The Picture Ranch 43
We ordered food and I ate it. I hailed a cab and we picked up the Hispano over by Union Station. It was after five. The engine sounded better than any car I'd ever driven before. I said, “where to?” and Miss Gräfenberg sighed,
‘Let’s not go back to the Biltmore’
I figured she’d had enough of Rozh-air.
‘Where then? Back out to Beverley Hills?’
‘Let’s go to the Chateau.’
She meant the Marmont, on Sunset. I’d been there once, turned over Kate Hepburn’s room for a client, but all I found were men’s clothes in a damn small size. I knew what it meant but the client jumped to a conclusion. Maybe because actors were so short. I got his money before I told him.
The Chateau was ten miles away but I pointed the Hispano Suiza down Rte 101 and let MacArthur Park slide by until LA changed to Hollywood and then West Hollywood. My client didn’t say anything. She was in the back not looking at the scenery. Wherever she was, it wasn’t today. She wiped something from her eye with a gloved hand and I offered her my pocket square.
“No thank you, Micawber. I have my own.”
But she didn’t open her purse. Maybe the silk of a glove works just as well as a pocket square’s.
I pulled off Sunset and into the grounds of the hotel, decanted the bags from the trunk and flipped the boy a quarter. He caught it OK so I guessed he’d park the car without too many dings. At the desk Miss G was already in conversation with another Frenchified native of Carson City or some other burg where the only French things in town were fries. I handed over Miss G’s luggage to the bell hop. He struggled a little. I looked at Eleanor and she raised a pencilled eyebrow,
‘Marion won’t mind. She’ll never wear them.’
‘Billy Wilder useta sleep in the rest rooms here.’I said.
‘Poor people do what they must.’
‘But you’re loaded, Miss G.’
‘I’ve done what I’ve had to, too. It’s a hard habit to break. Besides, look at Billy now.’
A balding guy in a tweed jacket was crossing the vestibule and heading for the elevator. There were restrooms on the ground floor, but he didn’t need them any more. Billy gave Miss G a wave. I couldn’t tell if he knew her or was just waving at a pretty woman. She didn’t wave back.
The Carson City native handed over a key and waited in vain for a tip. We took the elevator next to the one Billy Wilder had gone up in. On the fourth floor, Miss G put her hand on my chest when the doors opened.
‘Go find yourself something to do for a couple of hours. You can do that can’t you?’
She turned and I watched her walk towards Room 413 until the elevator doors slid closed.
I could have sworn the number on the key fob she'd picked up from the desk had been 501.