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The waiter was looking at her. Not just looking. He was watching. Under black caterpillar eyebrows, his cold little black eyes were crawling on her face.
She whispered, "That waiter is looking at me." For a moment she thought she had said it out loud, that Maxl had heard her. Her lips had moved but she hadn't spoken, only to herself. She mustn't let Maxl guess that she had noticed the waiter. Maxl might have ordered the man to watch.
She smiled now across the red-checkered tablecloth, across the stone mugs of beer, at the boy opposite her. He had black eyes too, but not like the waiter's horny ones. Maxl's were bright and guileless under his rimmed spectacles. He had black curly hair and a narrow face, small bones under his blue serge shoulders. He was a German, one of the Aryans, the pure Nordics. He boasted that. He looked like a Serb, a Croat, an Armenian. He looked like a great many pure Aryan, pure Nordic, pure nonsense Germans. Like too many of the leaders. Once she had thought Maxl a good-looking young man. That was in Paris.
She smiled at him. Her smile looked real. She had learned to form it that way. She said, "I'm sorry, Maxl. I didn't notice what you were saying. My mind was somewhere else."
Those who had escaped quite often found their minds wandering elsewhere. Even when they were in New York, in an old-time New York rathskeller, their minds often wandered. She had got out of Paris. So had Maxl.
He repeated eagerly. "How did you get into the States?" When he remembered, his accents were as, clipped, as British, as London's own. He'd been educated at Eton, at Heidelberg, at theSorbonne.
She didn't know if he was Nazi. He'd been an acquaintance in Paris before the Germans marched in three years ago. She hadn't discussed ideologies with him during the witless, halcyon days that preceded the march. But she hadn't sought his aid when she was trying to get out of Paris. She hadn't been sure. If he were on Their side, he might have thwarted her. If he were not, she might have been concentrated along with him.
She said, "It was difficult, yes."
The waiter's eyes were unwavering. Perhaps his big red ears could hear across the room. Perhaps her meeting with Maxl tonight hadn't been accidental. He had been standing there in the thronging lobby of Carnegie Hall while she came pushing slowly down the stairs after the Russian Relief concert. She had seen him before he saw her, before he seemed to see her. She had seen him and something had lurched inside of her. For a moment she had stood motionless, but the surging phalanx behind her pushed her on relentlessly. down into the lobby. After that one moment she hadn't been frightened. He wouldn't notice her. Even if he did he wouldn't recognize Julie Guille in the small and shabby, faded girl. Automatically she had pushed her hair across her cheek. One step farther and she could turn her shoulder, shuffle with the crowd out into the night, safe.
One step more. And he saw her, called out a sharp, surprised, "Julie!" She had known it would be that way. She had known when she saw his motionless, dark head there below that he would recognize her, that she would not be allowed to creep into the night unseen. Her luck had held steadfast for too many months now.
She hadn't answered that first call. She'd turned the shoulder, pressed hard against the overcoat of the unknown dawdling in front of her. But the dark coat was too sluggish, those ahead of him too lethargic, the currents too twisted. The door was only a few paces ahead but it was blocked by too many coats.
Maxl had cut slantwise through the crowd, he was beside her, surprise and pleasure on his narrow face, "Julie! Imagine our meeting here. Like this--"
She was caught. And the smile on her face was as guileless as the one on his. She prattled, "Maxi! You in New York? Should I mention a small world?" The door was there now but she didn't step through it.
Maxi's yellow pigskin glove restrained her arm. "You must have a drink with me. Talk over other days--the good days..."
The walk on this side of 57th Street was crowded. Buses and cabs blocked the street. The pigskin glove swerved her to the corner. Unbelievably, there was an empty cab. She didn't know if the meeting were accidental. If it were, it would direct suspicion if she refused. No one was suspicious of her in New York. No known person.
That simply, she came to be sitting across from him in a Yorkville rathskeller. And now he was asking questions.
She folded her hands in front of her, looked at them, not back there at the burly man in the white apron. She said, "I managed to get to Lisbon." She wouldn't say any more of those dragging months. "There was a refugee ship. Finally it docked at Havana," How many ports had it put in and been refused? The glaring sun of Africa. The spiced South American docks. Finally haven. "I waited there. A friend of mine"--her very blue blue eyes faced his defiantly--"a Cuban gentleman helped me."
Maxl was grieved for her. "If I'd only known. I could have helped you, Julie. It is so easy. If you had only come to me." He drank his beer tenderly. "But I thought you'd have no trouble."
