I had time to fill in waiting for Rinaldo to show up. In this part of the story, I think about a strange happening on San Marco, which you can read about in The Drawing Lesson, the first in the Trilogy of Remembrance by my creator Mary E. Martin. Lots of people speak about the relationship between an author and his or her characters. Some time I will tell you about the complex relationship between a character and the writer from the character’s perspective. Quite different picture!
But I digress!
Have you ever wondered why a particular person is in your life? Once in awhile someone invades your existence and it seems as if it’s for a special purpose. No, it’s often not a pleasant experience, but somehow, it seems necessary. I believe that’s how I feel about my friend,Rinaldo.
Take a look at these two statues from the ancient city of Corinth. It was entitled Nemesis, Goddess of Vengeance and Balance in the Universe. Don’t they look ever vigilant—for the least imbalance? That’s Rinaldo. And if he cannot find imbalance, rest assured he’ll do his best to create it.
It’s rather complicated but, despite his antics, I feel drawn to him—and mildly sorry for him. Of the two of us, I believe he is the more driven— gripped by anger and the need for revenge. I prefer a quieter, more detached life.
With most of the day to fill until I could meet him at the Vivaldi Museum, I began to wander aimlessly about Venice. I returned to San Marco where I sat down in a café and ordered a latte.
Suddenly, it struck me that I was staring out onto the precise location of an inexplicable event which took place on my last trip to Venice.
I had been with Daphne, my muse, that afternoon. I told you about her earlier. She was concerned about her chance meeting with Penelope, the mother of the little boy who was stolen. She feared that the woman had drowned herself in the Grand Canal and so we returned to San Marco where she insisted she could see a body floating not far from shore.
She was right. At our urging, the boatmen recovered the body. Not Penelope—but an old man.
The gondolier gave a bird-like cry. “Look at his mouth!”
I bent closer. A fine silver chain hung from the blue lips of the drowned man. “What on earth…?” The gondolier reached down and tugged gently on the chain.
From the dead man’s lips slid what looked like a beautiful watch fob.
The boatmen gasped and crossed themselves.
I asked, “Why are you so frightened?”
The boatmen began to chatter. “It is a sign. The people are right. The man is evil. For years he has walked the calles speaking to no one. When people play tricks on him, he chase them and shout.”
“That’s surprising?” I asked. “Naturally, he would be angry.”
One of the boatmen stepped forward. “You do not understand, signor. He place curses on the children. We must protect…”
Immediately, I thought—Ignorance and fear. I opened the watch, but it was actually a compass, in a beautifully scrolled silver case. Its face was made of gleaming white pearl and it had delicate, silver hands. Ah yes! The direction of life!
At last, when the police officers arrived, one of them said, “L’estraneo! This old man is the outsider, the stranger. His eyes frightened many and so they played tricks on him—mostly mischief, but he harmed no one.”
Sadly, I reflected upon the fate of those driven from, or those who held themselves apart from normal society. I could not help but think of Rinaldo.
You can see a little of this scene with the old man and the compass in
Now I know that many new art movements have been provoked by people just like Rinaldo—the outsider, the one who sticks his thumb in the establishment’s eye. One school of art holds sway for a year or two—or for a century or more. And then, the inevitable occurs. The old style is exhausted. And new ideas take root.
Perhaps that’s why I have a certain affinity for my nemesis. Perhaps he is in my life for an important purpose. You know—the idea of the thorn in the side which is meant to tell you something—but what?