From Hemingway Deadlights 

Page 2 of 5

"Un senora." Marisol looked lazily at his wet nakedness, pulling himself out of the tub, as if she were looking at a pig sitting in mud.

Hemingway dried off and dressed as quickly as he could without trying to seem, even to himself, hurried and excited, and the reality of it was actually not very quick at all. By the time he came downstairs, the front door was closed, the foyer was empty, and the woman, the Cuban woman from Galko's, was standing in the parlor sipping a gimlet.

Her dress had the same half-way fusion of traditional peasant and gangster's moll chic, and her dark, sharp-edged features were still alarmingly interesting. Hemingway thought of Dolores del Rio, but this woman had a more commanding presence, as if she were the queen of a lost country.

Hemingway came at her with his hand out, affecting a nonchalance appropriate for old friends, but with an ironic smile that let her affect it as well. She did.

"I'm so glad you found me," Hemingway said neutrally. He silently and with his pointing finger and his eyebrows requested an identical gimlet from Marisol, who had looked in.

"Find you, I'd have to leave the island to get away from you, Hemingway," she said. Sipping, and smiling a little. He introduced himself gently. He was hoping for a sporting good time of flirtatious dialogue, and tried in his manner to aim her in that direction.

"Matilde Pirrin."

But why would she have come, if not for sport? Hemingway was a little on edge — he'd seen too many guns this week, and heard too many threats. The gimlet came.

"Matilde, does Ferenc know you're here?"

"Galko doesn't know about anything that doesn't sit on his lap and scream." Her English had a little New England in it - Hemingway guessed that she'd spent a little time in New Haven or Cambridge.

"Galko has known enough to make a lot of money."

"So? What was it the guy in the movie said: it's no trick to making lots of money if all you want to do is make lots of money."

"Citizen Kane."


"I met Hearst."

"I'm sure you have."

"Unhappiest man who ever lived."


"So what's your story, Matilde? Why have you come to me?"

"Going to pull it out of me that easy? Is that all I get?"

Hemingway smiled: that's what he would've said. "OK. Is Matilde Pirrin your real name?"

"Of course. Why wouldn't it be?"

"Who knows. How long have you been in Key West? In the United States."

"I'm not. I come and go. It's not far."

"I know. You are Cuban — what are your feelings on the 26th of July Movement?"

Hemingway was reaching, perhaps — it had just occurred to him, but perhaps Cuthbert's death had something to do with Castro's nascent rebel movement. But perhaps not. It would account, one way or another, for the raised stakes and menacing secrecy all around, all of which certainly seemed to point to something other than just another everyday smuggling homicide. But he was throwing darts now, blindfolded.


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