Colorfully dressed in carabinieri patrol the Piazza di Spagna, where seas of international longhairs converge to lounge and slouch against the travertine stone balustrade. It is a magical place of lore where in olden days even papal guards were forbidden to arrest the bandits, assassins, and fierce-eyed peasants who sought asylum there. The Italian public became very aware of him in January of when he was arrested and held in jail for a few days after a wild Roman demonstration protesting the death of a Milanese Communist slain by the police.
He was held on suspicion of hurling a Molotov cocktail, then cleared and released. I was never even interested in the anti-Vietnam war movement, for example. Fuck that. Besides that, there is so much killing going on in the world that you gradually get used to it. When I walk down the street and see a beggar I throw him some money.
You have to give the fuckers something or they follow you all over the place. Molotov cocktails all over the place and people running up and down the street.
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Hundreds of cops. It was quite a scene. I heard the noise and I went outside. I had sunglasses on and I even had a cup of tea in my hands. A row of about 50 cops was standing about meters from me. I started walking toward them. When I was 50 meters from them, they started running toward me. All of them. They grabbed me and beat the fucking shit out of me with sandbags and with rubber hoses with wood inside. My ribs got all fucked up.
Rats were running all around, everyone was raping each other. It was a real school of crime. I had no trouble with the other prisoners because I went in there and I lied to them.
Chapter 1: An adversary returns
So I passed the word around that I had blown up a police station. They liked that. I was the most respected person in there. In June of , Paul Getty spent his nights in the discos and piazzas of Rome, mostly in the company of his girlfriend, Martine. He was also doing occasional modeling, drawing on every resource to make a few thousand lire. At the discos he unveiled a new act. He sported a black leather motorcycle jacket and, trying to look like a Fifties greaser, he cut his hair. I was never afraid of moving around the city. I never looked back over my shoulder to see if anybody was following me.
On the 9th of July, , he slept all day. He woke up late at night, went to see two friends, walked to the Piazza Navona, and from there to a nearby discotheque. I was pretty drunk on Bacardi and Coke and I was really mad at her because of something that happened between us. So I started swearing at her loudly, telling her to fuck off. I stopped at a newsstand and bought some newspapers and a Mickey Mouse comic book. I was walking down this road, drunk with the comic book under my arm, a road called Via de Mascarone. At the end of the road there is a big sculptured mask.
And I remember that damn thing smiled at me. Maybe it was because I was drunk or maybe because of the lighting, maybe it was an optical illusion, but I saw that mask smile.
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One of the guys rolled down a window. It took three or four seconds. At the same time another one jumped in front of me and put some kind of cloth over me that I think must have had chloroform on it. I had the quick feeling that I was falling forward and passed out. I think I hit my head on the car again when I passed out. When I came to, I was in the back of this moving car and I had a thick cloth tied over my eyes at the back of my neck. I could feel the back of my head bleeding, the blood dripping heavily down the back of my neck. One of the guys asked me what my name was.
Remember this because nobody will speak to you again. We stayed in that moving car after that for about six hours. The cloth was still tied over my eyes and I was still tied around the ankles and wrists. They took me out like a potato sack. They said nothing. I was playing on my knowledge of the simple Italian mentality. Mind your own business, ask no questions, think before you speak. I felt a breeze and I was sure I was high up. There was a warm breeze and it was really hot and I knew I had to be somewhere in the south of Italy.
They told me to lie down, and after an hour they took the wrist and ankle ropes off.
She was the PTA mom everyone knew. Who would want to harm her?
I felt people around me all the time — movements and walking around and cars in the distance. That first day they moved me around four, five times — a few hundred yards each time.
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They picked me up when they wanted me to move and led me. They pulled my pants down for me. I could tell by the vibrations they were really scared, full-scale paranoia. Being blindfolded like that, your whole nervous system picks things up easier. It was like acid in a way, the vibrations were that clear.
They gave me all the booze I wanted and I got drunk, real pissed. They gave me pasta. It surprised me that it was hot because it indicated there was civilization around. The same routine kept up for a few days. I was taken out of the car and walked downhill about 50 yards. They bent me down and let me drink some water from a fountain. Then one of them suddenly ripped my blindfold off. I saw a hut nearby with a corrugated roof. And I saw five men, all short, and all with full masks on. Woolen masks, the kind the shepherds use in Sicily, full masks like the Vikings always wear in those knight movies.