"Why?" Her voice was sharp and she hushed it at once. She wanted to warn Maxl to speak softly too, but she was afraid to let him know she had noticed the listening, watching waiter. Because it might not be chance that he had brought her to this place. He might know why the waiter kept his eyes unblinking on her.
Maxl's shoulder's moved. "You are an American."
"Perhaps technically. Not actually. My father accepted French citizenship long before his death. I was reared in France. I have no citizenship. And I came from occupied France. No one to vouch for me."
She spoke on top of him. Her voice was too quiet. "Don't speak of her."
Maxl looked a little surprised. He broke off at once.
She waited until she could control her voice. She asked curiously then, "You say it is simple. But you are a German."
"A refugee," he said smugly.
She pressed it. "A German would not be admitted. How did you come into this country?"
He looked sharply at her, and her eyes were wide innocence. He laughed irrepressibly, bumped his mug on the table. Her glance jumped to the waiter in fear but he didn't move. Another one came, another one brought the fresh mug of beer. She refused. She wanted to get out of here.
Maxl did lower his voice just a bit now. "If you can pay for it, it is easy. There are planes every week from Old Mexico into New Mexico." His laugh was contagious. "A regular tram line. You pay for your seat, in you go!" He shrugged. "Or if you like--out you go. So simple." He winked.
She touched her tongue to her upper lip. "Who runs this? Not--not the Gestapo?"
"Oh, no!" Now he looked over his shoulder as if he sensed a listener. Now he did drop his voice. "It is not run for governments--not for any governments, nor by any governments. It is a business venture. In Mexico and New Mexico. I ask no questions. A passenger does not question the carrier which transports him. Certainly not." The line of his mouth was greedy. "It is a good business, this blackbirding. A big business." Again he winked. His thumb and forefinger made a round. "I wouldn't mind having a little slice of it." His eyes were slits of obsidian. "It is like the American prohibition. No taxes to pay. You pay no tax when there is no business, no registered business. Certainly not! The receipts--some are very large--are all for you."
She said quietly, "You learned a lot, Maxl."
His thin chest swelled. "Maxl isn't stupid, Julie. Reckless perhaps. Not stupid. I stayed about Santa Fe--"
"That is their headquarters?"
She had spoken too quickly. Wariness was a thin film over his spectacles.
"Did I say that? Santa Fe is the capital city of this New Mexico. In the records is there listed: plane service across the border, north and south? I think not." There was a little suspicion. "You have heard nothing of this?"
"Nothing." Nothing as definite as this. Only the whispers where refugees gathered. Only a name--The Blackbirder. She let a small sigh blow from her lips. "If I should have to leave this country quickly--"
He looked up, his nose pointed like a pin.
It wasn't taking much of a chance; he had come in the wrong way too. He couldn't betray her; they checkmated. It was worth the risk to learn more.
"If it should be learned that I entered illegally"--carefully she said it--"I don't want to be locked up." She took a moment to stifle her beating heart.
He smiled blandly, tapped the red swirls on his dark green tie. "You come to Maxl. I will fix you right."
But his eyes retained suspicion. That was all for now. She knew. It would do no good to push further at this moment. Another time. She said, "You're a good friend, Maxl."
She reached for her worn brown handbag and the waiter's white apron quivered. He brought his hands like great thick red paws to the front of it. She knew then she must get away, and quickly.
She said, "I must go home. I have to be at work early." Deliberately she spoke out, not trying to keep her voice down now. "I work at the Free French offices mornings, until I can find a better paying job." A warning. The Free French would miss her.
Maxl said, "You are not afraid?"
"Afraid?" She couldn't help but make the word quiver.
He paid their waiter, not rising until the man crabbed away. "That it is discovered how you came into the country?"
She spoke slowly. "Yes, I am afraid. But I must risk it. I am all alone here. If anything should happen to me"--her words rushed--"I mean if were taken sick, or run over, you know--there would be someone to inquire for me. I take the risk that will not be so alone." She swallowed. "They are kind people, my own people. I don't believe they'd ever give me away, even if they found out. They wouldn't, Maxl. They'd help me." Only she could never ask their help. She could never involve them. They had too large a burden. She must walk alone.
Maxl needn't know that. If he and the waiter were--She realized then. She realized and her hands in the brown coat pockets were like snow. The watching waiter was no longer in the room.
They stood on the sidewalk and the air of a too early spring night was cold as her hands and her heart. She said, "Good-by, Maxl. I'll see you again soon."
She would have to try to find a new place to live. He'd written her address in his little black morocco notebook there at the table, before she noticed the waiter. He'd written her own name, Juliet Marlebone, not Julie Guille, and under it her address and the telephone number.
