Chapter 1 David sat in the cold metal chair. He felt alone and somewhat frozen.

The freezing metal was burning into his sides. His shirt had been ripped and his backside was exposed to the cold, searing metal, and as it touched his flesh, it caused him to slightly jerk away. In that sort of painful situation, David had always exerted his own developed mental prowess. He had trained himself that all pain was mental in origin, but right now, his concentration was completely shot to hell, and he had not been able to distract the pain away. As annoying as his present problem was, it was nothing, compared to the blinding sensation he felt whenever he cocked his head and came face-to-face with the white light in front of him. And then the shrill voice that had always been there came back; it blurted out something unintelligible. He turned his face toward it. His focus was still blurred by the beaming light, which was pointing straight towards his face. It refused to leave him in peace, no matter where he looked. He squinted, then turned away, and felt a gassy heat hit his right cheek. Then the voice became a bit clearer, and he made out a few words in his head. The light certainly served its purpose. It virtually made the policeman on the opposite side of the desk invisible to David. As David struggled with the painful light and tried to come to, he noticed the shackling noise of moving handcuffs and a hollow wooden noise coming from the cop’s baton. It made for an enjoyable distraction; as he listened to it, his focus on his surroundings became much clearer. David tried hard to fixate on both noises and forget the unpleasant physical state he was in. As he made his best attempt to do so, he tried to look beyond the light that was so violently smacking him, but even then, he could barely make out the silhouette in front of him. His left eye was doing all the work; it was his right eye that was having trouble moving. It looked like a swollen hairless rat, curled up in a fetal position, crackling into itself and turning into an overwrought mass of tissue. His eye was swelling up by the minute. He felt it growing unnaturally and grunted in discomfort at the thought. David then gathered up his strength and stretched out his two arms flat on the table in front of him; the cop quickly smashed his hands like two hammers right into David’s right knuckle. David squirmed away slowly, and rubbed his hand. “Write it down, kid”, the policeman said. The policeman’s hands disappeared as quickly as they had come into view moments before. Then another shadow approached, and David knew it was a second policeman. Like a blanket of pure sight, both appeared as if by magic, right in front of David. They were much closer to him than he thought, not farther away than the length of the table that was separating them. By now, with his new-found focus on the table in front him, and the two human beings on the other side of the table, David was happy to grasp onto that reality. He was more than content now that his own sight had granted him the quick opportunity

to study the room – now that the cop had moved the light to the side for the moment. So there, all together, was the table, the chair he was chained on to (his ankles were handcuffed), the two policemen, one with a tall lanky demeanor, and the other cop – the number one guy, the evil one. The evil one looked like a bastard to David. David had never imagined what a bastard looked like, but the red-haired crony in front of him resembled what he conjured up as simply a “bastard”. By now, the three of them had been in that small, white room for nearly three hours. David had no notion of time for the moment. It was just then, moments after the policeman spoke that he started to understand that he had been knocked out. Then he noticed that the sides of the room were very square and from his angle, it seemed like the walls stretched out for miles. After discrediting his illusion, he looked at the cops. The two policemen were out of patience, and were now really starting to feel the room’s deep stench of still air. The air conditioning was shot, and the repairman hadn’t arrived yet, or so the cops thought. Like always, the police department assumed someone else took care of everything. As to their prisoner, they were very much irritated by his noncooperation. All strategies had been exhausted by the two policemen, but none of them had been able to get a word out of David. He had been “the most fucking stubborn piece of shit” that Murphy, the “bastard” cop who was interrogating him, had ever laid his eyes on. After running out of clever ideas (Murphy’s most effective had been hoisting David up by his shoulders and forcing him to stand on his talons and hitting him hard on his back every time his feet hit the ground – but in the end, this served no purpose), Murphy had left the room, and then later came back with a large yellow note pad and a black ballpoint pen. “Write it down, kid” Murphy repeated. David wasn’t sure if he wanted to at first. He had been through so much, and giving them what they wanted would be like accepting defeat. It had been three torturous hours already, and Murphy hadn’t broken a sweat. It had become clear to David, that Murphy was one of those people that, when in power, did everything and anything to abuse their position of authority, just to get what they wanted. David deeply resented this sort of person – largely because he had always followed orders from such tyrants, but he refused to today. Murphy was fixating his eyes on David, trying to “gaze into his soul”. He thought, maybe doing this will get me something. It was Murphy’s father, Hiram Murphy Senior, (who had been a man of many words, but little action) who had inculcated within him the fervor to perform such crazy attempts to get answers and meaning from other people. David wondered what the hell the cop was doing, as Murphy stared him down. Yet Murphy lay unfazed and continued to watch him, trying not to blink, all the time thinking “Give me something kid, come one, make my job easier” It was to no avail, David just thought Murphy had gone as crazy as he had earlier. Then Murphy, like a stone statue,

