A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Fleetwoods, Guy & The Marble Arch
Friday, April 28, 2006

At half-past six the Fleetwood purred up to the front door and I had it open when she came up the steps. She was hatless. She wore a flesh-coloured coat with the collar turned up against her platinum hair. She stood in the middle of the living-room and looked around casually. Then she slipped the coat off with a lithe movement and threw it on the davenport and sat down. 'I didn't really think you'd come,'I said. 'No. Your're the shy type. YOu knew darned well I'd come. Scotch and soda, if you have it.' 'I have it.' I brought the drinks and sat down beside her, but not close enough for it to mean anything. We touched glasses and drank. 'Would you care to go to Romanoffo for dinner?' 'And then what?' 'Where do you live?''West Los Angeles. A house on a quiet old street. It happens to belong to me. I asked you and then what, remember?' 'That would be up to you, naturally.''I thought you were a tough guy. You mean I don't have to pay for my dinner?' 'I ought to slap your face for that crack.' She laughed suddenlly and stared at me over the edge of her glass.'Consider it slapped. We had each other a bit wrong. Romanoffs could wait a while, couldn't it?''We could try West Los Angels first.' 'Why not here?' 'I guess this will make you walk out on me. I had a dream here once, a year and a half ago. There is still a shredd of it left. I'd like to stay in charge.' She stood up quickly and grabbed her coat. I managed to help her on with it. 'I'm sorry, 'I said, "I should have told you that before. She swung around with her face close to mine, but I didn't touch her. 'Sorry that you had and dream and kept it alive? I've had dreams too, but mine died. I didn't have the courage to keep them alive.''It's not quite like that. There was a woman. She was rich. She thought she wanted to marry me. It wouldn't have worked. I'll probably never see her again. But I remember.' 'Let's go. 'she said quietly. 'And let's leave the memory in charge. I only wish I had one worth remembering.'On the way down to the Cadillac I didn't touch her either. She drove beautifully. When a woman is a really good driver she is just about perfect.
Playback, Chapter XIII, by Raymond Chandler

I felt like part of a Raymond Chandler novel once when I went to the front desk of the Marble Arch Hotel and Guy (above), the man behind it, told me, "Alex, the young lady is waiting for you upstairs. You will not need a key." I had been attempting to do my own Helmut Newtons. Twice difficult, since not only am I not Newton, but I also don't have access to expensive Paris hotels. The Marble Arch worked out just fine.


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