The day of the match the boy sat at rest, as he often did, on a stool, at a distance, waiting, with the camera cocked and focused in his lap. She sat, as she often did, in a café chair, staring out over the chessboard, turning her head to one side or the other, occasionally shifting her position, less occasionally standing to walk around the board or leaning over to study one of her grotesques. After several circuits, she would sit in the opposite chair and stare again. She might reach out and make an adjustment in one piece or another. If she saw an imperfection, she might, with her left thumbnail, scrape away an offending chip of plaster from a skull or a fist.
For breakfast, she took a roll dipped in coffee and milk. He brought the coffee that morning in a thick bowl covered in a napkin to keep in the heat. The roll was one of two the boy carried in his jacket pocket, wrapped in another napkin. Most days, except for the festive ones, that breakfast would be her only meal until dinner. Most days, between breakfast and dinner she would eat only the second roll, with water; she drank that sparingly. Usually, she occupied herself in her small industry.
That day, there was no industry. That day, the game was simply to wait.
And, while they sat in that morning sun and waited with the others for their guest, the boy watched the largest of Provençal predators, a snake eagle, circling idly in the sky overhead, watching for vipers.