Taking the rifle, my husband slings it over his shoulder. He hands the black Beretta, a firearm that we’d brought with us from Italy, to Abramo. Eugenio’s shown me how to use it; it’s a surprisingly heavy gun that belies its size and packs a deadly punch. I slip on my sunglasses and stand, undecided. I wonder whether I should take the picnic basket out of the car, or whether we’ll come back to eat.
“Sbrigati. Hurry up!” Eugenio impatiently asserts when he sees I haven’t moved.
He’s already a hundred meters in front of me. His exasperated tone makes up my mind. I don’t want to be left behind, all alone. I hurry to catch up. As we round the haphazard pile of weathered rocks, the trench widens and deepens into a gully. A muddy pool of brownish water covers the bottom of it. Some busy buzzing flies hover over a small area of this.
And then to the side, sunning itself on a narrow stone, is the largest lizard-like creature that I’ve ever seen. It has a brownish-black-patterned scaly skin that lightens to a golden colour towards its belly. Its head rises as we appear. It regards us regally as we noisily stumble to a stop. A black forked tongue flicks out and then back in. Apart from that silently repeated movement, all else seems eerily quiet. Suddenly, it’s seems we’re in a stand-off in a movie scene.
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