet somewhere else. It happens. It always does whenever you have Italian agents. It’s funny how CIA, NSA, FBI, MI5 operatives always and unmistakingly try to hook with an Italian service agent…. you know you might end up in shady deals but you also know you’ll put a few kilos on. Corruption and food should be our motto.
I realise my brain would rather think of anything but what’s in my future. I want out but in my heart I know I don’t have the poker I need to call it a day safely.
Maresciallo….”Marescialla” maybe? No. Maresciallo Midden has never really mention a price for my sudden rehabilitation amongst the rightful citizen of this nation. But I know I have not finished payback yet.
Zi` Papigio`’s son Dances With Bullets is in town, is strong and he is doing business with The Cotolettas. All bad deeds are forgotten. After all Sicily is more business-like than Calabria where a blood feud has no end ever. And I still am the only survivor of that crew. I still am the “peace bargain.” The good thing is that DWB is a good Catholic like his dad and chances are that if he catches me, I will die quickly and even get the last rites while he’s at it. He’s a good man really. He is, like his father, brought in this life by injustice if anything. The injustice of a corrupted state and its bastard officials, the injustice of a beautiful island cursed by centuries of invaders. Do you know why Sicilians are so secretive? Do you know why they never mention a name? A place? And why everything is described with “That place, that thing, that person”? Because when you know what you’re on about, you don’t need anymore than “that” to describe things and keep ears un-clued. The Mafia, the N’drangheta, the Sacra Corona, the Camorra are self-preservation societies forged in omerta` and blood to protect first.
Well…. they were born like that anyway; what killed “honour” out of it all was the Americanisation of Cosa Nostra and the drug trade and that’s a story DWB knows well having been a host to a Denver family while his fathers soldiers were fighting Zi` Papigio`’s last war.
But he was back now. Peace had broken out, there was business to be made and his father’s contacts demanded DWB back as guarantee things would still be as honourable as if Zi` Papigio` was not dead.
He was back and his price for coming back was Vendetta against the perpetrators of his father’s death: Me, Fat Laura two cells, Tutan the African and Max the Jew. 3 out of 4 are dead now.
Maybe it isn’t time yet I leave my employers after all.
But if I forget this lot for a sec and think positive (fat fucking chance) I think I’ll finally get a desk or a smaller part in some European office. After all, I have been in S.America for so long now I wouldn’t know where to start in Kosovo!
“Kosovo? Who mentioned Kosovo Mauro?”
“I don’t know; I was just saying…”
“there’s no need to go to Kosovo now. Use your imagination and you’ll know who’s there anyway. They still fly our flag put it this way”
“Ummhh…. last I heard the Sacra Corona was looking to expand from Albania….”
“We helped them”
“Facilitated a deal or two, added a couple of agents in their ranks, minused a bad person/obstacle or two, added some fortunate coincidence, divided the chances of getting caught and multiplicated the days off of the local services?”
“We did this together with the Greek services to control the arms trade”
“Shit, the Greeks? They work well in that environment. I mean, that’s an Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, and Iran trade, all men with moustaches. I heard the Greeks sent women there posing as traffickers…but anyway….so….what has that to do with me? What do you want from me?”
“You’re so…I can’t believe what you just said. I am gob-smacked. Actually, I am not, you complete twat you. You are so rude!”
“No I am not, I am joking, you have a short fuse, you need a holiday: try South America”
“What? Listen you miserable person, to start with I never liked your Fascist inclinations”
“And then I never really liked your football-hooligan glorifications”
“And to top it all, you post men in tights and blatantly fake moustaches photos’ slurring our Greek allies on the Internet”
“So you know what? That Signor Diabolik change of deed name and new passport you wanted?”
“let me guess: no chance”
“you’re a smart guy. You got it in one.”
“what has any of that got to do with my next little errand?”
“you are going to join our ME division from tomorrow.”
Silence. I have 3 million things to say but there is no point. Do not misunderstand when business is being talked.
“Go and see Professor Joem, he will prepare you regarding the culture and language. He’s an expert, listen careful and keep your mouth shut. You will need to know the ideology of both our allies and our opponents. See him everyday for 2 months.”
