by DiVoran Lites
Chapter Twenty Seven
As Ellie’s spirit quieted, she began to see her surroundings again. When she looked up at the Ferris wheel she saw that it was slowing to a stop, and that someone was waving and calling to her from a gondola.
“It’s getting late and the Signora is probably wondering how to get a taxi back to the hotel.” Aldon said standing up.
“Look over there, she’s on the Ferris wheel,” Ellie said.
“Hoo, hoo,” Lia waved and called again, and they walked over to wait until the attendant released her.
“Where have you been!” Lia demanded. “I have lost Enrico!”
”Are you all right?” Forgetting her own former emotional state, Ellie slipped her arm around Lia’s shoulders. “
“Am I all right?” Lia said shaking Ellie off. “You left me without a fare-thee-well, and now Enrico has disappeared. No, I am notta all right. We must find him so we can go back to the hotel.”
“I’ll get him.” Aldon strode away, and the women hurried after him so that he wouldn’t become as lost to them as Enrico already was. As fast as they walked, Lia could still chatter, and because she didn’t lower her voice people kept stopping and staring at her.
“Really, that Enrico, he is too bad. He has no self-discipline. He is always going to the saloon in town, I give him money and money and he always needs more. If Giovanni knew how he was taking from me, he would have a heart attack.”
“I presumed Enrico was in the suite with you and the Signor at night, or in his own room.” Ellie tried to keep an eye on Aldon while weaving through the crowd and conversing with Lia.
“He comes home broken every night.” In the garish carnival lights, Lia stopped and rubbed her fingers together in Ellie’s face. It was the ancient sign for money.
“You mean broke?” Ellie asked, imagining how the local people would say it.
“Yes, n-ever no m-oney and in his chips, as well.” In her anger Lia stammered.
“In his cups, you mean…drunk?”
“Drunk, yes. I will tell my Giovanni he must send his grandson to Switzerland, or Italy, or wherever he wants to go. I want my peace back. I want my home again.”
As the crowd thinned on the outskirts of the amusement park, Aldon cut between two tents toward the sound of men’s threatening voices. When the women came into the small alleyway, they saw Enrico crumpled against a tent wall like a rag doll. A man came at Aldon, but Lia, in her hurry to get to Enrico, rushed past and the man accidently knocked her down. Ellie rushed to her, but Lia was getting to her feet unharmed.
“Stop this nonsense at once,” Ellie cried. When Aldon heard her voice, it took his mind off protecting himself. A punch landed on his jaw, and he fell. The three men looked for someone else to punish, but could find no further victims. One of them ran over to where Enrico lay and went through his pockets. He pulled out a roll of bills and shoved them down his shirt. He nodded to the others and they took off.
Ellie rushed out onto the fairway looking for help, and a policeman, who must have heard about the fight, came on the run, waving a nightstick. He pulled back to hit Aldon but Ellie grabbed his arm and held on as hard as she could.
“Not him,” Ellie said, shaking all over. “The bad guys are already gone. See if that other man is all right.”
“A word to the wise,” the policeman said trying to get Enrico to his feet, “Take this man home and don’t bring him back to town again. He don’t pay his gambling debts. They were only after what belonged to them. If I ever see any of you again, I’ll arrest you all.”
Aldon took Enrico from the policeman and Ellie put her arm around the young man’s waist to help support him. Lia followed them to the Packard Six, and Aldon stuffed Enrico into the back seat. He shoved him over, and got in.
“You’ll have to drive,” Aldon told Ellie. “I’m still woozy from that punch. We leave for the valley at six o’clock in the morning.”