“No, they wouldn’t. They don’t know who you are any more.”
“I’ve got a lot of stuff,” Manuel said.
“I’m offering to put you on tomorrow night,” Retana said. “You can work with young Hernandez and kill two novillos after the Charlots.”
“Whose novillos?” Manuel asked.
“I don’t know. Whatever stuff they’ve got in the corrals. What the veterinaries won’t pass in the daytime.”
“I don’t like to substitute,” Manuel said.
“You can take it or leave it,” Retana said. He leaned forward over the papers. He was no longer interested. The appeal that Manuel had made to him for a moment when he thought of the old days was gone. He would like to get him to substitute for Larita because he could get him cheaply. He could get others cheaply too. He would like to help him though. Still, he had given him the chance. It was up to him.
“How much do I get?” Manuel asked. He was still playing with the idea of refusing. But he knew he could not refuse.
“Two hundred and fifty pesetas,” Retana said. He had thought of five hundred, but when he opened his mouth it said two hundred and fifty.
“You pay Villalta seven thousand,” Manuel said.
“You’re not Villalta,” Retana said.
“I know it,” Manuel said.
“He draws it, Manolo,” Retana said in explanation.
“Sure,” said Manuel. He stood up. “Give me three hundred, Retana.”
“All right,” Retana agreed. He reached in the drawer for a paper.
“Can I have fifty now?” Manuel asked.
“Sure,” said Retana. He took a fifty peseta note out of his pocket-book and laid it, spread out flat, on the table.
Manuel picked it up and put it in his pocket.
“What about a cuadrilla?” he asked.
“There’s the boys that always work for me nights,” Retana said. “They’re all right.”
“How about picadors?” Manuel asked.
“They’re not much,” Retana admitted.
“I’ve got to have one good pic,” Manuel said.
“Get him then,” Retana said. “Go and get him.”
“Not out of this,” Manuel said. “I’m not paying for any cuadrilla out of sixty duros.”
Retana said nothing but looked at Manuel across the big desk.
“You know I’ve got to have one good pic,” Manuel said.
Retana said nothing but looked at Manuel from a long way off.
“It isn’t right,” Manuel said.
Retana was still considering him, leaning back in his chair, considering him from a long way away.
“There’re the regular pics,” he offered.
“I know,” Manuel said. “I know your regular pics.”
Retana did not smile. Manuel knew it was over.
“All I want is an even break,” Manuel said reasoningly. “When I go out there I want to be able to call my shots on the bull. It only takes one good picador.”
He was talking to a man who was no longer listening.
“If you want something extra,” Retana said, “go and get it. There will be a regular cuadrilla out there. Bring as many of your own pics as you want. The charlotada is over by ten-thirty.”
“All right,” Manuel said. “If that’s the way you feel about it.”
“That’s the way,” Retana said.
“I’ll see you tomorrow night,” Manuel said.
“I’ll be out there,” Retana said.
Manuel picked up his suitcase and went out.
“Shut the door,” Retana called.
Manuel looked back. Retana was sitting forward looking at some papers. Manuel pulled the door tight until it clicked.
He went down the stairs and out of the door into the hot brightness of the street. It was very hot in the street and the light on the white buildings was sudden and hard on his eyes. He walked down the shady side of the steep street toward the Puerta del Sol. The shade felt solid and cool as running water. The heat came suddenly as he crossed the intersecting streets. Manuel saw no one he knew in all the people he passed.
Just before the Puerta del Sol he turned into a café.
It was quiet in the café. There were a few men sitting at tables against the wall. At one table four men played cards. Most of the men sat against the wall smoking, empty coffee-cups and liqueur-glasses before them on the tables. Manuel went through the long room to a small room in back. A man sat at a table in the corner asleep. Manuel sat down at one of the tables.