Historical Fiction Mystery Suspense


That May afternoon Peter, who was not yet five years old, was stamping ( struggling), rather impatiently in the arms of aunt Clelia, who was so keen to take him, his beloved little nephew, to see the Holy Father up close. She, aunt Clelia, and Peter, in her arms, were near enough to the metal barrier that separated the crowd of people tightly pressed in the square from the way  where the car carrying the Pope would pass, but they were not close the barrier like the people who were immediately before them.

“ Here, look, HE is! Do you see HIM? HE, the Pope! Our Holy Father!” Aunt Clelia, very excited, was trying to solicit Peter’s attention, even his curiosity. He, Peter, was certainly almost impressed, even dazzled by that monumental figure, by the imposing presence of that tall man all dressed in white who was standing on the uncovered car, but it was because of ( for) how that majestic man appeared to him, not at all because the little boy thought that the tall, great man all dressed in white was the Pope.  The uncovered car stopped just before where  they, Peter and his aunt were ( stood), the imposing man all dressed in white got out , and he approached people crowded ( huddled) behind the barrier. He, the Pope picked up a blonde and chubby child, a little girl younger than Peter, that she too did not seem to know that man all in white was the Pope. The Holy Father blessed the child, kissed her and then gave the little one ( the baby) back to the woman who had to be the child’s mother. Ah, aunt Clelia began to crumble that, damn it, if they had been just a little further ahead, if they too had been approached to the barrier, oh, it could happen to him, to Peter, to be taken in the arms of the Holy Father, and even blessed, and even kissed by him, the Holy Father! While Peter, if anything, was happy that such an honor , that such a great fortune had not happened to him. Not that he was afraid of that imposing man all in white, but he was almost embarrassed by him, who appeared too big, too white to Peter, who felt overwhelmed just by seeing him.

Aunt Clelia was still mumbling ( muttering) about the luck that (it) hadn’t happened to them by a breath , damnation, if they had been just a little further ahead…as he, Peter, was wriggling (struggling)in her arms. He wanted to be put down, but aunt Clelia instead, she insisted on holding ( keeping) him in her arms, when ( the) people, crowded tightly in the square, began  shouting, yelling . Their screams sounded like a plaintive, tormenting , and indistinct bellow, that seemed the threatening sound of a rising tide.  It was barely possible to hear, among their “Ahahh!” “ Ohh!” …. Fragments of words, broken words as : “ He-elp!” “ Poo-pe!” “ Goo-d!” Peter, still being raised in his aunt’s arms, glimpsed, in that part of the crowd  which he could see, women putting their hands in their hair, and who seemed to be pulling their hair out and crying.  And then he heard that prolonged screeching sound, that did not stop screeching, which always made him tremble with fear. An agitated mumbling ( mutter) accompanied, in the background, that jarring sound, which had to be that of an ambulance. Peter glimpsed something white, yes, as white as the Pope’s dress…and that something white soon disappeared in his eyes, as if a barrier of people was hiding it. Peter, struggling, managed to slip out of his aunt’s arms and land on the ground, where he bumped against the long legs of a man ( guy) who was standing before him. It was quite by chance that, since the man against whose legs he had bumped was standing with his long legs apart, Peter, looking through the space that was between that man’s legs, saw  the big hand of a man , with a beautiful gold watch on his wrist, picking up something from the way where the car, carrying the Pope, had passed. The large hand of that man, of whom he ( Peter) could see, beyond the watch, the wrist of the white shirt, sticking out of the blue sleeve of his jacket, had rested stretched on the asphalt and then had closed in a fist around that something that the man ( the hand) had collected from the asphalt. Unfortunately , Peter was not able to see what the big hand of that man had picked up from the asphalt. But what was happening ( what was going on?). Because something had to be happened. Peter could also understand this seeing his aunt’s very worried face. She hastened to pick him up again in her arms. People crowded in the square kept shouting and fidgeting, moving convulsively. People behind them and around them kept pushing them, crushing them, aunt Clelia and Peter in her arms. “ Help! Help!”, “ Mercy!” “PO-OOPE ! Oooh, GOD!” The people who crowded the very great square kept shouting. They all seemed become crazy . “ Aunt…aunt..but what is happening?” Peter, almost frightened, asked. “ Ah, darling, stay quiet, stay calm, please… And don’t try to get off…since you are safe here in my arms. But we must go out of the square” she said, sighing, with a face more than worried, with clenched teeth, frowning forehead. She nevertheless tried to move forward. Getting out of that square, filled ( huddled) of that screaming crowd that kept pushing, crushing, it seemed, but it was indeed, an impossible undertaking, and very risky too. Several times Aunt Clelia , and Peter too, were thrown to the ground by the jostling of that massive crowd, which seemed , but was, an impassable wall. When his aunt, who, undeterred, kept getting up and trying to advance, struggling, among that compact wall of crowd around them, ( WHEN) she could not take it anymore, exhausted as she was, to hold him in her arms, she carried Peter on her shoulders , and kept on going forwards. They continued to be pushed from one side to the other, to be thrown to the ground, where they risked ending up under the feet of those shouting, crying people, that stirred like a stormy sea. “Oh! Our Pope!” “ He, the killer!” “ Bad murderer!” “ Pope!” These were the only words which Peter heard repeating frequently. “ Aunt..aunt…is the Pope a murderer?” he couldn’t help but ask. “ Ah, baby, but what ever comes to your mind? He, the Pope, our Holy Father…oh, my dear child, he cannot be a murderer!” Aunt Clelia said, as she tried to make her way through the crowd. It seemed it was impossible to get out of the great square. His aunt picked him up again. Peter fell asleep and when he woke up , he was home.

“ Ah, it was a very shock to everyone “  “ But does he, Peter, know what happened?”  “ I don’t think so…He fell asleep, poor little one…Ah, thank Goodness , we managed to get out of the square in the end…Look, I thought we couldn’t make it” Aunt Clelia and Peter’s mother were talking in the living room, where the television was on. On the television screen he, the Pope, was framed, all dressed in white, standing in the uncovered car, as Peter had seen him that afternoon, in the wide square. Soon after the Pope appeared framed, with a suffering face, while he was falling, and blood stained his very white dress. “ The man who attempted the Pope’s life in St.Peter’s square, this afternoon, has been arrested” They said on television.

“ Mom…Mom…what happened? “ Peter asked. “ They shot the Pope” Aunt Clelia said, making the sign of the cross. “ But, thank God, our Holy Father did not die. Pray for him, darling, so that He doesn’t die” His aunt made the sign of the cross again, then she hugged and kissed Peter, and made the sign of the cross on his forehead. “ Who shot him?” Peter asked. “ A bad man” Aunt Clelia said.

Of the hand that by pure chance Peter had seen picking something up from the ground immediately after people crowded the big square had started screaming, he, Peter would have remembered only many years later, when he was now a man. Then he had thought that that hand had probably picked up THE THIRD BULLET, that had been fired in that attack on the Pope. That third bullet had never been delivered to those who had made the investigations. It had been a Vatican man who collected it , and the Pope would have given that bullet to Our Lady of Fatima, setting it in her crown. In fact, the Pope believed that it had been Our Lady of Fatima who had deflected that bullet and saved his life. The Pope’s conviction had moved the faithful. However, there had been those who argued that if that bullet had been delivered to those investigating the attack, it could have been a considerable help to know the truth, to find out how many people had shot the Pope that afternoon, in St. Peter square.



September 17, 2022 03:27

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