LUCA | Chapter 7

Sep 2, 2021

《LUCA-夏日友晴天》 动画 第七章 中文版↗

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  Luca sat on Giulia’s bicycle, which she had disconnected from the fish cart. He was nervous yet thrilled to be sitting on an actual bicycle.

  “Whoa!” he said as he put his foot on a pedal and pushed it down. The bicycle moved forward slowly, catching him by surprise. He looked around and saw people walking around the piazza, staring at him.

  Feeling self-conscious, Luca took a big gulp and tried to ride. He wobbled a bit, and glanced at his feet to see how he was doing. He fell right over. And unlike in water, it hurt when he hit the ground.

  “All right, try jumping on it!” Alberto suggested.

  Luca tried, and fell.

  “No, no, no, you gotta show it you’re the boss!”

  Luca was unable to show the bicycle that he was the boss, and fell. Again.

  “It can tell you’re afraid,” Alberto said with authority. “Wrestle it into submission!”

  “Santa Mozzarella,” Giulia muttered, having had quite enough of this. “Eyes up!” she said to Luca.

  “Huh?” Luca said.

  “Looking down is what’s making you fall,” she said.

  That made sense to him, so he started to pedal the bicycle. This time he looked forward, not down. To his great surprise, he was doing it! He was riding a bicycle! And not falling!

  “Oh yeah, I was gonna say that, too. About looking down,” Alberto said, knowing he totally wasn’t going to say that. “So, can we be on the team?”

  Giulia looked annoyed. “Aspetta! Can you dodge obstacles? What if an old lady crosses your path?”

  Then Giulia imitated one and got in Luca’s way. He barely managed to avoid her.

  “Can you withstand passive-aggressive verbal assaults?” Giulia shouted. “Nice bike, number one, and number two—I was kidding, your bike is a disgrace! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!”

  Luca cowered, but he kept riding.

  “And finally,” Giulia said, leaning some wooden planks on some barrels to make a very tight obstacle course, “can you handle the course’s fiendishly difficult terrain?”

  “Silenzio, Bruno,” Luca said as he maneuvered the bicycle through the course. He wobbled all the way—but he was doing it!

  Well, he was until he looked down to check his feet. That was the end of that—he went right over. Luca stood and picked up the bicycle. He was going to try it again.

  “Stop,” Giulia said to Luca. Then she turned to face Alberto. “What about you? Can you swim, at least?”

  “Yeah, I’m amazing—” Alberto said, and Luca gave him a sharp jab with his elbow. “—ly bad at swimming.”

  “You can’t swim, you can barely ride a bike. . . siete un disastro!” Giulia moaned. “I mean, where are you even from?”

  “Wouldn’t you like to know?” Alberto said. “We’re runaways!”

  “Runaways? I dunno, ragazzi,” Giulia said, thinking.

  “Please!” Luca begged. “My family was going to send me somewhere horrible, away from everything I love. But if we win this race, well, we can be free!”

  Giulia looked at Luca and her face began to soften. She faced Alberto, who said, “My life’s great. I’m just helping him out.”

  “Just give me one more chance,” Luca pleaded. “I know I can do it this time.”

  He was about to ride when Giulia stopped him. “No. You guys want it just as bad as I do. You have the hunger. That’s the most important thing.” “I’m definitely hungry,” Alberto said.

  “Perfetto!” Giulia exclaimed. “You eat, you bike, and I swim.” She indicated Alberto, Luca, and herself, respectively.

  Luca couldn’t believe it. This might actually work! He looked at Alberto, who smiled.

  “Underdogs?” Giulia said.

  “Underdogs!” Luca and Alberto cheered.

  “Now we just need money for the entry fee,” Giulia said. “From my dad.”

  The boys followed Giulia through town and all the way to her house. They had never been to a land monster’s house before, so it was at once exciting and utterly terrifying. Inside, Luca saw a heavily tattooed man with one arm making dinner in the kitchen. He was singing loudly.

  “All right. Just let me do the talking,” Giulia said. “And act casual. He doesn’t do well with fear.”

  Neither do I, Luca thought.

  “Hey, Papa!” Giulia called. “I brought some friends for dinner. Is there enough for four?”

  The huge man with one arm turned around, holding a massive cleaver in his hand. “Hmmm?” he said.

  Luca felt like he was going to pass out.

  “Whoa,” Alberto said.

  The man glared at the boys, looking them up and down. Then, without a word, he nodded, turning around to continue making dinner. Giulia gave Luca and Alberto a thumbs-up.

  A few minutes later, the boys found themselves seated at a table. Luca was terrified. Alberto looked around the small room and spotted harpoons hanging on a wall.

  “What do you think he kills with those?” he whispered to Luca.

  The big tattooed man, whose name was Massimo, chopped off the head of a fish with his cleaver. He overheard Alberto. “Anything that swims,” he said.

  Luca laughed nervously.

  “Visto the giornale today?” Massimo asked, handing the local newspaper to the boys. The headline said MOSTRO AVVISTATO ALL’ISOLA and featured a blurry photo of a sea monster with its tail peeking just above the water.

  “Ugh, that photo’s a fake, Papa,” Giulia said. “Everyone in Portorosso pretends to believe in sea monsters.”

  “Well, I’m not pretending,” Massimo said. He tore the photograph out of the newspaper and stuck it to the wall with a knife. Then he went back to cooking. Giulia helped.

  Luca and Alberto got a good look at the wall, and saw it was completely covered with similar photos of sea monsters, all torn from newspapers. He was drinking a glass of water, and immediately did a spit take. In that moment, Luca wanted nothing more than to crawl back into the sea.