“We have allies? Now that’s a novelty. Usually you just put me in a flight with a….”
“Sshht. Jeeeee. Just listen. See also Franco Ibco, you remember him don’t you? He will brief you on people we know. You will see me again the day you go. In these 2 months at home you will never seek to contact me. You will never seek to contact any of your old associates and you will not do anything, like buying specific clothing, which might reveal where you plan to be at some point in the future. And by the way, you’ve had a pay-rise.”
“Can I just ask one question?”
“Try, we’re not the CIA here”
“Will I be there long? Will this be the last of me with you?”
“You will be there for two months, you will carry out operations with the field team, you will see me on your return”
The only part of that I liked was Franco.
It was going to be nice seeing him again. Nice and worrying. Nice as he handed and smoothed me in the job in Brazil when I was investigating the fence activities of Thousands Mas, this Colombian-American guy both Ari and I were looking for.
(That’s how I actually met Ari, did I say? Well, that’s when he shot at me more like. Yep. Ari has this all-American John Wayne thing and you need to watch that. Twice, in later operations he simply wasted too early in the “conversation”! “Shoot first, ask qu…BANG….” “Ah, fuck off Ari. Your cake. I was never here”)
That was the first of many times in Brazil. As the net of contacts widened so did my knowledge of that luscious place. Its women, its fruits, it sun, it vibe.
If only I wasn’t after a pedo-ring of filth I’d have actually thought that was near-paradise.
Franco was having the time of his life in Praja da Costa when I got there. In the 3 years before he had nailed some 15 fugitives from Italy, smashed a good 5 rings of people involved in exporting prostitutes to Italy, brought down one Venezuelan cartel and done great business with the Central American blue-blooded, embassy high society.
Killing records are not kept but word is we’re nearing the two dozen there.
But it’s when he stumbled on what was the largest pedo-ring away from Thailand that things went wrong. It is difficult not to kill there. It is difficult to penetrate a ring without wanting to kill the first one you come around. This is why it’s difficult to get to the big ones if you kill the feeder so quickly and after killing Rob Mc Gee, Franco was burned.
So the office made him hand over the leads to me and go. Franco still managed to give Stewart Ground a parting shot right through his forehead in a last “3 hours before the flight” frenzy.
It’s true what they say; you can only investigate those cases once or you turn into a man-killing animal.
Yet Franchino was the best guy. He pulled blokes but hey; I pull total dogs sometimes so I guess I’ll better shut it.
He was really funny when in the mood.
We had a good laugh when, dressed like Mexican village folks, we did the number on Alvaro’s country retreat. I will never get over running just behind Franco and watching him holding that Mexican skirt! His face! That face! That red red lipstick splattered across his cheek, the hairdo, and the wig! I don’t think I’ve ever come across anyone better than him at cross-dressing. I have learned all my disguise tricks from him and I never really understood how was it possible that he could look like a woman like that. But Franco is not laughing matter. Alvarez did not laugh when he heard of Grounds and Mc Gee.
I guess that helped him choosing to talk to me.
Seeing Franco again is worrying as well.
Because this was 5 years ago and he was still in the job.
Now, I know what brings one into this but I am not sure I know how to get out of it. Franco obviously didn’t know either.
“Forget Praja Da Costa. Forget Gamburi`. Forget Prosciutto. Forget Pina Colada. Well, try to anyway. Forget women. Please, forget women”
“Franco, I thought we discussed this already, I don’t want to try homos..…”
“Ah piss off, listen, PJ will explain to you why you forget women in the society you are going to get stuck into”
“I’ve shagged even with villagers from Kathmandu`, I’ll have you know”
“So have I mister but this is not a good place for you”
“But it is for you”
“In all honesty? It’s fucking paradise with all these wankers. This people don’t shag did you not know?”
“ What do you mean they don’t shag”?
“heehawed, look forward to your lessons with Professor Joem over this people boy, you’re looking at a long time without fems babe”
Surely he’s kidding. Surely he’s having me on. Everyone knows Italians like women. Everyone knows Romans like women. Everyone knows I like women. You cannot reasonably ask me not to pull a woman for months. What will I do on my day off?
