The man pushed himself out of his chair, stumbling to the balcony’s edge. He gripped the banister for a moment, steadied himself, then stood straight, staring out at the street below him.
I sat, just out of eyeshot, watching him. His face turned away, I caught only the back of his head and his hunched, sloping shoulders. I stayed still, just watching him watch.
He didn’t seem to be paying much attention, gazing listlessly over the Parisian boulevard. Suddenly, his head dropped. It was as if it had been attached to a hinge, so quick and mechanical was the motion. The man let out a sigh, moving his head along as if following someone walking on the street under him. He snapped his head back up again, and, turning to hobble back to his flame-colored seat, allowed his pallid face to be seen for a moment.
A single teardrop traced a river down his cheek.