The streets of Venezia were beautiful as I strolled along the cobblestones one sunny September afternoon. I turned the corner and found myself in the midst of a riot. A few citizens were protesting the imminent hanging of a supposedly innocent man. This I discovered when in the confusion I bumped into my friend Marco, the local blacksmith. Marco shouted and I thought I caught the name, “Benedetto.” This didn’t surprise me.
Benedetto Ortolani was a powerful man. He owned a lot of land in these parts. He came from a long line of dukes who ruled with iron fists. The Ortolanis provoked fear in the simple peasants of Venezia. Some of these peasants were people I helped on a daily basis at my father’s store. I will never forget the day when he came into the shop and ordered my father to only do business with him. He and his entourage were mean-spirited and I detested them.
I hurried through the streets to safety, though it was the safety of the man about to die that I was preoccupied. Coincidentally I saw the herald. He shouted out, “Aristide Blanco!” “Blanco to hang!” I decided to speak to him to see if he knew more. Though he did not, he was able to direct me to someone who did, Pasquale the swordsmith, but warned me to tread carefully. Pasquale knew my father and respected him so I knew this inquiry would not be too difficult. I ran toward his smelting studio.
“Pasquale!” I shouted as I knocked on the heavy door. “It’s me. Arrigo. Arrigo De Luca.”
“Yes, yes…come. But be quiet,” he said as he opened the door.
“I’m sorry. It’s just that I need to talk to you.”
“What is it dear Arrigo. You look frantic.”
“It’s just that…this man Blanco, he’s about to die and it’s been rumored that Benedetto has something to do with it. Do you know if this is true?”
“It is. Blanco refused to take Benedetto’s business deal and so Benedetto set him up, and made it look like Blanco murdered the tax man. But it was one of Benedetto’s gang who did it. And now he will hang. But quiet. There is nothing a young man like you can do.”
“He must be stopped. He is too powerful! I abhor him,” I cried as I turned on my heel.
“Not so fast,” Pasquale said as he used his sword to pull me back. My tunic would have ripped had I not stood still.
“I am going now. I want to see my father.”
“Take care Arrigo. Take care,” he said softly as he released me.
I did not want Pasquale to know of my plan and so I walked away fast. I roamed the streets of Venezia wildly imagining Benedetto’s demise. Without realizing it I had walked right up to Benedetto’s villa. There were guardsman in front but lucky for me there was a commotion as horses and carriages noisily came and went. I snuck behind bushes and trees until I saw a window open on the top floor. I climbed the porch roof and like a tightrope walker edged myself along until I was able to pull myself into the window. The most remarkable wallpaper filled the room, but I was focussed on one thing only, to get Benedetto and leave.
I tiptoed into the room. To my surprise Benedetto was in the room smoking a cigar and drinking from a goblet. He was unarmed.
“Who sent you?” he shouted.
“I am Arrigo. And I am here to end your reign.” I took out my sword and before he could answer me I stabbed him through the heart. He died instantly.
The next morning as I walked the beautiful streets of Venezia, I heard the herald call out, “Benedetto is dead! Benedetto is dead!” A big crowd gathered near him, hanging onto every word. I smiled and looked at the birds in the sky.
Harry Keener, Age 13, Grade 8, Mark Twain I.S. 239 for the Gifted and Talented, Silver Key