He said, "I'll see you home, Julie." The shoulders of his fuzzy black greatcoat clicked back. He was recalling the Parisian gentlemen. He hadn't been a Parisian gentleman. He'd been a shabby German scholar, studying at the Sorbonne. He might have been a refugee the Reich. He might have been the vanguard of the Reich.
She tinkled lightly, "Gentlemen don't ladies home in New York, Maxl. The distances are too great." She hoped he wouldn't notice that her teeth were chattering, or that he would think it was because the night was cold. Her worn brown coat wasn't as comfortable as his heavy dark one. "I've learned that in my seven months here."
He took her arm. "I will see you home in a taxicab."
She couldn't jerk away and run toward Lexington. It wouldn't do any good if there were a reason for his determination. And if there were none, it would be foolish to arouse suspicions in a harmless Maxl. She let him help her into a cab, sit beside her. She spoke the address, an apartment off the Drive on West 78th Street. She didn't like the wide back of the taxi driver. His ears squared out from under a greasy cap. She didn't remember the ears of the watching waiter. She'd been too occupied with the caterpillar eyebrows, the skinned head with a stubble of black bristling on it.
She didn't try to answer Maxi's exuberances on the crosstown drive. Murmurs were enough. He wasn't telling her how a shabby student who had fled a Nazi-ized continent became a lordly bourgeois with cab money and an expensive greatcoat.
The cab didn't maneuver. It went swiftly through the quiet side streets to Fifth, down to the 79th Street Transverse, across, down again, and across. It stopped at the dark worn brick front of her apartment.
She said, "Thank you, Maxl," holding out her brown-fabricked hand, but he walked with her, up the four worn steps to the front entrance door. She had her key in hand and her teeth together. She didn't know yet if there had been a purpose in this meeting.
He said, "Allow me." She stood tensed as he took the key from her, opened the vestibule door. But he returned the key and stepped back. He removed his hat, bowed. He said, "I will telephone you and we will have dinner soon, Julie? Perhaps Sunday night?"
She said, "Yes, telephone me." Perhaps she could move tomorrow, Saturday, be lost to him again. Perhaps there was no reason for this fear of him. Perhaps he hadn't noticed the waiter. Perhaps he had been genuinely pleased to see her at Carnegie, lonely in a strange land, proud to show his new prosperity to one who had known him poor.
She softened. She smiled and took his outstretched hand. "I'd be delighted, Maxl. Telephone me."
She stepped into the dim smell of old tiles, closed the door. She looked through the half-lighted pane, watched Maxl descend the steps and walk toward the cab. He stopped and his hand went into his pocket. She smiled. He wasn't as prosperous as his pretense. He was going to pay off and go by subway from here. She liked him better.
She turned and climbed the three flights to her walk-up apartment. Third floor, left front. A small, soiled-looking room, a stained bath, a cubbyhole called a kitchenette. It was cheap and it looked cheap. Once she hadn't known that anyone could live in such a fashion. Paul still wouldn't know. The very unpleasantness made this a haven. No one would seek the niece of Paul Guille, rightfully the Duc de Guille, here. No one from the past must find her. Maxl had. By accident or design. It didn't matter. She must move on to another such place before he sought her again.
She turned on the rose-shaded lamp, walked to the front windows to draw the blinds. The taxi was gone.
Maxl wasn't gone. Under the street lamp he looked as if he'd started to run down the steep incline leading to the Drive. He looked as if he'd fallen and forgotten to get up. She knew it was Maxl. She could almost feel the fuzz on his black coat.
She pulled the shade down, down, down, and suddenly took her brown-gloved fingers away from it as if it burned. She stood there very stiff, knowing something but not able to say to herself what it was. Then a shaft opened in her mind and she did know. It was something she had to do. She had to go downstairs again to help Maxl. He wasn't dead. This was America, not Gestapo-ridden Europe. He couldn't just lie there on the walk. She must go to him. Even if his attackers were outside hovering, she must do it. It was the creed of refugees: help one another.
She left the lamp burning. She made no sound descending the three flights, but there were sounds about her: rustles and whispers, bumps and creaks. She reached the front door, put her gloved hand on the knob. She hesitated. Whether it was Nazis or anti-Nazis who had attacked him, she was on the wrong side. She had been with him.
She opened the door and crept down the steps. She turned toward the Drive, moved on dragging feet. A few steps to his shadow on the pavement. She bent over him and she stood again quickly. He was dead.
She had known that he would be dead. He wouldn't have lain face down on the sidewalk in his new coat if he weren't dead. She must run, now, quickly; not return to the dingy room. Fortunately, she hadn't removed her wraps or laid down her purse. Run, run fast. But before she ran she had to get that little black morocco book from his inner pocket. Because her name was in it. When the police found Maxl, found that book, they would come for her. He lay on the sidewalk in front of her apartment house, and in his book was the address of her apartment house right under her name.
