- 2014 Community Novel Project of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library
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Downloading Superimposed Chapter 10 by Elaine Greywalker
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Read Online: Superimposed Chapter 10 by Elaine Greywalker
Date: October 16, 1953
Location: on the edge of Topeka, Kansas; the Grimaldi Compound
Joe Grimaldi stood at the second floor window of his mansion looking out at some of the 53 acres in his compound. He enjoyed the lake surrounded by trees he had planted, the gardens he had made, and the remaining wild prairie beyond. Well, he hadn’t personally done all the work. But it was to his plan.
The window was tall, with floor-length curtains. There were four along this wall. Pina loved light. She had decorated everything beautifully and designed the floor plan, too. He was proud of her. She worked so hard to provide a lovely home for him. He didn’t deserve her.
The war had been good to him. It had given him gold, a new identity, and a beautiful loving wife. The chaos gave him plenty of opportunity. It had been all good luck for him. Until Pina got sick.
There had been one or two snags getting the gold over. His connections were useful. They might one day come back and bite him, but he was ready.
Pina, a nurse he met in Germany, had waited until she could join him in Kansas City. Had she already known then that something wasn’t right with her? Probably not. He blamed the doctors, giving her hope, keeping the truth from her until it was too late.
Right from the beginning, he had impressed her with his wealth and ability to provide her with whatever made her happy. When she was happy, he was happy.
He sighed again. The sun headed down toward the horizon. The wind, which had been blowing all day, kicked up. Trees tossed their heads. Thin white clouds raced across the sky. It had been hot. He smiled, thinking of the top class refrigeration system he had installed.
Pina would have liked it. It would be an advancement to write home about. Bella Giuseppina – Pina, his beautiful wife. He didn’t like to think of her lying there, slowly dying. She had been brave to the very end, although a rotten patient. She was accustomed to helping others. It was her job to nurse, not to die and be nursed by others.
He had been attracted to Kansas because it was in the middle of the country, away from everything. And it offered Common Law Marriage. In his position, documentation was problematic. He preferred no record. He liked to keep his options open.
They had exchanged vows in a private ceremony, witnessed only by his lawyer and a friend of Pina’s from the hospital where she volunteered. She, like him, had no family ties. No evident family ties, anyway, which had made many things easy.
Kansas City was a hub of activity. A good place to run an import-export business. And then he had discovered Topeka – the capital, with similar access, but also with large swathes of prairie wilderness offering privacy. Just waiting to be owned.
He had bought a parcel large enough to be its own county. He still had most of it. He had built stone walls around the main compound, shutting it off with a heavy iron gate. In the beginning, he had worried about retribution from the little gypsy. Nothing had materialized. Yet. Yet, he reminded himself.
Although, what was the point now?
He turned around, faced the room. His eyes moved over the gleaming planked flooring, salvaged from the old outbuildings. There were oriental carpets, a couple of huge comfy chairs, lamps, a chandelier, and … he turned. The huge old fashioned four-poster bed which had given them both so much pleasure. In its use and in its appearance.
“We’re real Americans now,” she had said. “We have a cowboy bed.”
Laughter. So much laughter. Gone.
He shook his head.
There was a knock at the door.
“Yes,” he said.
The door was opened by Donna, his housekeeper.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Grimaldi,” she said. She glanced around. “I was … I mean, I check in once a week to tidy up. Dust. Like that.”
“Thank you,” he said quietly.
“I’ll come back later,” she said.
“No. That won’t be necessary. I’m locking up this room for good. And I want it left exactly the way it is now.”
She nodded. “Yes, Mr. Grimaldi.”
“You have your key with you?”
He held out his hand. She pulled out a huge ring of keys. She worked at it, removing the key in question. She placed it on his palm and stepped back.
She waited. He looked at her pointedly. Her faced flushed. She left the room, closing the door quietly behind her.
He placed his hand on top of the bedspread. He patted it.
There had been few legal issues over her death. Everything she had – they both had – was owned by the corporation. That way there was no need for lengthy probate. A few minutes with the judge was all it took. The corporation protected him and gave him yet another alias behind other corporations.
He had taken everything she had told him as truth, as fact. She had trusted him implicitly, believing all his stories. Well, most of them. The important ones anyway. Or had she simply gone along with his plan because she loved him?
He straightened up abruptly and cleared his throat. The room was dimming as the sun retreated. All for Pina, dear Pina. What was the point now? What was there left for him? Perhaps he would take a trip. Throw himself into work. There was that business in Africa and the oil affair in Iran. A trip would clear his head. Papers were no problem now. He could be Dr. Livingston if he wanted to. The corporation was useful for many things. Import and export covered a lot of territory.