“You’re going to be this Italian peace activist Paolo Gualtieri guy then…”
“Hey, let’s change something here, let’s do something different, why can I not be an Italian Jewish peace activist? They eat well too and I like their improbable tomato and cucumber soups. I know a lot of Russians that claim to be Jewish! I can be Jewish; look I can even not give you your change back and be rude!” “That’s Israelis Mauro.”
“And? They are Jewish, no?”
“This is not looking good. Listen: MM has simply told me to tell you these basics. The idea is for you to go and have a nice little life as deaf and dumb in the territories. You go as a peace activist, you get shot, you lose speech and audio, you live with a Palestinian family, you convert to Islam, you might want to suicide, you’re on. Pure and simple. 6 months before you’re in position I’d say.”
“In position for what?”
Franco just smiled.
“Maresciallo Midden said this was a two months stint” “Maresciallo Midden has convinced you he was a woman too”
MM has convinced me he was a woman too.
What the fuck is going on?
“Why can’t you put someone that’s familiar with the culture?”
“Because she got shot 5 days ago in Amman, you were not for this job. You were for Iraq. We got so many agents there you’d have had all the time to smooth in” “I still can’t see the point of me. I have S. American knowledge”
“You will understand”
“I see. The girl that got shot, she’s one of us?”
“ One of a few” said Franco smiling.
A few are normally the State, the Secret Services, a Mafia, the Vatican, the Free Mason Propaganda 2 lodge or the Americans through Gladio.
I know that somewhere along the line, I work for the state but it’s all a bit loose. I am sure my agency works for one or more or those.
“Maresciallo Midden will meet you at Ciampino’s bar at 11.30am. You’re leaving tomorrow right after the meet.” the voice said.
After Prof. Joem and Franco’s indoctrination I felt wiser to the scenario I was about to enter. I hadn’t paid that much attention to the Middle East conflicts and the Islamist threat before (The closest I had come to that world was a meet with a Moroccan contact the “family” was dealing with on the back of a Mafia venture into his government contracts.) but I knew this was the New Front. Resources had been draining from Samaria towards the Middle East after 9/11, I had noticed that. Ari sometimes talked about his frustration that all attention seemed to be diverted to that threat nowadays.
“The Cartels are so happy! Remember them planes we used to poison the coca plantations in Colombia? Well, forget them; they’re now in Afghanistan poisoning the poppy seeds” he once told me.
“And the fucking Congress is not allowing to buy more. Some fucking fight on the drugs trade. What am I supposed to do? Go rip the plantation out plant by plant by hands?”
The war on the drugs barons was always going to be near impossible. It was never achievable by normal law-means to start with anyway. Too much money, too much corruption at all levels. Politicians paid to stop Bills, local officials paid to turn blind eyes, government agencies plagues by agents looking for a retirement pay-off and an education system that just would not tackle the glorification of drugs amongst young people. I knew this well. This was the same reasons why the ruling “families” back in Sicily decided not to fight the trade but to regulate it. There was no point in not dealing with drugs even if all members of the Sicilian Commission were against it.
The Neapolitan Camorra was ok with it, the Calabrese N’drangheta would go with it soon and the Pugliese Sacra Corona was already in it. Not being there would have meant a devastating loss of influence for Cosa Nostra. The Turks wanted to cover the transport, the Afghani, Colombians, Thais, Moroccans and Vietnamese wanted to grow it, the Marseille mafia wanted the refinery cut and the North American N.Y families wanted to control distribution in US soil. The Chinese and Japanese networks wanted to swap immigrants with drugs, the Russians wanted to swap weapons with drugs and there were tentatives approaches from Middle Eastern syndicates to swap oil with drugs.
Everybody needed what Cosa Nostra had: contacts.
Cosa Nostra was the only truly international syndacate after all. Was. Now it’s N’Drangheta who’s got the power.
“I have your ticket and new passport, Paolo”
“I thought Maresciallo Midden was coming to brief me” I replied to this small balding harmless looking man.
“I am Maresciallo Midden”
“Yes. Of course you are, how stupid of me, you even pay me to be an agent. I get the picture now mate. Just tell who am I looking for, why, where is he and what do you need me to do”
“Franco told you. Nothing has changed. Fly to Tel Aviv, go to Gaza, be a good peace activist.”
