The Immorality of Bartolo Albizzi

November 13, 2008
By Bret Sherman, Westfield, IN

“In all of our lives, we must face moral challenges. And it is how we deal with these dilemmas that defines who we are as individuals and outlines the basic character of our soul. Of course, we sometimes make mistakes, and we are taught from an early age to learn from our mistakes. And it is unfortunate that sometimes a lesson can only be learned through a traumatic event. But why don’t we learn from others as well? We, as the human race, are a selfish, ignorant species. If we don’t learn from other people’s mistakes as well as our own and modify our actions, make a decision that is regrettable and unforgivable. I’ve made horrible decisions that I’ve regretted in my past- I have a history I’m not too proud of. I just wish I could tell myself not to do what I did, and the same for my friends, but it is too late for that. Luckily, I finally found God, and I have been cleansed of my sin. And it is this message I give to you all: learn from others and learn to love God. Praised be His name!” proclaimed Father Lenny. His ferocity enlivened his audience, and, to his misfortune, his sweat glands as well. Beads of sweat flowed from his flushed face and crashed onto his vestment.

Father Lenny had rigid features, especially with his crooked, beaten nose that was crunched slightly to the left from an untreated fracture. His hands were large, tremendous tools of strength, and he was flailing these tools wildly with emotion. On his head were tufts of brown hair that were evidently in the process of thinning.

Once the church proceedings had ended, many of the parishioners gathered in the narthex to shake Father Lenny’s hand and to thank him for his sermon. On the side, two elderly women were conversing. Both had matching light blue cotton dresses and straw hats with a light blue ribbon on it. “He really put his heart into that one,” said one of the women.

“Yes, and with a past like his…”

“What do you mean?”

“I heard that he killed a man.”

Bartolo Albizzi glanced at his watch and tapped his foot impatiently, sometimes scanning the terrifying room he was in to see if anyone had arrived. The room had been used by many criminals as a place to “lie low”. Even though it was supposed to be a living room, it more accurately resembled an interrogation room, with its flickering lone ceiling light and single fold-up table in the center. With these settings, it was impossible to determine what color the room was, because the flickering light threw off Bartolo’s eyesight and made purple blurs smear across his vision.

Bartolo was wearing his Sunday’s best, consisting of a black suit and tie with slacks and thoroughly polished dress shoes. This was his way of showing his formal perspective on his business- armed robbery. Although a criminal pursuit, he thought of his lifestyle as strictly business, which had provided him more money than he could dream of, and, as expected, a lengthy criminal record. His deep Italian roots were always apparent by his tan skin and slick hair that was already graying. He actually somewhat resembled Ray Liotta, but was shorter in stature and had more of a muscular build. He was raised by Italian immigrants but born in America in Brooklyn. It was there that he learned his fiendish skills, beginning with robbing gas stations and grocery stores as a child. He’d been with his gang for 20 years now, and was considered a legend by some, an old crook by others.

At last, Juan Torres entered the room. He was unmistakably Brazilian, his brazen gold skin looking like a spray on tan, but was actually its natural tone. His face was thin, evidence of a childhood of poverty, and this leanness also existed in his fingers that seemed to have no meat on them and were nothing but disturbing, bony protrusions to a wrinkling, aged palm. A pencil-thin moustache inhabited his face and his black hair was parted to the side as to not obstruct his view. He walked into the room shrugging, an acknowledgement of his tardiness. His clothing was a perfect match to his personality- long sleeve red shirt and blue jeans- showing his casual attitude. His overall appearance was actually quite humorous, but he proved himself an excellent marksman time and time again. They, and Lenny, had been partners for the entire duration of their careers, but only met occasionally in the past five. “You’re finally here,” Bartolo said, “now where’s Lenny?”

“Haven’t you heard? He’s gone religious. He’s like a priest or something,” replied Juan in his best American accent. He had lived in America for years, but didn’t bother to learn the complexities of the English language. He had spoken Portuguese since he was a child, and didn’t see any reason to change that. He only spoke English when around his American associates, such as Bartolo, and thus only learned the basics so that his use could be comprehensible among his fellow criminals. Most of the time, Juan lived in Brazil with his young family. In Brazil, Juan Torres had grown famous, and his stories had almost become legend. He’d learned the ways of his craft in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, considered by many to be the most dangerous city in the world. He grew up on the outskirts in Jacarepasua. His neighborhood was called Cicade de Deus, or City of God, but it was anything but. A hellhole of scum and villainy is what emerged from there.