They never took their masks off for the whole five-month period. Calabria is an arid and sterile land historically cursed by earthquakes, malaria, poverty and banditry. The peasants who live there are swarthy, haggard and scarecrow-like people who take great pride in yellow wide-gapped teeth: a sign of good fortune. Its towns are dominated by faded village squares, baroque churches of sun-scorched limestone, listless unemployed men, discarded alabaster heaps and pathetically starved mules.
Calabrians speak a machine-gun, monotone dialect but often communicate among themselves with a native sign language. These stone-age mafiosi are uomini rispettati among the peasants, honored men whose identities are forever guarded because the peasants know that to talk to the authorities is to commit the greatest crime, the Infamita. In the bleakness that is Calabria, Infamita means the death sentence, and the sentence is always carried out.
To maintain his sanity and some sense of composure , he tried to microscope his limited world. I did weird things like play with my own fingers, make them dance, turn them into statues, contort them into people, make them ballet dancers. One guy was in the hut with me. He was sitting across from me with his mask on. Besides that, it was night and I could just see his outline. Suddenly they decided they were going to move me out of the hut, but before we left they made me put my mask on again.
I mean, considering they kept those masks on all the time. They looked like very ignorant people, very poor, judging from the way they were dressed. They looked like Italians trying to look like they had money. Baggy suits with pastel colors cut very badly. The colors all clashed. They all smoked Marlboros, which is always what Italian hoods smoke when they want to act like American tough guys. To scare me, I guess. They loaded them in front of me. They had pistols, rifles, one machine gun, sawed-off twin-barrel shotguns.
They had Berettas all over the place. In all I saw about seven people with a whole arsenal of guns. They made me write a letter. They brought an envelope to me, a big envelope, and inside it was paper and a pen. I had to take them out, write the letters, wrap up the pen in paper, put it inside the envelope and put the letters inside the envelope too. Most people thought they were in my own words. I thought these letters, and the ones later, were all incredibly corny.
I thought about trying to come up with some code like indenting certain words, but they were looking right at me. The thing is, I never thought my grandfather would pay any kind of ransom. Because of the way he is.
Besides I realized I would probably do the same thing. I was in a hut one day and I had drilled a hole with a knife. All the sawdust that came out of the wood I put together with mud and spit and stuck back in. That way I constructed myself a peephole. I could see that the only thing behind the hut was dry grass and weeds. There was nobody inside the hut with me since it was the daytime. I was locked in.
During the day I sharpened the knife on a wood stake. A guy slept right next to me in the hut at night so all I had to do to escape would have been to jump on him with the knife. It probably would have gone right through his heart. I never tried it though. You must absolutely not take this thing as a joke. Try and get in contact with the kidnappers in the manner and the way they tell you.
How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus
I want to live and to be free again. Pay, I beg you, pay up as soon as possible if you wish me well. This is all you have to know. If you delay, it is very dangerous for me. I love you, Paul. Please do whatever you can to get me out of here. This is serious. Love, Paul. But unfortunately no one seemed to be taking it very seriously. Jacovoni kept detailed notes of his conversations. He got the first call on July 23rd.
Do as you are told and prepare a ransom. You will be told later where the exchange will be done. Let us know on radio or TV if you agree to the terms. They should ask for less. You want to find the boy dead somewhere? First they say they want ten billion lire, then million lire, then three billion lire. By late August, even Jacovoni, the faithful family friend, was publicly having doubts. I was careful to remember in great detail the things he told me because I knew I could use the knowledge to get things I wanted form them.
I played psychological games. It was like the rich man and the poor man. The rich man can always play with the poor man because of his money. I was the rich man and my treasure was the things he talked too much about. Because I figured it was costing a lot of money to pay a lot of men, give me food and cognac, have cars to move me around with.
I saw fields and more fields and I heard the door to a car close. They heard it too and put the blindfolds on me fast.
