11: Milo And Francesca- A Moment To Talk- Francesca and Milo

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Please Go Here for the beginning of the story.

“What are we doing on the roof?” complained Jerry. “They’re sure to catch us here!”

Francesca wanted to run and leave them both behind. What was wrong with this Jerry character? She forced a smile and started out across the roof. “Come on, this way,” she said. Ahead of her stretched the entire length of the apartment building roofs that lined the streets going back to the store. In the dark and rain the forest of chimneys reared up like spines and tonight, with these two strange men following her while down below in the stairwell three dangerous men looked for them, they seemed ominous, even though she had been this way many times before. A kind of path wound amidst the chimneys and mansards. She stepped confidently onto a section that led across a slanted tiled roof.

“Are you out of your mind?” Jerry resisted. “I’m not getting on that! In this rain?”

The quiet one, Milo, followed Francesca after some initial hesitation. He smiled when his foot stayed steady and looked back at Jerry.

“It seems unstable at first, Jerry, but it’s okay. Really,” he said. “Just take a step.”

Jerry shook his head, eyeing the tiles and at the same time tentatively putting out his right foot. His foot landed on one of the tiles and held. Jerry held his arms out to the side to steady himself then put his whole weight on the tile. “Seems okay,” he murmured.

Francesca led them through the maze like a guide in the woods. They passed between dripping walls and over metal roof sheets that buckled slightly under their feet. They walked along narrow roof ridges with the dark streets below yawning to either side. They climbed cistern ladders and rounded the wall of an old stone tower. Once they even tiptoed past an open window with a man sleeping under the light on his desk inside. Another time they flushed out a pair of pigeons nesting under an eave and Jerry nearly slipped off the roof, letting out a piercing cry. Francesca watched the two as they walked. They didn’t seem so bad.

At one point Jerry suddenly sank down on his haunches, breathing heavily. “I can’t go further,” he said. “I have to rest a bit.”

“They’re following us, Jerry. We can’t stop now,” said Milo.

“I don’t think they can follow that easily,” said Francesca. “We’re good for now.”

“Mind if he takes a break?” Milo asked.

Francesca shrugged. He’s going to take a break anyway, she thought.

Francesca snuck around the mansard and found a spot under an eave out of the rain. She sat down with her back to the wall. A moment later Milo joined her, sitting with his arms hugging his knees.

“You know these rooftops well,” he said.

She laughed, “It’s been a while since I’ve been up here.”

Milo laughed, too. It was a quiet, musical laugh. “I’m partial to sewers myself,” he joked. They both laughed together, for the moment forgetting their situation. “There’s a whole new world up here I never knew about,” he said. “I just wish we had picked better weather.” They laughed together again.

“I spent a lot of time up here when I first came to the city,” Francesca said. “After my father died.”

They fell quiet and watched the rain. Francesca shivered slightly; was it the rain or Milo’s presence?

She turned to Milo, “Just who are those guys chasing you…”

Milo raised his eyebrows and shook his head. “I was so busy running away that I didn’t stop to think about it. You know, I don’t know! I don’t even know why we are running away!”