Trace Elements by Donna Leon

Trace Elements

Trace Elements by Donna Leon (Commissario Brunetti #29)
English | 2020 | Mystery | ePUB | 2.7 MB

Donna Leon is the author of the highly acclaimed, internationally bestselling Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series. The winner of the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, among other awards, Donna Leon lived in Venice for many years and now divides her time between Venice and Switzerland.

Thunder pealed beyond them, and they raised their hands to protect their ears. It was the motor of the crane on the boat. A black metal jaw stood in the centre of the deck, neck bent, giant mouth closed and resting.

They saw, inside a glass booth towards the prow, a man in dark blue overalls, a cigarette hanging from one side of his mouth, both hands busy with the knobs and levers before him. Returned to childhood glee, Brunetti stood transfixed by the wonder of it and by the desire for a job like that, so very close to play, but with oh, such power. Griffoni seemed equally rapt, though Brunetti doubted she longed for the job. Besides, it was unlikely that the city would hire a Neapolitan, a far greater handicap than being a woman.

Without speaking, they walked to the other side of the bridge and watched, silent, as the clenched steel teeth of the crane rose from the deck and angled out over the water. They opened, creating a hideous black maw of jagged teeth, then slowly sank to the surface of the water and disappeared below.

The man’s hands moved, and the long steel arm shifted minimally to the right, paused and seemed to shake about under the water, then began to rise. As it broke the greasy surface, Brunetti saw pieces of plastic, rubber, and metal hanging from the teeth: it looked like a particularly large Rottweiler eating a bowl of spaghetti. The long arm lifted and held the jaws in the air while water cascaded back into the canal, then swung to the front of the boat, already heaped with mud-smeared rubbish. It stopped just above the pile of trash and sludge. Slowly the jaws pulled open, and the junk inside crashed and clanged down on to the pile. A few small motions of the worker’s hands shook the last fragments free, and then the jaws swung back and sank again into the water.

They had not noticed a second worker standing on the riva with a shovel in his hands. As soon as the metal jaws moved away, he stepped on to a board running across the boat and smoothed out the pile of debris, shifting rotting plastic bags filled with bottles to the sides, shoving at a decomposing radio, the wheel of a bicycle, and some other objects too decayed to be identifiable.

They watched in companionable silence for a long time, neither wanting to start walking again, each convinced that only the other person could understand the joint pleasure to be had in watching the machine at work. Neither spoke, united in a strange intimacy.

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