He was arrested at the customs, Aeroporto Galileo Galilei, for the carrying of forbidden materials through customs. He had no luggage, only a haversack, this was probably the reason he attracted the attention in the first place, almost as if he wanted to be caught.
He was made to empty the haversack onto a table.
—Your hands away, step back.
Amongst other filth, a stoneware tankard, German I think. Embossed with a winged devil coupling sexually with a monk, monks drunken and associating with hooked-nose Jews. A Lutheran tankard, and one making a point about Catholics.
“Why don’t you tell me what you are doing with these items?”
“They are antiques, I am a dealer in antiques and antiquities. Che altro vuoi?” He indicated his annoyance, and that we were making a big mistake.
He was left in the interview room, for some time, to decide whether he was going to give us the proper story or not. From somewhere, he had got hold of a sycamore leaf, which he let spin to the floor, picking it up again, fingering it, over and over. Able to resist for a minute or so, but then it went again. I would have liked to have taken it off him, but already there was the implication of friends in high places.
It is a quirk of the Index Prohibitorum, that the usual suspects, atheists, militant opposers of the Catholic church, do not appear on it. Nietzsche, or Brigham Young, for example, are nowhere to be found. These are taken as read, as it were, and members of the Holy Mother Church are trusted to know well enough the dangers of these.
The Index Prohibitorum is also the source of the misapprehension that, over the years, the Vatican has amassed a huge collection of pornography.
And then we were given the order to let him proceed. No one was happy about this.
Worst of all, a helicopter arrived, I don’t know who had ordered this — the President, they said. but I suspect it was an industrialist, one of those from the north, Torino or Milano — or a family. What hurt my pride was that the superintendent told me to carry the man’s belongings to the helicopter.
“It is at times like this I am reminded how deeply Catholic a country Italy is,” he said to me, as he climbed aboard.
The bastard. It was only after he had left that we discovered the real pornography.