Read The Angel of Milan Online
Authors: R. J. Grant
“Yes, I remember reading in the papers about him. They say he torn apart. Just a mess in the gutter.”
“Yes, and that tells me he was involved some how, but who knows. His death may have been designed to cover for the real thief.”
“Maybe, Adama, maybe. So someone may still be lying, no?”
“Yes, I think they are. The only way to find out who it is may be to locate the artifact. I am pretty sure it has not left Milan. That’s where you come in, Giovanni. Where do you suppose we should begin to look?”
“We look-a those damn-a lying priest! Au, a-scuse-a-me, Padre, I mean Adama. I forgot!”
“That’s okay, you are supposed to forget. I will be meeting with the remaining damn lying priest tomorrow morning. I don’t expect to learn much, but I will see if I can make the guilty party sweat a little. In the mean time, ask your friend at the Duomo what he knows of them. Maybe it will give us some insight into their misdemeanors in the past.”
“Very well, I see what I find out, and contact you at St. Andrew.”
“That will be fine. We have to start someplace and this is as good a place as any.” By the way, what else do you do besides Cardinal Burtuchi’s bidding?”
“Oh, I work at World Wide Models. I escort girls in city to their jobs, and anywhere else they wish-a go. I am responsible for their, how you say…welfare.”
My cynical nature told me that I wouldn’t leave Giovanni alone with my grandmother, let alone a bunch of runway models. However, I came to find out that he was paid a lot of money to keep the girls not only safe, but away from romantic entanglements.
Milan is the fashion capital of central Europe, and these women were brought there to make money for themselves, but especially for the agencies that hired them. The agencies provided their room and board, among other amenities. It just wouldn’t do to have the goods damaged in any way, including emotional stresses. They are expected to pound the pavement all day, every day, running to auditions for work. If they find no work, they are sent home in a New York minute. The result of this mad quest for work is that the streets of Milan are overflowing with some of the most beautiful women in the world.
We arrived back at the rectory without much more said. Giovanni promised he would get back to me as soon as possible with any additional information he could find on Archbishop Savica or Monsignor
I engaged in small talk with some of the St. Andrew residents, mostly about current events in the Vatican—gossip, really, nothing of any true import. The rumor mill was in full swing, and I confirmed and dispelled those things that I had some knowledge of. I had just retired to my quarters to freshen up when the phone in my room rang. It was the house keeper, informing me that I had a visitor downstairs by the name of Giovanni.
That was fast
, I thought. Reluctantly, I went back downstairs again, hoping we could get the show on the road if Giovanni had uncovered more information.
“Ciao, Giovanni. Have you got something for me?”
“I afraid not that much, but there is something,” he said, looking over his shoulder. “We should not talk here, how about we go for ride?”
Giovanni pulled the SUV into traffic with little more than a glance in the mirror. He was native, all right. How these people keep from killing each other I will never know. Maybe if everyone drives aggressively it nullifies the probability of collisions. Everyone expects to be cut off or forced out of a lane all the time. Whatever it is, it keeps the traffic moving.
“What did you learn from your friend at the Duomo about our suspects?”
“It wasn’t easy to get him to say much. It took a lot of convincing and promises that his identity would never be associated with the information.”
“Yes, yes, you accomplished a miracle.” I was getting annoyed. “Out with it.”
“It’s-a not very nice, and you not going to like it.”
“Giovanni, please. I can’t decide if I like it unless you finally tell me.”
“Very well… Father Crochi was a, ah, the word-a how you say, patologica per i bambini?”
“Pedophile? Is that what you mean?”
“Yes, that’s it! Pedophile!”
“You are right, I don’t like it.” All of a sudden, I did not care that the man was dead. As a matter of fact, dying in the gutter was too good for him. I couldn’t help thinking “bravo!” for whoever did it.
“What about Archbishop Savica and Belgerio?”
“There is nothing out of the ordinary for the Monsignor Belgerio. However, Savica was aware of Crochi, and seems to have protected him to some extent.” Giovanni glanced at me a few times while navigating the busy streets. “What do you think, Adama?”
