“Take it easy when you talk with me, ok? I’ve already told you that I don’t know anything about it,” I kept insisting.
“We’re sure you do. Tell us the truth,” the police officer had a know-it-all air, “Why don’t you tell us about your relationship with Laura?”
“She was the love of my life,” I said, and I heard my voice softening.
“But you abused her,” the tall and sturdy police officer’s eyes were chilling.
“What makes you think I did?” By now, I was really furious.
“Come on Leo, tell us the truth. She broke up with you. She was going out with another man, someone called Ron,” continued the man.
“I didn’t care;” but that wasn’t true. I thought Laura was my one and only, the woman I had truly been in love with throughout my twenty-five years. I felt a punch in my stomach.
“I’m certain that when we compare the DNA found on her body with yours it will match perfectly.”
“You won’t find anything;” I shivered.
“You wanted to punish her.”
“No!” I tried to calm down, “What’s all this got to do with me?” But they wouldn’t stop. Maybe three hours had already gone by since they started putting pressure on me. Laura was dead. She was found in Parco 2 Giugno. They said that at the crime scene they had found her bag and her purse with some money inside, so they had assumed that she had not been slain in a robbery. Their conclusion was that it was a crime of passion, which is the new crisis in Italy. And I was the first person to be cross-examined. I was her second last lover while Ron had disappeared.
They started my interrogation again at least three times. I was exhausted. Besides, I suspected that they were also torturing Liv but I didn’t dare ask. I said I wanted a lawyer but I couldn’t afford one. They replied that they would call a court-appointed attorney. Then the prosecutor started showering me with subtle questions related to the relationship with Laura, “Guilty of betrayal, wasn’t she? She finished with you for another man. Didn’t it bother you?”
“She didn’t break up with me for another man,” my stomach was on fire. I was so irritated.
“Was it because you were aggressive?” How on earth did they know that I beat her up? After all it didn’t happen very often. And when it happened she deserved it. She must have told her sister and that’s how they knew. I had to be careful. I had to think twice before speaking; “You met her in the park, you argued and then you stabbed her.” I kept silent, he was being provocative, “Come on, do it for Laura’s family, her sister, her mother… They have the right to know how she died.” I kept my mouth shut, “You like drinking, don’t you? Don’t try to deny it because we spoke to your employer. Do you know what he told us? That you are such a wonderful worker except for the fact that you often get drunk. So you got drunk, you met her… What did she tell you? That she was happy with her man… that she didn’t want to see you again… We checked your phone records; you used to call her around thirty times a day… So you got very jealous, resentful… You did, didn’t you?”
“YES! YES! I DID! Because she was a whore. She deserved to die! I begged her to stay with me, I would have forgiven her but she wouldn’t answer the phone, she kept going around with that stupid idiot! What was I meant to do? Stand back and enjoy it?” I realized I was shouting. All of a sudden, I had admitted to killing Laura, and I couldn’t stop talking, I felt like a river flooding, a fast-flowing stream. The District Attorney was observing me and I felt an impulse to pull out all my desolation.
“OK, calm down now, have some water and tell us everything from the beginning,” The prosecutor’s voice was hoarse.
And so, I did what I had decided not to do. But I’m a man, and I’d rather go to prison. I have my dignity. What I have done is right, people have to pay for their guilt, “Leo, Leo, do you hear me?”
“Yes, sure. Laura was my girlfriend for four and a half years. We were happy together.”
“Hum, yeah,” babbled the D.A. while I thought that his beard reminded me of the coat of a hedgehog; “Did you hit her?”
“Well, no… sometimes. But she made me so angry.”
“What happened when she broke up with you?”
“She said she couldn’t put up with me any longer, that I was abusive, that I was obsessed with her, that because of my jealousy she was losing all her friends. She told me not to call her ever again and not to look for her because she had already planned to move out of Bari and she wouldn’t say where to;” It was hard to acknowledge all that.
“OK and then what happened?” The District Attorney was tense; he clearly wanted to get to the point.
“Can I have something to drink?”
“Sure, we’ll get you a coke;” They brought me a can of iced coke.
“She disappeared. But we have friends in common and not even a month later I heard she was going out with Ron. I was mad at her. How could she erase all those years together?”
“But in the meantime, you’d been calling her every day,” inquired the prosecutor frowning.
“Yes, but she wouldn’t answer the phone. At some point she must have also changed her number.”
“And this must have infuriated you.”
“It shouldn’t be that way. What was that supposed to mean? I was seeking revenge. She was destroying all my good memories of the best time of my life. She cancelled my friendship on Facebook; people told me that she’d asked them not to tell me anything about her. She was trying to become unreachable.”
“That’s when you became delusional and you kept harassing her. How did you find her?”
