from Ivory Pearl
Out in May from NYRB
The black Oldsmobile proceeded cautiously over the sand of a beach. Balazs was at the wheel. In the back seat Maurer and Branko sat on either side of a seven-year-old girl wrapped up in a sleeping bag whom they had rendered unconscious with a morphine shot. It was daybreak. With its sidelights out the car was a shadowy outline against the deserted gray strand. The faces of the three men looked pale and their clothing was dark. The violet tip of a tongue peeped from the corner of Balazs’s thin lips as he steered the heavy vehicle over the uneven ground, which was marked by old ruts hardened but crumbling at the edges. They were driving in first gear towards an isolated cubiform house facing the ocean. They reached it, pulled up, and got out. Maurer got back in, took the wheel and put the machine into a rudimentary garage: a lean-to in back of the cubiform house, just a patch of tarmac beneath a vast awning covered with dried reeds and supported by tall poles.
Meanwhile Balazs entered the two-story building. Branko followed him, carrying the unconscious girl. All that could be seen of her was the top of her head: a dull band of forehead and straggly black curls.
Maurer backed the Oldsmobile into one of the garage’s two spaces, the rear bumper against the rear wall of the house. The other space was occupied by a rat-gray Peugeot 203, likewise backed in and empty. The 203 bore Spanish license plates. The plates of the black Olds showed that the automobile was registered in the United States, in Florida.
Maurer alighted from the car, did not lock the doors, showed no interest in the Peugeot. He left the lean-to and made for the front of the house. Walking towards the ocean, he went along the side of the building, behind him a mass of pallid dunes topped by dark grass, above his head a brass-streaked cobalt sky.
Maurer was young, very likely under twenty-five. He was tall and broad and wore rough blue cloth pants, combat boots, and a navy-blue peacoat over a lightweight black turtleneck sweater. His face was square, the chin firm, the lips fleshy, the nose straight between high cheekbones. The eyes were steel-gray, slightly off-kilter beneath nearly colorless eyebrows and a wide forehead. The back of the neck and the temples were shaven. A crowd of very short tow hairs did battle on the top of his skull.
The young man heard a sound like that of a bottle being vigorously uncorked, then a clinking, and then he saw a shower of little pieces of broken glass fall onto the bleached sand at his feet. Without slowing his pace he bent his head back to look up at the window in the sidewall he was hugging. It was upstairs, and protected by shutters like all the house’s few windows. Maurer looked ahead once more and hurried. With four strides he rounded the corner of the house and reached the front door. The walk had undone two buttons of his jacket. He thrust his right hand into the opening in the garment, while with his left he opened and gently pushed the door ajar, stepping aside immediately, leaning his left shoulder against the white rough-cast cement outside wall, then risking a glance inside because the ocean’s dull roar prevented him from hearing anything else.
A living room took up nearly all the ground level, with, in the shadows, a brick-colored tile floor, ill-assorted bamboo easy chairs, two worn canvas-covered couches and a pile of crumpled old periodicals on a low oval table surrounded by rattan seats. There was also an empty fireplace, geometrically patterned drapes and, pinned to the pale walls, large black-and-white photographs torn from magazines and picturing various Spanish soccer teams. Bare, unlit electric bulbs dangled from wires at two points on the plaster ceiling. There was no one to be seen.
Opposite the entrance door a steep narrow stairway led to the upper floor, disappearing into an open trap in the ceiling. Maurer heard footsteps above, quickly entered the room and headed for a little kitchen that he saw separated from the living room by a thin partition. But before he could reach it a man in a long black leather coat and a black woolen cap came down the ladder, his gaze fixed on Maurer. It was neither Branko nor Balazs. Maurer stopped.
“Guido,” he said. (The greeting contained neither surprise nor joy.)
“Program change. I stay with you,” Guido commanded. “The others are upstairs. Close the door.” Guido stepped briskly off the stairs and advanced at the same pace towards Maurer, who stretched out his right foot and kicked the entrance door shut without turning away from Guido, barely visible in the half-light, and without withdrawing his hand from his jacket.
Guido took his hands out of his pockets. He was wearing surgical gloves and in his right hand he held a semiautomatic Sauer Model 38 chambered in .380 ACP and fitted with a silencer. He fired at Maurer just as Maurer lunged like a fencer.
Parang is the Malay word for a large knife whose blade and handle have several functional curves and three different edges. The parang is a good clearing tool, like the machete of South America or the bolo of the Philippines. It may also be used to open shellfish, skin game, or engage in such artistic activities as wood or bone carving. It can also serve as a weapon. A good parang has a blade some thirty centimeters long. Along the greater part of its length this blade is so sharp that it is dangerous to grasp the sheath with one hand while drawing the weapon with the other: the blade is liable in that case to slice the sheath open and the hand likewise. Cautious Malays carry the parang in a wooden sheath.
As Maurer was lunging like a fencer towards Guido, he drew a parang, forty-five centimeters long overall, which he carried under his left arm in a cloth sheath that was batting against his upper thigh.
The blade slit the sheath, sliced his jacket without slowing and followed its swing in an upward direction as Maurer extended his right arm in front of him and took the .380 ACP round that Guido fired at him, making a pop like a cork being energetically pulled from a bottle, in the left shoulder.
