Fernando’s Footsteps

by Tony Carreño

 

Fernando and Ignacio returned the friendly greeting from Gaetano, each shaking hands with the elder Licata. No one mentioned the unfortunate scene at the wedding. Turiddu, with his left arm around Fernando's shoulder, gently guided him further down the receiving line. 

"Mamá, estos son mis amigos, Fernando Suárez e Ignacio Prendes. Caballeros, quiero presentarles a mi madre, Señora Sebastiana Schiro Licata."

Turiddu introduced the two Spaniards to his mother, Sebastiana Schiro Licata. She politely smiled and nodded gently. Fernando couldn't help but wonder if she remembered him from the wedding but decided to focus on this more pleasant evening. 

Fernando handed Sebastiana one of the gifts and expressed gratitude that he and Ignacio had been invited to her home. In her very broken Spanish she warmly thanked him, looking a bit surprised at their thoughtfulness. Fernando found himself hoping that this might make up for their disastrous first meeting. 

Fernando noticed that he and Ignacio appeared to be the last two guests, as Gaetano had closed the front door and began walking into the massive living room to socialize with his guests. Fernando quickly glanced to his right, catching a glimpse of Giuseppina, hoping he wasn't being too obvious. He became aware that his hands were perspiring and discretely rubbed his right one against his pants. 

"Rosario, estos son mis amigos Fernando e Ignacio. Mi hermano, Rosario"

Turiddu introduced the two men to his older brother, Rosario. He was a large burly man and he returned a smile that appeared to be somewhat forced and inauthentic. Fernando wondered if perhaps he had been at the now infamous wedding reception and harbored some resentment toward him. Before he could ponder this any further, Rosario left and joined the other guests. 

"Fernando e Ignacio, estas son mis hermanas Rosa y Giuseppina. Hermanas, mis amigos Fernando Suárez e Ignacio Prendes."

Turiddu introduced the Spaniards to his two sisters, Rosa and Giuseppina. Fernando was impressed that he was now referring to both Ignacio and him as "friends", since it had been only a few weeks since they met. Sebastiana had quietly walked over and was standing between and just behind her two daughters.

Speaking simultaneously, both Fernando and Ignacio expressed their pleasure at meeting them. Fernando desperately tried to not focus on Giuseppina while ignoring Rosa. The two young women were very different from each other, and no one would reasonably assume they were sisters. The elder daughter was a large, though well-proportioned woman and had a rather "matronly" look about her. Giuseppina, as Fernando had noted on many occasions, was strikingly beautiful, in a gentle and demure way. Her eyes were a deep shade of blue, and her skin was a milky white.

Both young women smiled but did not speak. Mr. Katz, familiar with the various cultural subtleties of his customers, had coached Fernando and Ignacio on the proper protocol. Rather than addressing the young Licata sisters directly, Fernando, with the remaining two gifts in his hands, looked directly at Mrs. Licata.

"Señora Licata, ¿podemos ofrecer, con respeto, estos regalos a sus hijas?"

In Spanish, and speaking for both of them, Fernando had asked Sebastiana Licata if they could, with respect, offer gifts to her daughters. Mr. Katz had emphasized that the second most important thing in Sicilian culture is respect. The most important is the family. With some assistance in translating from Turiddu, Mrs. Licata glanced at Rosa and Giuseppina, and then smiled at Fernando and Ignacio. She nodded in the affirmative. 

Ignacio handed one of the handkerchief sets to Rosa, and Fernando passed the other one to Giuseppina. This was not spontaneous, by any means. After Mr. Katz' coaching, the two young men had "rehearsed" this ritual several times, in the privacy of their room at La Gallega.

Rosa and Giuseppina gracefully accepted the beautifully wrapped gifts. For the first time, Fernando heard Giuseppina's gentle voice as she, along with Rosa, responded with "Grazie"   …."Thank you."

Mrs. Licata collected the unopened gifts from her daughters and passed them on to a maid who was standing nearby. She gracefully gestured to everyone to join the other guests in the living room.

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This is a work of fiction. With the exception of references to known and publicly documented historical entities, the following apply:

Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. ©Tony Carreño 2020