finally, the venerable hotel st crispian loomed up ahead.
up on the sixth floor of the hotel, stan slade was standing to the side of the broken window in room 603 and looking down at the dimly lit street.
"come on, jake, where are you?" he turned to cosette, who was sitting on the bed. "i must have been out of my mind to trust him."
cosette came over and looked out. "you want me to go look for him? i can ask to get off early, it's slow tonight."
"thanks for the offer, but if he didn't go to the drugstore he could be anywhere by now. he could be on a bus to d c, to talk to j edgar hoover."
"maybe you should think about getting out of here."
"yeah, maybe i should."
cosette thought for a few seconds. " there are a couple of empty rooms on the third floor."
"it might be better if i got out of the hotel. i just wish i had somewhere good to go."
"that's up to you."
stan went away from the window and sat back down on the bed. "maybe you should go up and see if hyacinth is back."
cosette peered down the street. "wait - i think i see him now."
"and he's got somebody with him."
"what !? it's got to be a cop."
"no, wouldn't the cops come in a car?"
"maybe. but you never know."
" they don't look like they are in any hurry. and this guy doesn't look like any cop."
"no?" stan got up and looked over cosette's shoulder.
"he looks like a grade a bum from bumsville."
jake stopped at the front entrance of the hotel. he shifted the bag of goods from the drugstore from one arm to the other.
"okay, this is where i get off."
"huh?'" lullaby had been eagerly telling his tale and looked up, startled. "well - uh, what do you think?"
"you think tommy would be interested in this guy's proposition?"
"tommy? i told you i don't work with tommy any more. i don't even see him around."
"you must be working with somebody. why else would you be listening to me?"
jake started to say "who's listening to you?" but just grunted. he looked through the front door. the lobby looked completely deserted. he knew roland was probably at the desk but he couldn't see him.
he turned to lullaby. "yeah, i got a friend who might - might - be interested. i'll have to talk to him. i'll let you know."
lullaby looked into the lobby. "why don't i wait in here while you talk to him?"
"did i even say he was in here? besides, they don't allow bums to sit in the lobby. especially at this time of night, when they spot you for sure. "
"but it's empty. look at all them nice chairs, with nobody sitting in them."
"you know, this place looks like it's not what it used to be."
"what is? but it ain't fallen so low it's gonna let you in. they wouldn't want me hanging around in the lobby and i work there. now if you'll excuse me - "
"tell you what, i'll wait in the automat there."
"you do that." jake looked over at the automat and just as he did the door opened and hyacinth wilde and flossie flanagan came out and started toward the hotel.
hyacinth almost didn't recognize jake, now out of his bellhop uniform. but she showed no surprise when she did, and entered the hotel with flossie, who was lighting a cigarette and barely glanced at jake and lullaby.
"what are they doing now?" stan asked cosette.
cosette tried to look straight down. with balconies in the way, she could no longer see jake and lullaby, nor had she seen hyacinth and flossie.
"i can't see them, they are too close to the building now. maybe they came in."
"damn! is he bringing this guy up with him?"
"i don't know, but the guy sure didn't look like the law."
"'didn't look' isn't good enough."
"you want to go down to the third floor?"
"maybe i better."
cosette took a ring of keys out of her pocket, and slipped one of the keys off it. "here, this is for room 307. 307."
"thanks. thanks. i can't - i'll make all this worth your while, i promise."
"i'm sure it's cool. i will be down in five or ten minutes, if there's no problem."
stan put the key in his pocket and opened the door and looked down the corridor. it was empty.
"go down the stairs."
"yeah, i know." he headed casually down the corridor.
cosette waited in the corridor beside her cart. two minutes later she heard the ding of the elevator and jake emerged, alone, with the bag under under his arm and a vacant expression on his face.