The past sitting right in front of me


IMG_2260 sky

By which I do not mean palaces and churches.

I mean the white-haired lady facing me on the vaporetto Sunday evening.

We were sitting on the two seats facing backward.  A pair of  older ladies occupied the two seats facing forward.  Our knees were not touching because we’re all too polite for that.

These ladies might have been somewhere in their seventies, though the one directly before me seemed slightly younger. They were both dressed as any reasonably well-to-do Venetian women dress — clothes of normal value and subdued colors.

I sometimes let myself glance at the lady in front of me because she had a lovely silk scarf draping her neck.  It was a soft white with an even softer pink border, with some sort of little figures scattered across it (butterflies?  flowers?). I reflected on how flattering pink can be, if it’s just the right shade.

The ladies clearly knew each other, though they exchanged only a few words occasionally; otherwise they looked tranquilly at nowhere as we rumbled along across the dark water.

At the Zattere stop, both women stood up and got off together.

Lino said:  “Did you notice the woman in front of you?”

I nodded.

“She used to live in my neighborhood — her son was in class with Marco (Lino’s son).”  This would have been about 40 years ago.

So far, so not very remarkable. Lino is always seeing people he used to know, and sometimes still does.

“Her son had one leg shorter than the other,” Lino continued.  “But really shorter” — he indicated a distance of six inches, which I hope was an exaggeration. “He had to wear a big heavy shoe.

“One day her son went on a camping trip with some other boys; he was around ten or 12 years old then.  One of the bigger boys tried to sodomize him (“spaccare il culo“).  He fought back, and so the boy killed him.”


“How?” I asked.

“Stabbed him to death.”


“She took such good care of him,” Lino said.  “When he was really little, she’d carry him to school.”

“Did she recognize you?” I asked.

“Of course,” Lino replied. “The woman with her is her sister-in-law.”

The conversation ended there, and so does this post.  There is nothing I can say that deserves to be written here, so I won’t.


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Categories : Venetian-ness


  1. Carey Oh Blanks
    Twitter: ohsocosie

    WOW that really stopped me. It is past any sensible comment. I don/t know what you would call one of these ‘moments’. I LOVE your posts!

  2. Debi says:

    wow, I did not see this coming when I started reading this blog..