Badfellas Note from the Publishers The names of the characters depicted in this work have been changed to protect their identity. Similarly, the picture of the dog on the cover is not that of the Australian Cattle Dog Malavita who is currently at large. Any other family would have seen it as a new start. The first morning of a new life — a new life in a new town. For the Blakes, however, it was a moonlight flit in reverse: they were moving in as discreetly as possible.
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Badfellas Note from the Publishers The names of the characters depicted in this work have been changed to protect their identity. Similarly, the picture of the dog on the cover is not that of the Australian Cattle Dog Malavita who is currently at large.
Any other family would have seen it as a new start. The first morning of a new life — a new life in a new town. For the Blakes, however, it was a moonlight flit in reverse: they were moving in as discreetly as possible. Maggie, the mother, went in first, tapping her heels on the steps to scare away any lurking rats.
She went through all the rooms, ending up in the cellar, which appeared to be clean and to have the perfect level of humidity for maturing wheels of Parmesan, or storing cases of Chianti.
The father, Frederick, who had never felt at ease around rodents, allowed his wife to go ahead. He went round the outside of the house holding a flashlight, and ended up on a veranda piled high with old and rusty garden furniture, a warped ping-pong table and several shapes that were almost invisible in the darkness. The daughter — Belle, aged seventeen — went upstairs into what would be her bedroom, a square, south-facing room looking out onto a maple tree and a bed of miraculously persistent white carnations — they looked like a constellation of stars in the night.
She turned the bedhead to the north wall, moved the bedside table and began to visualize the walls covered with all the posters that had travelled with her over so many years and across so many borders. This was where she would henceforth sleep, do her revision, work on her movement and posture, sulk, dream, laugh and sometimes cry — all the things she had done every day of her adolescence.
Warren, who was three years younger than her, checked out the next-door room without any real curiosity; he had no interest in views and harmonious layouts. All that mattered to him was having a supply of electricity and his own telephone line. Then, in less than a week, his complete mastery of the Internet would enable him to forget the French countryside, and even Europe, and provide him with the illusion of being back home, on the other side of the Atlantic, where he came from, and where he would one day return.
The wrought-iron curlicues on the entrance gate made one want to visit what looked from a distance like a small baroque palace. All four of them now gathered in the drawing room, where, without a word, they removed the dust sheets which covered the armchairs, sofa, coffee table and as-yet-empty cupboards and shelves.
Inside the red-and-black brick fireplace, which was big enough to roast a sheep, there was a plaque depicting two noblemen wrestling with a wild boar. Fred grabbed a whole lot of wooden knick-knacks from the cross-beam and threw them into the hearth. He always wanted to smash useless objects. They realized Warren had a right to be homesick. He had been just eight years old when events had forced them to leave America; of the four of them, he was the one who had suffered the most.
Changing the subject, Belle asked what the town was called. They all had happy memories of their arrival in the capital, six years earlier. They then split up to explore the rooms they had not yet seen. Fred stopped in the kitchen, inspected the empty fridge, opened a few cupboards, put his hand on the ceramic ring.
He always began by touching things, treating new places as if they were women. In the bathroom, Belle struck poses in front of a splendid, slightly spotted mirror in an ancient mahogany frame surmounted by a little matt-glass rose-shaped lamp holding a naked light bulb.
She loved her reflection there. Maggie, for her part, opened her bedroom windows wide, pulled the sheets out of their bags, pulled the blankets down from the top of the cupboard, sniffed them, decided they were clean, and unrolled them onto the bed. Maggie had had three reasons for adopting this little hairy animal with sticking-up ears: she would be a popular welcome present to entertain the children, as well as a cheap way to buy their forgiveness and make them forget their exile.
Thanks to her astonishing tact and discretion, she had easily made herself popular. She never barked, ate neatly, mostly at night, and spent most of her time asleep, usually in a cellar or laundry room.
Once a day they thought she was dead, and the rest of the time just lost. Malavita led the life of a cat and no one could argue with that. Warren finally found her, as expected, in the cellar, between a boiler on pilot and a brand-new washing machine. Like the others, the animal had found her corner, and had been the first to go to sleep.
Life in France had not put an end to the breakfast ritual. Fred got up early in order to see his children go off with a full stomach, giving them his blessing, sometimes parting with some extra pocket money or an invaluable piece of advice about life, before going back to bed with a clear conscience the minute they were out of the door.
