THE TINY SILVER BELL
The leaf was settled, stretched out, with the tips of its lobes upright, on the bench , right next to her, who only noticed it when she get up. It was a five lobed maple leaf , whose predominant color was reddish, which had almost completely eliminated the green. It was autumn and under the trees, in the meadows, in the gardens, but also on the roads and the city streets there were many leaves , there were carpets of fallen leaves. That one, perhaps carried by the wind, lay on the bench as if it was sitting on it ( on the bench). “ My little leaf “ she said, taking the maple leaf in her hand. It seemed to Zara that the rather little maple leaf was there , on the bench, just for her. Even before she could see the reverse of the leaf Zara, as soon as took the leaf in her hand, felt something hard and rather cold against the palm of her hand, while the leaf was cold and warm. She thought of an insect, perhaps a little beetle, a ladybug, that was attached to the leaf. ( to the other side of the leaf). It was instead a very small thing, a tiny object , really a trinket. It was something not to be believed in her eyes. ( something that made her to not believe in her eyes)
There was a very tiny silver bell attached, or rather hung on the other side of the leaf. The tiny silver bell had also a rattle____ otherwise what bell would it have been?____and its rattle went : DIN DON DAN. And , surprise in surprise, when Zara took the leaf by the petiole, to lift it from the palm of her hand, on which she had placed it , truly (very) incredible, the tiny silver bell remain attached, or, rather hung on her index finger. So that it was enough for her to move only a bit her finger and the tiny bell started ringing: DIN DON DAN. Zara, she didn’t really know how that would be possible. She was more than incredulous, more than amazed. But she didn’t even think for a moment of removing the tiny bell from her finger. Zara started walking down the same narrow paved road which would take ( would have taken) her to the lane between the fields , that she usually made to come back home. Alongside and parallel to that narrow stretch of asphalted road, there was a freeway
where, in addition to cars, many heavy vehicles transited : big trucks with tall and long wagons, trucks with long tanker trailers. Zara, as walked on that narrow stretch of paved road, keeping her index finger pointed forwards, so that the tiny bell rang___DIN DON DAN___at every step she took, she could see, out of the corner of her eye, those big trucks, with tall and long trailers, that sped on the super highway, after turning at the roundabout, with an agile movement , which never it would be expected by vehicles so much heavy. When they turned at the roundabout, they looked like huge snakes crawling sinuously on the asphalt. When she, sitting on the bench when she had found that maple leaf, under which there was the fabulous tiny silver bell, watching at them as they turned, following them with her eyes until she could see them, keeping her eyes glued to the back of their huge wagons, Zara always thought: these big trucks really go far. Sometimes, to tell the truth, she had been tempted to ask for a ride in one of those big trucks with big trailers. Leaving a place where she was sick, where indeed she had always been sick, getting into one of those trucks, that certainly went far away from there. And so she could come far enough that she once got there, it certainly wouldn’t have occurred to her to go back. Zara had been seized by this temptation several times while she, walking on that narrow stretch of asphalted road, along the freeway where those big beasts, the trucks, whizzed by , she had felt that they stir the air as they passed. But until then she had never asked for a ride…..to somewhere far enough from there. Until that special day, when she found the tiny silver bell under the maple leaf that was sitting on the bench right next to her, Zara didn’t dare to stop one of those big beasts of the trucks for a ride. But that day was a very special day. She not only had found the silver bell under the leaf, but the tiny bell had attached itself to her index finger, and it rang ___DIN DON DAN___at every step she took. So she dared. Indeed it was be tiny silver bell, hanging on her finger, that pushed her, took her on the highway, where she started running alongside every big truck which passed, and she, waving her arms and hands, tried to stop a truck. While the tiny silver bell was sounding more and more louder, just as if it, the tiny bell, were working hard for a truck to stop and she could have a ride. Miracle! It was the tiny silver bell which was taking her away from there, from that cursed place. It was again the fabulous tiny bell that pushed her to get (to go) into the middle of the freeway , after giving struggled for not a little time to run alongside those big trucks without anyone stopping. Zara knew that she, standing there, in the middle of the freeway, she was in danger of being run over, yet the impatience to be able to leave for any place, but far from there was stronger than the fear of being run over and killed.