kept steady with the same position, his two hands on the table, firmly holding on to his zombie gaze, and then started drifting into oblivion, and that was when he remembered his father. It was in that stupor that Murphy remembered his father’s expressions in great detail, and amongst the set of sayings, his favorite: “Only a true man can gaze into someone’s soul.” It was this same quote that had propelled Murphy to join the police force, for he had always searched far and wide for the opportunity to exercise that ability, and here it was. This crazy man, David, was his opportunity to prove this ability, to himself. H. Murphy Jr. had tried for years to be a true man, and had often exercised the practice that came with being one – yet he had failed, according to his own sound judgment. Now, he was trying to redeem himself and prove everyone wrong. He was completely certain he was going to start to get some answers. He had to, it was necessary now. Murphy lifted his hands from the table, leaving two wet marks behind. He looked at his palms and sighed. David had refused to comply with the threats, the physical assaults, and the mental duress quite well. And then, after much torture, not so much experienced by the victim (for David was quite good at tolerating pain), but as felt by the policemen themselves – Murphy had had it. If the crazed man wasn’t going to speak, he might as well write. The pen was right in front of David, and Murphy held it in place, letting go after his prisoner had finally taken a glance at it. As he did, Murphy looked at his own arms, and remembered his physical self. He had the habit of forgetting who and where he was when interrogating prisoners, yet his arms were clearly visible under the strong white light, and as he rescinded them into darkness, he turned to the mirror opposite him, in the far wall. Murphy had been fond of his physical state, and was proud to show off his body whenever he was given the chance. Even in the most inopportune moments, he made sure to give a good look at himself in the mirror, not so much too look at his body, but to keep his mind in check. He had dark red hair. It was cropped short, which made his skull look quite angular. The bottom part of his face curiously joined the top part to make a strong jaw. It was just as if a human factory had assembled his face, in perfect symmetry. His arms were bigger than the rest of his body, and he had no body hair except on his face and forearms. Murphy looked like a man that was strong naturally, not a product of modern gyms and weightlifting regimes, like most men he knew. He was proud of that, and flaunted his physique when granted the opportunity. Like Samson’s long hair, this too was his strength, and he generated much confidence from it. But his looks were failing him now. This was not a job interview, a pickup bar or a competition. This was a de-briefing, with a crazed individual, one who was not cooperating. David was now with pen in hand. He too, noticed Murphy’s bigger self and Murphy knew this. David, who looked nothing like himself at that moment, was disgusted with