The worst of those particular days had been the funeral of his friend Jimmy, his companion-at-arms from the earliest days of his career — nobody had dared show Jimmy disrespect, even when he was dead. The bastard had chosen to have himself buried two hours away from Newark, and at ten in the morning. It had been a tiresome day, from beginning to end. Warren looked peeved and grabbed a beignet.
That was the signal to go. Each one, for various reasons, held back the thousands of questions on the tips of their tongues, and accepted the situation as if it made some sense. Maggie and Fred found themselves alone in a suddenly silent kitchen. What about you? He could now see the garden in daylight through the window: it had a well-kept lawn apart from a few maple leaves, a green metal bench, a gravel path and a lean-to sheltering an abandoned barbecue.
He suddenly remembered his nocturnal visit to the veranda and its strange, rather pleasant atmosphere. He suddenly had to see it again in daylight, before doing anything else. As if there was anything else to do. It was March, and the weather was mild and bright. Maggie hesitated for a moment over a suitable outfit for her first visit to the town. She was very dark, with a matt complexion and black eyes, and normally wore brown and ochre colours.
Today she chose beige jodhpur-style trousers, a grey long-sleeved T-shirt and a cotton cable-stitch sweater. Fred went onto the already sunny veranda, where he detected a soft smell of moss and dry wood — a pile of logs left behind by the previous tenants.
The blinds over the bay window made stripes of sunshine along the length of the room. Fred pretended these were rays from heaven, and entertained himself by exposing his body to them. The room gave onto the garden, but was protected from the elements and covered pretty well forty square yards. He went over to the dump in the corner and started clearing out all the old stuff cluttering it up and blocking off space and light. He opened the French windows and started throwing all the forgotten possessions of the unknown family out onto the gravel: a television set from another era, some plates and copper pans, grubby telephone directories, a wheel-less bike and a pile of other objects, quite understandably abandoned.
Finally he picked up a small grey-green bakelite case, and was about to hurl it out with the gesture of a discus-thrower. But then he suddenly felt curious about its contents and, placing it on the ping-pong table, prised open the two rusty fasteners and opened the lid.
Black metal. Mother-of-pearl keys. European keyboard. Automatic return. The machine had a name too: Brother , model.
Fred now held a typewriter in his hands for the first time in his life. He weighed it as he had done his children when they were born. He turned it around, examining its contours and angles, and its visible machinery, which was both splendidly obsolete and strangely complicated, full of pistons, sprockets and clever ironmongery. With the tips of his fingers he stroked the surface of the keys — r t y u — tried to recognize them just by feel, and then with his whole hand he caressed the metal frame.
He hit the n key and then several others, faster and faster until they tangled together. He excitedly untangled them, then placed all his fingers haphazardly on the keys, and there, standing in the pink light of the veranda, with his dressing gown half open and his eyes shut, he felt overcome by a strange and unknown feeling. In order to retain a semblance of dignity in the playground, surrounded as they were by a thousand curious stares, Belle and Warren chatted to each other in English, exaggerating their New Jersey accent.
However, in exceptional circumstances, such as those of this particular morning, they found it convenient to revert to a more private way of talking — it was a way of reminding themselves of their own story and where they had come from. Belle had kept up the academic standards of her early years at Montgomery High School in Newark, despite all the upheavals.
It had been clear to her, from her earliest youth, that body and soul should enrich one another, exchanging energy and working in harmony. She was curious about everything at school, and concentrated on every subject. No teacher in the world, nor even her parents, could guess at her reason for this — which was to beautify herself.
Warren, for his part, who was eight at the time, had learned French in the way you learn a tune, without thinking, without even wanting to. Psychological problems due to his uprooting had meant a year repeated as well as sessions with a child psychiatrist, who was never told the real reason for their leaving America. Like all children of whom much is demanded, he had grown up faster than others, and had already established certain principles about life, from which he never departed.
There lay within him, beneath the values that he preserved as the precious inheritance of his tribe, an old-world solemnity, in which were mingled both a sense of honour and an instinct for business.
BADFELLAS TONINO BENACQUISTA PDF
Chris Moss From the Reviews: "The latest offering from critically acclaimed French author Benacquista manages to be savagely funny and surprisingly touching, as the protagonist, a man not given to self-reflection, attempts to make sense of his life while dodging the bullets. Benacquista is a good storyteller, with a gift for character and setting, but here he gets caught up in the many twists of his madcap plot and is ultimately unable to write himself out of it. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure. With a twenty million dollar bounty on his head, even the witness protection program was hard-pressed to offer adequate protection for him and his family -- so eventually they figured the only safe place to stow him away was in Europe. Not Italy -- his first and preferred choice -- but France.