“I got that much; it’s the part where I get shot that worries me”
“Forget that. We have a very sharp shooter to look after that. Mesh was born with a finger on a trigger. You’ll meet him”
“Fantastic. I should be well reassured then. I am going to meet the person that’s going to shoot me?”
“Have faith Paolo”
“I am Davide; it’s more Jew. My friend Davide from Piazza Cavour is not Jew but he’s got the name and he even looks Jew. I remem…”
“Bye, ciao P-a-o-l-o”
“I am not Paolo as much as you’re not Maresciallo Midden”
“Get over it. At the airport a South African peace activist will meet you. A genuine one. Her name is Zuzu. You come from Pace Internazionale, this peace activist network we set up to infiltrate the territories. She’s not one of us, watch your mouth. She will take you to their offices in Gaza where you will be introduced to the Palestinian family you will be living with. Once in their home, behave impeccably and show a lot of hostility towards Jews. The rest you’ll pick it up there. There will be Mossad agents looking; they will know who you are and what you are up to. We are not working alone there. They will know you but you will not know them. One last thing; do not, I repeat do not lay your eyes on no woman while you’re there”
“I’ll remember that”
I am flying to Tel Aviv then. Israel. Who’d have ever said that? Of all places. But it’s fine; I might get me to Jerusalem as well, I’ve always wanted to see that place.
“Paolo I presume?” who the hell is this absolutely astonishingly stunning specimen of a human female?
“Hi, I am Zuzu, Peace Korps, pleased to meet you.” “Hey, pleased to meet you too Zuzu! Did you say you are married?”
“No, I was just kidding, an ice-breaker really”
“Ah, no. Well, yes. I am married to our cause. I just want peace and freedom for the Palestinians from this evil Jewish occupation. This has gone on for so many years now. Palestinians are hungry for freedom!”
“I couldn’t agree more.”
“Zionism is threatening the whole world now and we must, must put a stop to it”
“Oh we will.”
“There will come a day when Israel will only be a bad memory and the territories will be freed together with the rest of Jerusalem and then we will live in peace, can’t you see we can really make that happen? I have left lots behind me to do this. I am committed to this cause! The world attention will make it happen. If we can keep the pressure to the Israelis, eventually they will have to cave in and return territories. Once that starts, there is no going back as all of Israel is one giant occupied territory.”
“Fucking Jews, eh?”
“Yes, you bet. But we’ll wipe’em away in the name of the revolution, we will…..”
“Oi-oi, just a sec; on this note, shall we go eat something? I’d like to find out about the local cuisine” “how mundane Paolo” she said,
“Well, I am sure you’ll understand, my stomach is not yet taking part in this Jihad”
“Italians. You are always the same” she laughed.
On the car to the offices, she talked a lot about her life there and the struggle to frustrate “the occupation” but what was coming out of her mouth was simply not what my eyes were telling me.
Faces were not smiling, people didn’t seem active, dirty children were running around burning tyres. “Don’t they go to school?” I asked
“Some do, some don’t. Depends on the family. They have such money problems that it’s cheaper to educate them at home rather than building schools. The West is so stingy! The bastard Americans are not paying enough and the double bastard Europeans only pay the top guys. As a result, you have children not attending classes because A) there are no teachers and B) there are no schools.”
“They have no money for books but they have money for guns?”
“Yea, but it’s the Americans fault! Bastards, they need to pay more. If anything just because they defend the Zionist fuck occupier!”
“U-hu” this is a good one, I thought.
“Here’s the office, let’s just have you registered. You will meet some comrades there, so you can swap stories. Relax; tonight and we’ll catch up tomorrow morning here at 6am. Ok?”
“Where do I stay?”
“Al-Ev’s, he’ll drive you to his guesthouse where you’ll get your room. Relax, take the afternoon off, it can be hot. Tonight we eat all together and we have a discussion over policy, okkupation and strategy.”
“Nah just a joke”.
The HQ is a shambles of scattered paper-cups, loose paperwork and Che Guevara flags. “El Che” I think. What a disaster a myth can do…good stuff Ari’s not around; he’d burn this place down.
