The gondoliers weave among the drowned buildings of Manhattan with practised poles. The black-lacquered hulls catch the sparkle of the waves in the relentless sun, and the gargoyles of St. Peter's make convenient points to wind their lines around for docking.
She paces the widow's walk from end to end, waiting for that one black gondola to return. Boat after boat appears among the towers in the east, but not one of them is his.
Finally, she recognizes a small, shabby gondola bobbing slowly into view. It is not his, but she knows its pilot. She looks him a question as he draws close to her promenade.
"'Ee is wis se lady, signora," says Adolfo. She has never been able to decide whether Adolfo's accent is real or put on like his tasseled black vest.
She touches Adolfo's cheek, drawing on the power she once possessed to demand a favor from her husband's friend. Adolfo ducks his head in submission. He will take her out, into the gathering dark.
She takes Adolfo's hand and steps into the gondola without speaking. Silently, they ride east, against the incoming throng of black gondoliers.
He is not with a lady; he is with the Lady.
Unmoving, he stares up at the greenish torch rising from the waves. The tears on his cheeks fall unremarked by either of them. He raises one clenched fist, and she grasps his biceps, supporting them both in the gently rocking gondola.
Together they wait, for the sunrise.
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