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The Unseen Path

A Novelette


4 Poems

K. J. Tesar

Smashwords edition

Copyright 2017 K. J. Tesar

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Table of Contents

A Novelette: Nastya

Chapter One; Marco

Chapter Two; Antonio

Chapter Three; Marco

Chapter Four; Antonio

Chapter Five; Nastya

Chapter Six; The Wedding Day

4 Poems:

The Flickering Light

The Unseen Path

The Tasman Street Burning

You, Killer


Chapter One. Marco

When Marco heard from his wife Paola, that his father wanted to come over for a coffee, he knew something was going on. Probably something not particularly good. They hardly ever spoke. They hadn't really spoken for years, not that they ever had very much even when he was a child. His father had always been hard on him, and on his mother. He had been a real bully with them. Then after his mother's death, from a tumour, their communication had dropped off to almost zero. If they had to get in touch, for some reason or other, they would usually do it through Marco's wife. Marco really disliked seeing him, it brought up too many painful memories.

'What did he actually say?'

'I told you, just that he would like to come for a coffee this afternoon, to discuss something with us. That's all. I asked him what it was all about, but he said that he would prefer to talk about it in person.'

'How did he seem?'

'Marco, I don't know! He will be here in a couple of hours. You'll see for yourself.'

Marco was a slim man, always a bit nervous. He wasn't a very strong looking man, and his face always wore a worried expression. He was relatively good looking, and always tried to dress well, and look after his appearance, but the overall impression he gave was that of a weak, anxious person. Marco wondered what his father wanted. He knew it would be something big, his father hadn't been to his house in years, many years. His father, Antonio, would only see his grandson, Alex, when Paola would arrange to go to his place, or to meet somewhere. At 42 years old, Marco still hadn't managed to get over the difficult relationship he had had with his father as a child. Now he probably never would. Back then they spoke through his mother, Valeria, now through his wife, Paola. Luckily for Marco he had found a strong woman in Paola. She was no great beauty, but she had the inner strength that he lacked. It was Paola who managed the household, and made all the day to day decisions. Marco just wasn't very practical, and lacked the tools to run, efficiently, the family's affairs. While he was more than happy to let Paola organise these things, he inwardly blamed his father for his inability to take charge.

When he was a child his father had always tried to push him, actually bully him, into doing things he didn't want to do. For example playing aggressive sports, like rugby, which he hated. Also he sent him off on camping trips, organised through the church. Marco would plead with his mother to not have to do these things, but sometimes even she was unable to stop his father's constant bullying. Now, his feelings towards his father were a mixture of hatred, and fear. He preferred to not have to meet him face to face, because it reminded him of all his bad experiences as a child, growing up. He still remembered, vividly, that time when as a boy of ten years old, his father took him to do a walking trail, in the hills. Halfway into the walk, right in the middle of the bush, his father sped up his pace, walking ever faster. Marco tried to keep up, but after a few minutes found himself alone, in the middle of nowhere, with no one around. He had called out for his father, but had gotten no reply. When he could walk no further, he fell to the ground, crying desperately. After a while, he managed to continue along the trail, but then found himself at a fork, one trail going one way, and the other, in another direction. With a great feeling of panic, he tried going up each of the trails a bit, looking for his father. Then he would return to the fork. Soon he couldn't even remember which trail he had come along to get there. In desperation, he lay on the ground crying. Eventually his father returned, grabbed him by the shirt collar, and fairly dragged him back to the car. On the way home Marco was sobbing uncontrollably, as his father drove in silence. When they returned home, and his mother found out what had happened, a mighty row broke out between his parents. He ran to his room, and tried to block out the yelling voices.

Even now, after so many years, Marco still hated the countryside. He had a fear of getting lost, with no one to help him. He didn't even want his own son, Alex, to join the scouts. Even in the age of scoutmasters with GPS trackers, and smart phones, he still had this great fear of his son not being able to find his way home, and being lost in the wilderness. His father had been such a bully, that the fear from those days still lingered. Paola understood his difficult relationship with his father, and, being a strong woman, had no problems with being the intermediary between them. Luckily his mother had been a strong woman too, and she had shielded him from his father, as much as she could. It was eight years now, since she had died. He still missed her, every day. It had happened right at a time when things had finally come good in his life. He and Paola were not long married, and she had been expecting their son, Alex, when, in the space of little more than ten days, his mother had died from a brain tumour. At first she had complained of severe headaches, but by the time she was correctly diagnosed, it was just too late. It was all so sudden. Luckily he had had Paola to help him through that period. Even though at the time she had been pregnant, she had always been a rock that he could rely on. Since then, his minimal contact with his father had become virtually zero contact. Now for some reason, he wanted to come and talk to them. Marco was dreading the meeting. He just knew it would be something bad. The anxiety was building up in him. With his father, there never was anything other than bad things. It was a Saturday afternoon, and Alex was at home from school. Not knowing what his father wanted, he and Paola had decided it would be for the best if Alex wasn't around. They had arranged for him to go and play at a friend's house. In any case, that was nothing out of the ordinary on the weekend. Alex would often be at his friend's places, or they would be at his. Their house was in a new subdivision, mainly populated by young families. The house itself was a two story, detached home, with a small garden at the back, and parking, off street, in the front. It was a very safe place for kids, and they would play freely in the local park, with one or another of their parents taking turns at watching over them.