“Salam Aleikum comrade! Thanks for being here to support our cause. It’s people like you that help us spread the message of peace”
“I am honoured to be part of this, I am eager to start. I want to do my part for the Liberation of Palestine brother”
“You will. We all will. Just rest this afternoon and tonight we’ll eat together and then decide what comes next”
“Relax now, I will be with you in a minute and drive you to my guest-house”
Looking out of the window I can only see desolation. Scores of kids run amok in the dusty and dirty street. Some guy burns a poster of a politician, kids gather around and chant. Black robes with women inside walks against the wall keeping themselves for themselves. I want a beer, a badly want a beer….
“Yes comrade” “I am going to make a funny question….”
“Tell me brother”
“Pure and simple…. please don’t be offended…. anywhere for a beer?” he grins and winks “Offended? Nobody will be offended here if you ask one-to-one like this but just never ask when there’s more than one person in front of you and anyway; yes but not here. I will get you the best Foster in the ME on the way home brother”
Maresciallo Midden told me I’d be contacted by another “provocateur” and be given a gun. I never thought I’d miss my tool like I am now. This is not as dangerous as having dinner with a Cartel’s member or a made guy, still I want it. I want my gun. I know, I can tell I am going to have to use it.
My job here…. something tells me what I was told is not what I am here for and Franco’s words “your skills and you’ll understand” still ring in my brain. I had noticed a slow yet relentless drain of agents in South America and I had half an idea where they were repositioning but still I just don’t know why. Why using people with that knowledge for this very different scenario.
“Kill is what we do best,” Franco told me before the hand-over…I just wonder if this has anything to do with it.
“Let’s go brother. Inshallah, we’ll get there in 20 minutes. We just have to be a little careful. I will need to go through a Hamas checkpoint and make sure they see your face and know whom they are. You never know, they might just think you’re a spy”
“Well, we’re all a little paranoid here. Zionists, Americans, Iranians, Syrians, your own government…. they are very active here.”
“What has Italy got to do with spies here?”
“Didn’t you know your Services are the best in knowledge all over the ME? They are only second to the the Mossad anywhere from Casablanca to Baghdad”
“And why is that?”
“You’re ex Prime Minister Andrecotti; he has been making business with us Arabs for the last 40 years. When nobody cared, he and his people were everywhere already. And if it wasn’t them, it was and still very much is the Mafia. Who do you think exports every bit of porn in the ME? If you see a Mercedes here, do you think it’s a new one or a stolen one? And you can’t steal Mercs here…. they come from anywhere in Europe and the US. The Mafia ships them here and it’s been like that for 40 years”
“the things we don’t know…..”
Or better still, (I am thinking,) the things you don’t know…
3 men in green fatigues and ak47 is the Hamas checkpoint. My instinct tells me this is not going to go down too well.
My senses are on. Al Ev is gesticulating wildly and pointing at me. The guards look at me in a menacing way. There is nobody in sight. I am ready, if push comes to shove, I will kill you all. One of the guards jabs Ev, the other pistol-whips him. He’s on the floor. They kick him. One of the guards come to me and, in broken English tells me to exit the car, I open the door, keep my hands visible but there’s no point. A crack opens in his forehead, a splinter of skull hits my brow, and he’s dead.
Who killed him? Who gives a fuck; I’m just glad I wasn’t the target. I pick his ak47, aim, shoot. One is down. Move, shoot, second is down. Both in the head.
I hate it when it doesn’t make just a hole and has to half burst. It’s all over in less that 4 second. Three men eyes wide open and a hole in the forehead. I turn to the man at my feet, he’s small-trickle bleeding from the hole in his forehead. A tear of blood, no more.
This has the hallmarks of this guy Mesh.
I am not alone. Good.
I have no emotion when it comes to cold killing like this. Mors tua, vita mea the Latins used to say and I have learned to keep very cold and calm even when under direct fire. It’s not worth shooting 30 bullets to hit the dust and the walls.
One single shot always does it, however small the gun.
I pick Al Ev up. He’s passed out and hasn’t seen anything. Good thing otherwise I’d have to kill him too. I’d probably even be half sorry. I load him in the car and drive off.