It was not the first big truck she faced, so to speak, face to face, that stopped. Two or three of those big trucks went by without stopping, and their drivers shouted the most terrible insults and also the fiercest threats to Zara. Then finally a truck stopped, despite the bombing of the horns of the vehicles traveling behind. Even the driver of that truck, from the window to which his face appeared, first , as greetings, addressed insults, and scares, and threats to Zara. But was she completely crazy to get there in the middle of the freeway? She, ugly witch, damn whore, was very dangerous! She could cause a real big mess, standing there, in the middle of the street! Oh, but of course a very bad woman like she didn’t care how many dead her insane, criminal behavior might cause! But why they let someone like her circulate? Oh, she had to be locked up! Zara paid no attention to what the truck driver was yelling at her, and she started shouting that she was looking for a ride, that she needed a ride to get out ( away) of there as soon as possible.
“ Ah, but listen, the slutty lady wants a ride! And, let’s hear, where do you want a ride for, milady?” The truck driver asked the question with a giggling tone ( voice), as if to imply ( to say) : “And imagine if I can give a ride to you!”. He spoke protruding ( sticking out) his big and ugly face from the window ( out of the window). Meanwhile the bombing of the horns of the cars and other vehicles to which the big truck, which was stopped almost in the middle of the freeway, was getting louder and louder. Maybe because ( since) the drivers of those vehicles, at a certain moment ( after some time) didn’t only protest with the horns, but they got out on the street and started to kick the big truck, and to threat , very angry, the driver, or maybe it was instead because the tiny bell attached to Zara’s finger started ringing ( sounding) louder and louder, that that man, the driver of the big truck, albeit with a shivering grunt, said to Zara that she could get on board, ugly bitch she was! Zara with a leap was on board of the truck. As soon as she jumped up into the truck’s cockpit, before she even sat down, Zara began to thank the very little bell, since, oh, it had been it, so tiny, to do the miracle of making her find a ride to get out from there! He, that big man driving the big truck, shaking his head and grunting, kept on saying that oh, but she was also stupid , as well as completely crazy…..Oh, and he was giving a ride to….to one like her….Ah, who knows what was shaken in his head to make such a fool !
Zara, after thanking the very miraculous little bell, she thought to thank the driver too. Ah, he couldn’t imagine what it meant for her to be able to get away from there, getting on a truck like his one , that certainly had to go far. “Eh, we are going quite far, yes…I have to take my load to St. Petersburg” The big man muttered. Oh, as soon as she knew how far and WHERE the big truck would have taken her, no less than in Saint Petersburg! Zara jumped to joy and started to thank and to tank again the tiny silver bell , and the truck’s driver, and the big truck, too. He, the driver was a big and bodied man, stout and muscular, with tattoos on his biceps, representing Christ on the cross and the Madonna. He was called Karol. Karol was born in Poland, but he had been living in Italy for more than twenty years. He was married with an Italian woman and they had four children. Karol was a hauler for( since) many years. He, in his big truck, mainly transported (carried) products of Italian agriculture to the countries of Eastern Europe. Eh, he had already been to Saint Petersburg a lot of times. Always with a load of highly sought products grown in Italy. This time he was transporting ( carrying) the special and very delicious Red Potatoes grown in Maremma. Of course she too had heard talking of the very wonderful Red Potatoes of Maremma. Yes, Zara knew those Red Potatoes and she also had heard how expert gastronomes advised to cook them, which had to be placed into the oven with the peel and cooked over a slow fire. But she really couldn’t understand why in Saint Petersburg they needed of those red potatoes grown in Maremma, Zara came to say ( observe). Then Karol told her, looking at her sideways, with pity….oh , but then she didn’t know that the Red Potatoes from Maremma had extraordinary properties that Russian scientists had discovered, and precisely scientists from Saint