Wet to the skin and weeping

Paolo rode his bici to the Institute that evening, though better with his umbrella he had walked, as only minutes from the apartment in via Ghibellina it began to rain like it does in November in Firenze, dutifully and raw. Coming to the river at the ponte alle Grazie, he was already wet to the skin and shivering, wet to the skin and weeping, like one might while pedaling into a cold wind, though it wasn’t the wind now but what he uncovered a few hours before when he’d looked into one of Whitney’s notebooks and read that she was fucking someone called M in the stacks at the biblioteca nationale—at the biblioteca and elsewhere he was quite sure. His whole center ached, from shoulder to shoulder, neck to navel, and his reflex was as predictable as it was foolish, to break it all down like it was just another complex mathematical object, break it all down into its most basic components to see how it added up. He was a smart one, Paolo Donati, yes, but there is smart and then there is smart; it just wasn’t the right domain for such operations. So along the lungarno he flew like a wraith through the dark, past the ponte vecchio, then down behind the palazzi along borgo Jacobo.

The Italian Novel

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