Some of the tightness in his chest loosened.
He could still see her in bed, covered with tubes, sucking ice cubes. The nurses standing by. The doctor forever scribbling something on a clipboard. All he could do was hold her hand and watch as she drifted in and out of consciousness. In the end, it had been him. He had ended her misery because he could no longer bear to see the beautiful, strong woman he loved reduced to a scarecrow of sinews and gray flesh.
She had been unconscious. The nurses were out on a break. The doctor had gone for the day. At the bedside was her medication: heroin. The only thing that would relieve her suffering as the cancer ate away at her body.
There had been hope, he supposed, once. There was absolutely no hope now.
For a moment he was overwhelmed.
Then he had thought about her round cheeks when she smiled, her courage, her humor. He had looked down at that strange body, shriveled, barely breathing.
“It’s for you, Cara Mia,” he had said. He’d stroked her hand and kissed her gently on the forehead. “Everything I do is for you.”
He had picked up a syringe, filled it from a spare vial he had brought with him, and pushed the narcotic into her drip feed. Then he’d carefully replaced the syringe on the table.
He’d sat down again beside her and held her hand until she’d stopped breathing.
He had sighed, hoping to ease the knot in his chest. When the nurses returned 20 minutes later, he had still been sitting there, sighing.
There had been a flurry of activity as they checked her vitals. The doctor had to be called back to sign a death certificate. Whether nurses suspected him or not, they never said. No one suspected a narcotic overdose. After all, her death was a foregone conclusion. And he had paid all the medical staff well. Whatever they thought, he didn’t know. He didn’t care.
Seven years, two months, and six days. Exactly 186 days since she left him. Ninety-one days of insanity, seven of them irretrievably lost in black sorrow. Those were numbers of their time together.
He rotated, taking in a last view of the room. Everything clean and in place. As if Pina were going to walk in any minute. It was better to leave the past in the past, to think about the future. To begin again.
He locked the door behind him and went downstairs to dinner.
Chapter 11 will be published next week at https://www.tscpl.org/community-novel
About Elaine Greywalker
Elaine is a creator of SciFi/Fantasy novels, expressive and meditative digital fine art, reflective lyric poetry, and articles about the creative lifestyle. She is a spiritual explorer, synthesizer, and practicing intuitive. You can find her online in many places, one of them Amazon, where you can download her first published novel, “Uncle Tauber’s Trunk.”
An Interview with Elaine Greywalker
What is your writing background? What sort of work do you usually write?
I’ve written seven novels and managed to publish one of them. Mostly I write scifi/fantasy fiction. I sporadically produce reflective lyric poetry.
Who are some of your favorite authors? Are there books, poems, or stories that have inspired your own writing?
I have a lot of favorite authors! Agatha Christie, J. R. R. Tolkien, P. L. Travers, Terry Pratchett, Sue Grafton, Hugh Lofting, and M. C. Beaton are my standby favorites for fiction. I have trouble identifying authors that have influenced me. Mostly, I’ve been inspired by English teachers with enthusiasm for writing.
Why did you want to participate in the Community Novel Project?
I like the challenge of constructing a story with unknown elements. I enjoy group projects.
Have you ever written fiction in collaboration with other authors before?
Last year’s community novel, “SpeakEasy”, was my first official novel writing collaboration.
Do you usually write in a burst of inspiration, or is your work carefully outlined? Did writing for the community novel differ from the norm?
I write by the seat of my pants. For the community novel, I spent more time than usual mulling over options. Which was fun — twisting and turning things to get the most interesting fit.
What do you like about the premise and characters of this year’s Community Novel Project? What challenges you about them?
I like that Germany, England, and Kansas are involved as I have first hand knowledge of all those places. I’m inspired by the foreign and quirky characters. I like that there are two time lines: present and historical. Challenge: War is not a subject I enjoy, particularly WWII.
What was your first reaction when you saw the chapter before yours?
I was a bit overwhelmed by the number of characters and enthused by the story development.
What do you like most about the chapter that you contributed to the 2014 Community Novel?
Making up a past for Joe Grimadli that suggests motivation for his present actions and deepened his character.
What do you hope happens or doesn’t happen in the chapters that come after yours?
I’m interested to see what the succeeding authors with make of it all. Looking forward to the exciting conclusion!
What sort of writing can we expect from you in future? Are you currently at work on any writing projects?
I am mired in editing the six novel drafts I’ve previously written. One day, I hope to have another one ready for publishing. I’m learning a lot about novel development.