Thursday, June 30, 2011

Autobiography of an Assassin - The Beginnings Part 1

Long title I know...I'll get more creative later. :)

One might picture my childhood as something a little horrific. That is partially correct. Although I grew up a normal child for the first years of my life, that normality ceased to exist. Due to certain events early on, I matured quicker than any child should have to as adversity spat in the face of my family.

To begin, I was born in New York City in 1895. My father and mother were Italian immigrants and my father wanted to experience the "American Culture" and try to embrace it, though to no avail. He wanted his life of deep, religious fervor and raise me in the customs of his country. He was very devoted to Catholicism and loved to preach and so my mother, enamored by the American lifestyle but loving my father too much to stay behind, spoke to him of missionary efforts in Asia. Many of her friends had visited areas around Beijing and eastern China to bring religion to those parts of the world. My father, delighted by her encouragement to serve, agreed to make the journey and preach the word of the Lord.

I remember naught of the journey. It is a blur in my aged mind. When we arrived, we lived a days walk outside Beijing in what was the small village of Yanquig. The beginning of our sojourn through Eastern China was quiet and humble, yet with no success. The people of China did not like western culture. It was a sin, imperfect, and they were taught by their religion, if they embraced the iniquitous ideals and philosophies, they would surely suffer, not just in the life to come, but in this one, as well. Thus began the Boxer Rebellion.

The hatred of the west was not the only reason for the uprising but also that China was being forced by western leaders to import opium which had caused widespread addiction. Those who feared the country was beginning to be carved by western tools, rose up and fought. At first, only small skirmishes dotted the land. But over the next five years it turned into constant bloodshed. After the conversion of a prominent Buddhist temple to be used by Christians, the Imperialist army decided to join the Boxers. Soon, there was a widespread massacre of missionaries and Chinese Christians. The battle came to our small village and with it, death.

To avoid bloodshed, my family slipped out in the late hours of the night. Imperialists were camped all throughout the small town and its borders. Our payment of passage was to take us through the river and to the surrounding forests. I remember the water being cold, but I knew nothing of the true, penetrating numbness I would soon feel.

We were a small group of just eight people. We made our way down the small river, past the outskirts of the town and made for the surrounding forests. We approached the line of trees and stopped abruptly. Our guide whispered for us to hold still. I can still remember the sound to this day. Incoherent in any situation, yet as loud as an exploding star in my ears. The sound of the arrow whizzed right into my mothers chest in an explosion of dark drops of what could only be blood. Screaming and panic soon followed. The men poured out of the trees, seeking no accord but taking the lives of the innocent with no remorse.

My father sparred no time in our escape. My mother was dead as soon as her body made the agonizing thump on the ground. I don't know how my father managed to escape. I was six years old. My mother was dead and I remember nothing. I was too entranced by the face that was fixed one me. She was dead, yet her stare was as alive as we were.

All I do remember was gaining passage on a small boat back to Italy. We were physically exhausted and our souls wracked with immeasurable pain and sorrow for the loss of my mother. I never cried once. Anger, resentment, guilt of leaving her behind is what filled me. As we drifted on the boat, the water seemingly endless as my agony, my father pulled a paper out of his pocket. It was a newspaper clipping my father had gathered sometime during our stay in China. His look was was stone cold and emotionless.

"Son, I want you to remember this face," as he handed me the clipping.

I opened up the paper and peered at the portrait of the man staring at what seemed to be only at me.

"That is the face of the man who killed your mother. Remember it well."

I still do.

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