Isabella was thirty-two years old and had a few secrets, well actually, she had many secrets, but the most impressive secret that she possessed was the fact that she was a murderer. Well, that description of her is rather harsh, because what she did was kill her boyfriend, Michelangelo Bellini, who was trying to rape her. She had told him to get lost and that she didn’t want to see him again. He didn’t take her decision well and pushed her down onto the floor of her apartment and during their struggle, she grabbed a knife that was conveniently lying on a nearby table and plunged it into his neck. MB, as she called him, died instantly.
In the now completely failed country of Italy, and in the part of Rome where she lived, there was no way Isabella was going to be seen as a defender of her life. The crazed citizens of Rome would have found some awful way to send her to her death. Not only did the dystopian world become an almost total failure, but it also returned to a time when women were not particularly held in high esteem, at least in the failed state of ex-Italy. It was now time for Isabella to flee the insanity of Europe and discover what other insanities were lurking in her future in some other part of the world. Being stoned to death, or whatever other disturbing punishment awaited her, was not on her list of things to do in her life.
She dragged Michelangelo’s body into a hidden closet in her small apartment and locked the door. One hour after locking MB’s body in the closet and pushing a large bookcase in front of the door, Isabella was at her parents’ flat saying goodbye to them. One of her other secrets was that she had planned to flee Italy for many months and had made arrangements with a very wealthy friend, Stefania Golino, yes there were still a few of these people around, to join Stef on her very large, private jet and head out into the world. How Stefania paid for all this was one of her secrets. And if you asked her how she paid for her extravagances, she’d tell you that it was none of your damn business.
Three hours after hugging and kissing her parents goodbye, Isabella was in the air drinking a Bellini cocktail in honor of her now dead boyfriend. One of Stefania’s great grandfathers, Giuseppe Cipriani, invented the drink in 1948 in Venice at Harry’s Bar. The two close friends laughed as the drinks kicked in and looked forward to arriving in Miami for a two-day layover before flying to Phoenix, where Stefania had connections they could stay with.
After two uneventful days in Miami, Stefania’s jet took off and a few hours later they were landing in Phoenix where a heavily armed limo waited for them. It was soon apparent to Isabella that no matter how bad things got, rich people would still exist and find a way to stay above the tumult of the world, which, considering where she might be at that moment had she stayed in Italy, was fine by her. A little touch of luxury would be a welcome relief from the ugliness of a world gone mad.
But one of Isabella’s other secrets was that all this luxury and safety was not really what she was looking for. She wanted something more adventurous and what she had discovered was that there was a large encampment of native peoples and spirit travelers near Tuba City, and she wanted to go there. When she approached Stefania about her idea, she learned that Stefania too was bored and looking for an escape. Being rich in a dystopian world meant living a cloistered life in a high-class prison, not a life for two rather adventurous young women. Time to move on, they told each other.
And move on they did. Stefania’s connections, whoever they were, supplied the two adventurers with an all-terrain vehicle, and offered the services of a bodyguard. They declined the offer of the guard as they decided that they were going to make it on their own. They were given some heavy weaponry and detailed instructions as to which towns to avoid, which meant going off road to get around them. So, on September ninth, at seven in the morning, Isabella and Stefania were ready to tackle the rather treacherous journey to Tuba City. Nervous? Definitely. Excited? Without question. With all of the detours they might have to take, it looked like they would arrive in Tuba City in two days.
Only an hour and half north of Phoenix they encountered their first obstacle. Not a town, but what looked more like a large encampment, which no one warned them about. They stopped on a rise above the encampment and looked down at it with a pair of binoculars. The people they saw were definitely not spirit travelers. They had two choices, turn back and find away around it or drive as fast as they could through it. They chose the latter.
With Stefania driving, they got to within a quarter mile of the encampment when Stef floored it. This vehicle had a top speed of one hundred and fifty miles per hour and by the time it reached the encampment it was going a hundred. Fortunately, the encampment was setup on a part of the road that was straight as an arrow. In what seemed like seconds, they were through the camp and heading north at a hundred and twenty miles an hour. Isabella looked back and couldn’t see anyone following them. “I think were safe,” she told Stef.
And that was it as far as dangerous encounters goes. From that point up to Tuba City they had three detours and stopped overnight in a no-name town filled with many spirit travelers. When they finally arrived at Tuba City, they sensed immediately that this was going to work for them. A checkpoint was set up where they could leave their names and any other information they wanted to share. They were welcomed into the town and given a map that showed where they could set up camp. Tuba City certainly wasn’t Rome or Paris, which was actually a good thing, but it became home to these two wandering Italian women.
On their first evening in Tuba City, Isabella and Stefania sat looking at the setting sun, drinking some wine they discovered in their all-terrain vehicle, and enjoying the peace and quiet. Stef got up and looked down at Isabella, “Our adventure is just beginning. But for now, I’m beat and am going to sleep.”
“I’ll join you soon,” Isabella replied.
“The world was certainly in a bad place. Maybe Stefania and I could find a way to help heal our sad planet,” she thought to herself. But for now, she was glad to be away from the dangers she faced in Italy. Had she not left when she did, she might already be dead.
She finished the last drops of what turned out to be a very fine wine and walked over to their temporary home on wheels. Tomorrow would be the day for planning. For the first time in many years Isabella felt some glimmer of hope. She felt confident that a good night sleep was waiting for her.