ALMOST LIKE AN APPARITION
No doubt that she could not go unnoticed. Her long straight platinum blond hair, they moved, remaining long straight, to the almost regal pace of her steps. A tall black domed hat stood out (towered) on her head, increasing her already remarkable height. She had a tall, slender, supple figure ( physique). She was elegantly dressed, yet at the same time you were struck by the extravagance of her clothing. Over the long coat of classic cut, tight on the shoulders and which widened like a bell, of a very discreet hazelnut, she wore a floral shawl whose emerald green , purple, yellow, red dazzled on the black background. Under her long, wide coat, which she kept unbuttoned, you could glance her skintight black leggings and a top that looked like shimmering silver. . That woman , who(m) everyone had seen walking on the streets of the centre of the town, had aroused great curiosity, a real amazement. Everyone who had seen her, was wondering who she was, what she did, why a woman of such extraordinary appearance had come to their quiet little town. Since no one could find out anything about….that kind of apparition, rumors began to run (running). There were rumors telling that wonderful woman was a foreign actress, oh but soon after people did not agree on her identity, that is her name. There were those who claimed it (she) was Kim Basinger, while others, convinced, said it was Brigitte Bardot, who they had in mind as she had been in her youth. Some people instead murmured, frowning, that she was a high class escort who would upset the sober customs of the good and hard working citizens of Travicchio. And there were those who told that the so much charming lady , eh, yes , she was other than ( nothing less than) the secret lover of the Bishop. And while they made this revelation, especially when they said : “…THE SECRET LOVER OF THE BISHOP”, their voice became a whisper, just a sigh, as they twisted their eyes to look around, as if fearful ( frightening) of ( for) what they had just said. Here we must keep in mind that the Bishop , considered by all a holy man, was an old man of seventy years, small, skinny, almost stunted, so that it was difficult, if not impossible, to imagine ( to think) he could have a lover like that wonderful woman.
There were also some people who argued that this splendid, charming blonde lady, in spite of appearances, was not a woman, but a transvestite. “This then!” almost all the others commented incredulously. But yes, the former insisted ( repeated),they were sure that the beautiful blonde lady was a transvestite. Among them there were also who swore to have seen , the day of the arrival of the fabulous platinum blonde lady to Travicchio, a man, of the same height and build of that beautiful lady, got off the train,a man whose face , they swore, was identical to the face of the blonde lady, even if he hadn’t blonde hair, as he was completely bald. For sure, they kept saying, no blonde lady, like the one they had seen walking around the town, had ever not only gotten off the train, but also arrived in their town. It had been a man, they bet on it, who had arrived in their town, getting off the train. He was a man with the same height, the same build, the same features of that blonde woman. This man had checked into the hotel with a male identity. Only after having dressed and made up to look like a woman, had he shown up in town. Even if those who had spread the rumors that the blonde lady was indeed a man disguised as a woman , ( they ) didn’t convince , soon everyone had to admit that no one had ever seen that charming lady neither enter nor leave any of the two hotels , which there were in their town. “This will mean that she, the blonde lady, is a guest in someone’s house” They ( had) thought at first. But, although they had tried to find out , and someone had even started to follow her, they couldn’t see the blonde lady enter or leave any house. “ She will have taken lodging in a nearby town” Then they thought. Eh, sure, it had to be like that. The one who, when they saw her in their town, had the appearance of a wonderful woman, since she was in reality a man, she, indeed he, needed a safe, hidden place where he could calmly transform himself into a woman. Well, but assuming that the things were like this, that she, the woman with a look which not only didn’t go unnoticed, but aroused great amazement, ( assuming that she) was a transvestite, what had she come to do in their town, where they had also seen her go into shops, have breakfast at the bar, go to the cinema?
Then Carmelina, an old woman , who almost always was begging for alms in the Cathedral square, said she had seen that wonderful blonde lady leave the Bishop’s palace early in the morning. Oh, but then that charming blond creature was indeed the Bishop’s lover, they began to say, all satisfied. But what…? Did they not believe by now that this blonde lady, despite appearances, was in reality a man disguised as a woman? They wondered and asked soon after…, almost worried that it could not possible that that blonde lady was really the Bishop’s lover. Oh, and if the beautiful lady was indeed a transvestite, but what could prevent her , or him, from being the Bishop’s lover? They answered each other, more satisfied than ever, that THE THING was really much tasty.
