On Tour - Chapter Six
Chapter Six - On Tour
Damian had one song in his show that always got a lot of requests. It was a song which he sang in Italian called “Via de la Rosa.” Every time he sang the song, it was magic. The audience would become very quiet, the intro music would build to a crescendo, and then the slow, almost reverent strings would introduce the first line of Damian’s song. As he would sing this song, it never failed that the audience would always sound like an audible breeze had just blown through the place, because they would all be uttering sighs of pleasure at the same time. The combined reaction, happening as it always did at the very beginning of the song, made Damian feel especially emotional every time it happened. If ever there was a song from the heart, this was it, and Damian took it way up to another level.
The song was a tribute to Rosa Giovanni, the woman who had become like a second mother to him when he was a little boy in Italy, and the Italian community was making a hit of the song. So much so, that Peter DeLavian decided to send the record for a tryout in Italy. It came as no surprise to anyone when the record started right off climbing to the top of the charts in Italy, and DeLavian wasted no time in setting up a concert for Damian. It would be in, of all places, Rome, and Rosa Giovanni was to be the guest of honor.
Nell had had a bad dream one night. She dreamt that Damian was back on the Aztec, the freighter that had taken him to Italy years ago, and that it was lost at sea. She could hear him calling her name when she woke up. Nell worried about the meaning of the dream, but she never told Damian about it. Knowing how much this trip meant to him, she would not be able to stop him from going, especially over a silly little dream. But, to her, it was no silly dream. She determined that her only peace of mind would be to go with Damian to Italy.
Nell felt a great relief when the plane landed at the airport in Rome. She had not forgotten her dream during the entire flight, and she felt that, now that they were on the landing strip, that the danger was over. She gave way to all the hubbub and cheer that was on the plane, which was filled with staff from Trust Records, crew members for the technical parts of the show, and some reporters who were along to do promotional reporting of the Italian portion of the tour.
As Damian stepped to the doorway of the plane, the reaction was more than he had ever anticipated. It was as if Caesar, himself, had returned to Rome. There was a red carpet rolled from the steps of the plane to the gateway, and it was lined with what looked like thousands of people, all of them cheering and screaming and waving banners. Damian stopped to just bask in all of the moment, smiled, and threw up his hand and waved to the crowd. Although the police were keeping everyone back, one woman had broken through, it seemed, and was heading for Damian at breakneck speed. Although he couldn’t hear what she was screaming at first, it didn’t matter when he recognized who it was. Rosa Giovanni raced into the waiting arms of Damian, hugging and kissing her “bambino” for the first time in twenty years.
“My GI Joe. He come back after all,” she said, and together they led the parade across the carpet and to a waiting area were the press had a platform set up for Damian to address them. Damian was big stuff in Italy, but fame had not turned his head. He addressed the press with the air of someone who was confident, but not arrogant. Damian told them he was very happy to come back to Italy, that he felt at home here, and, hugging Rosa close to him, with a wink, said that he had family here. The press loved him. They loved the story, and so did the mayor. Eager to enjoy the momentous occasion, the mayor gave the key to the city to Damian.
The limousines were plentiful. Everywhere one turned, there was a long, black car with a uniformed chauffeur standing ready. Rosa had never ridden in a new car, and would never have dreamed of riding in a car she felt was for the President, yet here she was, being helped into the shiny limousine as if she were the Queen of Rome. She would never forget this moment as long as she lived.
The elegant black limousine took them to the hotel where the cast and crew were staying. Bags were unloaded, rooms entered, and after some freshening up, Damian, Rosa and Nell, and a few others, were off on a sightseeing tour of Rome which had been arranged by the mayor’s office and Trust Records. At every stop, the paparazzi had a field day taking pictures, and the crowds were all there thanks to tips from the news media. The itinerary of Damian’s sightseeing had been printed in several papers the day before, and although the first day in Rome was going to be a light schedule due to the long flight in, the next day was going to be much more, including television appearances and a banquet.
That night, back at the hotel, it was late before anyone was ready to relinquish the day and sleep. Rosa and Nell had become like two lost sisters the way they chatted, telling stories about themselves, and comparing notes on Damian. Rosa was all ears when the subject was Damian, and as Nell told her about all of his accomplishments, Rosa would cluck her tongue, wag her head and look at Damian and say, “That’sa some boy!”
