The hand-lettered sign stopped Brod in his tracks.

It had jumped out at him from a window in a triple-decker house whose picket fence enclosed a postage-stamp-sized lawn with a statue of the Virgin, her eyes rolled toward heaven. He had been walking aimlessly through the North End, a part of the city he hadn’t known, wondering what to do with his time now that he wasn’t going to be an account manager anymore.

An irresistible impulse swept over him. He entered the house, went down the hallway, and knocked on the door of Apartment 2. A woman on the other side of the door said, “Yes? Who is it?”

“I’ve come about the organ.”

“That’s my husband,” she cried, throwing the door open and revealing herself: a bleached blond, short, plump, in an apron, her hands white with flour. “Glauco! Glauco, you got somebody!”

A potbellied man, about seventy, appeared in his undershirt, clutching an Italian newspaper. He was a walking cliché of an organ-grinder. His long white moustache curled up at both ends.

“You want to be a grinder?” he said, looking Brod up and down. “Can you stand in the street cranking all day in the rain?”

“I guess so,” Brod said.

“You like monkeys? They get along with you?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know any monkeys personally.”

Without a word, the man waved Brod into a sitting room cluttered with glass-domed clocks, where a tiny gray monkey with a red collar sat on a swing in a six-foot-high cage. In the corner stood a massive handle-powered hurdy-gurdy mounted on a post, a thing of glittering brass embossed with scrolls, cupids, and flowers. It had a worn leather strap for mooring the organ to the waist of its operator.

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