Sale. A word most of the female population loved. But not me. For me, this one, four letter word, meant exhaustion, and at times, disaster. Females of almost every age turned into crazy monsters who were ready to kill if only they could get their desired item of clothing at the end of the day. They would strike, pull each other’s hair, claw their way to get their hands on a particular shirt, skirt, or jacket. For me, the word sale meant war. War between women. Where women would stick together and battle men, during a sale, women would become each other’s worst enemies.
“Would you hurry up with my items!” A lady, who looked to be in her mid-twenties wearing a beige dress, snapped at me in an Italian accent as I finished putting her dresses in the bag.
“Here you go, Ma’am, have a nice day,” I told her with a fake smile. She huffed and hurried out of the store, while another lady took her place. I quickly checked out her items which were 15 to be total, took the money from her and bid her goodbye.
On and on it went. One lady after another, and there were probably a hundred more still looking around the store and plenty of women who were entering the store in order to take advantage of the flat 70% off sale.
“Ciao sis,” came a loud, obnoxious voice that had me wishing I was anywhere but here right now.
“What do you want, Kelsey? Can’t you see I’m busy here?” I turned to see my twin sister with a frown on my face.
“I came here to see my lovely sister, who is my favorite person in the whole world,” Kelsey chirped, causing me to roll my eyes at her ridiculous attempts to butter me up.
“Kels, I’m not going to use my employee discount on you while there is already a 70% discount on all things,” I told her, while folding up five dresses and carefully sliding them inside the bag.
“But Maril, I want that blue dress and I can’t spend that much money because I’m saving for a car,” Kelsey whined in protest.
“Not my problem, Kelsey,” I told her while continuing to deal with all the customers as efficiently as possible.
“Please, Maril, please, for your only sister in the world, for your only family,” Kelsey pleaded using the magic words that always worked on me.
“Alright fine, go get the blue dress, but don’t even think about cutting the line, you stand at the back,” I relented, resulting in Kelsey punching the air, enjoying her small victory.
The rest of the my afternoon passed with me handling and checking out items while dealing with one customer after another. While listening to Kelsey begging me to buy her more clothes with my employee discount.
Finally, at around 2:00 pm the shop closed temporarily for lunch break. I thanked God for this one hour break as I was ready to drop. Even though I was on my feet majority of the day, but standing at one spot for five straight hours could be exhausting.
“Kelsey, go get me something to eat,” I told me sister who rummaged in her bag and took out a cling wrapped chicken sandwich-my favorite. Just looking at the sandwich had my stomach growling like a monster which was ready to fight for its next meal.
“Here you go, sis.” Kelsey placed the sandwich in front of me on the counter making my stomach growl in appreciation.
I quickly tore the cling wrap off the chicken sandwich and took a hearty bite out of it. I closed my eyes in delight as the flavors of the delicious chicken sandwich touched my taste buds. I wished I could have this chicken sandwich forever.
After lunch break the shop reopened, dread filling my belly as a hoard of women barged in the shop eager to get as many clothes as quickly as possible. Soon, the first customer arrived holding a mountain of clothing items in her hands. I rolled my eyes and begun checking out her items.
“Hello, Maril, how’s the crowd today?” Danielle, my boss, asked with a smile as she came out of the back room. Her light blue eyes were practically glowing at seeing the hundreds of women running about her store fighting for clothes.
“Horrible,” I replied honestly. Danielle knew how much I hated the days of sale.
“It’s okay, just a few more hours,” Danielle said and walked away, leaving me wishing I could turn the clock five hours ahead.
“Hey, Maril, what do you think about this dress?” Kelsey asked holding a black dress in front of her.
“It’s nice, but I’m not buying it for you, I’ve already bought five dresses for you, no more, Kelsey,” I told her in a stern tone.
“I think it would look good on you,” Kelsey remarked.
“Right, put it at the back, I might try it on later,” I instructed her and she obliged.
I finished checking out clothing items one by one. Soon enough, the sun was setting which brought a huge smile on my face. It was finally time to close the shop. Not because it was closing time, but because we ran out of stock to sell.
Kelsey made me try out a few dresses after the doors of the shop were firmly closed, shutting out the world. I tried on a total of eight dresses which Kelsey hid in the back room for me; a very considerate thing to do considering the fact that Kelsey acted like a selfish snob half the time.