The next day started early for Damian. His manager had him awake at six-thirty, because Damian had said that he wanted to have breakfast and then go to the marketplace as the merchants were setting up in the morning, something he hadn’t done since he was little. Rosa was going with him, and it gave her a chance to really show off her American star to all her fellow merchants. There were even some merchants there from the days when Damian worked with Rosa, and it was so nice to be back in the nostalgia unencumbered with crew members, chauffeurs, staff and the ever-present paparazzi. They had slipped out of the hotel through the back service entrance while most people thought Damian was still asleep in bed, but by the time they returned, the hotel was jammed with spectators and reporters, and it was almost impossible to get back in. For once, Damian was glad to see his bodyguard and the local police, who, upon seeing him, opened a clear path for Damian and his party to get through.
Promotional stops and handshakes were plentiful as the day ran its course. By noon, Damian felt as if he had shaken every hand in Rome and spoken on more radio and television shows than could possibly exist in this city, but he was up to it. If there was ever a star who enjoyed his media, it was Damian...and they treated him like a prince for it. However, when five o’clock finally rolled around, he was ready for the hotel, a hot bath and a little sleep. There would be a banquet in his honor this evening beginning at eight, and as much as everyone would loved to have kept going, the star had to take a break...jet lag!
The Medici Hotel stood like a giant fortress against the night sky, and it was particularly lit up tonight for the biggest social event of the year. Anybody who was anybody was attending this banquet, and many a young starlet had wrangled an invitation hoping to be seen on the television coverage of the event. It was common knowledge that all of the major stations had sent camera crews to film the arrivals and other highlights of the evening. Everyone wanted to be interviewed, to be stopped and asked a question while the cameras rolled, any question so long as their best side was showing. Fashion was on high alert, make-up was equally in high demand. Such a parade as one had never seen was entering the Medici that evening.
For a moment, a hush fell as everyone turned to make sure the statement was true, and then, lights seemed to intensify with camera flashbulbs adding an almost strobe light effect as Damian and his entourage descended the grand stairway. Damian looked absolutely smashing in his black tuxedo with the white sash and medallion of honor draped from the shoulder to the opposite side of his waist. And, to be sure, this was the moment several people had been waiting for, positioning themselves at various strategic locations so that Damian either passed directly in front of them and gave them a chance to say a greeting in hopes of being noticed, or, as some, stopped to be introduced, and the lucky person got himself filmed with the star. It was good for many a career, the night of a lifetime, with name dropping in fashion and everyone falling over each other unabashedly in an effort to rub elbows with fame.
Entering the ballroom, Damian had to be introduced to a line of VIP guests, and as the mayor, himself, took over the job of formal introductions, introducing each one as an old friend, or cornerstone of the city, Damian proceeded down the long line courteously shaking every hand and smiling. Pleasantries were exchanged, and everyone was in awe at his manner and grace. Everything was going fine until he was introduced to a priest from the Vatican who was in the line of VIPs.
“And this is Father Antellio Vanucci, Consul to His Holiness the Pope,” said the mayor, and as his hand came up for Damian to shake it, the smile went from Damian’s face. Everyone noticed it, too, but much to the embarrassment of himself, Damian could not explain the feeling. The face was powerfully reminiscent of something, but twenty years had aged the face of Antellio Vanucci. And the déjà vu was not helped by the way Vaucci stared at the necklace which Damian had ceremoniously draped around his neck, worn on the outside of the shirt for this occasion. For once in his life, Vanucci was speechless, and while the meeting lasted only seconds, the awkwardness of it all seemed to make time stand still for both of them.
Filming and flashcubes going, Damian was pulled to yet a few more introductions before he was free to go to his table, but not before he had stolen several glances back to look again at this face that troubled him so. No one but Damian could recognize this as the man who had killed his parents, but Damian, try as he might, could not place the face. Nevertheless, Vanucci could place the necklace! Damian had chosen the wrong time to display the fabled and priceless relic of the Church that had been lost for so many centuries, and Vanucci suddenly had a change of plans. Excusing himself, he suddenly and swiftly left the Medici.
Go to Chapter Seven
Go to Chapter Seven - The Necklace Revealed