`` Well '' -- said Mr. Skyros .
`` I take a little time to think it over '' .
It was awkward : very awkward .
There would be all the nuisance of contacting someone else to take over .
Someone reasonably trustworthy .
And Angie would hear about it .
And Angie knew --
`` Time '' , said Angie , and he smiled very sweet and slow at Mr. Skyros .
`` Not too much time , because I'll be needing some more myself pretty much right away .
And I done favors for you , big favor not so long back , didn't I , and I'm right here to take on where Pretty left off .
No trouble .
I don't want no trouble , you don't want no trouble , nobody wants trouble , Mr. Skyros '' .
Dear heaven , no , thought Mr. Skyros , turning away as another man came in .
He straightened his tie at the mirror with a shaking hand ; ;
the genial smile seemed painted on his face .
Angie knew -- Speak of dangerous information ! !
Angie knew too much entirely already .
Really he had Mr. Skyros at bay
`` Big favor I done you .
Acourse there's this deal o' Denny's -- and Jackie's -- kinda hangin' fire , ain't it , maybe you've been kinda worryin' over that .
And can't say I blame you '' , said Angie thoughtfully .
`` This deal with the ace o' spades .
Anything to do with an ace o' spades , bad luck '' .
Ace of spades -- a widow , that was what they called a widow , these low-class crooks remembered Mr. Skyros distractedly .
All about that Angie knew , too .
When things got a little out of hand , they very rapidly got a lot out of hand -- it seemed to be a general rule .
All just by chance , and in a way tracing back to poor Frank , all of it , because naturally -- brothers , living together -- and Angie --
Mr. Skyros did not at all like the look on Angelo's regular-featured , almost girlishly good-looking face -- or indeed anything about Angelo .
Mr. Skyros was not a man who thought very much about moral principles ; ;
he found money much more interesting ; ;
but all the same he thought now , uneasily , of the way in which Angelo earned his living -- and paid for his own stuff -- and eyed the soft smile , and the spaniel-like dark eyes , and he felt a little ill .
`` Look , my friend '' , he said , `` in my life I learn , how is it the proverb says , better an ounce of prevention to a pound of cure .
I stay in business so long because I'm careful .
Two weeks , a month , we talk it over again , and maybe if nothing happens meanwhile to say the cops know this and that , then we make a little deal , isn't it '' ? ?
`` That's a long while '' , said Angie .
`` I tell you , you want to leave it that way , I don't fool around with it .
I go over to Castro and get fixed up there .
I can't wait no two weeks '' .
And Mr. Skyros didn't like Angie , but what with Prettyman and three of his boys inside , and not likely to come out -- And Angie such a valuable salesman , Prettyman said -- All the nuisance and danger of getting in touch with practically a whole new bunch of boys -- Why did everything have to happen at once ? ?
Denny said stupidly , `` Why , you ain't turning Angie down , are you , Mr. Skyros ? ?
I mean , we all figured -- I guess anybody'd figure -- Angie '' --
Angelo gave him an affectionate smile .
`` Mr. Skyros too smart a fellow want to get rid of me '' , he said .
`` It's O.K. , Denny , everything's O.K. Ain't it , Mr. Skyros '' ? ?
Oh , God , the name repeated over and over , anybody to hear -- Not being a fool , Mr. Skyros knew why .
But aside from everything else , it would scarcely be pleasant to have dealings with one who was nominally an underling and actually held -- you could say -- the whip hand .
And all because of Domokous ! !
If Mr. Skyros had dreamed of all the trouble that young man would eventually cause --
Of course , there was another factor .
Angie worth his weight in gold right now , but these users , they sometimes went down fast .
Who knew , Angie might not last long .
The sweat broke out on Mr. Skyros' forehead as he realized he had been actually thinking -- hoping -- planning -- perhaps --
Good God above , had not Domokous been enough ? ?
He patted Angelo's thin shoulder paternally .
`` Now you don't want to go talking that way '' , he said .
`` Sure , sure , you're the one take over for Pretty , soon as I get the supply , get started up again , isn't it ? ?
You don't need worry , Angelo .
I tell you , I know how it is with you , my friend , I sympathize , and I'll make it a special point -- a special favor -- get in touch , and get some stuff just for you .
I don't know if I can manage it tonight or tomorrow , but I'll try my best , my friend .
You see , you got to remember , we all got schedules , like any business ! !
My man , he won't be around a little while , he just fixed me up with this stuff they took out of the Elite .
It's awkward , you see that , isn't it '' ? ?
`` Well , that's your business , Mr. Skyros '' , said Angie , and his dreamy eyes moved past Mr. Skyros' shoulder to gaze vaguely out the ground-glass window .
`` I appreciate it , you do that .
We don't none of us want no trouble .
I'm in a room over the Golden Club on San Pedro , you just ask for me there , you want see me .
Or maybe I call you -- tonight ? ?
About nine o'clock , I call and see if you got any .
A couple decks for me , Mr. Skyros -- and ten-twelve to sell , see , I like to have a little ready cash '' .
`` Oh , now , I don't know about that much '' , said Mr. Skyros .
