LUCA | Chapter 9

Sep 2, 2021

《LUCA-夏日友晴天》 动画 第九章 中文版↗

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  Daniela and Lorenzo found some land monster clothes hanging on a line to dry. Now that they were dressed to blend in, they approached the town of Portorosso.

  “Okay, okay. What’s our plan? Think, Daniela!” Daniela said to herself.

  “Hey,” Lorenzo said. “Everything’s always on you. I want to step up.”

  “Uh. . . you sure?” Daniela said skeptically.

  “Oh, yeah,” he said, spying something. “I got this one.”

  Lorenzo saw a kid sitting all by himself on the seawall, eating gelato.

  “Oh, hello there, young man,” Lorenzo said. “You’re not fooling anyone.”

  The kid stared back.

  “Did you really think you could get away with this?” Lorenzo continued.

  “Lorenzo,” Daniela said through gritted teeth. “Uh-uh. . . Lorenzo. . .”

  “You thought we wouldn’t find you,” Lorenzo said, and now the kid was looking pretty nervous. “Well, it’s time for us to go home.”

  “I don’t think—” Daniela said, but by then, Lorenzo had already pushed the kid right into the water. He was about to jump in after him when Daniela yanked him back.

  The kid was still a kid. He hadn’t turned into a sea monster, let alone their son, Luca.

  And the kid was crying.

  “Let that be a lesson to you!” Lorenzo said.

  “Go, go, go, go!” Daniela ordered. “Run, before its mother gets here!”

  So they ran away.

  “It turns out I don’t get this,” Lorenzo observed.

  “No, but I do. I’ll know my son when I—”

  Daniela gasped as they ran into the piazza.

  It was brimming with kids.

  “—see him,” she said, finishing her thought. “Aw, sharks.”

  Meanwhile, Giulia, Luca, and Alberto left the marina and headed straight for the piazza so they could stand in line and submit their entry to join the Portorosso Cup.

  There was a line of kids waiting to do the exact same thing, but it did nothing to dampen Luca’s excitement.

  Something else was waiting to do that.

  Standing in the piazza was a woman dressed in an elaborate costume. Giulia looked at her and grabbed a box of pasta from a nearby display. She held the box so it covered the woman’s face. On the back of the box was a picture of an elaborately dressed, mustachioed man—a man who looked very familiar to Luca. Giulia then lowered the box of pasta, revealing a mustache on the woman, just like the one sported by the man on the pasta box.

  With a flourish and much bravado, she said, “Fellow Portorossans! It is I! Giorgio Giorgioni! Slayer of sea monsters and beloved purveyor of pasta!”

  Luca was terrified. He gasped. That was the face on the pasta box! That was who the woman was pretending to be—the guy on the fountains and paintings they had seen! “Slayer of sea monsters?” he said.

  “Pffft. I could take him,” Alberto replied.

  “Ahh, that’s just Signora Marsigliese,” Giulia explained. “She works for Pasta Giorgio Giorgioni, the sponsor for the race.” Watching the woman, Giulia sighed. “This is gonna take forever.”

  “The finest pasta in Liguria. At a price every family can afford!”

  “Get to the rules!” Giulia yelled.

  “Enthusiasm!” Signora Marsigliese said. “Love to see it! To follow in my footsteps and win my famous race, your team must be the first to brave the treacherous waters of the bay! Devour a mystery bowl of my delicious pasta! And ride to the top of Mount Portorosso—and back!”

  “That all sounds pretty hard,” Luca said, sounding dejected.

  “Yeah,” Alberto said. “Hard to lose! We’re going to win!”

  Giulia grabbed both Luca and Alberto by their heads and turned them so they faced all the kids who had lined up to enter the race. “I love your confidence,” she said. “But the competition looks brutal this year.”

  She gestured at a very tall girl with broad shoulders who was stretching.

  “Carlotta once outswam an angry dolphin!” Giulia said.

  Then there was another kid, with a really, really long tongue, who was eating.

  “Danilo’s fork skills are insane. But the biggest obstacle, as always, will be—”

  Right on cue, Ercole arrived in the piazza, with Ciccio and Guido right behind him. Guido was holding a sandwich for Ercole, as he usually did.

  “Champion coming through!” Ercole announced. “Ciao, ciao! Ay!”

  The crowd parted, the kids shrinking away from the bully.

  “Ercole,” Giulia groaned.

