Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Tale-Tell Cuore

In 1910, a Boston man stole two grand from his wife's sister, abandoned his family, and fled for an entire year before the phantom voice that plagued him like a tell-tale heart wore him down to confessing.

Raffaele Mastroiani took money that took Dominica Pappasobra nearly 18 years to save. She had trusted its care to her sister and her husband, Mastrolani, who placed it in their family strong box.

Later, after swiping the money and fleeing to a resort in Maine, Mastroiani came to believe he had been cursed. He began feeling guilty about what he had done. Since he felt himself too hardened for such sentiments, he deemed them the result of a curse.

The man claimed phantom gusts of wind would plague him even in enclosed spaces. He then began to see the disembodied face of his wife, and later, her voice would plague him. He claimed to hear the buzzing of unintelligible language. He believed they were curses.

Here's where it becomes somewhat hard to believe. As the woman's voice grew more distinct, her working-class, Italian-American tongue spoke the following: "Raffaele, wrong hast thou done to thy kindred; the curses of the holy ones are on thee; thy children curse thee, thy spouse curse thee; thou art doomed to wander thy ways alone forever."

Great stuff, right? Who knew turn-of-the-20th-century immigrant housewives spoke English in the archaic familiar. I guess standard, broken English would not have sounded lofty and formal enough, which is ironic considering.

Mastroiani, so fatigued from the phenomena plaguing him, eventually broke down a year after he fled. He wrote his wife a letter, apologizing to her and the kids and begging to come back. He only had $200 left.

It just goes to show you, don't steal large sums of money and flee because, eventually, the scribes of King James will plague you with all that incomprehensible verbiage you remember so fondly from studying Shakespeare.

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