24 March, 1944
Angelo must have slept in the damp grass beside the road for a while, but the evening was cold and his cassock was thin, and he awoke, shivering. Even that small movement made him moan, but at least the sharp pain along his right side revived him. It was dark, and his mouth was so dry he licked the dew from the grass near his face. He had to move in order to get warm, and he had to move to find water. He had to move to find Eva.
He struggled to his feet and took a step, then another, telling himself that walking wouldn’t hurt as badly as lying down. Each breath felt like fire, and he was pretty sure a few of his ribs were broken. The darkness and his bad leg made each step precarious, but he found the posture that hurt the least and settled into a sort of rhythm, limping along the Via Ardeatina toward Rome. At least he hoped he was going toward Rome. God help him if he was turned around. He could barely see out of his right eye, his left eye was swollen shut, and his nose was broken. No loss there. It had never been his best feature. He was missing three fingernails on his right hand, and the smallest finger on his left was broken. At one point he stumbled and fell, only to catch himself on his oddly bent pinky. The pain had him retching and seeing stars, fighting to remain conscious. He gingerly pushed himself onto his knees so he could moan a prayer to the Madonna, begging her to help him just a little longer. She did, and he kept moving.