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The Venetian Pajama Party

As I’d strolled along by the Grand Canal, I hadn’t noticed them until it was too late. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why this masked, black silk pajama clad, duo were brandishing nastily improvised gondola poles and doing a graceful, but menacing, dance around me. I didn’t, for a moment, believe this was just some street theatre staged by buskers. It was far too sinister.

Pasting on a sickly tourist smile, I feebly waved my camera at them hoping they’d realize I was just another harmless Venice visitor . My Italian sucked, at the best of times, so I stuck with English.

“Can I take your picture?”

The spewed vitriol, from the one on the left, informed me they weren’t locals either. Not because I understood what was said but it definitely didn’t have the flair of a romance language. The one on the right hooked my camera strap with their pole, wrenched it away and catapulted it into the canal.

“Hey! That’s my brand new camera I bought for my holiday! How dare you!”

Their embroidered costumes made the scenario feel fantastical and I plunged into a fit of outrage far beyond my defensive or offensive abilities. I swung my oversized handbag at the camera thief with gusto. I clocked her, solidly, on the left ear and was shocked when pajama girl crumpled like a crepe paper bag. I’d forgotten about the Murano glass souvenir I’d bought and socked away in my purse. The weight of it made my bag more of a weapon than a carryall. Now, I felt a degree of armed menace which ramped up my warrior persona.

I began to hop about waving my purse and screeching unintelligible wavering whoops akin to those desert divas I so admired. With a deft toe kick, I swept the prostrate villain into the canal. Then, with my dander still raging, I turned to face the other aggressor who was gaping at me dumbstruck.

AYeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYee! AyeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYee!

I lunged forward completely forgetting the bayoneted pole as I danced, with dervish glee, still warbling.

AYeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYee! AyeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYee!

I boldly swung my purse once again but missed by a mile.

AYeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYee! AyeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYee!

Now I was in maniac mode and hopping around like a demented pelican.

AYeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYee! AyeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYee!

Pajama girl was transfixed and I lunged again, swiping at the pole with my trusty bag. I hit it with such force, it was wrenched from her grip and it clattered along the smooth tile coming to rest ten feet away.

AYeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYee! AyeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYee! AyeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYeeYee!

My last gasp of whoops galvanized pajama girl into action. She shrieked, turned tail and ran off with her black silk ribbons fluttering.

Shedding hot tears of relief, I collapsed, onto the cool marble step of the bridge, and dug into my bag to inspect my Murano glass savior. It was intact and, for the first time, I noticed the orange salamander curled up deep inside my fiery treasure.


[499 words excluding title]

Penelope Allen
May 4, 2011

Grand Canal
Murano Glass
The Fire Salamader Myth

------
"Tigers bloom where there's oodles of room." Zodiac Zoo


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Comments

The following comments are for "Can You?"
by Pen

Pen's story
Hi Pen, I liked the way your heroine used her purse as a weapon to ward off the duo. I think that's logical and definitely realistic. I liked your descriptive prose.
My questions are: Would a glass souvenir break if it hit something or are you thinking of something pretty solid? And what is the significance of the orange salamander to the story? I'm unfamiliar with the reference and would need more info.
As to Dave's question Did she? I think you are successful!
thanks,
Sandra

( Posted by: sandra [Member] On: May 5, 2011 )

Sandra
As to your question about the glass object - no, it wouldn't be likely to break as Murano glass pieces are often solid .. like a paperweight. Some of the pieces are large and glass is heavy. I provided a Murano glass link.

I bought two Murano glass cats when I was in Venice in 2009 but it wouldn't have made a good weapon because they are figurines.

As to your question about the salamander .. check the last reference link I provided at the bottom. I'm a huge fan of glass and knew about the salamander story so all I needed was to find a suitable link.

Your Opera killers, the masks, the poles all made me think of Venice so I'll give you a shout out thank you for getting me to this story idea.

( Posted by: Pen [Member] On: May 5, 2011 )

Pen
Hi Pen, Thanks for pointing out the links! So I would interpret that the salamander 'appeared' in the fiery treasure parallels the creation myth of salamanders created when glass blowers stoked their ovens for 7 days and nights. And is also a symbol of fire, an element that can put out fire (or danger in this case). This changes the realism of the story which was my first impression to a new one incorporating myth.

I'm glad my story gave you some ideas. Water is another part of both our stories. Your character's camera and my character's foe both ended up in water.

thanks for enlightening me,
Sandra

( Posted by: sandra [Member] On: May 5, 2011 )

@Everyone
Ahh, here we have another entry in the Can You? Challenge. So again, I pose the question to all of my lit.org brothers and sisters...

Did she?

In this wordslingers opinion, she most certainly did. A little luck, mixed with our masked villains surprise at the "hero's" ferocity got her out of the jam I wrote her into.

At first I was little put off by how easily the two antagonists were caught off guard, but if you notice when you read my original scenario, I never said that these two were actually skilled, I said they were twirling the staffs with what looked like skill.

Kudos to Pen for a job very well done!

Pen did it,

Can you?


Dave

( Posted by: HeRoCoMpLeX [Member] On: May 7, 2011 )

fantasy/reality
Dave, when presenting a scenario for someone else to 'play' with .. creative elements enter another realm.

I found your setting 'realistic' and flexible enough to change into something I could relate to. The fantasy element I incorporated was the salamander within the glass. I liked that both flash fiction stories used reptiles.

I will attest to the fact that anyone who acts - outside of what's expected has an element of surprise. On two occasions, my life was threatened and both times I behaved in a manner that was outside of what my antagonizer[s] considered predictable ....
I also know that an individual is capable of incredible strength when in peril.

I also know anyone who acts insane has an uncanny ability to unnerve an opponent. Often people who look at me see someone who's harmless .. until it's too late. Quite honestly, I've surprised myself which was a very good thing.

( Posted by: Pen [Member] On: May 7, 2011 )

Venetian Blinded!
Ouch! Sandra's ninja is tough, but I won't anger you, either, especially around federal election time. All those "AYEYEEYEEYEES!" If the hard Murano glass didn't get 'em, you've forever destroyed their eardrums. Luved it! - Jim

( Posted by: JamesYoung [Member] On: May 7, 2011 )

Jim
Thanks .. I really love those desert women who vocalize those battle cries .. fantastic .. would scare the bejesus out of anyone ...

( Posted by: Pen [Member] On: May 7, 2011 )

hurray for the tourist
Nice work Pen, believable and good action.

A few things I noticed:

first paragraph, instead of "nastily" should it read "hastily"? It would make more sense to me.

And "crepe paper bag" I think would be a smoother descriptive to just say "paper bag".

Nice piece of flash

BW

( Posted by: BWOz [Member] On: May 8, 2011 )

Brian
thanks for popping by ... I appreciate your input. However, 'nastily' conveys that the gondola poles have been altered to weapons. hastily wouldn't work. I too thought about crumpled like a crepe paper bag but I decided on - crumpled like crepe paper - which is original and has an alliteration which always delights me .... I've changed it on my computer draft but didn't want to take it out of circulation here. Thanks!

( Posted by: Pen [Member] On: May 8, 2011 )





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