Stuyvesant managed to get his feet to the carpet, waiting out the secondary explosion inside his skull before he rose to stumble a path through discarded clothing to the corner basin. The water was disgustingly warm, but he drank a glass anyway, then bent to let the tap splash over his face and hair. He wrestled with the aspirin bottle for an hour or so, palmed three pills and washed them down with a second glass, then reached out to part the curtains a fraction.
A dizzying panorama of rooftops: tiles and tin, brick and timber, steeples and drying laundry; centuries of chimneypots, with a narrow slice of stone magnificence in the distance. Children’s voices and taxi horns competed with a tram rattle from the rue de Rennes and a neighbor’s accordion, mournfully wading through a lively tune. His nose filled with the pervasive stink of an unemptied septic tank.