From his window on the fourth floor of Palazzo Chigi, he watches the skyline blacken, and feels the same stirrings of anxiety he’d experienced as a boy when he’d sensed a storm blowing in across the Aeonian sea. It is time to make the call, but he lingers at the window and tracks the shifting scents moving up from the garden below. The charged air runs across his skin, stirs his hair. In the garden the blossom is newly out, but he sees it hours from now, broken and battered by the rains, smashed into a thousand pieces against the stone. He closes his eyes and tastes the earth as it releases its ripeness, hears the pounding torrents as they tear the pavements, feels the Tiber on his lips, in his nose, as it breaks its banks and engulfs the city — all the filth of Rome momentarily washed away.
He crosses his office to the oak desk at its centre. Three telephones face him, but he pulls a mobile from his pocket followed by a scrap of paper. He carefully punches in the number, arthritic fingers struggling with the tiny keys. It has been a long time.
It rings just twice. ‘Garramone.’ It is a hard voice. Thirty years later, and the boy is now a man, tired and beaten by a life of work.
‘Don’t know a Pino.’
A pause: ‘Think back, to Gela.’
Silence, then a whisper: ‘Pino? That Pino?’ He takes a moment.
‘Can we meet? I need your help.’
Hesitation and something else, maybe fear: ‘I work for the police now.’
He laughs, tightly and awkwardly. ‘But don’t you have a whole army? Secret Service, whoever you want?’
‘I want you, Garramone.’
Silence again, then a fragile breath: ‘When?’