They put me into the car and drove me around for a while. Then they told me to get out and took my blindfolds off. We were standing by a mountain. There was one guy in front of me and one guy behind me. They both had guns. The climb was a bitch. Big rocks, rough ground. Near the end of that climb I was so drunk I could barely stand.
They drove me around for 15 minutes or so, then led me out blindfolded and took em into what felt like a man-made cave. Steps down — underground. I could hear horses and cows and noise and they noticed that I was listening to things. With my face against that cold wall one of them came up behind me and put his hand to my ears. It was a bunker.
An abandoned old Nazi bunker, very small, less than a dozen feet wide, so low that I had to be bent over all the time. They kept me in the bunker for two days and I kept reading and rereading those damn magazines. They chained me to one of the stakes on a ten-foot chain. I was in that hut on the chain for 50 days. I had to force myself to do something. So it became the biggest thing for me each day to put a scratch on a single rock. That scratch, on that ugly bare rock, was my whole, whole routine.
My calendar. Somehow his mask had slipped and he thought I had seen his face. I tried to stay as cool as possible. I asked him for a cigarette. After a moment he said yes. I smoked that cigarette and thought fast. We stared at each other and I finished the cigarette and stomped it out. I just looked at him. I used to get overjoyed each day to hear my favorite Italian melodrama on the radio.
The view from the hut was beautiful. A creek, mountains, and I tried to enjoy the nature as long as I could. I drew figures and crazy patterns. I was like a little kid playing with his sandcastles on the beach. So I started painting rocks. My eyes were all baggy and I was puffy and my gums were always bleeding. It was especially scary because when you try to see yourself in a spoon, everything distorts a bit. I was losing weight and feeling my muscles die. At least it was something to do and I really felt my hands clean from my own saliva. Biting them off whenever they grew a little bit.
Then biting them off again. Because they just watched day after day. Watch him lick himself and collect his own nails. I hoped each night that I would dream — create my own movie inside my head to entertain myself with. The police found a burned body somewhere that looked exactly like me and all the cops and newsmen were sure it was me. I was listening to this stuff about me being dead and I laughed. They got all scared. They were paranoid there were cops in the area. It was about a six-hour walk, much worse than the other climb because I was so weak.
I was spitting blood and coughing. They kept me in small cramped caves and alcoves. They had a foam-rubber mattress for me to sleep on and brought me a book called My Prisons about captivity in the Austro-Hungarian empire. I could only read it outside during the day because the cave ws pitchblack. When they fed me, they brought a flashlight. They said it was broken. It kept me up for a few weeks. My head was pretty fucked up anyway. I was doing crazy things. For good luck I touched certain rocks. I had a mania that if I was going to have good luck I had to touch the bread they gave me a certain way.
How will they do it? They were going to chop off one of my ears. And I knew they were going to do it soon. He stopped counting the days in the cave and tried to ignore the guard who now slept so close to him at night he could feel his every movement. He spent days crafting a cigarette holder from a bamboo shoot.
It was so quiet I could tell the vibe building up was ugly. I kept remembering their threats to cut pieces out of me. They seemed very frustrated, very horny. Because I knew now that they were planning to do something to me. I knew those guys would never just give me something to be nice. They were giving me the radio because they wanted something.
Then they told me it looked very good and I should go back to bed. Instruments, the clanking of steel, lots of people. They gave me a handkerchief and put it on my mouth and told me to bit down on it. They held my arms, my legs and my head. It sounded like a pssst! He used a razor or a scalpel. I bit right through that wad of handkerchief and cried. The pain was so excruciating but when the pain is so hard, so intense, it goes very fast. I started bleeding from the ear, hemorrhaging very badly. I bled for three days. I must have gotten about 50 shots in all.
Penicillin, vitamins. I was vomiting. I pissed myself all the time.
Maybe everything is coming to a halt. Maybe your body is dying. I noticed they were trying to disguise their accents, putting on these phony Northern dialects, trying to walk different even. And I was more careful, too. I was afraid. They undid all bandages, which had gone hard like a cast from the dried blood. October 20th, 21st, 22nd, 27th, 28th, and 29th at p. Two major pieces of advice I can offer are, one, give yourself plenty of time to go through this process and two, always have a back-up plan if you are not successful in obtaining the rights.
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