It was not the sharp pain that woke Leonardo, but the sound of his nose being broken: a clean snap without an echo, like a stick breaking. Stunned, he opened his eyes, but barely had time to recognize the leaden first light of daybreak between the branches before something hard and hollow hit him on the cheekbone. As he sank into darkness he heard Lucia cry out. Opening his left eye, he saw her on all fours being dragged along by a man with an antique-looking rifle in his free hand.
“Lucia!” he tried to yell, but blood filled his mouth and turned her name into an incomprehensible choking sound. Then someone grabbed him by the collar. He kicked out in an effort to break free, but with the speed of someone who has done nothing else all his life, the man tied his head against the tree behind him with two turns of wire, forced his arms behind his back and bound his wrists together. Leonardo felt his shoulder pop out of joint. He shrieked. Someone kicked him in the mouth, breaking several teeth.
When he opened his eyes again, a youth with blond hair was crouching beside him, his face a few centimeters from Leonardo’s. His hair was divided by a central parting and he had the nut-colored eyes of a young dog. Two glossy black marks on his cheeks looked as if they had been made with pitch or tempera. He had no eyebrows.
Leonardo began to say something, but the boy was too quick for him.
“Take it easy,” he said in a friendly voice.
Excerpted from The Last Man Standing by Davide Longo. Copyright © 2013 by Davide Longo. Excerpted by permission of MacLehose Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.