“I’m tired and hungry. I won’t answer any more questions;” I couldn’t stand those people any longer, asking questions as if I had violated her. What did they know about us? We could have been happy if she had continued with life the way it was.
“Martin, give him a pizza. We’ll be back in twenty minutes,” said the prosecutor to the police officer who had a local paper in his hand. The pizza was such a relief. It was tasty with the crust breaking, burning tomato and soothing melted cheese. I wanted it to last forever instead of all that hassle.
“Are they talking about me in the paper?”
“Of course, they are. This homicide has caught people’s attention. And you are our prime suspect.”
“What are they saying?” I wanted to know what people thought of me.
“That you are a handsome mysterious young man,” he looked at a few titles; “They call you the man with eyes of ice and irresistible muscles. The tall man with a ponytail. The fascinating dark-haired plumber.”
“And yet they all believe I am the murderer. There should be a law regarding the code of honour, don’t you think? When a man is disgraced by his woman.”
“Sure, a law designed just for you. So how did you find Laura?” the prosecutor started again.
“She hadn’t gone very far. And thanks to common friends I found her man and I followed them. I got my new girlfriend Liv to track him down on the Internet on an erotic chat site. She was brilliant and he fell into our trap.”
“Trap? Liv helped you in this filthy business? Hum, strange; she says you did it all by yourself.”
“She attracted Ron on the Internet and invited him to come to my place. He came but instead of a girl to have sex with he found me. I threatened him that unless he called Laura and made her agree to meet him I would kill him. But there was no way he would accept. I was fuming and strangled him. Liv helped me to keep him still. Then she took his mobile phone and texted Laura. She wrote that “he” was outside and there was a lot of noise and so he couldn’t talk to her. Would she be available to meet in the afternoon? She agreed and they arranged to meet in an isolated part of the park. I still have Ron’s phone if you want to check it.”
“Ok. Where’s Ron’s corpse?”
“We threw it in a well in the countryside, in my uncle’s property.”
“Does he know?”
“What did you do afterwards?”
“I went to the park earlier than the time of the date and waited for Laura, sheltered by the trees. When she got there, she was surprised to see me but I didn’t give her time to shout. I just stabbed her.”
“How many times?”
“Well, I don’t remember, maybe around twenty, I was wild.”
“Did anyone see you?”
“I ran away and didn’t meet anyone on the way.”
“Where did you hide the knife?”
“I threw it in a dumpster on the street,” I said conclusively.
They were both suddenly silent, prosecutor and police officer. Then the prosecutor spoke and seemed astonished that throughout my confession I hadn’t shown any, “Emotion or empathy,” as he put it. But what was I meant to do? Cry? A man doesn’t cry. They told me they wanted to hear the whole story again. I couldn’t bear the thought of it. They also formally said that I was under arrest. I just felt that the whole story was happening to someone else, not me. I felt disconnected and that they were persecuting the wrong person.
My lawyer told me that investigations were being carried out, that my place was being searched as well as Liv’s parents’ house and my car. They still have to recover Ron’s corpse. They are trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. From what I know, Liv is not accepting her responsibilities but she’s saying that I manipulated her and that she was obeying my orders. Well, I understand she is trying to save herself from charges of conspiracy to commit murder and concealment of a corpse. I didn’t expect loyalty. I never felt so involved with her but she was the right person to help execute my revenge. She desperately wanted a man and she would do anything for me.
Charges are being pressed against me and a court trial awaits. I don’t know yet whether I will have to serve some twenty years or if I will be sentenced to life imprisonment; I didn’t tell them that I’d been planning the stabbing for weeks, but with justice as with everything else it’s very often a matter of luck, whether they believe you or not.
I keep being sorry for the fact that I won’t be able to dive into my beloved blue sea to which I belong. I used to spend so much time swimming and I enjoyed it so much. I will miss the salty smell of the sea, the stroke of the water on my skin. That feeling of being rocked as if I were a child. I’d love to be a child now and have a caring mother next to me. Some children don’t have to go through the hardship of life. They can count on their parents to sort out difficulties.
From prison, I won’t see the beauty of my countryside and the coast but it will all be stored in the memory of my eyes. There’s no other chance now. I will have to face a new existence. It’s hard and prisons are packed and there is a lot of violence inside.
My lawyer told me that in the prison where I’m going to there will be a chance to work a few hours If I wish, that there is a library and a gym. He says that I should think about my actions, that I should realize how wrong I have been and that redemption might only bring me peace and benefits. I promised him I will follow his advice. I will have a lot of time to get rid of my anger and see my life in an entirely new perspective.
Giusi Rotondo won a literary prize in Italy and was awarded a Certificate by the London School of Journalism for successfully completing a course in Short Story Writing. She graduated from the Nottingham Trent University (UK) in International Business, Major in the Management of the Music Industry in 2003. She also attended a Master in Event Planning in Milan, Italy, in 2005.