She turned down the darkened street and almost tripped over a lump at her feet. At first she thought it was just another beggar, an old man who might at any moment spring up and start screaming at her in a Sicilian dialect.
There was no way around it, though. She would just have to walk on by. She caught movement out of the corner of her eye and then she breathed a sigh of relief.It was just another malnourished dog, a little brown and white mutt. She couldn't even bear to look into its pleading eyes, begging for food, for water, for love, for a home.
She glanced away and, from above, a stone gargoyle grimaced down at her. For a moment she thought he might fall and crash on her head.
She stepped off the narrow cobblestones and into the main road at the same time a motorcycle sped by, missing her by mere inches. She held her handbag against her ribs. She knew that the driver may try to grab it as had happened yesterday.
She slipped into the shelter of the shadowy alleyway. Was this the right place? In Palermo it was hard to tell. All alleys looked alike, an entanglement of small, irregular squares, black and narrow walkways, leading to dark stone structures.
No, she was in the right place. Above her a string of laundry - a tablecloth, a beige shirt, two pair of old lady panties blew in the breeze. And a bright red blanket flapped angrily.
She took a few steps and then looked around.
The alley was completely deserted.