Part Thirty Seven
by sarAdora ~~~~~~~~~~
"Ave Maria, dolce Maria," he prayed. Elemosino di voi I beg of you.&nbbsp; Lascila essere viva. Let her live."
They crowded the waiting room, every person in the Batali employ offering blood to la bella moglie del Padre del Dio the beautiful wife of the Godfather. Capos and lieutenants in the Familia blustered their way past nurses and hospital security, their offers including the donation of blood as well as the immediate demise of the serpente snake that had committed this horrendous act.
Huge bouquets of flowers and words of sorrow and sympathy came from every Familia within the United States as well as those in Italy and Sicily. Law enforcement agencies as well as reporters were turned away by Dom Marchetti - "A family matter," he said, quietly dismissing them.
The police were curious but willing to let Giancarlo's organization take care of the matter. As long as a crime had not been perpetrated on innocent citizens... Reporters were more tenacious than the police; a juicy story could make a reporter's career... a bit of truth, a bit of supposition equaled sensationalism... it was worth a few bumps and bruises to interview even one capo or member of Giancarlo's staff.
No one had to be reminded what would happen to them if they spoke to a reporter or a detective. It was a family matter and Familia was stronger than any outsiders could comprehend. And to make the matter even more sacrosanct, the victims had been il Padre del Dio's moglie the Godfather's wife as well as his madre. No one would dare speak of them to outsiders.
The circle tightened and ensured privacy for Giancarlo and his loved ones.
Francesca's eyes remained closed, her breathing shallow but her body slowly gaining strength from the many blood transfusions she had received. Her condition was critical but stable; her doctors remained cautious. Her mind wandered while she slept, held hostage somewhere in her past. Occasionally, she whimpered, her fingers twitching and her palm slightly raised as if she held off some unknown assailant only she could see.
Giancarlo sat at her bedside, his elbows propped on the blanket that covered her, his two-day beard growth giving his face the same dark countenance that filled his soul. He didn't remember when he had changed his clothing but he was very much aware that there was dried blood under his fingernails... her blood and the blood of their dead infant. The doctor had enumerated her wounds, serious abrasions on her abdomen, more abrasions on her chest and also on the underside of her arms and on both sides... the latter, defensive wounds.
The unborn babe had been killed by that last vicious kick, the placenta ruptured, draining its life force and causing Francesca to hemorrhage. Several of her internal organs had been badly bruised and she had broken ribs, but by the grace of God, the violent end to her pregnancy had not killed her on the spot. It had been touch and go, an immediate blood transfusion saving her life. If she lived, there was no guarantee she would be able to bear another child.
If she lived...
"Madre del Dio, sto elemosinandoli Mother of God, I'm begging you," Giancarlo prayed, a mantra he had repeated a hundred times each hour for the past two days and nights. "Sul ginocchio piegato On bended knee, sto elemosinandoli I'm begging you,  lascila essere viva. Let her live."
He had made his peace with God, la giuramentodi anima the blood oath he had sworn fulfilled. He was ready to die.
When he was first thrust into the dark room in the bowels of the Batali mansion, he thought he was there until the Godfather would be free to shoot him. It was possible he would get the garrote; that would be far more painful but within seconds, maybe a minute, he would be dead. When he thought a few hours had passed, he finally rose from the cement floor where he had been sitting all this time and groped his way around the unlit room, his fingers and palms assessing his prison.
The walls were cement, one wall also covered with barbed wire, frightening him. The door was so well hidden he couldn't find it. He didn't think it was made of cement; how could they push it open? If Giancarlo was going to shoot him... there had to be light somewhere and then he remembered a rumor told and retold about this very room. The lights were far above his head, recessed into the ceiling and turned on and off outside the door.
Maybe they'll leave me here to die of starvation, he thought. A slow and painful death but far more humane than what could be done to him.
"Mio bambino," he heard his mother say, startled she had come into the room without hearing her approach.
"Madre!" Giancarlo jumped to his feet.
"Mio Gianni," she murmured when he gently hugged her, her face buried in the middle of his chest, her tears flowing again.
"Madre," her tall son choked on his words. "Are you sure you should be out of bed?"
