Amazingly Grollman found the lab immediately to his right without mishap. It was much longer than wide. East-west it was about 15 feet; north-south it ran 40 feet. As Grollman entered he noticed three marble tables each of which had a microscope above it mounted on a metal column. There were four people in the room. Three seemed to be working, the fourth was pacing with his hands behind his back and his face pointed at the floor. When he saw Grollman’s shoes he stopped and looked up at him. He had to spend several seconds to go from the floor to Grollman’s face because the latter was almost a foot taller. When their eyes met so acute was the angle between the smaller man’s occiput and the vertical that he fell backwards. To prevent collapse he put out his right hand which lodged in a sink full of rat carcasses.
“Yuck, yuck, yuck,” he said with much emotion as he pulled his hand away. “Towel, towel, towel,” he continued.
Grollman looked for a towel or its substitute without result. Nobody else deviated from their slow routine. With a show of regained dignity the short man wiped his hand on the backside of his pants.
“You must be the new man,” he said with generous condescension.” “Gabriele Adorno Diestro,” he said introducing himself. He held out his gory hand.
Grollman looked for an escape from the handshake. Finding none he offered his fingertips, which he withdrew at the instant of contact. Then the name registered; he immediately heard Cielo di stelle orbato in his head.
“Are you a tenor?” he asked in a small fit of reflex.