“How did we get away from the bastards?”
“I just gave’em some money”
“Bandits! Hams wants all the power and monopoly” “it’s ok Ev, good thing I had some dear old dollars” “well, thanks. That saved our lives” Not theirs I am thinking but I will have to wait and see what happens if he learns they are all dead.
I shut the door behind me. I am empty. I always am after a kill. I wonder why I can just kill like that and why don’t I just chose to die instead. Die? Can’t do that; I have a daughter, a mother and an ex-girlfriend.
They cost money you know.
As I lay on the bed I feel something under the pillow…I smile even before I lift the pillow. I know what it is. It’s my gun. Maresciallo Midden has the best agents.
Ari just could never comprehend how Italian Services seemed to be everywhere and have an interest in every corner of the globe. For what is only the world 7th most industrialised country in the world.
As much as I tried to explain from Macchiavelli “Dei delitti e delle pene” (about crime and punishment) to Andreotti “Il potere logora chi non ce l’ha” (power only wear down the powerless), as much as I’ve expanded on the history of the Genova and Venezia sea-borne Republics, as much as I explained it didn’t stop with the Romans, he just doesn’t get how can crime syndicates, service agencies, political ideas and Masonic/Atlantic lodges from a relatively small country like that can produce so much activity across the world. Ah well.
Wonders of a perceived naively joyous yet deadly imaginative stubborn ultimately naturally lucky people.
She’s perfectly clean, has 15 bullets and there’s another lil’case with more bullets.
I hold her in my hands, she feels like she’s never left my side.
I lay on the bed and sleep. Yes, I can sleep. Ari taught me how to sleep after a kill, I wonder if he’s still alive. Very optimistic of you, I thought. Of course he’s alive. Just like I am. Just a few more kills down the line I suppose.
“So, comrades, let’s enjoy this meal together. This is Paolo; he’s our new activist. Welcome Paolo, welcome and thank you for being here”
“I am proud to be here, amongst people that, like you, are doing all they can to help the Palestinian regain their land”
“Too right! Too right! This is our place and we’re going to get the Zionists out of it”
“I have no doubt in my mind we will succeed. What’s this stuff by the way?”
“Ah, this is a tomato and cucumber cream soup. It’s Jewish. It’s got a un-pronountiable Jewish name I can’t remember. It’s been made by our Jewish chef Stormy.”
“We have a Jewish chef?”
“Yes, but don’t worry. From the hard-left in Germany. A true comrade.” I am smiling. If this is not MM via Mossad, the Pope’s not a Catholic.
“It” has heard of the soup and sent me one. This is going to be an interesting assignment, in so many ways it reminds me Caracas before the coup that never was. Heeving with agents, more agents than crooks, queuing to evesdrop, booking spots!
I am not kidding when I say that we were so many we even organised a small World Cup tournament…well, Kjian did (some non-specifiable Dutch agency) He got really pissed off to get hurt in a game with some Germans and miss out on the elimination of
MartiG-Crew the next morning.
It was mad in Caracas back then. Franco leading the Italians, Ari the Americans with Louisiana Mobster turned CIA contact turned NSA operative (and you thought they were La Crème didn’t you? No honey; that’s where the psycos gets a job) Rip “Heads” Ford, Dave The Ray of Death for MI5, Mesh, and many others including a fucking angry air-force wife looking for her husband (last seen by Rip the day someone allegedly kidnapped him.).
For some strange reasons there were also a few Iranian merchants, a few too many people with a weak R around and a seemingly bored French woman, Le Flo, world famously famous for a quick solution to most problems: your death.
(Only much later I understood there was a ring off shooting from MartinG operation: stolen ME art.)
All after MartiG and his operation.
He had different deals tied with each of the characters mentioned. He owed and so did his crew. But let’s face it, the only reason why there was a chase to take him out was because if he went then Eduardo Telch would have been the legitimate natural choice for defence minister in the new regime. And Eduardo was in the pocket of the Vatican for his ties with the Church in Venezuela.
Who got him? Ah, what does it matter, he went but it may be a clue that there was a little plastic airplane in his mouth and the skull was bashed in by a kitchen utensil.