`` And you know , Angelo , Pretty , he always keeps it a strict cash basis , like they say '' --
`` Sure '' , said Angie .
`` Sure , Mr. Skyros .
Fifty a throw , that the deal ? ?
I bring you the cash , say five hundred for ten decks .
Never mind how much I cut it , how much I get '' , and he smiled his sleepy smile again .
`` Standard deal , Mr. Skyros .
You go 'n' have a look round for it '' .
`` I do my best '' , said Mr. Skyros earnestly , `` just for you , my friend .
This is awkward for everybody , isn't it , we all got to put up with inconvenience sometimes .
But I do my best for you '' .
He got out of there in a hurry , brushing past another man in the door , mopping his brow .
The expedient thing -- yes , very true , one must make do as one could , in some situations .
It could all be straightened out later .
Not very much later , but when things had settled down a little .
After this deal with the Bouvardier woman went through .
An ace of spades .
He was not a superstitious man , but he felt perhaps there was a little something in that , indeed .
He rather wished he had never got into the business , and still -- scarcely to be resisted , a nice little profit with not much work involved , easy money
Katya Roslev , who would be Katharine Ross so very soon now , rang up her first sale of the day and counted back the change .
She did not notice that the customer seized her purchase and turned away without a smile or a word of thanks .
Usually she marked the few who did thank you , you didn't get that kind much in a place like this : and she played a little game with herself , seeing how downright rude she could act to the others , before they'd take offense , threaten to call the manager .
Funny how seldom they did : used to it , probably .
The kind who came into a cheap store like this ! !
Grab , snatch , I saw that first ! !
And , Here , I'll take this , I was before her , you wait on me now or I don't bother with it , see ! !
This kind of place
She'd be through here , just no time at all -- leave this kind of thing 'way behind .
Off at noon , and she'd never come back .
Never have to .
Money -- a lot of money , enough .
She'd be smart about it , get him to give it to her in little bills so's nobody would suspect -- maybe couldn't get it until Monday account of that , the banks -- But that wasn't really long to wait .
Not when she'd waited so long already .
No need say anything at all to the old woman .
She had it all planned out , how she'd do .
She'd say she didn't feel good on Sunday , couldn't go to church -- there'd be a little argument , but she could be stubborn -- and when the old woman had gone , quick pack the things she'd need to take , all but the dress she'd wear Monday , and take the bag down to that place in the station where you could put things in a locker overnight , for a dime .
Then on Monday morning -- or it might have to be Tuesday -- get up and leave just the usual time , and last thing , put the money in an envelope under the old woman's purse there in the drawer .
She wouldn't be going to get that for an hour or so after Katya had left , go do the daily shopping .
No need leave a note with it , either -- or maybe just something like , Don't worry about me , I'm going away to make a better life .
A better life .
It wasn't as if she wanted much .
She didn't mind working hard , not as if she figured to do anything wrong to live easy and soft -- all she wanted was a chance , where she wasn't marked as what she was .
To be Katharine Ross , and work in a nicer shop somewhere , at a little more money so she could have prettier clothes , and learn ladies' manners and all like that , and get to know different people than up to now , not just the ones like her here , with foreign-sounding names , the ones went to the same church and -- Different place , different job , different people , she'd be all different too .
Prettier , she'd do her hair another way ; ;
smarter , and wear different kinds of clothes -- she'd be Katharine Ross , just what that sounded like .
`` You've give me the wrong change '' , said the customer sharply .
`` Think I can't count '' ? ?
Katya made up the amount in indifferent silence .
She was listening to other voices , out of the future .
Some of those vaguely-imagined new , different people .
Oh , Katharine's awfully nice , and pretty too , I like Katharine -- Let's ask Katharine to go with us , she's always lots of fun -- Katharine --
Soon , very soon now
Mendoza didn't wake until nearly nine-thirty .
It was going to be another hot day ; ;
already the thermometer stood close to ninety .
Alison was still sound asleep ; ;
he made fresh coffee and searched through all the desk drawers for more cigarettes before thinking of her handbag , and found a crumpled stray cigarette at its bottom , which tasted peculiarly of face powder .
He left a note propped on the desk asking her to call him sometime today , and drove home .
After he'd got out fresh liver for Bast , he paused to look at her crouched daintily over her dish .
Surely she was just a trifle fatter around the middle ? ?
He seemed to remember reading somewhere that Abyssinians had large litters , and suffered a dismaying vision of the apartment overrun with a dozen kittens .
`` Y que sigue despues ? ?
-- What then '' ? ?
He asked her severely .
`` A lot of people are so peculiar that they don't like cats , it's not the easiest thing in the world to find good homes for kittens -- and , damn it , you know very well if I have them around long , impossible to give them away ! !
And I suppose now that you've finally grown up , if a little late , you'd go on producing kittens every six months or so .
Yes , well , it's a pity to spoil your girlish figure -- which all those kittens would do anyway -- but I think when you've raised these we'll just have the vet fix it so there won't be any more .
I wonder if the Carters would take one .
And it's no good looking at me like that '' , as she wound affectionately around his ankles .