what was happening to him. He had never been one for vanity, but had always managed a tidy appearance. As he did with most people, he compared his physical state with others, and in this specific instance, he did so with his captors. David was about a head shorter than Murphy. He had always hated everyone that was taller than him. He wasn’t short though; he was five feet, ten inches tall, but had always wanted to be at least six feet tall. His father, his brother and even his mother were taller than him, and this was a curious fact, not more to anyone but him. There had always been little jokes about this fact, with people calling him “adopted” and “midget”, the great joke, always making light of the situation – that his stature was much smaller than the rest of his family of “giants”. His family, The Meraviglia family, was known around McAvoy as a family of exceptional people. It was this same town of McAvoy that had raised that family to local fame, and established David Meraviglia Senior, as its mayor. David Senior’s wife, Fabella, was a dutiful mother, and a very discreet person. No one could say they really knew her – it was her husband and sons that were the local celebrities. David’s little brother, Adrian (whose birth name was Adriano, but later decided to anglicize his name to the more friendly version, “Adrian”) was an athlete, a master chess player and a ladies’ man. He excelled at everything his big brother did, and tried to hide the fact that he did. Whenever a compliment was given to Adrian, David didn’t mind – but Adrian did. Adrian had been born two years after David, but the age difference wasn’t apparent. Most people thought they were twins, and they behaved as such. Their own family had tried their best to make them fond of each other, for there was nothing worse than family disharmony. Antonio (David Senior’s father) had made doubly sure that his know this, for it was Antonio Meraviglia’s old Italian family that had deeply suffered the consequences of family dissolution, a fate Antonio had vowed to keep distant from his son, as long as he was alive. As David held the pen in his hand, and twirled it round and round, he thought of what a deep shame he must have brought to his family that day. He had failed to keep the family united; he had now shattered it all to pieces. Then like a voice from heaven, David heard his father’s voice. He was repeating the same old story. It was about his family, The Meraviglia family…and their history, his history. And the story went like this: The Meraviglia family line was formally established in the United States through the efforts of one man. This one man had come from Italy to the Americas shortly before the Second World War. Antonio Meraviglia, had been a small restaurant owner in Palermo, and had found his passage on a boat full of Spaniards, heading for Mexico, in the late 30’s. His youth, his deep curiosity of the Americas and his obsession with risk-taking made him get on the boat. He left his wife, Monica, behind – and four children. That family had been a product of a forced marriage, and had long ago disintegrated. Nonetheless, upon his arrival to Mexico, he had greatly regretted his journey, and yearned for his beloved Monica, if only for a week or two. It was these two weeks that Antonio spent going from the corners of Mexico, all the way up to the northern border, heading to United States, the original destination he had had in mind. In those two weeks of

traveling he quickly forgot Monica and met another woman, Beatriz Graciana, a Mexican woman of Sephardic Jewish ancestry. They quickly married in a small district attorney’s office in a rural town, and promptly left for the border that same afternoon. The whole journey towards the border she had been adamant that her children with him would be Jewish, and not Catholic – to which he sweetly replied: “Mi amor, I wouldn’t have it any other way”. So Antonio, quickly gave up Monica the Italian Wife, for this was how insensible he was, always thinking of only one person - himself. It would be decades before Antonio ever heard of anything from Italy again. He only knew of his old family once through an old acquaintance that had too come to America, and sadly, it had been a string of bad news. He was told that his family had died as civilian casualties in a local Italian uprising after the Second World War – how, when and why, Antonio never knew. He had always hoped to reunite with his Italian family, but quickly gave that up after having given them up for dead many years before. Now that he knew it was true – he felt even worse. It was this same guilt that Antonio Meraviglia passed on to his son, David, who was much scarred by this undeserved guilt, and thus vowed to make sure to keep such an unwanted punishment away from his own children. Sadly, his firstborn was exposed to a much traumatic event which had once again, enriched the feelings of guilt deep into the recesses of the Meraviglia family values and roots. Antonio had died the day David Jr. turned five years old. In a bout of rage, after having heard of his father’s passing at the hospital, David Sr. cursed his father’s death and mentioned it a “curse on his household” that his son’s birth and his father’s death had fallen on the same day (January 31st). Five year old David heard this rant, and thus began his own cycle of guilt, that ultimately led to his own collapse. This pervading sense of guilt was eating away at him now, and faced with the policeman’s ultimatum, David was weighing his options heavily now, trying to decide on whether to comply or keep up with his resistance. “Write it down! Write it down! Write it down! WRITE IT DOWN, or I swear to God, I’ll kill you right now, you little pissant!” Murphy’s neck had become a bulging mass of meat, adorned by a river of veins, which soon rescinded when he lowered his arms and grabbed his breath. David took the pen and started writing.

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