  The water hit Alberto on half of his face, which promptly transformed into its sea monster form!

  Luca grabbed Alberto and pushed him to the floor under the table.

  “Huh?” Giulia said as she and her father turned around.

  Luca quickly wiped Alberto’s face with his shirt. He was glad that neither Giulia nor her father could see them, or knew what had just happened. But there was another pair of eyes watching them.

  It was a cat.

  The cat had seen it all. The cat knew their secret.

  With a nervous laugh, Luca returned to his seat, and so did Alberto. They pretended that nothing out of the ordinary was going on. Giulia shrugged and continued cooking with her father.

  Luca noticed that the cat was still staring at him.

  Then Massimo said, “Dinner’s ready. Trenette al pesto. Mangiamo.” The man plopped onto his chair, and it felt like the whole room shook.

  Staring at the pasta on his plate, Luca wondered how the land monsters ate. He saw there was a small stick with pointy things at one end, which he later learned was a fork. He picked it up, and Alberto did the same. Then both boys glanced at Giulia and her father to see what they would do.

  This was a fine plan, except Giulia and her father were waiting for their guests to start first.

  Luca smiled and laughed awkwardly as Alberto took the lead. Alberto set his fork down and reached right into the pasta with his hands, shoving it into his mouth.

  Massimo shot Alberto a look.

  Then Luca picked up some pasta with his hands, too.

  “Uhhh. . .” Giulia started to say.

  The boys ate with gusto, ramming handfuls of pasta into their mouths as Massimo furrowed his brow. They didn’t seem to notice him as they kept on eating.

  At last, Massimo asked, “Where did you boys say you were from?”

  Luca didn’t know what to say, and felt even more uncomfortable when he noticed the cat was still staring at him. It was now sitting on Massimo’s shoulder, watching.

  “They’re, uh, classmates!” Giulia said, thinking fast. “From Genova. Luca and Ahhhh. . .”

  “Alberto,” Luca said softly.

  ”. . Ahhhhlberto.”

  “And what brings you to Portorosso?” Massimo asked.

  “Oh, uh, funny you should ask,” Giulia replied. “They came for the race.”

  “The race?”

  “Yeah,” Giulia said. “Uh, you know what? Don’t worry about it.”

  “Don’t worry about it?” Massimo said, wondering what his daughter didn’t want him to worry about.

  “Mmm-hmm, don’t worry about it.”

  Of course, this made Massimo feel he should definitely worry about it, so he set down his glass, sighed heavily, and said, “Giulietta? A word?”

  “I don’t want you to do the race again,” Massimo said, gesturing for Giulia to speak with him privately. “You get so upset—”

  “Papa, per favore,” Giulia protested. “I have a team now.” She gave Massimo her most determined look.

  Her father sighed again. He knew that when his daughter set her mind to something, there would be no changing it. “There’s also the entry fee,” Massimo said. “Money’s tight. . .”

  “I’ll work double shifts at the pescheria,” Giulia said quickly. “Whatever you need—”

  “I can’t sell what I don’t have,” Massimo insisted. “What I need is more fish in my net. Mi dispiace, Giulietta.”

  “Um, excuse me?” Luca said, interrupting their conversation. “We could help.”

  “You know fish?” Massimo asked.

  “Oh, we know lots of fish,” Alberto chimed in.

  Massimo thought about it, and saw the look on his daughter’s face. There was no possible way he could say no to her, not this time.

  “You want to work, I’ll put you to work,” Massimo said.

  “Really?” Luca replied, excited, pumping a fist in the air.

  “Oh, grazie, Papa!” Giulia said.

  At this point, the cat had settled on the table, glaring at Luca. To say this was unsettling would be an understatement.

  Giulia said, “Machiavelli! Psssssst!”

  Machiavelli yowled. He bared his teeth, hissed, and showed his claws.

  “Don’t you. . . No!” Giulia shouted. But Machiavelli pounced on Luca!

  “I’m so sorry about the cat,” Giulia said as she and the boys hurried out of the house and into her backyard. “I don’t know what got into him.”

  “It’s fine,” Luca said. “We’re gonna head back to, uh. . .”

  “Oh, do you guys need a place to stay?” Giulia asked. She looked up at a tree, indicating a wooden platform positioned in its branches.

  Luca smiled at Alberto, and the boys gratefully accepted Giulia’s offer. They climbed up the tree and onto the platform, with Giulia following them.

  There were three books laid out on the platform, and Giulia quickly scooped them up. “Sorry, this is my—”

  “Your hideout,” Alberto said.

  “Heh,” Giulia chuckled. “Yeah. My hideout. Buonanotte, boys.”

  Giulia descended from the hideout with the books, and walked over to her bedroom window. She climbed through the window, then fell inside, books flying.

  “Slipped!” she said, popping up. “See you in the morning!”

  As Giulia disappeared from view, Luca let out a big sigh. “That was close.”

  “I know!” Alberto said. “Like, how big was that dad human? That guy kills things, for sure.”

  “I thought we were gonna die like a hundred times,” Luca said, realizing it might have been even more than that.

  “Hey, relax,” Alberto said, trying to reassure his friend. “We’re incredible at this humaning stuff.”

  “Yeah,” Luca said, thinking about it. “You’re right!”

  They sat there quietly for a moment.

  “Did you see me on the bike?” Luca said. “Giulia said, ‘Look up, ‘ and then all of a sudden, I was riding it!”

  Alberto nodded, but he didn’t seem impressed. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Our Vespa’s gonna be even better than a bike, though. Because the moment we get it, we’re outta here.”

  “I can’t wait,” Luca said with a smile. He rolled onto his back and looked up at the bright lights sparkling in the night sky.

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