Caught in a Spell

Excerpt from Death Of A Serpent

Friday, November 2, 1866

After the noon meal, Serafina snipped flowers from the old geranium. She’d visit the cemetery before joining up with her children. Blowing them a kiss, she left.

In contrast to the vermilion blossoms she clutched, the November light flattened the world on this, the festa of Li Morti. Events would begin with a procession of actors from the cemetery gates, winding through town and down the Via Serpentina to the arena near the sea. There they’d stage a play, usually a farce of recent events and public figures.

But as Serafina passed through the public gardens and the piazza, her attention was far from the festivities. She seemed not to notice the old soldiers, the roughs with vacant stares and missing limbs, a newcomer in need of a bath lurking near the rope seller’s store. Like the spokes of a carriage wheel spinning around its hub, her brain whirled round and round a half-formed picture of the murderer.

Who could he be, this killer? He was mad, of course, but clever at hiding his wild torment, someone whom all three victims knew and trusted. Eugenia? At this stage, she couldn’t rule her out, but believed, along with Loffredo, that the killer was male, his soul caught in a spell.

Photo: Cemetery in Taormina. Credit: Hunter333 (Flickr), Creative Commons.

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