They all would. You'd like to share her dreams and sniff the rose of her memories, Maybe I would too. But there is nothing to share, chum—nothing, nothing, nothing. You're all alone in the dark." He finished his drink and turned the glass upside down. "Empty like that, Marlowe. Nothing there at all. I'm the guy that knows." He put the glass on the edge of the bar and walked stiffly to the foot of the stairs. He made about a dozen steps up, holding on to the rail, and stopped and leaned against it. He looked down at me with a sour grin. "Forgive the corny sarcasm,
Marlowe. You're a nice guy. I wouldn't want anything to happen to you." "Anything like what?" "Perhaps she didn't get around yet to that haunting magic of her first love, the guy that went missing in Norway with her, he would sanction everything at oncehe answered.. You wouldn't want to be missing, would you, chum? You're my own special private eye. You find me when I'm lost in the savage splendor of Sepulveda Can yon." He moved the palm of his hand in a circular motion on the polished wood banister. "It would hurt me to the quick if you got lost yourself. Like that character who hitched up with the limeys. -He got so lost a man sometimes wonders if he ever existed. You figure she could have maybe just invented him to have a toy to play with?" "How would I know?" He looked down at me. There were deep lines between his eyes now and his mouth was twisted with bitterness. "How would anybody know?
Maybe she don't know herself, Baby's tired. Baby been playing too long with broken toys. Baby wants to go bye-bye." He went on up the stairs. I stood there until Candy came in and started tidying up around the bar, putting glasses on a tray, examining bottles to see what was left, paying no attention to me. Or so I thought. Then be said: "Se.or. One good drink left. Pity to waste him." He held up a bottle. "You drink it." "Gracias, se.or, no me gusta. Un vaso de Cerveza, no más. A glass of beer is my limit." "Wise man." "One lush in the house is enough," he said, staring at me. 'I speak good English, not?" "Sure, fine." "But I think Spanish. Sometimes I think with a knife. The boss is my guy. He don't need any help, hombre. I take care of him, see." "A great job you're doing, punk." "Hijo de la flauta," he said between his white teeth. He picked up a loaded tray and swung it up on the edge of his shoulder and the flat of his hand, bus boy style. I walked to the door and let myself out, wondering how an expression meaning 'son of a flute' had come to be an insult in Spanish.