I took a breath, hoping my new Italian friend would keep his eyes on the road. “I think Crochi was compromised. He was either blackmailed or offered access to children in some way. The killer could very well be the one he was bringing the Atonement Lot to. If Crochi would betray the church, not to mention his vows, he would likely betray the holder of the Atonement Lot in the future. Yes, he had to be done away with in any event,” I said. “Giovanni—”
“Yes, what have you decided?”
“Nothing yet, but I have another question for you. What do you know of someone by the name of Victorio Del Cielo?”
The car swerved in its path and Giovanni’s face turned sheet white.
Although Burtuchi had warned me to avoid Del celio, I felt it would be better for me to find him before he found me.
“Padre, where did you hear that name. It is evil—death follows that name!”
“I am going to have to find him. I want to speak with him.”
“You are what?! Oh no, Padre, do not go near him. He is the devil as sure as God made the apple. How did this come to be?”
The man was shaken up by just the mention of the name. I could tell that I would not learn much about Del Cielo from Giovanni, at least nothing of real substance. He was terrified of him. I would have to talk to Dinard. He seemed to know much of the goings-on in Milan, and would surely shed some rational light on Del Cielo…at least, I hoped so.
“It is my choice to meet him. It is my understanding that he will also be interested in the Atonement Lot, and therefore he is a lead to follow.”
“Adama, please do not do this. It is not wise, no, no. Do not seek out Del Cielo.”
Riding back to the rectory, Giovanni kept mumbling to himself, clearly distracted by my wish to speak with Victorio Del Cielo. For now, all I could do was follow up at the Duomo.
The next morning, I would be able to interview Monsignor Belgerio. From everything I had learned thus far, I was sure that he was not involved on any level with the disappearance of the Atonement Lot, but I needed to speak to him in order to be thorough in my investigation. Giovanni dropped me off, still dissuading me from seeking out Del Cielo. There was no sense in arguing with him, since the man was terrified to the core.
To my disappointment, lunch at the rectory consisted of only a salad, cheese, and bread. However, a rather good Pinot Noir was provided to supplement the austere provisions, and I assumed that the Pinot was Dinard’s personal contribution. I was informed that Dinard was out, but I was sure to find him in the kitchen a few hours before supper. The second glass of wine made me a bit sleepy, so having nothing else to do but wait around for Dinard, I decided to slip upstairs to take a quick nap. I must have been more tired than I realized, and didn’t wake up until after four O’clock. I threw some water on my face and set out for the kitchen.
I was certain that Dinard could provide some intelligent information regarding Del Cielo. As the others had assured me, he was in the kitchen in all his glory, beginning his preparation for the evening meal.
“Father Dinard.” He turned, a bit startled by the strange voice from behind him.
“Oh, Father Adama, you surprised me.”
“Please forgive me, Father. I thought I might find you here. I see you are not only in charge of the pantry, but you are also the chef.” He laughed with a broad smile covering his entire face.
“Yes, Father, it is something I take great pleasure in. I must confess that my service is rather self serving,” he said, laughing again. “I would hardly call myself a chef, but my mother taught me well when it comes to the kitchen. She would create a feast from what little we had. I hope you will find our supper pleasing this evening.”
I smiled at his hospitality, but pressed on with the matter that brought me to him. “Father, I am going to take you up on your offer to help me with something.”
“Why, of course, Father, whatever I can do.”
“What can you tell me about a man named Victorio Del Cielo?” For once, Dinard stood expressionless. I could tell that he was measuring his words.
“He is a patron of the city. He is a man of great wealth and influence, but other than that, there is nothing remarkable about him. The family owns many businesses and properties in Milano, and estates in the country side.”
“The family, what can you tell me about them?”
Dinard went silent again. He was considering the question, and an uncomfortably long moment passed before he spoke again.
“You know, Father, I just realized that I know nothing about them other than they are possibly one of the oldest families of the city. Their Milano holdings are enormous, but I don’t think I have ever seen any of them other than Victorio, and even that was from a distance. He did have a female companion with him, that I believe was his secretary.”
“Is there anything you can tell me about her?”
“No, I don’t know anything of her firsthand, but I could see even from a distance that she was very beautiful, and would be irresistible to a man of his position. However, are not all women irresistible to the men of Milano,” he said with a small laugh.