Way to go.
I know there is a crowd here…the chef is definitely dodgy and so is the super-blonde S.African activist. Maresciallo Midden was wrong about this Zuzugirl and this Ev-boy-here. I noticed that every time there’s an IDF incursion, a few days beforehand, one or all of them go missing between 06.15 and 07.25.
I have noticed the higher percentage of failed suicide bids. People seem to explode before they actually leave their own houses around here.
I have noticed a few of Al-Ev’s guests tend to get hurt, get cared for locally and stick around.
I have noticed the beggars down the street, has exactly the same pattern of eye twitch as Stormi the Chef. I have noticed the crow-looking woman in the guesthouse and at least 20% of the volunteers have a funny R. No kidding.
But it’s been 6 months of protests, blockades and general embedding in the local ways and I’m not sure what’s supposed to happen. I am in position now. I know MM must be thinking it’s time to use me. This is no holiday after all and I can think of about ninehundredandfiftyfivemillionfourhundredandfiftyseventhousands of better places I could be.
I am starting to think I had it good going to deck balls on Portuguese embassy cruises with a gun under my white jacket and a Pina colada on my hand. Smooth lights and cherry picks, the bored French Le Flo, Senora Fay, Senora Pakety and all the crème of the South American embassy scene. Ah, these were the days! What soave elegance, the moon, the breeze, the stars, Madame Popmittek from the Austrian embassy waltzing the night away with Typo De Ballo the ambassador of the Porto Rican state.
The hand holding crystal glasses, tears of champagne streams the air as they dance around to the admiration of the crowd. Gentlemen over the deck with red head women half their age frivolously laughing at every gag.
Arms deals, drugs prices, contraband percentages, future coups d’etat, present coups d’etat, marine oil excavation contracts, casual discussions and frivolous laughter. The price for an escapee on a Cuban boat is too low at the moment.
If it weren’t for the pedo-ring, I’d even miss my time there.
I whistle…. a zip…a nip at the back. I’m hit. I mean I’m shot. I’ve been shot. Is that it?
I wake up in a whiter then white room.
“Ok, Mesh shot you with a classified high precision rifle. The bullet was not much bigger than a needle that exploded on contact to create the look of a finger size hole with no real depth. In the needle there was a reactive substance to attract a rush of blood towards the wound. A two minute bad looking wound, enough for us to get you here”
MM was a female voice again.
“Now, simple: you heal but don’t walk properly, you ask to stay, you offer to kill yourself. You get accepted, trained then on the goodbye ceremony-last meeting with everybody, we kill them all. All. We don’t need to keep any alive.”
I got it. Small carnage in a large room. I can see that. We’re talking about 7 men and me...I wonder what they mean by “we” when they say, “we’ll kill them all”.
“The end of this is to end attacks from this particular crew by entire eradication of its family size cell.
“Because we’ve been asked. Why you and Franchino? Because our ways here have shifted now and we need people with your skills.”
Our skills…. yes.
“Why the change? What happened to the cartel’s threat?”
“Times have changed here in the ME and whereas before it was only us and the Fwench really, now you have half the world in for a slice around here.
The Families have got everything from Morocco to Egypt. From cars to people to porno to drugs. They get a lot of cash from that, cash they use to finance the control of the heroin trade, from which in turn they make the money to “play” the stock market in NY. This last leg is with the American Families. We need to change all that.
The State too has many lucrative works contracts in all ME countries, all must be paid various states around here. Those contracts need protection.
The Church has churches and properties all-over the ME and that needs protecting too.
We know that a Lodge called Propaganda Civis has sowed an exclusive nuclear expertise deal with Iran and we’re Iran’s second biggest trade partners. If Iran runs into sanctions we must seize their assets fast. That needs close effective monitoring.
Our most immediate danger lays here now.”
“Are you even going to mention Democracy, Freedom of Spee….”
“No but I did say to Mesh I thought he needed to use a bigger bullet”
“Thanks. You’re so kind. I am a man in an hospital bed, can’t walk, probably never will again, nobody will ever love me again and come to think about it I haven’t had a shag in 6 months now….”
