The next day was Thursday, and Francesca did not come by the Ghetto to get coffee for her great-Aunt. Servi knew this because he had been seated outside the café, nursing a coffee and trying to write a long poem which despite his utmost concentration, continually manifested itself as short. He kept looking up and failed to see her sauntering down the via d’ Porto Octavia. When he had been seated there for some time, scratching out superfluous, redundant, misplaced, or otherwise poorly planted words, the proprietor of the café came out to wipe down some tables, and they chatted. Finally, the man asked.
“I see you with that Francesca Servi.”
“Yes, we’re friends,” Servi answered, and on hearing this, the man frowned appreciably.
“I have nothing against her, you know,” he said as a rejoinder to the frown. “She can’t be blamed for what her relatives did thirty years before she was born.”
“I don’t follow.”
“Her great Aunt, that mother of all whores, during the War she was a great beauty. She slept with Nazi officers… high ranking guys. And when the round up happened, right there, she told those dirty Nazis where our people were hiding in the catacombs beneath our feet. She sent them all to the gas chamber, that bitch.”
“How do you know this?”
“We know. We are all like this,” and he interlocked the fingers from both his hands. “After the war, when such people were strung up from lampposts, she disappeared. No one heard or saw her for decades, but a few years ago she came back, an old and sick woman, to die. She should die a hundred times, I say.”
“Why hasn’t something been done about her?” Servi asked, and the café owner just drooped his shoulders in resignation. The war, he explained, was so long ago.