clorinda: i will ask you one more time, charles. please stop boring me.
charles: boring you, am i ,clorinda? was i boring you back in san bernardino? was i boring you when i helped you take care of jeffrey?
clorinda: oh, please. you must be really desperate, to bring that up again. nobody even remembers jeffrey, let alone cares what happened to him. back in the long long ago.
charles: do you think so? i think the district attorney of los angeles might be interested. very interested.
clorinda: i am sure the district attorney of los angeles is a busy man. a very busy man. unlike you.
charles: i was reading a most interesting article the other day. it seems there is quite a vogue among the minions of the law for reinvestigating old cases. they have some term for them, i forget exactly what. in any case, the newspapers lap them up, and ambitious young detectives are quite keen on them, it seems. especially anything involving any kind of celebrity.
clorinda: ha, ha! celebrity! i never knew jeffrey was a celebrity.
charles: he was a hollywood figure.
clorinda: he wasn’t exactly clark gable. or irving thalberg.
hyacinth wilde yawned. what absolute rubbish, she thought. and yet far from the worst she had been given to read lately.
her maid emerged from the bedroom. “will you be needing me for anything else, madam?”
“no thank you.”
“shall i come tomorrow?”
“um - no, i don’t think so. come by on thursday. not too early. after noon. make it after one o’clock.”
the maid left. hyacinth let the script of bend in a dark road by godfrey mason fall from her hand to the floor.
she yawned again, and got up and looked out the window.
a light rain was falling outside. she watched a few headlights go by below on bedford street.
it was nice and quiet, the way she liked it. the quiet was what she liked best about the hotel st crispian, and one of the main reasons she continued to live in it.
the phone rang. she picked it up.
“this is hyacinth wilde.”
“this is phil wheeler. joe slattery said you wanted to talk to me.”
“oh, yes. yes! thank you so much for calling. i - i would like to meet you somewhere.”
“i’m here right now. down in the hotel bar. the hal room, or something.”
hyacinth thought quickly. “i would like - to meet somewhere a little more private. where we won’t be interrupted.”
“i could come up to your room.”
“no. meet me - there’s a little bar just down the street. eddie’s. on the corner of bedford and leroy.”
“give me fifteen minutes. i have to get a few things together. eddie’s. it’s got a red sign.”
“wait - i haven’t seen you for a while. how will i -“
“i will recognize you, miss wilde.” phil wheeler hung up.
that was quick, hyacinth thought. i would not have given joe slattery so much credit.
she wished she had had more time to arrange the meeting with phil wheeler. eddie’s was a cozy little place where she often met friends. she just hoped none of them - like flossie flanagan! - would be there.
maybe she should have just met phil wheeler downstairs in the prince hal room. oh well, it was too late now.
she went into her bedroom . she took a ring of keys out of her pocket and unlocked a drawer on a small table right beside her bed.
she took a little chamois bag out of it. she checked it to make sure the small selection of jewelry she had made was still in it, and put the bag in her pocket.
hyacinth shook the rain off her umbrella and stepped into eddie’s.
it was empty except for the bartender, who nodded familiarly to her, and a man at the bar who looked like a million other men in new york, but who she immediately recognized as phil wheeler.
“the usual, miss wilde?”
“yes, please.” she turned to phil wheeler. “you are mister wheeler?”
he smiled. “that’s me.”
“is the booth in the corner empty, jack?”
“the whole place is empty.”
when they were settled in the corner booth with their drinks, phil wheeler lit a cigarette.
“i wasn’t sure how mysterious we were being,” he said.
“no mystery. i just like a little privacy.”
“to be sure. you heard from stan slade lately?”
“not much,” hyacinth replied.
“me either. some people when they are inside, they like to write letters all day. others not so much. at least that’s what they tell me,” phil smiled. “i wouldn’t know, from personal experience.”
“yes, it is unfortunate what happened to poor stan. but this - what i want to ask you about - doesn’t really concern him.”
“of course not. i was just breaking the ice a little bit, talking about old friends.”
“stan always spoke of you as someone who knew a good deal about the jewelry business.”
phil took a sip of his drink. “that was nice of him to say so. i always aim to know what i am doing, whatever i am doing.”
“good.” hyacinth took her purse off the seat beside her and put in on the table. “i have a few little items here that have come my way. maybe you can give me your opinion of them.”