”Ok, if it’s any consolation, the bastards we’re going to do are responsible for all the suicide attacks West of Sderot so, make sure you don’t miss. Mind you, you never do; hence you here. Also, your wound is risible and you’ll like the nurse. She will be compassionate.”
The precision of the shot is fantastic. If this were a real bullet, it would have severed my spine clean. This Mesh aka Big aka Max Zip must have liked triggers. I know, no one has ever seen him; I only heard of him in a strange Internet quarters populated by great minds, beautiful hearts and circus acts.
The things you learn….
It’s almost Ramadan now and my indoctrination is coming to an end. It’s all a swing of white headbands and green fatigues. I have limped both in my body and in my mind for this initiation day but everything is set now. Unless I got my getaway bike stolen that is. It wasn’t too clever to dune-ride it on my way here last night. I jumped so high; I thought I could touch that Arabian moon. And lost the lock. Yes, lost it, don’t ask.
I wonder how many people will be there. I know 5 for sure. I only have 30 bullets. The silencer is vital this time.
A child runs towards the opening rusted gate, still the sparkling black eyes of a Palestinian child before indoctrination. The young veiled girl at the door is already way down that path. She looks down as I enter. Another woman, all in a long black cover, points me to a door. They are all there as I enter. They smile, they laugh, and they stink of death already. Any minute now and my gun will start the dance, I am just waiting for a line of targets. Can’t shoot if they are too far from one another. I need angle. And I need to think what happens to the woman and the children. I already know I am not as honourable as Zi Papigio` but if I live them alive they will get help and cut my getaway leeway. All of them can, there’s no sparing anyone. Even those big black eyes.
As they tamper with the cam corder I walk to the window, I turn, the first shot hits Amir at the back of his head, the second Abdul in his forehead, the third Izzedin in his temple as he turns, the fourth Ahmed on his shoulder as he dives, the fifth lands on Omar stomach as he cloutches to the cam. Ahmed is cursing, I walk to him and grab his head. I turn him to Omar and point my gun to Ahmed head. I shoot. A bunch of sweaty dirty hair is left on my hand as the body slumps.
I point to Omar, the stomach wound is bad, he’ll die anyway, and I’m just going to make it quick.
7 bullets for 5 deaths. So far.
As I walk out to fetch the two kids and the woman, my mind is in total disarray, I am going to kill a woman and two children. I am walking too fast to stop myself. I raise my gun even before I open the door to the court. I know that once I open that door things must happen fast, think time is over. I have approximately 2.7 nanoseconds to find a way not to kill a woman and 2 children. I open the door; my fist is squeezing the gun with all its strength as if to crush it.
“No women, no children”. A man of Honour. I have met a real one, now his ghost is ever-present here and now with me. This is my time to be a Man of Honour and I will not kill them. I’ll just wack them over their head and put them asleep for a while.
What’s my option?
There’s nobody in the yard, I go around it where the water is and 3 bodies lays around the well. They are alive, just paralysed from top to bottom. Mesh’s peculiar bullets hit again. He has a heart after all.
Time to go, get out of the gate, my bike is not there.
Get in the car, drive off. I cannot believe this. “What are you doing here!!”? “Couldn’t leave you baby and then, they told me they needed my skills….” “Did they….”
Yes, make sense really; I should have thought he was going to be reposted here after what I’ve seen in the last 6 months. Shoot first asks questions later have become everybody’s policy around here too.
The Israeli IDF checkpoint is close; I can see those kids and their rifles, better slow down now.
“Listen mate, I’ve got news for you.” Ari tells me as the corporal hand me my first beer in three months, “Surprise me”
“Franchino’s coming over and you, me, him, the German-Jewish chef from the camp, Al Ev and the SA activist are moving. We’re off to Beirut”
“I knew they were all dodgy!”
I also knew they were the next thing to hit Beirut now.
[Warning: this does not claim to be the best written story, it doesn’t claim be to be the best comedy nor the best drama ever written on the net since the beginning or even on this cheese site in the last 15 minutes. It doesn’t claim to be all-inclusive and it doesn’t claim to be anything than a flight of fantasy while driving a car stuck in a traffic jam.
Enjoy if you can :-)
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