Immediately Kerry knew something was wrong. At worst, she had expected a Splat! Norman often turned round to whomever he was talking to - lecturing to, mostly - during these visits to the historical sites of Europe. That accounted for his tendency to trip and fall; if he found himself lecturing to someone from higher up on a staircase, for example.
Norman had splatted before, of course. On their first trip to Rome, the Colosseum had cost Kerry two hours of constant worry – all those holes, all over the place. But nothing upsetting had happened after all, if we except the reaction of the howling native infant Norman had started lecturing about proper behavior in public places. The baby had stopped crying, mesmerized by Norman’s voice and raised forefinger. Then, it had responded with a very loud burp. Norman had expected an apology from the parents, and had been very upset when they had laughed loudly instead and walked off with a friendly wave.
This time, Kerry did not have to worry about holes in the wall; but this particular monument offered more staircases that she expected Norman to successfully manage backwards. Kerry could well have helped him up or down any set of ancient stairs, as it pertained to a wife many years his junior. But she had learned that any attempt to do just that was bound to make him very sour. “I don’t need any props, my young Kerry; not yet. No matter what you may think.”
This particular set of stairs, now, led down. She had refrained from interfering, and watched him continue with his lecture-in-reverse; until he had suddenly disappeared at the end of the stairs, as if swallowed by the ground.
Venice was, indeed, so full of surprises, Kerry thought. The museum keeper had warned them, indeed, not to walk down that particular corridor; which was precisely why Norman had decided to take to it the very minute the keeper had disappeared to answer the phone back at the reception desk. It was after hours. The museum had stayed open for the two of them and the two of them alone, upon Signor Donadoni’s very special intercession.
Down the corridor had ventured Norman immediately, and then down those stairs; turning round to talk, enlightening ‘my poor naive Kerry’ on how the very fact that the keeper had wanted them away from that spot with the stairs suggested that something very special was to be found there, well hidden from the eyes of the common tourist.
published 2 Aug 2011