Let me try to explain…

Being by yourself can be lovely, when the sun is shining and there isn't too much wind.

Being by yourself can be great, if the sun is shining and there isn’t too much wind.

Several readers have written their reactions to my post about Ricky.  And in answering them, I have sifted through my brain and realize that I neglected stressing some important points in my account of the hideous homicide, the main point being why I wrote about it at all.

I let myself get somewhat carried away by the grisly details (like every reporter currently working in Venice, evidently — the newspapers have surrendered entire pages to this epic). That was wrong.

The reason I did this was because (A) like almost everybody, I’m fascinated in a repulsive way by stories like this, but (B) more to the point, I reacted to him as somebody I sort of know.

Venice is a village, as I often point out, and you get caught up in dramatic stories involving people you know, or (more often) to people known by people you know.  Ricky is only ten years younger than Lino, and his family home was a few doors down from where Lino lived. They’d see each other here and there, and while he was obviously somewhat unbalanced even when young, Ricky was just part — obviously a somewhat unusual part — of the neighborhood.

Lino says Ricky had a generous streak (the Mestre neighbors keep repeating how he always tried to do things for people).  Lino remembers one day he was slaving away in his boat, trying to get the outboard motor to start.  Ricky stops and says “Hey, I’ve got a motor inside.  Come get it, you can borrow it.  You can have it.”  Lino didn’t take the motor, but he remembers the offer.

The story continues to unfold, producing more terrifying details, but I’m not going to repeat them because what it is is sad sad sad.  I didn’t make that clear.  He was born crazy, and he has spent his life either struggling against his craziness or sometimes giving in.  This is not an excuse, but everyone quoted in these endless articles talks about what a solitary person he was. He was “tremendously alone,” as one person put it; he didn’t have anybody watching out for him. Whether or not you’re taking your meds, loneliness is a killer.

No more about Ricky from me, unless it’s something we all need to know.  Of course I feel bad for the woman and her family, but I also feel bad for uno dei nostri — one of ours.

IMG_1004.JPG alone



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  1. Steve Rauworth says:

    Of course you need to keep your readership in mind, but I don’t think you need to apologize. It happened, you gave a direct, refreshingly non-accusatory account, and I for one liked it.

  2. Janet Rant says:

    I love all your writing, and found your piece about Ricky sympathetic and personal.

  3. Rosalind says:

    That story is one I very definitely skimmed over when I checked Il Gazzettino on my smartphone recently (not difficult since reading in Italian requires more concentration than English).

    I often feel like Vianello in the Donna Leon books who seems to be a compulsive reader and then always regrets it! But it is useful practice and, together with your excellent blog, allows me to keep up with what is happening in Venice.

  4. John Flint says:

    Homo sum; nihil humani a me alienum puto (I am a human being, and deem nothing that relates to humanity foreign to my feelings), wrote Terence, the Roman dramatist, and no doubt this is echoed by many journalists. Perhaps we could rephrase the quote to read “Venice is part of me, and nothing that relates to Venice ..

    I think many of us will admit to a frisson of fascination with horror tales – it sells newspapers, books, and movies, after all. What this means about the human psyche, I don’t know. Could it even be part of a search for meaning?

    Anyway, like many of your readers, I so appreciate being kept up with Venice in such a brilliant way. It’s as if we were there.