"A bruise," she replied, turning her cheek so he could see. "Only a bruise. It will fade."
He looked at the purple blotch marring her skin, the color telling him how hard she had been struck and his rage surfaced again.
"I will kill him," he said quietly.
"Si," his mother agreed. "He did this to you. He did this to us. You must revenge la Familia. He should die by your hand."
"He will," Giancarlo vowed.
"Francesca?" she asked, peering at her daughter-in-law, dismayed at the tubes and IVs attached to her inert body.
"I am waiting for her to open her eyes," he said simply.
"Angelina begs to see her, Gianni. Will you allow her to visit?"
"Ovviamente Of course."
"La mia cuore é pesante My heart is heavy," the Batali matriarch whispered as she sat at Francesca's side, taking her daughter-in-law's limp hand in hers. The only other words discernible from the older woman's lips were mia figlia, mia figlia, mia figlia my daughter, my daughter, my daughter.
Angelina was more vocal, her uncontrollable sobs heard by all within shouting range. Paolo and Leonardo sat outside Francesca's room, listening to their lover's sobs, their hearts shattered at the events. They were nonnos grandfathers  no more, joining the others as personal bodyguards to the Godfather and to his wife, the bella ragazza beautiful girl they had helped raise since she was twelve years old.
Little Petey Petrale acted as messenger, burning his excess energy by running back and forth relaying medical updates between Dom Marchetti and all of those who paced the waiting rooms. On the hour, he also gave updates on the Godfather's wife to those who crowded the hospital's small chapel, praying that Francesca would wake.
Funeral arrangements were made, the infant at 34 weeks gestation, a tiny replica of her mother. Giancarlo left Francesca's side only long enough to bury their child in the small cemetery within the Batali compound.
They had planned to have their first-born child received into the Church wearing Giancarlo's christening robes, the same small clothes his mother had saved all these years just for this occasion. Now, she would be buried in them.
The small coffin had been placed on display in the front hall of the Batali mansion with a closed lid. When the household staff had paid their heartfelt respects to the babe, the priest motioned that they should move to the family cemetery for interment, Giancarlo waved him aside and raising the lid, lifted the babe from her tiny coffin. He held his dead child close to his chest and wept.
The voice of the priest filled his ears.
"Ave Maria, piena di grazia,
"Hail Mary, full of grace.
"Il Signore è con te.
"The Lord is with thee."
"Ti amo, mia bambina. I love you, baby," he whispered to the infant. "Ti amo, mia figlia. I love you, my daughter. Sempre ti amo. Always, I will love you."
"Tu sei benedetta fra le donne
"Blessed art thou amongst women,
"E benedetto è il frutto del tuo seno, Gesú.
"And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus."
He was loath to let her go, this babe who was an innocent, this babe who had been sacrificed for la familia, the blood of his blood, the flesh of his flesh. No one spoke as il Padre del Dio carried his dead infant to the graveyard, the coffin carried behind him by his closest friend.
"Santa Maria, Madre di Dio,
"Holy Mary, Mother of God,
"Prega per noi peccatori,
"Pray for us sinners,"
"Your mother and I will visit you often," he told her as he reluctantly placed the babe in her final resting place. "Rest peacefully, mia figlia my daughter. Sempre ti amo. Always, I will love you."
"Adesso e nell'ora della nostra morte.
Now and at the hour of our death.
It was done. He had stood there until the final mound of dirt covered his infant daughter's grave. He dried his tears, thanked the priest for his prayers and returned to the hospital to sit by Francesca's side and to will her to live.
"Vivo, mia amore Live, my love!" he pleaded softly as he cupped her face, his heart aching and his soul filled with grief. "Li ho bisogno I need you. How will I live without you? Open your eyes, Francesca, per piacere, bambina."
It was so easy, this dying... this giving up of pain. So easy to float away... She drifted... a part of her protesting her fate and warring, another part easing into nothingness. Oblivion welcomed her...
"Francesca! Mia amore, mia bambina. Siete il mio cuore, siete la mia anima, voi siete la mia vita You are my heart, my soul, my life. Come back to me! Vivo! Live!"