Taken by curiosity, impatient to be able to see ( they too) the blonde lady who went out or entered the palace of the curia, not a few citizens of Travicchio took to lurking, even for a whole night, indeed from sunset to dawn of the next day, near the Episcopal palace. Of course they took care not to attract attention. Indeed, if possible, they would even have wanted not to be seen. Ah, if they could have become invisible! So they didn’t stay, all the time they went on guard, if we can say so, still in too visible areas, like in front of the entrance door ( of the Episcopal palace). They kept walking, slowly, calmly, around the building, and from time to time they moved in front of the cathedral church. Since, who knows that the blonde lady didn’t pass by the cathedral church to reach the Bishop’s rooms. And these diligent, and very curious citizens of Travacchio even disguised themselves a little in their stakeouts. Since someone passing during the night in the area of the cathedral could notice them, and even someone who looked out of one window of the buildings overlooking the cathedral. So they first took care to cover their face as much as possible.
No, no masks, which would have attracted attention. They hid their faces with scarves and hats, and also with sunglasses. But although they were on watch for several nights in a row, they didn’t even see the shadow of the blonde lady. One night, during their stalking, they happened to see someone who came out of the Bishop’s palace, in the middle of the night. But he was a small, thin man, who walked bent over, with a hood which covered also most of his face, who certainly couldn’t be the blonde lady, who had a statuesque , almost imposing physique. That stooped little man seemed to them , but they could not be sure, it could rather be him ( he), the Bishop! Eh, but of course, it ( he) was the Bishop who, since his lover had not gone to him, it was he who was about to go to her. Excited, the two who had noticed him, had immediately informed the others____in all they were seven on guard that night___and they had started to argue whether it was appropriate to follow that small man, who walked bent over. Who perhaps was really him, the Bishop, but they couldn’t be sure it was him ( he). Meanwhile, as they kept arguing about what they had to do, that little man, whether or not he was the Bishop, had gone away. They remained with a palm of nose, but they were not discouraged and continued their stalking at night, waiting to be able to see the blonde lady go out or enter the Bishop palace. Since by now they were convinced that the small man they had seen go out the palace was the Bishop, it had been enough, for them, even to be able to see the Bishop. In short, they hoped to be able, at least, to see one of the two, either the blonde woman or the Bishop. Oh, what a wonder, if they could have seen both of them! But in the following nights they saw neither the one nor the other.
One night, as they were waiting for….the apparition of the blonde lady, the door of the cathedral opened before ( under) their incredulous eyes. Four uniformed men from the municipal police came out of the church, holding up the renowned altarpiece. It was a great panel, also of fine workmanship, which had been attributed now to Titian, now to Caravaggio, now to Giovanni Bellini. The painting was not probably of any of these great painters. But that there had been those who, at different times, had mentioned Titian, Caravaggio, Bellini, and other famous painters, had made it something very precious, a source of pride for the cathedral, and for the whole town of Travicchio too. The painted depicted The Madonna of Jasmine. Indeed, the Madonna in the painting was sitting in a meadow with green grass and reddish radish. A lush basket of radish, with reddish leaves, stood out in the foreground, while the Jasmine, which was in the background, behind the Madonna, was very little. However, since it seemed irreverent to call the painting The Madonna of the radish, it had always been called The Madonna of the Jasmine.
“ Oh, my God, what is going on? They ‘re stealing our precious painting!” The men on the lookout screamed, alarmed. “ On, but stop shouting! Can’t you see that we are men of the municipal police? We’re not stealing the painting. We are taking it to the restoration lab” The four men in uniform said. Then they loaded the painting on a truck and sped away. They, the men waiting to see the blonde lady appear, were stunned. Only the next day they knew that The Madonna of the Jasmine had been really stolen by those men in municipal police uniforms.
But this was not all : on the altar, at the place of the stolen painting , there was a wide painting depicting, incredible! precisely the blonde lady, who was the secret lover of the Bishop, even if she was perhaps a transvestite. The blonde lady was portrayed naked, with her pubis covered by a lush basket of radish.