December 17, 2009
It was a bitterly windy day and Damian was out to snatch more blankets and tissues for Angelo who now had crusted sleeves. Yuck. One thing I can’t stand is to see Angelo get dirty. So, Raul went out with him, and I was tucking Angelo in. Stella cuddled with him to keep him warm. Pounding footsteps told the arrival of someone. Afraid of whom it was, and the idea that he/she might find us, scared me. I held tightly to Stella who mewed angrily. It was Raul. He was breathless, “Damian’s caught.” I hurried to my feet, giving Angelo’s sleeping form a pat and raced after Raul who was already speeding away on his long legs.

“How’d he get caught?” I asked as we ran to the campo. “Carabiniere,” was all he said. “Drat,” I murmured, “What are we gonna do, then?” He just shrugged. “We’ll have to try Plan A,” I said in an all important aura as I said ‘Plan A’. “Drat,” this time it was Raul who said this. Yes, yes, yes, yes, that plan was our back-up, in case any one of us was caught. It’s the pretend-to-be-their/his/her-relative-picking-them-up-and-you’re-so-sorry routine. We’d only used it once when I’d gotten framed by a straggly band of thieves. They called themselves the Alley Rats. Our little group despised that tiny band of 7.

Raul stopped and took a sharp turn into a one-person crevice. If you dug a little ways, you would find a tiny alley, barely enough room for a starved child. Raul’s skinny body fit through in a tight fit; he clawed around for our “charity” clothes. They were all nice and high-class clothes: enough to convince any inexperienced carabiniere. I took the scarlet, soft dress from him. It had a butterfly brooch pinned gracefully on it. Its antennae were a spray of glittering jewels. Raul wore a button down and creamy vest on top. He even had a scarlet tie to match my dress. His pants were barely long enough to cover his long legs.
Quickly we put them on and tried to look as snobbish and rushed as high-class people looked. I held my purse (with fake money) in from of me with both hands and Raul fastened the buttons on his glove. We practiced what we’d say under our breaths as we hurried to the police office.
As soon as we caught sight of Damien, I cried out and said, “Oh, dear Raoul! There you are! How could you do this to your poor mother?” I rushed to him, but the police caught my arms. “Excuse me, but who might you be, senora?” “I am that rascal’s mother, Lady …” I faltered. A spark came into the carabiniere’s eyes. “Oh! Lady Fortunato? Ah! You have come with Lord Fortunato. Your son Raoul!!! Ah yes, please come with me so we can clean this up properly.” “Of course,” I sniffed with a aura of disgrace. I winked at Damien when I passed by.
“All you have to do is sign this paper and pay a fine.” “How much?” I asked disdainfully, throwing an angry look at Damien. I hoped it seemed real. “Uh… only ($70), Lady Fortunato.” I almost reeled at the sum, but remembering that I was “rich” I sniffed and took out folded bills from my purse.
Then Raul and I skimmed the paper, pretending to read*. Then I signed it on the line below Raul’s signature. (We do understand that this meant we can’t be caught again by this force or else they would know we were fakes.)
*Raul and I do not know how to read.
We took Damien by his arms and scolded him until we reached the door, “Raoul! Stealing? How Improper of you! I am mortally embarrassed.” “And uh, thank you,” added Raul as we left.
Damien was bursting out laughing by the time we reached our shabby house. I whacked him upside his head and snapped, “Why’d you get caught? HOW could you get caught? You know what? I don’t even want to know.” Raul slipped away as soon as I started scolding; I saw him slip away into the shadows, then the pounding of his feet as he ran. I rubbed my face with both hands and picked up Angelo off the hoodie; the rain was starting to soak through. Stella had gone off; probably to catch a rat.
I left Damien to take care of everything himself, while I went into a search for food: we were getting low in the food department. That’s when I saw Raul. I slipped a little further closer and saw… I rubbed my eyes; I could NOT believe this… Raul was talking to a girl! Talking…. a lot to the girl! I felt a pang in my heart. Perhaps…. jealousy? I shook of the thought of jealousy and instead thought about how the pang was a more mother-type feeling. But deep down…? I knew it was jealousy .

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