The Necklace Revealed - Chapter Seven
The Necklace Revealed - Chapter Seven
The end of the week came quickly. The two nights of concerts in Rome were a smashing success breaking box office records, with standing room only both nights. Rosa had cried both nights when she was brought on stage for the final number, which was “Via de la Rosa.” And the audience loved it. They gave the finale a standing ovation both nights, a standing ovation that was so lengthy that it made it hard for anyone to leave. It was magical, a memory, they say, that made history, and so it did. Records were made and broken those two days in the numbers of items sold, such as souvenirs and records. The news from the first night was so outstanding, that Peter DeLavian, himself, flew in for the show’s closing. And Damian thought no more of Vanucci, even though a young Jesuit who introduced a group of orphans to him asked him if maybe he would donate the beautiful necklace around his neck to their orphanage so that they could sell it and raise money like everyone else had been doing the past few days. Damian dutifully told the young priest that he would send their orphanage a contribution, but that the necklace had been placed around his neck the last time he saw his father, Dr. Miller, and that his father told him never to take it off. Damian masterfully explained that this was his father’s dying wish, and he politely said that he was sorry, but, he reassured the young priest, Damian’s manager would send them a lot more money than this little necklace could ever bring. The priest, however, was very insistent and finally became somewhat of an embarrassment, because he would not change the subject. To avoid an escalation of what was becoming obviously painful for anyone observing, the young priest and his group were finally led out by quick-thinking staff.
“He sure wanted your necklace,” Nell said. “He must work for the IRS.” They all laughed. “By the way,” she continued, “Peter DeLavian has given you some time off, Damian. He says the show was great, that you deserve a break while they work out the details of your next engagement, so I’ve taken the liberty of arranging a trip for the three of us, you, Rosa and I, to Hong Kong. I can’t think of a better time to go there since we’re already half-way around the world.”
Nell knew how to plan things, and she knew that Damian had always been fascinated by the Orient, especially anything Chinese. He regularly ate in Chinese restaurants back in New York’s Chinatown, used chopsticks like a native, and he had even managed to learn a little Mandarin Chinese from a Chinese friend who lived in Chinatown. He loved to watch Kung Fu movies they showed there, and often said that, when he finally got some free time from his singing and recording, he was going to go to his friend’s Kung Fu school and take up martial arts. So, it was an enthusiastic Damian who said, “Let’s go!”
Leaving the airport was just as tumultuous as the arrival had been, with security even tighter, because the adoring crowds had gotten bigger since the concerts. Damian gave one last interview to the press before boarding his plane. He extolled the beauty of Rome, vowed to return soon, and with a final word, said he was off now to go sightseeing in Hong Kong. With such a crowd of reporters and security, with such a sea of people straining to see him, it was no wonder that he never noticed the man in his dreams again, but Antellio Vanucci was standing in the crowd...starring at the necklace.
Hong Kong was a lot like Chinatown, New York, Damian thought when they first arrived, only a lot bigger. The smells coming from the restaurants made him feel like he was back in New York, but as he began to see how truly Chinese this colony was, he began to finally feel the foreignness of it all. He had not felt like he was really out of the U.S., until now.
A lot of the sights were so similar that Damian was able to explain to Rosa and Nell what the significance of them was in many instances before the guide had a chance to. Rosa was so proud of Damian, he just knew so much, even though he was not recognized as a star here. Hong Kong did not know Damian Miller, the singer from America. To these people, Damian was just another American with lots of American dollars like all the other rich American tourists, but that did not stop Rosa from trying to educate these Chinese every chance she got. She wanted them to appreciate her favorite American as much as she did, and with all the fuss she made taking picture after picture with her ever-present camera, many a resident of Hong Kong looked like he had become a convert of the Rosa Giovanni crusade.
Back in Rome, Antellio Vanucci had a meeting with the Pope, in the which he described the sacred relic of the Church known as the Necklace of God. Vanucci told His Holiness how the relic, a crystal containing a piece of thorn which had pierced the brow of Christ on the day of His crucifixion, and which was rumored to have miraculous powers, was lost during the sacking of Jerusalem centuries ago. The crystal was later found during the Crusades, and a king of that time had ordered a special solid gold chain on which the crystal was to be mounted so that he might wear it with the jewels of the State. However, shortly after it was strung into the necklace, it was stolen, never to be seen in public again. Vanucci had good news for the Pope; the necklace had been located by Vanucci, himself, and he was making special arrangements to have it secured and safely returned to the Church.
The Pope promised support and the backing of the Church in anything he might need in order to achieve, as he put it, “this act of Divine intervention and determination.” The Pope looked extremely pleased with Vanucci for this divine announcement, and Vanucci was extremely pleased with himself, with visions of the title “Cardinal” playing in his mind like a soothing melody. It would not be long, he knew it. The press coverage alone, as he would pompously orchestrate a ceremony-to-end-all-ceremonies on the day he installed the relic in the Vatican, would place his name on the lips of every Catholic around the world. Lost in a moment of delusional daydream, he barely heard the Pope’s parting words, “...and may the hand of God, Himself, bring justice in the return of this great and sacred treasure.”
Vanucci had stood at the airport that day and watched as the necklace slipped through his clutches again, cursing within his priestly garb that he was so close, and yet, had to stand idly by and watch as Damian had boarded that plane for Hong Kong. His efforts to buy it thwarted, he had used up all of his ideas at that time and was near suicidal rage. No one knew what kept him from hurling himself at Damian and simply grabbing the necklace. Surely his position of respect in Rome would allow him to get past the police and close to Damian, and the furor that would ensue would bring to light the fact that the necklace belonged to the Church. Perhaps the one thing most that did restrain Vanucci was that he was not a panic type. Seldom, and then only under the most extreme duress, would he display a fit of temper. Yet, it was always quickly suppressed, and Vanucci would display an air of absolute calm, only showing in his speech that he was bothered. It was just not his style to panic. No, Antellio Vanucci would wait, plan, calculate, lie, cheat, steal, and even murder if necessary, but he would hand that necklace over to the Church on his terms...and now, with the blessing of the Pope, he and his band of cutthroats would have an all-expense-paid trip to Hong Kong.
Go to Chapter Eight
Go to Chapter Eight - Hong Kong, The Doorway