Six months passed since the night I had last talked to Markos. I was on my way to Sarajevo and I decided to stop for a few hours in Crakova and meet once more my musician, and if possible hear the rest of his interesting story.
In Crakova, difficulties arose immediately. People couldn’t speak Italian or English. I asked around the shops and the tiny post office of Markos where about. People shrugged their shoulder and mimed back they couldn’t understand. Finally, a young man, who knew a few English words, told me to follow him, telling me,
“The Priest is the only one in town who speaks English. He will help you.”
The young man introduced me to Don Tito.
“Father, could you tell me where Markos Legovitch lives?”
Father Tito looked at me very puzzled and after some thought he asked,
“Are you sure this Markos Legovitch is from Crakova?”
“Yes sure, I was with him six months ago in Budapest and he invited me to Crakova. Markos told me he was born in this village. He is a talented violinist, even if he is quite an eccentric person.”
“Are you sure of his identity? There was only one Markos Legovitch in the village. He died during the last war. He was honored as a hero after he saved many people from death. The Germans ambushed him one night and filled his body with bullets. He was the only violinist that lived around the district.”
“Father, how could he possibly be my man? I heard Markos playing his violin, and I touched him. He wasn’t a ghost, I’m sure of that.”
“I’ll take you to his grave, behind the church. You then will decide if you want to believe or not.”
It was a simple grave, with a marble cross. A faded photo of a young man was on it. I easily recognize Markos’s eyes full of fire. Certainly, his name was written there and the date of death was September 1943, at the age of 27, which could have been the age of my Markos at that time. But this was over fifty years ago, since the day he supposedly had been killed.
Neither I, nor Father Tito could give any explanation to the mystery in front of us.
During the following months, I went back to my thoughts many times, trying to solve the mystery of Markos’ identity. Was the real Markos in the grave? Or was he someone else? I manipulated all the possible questions, but there were too many, leading me to different paths. At the end, I concluded I would not be able to find any answer to the mystery.
Months and months elapsed from that day I was in Crakova. By now the ghost of Markos wasn’t disturbing my nights any longer. I seldom now remembered that night I have been last with Markos, and sometimes I had the impression that the entire story was nothing but a dream of my sensitive imagination and that it really never happened. The last night I was with Markos’s he looked and acted in a way that wasn’t normal. In my thought, today he had the ghostly appearance so often seen in movies. As a last possible supposition, the man I met and who called himself Markos, wasn’t really him. I couldn’t possibly solve the riddles in front of me without any other evidences. I thought that I would never be able to find the real truth and therefore I buried those possibilities to gain my peace of mind.
Until the day that spectre of Markos resurfaced in my life.
It was nearly two years after my first meeting with Markos, when I received a letter from ‘Bianchi e Frasconi, Notai’ Solicitors and Lawyers from Gorizia. Their names didn’t give me any clues till I read the message,
“….We are the executors of the last will of Franz Monterosa.
We inform you that a violin of his possession has been left to you.
Please contact us at your earliest convenience for the legal transfer of such instrument. In our possession are also other documents, for you to view. He died without any direct descendent, and you are the only beneficiary …”
I arranged a time to meet Mr. Bianchi. I received from him that magnificent Guarneri still wrapped in the old case that Markos used. Inside the case he had put a note for me.
“The violin is yours. You are the only person who knows the value of it and the sentimental connections to my life. The Monterosa dynasty dies with me, therefore all my efforts had been vain in trying to claim back the violin from my half-brother.
My father, the Count, told me the true about Markos just two months before he died. At that time, many years ago, I went to Crakova to return to my half-brother, Markos, his possession, but it was too late. He had been killed by the Nazis a few months earlier.
During those days, I also lost the family castle, which had been destroyed by the furies of the last days of war. Finally, as the new Communist regime, which had been installed in Yugoslavia after the war, took possession of the rest of my properties. Because of that, Father’s heart collapsed.
My life afterward had been an alternative of good days and oppressive ones.
In my bad periods, I couldn’t remember who I really was and acted in a bizarre way. 50When I was in these depressive days, I had an urge to take my half-brother’s identity and traveled around Europe, playing in taverns along the way, the good music I learned when I was together with my brother at the conservatorium of Montisola. Unconsciously I was borrowing his name and life and in that way, I wanted to honor him and ask his forgiveness.
It was under this disguise I met you in Budapest. Unfortunately, that night, emotions overcame me, and I couldn’t tell you the full story. Forgive me.
I know that the magnificent Guarneri when owned by you is in the best hands. When you will play this instrument, I’m sure you will remember me.
. Sincerely, Franz Monterosa.