Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Guest Author - Thomas Bell

Madonna del Monte, Aviano, Italy; setting for A Diamond in Venice


A DIAMOND IN VENICE


by
Julian Bell







In June 1966, 20 year old Johnny Jones joins the Air Force and is shipped to a base in Northern Italy. Little did he know he’d have a torrid love affair, play professional baseball in the Italian League and be offered the opportunity to become an officer and fly fighter jets.

A Diamond In Venice is the story of a young man from the Midwest who at the end of his sophomore year of college has no clue as to what he wants to do or what he wants to be, so he decides to join the armed forces. When he arrives at Aviano Air Base located in Northern Italy, he meets Maria, a gorgeous Italian girl from a wealthy family who is working on the base to perfect her English. They fall deeply in love and Johnny realizes that he now knows what he wants to do – marry Maria and become an officer. He discovers, however, that there are a few obstacles, including Maria’s father who is opposed to their relationship. Johnny must somehow find a way to win him over.

Along the way he becomes a star playing shortstop for Venice. Never in his wildest dreams did he ever think he’d be signing autographs before a ball game.

Excerpt 1 – Johnny meets Maria

My gaze fell first upon her black high heels and her thin ankles. I worked my way up past her perfectly shaped legs, to her waist which couldn’t have been more than 22 inches, to her chest which was considerably larger with all the right curves, then to her beautiful face. Her complexion was slightly dark and flawless. Her long flowing hair was jet black and her eyes were the darkest brown I’d ever seen. When I found myself looking at those unique eyes, I realized they were looking directly at me. Our eyes were locked on each other for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was maybe 10 seconds. She smiled, bit her lip, as if to signify a little embarrassment, and then looked away and completed her business with Airman Stokes.

I couldn’t take my eyes off her! She was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. After she finished with Stokes, she turned and walked past and glanced my way for a split second. For the next four or five days I was hoping that she would visit my tub file, but she didn’t. On two occasions we passed in the hallway. Both times our eyes locked and she bit her lip, but no words were exchanged.

On the Friday of my second week I was coding documents, when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned and heard a slightly husky voice, “We have not met. I am Maria.”

I jumped up, banging my knee on the tub file. My heart skipped a beat. “Hi. I’m Airman Jones.”
“Yes, I know. I have seen your name tag. But what is your first name?”

“Johnny.”

“I’m happy to meet you, Johnny.” Her smile was infectious. Like all of her other attributes her lips and teeth were also perfect.

I smiled back. “I’m glad to meet you, Maria.”

Excerpt 2 - Trying out for the team

Now it was my turn. I stepped in right-handed. The pitcher threw five straight balls, none were close to the strike zone. Out of frustration I swung and missed the next pitch, which was high and away. I then proceeded to foul a couple off, hit a couple of grounders and then popped one up. I glanced at Gelindo and Rick who were looking at me and whispering to each other. I thought, if I don’t do something soon, I won’t be coming back. I heard Alex yell, “Come on Johnny. Show’em what you can do.”

I switched to the left side. I took the first pitch then lined one to right center that rolled to the fence. The pitcher, thank God, then threw me four pitches in a row that were all up and over the plate. I hit each further than its predecessor. All four cleared the fence in straight away right field with the last two clearing the bleachers and landing in the canal. Each of the last two traveled over 400 feet. Rick called time and yelled, “Johnny, that’s enough. We don’t wanta lose more balls.”

After practice Gelindo and Rick called Alex and me over. Rick did the talking.

“Alicks anda Shjohnny, weeda be honored to hava you to join our team; will you play for Venezia?”

Alex answered for both of us, “Si, Si, Signore Rick, we’ll play for you. Grazie.” I just smiled and nodded.

Author Bio


Thomas Bell, who writes under the pen name, Julian Bell, grew up in Vienna, Virginia located just outside of the District of Columbia. He is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, where he obtained a degree in Marketing and later a M.B.A. His education was interrupted by a 3½ year stint in the United States Air Force. He was stationed at Aviano Air Force Base in Northern Italy, which provides much of the setting for his novel A Diamond in Venice.

After college Mr. Bell located in Cincinnati, Ohio where he had a very fruitful business career. He was President of Skyline Chili, Cincinnati’s premier chili offering. He was also chief operating officer of two other food products companies before completing his career as Executive Vice President of Baker Concrete Construction, the nation’s largest concrete construction company.

Recently retired, Mr. Bell continues to reside in Cincinnati. When he isn’t writing or consulting, his three grown children and nine grandchildren find ways to keep him busy.

He is currently working on his next novel.
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