“Yes, Henry,” I said. “I found the same paper in Fannie’s place now. Why didn’t you tell me you had them?”

“What for? Sounded foolish. Woman stuff. I mean, did you read it? Mrs. Gutierrez read it, bad, but read it out loud. I laughed. God, I thought, that’s trash, real trash. Only now, I think different. Who would read and believe junk like that?”

“Fannie,” I said, at last.

“Tell me this, now. When you called that number, some dumb son-of-a-bitch come on, talk, and not come back again ever?”

“Some son-of-a-bitch.”

Henry started steering me back toward the open door of his apartment. As if I were the blind one, I let him.

“How they run a business like that?” he wondered.

We were at his door. I said, “I guess when you don’t give a damn, people throw money at you.”

“Yeah, that was always my trouble. I cared too much. So nobody ever threw nothing. Hell, I got plenty cash anyway, uh.”

He stopped, for he had heard me suck my breath.

“That,” he said, with a quiet nod and smile, “is the sound of someone wants to borrow my life’s savings.”

“Only if you come with, Henry. To help me find the guy who hurt Fannie.”



“This nose is yours. Lead on.”

“We need money for a taxicab to save time, Henry.”

“I never been in a taxi in my life, why would I take one now?”

“We got to get out to that newspaper before it closes. The sooner we find out what we need to know, the safer it’ll be. I don’t want to spend one more night worrying about you here in this tenement, or me at the beach.”

“Armpits has teeth, huh?”

“You’d better believe it.”

“Come on.” He circled his room, smiling. “Let’s find where a blind man hides his money. All over the place. You want eighty bucks?”

“Hell, no.”

“Sixty, forty?”

“Twenty, thirty will do.”

“Well, hell then.” Henry snorted, stopped, laughed, and yanked a great wad of bills out of his hip pocket. He began to peel the lettuce. “Here’s forty.”

“It’ll take awhile to pay it back.”

“If we get whoever pushed Fannie over, you don’t owe nothing. Grab the money. Find my cane. Shut the door. C’mon! Let’s go find that dumb bunny who answers phones and goes off on vacation.”

In the taxicab, Henry beamed around at sources of scent and odor he could not see.

“This is dandy. I never smelled a cab before. This one’s new and going fast.”

I couldn’t resist. “Henry, how’d you save up so much?”

“I don’t see ’em, touch ’em, even smell ’em, but I play the horses. Got friends at the track. They listen, and lay on the lettuce. I bet more and lose less than most sighted fools. It mounts up. When it gets too big, I trot along to one of those ugly ladies, so they tell me, in the bungalows out front near the tenement. They say ugly but I don’t mind. Blind is blind, and…Well, now. Where are we?”

“Here,” I said.

We had pulled into an alley behind a building in a rundown block in Hollywood south of the boulevard. Henry snuffed a deep breath. “It ain’t Armpits. But it’s his first cousin. Watch out.”

“I’ll be right back.”

I got out. Henry stayed in the back seat, his cane in his lap, eyes restfully shut.

“I’ll just listen to the meter,” he said, “and make sure it don’t run fast.”

The dusk was long since gone and it was full night as I picked my way along the alley, looking up at a half-lit neon sign on the backstairs of a building, with the great god Janus painted facing two ways above it. Half of one face had flaked off in the rains. The rest would be soon gone.

Even the gods, I thought, are having a bad year.

I dodged upstairs among various young men and women with old faces, hunched like beaten dogs, smoking, begging their pardon, excusing myself, but nobody seemed to mind. I stepped in at the top.

The offices looked as if they hadn’t been cleaned since the Civil War. There was paper balled, wadded, tossed over every inch, foot, and yard of the floor. There were hundreds of old newspapers, crumpled and yellowing, in the windows, on the desktops. Three wastebaskets stood empty. Whoever had thrown the paper wads had missed ten thousand times. I waded in through a tide that reached my ankles. I walked on dried cigars, cigarette stubs, and, by the crackling sound of their small thoraxes, cockroaches. I found the abandoned phone under a snow-piled desk, picked it up, listened.

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Categories: Bradbury, Ray