Rizzardi leaned over and picked up his bag. Hefting it, he said, 'I don't know why I always bring this with me. It's not as if I'm ever going to have to use it to save anyone.' He thought about this, shrugged, and said, 'Habit, I suppose.' He put out his hand, shook Brunetti's, and turned away.
Brunetti called to the technician who had taken the photos, 'When you get him to the hospital, would you take a couple of shots of his face from different angles and get them to me as soon as you've got them developed?'
'How many prints, sir?'
'A dozen of each.'
'Right. By tomorrow morning.'
Brunetti thanked him and waved over Alvise, who lurked just within earshot. 'Did anyone see what happened?' he asked.
'Who did you speak to?'
'A man,' Alvise answered, pointing in the direction of the church.
'What was his name?' Brunetti asked.
Alvise's eyes widened in surprise he could not disguise. After a pause so long that anyone else would have found it embarrassing, the officer finally said, 'I don't remember, sir.' At Brunetti's silence, he protested, 'He said he didn't see anything, Commissario, so I didn't need to take his name, did I?'
Brunetti turned to two white-coated attendants who were just arriving. 'You can take him to the Ospedale, Mauro,' he said. Then he added, 'Officer Alvise will go with you.'
Alvise opened his mouth to protest, but Brunetti forestalled him by saying, 'This way you can see if the hospital has admitted anyone with bullet wounds.' It was unlikely, given the apparent accuracy of the five shots that had killed the African, but at least it would free him of Alvise's presence.
'Of course, Commissario,' Alvise said, repeating his semi-salute. The officer watched as the two attendants stooped to pick up the body and place it on the stretcher, then led them back to their boat, walking purposefully, as though it was only through his intervention that they were sure of reaching it.
Turning, Brunetti called to a technician, who was now outside the taped circle, taking a close-up photo of the heel prints that led towards Rialto. 'Is Alvise the only one who came?'
'I think so, sir,' the man answered. 'Riverre was out on a domestic.'
'Has anyone tried to find out if there were any witnesses?' Brunetti asked.
The technician gave him a long look. 'Alvise?' was all he said before returning to his photos.
A group of teenagers stood against the wall of the garden. Brunetti approached them and asked, 'Did any of you see what happened here?'
'No, sir,' one of them said, 'we just got here now.'
Brunetti moved back to the cordoned area, where he saw three or four people. 'Were any of you here when it happened?' he asked.
Heads turned away, eyes glanced at the ground. 'Did you see anything at all?' he added, asking, not pleading.
A man at the back peeled himself away and started across the campo. Brunetti made no effort to stop him. As he stood there, the others dissolved until there was just one person left, an old woman who held herself upright only with the help of two canes. He knew her by sight, though she was usually in the company of two mangy old dogs. She balanced her right cane against her hip and beckoned him towards her. As he approached, he saw the wrinkled face, the dark eyes, the white bristles on her chin.
'Yes, Signora?' he asked. 'Did you see something?' Without thinking, he addressed her in Veneziano rather than Italian.
Copyright © 2005 by Donna Leon and Diogenes Verlag AG Zurich. Reprinted with permission from Grove Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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