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The Man

Novel Excerpt

By Kale RossPublished 2 months ago 5 min read
The Man
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Sicily | 1943

Struggling to get the eggs over easy, she found a spatula and began scrambling. Skillfully using one hand, she cracked two more eggs with just her fingers, and added them to the hot skillet. Once the eggs reached her desired fluffiness, she tossed in a few slices of Pecorino cheese she cut from a cheese wheel left out on the counter top. Watching it melt, she used her spatula to mix the gooey magic together until the blend met her standards.

Turning off the burner, she sprinkled a pinch of salt and pepper over the eggs, lifted the skillet from the stove, then poured her breakfast onto a ceramic plate decorated with a traditional, blue and yellow, Sicilian floral pattern.

She was unable to find any coffee, or tea, so she settled for water. Filling a tall glass to the brim from the sink’s tap, she chugged the whole twelve ounces in a matter of seconds. She let out a slight burp, then filled the glass again. This time leaving about an inch of space at the top.

Gathering her plate of eggs, and a silver fork, she exited the kitchen, and returned to the living room.

“That smells good,” Ulrich said, as he stirred on the couch.

“It’s about time you’ve woken up,” Nadine asked, as she placed the plate down on the table in front of the couch.

“I was having a good dream.”

Nadine took another sip from the glass, then placed it down onto the table beside the plate of eggs. Reaching into the pocket of the brown jacket she found in one of the upstairs bedrooms, she pulled out one of the pill vials the doctor had given her. Popping off the cap to the antibiotics, she dumped one out into her left palm, and placed it onto the plate.

“You need to start regaining your strength. You’ve been asleep for nearly twenty hours. That damned doctor drugged you up good. Eat the eggs. Swallow the pill. Then wash everything down with the water.”

Ulrich took his time to sit up from the couch. Wincing in agony as he applied stress to his core. Feeling the pressure around his midsection, he lifted up his bloody shirt, and examined the medical bandages wrapped around his entire abdomen.

“What happened to me?”

“There’s no time for stories. Eat the eggs. take the pill. Drink the water. We’re going to be leaving soon, and you need to be ready to move when that time comes.”

“What about you? You should eat as well.”

“My hunger is focused elsewhere. Now, enough questions. Eat.”

There was a rejuvenated fire in her eyes that Ulrich had never seen before. Considering that he was in no position to argue any viable point of protest, he did as he was ordered. He brought the plate to his lap, used the fork to acquire a hearty bite, then stuffed the cheesy eggs into his mouth.

After swallowing his third mouthful, he popped the yellow pill onto his tongue, then washed it down with half of the glass of water. He proceeded to finish off the remaining eggs, he even brought the plate to his face, and licked off the melted cheese. He placed the plate back down onto the table, then finished off the water.

Nadine quickly swooped in, and sat down beside him on the couch. She once again reached into jacket pocket, except this time she pulled out the other pill vial. The one that had red, white, and blue stripes on it.

Ulrich’s eyes widened as he watched Nadine tapped one of the gray pills out onto the table. Picking up the fork, she pressed the side of the outer tine across the center of the pill. Using her other hand as a protective barrier, she sliced the pill into two halves.

She handed one half to Ulrich, then returned the other half to the vial.

Ulrich’s pain had been steadily increasing since eating his breakfast, so he immediately popped the pill into his mouth. He broke it down with his teeth, then used his saliva to swallow it. He then licked the tip of his right index finger, and used it to pick up the smaller, broken pieces of the pill that fell off when Nadine split it.

“I’m going to need more than that, Nadine.”

“I will give you more once we have taken our leave of this place. I can’t have you unconscious when our ride arrives.”

“Who is coming, Nadine. You haven’t told me anything.”

She was unsure on how to respond. Luckily, the sound of rubber tires rolling over pea stones placed a well-timed wedge into their conversation.

Someone had come. But who?

They were both just as curious as the other.

From their position on the couch, the vehicle remained out of sight, yet the rumble of the engine hinted that it was a truck of some kind. A single door slammed shut in the quiet buzz of the early morning, and their defensive instincts tingled as heavy footfalls approached the door.

Nadine sprung from the couch, and retrieved her dagger from the fireplace mantle. Stepping back to Ulrich’s side, the front door to the house swung open.

A tall, bearded man with broad shoulders stepped into the light, and into the living room. Nadine did not recognize this man, but she guessed that he was likely in his fifties, and was definitely Sicilian. His hair was dark brown, nearly black, and it was disheveled. His clothes seemed out of place, and borrowed. He also had a large, bloody bandage wrapped around his neck. The man was clearly in rough shape.

Nadine made a motion with her arm, as to alert the man to the dagger in her hand.

“That won’t be necessary, Nadine,” The man said, with a horrid hoarseness, “You would be foolish to reject my invitation.”

“Invitation to what?” Ulrich asked, fighting through pain and a small cocktail of chemicals.

The man stopped within the threshold of the front door, turned back to face the two German hunters lingering in the shadows, and smiled.


About the Creator

Kale Ross

Author | Poet | Dog Dad | Nerd

Find my published poetry, and short story books here!

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Comments (3)

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  • Bonnie Bowerman2 months ago

    Beautiful imagery!

  • Test2 months ago

    Incredible work. Very well-written!

  • Frankie Martinelli2 months ago

    You paint enthralling pictures with your words 😁

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