Liontamer

December 17, 2009
It was a cold, biting day with drizzling rain when IT happened. Crazy Damian was pick-pocketing an unsuspecting tourist and the oldest, Raul was being his usual quiet, shy self shuffling around the gondolas. I, being the only girl, took care of my little brother Angelo near the winged lions that he loved. We were a little band of 5 thieves that lived in an unknown alley, tucked nicely in a crevice so we were dry and cozy. All of a sudden Angelo cried in surprise, causing the three of us to turn our heads to the spot that Angelo was pointing; Damian lost his concentration and let the tourist slip away, and Raul almost fell into the canal. I saw nothing… Oh. The winged lion was gone, nowhere to be seen. The people swarming around us didn’t seem to notice. I nudged Damian, “Is it just me, or is that lion gone?” “Uh, yeah, it’s gone. Poof! just like that.” He ruffled Angelo’s head that was buried in my shoulder. I shifted my weight. Raul was now slinking toward us; his eyes darting nervously told us what he felt.

Raul was the cold, quiet type that had suspicions about everyone, except us. He hardly said four words in one day. Damian played lots of tricks, stealing what we need. I never stole, being an example for little Angelo who has quite an attitude when he feels like it. I was strong-minded, stubborn, and athletic. We were all orphans or abandoned kids; we had found each other like this:
Raul was a little kid in an orphanage. He ran away after a beating from a Sister when he refused to say hello to an honored guest. He was starving in our present-day home with a puppy he’d found. Damian was abandoned by his mother in Italy, but made his way here to look for a long-dead (though he didn’t know it) relative. I… well, I had a mother, but she died a few months after giving birth to Angelo. She was part Spanish, but our dad, who was Italian, left us when I was little. I was wandering the streets of Venice, trying to keep away from a carabiniere or a policeman. I was running from a particular carabiniere, Raffael, into a dark alley, when Raul grabbed my wrist and jerked me into another alley, cupping his dirty hand over my mouth. I held onto Angelo tightly. I’d followed him around since, since he looked like he knew Venice like the back of his hand. I was following him when we found Damian, an orphan who was pick-pocketing to fend for himself. He’d been with a thief, but the thief died of pneumonia. He was huddled against the cold when I’d stopped Raul and touched the boy’s shoulder. His head had shot up, his face grimy and frowning. I asked if he’d like to join us, and he looked at us suspiciously and took my outstretched hand. I pulled him up and we were together ever since.

So we became a family to each other, filling up the missing members. I was the mom, Raul was the moody teenager, Damian was the dad with the “job” and Angelo was the family baby. So obviously, when we discovered the missing lions, we looked at each other and left, not wanting any attention, just in case. We sneaked away to our crevice we call home. It had ragged blankets laid on the floor, and a picnic-table cover over our heads to keep out rain that was constant here in Venice. I had a few books and a hoodie for cold days. Angelo had a quilted blanket and a few large sweaters. Raul kept his things hidden, but he owned a diary and pen he’d found on the floor in a campo, or market square. It could fit in your pocket with a red leather cover. He also had some clothes. Damian has candy stashed away in a hole somewhere on the wall above us. That’s all we have. We grew out of a few clothes, and the things we find on the floor of the campo go to our “treasury” where we later sell for money. We get along pretty well by ourselves. Well, we cozied up in our blankets and we each dug into our own deep thoughts. Then a tremendous roar loud enough to pop our eardrums sounded through our alley. We jumped in surprise, Raul bolting upright, hitting his head on the rod holding up the picnic cloth. It fell on us, hiding us from the monster, but the thundering pounds drew nearer and nearer, stopping right in front of us.





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