Danielle commented on how I was looking whenever I emerged from the try room. She approved a total of three dresses, while twisted her face in ridiculous shapes for the other five, causing me to giggle at her facial expressions.
After ordering Chinese takeout, all three of us sat down and had dinner. I was exhausted after a long, hectic day of work, and couldn’t wait to go back to my apartment and fall on the bed. I wanted nothing more than to sleep well through the next week. Thank the heavens that today was the last day of sale at Fashion Passion, or Moda Passione as it was known here in Florence, Italy.
Bidding our goodbyes to Danielle, Kelsey and I left the shop and made our way to our apartment. I didn’t feel like walking at all, my legs screaming at me to stop using them, but I couldn’t. I just quickly wished we arrived at our apartment so I could crash.
“Sis, you want to call a cab?” Kelsey asked making me groan.
“I thought we were saving money for a car, Kelsey,” I told her.
“I know, but it’s late and I don’t feel like walking a mile just to save money,” Kelsey argued.
“Kelsey, we are not hailing a cab,” I asserted.
“Yes we are, because I’m the older sister,” Kelsey boasted.
I rolled my eyes at her ridiculous reason. “Yeah, only by 58 seconds,” I answered back. She never let me forget that awful fact.
“Exactly, so I say, as the older sister, that we hail a cab,” Kelsey said but there were no cabs in sight.
It was now getting dark and we still had half a mile to cover before I was able to feel the comfort of my mattress underneath me. The area in which we were now walking was dimly lit giving it a spooky feeling. Everytime we came across this area I would get goosebumps which didn’t abate until we had reached our apartment.
All of a sudden we heard voices. Kelsey and I looked at each other, both of us thinking the same thing: what’s going on?
The voices were coming from the dark alley just a few feet ahead of us. We sneaked over to the alley and found the source of the voices. Since it was dark we couldn’t make out the people talking, just a faint silhouette could be seen.
“Dove sono i soldi?” (Where is the money?) One of them said in a deep throaty voice. Kelsey and I looked at each other in obvious confusion. It had only been a week since we arrived in Italy from USA and we had no knowledge of the Italian language apart from the usual greeting of hello and goodbye as yet. So we couldn’t understand what they were saying.
“Te lo giuro, non ce li ho ,” (I swear to you, I don’t have it) another voice said. The owner of the voice was afraid of the other person, although I had no idea why.
“Dacci i soldi o morirai ,” (Give us the money or you die) said a man with a voice that indicated that he smoked one too many cigarettes everyday.
“No, ti prego, dammi un po’ di tempo, ti pagherò, lo giuro,” (No, please, give me some more time, I’ll pay you back, I swear) the man with the timid voice said.
“Il capo ti ha dato un mese per pagare, il tempo è scaduto,” (The boss gave you a month to pay, your time is up) the smoker replied angrily.
“Vuoi ucciderlo tu o lo faccio io?” (Do you want to kill him or should I) The throaty voice said.
“Non voglio lasciarti tutto il divertimento, fallo fare a me,” (I don’t want you to have all the fun, let me do it) the smoker replied. Kelsey and I had our eyes glued to the darkness in front us.
“No, no, ti prego non uccidermi, ti scongiuro,” (No, no, please don’t kill me, I beg you, please) the timid voice said. From what I could decipher from the tone, the timid man was begging. But begging for what.
All of a sudden the silence of the night was shattered by the sound of a gunshot. The noise paralyzed Kelsey and I, rendering us incapable of doing anything. The noise echoing in the dark alley, leaving an annoying ringing sound in my ears.
For a while silence reigned once more, but it was soon shattered by a blood curdling scream. Kelsey screamed at the top of her lung, clearly afraid of what we just witnessed in the dark corners of Florence.
I knew I should’ve screamed, but my throat seemed not to be working. I could only stare at the utter darkness in front of me, while Kelsey screamed like a banshee.
“Chi era quella?” (Who was that?) The smoker’s voice sounded penetrating the fog enveloping my mind breaking me out of the shocked state that my mind was currently in.
“Shit,” I swore under my breath, grabbed Kelsey’s arm and dashed out of the dark alley, not wanting the bloodthirsty goons to catch us and put a bullet in our heads for witnessing them kill.
“Ferma, torna qui,” (Stop, come back here) The throaty voice shouted, but I paid it no mind. I just kept running as fast as possible, dragging Kelsey who was slowly coming out of her shock. The sound of footsteps pounding the asphalt had my heart pounding and veins pulsing with adrenaline.