When the police came for her, they would interrogate her. Why was she in this country? There was no reason she dared give. Had she friends, family? None. How was she here? She had no passport for Juliet Marlebone. Senora Eloyso Vigil y de Vaca's passport had been returned to Havana long ago. She could be locked up. Terror beat her hands together. She could be deported to Paris. Terror shook every fiber of her body.
Run, run fast. Even now the police might be on the way. Someone behind one of those blank brick walls might have heard a shot. She hadn't heard a shot. Someone might have seen Maxl fall, might have given the alarm. She scooped down swiftly over him.
She had to lift him to reach that pocket. He was dead weight. She couldn't budge him. Frantically she rammed her arm between the unyielding sidewalk and his hulk; she snaked her gloved fingers within the greatcoat, into the inner pocket. It took so long. She closed on the book, painfully edged it up and out. The killer hadn't taken it. He hadn't taken it. He hadn't known it was there. Or he didn't want it. It was nothing but a little book with names and addresses in it. She didn't look at it, she only felt it, thrust it down into her bag. She rose up quickly and plunged, half running, half stumbling toward the Drive. She didn't look back. She was afraid to look back.
The sound was her breath. It was coming and going fast, an animal sound. She turned the corner of the Drive into the snagged teeth of the wind. She put her head down into it and forced her way on to 79th Street. She turned sharp there and started back up the hill toward Broadway. The hill held her back, the wind had followed her. It was like trying to hasten in a dream. She could hear the hunted sound of her breath. The lights of a cab were approaching and she shrank close to the dark hull of the buildings. But she didn't stop walking. She kept on, slowly as in a nightmare, with her heart pumping faster, faster. The cab didn't stop. It rolled down the street, turning north at the Drive.
She crossed West End without looking. right or left, particularly not looking right. Someone might be on the corner of 78th Street. Her legs ached pushing them up the hill. The crosstown blocks were always long, now they were endless. She might have been on a squirrel tread, moving but not advancing. And then she reached the crest, Broadway.
There were lights here, not as many as once there had been, the street lamps dimmed, the store windows darkened by war conditions. But more light than on the side ways. She slid her left arm out of the coat sleeve, looked down at her wristwatch. Ten minutes to two o'clock. It had been after one when Maxl left her at the door. The hours since hadn't added to one hour.
She stood there under the dull street light not looking at the watch. The palms of her gloves were dark; she touched them together, dark, sticky darkness. She had held them tensed, palm to palm, while she braced the wind and the hill and night shadow. She rubbed them frantically; the stain matted. On the right sleeve of her brown coat the dark stuff had crawled like a monstrous spider. It seemed to be crawling still. She was shaking so much that she couldn't move, but she did, darting across the half street, cowering into the downtown subway entrance. On the damp stairs she pulled the gloves from her hands inside out. Her breath was sobbing when she scrubbed them against the right sleeve of her coat. She could throw them away--but not her coat, the night was too cold.
She ran on down the steps, opened her purse and her coin purse, found a nickel, went through the turnstile. There was no one on the platform, not on the downtown or uptown side. She scurried to the bench, sat there, wishing she were numb, not palsied. Her fingers felt sticky now. A silent scream ached in her throat as she saw the dark red gumming them. They'd been clean before they delved into her purse. The notebook there inside. She fumbled the gloves back on her hands, wiped them over the purse. She opened it furtively, clicked it shut. The color of blood was inside. There were smudges on the front of her coat where the purse had lain. If she pressed it there again, that one stain was hidden.
Someone was clattering down the stairs. She froze, not daring to look. She heard the nickel's click, the thud of the turning stile. The steps moved away. From under the brim of her hat, her eyes slanted. A man, a night worker. His back turned to her, the early morning tabloid in his hands.
She rubbed her gloved fist against her coat sleeve. The worst was on the under side where her arm had slid into Maxi's inner pocket. If she held her arm close to her side, it wouldn't be noticed much. If she kept her gloved hands in her pockets, they wouldn't show. The stains didn't look like blood.
They had the smell of blood.
