A Name in Blood

Read A Name in Blood for Free Online

Book: Read A Name in Blood for Free Online
Authors: Matt Rees
disturbance streaming through every muscle. His whole frame was in motion, even as he held himself still.
He felt as though he had risen above his own body and watched it, all his actions under the control of some other power.
    ‘Dear friend, I’ve seen you throw rocks at men from only a couple of paces and club them on the head with the flat side of your sword.’ Onorio pursed his lips and blew.
‘But fighting Ranuccio? You shouldn’t even joke about it.’
    Caravaggio quivered in the lightless doorway. Night had come in full to the Evil Garden. He merged with it until he was unsure if he had stepped into a dream where he took on powers beyond those
of a human.
    ‘You can’t just paint over a killing, Michele. Pentimenti , repentances you call them, the changes you make to the angle of an arm or the line of a neck on the canvas. A fight
with a man like Ranuccio can’t be repented. It’ll end in blood.’
    Caravaggio’s breath trembled. He was coming back from the phantom unreality, descending back into his body, displacing the blackness of night from his limbs.
    ‘I’ll stand with you, if it comes to violence,’ Onorio said. ‘But do me a favour and don’t do it. I’ve a wife and five children to consider.’
    ‘All right,’ Caravaggio whispered. The night was around him, but no longer in him.
    ‘Leave Ranuccio to his whores.’ Onorio laughed. ‘Syphilis will take care of that dickhead. Pay him the money.’
    ‘You’re right. I’ll pay him.’ They embraced, laughing.
    Two men passed beyond the doorway, moving with purpose down the Corso. ‘It’s little Prospero and that bugger Gaspare.’ Onorio called out, ‘Hey, Prosperino.’
    The men turned. They were short and brightly clothed. Prospero was a Lombard like Caravaggio, a decade older and thick in the hips. He wore a full beard that ran grey along the jaw.
    ‘Michele, I’m pleased to see you out and about.’ Prospero’s bulging eyes were set almost in the sides of his narrow head. His mouth looped from ear to ear beneath a long
upper lip, like one of the ancient grotesques he copied into his paintings from the walls of Rome’s catacombs, a face ready to laugh at the filthiest of jokes. He reached up to slap both
hands onto Caravaggio’s shoulders. ‘If you’re strolling on the Corso, it means you’re not in jail and I won’t have to bail you out again.’
    ‘The night is young. Give him a chance to get some trouble started.’ Onorio took the end of Gaspare’s moustache in his fingers and pulled upwards. ‘Did that hurt, little finocchio ?’
    Gaspare smoothed his moustache back into the horn shape he liked. ‘Just a bit.’
    ‘Write me a poem about it, then. Your poetry is painful to hear, so its subject should be pain.’
    Gaspare smiled, blinking as though at some deep, private pleasure. The skin beneath his eyes and at the sides of his nose was red and flaking. ‘Here’s a rhyme: If Onorio tries to
touch my mous tache , I’ll take his fat ass and give it a th rash .’
    They applauded and Onorio shoved the poet playfully.
    ‘Bravo, the bullshit Boccaccio of the ribald remark.’ Prospero invited Gaspare to give a bow. ‘Now, come on, lads, Fillide’s entertaining a few discerning gentlemen at
her place on the Via Frattina. Who’s up for whores, gambling, song and dance?’

    Fillide twisted side to side in counterpoint to her skirt. She held the scarlet taffeta before her and let it rustle in accompaniment to her laughter. At the neckline, white
lace ruched in two concave descents to meet in a point between her breasts. She had arranged it so that the upper third of her dark areola showed through. ‘What do you think, ragazzi ?’
    Onorio went for a bottle of wine on the table. ‘All that red cloth. You look like a cardinal with big tits.’
    ‘Maybe it was a cardinal who bought it for her?’ Prospero reached up to give the courtesan a light kiss on the cheek. With a dip of his neck, he scratched his beard

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