  Ercole walked to the front and put down his entry fee.

  “Aren’t you a little old?” asked Signora Marsigliese.

  “Signora!” Ercole exclaimed in mock outrage. “I’m sixteen!”

  “You said that last year.”

  “But this year it’s true!”

  “You might want to save your money, ragazzi,” Ercole said to the crowd. “This year, Ercole’s gonna make it six in a row.”

  Suddenly, he noticed Giulia, Luca, and Alberto standing there, and he smiled. “I don’t believe it! Spewlia, you teamed up with these vagrants?”

  “Ignore him,” Giulia said.

  “Oh, I wish for you that you could.

  Unfortunately,” Ercole said with a sniff, “I’m afraid your friends still need to pay the Out-of-Town Weirdo Tax.” Then he snapped his fingers, and Ciccio took the money right out of Giulia’s hand and gave it to Ercole.

  “Hey!” Giulia shouted. “Ercole, you have to give it back!”

  “Ercole doesn’t have to do anything,” he explained. “He’s the Portorosso Cup champion, number one, and number two, his life is amazing and everyone loves him.”

  “They don’t love you! They’re afraid of you!”

  Ercole turned to the crowd, leaning in close. “Raise your hand if you love me.”

  Terrified, everyone in the crowd raised their hand.

  “See? Everyone,” Ercole said. Then he turned to Alberto, “Even you. Boop.”

  Ercole tapped Alberto on the nose. But Alberto had heard enough. “Oh, that’s it. Come on, Luca,” he said.

  “Hey!” Ercole laughed. “The vagrants want to fight? Wow, che bello!”

  Luca wasn’t so sure about this. Actually, he was sure that this was a terrible idea. “Alberto. . . ?” he protested.

  “Silenzio, Bruno,” Alberto said. “Remember, this is for our Vespa!”

  But before any fighting could begin, Giulia wedged herself between the two groups of boys. “Stop,” she said.

  Luca was afraid, but he raised his fists anyway, to protect himself.

  “A Vespa?” Ercole said. “Pfft. Ha, ha, ha! Trash like you can’t ride Vespas!”

  “Ercole, you’re just afraid we’re gonna put an end to your evil empire of injustice,” Giulia said, but frowned as she realized Ercole was saying her exact words at the same time she said them. It was a comeback she had used many times before.

  “Got anything new?” Ercole asked.

  “Yeah!” Giulia said, her mind racing. “Here’s a new one! You look like a. . . umm. . . a. . . uhhh. . . a catfish!”

  The crowd looked at one another, not quite sure what that meant. Ercole definitely didn’t know.

  So Luca jumped in. “Uh, they’re bottom-feeders, and they also have two sad little whiskers,” he said.

  A collective gasp rose up from the crowd. Then there was a loud “OOOOOOHHH.”

  And then the laughter started.

  Even Guido snickered a little, but he covered his mouth just as soon as he started.

  Ercole was angry. So angry, in fact, that he removed the salami from the sandwich and smacked Guido with it.

  “Listen Piccoletto,” Ercole said, turning his attention to Luca. “I eat kids like you for breakfast. I dunk them in my cioccolata and gnam! Finiti!”

  Ercole made a slicing motion across his neck. Then, he leaned in and put an arm around Luca, which was way more intimidating than anything else he had done yet.

  “So, here,” he said, returning Giulia’s money. “Sign up. I’ll make it my mission to destroy you.”

  Luca felt his entire body go numb.

  “Ha, ha, ha!” Ercole said, joking with the crowd. “It’s gonna be some race, huh? Sorry, no autographs today!”

  As he walked away, he pointed to a boy who still had his hand raised from earlier.

  “You. You can put your hand down.”

  Luca wanted to disappear. Then he felt another arm around him. Except this time, it was Giulia!

  “Ha, ha! Luca! Bravo, we did it!” she said.

  Luca wasn’t sure what they had done, exactly, but at least now he could breathe again. Giulia pulled him away, with Alberto right behind them. They approached a table, and Giulia placed her money down.

  “Giulia Marcovaldo!” the girl said proudly.

  “Ciao, Giulia,” Signora Marsigliese said. “Team of one?”

  “Not today!” she said, nudging Luca.

  “Luca Paguro!” Luca said.

  “Alberto Scorfano,” said Alberto.

  Alberto sounded a little reluctant to sign up as a team, but the others were too excited to notice.

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