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IM5 Excursion to Tindari (2005), page 1

 

IM5 Excursion to Tindari (2005)
 


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IM5 Excursion to Tindari (2005)


  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  AUTHOR’S NOTE

  NOTES

  FOR MORE MONTALBANO NOVELS, LOOK FOR THE

  Praise for Andrea Camilleri and the Montalbano series

  “Montalbano is a delightful creation, an honest man on Sicily’s mean streets.” -USA Today

  “This savagely funny police procedural ... prove[s] that sardonic laughter is a sound that translates ever so smoothly into English.” -The New York Times Book Review

  “Wit and delicacy and the fast-cut timing of farce play across the surface ... but what keeps it from frothing into mere intellectual charm is the persistent, often sexually bemused Montalbano, moving with ease along zigzags created for him, teasing out threads of discrepancy that unravel the whole.” -Houston Chronicle

  “Hailing from the land of Umberto Eco and La Cosa Nos- tra, Montalbano can discuss a pointy-headed book like Western Attitudes Toward Death as unflinchingly as he can pore over crime-scene snuff photos. He throws together an extemporaneous lunch of shrimp with lemon wedges and oil as gracefully as he dodges advances from attractive women.”

  —Los Angeles Times

  “Subtle, sardonic, and molto simpatico: Montalbano is the Latin re-creation of Philip Marlowe, working in a place that manages to be both more and less civilized than Chandler’s Los Angeles.” -Kirkus (starred)

  To request Penguin Readers Guides by mail

  (while supplies last), please call (800) 778-6425

  or e-mail reading@us.penguingroup.com.

  To access Penguin Readers Guides online,

  visit our Web site at www.penguin.com.

  A PENGUIN MYSTERY

  EXCURSION TO TINDARI

  Andrea Camilleri is the author of many books, including his Montalbano series, which has been adapted for Italian television and translated into nine languages. He lives in Rome.

  Stephen Sartarelli is an award-winning translator. He is also the author of three books of poetry, most recently The Open Vault.

  PENGUIN BOOKS

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario,

  Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England

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  New Delhi - 110 017, India

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  (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

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  Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England

  First published in Penguin Books 2005

  9 10

  Translation copyright © Stephen Sartarelli, 2005

  All rights reserved

  Originally published in Italian as La gita a Tindari by Sellerio editore. © 2000 Sellerio

  editore via Siracusa 50 Palermo.

  Publishers Note

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product

  of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons,

  living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBL1CATION DATA

  Camilleri, Andrea.

  [Gita a Tindari. English]

  Excursion to Tindari / Andrea Camilleri ; translated by Stephen Sartarelli.

  p. cm.

  “A Penguin mystery.”

  eISBN : 978-1-101-12682-0

  I. Sartarclli, Stephen,__II. Title.

  PQ4863.A3894G3713 2004

  853’.914-dc22 2004053654

  The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

  http://us.penguingroup.com

  1

  He realized he was awake, as his mind was functioning logically and not following the absurd labyrinths of dream. He could hear the rhythmic swashing of the sea; a predawn breeze was blowing through the open window. Yet he stubbornly kept his eyes closed, knowing that the ill humor boiling inside him would come spewing out the moment he opened his eyes, leading him to say or do something stupid he would later regret.

  The sound of whistling on the beach reached his ears. At that hour, surely someone walking to work in Vigàta. The tune was familiar, but he couldn’t recall the title or lyrics. What did it matter? He never had been able to whistle himself. Not even by sticking a finger up his ass.

  He stuck a finger in his asshole

  and gave a shrill whistle,

  the prearranged signal

  of the cops on patrol.

  Some dumbshit ditty a Milanese friend at the police academy used to sing to him sometimes, which had stuck in his memory ever since. His inability to whistle had made him the favorite victim of his childhood schoolmates, all masters of the art of whistling like shepherds, sailors, mountaineers, even adding fanciful variations. Schoolmates! That’s what had ruined his night of sleep! He’d been remembering them after reading in the newspaper, shortly before going to bed, that Carlo Militello, not yet fifty years old, had been named president of the second-most-important bank in Sicily. The paper expressed its heartfelt best wishes to the new president and printed a photograph of him: eyeglasses, almost certainly gold-rimmed, designer suit, impeccable shirt, exquisite tie. A successful man, a man of order, defender of Values (that is, stock-market values as well as Family, Country, and Freedom). Montalbano remembered him well. Not as a classmate in primary school, but as a comrade in ‘68!

  “We’ll hang the enemies of the people with their ties!”

  “Banks are only good for being robbed!”

