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Crime Fiction

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

A veil of dust collapses on the top of my head as I open the attic door. It’s been a long time since someone used it. The stairs unfold with loud creaks. I have to put some oil on them.


Normally, I should wait for Jack to come back home but earlier he called to say that he’ll be late. So why waste time? At least I hope that if I fall, he will be back in time to get me to the hospital. The stairs continue their metallic scream as I step on them, but they manage to hold me.


It’s been four years since my grandfather died and his house was the apple of discord between his children, that being my mother and her three sisters. I was expecting that all will be sorted reasonably but I didn’t know them at all. They don’t say that money corrupts people for no reason. In this case, it was a house.


When the court finally ordered that the house would go to my mother, as per my grandfather’s will, all my aunts came to take something of him as a memory. Very few things were left, and my mother asked me to clean them and sort them out.


The place is full of dust, ideal for my allergy. The moment I step into the attic I start sneezing uncontrollably for some moments. There are not many things left, lucky me. Just a small box and some paintings.


I cross my hands and rub them to my upper arms. The room is very cold although it’s the first that the sun hits every morning. I take a quick look at the paintings. Some still look in good condition, they would be perfect for my apartment.


I bend down on my knees and take the box in front of me. I open it and find only a roll of film. Grandfather was a famous reporter back in his glory days and photograph and films were his necessary accessories. But keeping only one film seems strange. He wasn’t very attached to them.


I try to unroll it, in an attempt to see what it contains, but I cannot see it clearly. So, I put the roll of film in my pocket and close the box. I stand up taking the box with me to take it downstairs to the bin, but I stumble into one of the paintings, and a loud thud echoes as the box drops down. I turn to take it and I see a leather book lying on the floor, while another side of the box is open. There is a second bottom to it.


I open the book and flip through the pages. It’s my grandfather’s diary. There are many entries, most of which refer to his cases from time to time. Without further time to waste, and suffering from the dust around me, I take it with me downstairs.


His house is not far from my apartment. When I arrive, I take a shower to get myself clean from all that dust and change my clothes. The film roll and the diary are placed on the kitchen island. I make a hot cup of coffee and take a seat.


The thoughts are many and hit my head mercilessly. I remember grandfather saying that he never kept any of his film rolls. He didn’t want to get emotionally attached to his cases. Then, why keep only this one? I have to get it developed. And I know just the right person.


Lucas has been a close friend of mine since college. We’ve been through many adventures together, inside the college and outside. If the roll contains something sensitive, he’s the only one I can trust.


After a short call, I arrange to meet him at his house. He has arranged one room into a dark chamber where he can process the film without any other intervening in his work.


****


It’s 6 p.m. when I park the car outside Lucas’s home. He is already standing outside at the terrace leaning against the door frame.


“Hi, I came here as fast as I could.” I smile at him as I walk up a couple of steps in front of his house.


“You’re right on time dear. When you told me about the film roll you triggered my curiosity. Your grandfather was a very famous reporter. Whatever this film contains, it must be important.”


“I have it in my pocket. Shall we find out then?”


We walk into the house, full of excitement of what the film might have in it. Once we’re in his dark chamber, I sit in a corner and let him do his job. It takes a while until the photos are ready, so we fill the time in between with some catching up with some coffee.


“I think it is time to see what secrets your grandfather was holding.” Lucas playfully smiles and gets up making his way back to the dark chamber.


I follow his lead getting up from my seat when I hear him running back to me.


“Gina, you need to see this.” His voice had never been more serious. I cannot ignore him.


I run to the room where the photos are hanging on a rope above us. Lucas takes one of them out of the hangers and gives it to me. My eyes widen and my mouth falls slightly open.


The picture is taken from afar but the persons in the photo are clearly visible. Whoever took this must be hidden between some plants or trees, as the frame of leaves is formed at the outline of the photo. Maybe a case he shouldn’t be working, or he shouldn’t be seen.

But we all knew who these people are.


Tony Marino is on his knees, heavily beaten. Two men are holding his hands back. On the other side of the photo, Gianluca Rossi stands still, his left hand extended with a gun on it. We both remain silent, turning to watch each other in surprise. Gianluca Rossi was a notorious mob boss many years ago. He was occupying the press regularly. The police were eager to get some evidence in order to put him behind bars, but he was very clever to give them a chance. Many tried to infiltrate his business in the hope to get something but most of them vanished from sight. After so many years, and this might be a piece of evidence they’ve waited all along.


“I can’t believe your grandpa had the assassination of Toni Marino taken with his camera. This is a serious case.” Lucas states. And he’s right. This is a very serious case.

I try to comment on something but I’m out of words. I stay frozen in place, looking at the photo at hand. I lift my head up then and take a look at the other photos of the film. One shows the moment after Tony’s assassination. The men holding him earlier, now are digging a hole in the ground.


Another one shows Gianluca Rossi turning towards the holder of the camera and my breath cuts short. Had Rossi discovered that someone’s been watching him? If yes, how did grandpa manage to escape?


“I need to check his diary, maybe has something written about it.” I say letting down the picture and getting out where the diary is.


I browse through the pages looking for keywords of Tony Marino and Gianluca Rossi. There isn’t something until I reach the end of the diary.


2 November 1980


This is my last case and my greatest sin. I will keep this secret for as long as I live. Yet I hope that someone will find this diary long after I’m gone and do the things I couldn’t.


I had evidence on Gianluca Rossi, which I should have handed over to the police. But I got discovered that night, I was careless. All I wanted was to expose the truth and hold people liable for their crimes in front of justice’s scale.


When Rossi caught me, there were only two options. I will hand him over the film to destroy it, and possibly get myself killed, or I get the bribe he offered me and never tell a thing about it. I had to think about my newly formed family, I couldn’t let them.


So, I took the money and destroyed another film I had with me, pretending it was the one I had on my camera. So, please if you found this diary, do what’s the right thing to do. Relieve me from this burden and ease my soul’s unbearable weight.

May 06, 2022 20:57

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1 comment

Rabab Zaidi
01:34 May 10, 2022

Interesting.

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