Paola had bought some little cakes to have with the coffee. Marco didn't even like that. He didn't want to encourage his father to stay any longer than was absolutely necessary. He heard a car pull into the driveway. He left it to Paola to go and open the door, while he waited in the lounge room. He heard voices in the corridor, and in walked his father, together with a frumpy, blonde woman. She looked to be in her mid 40's, little older than Marco and Paola.

'Hello son, I would like you to meet Nastya. Nastya, this is my son Marco,'

Marco's father was everything that he was not. A big man, exuding strength, never one to be intimidated. He carried himself with great surety. Even in his early 70's he was in good shape. He still had a good head of hair, now gray, and a good looking, well defined face.

'Hello. Marco. It's pleasure to meet you. Your father has told me all about you.'

The woman had a strong accent, seemingly from a country in east Europe.

'Hello, it's a pleasure.'

Marco looked over at Paola, inquisitively. In reply, she shook her head. She didn't know what was going on either.

'Look, there's no point in beating around the bush. Nastya and I are going to get married. The wedding will be next Saturday, and we would like you all to be there, if you wish. If you prefer not to come, we will understand. It's up to you.'

Marco was stunned. He had known nothing good was coming, but this? This, he hadn't expected.

'You're going to get married?'

'Yes, we haven't know each other that long, but we both love each other, and we want to get married.'

Marco stood there in silence. He just couldn't believe what he was hearing. Paola jumped in with something.

'Congratulations to the two of you! Where are you from, Nastya?'

Antonio answered for her.

'She's from Moldova. She has been living in Italy for about twelve years.'

'Where did the two of you meet?' asked Paola, trying to keep the conversation flowing, while anxiously keeping an eye on Marco.

'It was fate, really. We bumped into each other outside a supermarket. I wasn't looking where I was going, and I bumped into her, making her drop her bag of groceries. I felt terribly embarrassed about the whole thing, being so clumsy, but she didn't mind at all. I helped her collect her shopping, and we just got to talking, and, well, it all started from there.'

Marco could smell a scam when he saw one. The Moldovan woman was obviously looking for an old rich man to marry. Someone to sort out both her citizenship problems, and her economic situation, all in one hit. A burst of anger went through him.

'Dad, you are 72 years old. Don't you think she's too young for you? It looks like she's around my age. What the hell are you doing? You realise she is probably after your money, don't you?'

'How dare you talk to me like that! You have never shown any respect for me, ever! And what way is this, to talk in front of a guest? Your mother would be ashamed of you! Listen, you useless prick, we love each other, and we are getting married. End of story. Either you come to the wedding, or you don't. Whatever you prefer. Either way is fine for me. Come on, Nastya, let's get out of here!'

With that Antonio and Nastya left. Marco looked at Paola. Both of them were stunned into silence. Neither could believe what had just happened.

'And he's got the cheek to say mum would be ashamed of me? God only knows what she would think of him!'

'Let's leave your mother out of this, eh? Maybe it's true. Maybe they do love each other. Anyway, it's probably good for him, all alone in that big house.'

Marco looked at her in anger.

'Yeah, all alone in that big house, that will become hers, when he dies. Everything mum put up with, everything she did for me, will just go up in smoke. That fat, ugly bitch isn't going to steal my inheritance from me. For mum's sake, I won't let her!'

'In any case, I think you should consult a lawyer, just to see what the legal situation is. These things can be complicated. It's probably better to look into it straight away, before the wedding.'

'Oh, don't you worry! I'll do that alright. I just can't believe it. All my life he has treated me badly. And mum. And now, now he pulls off this stunt. I don't know what I did to deserve a father like him. I'll tell you one thing. You won't be taking Alex to see him anymore, that's for sure!'

'Listen, Marco, I know you are upset, but you can't use Alex as a bargaining chip. He loves his grandad, and Antonio dotes on him. However he treated you, he is nothing but nice to Alex.'

'Well, we'll see about that.'

Marco was so angry, he couldn't sit still. He started pacing around the room.

'That bastard! Listen, I'm going for a walk, to try and make sense of all this.'