  Carlo Militello, nicknamed Carlo Martello—Italian for Charles Martel—because of his supreme-commander attitudes and his penchant for confronting adversaries with words like hammer blows and punches worse than hammer blows, was the most intransigent, most inflexible of anyone. Compared to him, the Ho Chi Minh so often invoked by demonstrators seemed a social-democratic reformist. Martello forced everyone to stop smoking cigarettes so as not to enrich the state monopoly Joints, yes, to their heart’s content. Only once in his life, he claimed, had Comrade Stalin done the right thing, and that was when he’d set about bleeding the banks to finance the Party. “State” was a word that gave them all nightmares, throwing them into a rage like bulls before a red cape. What Montalbano remembered most from those days was a poem by Pa
solini, defending the police against the students at Valle Giulia, in Rome. All his friends had spat on those verses, whereas he, Montalbano, had tried to defend them. “But it’s a beautiful poem.” If they hadn’t restrained him, Carlo Martello would’ve broken his nose with one of his deadly punches. But why hadn’t that poem bothered him? Had he read his future as a cop in it? At any rate, over the years he’d seen his friends, the legendary comrades from ‘68, all turn “reasonable.” And by dint of reason, their abstract fury had softened and finally settled into concrete acquiescence. And now, with the exception of one who, with extraordinary dignity, had been putting up with trials and incarceration for over a decade for a crime he’d neither committed nor ordered, and another who’d died in obscure circumstances, the rest had all made out rather well, hopping from left to right and back again, ending up as chief editors of newspapers, television producers, high government functionaries, senators and chamber deputies. Unable to change society, they’d changed themselves. Or perhaps they hadn’t even needed to change, since in ’68 they had only been playacting, donning the costumes and masks of revolutionaries.

  That appointment of Carlo Martello-Militello had really not gone down well. Especially because it had triggered another thought in his mind, by far the most troubling of all.

  But aren’t you cut from the same cloth as these people you’re criticizing? Don’t you serve the same state you fought so ferociously at age eighteen? Or are you just bellyaching out of envy, since you’re paid a pittance while they’re earning billions?

  A gust of wind rattled the shutter. No, he wouldn’t close it, not even at the command of the Almighty. Fazio was always hassling him about it.

  “Chief, excuse me for saying so, but you’re really asking for trouble! You not only live in an isolated house, you also leave your window open at night! So if anyone wants to do you harm—and there are people out there who do—they can come right in, whenever and however they please!”

  Then there was that other hassle named Livia.

  “No, Salvo, not at night, no!”

  “But don’t you, in Boccadasse, sleep with the window open?”

  “What’s that got to do with anything? First of all, I live on the third floor, and, secondly, in Boccadasse we don’t have all the burglars you have here.”

  And so, when Livia called him one night, all upset, to tell him that the burglars of Boccadasse had cleaned out her apartment when she was out, he gave silent thanks to Genoa’s thieves, then managed to express his dismay, though not as much as he should have.

  The telephone started ringing.

  His first reaction was to shut his eyes even more tightly, but it didn’t work. It’s a well-known fact that sight and hearing are not the same thing. He should have plugged his ears, but he preferred to bury his head under the pillow. Nothing doing. The ringing, faint and distant, continued. He got up, cursing the saints, went into the other room, and picked up the receiver.

  “Montalbano here. I should say hello, but I won’t. I’m not ready to.”

  There was a long silence at the other end. Then the sound of the phone hanging up. What now, after that brilliant move? Go back to bed and continue to stew over the new president of Interbanco, who, when he was still Comrade Martello, once publicly shat on a tray full of ten-thousand-lire notes? Or put on his bathing suit and have a nice swim in the freezing water? He opted for the second course. It might help him simmer down. He jumped in the water and immediately became half-paralyzed. Would he ever get it through his head that, at age fifty, this was no longer a good idea? That the time for such bravado was over? He headed gloomily back to the house and could already hear the phone ringing from thirty feet away His only choice was to accept things as they were. And, for starters, to answer the phone.

  It was Fazio.

  “Tell me something. Was it you who called fifteen minutes ago?”

  “No, Chief, it was Catarella. He said you said you weren’t ready to say hello. So I let a little time pass and then called back myself. Feel ready now, Chief?”

  “How can you be so funny first thing in the morning, Fazio? Are you at the office?”

  “No, Chief. Somebody got killed. Zap!”

  “What’s that supposed to mean, ‘zap’?”

  “He got shot.”

  “No. A pistol shot goes ‘bang,’ a lupara goes ‘boom,’ a machine gun goes ‘ratatatatat,’ and a knife goes ‘swiss.’ ”

  “Then it was a bang, Chief Just one shot. To the face.”

  “Where are you?”

  “At the scene of the crime. Isn’t that what they call it? Via Cavour 44.You know where it is?”

  “Yeah, I know. Was he shot at home?”

