I just passed myself gliding by in a black gondola.
The unimaginable has happened. I, Carla Adelasia Menotti, just encountered an identical Carla Adelasia Menotti, smiling menacingly at me from a black-draped gondola. She was not l’imitatore, the impersonator who has become famous for imitating me. She was not an adoring fan dressed up as me. She was – and I do not and cannot lie – me. I was close enough to touch her. When our boats were side by side, she lunged for me, but I drew away in horror. If she ever succeeds in touching me, I am fini.
As soon as she passed us, I start with the questions. “Did you see her?” I ask my gondolier Marco, a family friend who doubles as my bodyguard. He looks at me in surprise. “I saw nothing,” he insists. “Who wants me dead?” “No one, signora. You are beloved by the world.” He has been trained to flatter me, but this time I want the truth. “Perhaps that evil man, my husband? He has always been jealous of my popularity. Perhaps he wants the fame for himself.” “He is devoted to you. As we all are, bella.” Sometimes Marco is too familiar, but right now I could use a little adoration. I give him a radiant smile.
I relax a little, trailing my slim, elegant fingers in the water. We’re on our way to a private film screening. Everyone who matters will be there. As always, I will be the unsurpassed star. Perhaps I’m just a bit nervous, imagining things. That gondola – it didn’t exist, did it? I look up and down the canal and see nothing but the usual tourists and city travelers. I breathe a sigh of relief. We’re almost to the landing. Then, from nowhere, a splashing of oars, my own throaty laugh.
“Holy Mother of God! Faster, Marco, faster!” He tries, but cannot escape the black spectre, my dark twin. The funeral-draped gondola is inches away.
Carla Adelasia Menotti leans forward to touch me. “Padre nostro, che sei nei cieli,” I pray frantically, pleading.