Petersburg, who, when they had come on holiday to Italy, had been able to taste the very tasty Red Potato of Maremma. Karol began to say, or rather to shout, ah the medicines, the miraculous drugs that the Russian scientists had obtained from those very special potatoes! “ Then they, Russian people don’t eat them” It came to say to Zara. “ Oh, they also eat the red potatoes, instead:…indeed they are very greedy of them . They roast the red potatoes , then shower them with vodka , then cover them with peppery cream and again drop on them vodka…ah , such a real delight, such a delicacy ….” Karol said, licking his lips. “ But in addition eating them, they, that is their scientists, managed to extract some….now I don’t know how to say….some active ingredients, some substances that are able to cure even serious diseases. Yes, they, the Saint Petersburg’s scientists, oh, very great scientists…., discovered the healing power of the Red Potatoes grown in Maremma. “ But when Zara asked him which ( what) diseases the red potatoes, or the substances extracted from them, were able to cure, he , the big driver of the big truck said only that the Red Potatoes , he was carrying to Saint Petersburg, contained very special substances which, combined with others, were very effective in healing diseases caused by the alcoholism. Eh, sure that even in Saint Petersburg people drank heavily, eh, with that frost it was obvious that the people would try to warm themselves with VODKA! And Karol started shouting of vodka, which was a really bomb! Other than whiskey and cognac, and rhum…eh, compared to vodka, they were sugar water! While he kept shouting his homage to vodka____Long life the vodka of Don! Long life the vodka of Neva! Hurray the bomb exploding in your stomach, the vodka!____ Karol pulled a rather large metal flask out of the dashboard., and shouting:“ Ah, here it is my dear vodka! “ , as he continued to drive, with only one hand on the wheel, he began to drink greedily from the flask.” Oh, but be careful, you have to drive” Zara couldn’t help but say, almost worried, while the tiny bell had started to ring louder and louder, as if to warn of a danger.” Ah, don’t worry , baby! With Karol you’re safe! Oh, I can hold alcohol very well! Don’t worry! Indeed I even drive better when I’ve had my fill of vodka! Ah! Ah! Don’t worry, dear baby! We’ll arrive In Saint Petersburg safe and sound! And also whole!” The big driver shouted, while he kept on drinking from the flask. And in fact their journey continued without incident. They stopped every two, three hours at most at the motorway grills , for refreshment, for eating too, and for taking two steps just to stretch their legs. During those stops Karol went to check his load of red potatoes, and he always did it alone. He didn’t want Zara to be present So that, inevitably, she began to have some doubts… That Karol was also carrying something else besides the prodigious Red Potatoes of Maremma into the great trailer of his big truck? That he was even hiding something among the potatoes? And if he was hiding something, what could it be? Come on, but she didn’t have to think about it, she ended to say herself. She had rather to think that she, finally, had succeeded in getting out ( away) of that damned place, of that damned country too, and that she was on the way for Saint Petersburg. Their journey proceeded smoothly, in complete tranquility until they went about to cross the border between Poland and Lithuania. Here, at the border, Karol’s truck, with its cargo, was seized , and he, Karol, was arrested. Zara, who risked of being arrested too, was saved by the providential intervention of a priest who was called to be an interpreter. Zara learned that Karol , in addition to the load of Red Potatoes, he smuggled very special animals from Italy to Russia. Those animals were pigs, or rather a kind of pigs, since they had been obtained by genetic engineering . These animals could be considered a hybrid, or a medium , between pig and…man ( human), so they were in great demand for organ transplantantion. For some time animal welfare organizations had raised the alarm about the completely illegal trafficking of these animals from Italy to other European countries.
Saint Petersburg was still far away. But when the tiny silver bell started ringing, with an impatient tone, Zara set out on the road. She knew she would get there anyway, in the enchanted city, even if she had to do the whole journey on foot.