GENOA: LIVE or DIE by Sarah-Jane Steadman

“Give her to me, Sofia, she is too big for you, now.”

The heavily pregnant woman gladly handed over the wriggling child to the older woman. “Grazie, Mamma.” The mother-to-be sighed, “I shall be so glad when the summer is over and we have our beautiful Rimini to ourselves once again, when all the foreign tourists have gone home.” She sighed and pointed to three young men dressed in gaudy shorts and scruffy tank tops who were walking towards the café. “Just look at those three. The one in the middle looks quite crazed.”

“Probably drunken English.” replied her mother.

As they neared the beachside café, the man in the middle one broke away from the other two.

“Jason, stop! For heaven’s sake, man, don’t do this again!” His two friends tried to catch him, but he lurched towards the table where the women were sitting.

“Juliette! Juliette! It is you isn’t it? Please tell me it’s you!” He grabbed the younger woman by her shoulders and started to shake her, sending the cups and saucers flying off the table.

The older woman dropped the child and started hitting the man screaming at him in rapid Italian. Two waiters rushed over and wrestled the man to the ground, as the other English men tried to stop them punching their friend unconscious. They tried in vain to explain that their friend’s girlfriend had been killed in the Genoa Bridge Disaster, but he was unable to accept this and thought she was still alive.

The two women watched, shaking and crying, trying to pacify the child, who was now standing between them, whimpering, softly.

The older woman was still shouting into her phone as a large black Mercedes screeched to a halt in front of them.

A tall dark-haired man, dressed in a business suit, jumped out and ran to the distressed women. He scooped up the child and led the women to the car, opened the back doors and they climbed in.

He locked the doors and returned to the man snivelling on the pavement, grabbed the front of his tank top and yanked him to his feet. He threw him onto one the chairs at the front of the café, whispering in impeccable English with only the slightest trace of an Italian accent, “My friend, we do not take kindly to drunken louts accosting our families, therefore I suggest you return to your high rise hotel and pack your bags, as you have 24 hours to leave my country.”

Sarah-Jane blogs as “That Burslem Girl”