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  • Susan Russo Anderson

Serafina and Rosa Discuss Calumny

Updated: Aug 9

Serafina and Rosa are two main characters in the Serafina Florio mystery series. Their novels take place in Sicily in the nineteenth century.

Being characters, Serafina and Rosa are immortal. Seated on clouds in the heavens, they talk about calumny.

“What’s this word?” Rosa asks, handing me her newspaper.

I peer at the print. “Calumny.” I say the word slowly.

“It’s a lotion, no?”

“Not exactly,” I say. “It’s false and malicious misrepresentation of the words or actions of others, calculated to injure their reputation; libelous detraction, slander.”

“You make it sound horrible,” the madam says and quotes, “‘The shrug, the hum or ha, those petty brands that Calumny doth use …’ We’ve all done it.” She straightens her halo.

“Speak for yourself. Cheap tricks of the worst sort. Think Iago or Scarpia,” I continue. “Calumny used to be considered villainous. If a person committed calumny, he self-flagellated or went to confession, one of those. Now, well . . .”

“Well, what?” The madam slams her cloud. “I hate it when you do that!”

“Do what?”

“Stop in midair. At least flap your wings or do something—anything to indicate you’re still with us.”

“Now, well, we arrange political campaigns with calumny as the centerpiece.”

“Despicable! I won’t attend. Never. You can’t make me. Unless they serve dolci.”

Photo: cover, Death of a Serpent. Design, Derek Murphy

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