17. Do You Believe In Magick?
The sun shone through the window of the Metro carriage and we all squinted into the sunset. That's what happens if you sit with your back to the direction of travel into the heart of DC at 5 in the evening. The reverse commuters looked sad. I wondered who lived in DC and commuted out to Virginia apart from the Military and the 27 contractors for every uniformed GI in the Pentagon. Who on earth could afford DC realty prices, come to that? Some city-dressed women left at Georgetown and I followed them out onto the platform, out of curiosity - and because I realised it was a week until Lila Radziwill's gig as the asshole prize-giver at the literary event of the month, at least since the one the week before.
They headed straight for Wisconsin Avenue. For I while I thought they might stop at Good Guys but they went past it talking nineteen-to-the-dozen into mobile phones – maybe even to each other. They stopped outside a Latin-themed Sushi and Cocktails place called Maté. I listened in : I was bored.
'Yeah, totally. Doncha just love those Argentino waiters?' Blue pastel trouser suit.
'But, Cyn, sushi from South America?' Black skirt-suit.
'Why not, wasn't the president of Peru or somewhere a Japanese?' Red cocktail dress and shiny black clutch bag.
'Who cares? I just hope Armando is making the cocktails.' Funky cut skirt-suit in lemon with boxy shoulders.
They went in, so did I. They were taken to a corner booth by a guy with a pencil moustache and enough brilliantine to grease the engines on a battleship. He was dressed in the full penguin suit and looked as out of place among the white and lucite as Gilbert Roland in a kung fu film. There was a wave from the corner of the bar.
'Hey Sam,' I said.
'Hey, Gabby,' she crossed her legs and it crossed my mind she was better dressed in a leather jacket and skirt combo than any of the Sex in the Capital City types I'd followed into the place.
She lifted a glass that was half-full with her favourite cocktail, scotch and nothing.
'Got all I need.'
I ordered something similar from the guy behind the bar. The look he gave me suggested that he might well be Armando. I watched him go to the other end of the bar, the look he gave the women I had followed from the train told me he was.
Sam didn't look dressed for business, at least not P.I. Business, so I tried a little small talk,
'Hey, coincidence, huh?'
She always tied my tongue in knots.
'Everything that happens, no matter what, is an inconceivably improbable coincidence.' She took a belt out of her scotch and there was only one finger left in the glass afterwards.
'Who said that?'
'A damn' fool Brit who fooled a lot of damned Brits. Try his book, it's right up your alley.'
I took a drink myself, 'Sounds like Crowley.'
'How does Gabriel Chandler know about a thing like that?'
'Yeah, I know you know lotsa stuff, but... you been hinky the last twice I seenya. Dunno what it is.'
Her eyes did a circuit of my my head and torso. Then she looked over both my shoulders as if there was something she couldn't quite see there.
'And you won't tell me, either, huh?' She finished her drink. 'Well, Gabe my boy, I got things to do.'
Sam Sara looked over at the Sex in the City sophisticates.
'Yep, it's a job. Something about putting in a fix.'
'You sure ain't no conversationalist, Gabby. Must have other attributes, fer sure.'
She raised an eyebrow and I knew that there must be worse things in all the many worlds than falling – “fer sure”.
I told her I'd stick around for a while, cover her back, keep an eye on her, she gave a lop-sided smile and mouthed 'fer sure', before she walked over to the Fab Four.