A waiter came in and stood beside Manuel’s table.
“Have you seen Zurito?” Manuel asked him.
“He was in before lunch, the waiter answered. “He won’t be back before five o’clock.”
“Bring me some coffee and milk and a shot of the ordinary,” Manuel said.
The waiter came back into the room carrying a tray with a big coffee-glass and a liqueur-glass on it. In his left hand he held a bottle of brandy. He swung these down to the table and a boy who had followed him poured coffee and milk into the glass from two shiny, spouted pots with long handles.
Manuel took off his cap and the waiter noticed his pigtail pinned forward on his head. He winked at the coffee-boy as he poured out the brandy into the little glass beside Manuel’s coffee. The coffee-boy looked at Manuel’s pale face curiously.
“You fighting here?” asked the waiter, corking up the bottle.
“Yes,” Manuel said. “Tomorrow.”
The waiter stood there, holding the bottle on one hip.
“You in the Charlie Chaplin’s?” he asked.
The coffee-boy looked away, embarrassed.
“No. In the ordinary.”
“I thought they were going to have Chaves and Hernandez,” the waiter said.
“No. Me and another.”
“Who? Chaves or Hernandez?”
“Hernandez, I think.”
“What’s the matter with Chaves?”
“He got hurt.”
“Where did you hear that?”
“Hey, Looie,” the waiter called to the next room, “Chaves got cogida.”
Manuel had taken the wrapper off the lumps of sugar and dropped them into his coffee. He stirred it and drank it down, sweet, hot, and warming in his empty stomach. He drank off the brandy.
“Give me another shot of that,” he said to the waiter.
The waiter uncorked the bottle and poured the glass full, slopping another drink into the saucer. Another waiter had come up in front of the table. The coffee-boy was gone.
“Is Chaves hurt bad?” the second waiter asked Manuel.
“I don’t know,” Manuel said. “Retana didn’t say.”
“A hell of a lot he cares,” the tall waiter said. Manuel had not seen him before. He must have just come up.
“If you stand in with Retana in this town, you’re a made man,” the tall waiter said. “If you aren’t in with him, you might just as well go out and shoot yourself.”
“You said it,” the other waiter who had come in said. “You said it then.”
“You’re right I said it,” said the tall waiter. “I know what I’m talking about when I talk about that bird.”
“Look what he’s done for Villalta,” the first waiter said.
“And that ain’t all,” the tall waiter said. “Look what he’s done for Marcial Lalanda. Look what he’s done for Nacional.”
“You said it, kid,” agreed the short waiter.
Manuel looked at them, standing talking in front of his table. He had drunk his second brandy. They had forgotten about him. They were not interested in him.
“Look at that bunch of camels,” the tall waiter went on. “Did you ever see this Nacional II?”
“I seen him last Sunday, didn’t I?” the original waiter said.
“He’s a giraffe,” the short waiter said.
“What did I tell you?” the tall waiter said. “Those are Retana’s boys.”
“Say, give me another shot of that,” Manuel said. He had poured the brandy the waiter had slopped over in the saucer into his glass and drank it while they were talking.
The original waiter poured his glass full mechanically, and the three of them went out of the room talking.
In the far corner the man was still asleep, snoring slightly on the intaking breath, his head back against the wall.
Manuel drank his brandy. He felt sleepy himself. It was too hot to go out into the town. Besides there was nothing to do. He wanted to see Zurito. He would go to sleep while he waited. He kicked his suitcase under the table to be sure it was there. Perhaps it would be better to put it back under the seat, against the wall. He leaned down and shoved it under. Then he leaned forward on the table and went to sleep.
When he woke there was someone sitting across the table from him. It was a big man with a heavy brown face like an Indian. He had been sitting there some time. He had waved the waiter away and sat reading the paper and occasionally looking down at Manuel, asleep, his head on the table. He read the paper laboriously forming the words with his lips as he read. When it tired him he looked at Manuel. He sat heavily in the chair, his black Cordoba hat tipped forward.