The roar of the local came from the tunnel. She stood, waited until the train had stopped before hurrying to it. She entered a different car from the tabloid man. There were only a few persons in the lighted interior, two men with the inevitable tabloids before their faces; one man asleep, his head swaying forward and back and side with the motion of the train. She stood in the darkened vestibule, pressed against the steel wall for support, watching blindly the dark rush of tunnel. She didn't know where she was going. She didn't know where she could go. There was less than five dollars in her purse. Even if she'd had more than that a hotel was out of the question. Without luggage, matted with blood, a girl couldn't walk into a hotel in the middle of the night. The railroad terminals--she didn't dare. She'd be watched. There were signs: No Loiterers. There were all-night movie theaters but she was afraid, afraid of a lighted foyer, of a ticket seller's memory.
She couldn't leave town until morning. She must have more money; she must get rid of the blood-stained clothes first. Lucky she'd been foresighted about putting her funds into a savings bank. There'd be no questions asked when she withdrew it. A large check offered by a haggard young girl would be questioned. Particularly one with blood on her garments. Her face mirrored in the half-lighted pane of the door was more than haggard. It was the face of a tortured ghost.
Where could she go until morning? Where could she hide? The train pulled into Times Square. Without volition she left it. The vast underground cavern was curiously empty at this morning hour. She wasn't lost in a throng as she would be during the day and early evening. She was someone to be remembered by the other stragglers. She took the next train that came along. It didn't matter where she was going. She was too tired to remain longer on her feet. She crept into the lighted interior, sat in a corner, hugging her purse and arms close against her, tucking her gloved hands under her elbows. There were two other night-weary passengers. They didn't look at her.
She rode to the end of the line. She didn't know where she was: Brooklyn, Flatbush, Queens--it didn't matter. When the guard came through, she said, "I slept through my station." She moved wearily, paid another nickel, and began the long ride uptown.
She rode until her watch said seven o'clock. Sometimes she dozed from sheer weariness but she was afraid. The jerk of the train entering a station was the jerk of the arm of the law. Always it woke her. She was sly in her terror, leaving trains at odd stations, waiting, sometimes an hour, for the next car. Only once was she spoken to and that by a drunk. He might have caused a scene, remembered her later, but she wasn't alone on the platform then. Two men stared at him and he swaggered away.
At six there were more persons coming into the trains. She stood then and whenever anyone looked at her, she left the train at the next station. When her watch said seven, she waited for Times Square again. She shuttled to Grand Central, climbed the stairs, entered the women's room on the upper level. She didn't look at anyone; there weren't very many women there. Her face in the mirror was gray; even her lips were gray. Under her eyes were slate-gray circles.
She used a machine for towel and soap, laid the packet on the ledge, and stripped the gloves from her hands. The palms were stiff now. She thrust them into her bag quickly and closed it. She scrubbed her hands, her face, her hands again. She could still feel the stickiness on her fingertips. She reopened her bag, forced her fingers inside, found lipstick and a comb. Her dark hair was lank about her face. She tucked it behind her ears, pulled off her hat suddenly and thrust it up beneath the crown. The hat didn't look right but it was better that way.
She couldn't sponge at her coat, it might run red; she couldn't remove articles from her purse, examine them for caked blood. She wasn't alone here. She was afraid to lock herself inside a private dressing-room; someone might become suspicious of the stains. She washed her hands again before she left the room.
She went up the ramp to 42nd Street. At the door she bought two tabloids and the Herald Tribune. She put the papers under her arm, crossed the yet quiet traffic of the street, went down into the Automat. She had to open her purse again but she knew the bills in the zipper compartment were unstained. She laid the dollar on the counter, swept the two quarters and ten nickels into her ungloved hand, carried them to her tray.
Out of sheer weariness she dared the steam table for scrambled eggs and bacon. Toast and fruit juice went with it on the special. For a nickel the slot filled her cup with strong steaming coffee. She carried her tray to the farthest corner. She wasn't hungry for food but she was weak. She finished the last crust before she opened the papers.
There wasn't much in the Herald Tribune, a small item, the body of Maximilian Adlebrecht found on West 78th Street early this morning. Identified from letters on him. The tabloids were more lurid but they didn't know much more. Not in these early editions. The man was shot twice in the back at close range. She hadn't heard shots. The body was described as about 24 years old, well-dressed, $25 in a billfold, no robbery. The janitor of her house had found him about 3:00 a.m., turned in the alarm. The janitor with an unpronounceable Polish name was being held for further questioning. There was nothing about a dark girl who lived in that apartment house.
The day in New York didn't begin until nine o'clock. She could do nothing until then. An hour to wait. She was awake now although her eyes felt as if pins held them open. She sat there while the room filled, refilled, over and again, ignoring each pointed look at her continued occupation of a chair. She sat behind the opened newspapers, reading every readable word. She read for an hour. When she left, the Tribune and the News remained on her chair. She carried the less bulky Mirror folded beneath her purse. It helped hide the stains that were not coffee stains.