The whole thing lasted about an hour. Nobody touched the wine. When the newcomer stood to leave everything seemed cordial. They shook hands again and Ray squeezed the man’s shoulder with his free hand.
– So, he said, nos entendemos, we will try again, and do our best, but we cannot promise anything, claro?
– Si, understood. Hasta luego, and with a short bow to each of them he was gone.
Curiosity got the better of Mitchell. Noting that he had been referred to in the conversation he supposed that he might have a right to know something of what it was about. Ray explained to him that this was not the case; and that in any event, the less he knew, the better it would be for him. Ray seemed to be in a good mood for some reason.
– Now you and I will have a few more drinks to be sure Pedro has gone, he smiled.
– Is Pedro his real name?
– What do you think?
Neither of them spoke for a minute as Ray drained his glass and poured more wine for them both.
– Let’s just say, Ray confided, that Pedro wanted to buy something from me, but I’m not sure whether he really wanted to buy it, or only to know whether I had it to sell.
– What was he asking you for?
– Well you have an honest face, meaning that you look like you know nothing about anything, so it’s safe to talk to you. He said he wanted to buy supplies of something called titadine. It’s something used in mines that makes a loud bang when it goes off.
– What’s so surprising about that?
– It’s just not the sort of thing policemen like Pedro go around buying.
Ray would not say any more on this subject, but he made sure that they stayed in the bar long enough for Mitchell to become hopelessly drunk.
– About time for your bed now. I’m in a good mood tonight, almost a helpful mood. I think I’ll go on somewhere after this, but I might grant you three wishes first.
– The hundred and twenty
– You don’t want to go spoiling my mood
– I need to go back with something.
– Really? I supposed your job would just be to find out where I was staying; check it was really me. Isn’t that how it goes? You don’t seem like a person anyone would send to collect money from me.
– Well that’s true enough, but the way it works, now that we have spoken, I have to be able to say that I tried to collect some money on account from you; and to agree a payment schedule.
– Now you are becoming tiresome, Ray sighed. I need somewhere with a bit more life than this place. Come along if you want. No. Well in that case it has been very nice to meet you.
Ray made as if to rise but hesitated.
– Remember my story about the Irishman. I didn’t finish it.
– I’m not anxious to hear the ending.
– So you are not totally stupid. It was useful for me tonight, that Pedro should think I have my associates with me. I’d rather him not know I was on my own. He’s more dangerous than you might guess. And then there’s myself, I can be dangerous too. So your best bet is to be out of this situation and not even thinking about it in your own private thoughts. Am I clear? You put it out of your mind. Good.
He reached into his chest pocket and for a moment Mitchell felt the panic rising again. Ray pulled out a heavy battered wallet and began peeling bank notes from it. He put a pile of them on the beer soaked table in front of them.
– That’s four grand there, he announced. You can give that to the thieving bastards at the bank, or – he paused reached into his trouser pocket and drew out another wad of notes – there’s another two grand making six in all. You can take both piles for having to explain that you couldn’t find any sign of me.