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THE BACK OF THE NET
David Caraccio lives in Fair Oaks, California, with his wife, a son and a daughter. He graduated from San Diego State University and is a 25-year journalist working at The Sacramento Bee.
An international novel of futbol, fashion and the test of friendship
David Caraccio's first novel, a historical fiction account of the true life events in the life of lover-bandit Tiburcio Vasquez.
Here IS A PEEK from the upcoming novel from David Caraccio. Check AGAIN in late spring for the release of "Back Of The net".
The big defender would take the kick. He always took the corner kicks. The corner flag looked as far away as his own bed back in the United States, and his legs, which were strong enough to squat four-hundred pound reps in a set, were heavy as if the humid Venezuelan skies above were pushing every gram of gravity down on him.
He started into a sprint and cut it to a jog about a dozen yards from the corner of the field. He might need some time to get ready here. How close were those fans? Close enough that he could hear every Spanish jeer they shouted. Close enough to feel the pounding of their feet on the stadium floor and seats. Close enough to hurl plastic water bottles and fruit and deadlier flying objects like batteries and glass bottles to the edge of the end line. He heard horns and whistles and barks and growls as he approached the corner of the field. The epithets and threats and banging intermixed into one deafening roar. Beautiful game, my ass, he thought - dangerous game is more like it. He saw debris landing all around the corner circle, and three FIFA officials waited for him with strong umbrellas. He smiled and ducked under their safe canopy.
He stepped back three and a half strides to get a running start on the kick. The officials backed up with him. They would follow his approach to the ball as well as they could, then he would launch the leather off his rocket of a foot and quickly follow the kick so he could get out of range of the projectiles. For now, however, he paused to watch what play was developing in front of the goal. He breathed in deep. He heard the bottles and rocks and batteries hitting the canopy as he and his protectors huddled underneath. The Venezuelans were this angry at the United States for forcing them to play in Minneapolis in a snowstorm last winter rather than delay the match, and now their national team was on the verge of elimination here in Caracas. The country had refused to provide the U.S. with a training facility or any other accommodations. And now here he was trying to grind his heel into the South American opponent's neck. This place could erupt, he thought. One to one. 88th minute. Wait. Wait. Wait.
This was Lorenzo Cordinni's favorite route. He did not stay on dei Corso long before ducking down a narrow alley and dribbling past several trattorias, gelaterias and ristorantes off the main thoroughfare. He passed the ball off the stone walls back to himself, while still jogging, on some of the quieter streets and in a few minutes found himself on Via dei Neri. He crossed the Arno, south of Ponte Vecchio at Ponte alle Grazie, and sprinted past Piazalle Michelangelo up to the spectacular stairs that led to the holy and peaceful church of Santa Miniato, where his family would go every Sunday until soccer consumed their entire weekends. He capped the run with hard leg work up the staircase and then came the payoff, where, in front of Santa Miniato, he turned to see the spectacular view of the Duomo and all of Florence.
They bolted into Milan, tearing out of the mountains and down the autostrada in Gino's black Porsche Cayman GTS. Approaching Milan, the pair flew past one of the city's outlying industrial areas and Gino brought up the convertible rooftop. The city was smoggy, subdued in a dirty yellow hue which was especially perceptible after a week of breathing air fresh off the Alps. But these Italian stars were aiming for the shiny glitz of the fashion world inside.
"I forgot you're going to have to leave, and I will be alone."
"No. You will be with trusted people, friends of mine."
Then, the bright flash of what she was getting into could not have gone off with a more fitting background. From sitting next to international celebrities at the fashion show to the drinks at the gilded landmark Antico Caffe Greco with its waiters in tuxedoes, Sallie now felt she had stepped over a chasm between ordinary life and the joie de vivre.