Bartolo was still shocked by the news about Lenny. “How could that have happened? He was once wanted for a triple-homicide, and now what? He just quits?”
“Well, people change. I never thought I’d have kids or a family or anything.”
Barolo pounded his fist on the table in frustration. “Dammit! Oh well, you know the plan, right Juan?”

Bartolo and Juan approached the hangout of the rival gang, a behemoth of a building among the small apartments surrounding it. Its external structure matched that of the apartment and sidewalk, a miserably bland gray that was insulting to architectural and artistic integrity. The exception to this was the door at the entrance, a large, heavy door with green, red, and blue lines in an indecipherable pattern that was more of a maze than a design. This burst of random color was even worse than the dreary setting enveloping it, its pathetic avant-garde attempt utterly disgusting. The inner structure consisted of a courtyard, complete with grass and trees, but with cubicles and tables as well, and surrounded by a cloister. The tables were overflowing with attack plans and schematics, and a few men were sitting around the tables contemplating. Juan ran up the emergency fire escape and set up his sniper rifle, prepared for the assault. Bartolo kicked the door, not with enough strength to open it, but with enough force to make a disturbance to arouse the curiosity of the gang. After all, it could be cops. When someone answered, Bartolo immediately fired. The shot alarmed all those inside, who rushed to the courtyard to gather ammo and plan an emergency counterattack. One by one, Juan picked off the gang members until one noticed him sitting on the roof and ducked behind a tree. The man, taking his time, waited for the perfect opportunity before firing. The shot shattered the sight on Juan’s gun, and Juan rolled away from the ledge due to both fear of getting fired at again and the natural power of the gun’s caliber. In his entire career, Juan had never been hurt before and thus had no fear. While the bullet did not penetrate his skin, a sudden rush of confusion and thoughts bombarded his head. ‘How could I keep doing this? I have a family now,’ he thought. He quickly burst down the fire escape, skipping the steps and jumping from landing to landing, managing to grab Bartolo mid-retreat as he scampered by him in the street.

Back at the room, Bartolo was furious with Juan. “Why’d you quit halfway through?” angrily asked Bartolo, his veins popping out and his face turning blood red.

“I witnessed a miracle today, Bartolo.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“I- I could’ve died today.”

“It wasn’t a miracle, it was luck.”

“That’s exactly what I expected you to say. You see, I have come to an awesome understanding, and now everything makes sense.”

“What are you saying?”

“I quit, Bartolo.”


“I’m too old to be doing this nonsense anymore. I get aches, man. I have aches and pains I didn’t used to get. And lately, I’ve been thinking.”

“Since when have you been philosophical?”

“I get headaches, headaches that kill and have no origin. They’re pains of memories. And I get dreams, really messed up dreams. I’m being destroyed by my own past. And I have a wife and kids now! What will they think of me, a thief, a murderer?”

“You are a thief and a murderer! I don’t know what you’re talking about, but you are and have always been a thief and a murderer. It is too late to change that.”

“Well, I’m going to try. Changes are going to be made. This job is not for me, at least not anymore. I’m not like you. This is a sick job, and I’ll leave it to filthy animals like you. I will instead move with my family to stay in America, and we will join Lenny’s church together.”

“Church? You coward! Church is for those who are so fearful that they can’t believe in themselves.”

“Something greater than I could have imagined happened today. And maybe it’s good to have fear. In fact, I’m glad to be scared. You can’t just run anywhere recklessly, Bartolo, you’ll get yourself killed.”

“Fine. I don’t need someone like you anyway. You’re nothing but a washed up has-been.”

“Screw you!”

Bartolo reacted by spitting at Juan, and then burst out of the room and to return to finish his scheduled business. He approached the hangout with a similar plan, but without the sniper. Instead, he would back off and fire through the entrance. Despite being outnumbered, there was no fear on Bartolo’s face. After all, it was not the first time that he had gone on a mission alone. He once again kicked the door, but was surprised to find the enemy gang waiting for him, blasting away.

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