Venice (Fragment #02)

She sits on the terrace and orders a coffee. I don’t hear it, but I know her habit. Usually, she sits there twice a week, always for a coffee. The Ogio doesn’t serve coffee, only meals, but at that early hour the complicity with the neighbourhood prevails. She lives around the corner, I’m not sure if it’s the second or third door.

The waiter brings her coffee and she returned it with a smile, with that smile. From my bedroom window I can only see half of the terrace, but she always sits on that side. We’ve crossed paths a few times, but I’ve never had the courage to say a word to her. The last time, a fortnight ago, was in the bookshop on Calle de l’Ogio, that is called Del Cafetier. Immersed in the bookshelves filled with spines, between dreams and travels, I awoke to another dream when she passed by me and threw me a smile and a hello. I was speechless, dumbfounded.

Whenever our paths have crossed, I never knew what to say, how to start a dialogue, without that fear that some repulsive nonsense might come out of my mouth. But today I know what to say to her. That day, in the bookshop, I noticed that she bought a book by Boris Vian, Autumn in Peking. I looked through my boxes and bookshelves and found it. My French edition of L’Arrache-Coeur. I left it perched on the table in the entryway, waiting for the moment she would sit down at the Ogio.

I rush out of the house, with the book in hand. In a few seconds I walk from Calle Colombina to Canale di Cannaregio. I look ahead. I see her sitting and her reflection in the water. I follow the Fondamenta Savorgnane, the Fondamenta Venier, at a hasty pace, to the right. At the Palazzo Manfrin’s door, a group of people block my way. I manage to sneak between arms, ladies’ wallets and comments on the Anish Kapoor exhibition. Now comes the hardest part, crossing the Ponte delle Guglie. Damn tourists (I should have gone the other way, over the Ponte dei Tre Archi), it takes me forever to get through selfies, trolleys, staring imbeciles. I hear comments in languages I don’t know, but guessing interjections at my rough passage. I leave the comments behind, plus the bridge and the selfies. I turn left on the Fondamenta Cannaregio. Fortunately, there are few tourists on this side and I can creep along more quickly. A few minutes later I arrive at the Ogio. The terrace is empty. The last table is empty. Only an empty coffee cup and a two-euro coin remain as traces.

I look across the canal. I see my bedroom window, so close.

Carlos Norton

Published on 21-11-2022

Technical File


Sound recorded with Roland CS-10 EM binaurals

Venice (09.09.22 ; 07:17)

45º 26′ 39,43”N ; 012º 19′ 26,70”E

Recording by the Canale di Cannaregio, morning movement.

To know more:

The Neighbour in Front (5 Neighbours in 5 Fragments)

Ficheiros audio

O Vizinho da Frente em Veneza


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