Marta: “Goodbye, Padania” is the first in a series of e-books featuring Daria Rigoletti. We meet her as an apparently cold-hearted killer. Over time, she changes. Instrumental in that change is Mercurio Ferraris. He is with us now.
Mercurio Ferraris, welcome. That’s quite an unusual name. Mercurio, I mean.
Mercurio: Yes. There is an old Italian tradition which portrays San Mercurio as a saint who disguises himself like a poor traveller and goes from door to door seeking hospitality. That is how he finds out who is good and who is not. My Papà had come to the industrial north of Italy to find work. There was always a lot of prejudice against poor southerners. I guess he wanted to weigh the odds in his son’s favour.
Marta: He never expected that prejudice to lead most of the north of Italy to break away and form an overtly racist state.
Mercurio: No. At first it was just people with dark skins they hated, then all foreigners, then even people from the south of Italy. And so on. They could always find more people to hate, but they ran out of people to run a country and an economy with.
Marta: You were instrumental in putting an end to that. With some help from a certain Daria Rigoletti. When and where did you first meet Daria?
Mercurio: Back in 2032. In the city of Turin, in what they called the Republic of Padania.
Marta: Was it a happy meeting?
Mercurio: Hah! Yes and no.
Marta: What do you mean?
Mercurio: She had been contracted to kill me.
Marta: Clearly she didn’t.
Mercurio: No. She had the chance, but she chose not to take it. Why? She told me later it was to do with the way I looked directly into her eyes.
Marta: But who wanted you dead?
Mercurio: After the pogroms against immigrants, factories were closing all over Padania for lack of manpower. The government’s answer was child labour. I opposed that.
Marta: So, the government?
Mercurio: Or the employers. I had always been a union man.
Marta: When and where did you next see Daria?
Mercurio: In Mongreno, in the hills above Turin, a year later. She had given up killing and set up a cult that espoused non-violence.
Marta: But by then there was a civil war on.
Mercurio: Yes, the armed rebellion had started. I came to ask her help. She refused to take part herself, but she did give some of our guys training.
Marta: In what?
Mercurio: Oh, techniques that are useful in a civil war.
Marta: Is it true that you and she became lovers?
Mercurio: Yes. Briefly.
Marta: Was she a good lover?
Mercurio: Let us just say that she demanded a lot and gave a lot. And that she warmed up.
Marta: Excuse me, but aren’t you a family man?
Mercurio: I lost my wife before the rebellion could start. My children both died during the war itself.
Marta: And the children of the country?
Mercurio: No children have to work in the factories of Italy today.
Marta: What happened to Daria?
Mercurio: She could not control the violent instincts among her followers. Last heard of in India. With their money.
Marta: Will you ever see her again?
Mercurio: If I never see her again, I will die happy because of what I have achieved in the reconstruction of my country. And because of what I had with her.
Marta: And if you do see her again?
Mercurio: Then I shall die even happier.
Marta: Saint or sinner, thank you, Mercurio Ferraris.
Mercurio: My pleasure.
Bryan Murphy’s “Goodbye, Padania”, featuring Daria Rigoletti and Mercurio Ferraris, is avialable from Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Sony, Barnes & Noble, etc. All the author’s e-books are available in multiple formats at: HYPERLINK "https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/bmzm" https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/bmzm In addition, he welcomes visitors at: HYPERLINK "http://www.bryanmurphy.eu/" http://www.bryanmurphy.eu/ .