Venice is a kind of magic city, where the Grand Canal reflects its near impossible beauty. The water seems like theme park water, shallow and glassy, uninhabitable, a steampunky green Jules Verne imagined color, like 20,000 leagues below, you might meet a giant octopus. I ride the vaporetto like any typical tourist, hanging onto the sides of the water bus for dear life, the whipping wet wind battering my weather ravaged face as I pathetically try to take iphone pictures of my commute with one hand.
One early evening, the rain had stopped, and I took to the streets using the canal to guide me. Everyone was walking, with fanny packs and their damp city maps out, but they still had umbrellas in hand, swinging them willy nilly. I saw a boy seemingly alone, maybe 4 or 5 years old, yet very small for his age, not even as tall as his umbrella, and he held it horizontally, making a eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh noise with it, banging the pointed end against the wall. He looked as if he were drilling the wall, but then he moved, pointing the umbrella not towards the wall but towards people, me. He continued to make the rhythmic sound, and I realized, in horror and shock, that the umbrella was not supposed to be a drill, but a machine gun.
A tall woman appeared, flapping her city map like one wrinkled wing, scooping the boy up into her long arms, and he, now with an improved vantage point, continued his imagined shooting at the tourists he could not reach before.
Here, even in this paradise of art and food, of Vin Santo and Casanova, pizza and piazzas – there is this. I thought it was cute, in a way, but then an entire plate full of the most delicious linguini vongole couldn’t erase the coldness, the strangeness of the boy’s impassive yet determined face. I swirled the pasta in my fork, trying to turn myself away, out of the memory.