I wait out the front of my Venetian hotel for a water taxi. I have most of my belongings in a small suitcase and a camera hanging around my neck. Suddenly a beautiful, tanned Italian girl approaches. Her English is perfect.
“Would you like me to take your photo?”
“Oh… Uh, no don’t worry, that’s okay.” I’m a nervous wreck around any pretty girl, especially this Venetian Venus incarnate.
She insists, and gently pries the camera from around my neck. “Oh really ma’am, please, I don’t feel…”
She takes a step back. And another… And another. And then she takes a few more steps around the corner and she’s gone.
“Signore! I see this happening.” Says a man in neat casual clothes. “Tourist police. I see your passport now. We make report. We get camera back.” The official sounding man holds out his hand. He wants to see my passport. I assume he’s some kind of undercover cop who babysits the foreigners discretely.
I’m flustered. “But, you see… I was… I need to get to…” He holds up his index finger as if to shush me.
“No no no. I see passport now. Make report. Return camera. Castigheremo il criminale.” I comply and present my passport. He takes it and begins leafing through the pages as he paces. He paces back and forth. He paces further away each time. His pacing accelerates to a gallop and he disappears around the corner.
My water taxi arrives at that moment and the driver is grumpy. He starts machine-gunning Italian expressions at me. I don’t understand a word. “English?” He asks. I nod. “You pay UP-FRONT.” He emphasises the words as if I can’t understand my own language. I hold open my wallet to show him the notes inside. “Take what you need.” I’m desperate to get to where I need to be.
He takes a quick look, wraps his hand around the entire wallet and jams the throttle forward. He’s left me at the dock. “I need to get to the hospital!” I scream after him. I’m defeated. I position myself to sit on my little suitcase and fall flat on the ground. My suitcase is gone too!
I guess I’ll just have to wait out my highly infectious stomach bug here on the cobblestones. I just hope that no one comes near me or touches anything I’ve touched lest they catch it themselves. “Excuse me sir, is everything alright?” Asks a uniformed police officer. “Actually, I think I need your help…”
Two days later, four criminals sit on toilets in their holding cells, violently evacuating their bowels. The Italian justice system will take a little longer to conclude, but the universe has already reached its verdict.