Every issue of The Official Ferrari Magazine carries a short story featuring a Ferrari. Written by international authors, their inspiration comes from the design of the car, its colour or technical features. Here Wulf Dorn, the best-selling German writer well-known for his psychological thrillers, is fascinated by a brand new SF90 Stradale and a little black horse that happens to be facing in the wrong direction...
Here I am then, sitting in this foreign sportscar, asking myself whether or not I’ve gone crazy. Spread open on my lap is the notebook with the enigmatic word in it – the one that has been underlined several times. The word seems to be jumping off the page at me: Loranello. No, I am not crazy: I am possessed. This missing person case won’t give me peace. So far, none of my investigations have led anywhere. There’s neither corpse nor clue. As if Lorenzo Spotti had just dissolved into thin air. Two weeks ago the Carabinieri found his abandoned car on a country road in the middle of nowhere. Obviously, my colleagues had noticed the car straight away. It is a Ferrari after all. And you don’t just up and leave a brand new SF 90 Stradale sitting by the side of the road. Spotti must have had a reason to do so. But what, though?
My father used to drive a Ferrari, a Dino. He used to treat it with fastidious care and respect, as if it were a living being. He would never have left it somewhere just like that. On the contrary, he would often tell me: “You can drive any car to reach your destination, but only a Ferrari will give you that unique feeling when it takes you to the place you want to reach”.
So I ask myself: where had the Stradale taken Spotti that day? His notebook, found in the glove compartment, yields more questions than answers. The words‚ ‘you’ and ‘life’ recur throughout. Spotti is, or was, 73 years old and, according to his doc- tor, his health was not good. But what on God’s green Earth is it with the map he has drawn on the first page?
Spotti’s sketch indicates the country road where his car was found, and a place called Loranello on that exact same spot. Only, there is no such place. Neither there nor anywhere else.
Which is no less enigmatic than the Cavallino Rampante on Spotti’s car: this particular little horse is prancing to the right instead of toward the left-hand side. As though seen in a mirror. At Ferrari they told me this is just not possible. After all, there’s only one Ferrari logo, and it’s known all over the world. Still, the logo on Spotti’s Ferrari is mysteriously inverted.
If there’s anything good about this case, it is that it takes my mind off Chiara. I miss my wife so much it hurts. We could have been so happy together, had that wretched cancer not taken her young life two years ago. Again I focus on the car and on Spotti. It might sound crazy, but could I perhaps find the answer to his disappearance if I tried to retrace his last route?
So I push the start button. At once the electric motor jolts to life. Softly, almost floating, I glide away from the police station, and merge into traffic. My very special car attracts gazes from all around, from passersby and drivers alike. They are looks of longing, as if they too were craving that special feeling, the one my father told me about. The one that I myself am now experiencing. A feeling that is best captured in words like ‘cutting loose’, and ‘freedom’. As if the world beyond the dashboard might suddenly change.
Leaving the city behind, I pick up some speed. As it soars above the 75mph mark, the electric mode is substituted by a powerful engine roar. The acceleration pushes me back into the leather seat, and I feel my heart beating faster. Did the same thing happen to Spotti? Did he too get this special feeling?
I glance over at the notebook sketch. The road to follow leads up to the mountains, where I eventually reach the last stretch of his route. The airstream plays around with my hair, and yes, just like Lorenzo Spotti I too am now thinking about youth and life.
How I would have loved to share this moment with Chiara!
The mountain pass road is winding its way up ahead, and the world now seems far removed, even somewhat unreal to me. Nothing counts but this very moment, the ride and the lust for speed. It’s almost like dreaming.
Eventually I reach the road up on the plateau. From here it’s just a few more miles to the spot where the abandoned car was found. The point at which Spotti marked a location that does not exist.
Or does it? Am I seeing houses over there? Yes, and a church steeple too, sticking out into the cloudless blue sky.
I drive toward the white houses, as they gleam in the sunlight, bright and inviting. And then I find myself passing by the town sign: Loranello.
Now I’m driving past front lawns in full bloom, quaint little shops and a Trattoria. People are waving at me, looking friendly. Nice, young people. Laughing children are playing on the village green. I come to a stop on the white-paved piazza, next to the marble fountain. As I step out of the car, some people turn to look at me. They smile, as if they are glad to see me. “Oh, so it’s you then”, says a male voice from behind. I turn around and I am looking at the face of a young man I’ve never seen before. But there’s something strangely familiar in his eyes. “Nice that you’ve found me,” he says, with a handshake: “I am Lorenzo Spotti”.
“That’s just not possible”, I counter. “Spotti is an older man.”
“Not anymore, he isn’t” he says, smiling. “We’re on the other side of the mirror here. In this place, our innermost dreams come true. Yours included.” He points across the piazza, and my heart explodes. That’s Chiara standing there! She is every bit as stunning as I remember her. And she steps toward me, overjoyed. My mind is doubtful, but my heart is not. I walk toward her, then hold her in my arms.
“I’ve missed you so much,” I whisper, squeezing her tightly in a hug.
“Now you’ve found me,” she answers. “We’ll be together forever here”.
Lorenzo Spotti has a twinkle in his eye. “See, it’s up to us to make our dreams come true. All we have to do is show our heart the right way.”
Chiara takes me by the hand. “Come on”, she says, “let’s go home.” As I follow her, I look back once more at the mysterious Stradale, the car that had brought me here. I wonder about the person who will end up finding the abandoned car by the side of the country road. Who knows, we might even bump into each other here some day. Here, on the other side of the mirror. In Loranello.
German author Wulf Dorn is best known for his psychological thrillers and mysteries (‘Trigger’, ‘Phobia’). His novels have sold over three million copies, being translated into various languages. His numerous awards include France’s prestigious Prix Polar award for Crime novels. Before becoming a writer he worked for twenty years as a psychiatric therapist. His new novel ‘Dunkle Begleiter’ (‘Dark Companion’) is published by Random House this June.