Robert was so lost in his thoughts, he hardly noticed the bull-of-a-man storming towards him, and he didn’t see the man’s giant fist until it slammed into his face. There was a moment of excruciating pain followed by a sense of falling. Then, there was nothing.
Pitch-black. Voices muttered in the darkness, but he couldn’t hear them clearly because of the drums pounding in his head. Memories of an angry face and a violent fist flashed through his mind. Someone had hit him! Now, he was lying on his back on the hard pavement, his body aching from the fall. Why he’d been attacked, he had no idea, but Robert thought it best to remain still for awhile. Light began to filter through his fluttering eyelids, and the voices became clearer.
“You idiot, this is not one of the men I described to you. He looks nothing like either of them.” It was a woman’s voice. Angry, yet cool and controlled. Wait a minute, he thought. She was speaking Italian, yet he understood her. He had tried to learn a few of the basic phrases for the trip, but nothing like this. How was it possible that he knew what she was saying?
“You said he was wearing a blue shirt and had black hair,” a husky, male voice responded defensively.
“And tall, you imbecile. Over six feet. And Italian. This poor fellow isn’t six feet tall, and he certainly is not Italian.” The woman’s voice again. Even more furious than before.
“Okay, I’m sorry. It sure looked like the guy you described.” The husky voice grew reticent.
Robert opened his eyes fully and found himself looking up at a crowd of curious onlookers. At first, the faces were blurred, but as his eyesight cleared, he saw the flawless vision of an angel floating before him. The vision belonged to a young woman kneeling beside him. For a moment, he thought he was in heaven and the saintly woman had come to rescue him.
“You look like an angel,” he murmured, giving voice to his ruminations. He realized he spoke to her in English. He didn’t seem capable of thinking or speaking in Italian, even though he’d understood every word she said.
The woman smiled at his unexpected comment, and her face blossomed like a glorious, summer morning. What an elegant face it was! Delicate, pale lips, high cheek bones, a slightly upturned nose, all framed in a wreath of lustrous, black hair. And skin so finely ingrained it appeared translucent. By her looks, he estimated her to be in her early twenties, but she was so poised he couldn’t be certain. He was starting to feel foolish lying there on his back, but when he tried to rise, sirens blared inside his head.
“He’s waking up,” she announced in Italian to the crowd. Then, in English, “Please accept my apologies for my brother’s stupid behavior. He mistook you for someone else.”
Venice Lost - Excerpt
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