Paris was particularly crowded with tourists in October, and Danglard certainly did not find it surprising: despite the modern world advancing inexorably, the boulevards covered with red leaves seemed to retain some of the same sweetness that must have hovered over the city a couple of centuries before.
The gray sky had not yet assumed that certain gloomy oppressiveness of January, but it served as a comfortable blanket for a city that was colored with lighted shop windows.
Like the city, the police station also seemed to be pervaded by a sort of cheerful calm and the only noise that could be heard was the background hum of life passing by.
Adamsberg had passed by his office to ask him something that had been forgotten on the way and he had stopped there, lost in his clouds, with the usual stub of pencil intent on tracing the contours of a face. Danglard, seated at the other end of the desk, was busy filling out one of the many files his boss had half-abandoned.
And precisely that moment of peace, that autumn afternoon so quiet and serene, turned for Danglard into one of the worst moments of his entire existence.
Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, he saw Adamsberg through his enemies eyes: a dark, disheveled little man, perhaps mentally ill but incredibly lucky. A small, threatening creature who came from the Pyrenees to usurp his place, relegating him to the role of eternal second.
Danglard reached across the table and grabbed Adamsberg's thin wrist, feeling like he might break it.
Camille's wrist mustn't have been much thinner.
Camille was an extraordinary woman and she had chosen Adamsberg. She had even given him a son.
Danglard thought about the wife who had left him.
He thought about the five children he adored and whom he had raised with love, but at a very high price, made up of effort and sacrifice.
And he also thought of Adamsberg's paternity, which instead had been as easy and unique as everything about him.
Some people were born under a special star, Jean-Baptiste was one of them. But not Danglard.
And God only knew how difficult it was sometimes to accept it, how difficult it was to struggle every day with anxiety and paranoia in the shadow of a man like Adamsberg.
He was still gripping the inspector's wrist, who was staring at him silently. When he let go, the bruises left by his grip were evident.
As suddenly as it had come, the monster that had emerged from the dark area of his mind had vanished. Danglard snapped back to reality.
- I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I'm not feeling well. I'll be right back, I'll be back. Forgive me.
And for once, it was his turn to get lost in the street of the city, bouncing like a billiard ball from one boulevard to another.