  “He was just coming home, sticking his key in the front door. They left him sprawling on the sidewalk.”

  Can a murder ever be said to happen at the right moment? No, never. A death is always a death. Nevertheless, it was a concrete, incontrovertible fact that Montalbano, while driving to Via Cavour 44, felt his bad mood passing. Jumping right into an investigation would help to chase away the dark thoughts that had cluttered his mind upon awakening.

  When he got there he had to fight his way through the crowd. Like flies drawn to shit, even though it was barely daybreak, an excited throng of men and women blocked the street.There was even a girl with a baby in her arms.The little thing gaped wide-eyed at the scene, and the mother’s teaching methods made his cojones spin.

  “Everybody out of here!”

  A few people started to move away at once, while others had to be shoved by Galluzzo. But one could still hear moaning, a kind of sustained whimper. It was a woman of about fifty, dressed all in black; she was being restrained by two men to prevent her from throwing herself on the corpse, which lay belly-up on the sidewalk, face rendered unrecognizable by a gunshot wound between the eyes.

  “Get that woman out of here.”

  “But she’s his mother, Chief.”

  “She can go cry at home. She’s only in the way here. Who informed her? Did she hear the shot and come running?”

  “No, sir. She couldn’t have heard the shot, since she lives in Via Autonomia Siciliana 12. Apparently somebody informed her.”

  “And was she just sitting there, all ready with her black dress on?”

  “She’s a widow, Chief.”

  “All right, be nice, but get her out of here.”

  Whenever Montalbano talked this way, it was hopeless. Fazio approached the two men, muttered something to them, and they dragged the woman away

  The inspector walked up beside Dr. Pasquano, who was crouching over the victim’s head.

  “Well?” he asked.

  “Not well at all,” the doctor replied. And he went on, even more rudely than Montalbano: “Do I really need to explain what happened? They shot him once. Bull‘s-eye, in the middle of the forehead. The exit wound took out half his cranium in the back. See those little clots? They’re bits of his brain. Satisfied?”

  “When did it happen, in your opinion?”

  “A few hours ago. Around four, five in the morning.”

  A short distance away, Vanni Arquà, the new chief of forensics, was examining the most ordinary of stones with the eye of an archaeologist who’s just discovered a Paleolithic artifact. Montalbano wasn’t fond of Arquà, and his antipathy was openly returned.

  “Did they kill him with that?” asked the inspector, indicating the stone, a look of seraphic innocence on his face.

  Vanni Arquà looked at him with undisguised disdain.

  “Don’t be ridiculous! It was a firearm.”

  “Have you recovered the bullet?”

  “Yes. It ended up embedded in the wood of the front door, which was still closed.”

  “And the shell?”

  “Look, Inspector, I’m not required to answer your questions. The case is going to be handled by the captain of the Flying Squad. Commissioner’s orders. You’re to play only a supporting role.”

  “What
do you think I’m doing? You don’t call this support?”

  Judge Tommaseo, the assistant prosecutor, was nowhere to be seen. They would have to wait before they could move the victim’s body.

  “Fazio, why isn’t Inspector Augello here?”

  “He’s on his way. He spent the night with friends in Fela. We called him on his cell phone.”

  Fela? It would take him another hour to get to Vigàta. And in what condition! Dead tired and sleepless! Friends, right! He’d likely spent the night with some woman whose husband was out bumping his uglies somewhere else.

  Galluzzo came up.

  “Tommaseo just called. Asked if we could go pick him up in one of our cars. He crashed into a pole about three kilometers outside of Montelusa. What should we do?”

  “Go get him.”

  Nicolò Tommaseo rarely got where he wanted to go in his car. He drove like a dog on drugs. The inspector didn’t feel like waiting for him. Before leaving, he had a look at the corpse.

  A kid barely twenty years old, in jeans and sport coat, with ponytail and earring.The shoes must have cost him his inheritance.

  “Fazio, I’m going to the office. You wait for the judge and the Flying Squad captain. See you later.”

  He decided to go to the port instead. Leaving the car on the wharf, he began walking slowly, one step at a time, along the eastern jetty, towards the lighthouse. The sun had risen bright red, apparently happy to have managed one more time. On the horizon were three black dots, motor trawlers returning late to shore. He opened his mouth wide and took a deep breath. He liked the smell of Vigàta’s port.

  “What are you talking about? All ports have the same stink,” Livia once said to him.

  It wasn’t true. Every harbor had a different smell. Vigata’s combined, in perfect doses, wet cordage, fishing nets drying in the sun, iodine, rotten fish, dead and living algae, and tar. With, deep in the background, a hint of petroleum. Incomparable. Before reaching the flat rock under the lighthouse, he reached down and picked up a handful of pebbles.

 
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