فصل 12

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فصل 12

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Chapter twelve

Las Cabanas

Exactly at eleven thirty, Helen Garfield came into the nightclub. She was looking as beautiful as ever, but seemed to be a little worried. Her blue eyes looked around the room until she saw me. Then, with a little smile, she walked up and sat down at the table. She sat next to me, with her back to the dance floor. She was carrying a bag, which she put on the floor beside her. The smile disappeared from her face.

‘Where were you this afternoon, Mr Samuel?’ she said sharply. ‘I’m paying you fifty dollars a day. In return for that money, I want you to do what I tell you. Now why weren’t you at your office this afternoon at five o’clock?’

I took a deep breath.

‘Well, Miss Garfield,’ I said, ‘it’s a long story. Let’s have a drink and I’ll tell you all about it.’

A waiter came over and I ordered some drinks.

When the waiter had gone, the beautiful, blonde girl said, ‘Come on, Mr Samuel, tell me.’

‘OK,’ I said, ‘but stop calling me Mr Samuel. Call me Len - all my friends call me Len.’

‘I’m not a friend of yours, Mr Samuel,’ the blonde girl said, in a voice like ice. ‘I’m paying you a lot of money to work for me.’

‘Fifty dollars a day doesn’t allow you to be rude to me,’ I replied quietly. ‘In the last twenty four hours, I’ve been hit on the head and suspected of murder.’

‘What do you mean?’ the girl said, and leant towards me. ‘Murder?’

Just then, the waiter brought the drinks and we sat in silence until he had gone. Then I told Helen Garfield about my visit to her sister’s apartment in the Manson Building. I told her about the two men who had caught me there. Helen Garfield listened in silence.

‘Do you like the band, Miss Garfield?’ I asked.

‘I didn’t come here to talk about the band,’ the blonde girl said angrily.

‘The band has got a new drummer tonight,’ I said, ‘because I found the old drummer dead in his bath this morning.’

The blonde girl turned around quickly to look at the band. She said something to herself which I didn’t hear. She lifted her right hand and started stroking her hair. She looked sad and very worried.

‘What…what was the drummer …the dead man’s name?’ Helen Garfield asked.

‘Greep,’ I said, ‘Benny Greep. I don’t suppose that you know Benny Greep, do you?’

Helen Garfield shook her head.

‘No,’ she said.

I told her what had happened at the police station. Then I told her about the policemen who had followed me in a yellow car.

‘Do you think they’re still following you?’ the blonde girl asked quickly and looked around the club.

I told her how I had got away from the yellow car.

‘Now, Miss Garfield,’ I continued, ‘it’s time for me to ask you a few questions. There are some things about your sister’s disappearance which worry me. I want to ask you about them.’

‘All right,’ she said, ‘but I don’t think I can help you. I don’t know much about Elaine’s life here. I don’t know very much about Los Angeles, either.’

I sat back in my chair and looked at her. This beautiful, blonde girl was paying me fifty dollars a day to find her sister. I liked what I saw. Then, very quietly, I began to ask Helen Garfield some questions.

‘You don’t know Los Angeles very well?’ I began.

‘That’s right,’ the girl replied.

‘But you were able to find out where Elaine worked,’ I continued. ‘And you went to Myer and Myer last Tuesday, to ask if they knew anything about Elaine.’

‘Yes,’ the girl said, looking at me closely.

‘Who did you speak to at Myer and Myer?’ I asked. ‘Suzy?’

‘No,’ the girl said, ‘I spoke to Mr Myer.’

‘I want to ask you something else,’ I said. ‘When I went to Elaine’s flat, I noticed something unusual. There were very few clothes in the wardrobe. It seems your sister planned her disappearance quite carefully. She had taken her clothes with her.’

‘I see,’ the girl said and looked around the nightclub.

I waited until she looked back at me.

‘Do you like it here?’ I asked.

‘Yes,’ she said.

‘I like it, too,’ I said, ‘But there’s something else which is worrying me. Do you mind if I ask you one more question?’

‘Not at all,’ the girl said.

‘Well,’ I began, ‘I’ve been wondering why you asked me to meet you here, at Las Cabanas.’

Helen Garfield pushed back her chair and stood up.

‘Would you please excuse me for a minute?’ she said.

She picked her bag up from the floor and walked over towards the ladies’ toilet, which was near the entrance.

‘Would you like another drink?’ I shouted after her.

‘Yes, please,’ she shouted back, over her shoulder. I ordered two more drinks and sat back in my chair. I looked around the nightclub. It was almost midnight.

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