Marco headed out of the door, his wife looking after him, with a worried look on her face. She had never seen him so angry before. Although, in all truth, every time the subject of his father came up, he always got a little angry. But nothing like this. She knew this was going to be the beginning of a very bad period. Marco walked down to the park, and sat on one of the benches. It was a lovely day, there were a lot of kids playing happily, making a lot of noise. Marco felt so angry. After everything his father had put him through, now he pulls a stunt like this. His father had always bullied him, and his mother. Truth be told, he had had great misgivings when he had married Paola, and had moved out of the family home. He had been very reluctant to leave his mother alone with him. He knew that she would then have to bear the brunt of his bullying, by herself. His mother had told him not to worry, she knew how to handle Antonio, and that it was time for him to make his own life, and start his own family. She had been such a strong woman. Now she was being replaced, with a money sucking parasite, latching onto a lonely old man. Marco vowed he wouldn't let her get away with it. He wouldn't let the two of them disrespect his mother's memory like this.

Chapter Two. Antonio

Antonio had worked hard, all his life. All he had ever wanted was to look out for his family, and provide them with all he possibly could. When their son was born he was over the moon. He couldn't have hoped for more. He had felt his life to be complete. He had the best of wives, in Valeria, and then a son as well. Valeria was a rock. She was a hard worker, and never complained about anything. She had a natural beauty that didn't require the use of cosmetic products, which she considered a waste of money. She was a strong woman, with whom it was difficult to impose your will. Valeria knew what needed to be done, and you could never shake that conviction. He soon understood that his wife was spoiling their son, Marco, but didn't mind too much. After all, he was just a baby, they would have time to raise him as a strong boy, later on. Antonio had grown up in the 50's, a difficult time in rural Italy. His family didn't have much money, and food, although always present, was never in abundance. He had started working doing odd jobs, almost as soon as he could walk. He couldn't remember a time when he hadn't been working. Even the meager amount of money he had brought into the family coffers, had helped them through those difficult years. He wanted his son to be strong, to be a good provider for his eventual family. Nobody was going to help you in this life, you had to do it all by yourself. You needed the ability to survive, to flourish, through the deeds of your own hands. He wanted to give his son the right mindset, so that he could go out into the world as a successful, strong man. It didn't take long before he realised that Valeria was spoiling Marco, too much. Whatever he wanted he got. With Antonio being away at work all day, he had difficulty imposing his will on the situation. No matter what he asked his wife to do, she would just keep on giving Marco everything he wanted. That was a recipe for disaster. That way you would turn him into a spoiled brat, incapable of making his own way in society. Those early years had turned into years of arguing. He just couldn't make his wife understand that she wasn't helping Marco at all. She was just making him less capable of surviving out in the world. Soft. Weak. Every decision about Marco's upbringing ended up in an argument. As the years passed he could see that their son was totally unprepared for life. He couldn't do anything on his own. Marco had become a mommy's boy, tied to his mothers apron strings. Antonio tried to get him interested in sport, but to no avail.

One time, when Marco was around ten years old, he took him out on a bush walk. It was an easy trail just a little way out of town. A short way along the trail Antonio hurried ahead of Marco, and hid behind some trees. He was watching him, to see how well he would react to the situation. Antonio hoped he would logically try and work out where his father had gone. In reality, he just fell sobbing to the ground. How was he going to make his way in life like this? His mother had totally ruined him. At an age when Antonio had been working for years, Marco was not even capable of walking along a well marked trail. Angrily he had picked him up, and taken him back to the car. He just didn't know what to do. As expected, when they had arrived home, Marco went screaming to his mother. That set off another row. One of the many, where Marco's upbringing was concerned. All they ever did was argue. The reason was always the same. Whatever he tried, Antonio just could never seem to get his way. Marco was a lost case. It wasn't until Marco married, at 28 years old, and moved out of the family home, that Antonio found some peace. Finally the discussion wasn't always about their son. Finally they had some time to enjoy together, like they had in the old days, before Marco was born. Antonio and Valeria stopped arguing, and enjoyed the best times they ever had.

Whenever they could, they would go away for the weekend, or even take a week's holiday somewhere. Antonio fell in love with his wife again. He was so happy to be with her. They had lost many years disagreeing on Marco's upbringing, but now their marriage was back on track. Marco was now someone else's problem, and he and Valeria, could just enjoy life. Their lives returned to how they had been before Marco was born. The two of them always together, and their love strong. Valeria decided that they should learn a second language, and decided that it would be Spanish. Antonio didn't mind. He was just so elated to rediscover his wife, after such a long absence, he was happy to do anything with her. How they had laughed during their Spanish course! Both of them felt a bit silly speaking in another language, and it just cracked them up. Each time one would say something in Spanish, anything, the other would start laughing. One day, that happiness disappeared. Forever. Antonio would never forget that fateful morning.

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