We kept running, doing our best to lose our potential murderers. At some point we took a couple of turns in order to confuse the two men, but that only resulted in us getting lost. I wasn’t worried though, I just wanted to make it safely back into my apartment and not have two Italian goons chasing us.
After running for God knows how long, Kelsey and I collapsed on the grass. I was gasping for breath, my legs felt like jello making me wonder if I would be able to use them again.
“Wh-who we-were tho-those guys?” Kelsey gasped, barely getting the words out.
“Ki-killers,” I answered, the only word I could muster as my lungs drank in oxygen.
“Did we-we lose them?” Kelsey inquired making me wish we had.
I raised myself in a sitting position and looked around. We had run all the way to some park. The bright green grass was now bathed in darkness. Only a few lamps lit the area and no human was in sight. I swept my eyes over the park looking for the two killers who were hot on our heels just a while ago. I breathed a sigh of relief when I found no sign of either of the two monsters.
“They’re gone,” I told my sister who had raised herself in a sitting position as well.
Kelsey looked around then stopped her gaze on me. “Where are we?” She inquired, turning her head left then right.
“I have no idea, but we better leave and go home, I’m exhausted and just want to go to sleep,” I muttered, looking at my legs wondering if they would work.
Kelsey slowly got up and offered me her hand which I gladly took. With a powerful tug-that had me wondering if Kelsey ate weights for breakfast-Kelsey pulled me up. I staggered, trying to steady myself. Once I was sure my legs wouldn’t die on me, we made our way out of the park, both of us looking over our shoulders to see if we were being chased or not.
“Maybe we could ask someone for directions,” Kelsey suggested after a couple of minutes.
“Yeah, but you do the talking, I still can’t memorize the name of the street in which we live in,” I told her. Kelsey nodded and we fell silent.
I knew it was late but I was expecting at least someone to be roaming the streets at this time of the night. But no, not even a police officer was in sight. Weird, where were we that there wasn’t even a police officer?
The buildings around us indicated that everyone was safely inside the confines of their homes. The shops closed, not even the signs were lit up. Only a few street lamps offered light and comfort, making me believe that we could still find our way home.
A scream tore through me when I saw two bulky men in black leather jackets standing in front us with their arms crossed over their chests. Thanks to the illuminated streetlights, I could make out their faces. They were both equally tall, a little over six feet, with tan skin and shaved heads, who looked ready to kill. There were only a few differences between them. The one standing on the left had light brown eyes while the right one had blue eyes. Both of them had identical tattoos of black scorpios on their right cheeks, but the left one also had a tattoo of a rose on the left side of his face.
“Wh-who are you people?” Kelsey asked.
“Scapare da noi è stato stupido, puttana,” (Running from us was stupid, bitch) His voice was deep and throaty making me realize that these two were the same men who we were running from.
“We don’t speak Italian, mister,” I spoke up, feeling proud of myself for not showing weakness.
The men didn’t say anything after that. I wondered if they would finally leave us alone. Both of them, simultaneously, reached in their back pockets and pulled out black identical guns. Adrenaline shot up my veins at seeing the weapons that were now pointing straight at us.
“Now, now, no need for violence, we were just leaving, right Mar?” Kelsey said raising her arms up in surrender. I understood that it was now time to run.
Kelsey and I slowly started backing up while at the same time making sure to maintain eye contact with two ginormous men. Everything in me was begging me to turn around and run far away, but I knew I had to deal with situation rationally, otherwise I could get both of us killed, and I didn’t want that. I wanted to see the whole of Italy before I departed from this world.
We were now a good distance apart from our potential murderers. Far enough to turn around and run. Just as Kelsey turned around a soft click was heard before Kelsey screeched clutching her waist with her left hand and fell down, unconscious. I screamed and crouched down and started searching for the bullet wound on Kelsey’s waist.
I was so busy looking for blood I didn’t notice that the bulky men had come closer. A sharp pain shot up my leg making me scream. I turned my head and saw a dart sticking out of my calf. My limbs were slowly getting heavy. Mustering enough strength, I reached over to where the dart was poking out and yanked it out with all my might. Searing pain shot up my leg but I was too far gone to do anything.
My head felt heavy and I felt my vision clouding over. A sickening crack sounded at the edge of my sanity. Soon, the world vanished from my eyes, and there was only darkness.