Daniel retrieves Nuria Monfort’s address from his keepsake box and spends the morning working in the shop while Fermín teases him about his imminent meeting with Bea. Their neighbor Merceditas—whom Daniel believes Mr. Sempere likes, and who definitely likes him—drops by with some apples for them.
Between his ongoing investigation and his flirtation with Bea, Daniel feels his life starting to change. He wants his father’s life to move forward as well, so he imagines a romance between Mr. Sempere and Merceditas. However, Mr. Sempere is much more resistant than Daniel to any actions that would draw him into the future and separate him from the memory of his beloved wife.
While they’re chatting, there’s an uproar in the street and the pompous schoolteacher, Don Anacleto, arrives to announce that Don Federico was arrested by the State Police the night before when they raided a gay club. At the police station, Inspector Fumero left him for a night in a cell with “a select group of thugs.” After expounding on Don Federico’s virtues for so long that the rest think he has died, Don Anacleto reveals that the watchmaker was returned home by the police, raped and beaten to within an inch of his life.
Fumero appears as the antagonist even in the novel’s secondary conflicts, creating the sense that all these conflicts are repetitions of each other. Fumero’s omnipresence reflects the government’s manifold and frightening intrusions into private life. It also makes him less of an individual character than a generalized representation of evil.