Guido was competent. He had aimed for the belly because that was the best, but since Maurer had lunged very low, the bullet entered beneath his collarbone, fractured his left shoulder blade, exited through the back of his peacoat, and buried itself in the kitchen wall. The parang sectioned Guido’s wrist and his hand and his Sauer fell onto the tile floor. Under the impact of the shot, Maurer failed to gather his left leg under him, so that at the end of its arc the sharp point of the parang caught only the tip of Guido’s chin, exposing the bone. As he sought to move forward Maurer fell to his right knee. Then he got to his feet. Guido backed towards the foot of the stairs. He said nothing. His eyes gleamed with fright. A good deal of blood was flowing from his wrist onto the floor. Maurer came up to Guido as he collapsed on the lower stairs. He wanted to behead Guido before he cried out. But Maurer hesitated. The great horizontal slash whereby he meant to decapitate Guido succeeded only in cutting the amputee’s throat without detaching the head from the body. Guido appeared to furl up like a blind, his split chin falling onto his gaping throat, his trunk folding over onto his thighs until he finally toppled forward onto his side and came to rest curled up in a ball on the brick-colored tiles. The pool of blood from his wrist and the pool from his throat soon converged. And scarlet streaks were to be seen all over the room.
No sooner had Maurer delivered his horizontal blow than, not having encountered the expected resistance (from the cervical vertebrae), he overbalanced and fell to the floor. He groaned, lay there for a moment, then rolled over in the blood and managed to get up. He walked to the gloved hand still holding the pistol. Groaning and grimacing, he went down on one knee, laid his sticky parang on the tiles, and detached the Sauer from the hand. Pain brought another croak from him as he rose. He picked the parang up in his dangling left hand and held the firearm in his right.
Less than thirty seconds had elapsed since Guido fired at Maurer. And neither the shot nor what followed had made more noise than a man slapping an uncut book on a table and proceeding to cut a few pages.
All the same, a man now appeared at the top of the stairs, a handsome, slim, brown-skinned young guy with dark black hair wearing a Prince of Wales check suit and pointing a long Reising pistol at Maurer, which like the Sauer was fitted with a silencer. He seemed puzzled, he hesitated, and Maurer put three .380 rounds in his torso; the pretty boy fell dead on the top stairs and his body did not tumble any further.
After quickly making sure that there was nobody in the kitchen or the ground-floor bathroom, Maurer started upstairs. On his back, around the exit hole of the bullet that had passed through him, the thick material of his peacoat was soaked with blood over an area a hand and a half wide. Hearing a crash from above, he froze. Someone opened a window, then shutters, and leapt out onto the reed roof of the lean-to garage, crashed through the frail awning and landed on top of one of the cars. Maurer resumed his climb, struggling to move quickly. A car door slammed, a light door that did not sound like the Oldsmobile’s. Then indeed the 203 was heard starting up.
Instantly a shock wave blew out the upstairs windows and a split second later came an explosion like a kilometer of sheet metal being suddenly ripped apart.
Standing on the stairs, swaying, a weapon in each hand and unable to grab for support, Maurer received the whole of the back upstairs window, including the frame, on his head, a cloud of plaster and mortar combined with a blast of shattered glass. The rear wall of the beach house shook. Roof tiles flew. The Peugeot’s engine block, hurled into the air, fell back onto the house’s roof, crashed through it and fetched up on the parquet of the upper floor. Dust and smoke then invaded the house more slowly but more copiously than the first wave of detritus.
Maurer did not fall. He staggered. The plaster had whitened his hair, his face, his chest: he looked like a mad baker’s boy armed with a parang and a pistol. He yelped and pressed on. The staircase was still trembling as he stepped over the dead pretty boy and inspected a hallway and two bedrooms aswirl with the dust and smoke. Through a demolished window he saw that the lean-to had disappeared. There was little left of the 203, little left of its driver, and the remains were on fire. The massive Oldsmobile was overturned, all its windows broken and its tires melted, but it was not yet on fire.
Balazs and Branko had been shot to death in one of the bedrooms. At the back of the other the little girl lay on the floor against the wall in the down sleeping bag on which two bullet holes were visible along with a little blood. Maurer stuck the Sauer in the right pocket of his peacoat and bent over in pain. He touched a finger to the little girl’s carotid artery. She was still alive. He put her over his shoulder, supported himself with the parang as he straightened up, tottered across the room grunting in agony, got back to the stairs, went down cautiously and quickly left the house.
It was morning. The house was sending a column of black smoke into the blue sky. Maurer set off with long strides along the waterline. In time he disappeared over the horizon.
Several years later, in Liverpool, England, Maurer came out one morning from a seaman’s lodging-house to be surrounded by three men in black oilskins, one of whom stuck the short barrel of a revolver into his ear and asked him without ado where is Alba Black.
On january 1, 1956, a little after quarter past five in the afternoon, a Piper Cub air taxi touched down on a small airfield at Dieppe (Seine-Inférieure). Wearing fleece-lined Royal Air Force boots, a wolf-fur coat, dark glasses and a black felt Stetson, Ivy alighted from the single-engine craft once it had parked. She shook the pilot’s hand, shook her head in reply to something he said, and made for the field’s exit lugging a heavy gray canvas traveling bag with ease. There she met a waiting Land Rover. A young man was at the wheel, fair-haired, twenty or so, lumber jacket, sweater, brown corduroy pants and pataugas.
“You are Mademoiselle Ivy? I am Lajos. Let me help you with that.” (But she had already stowed her bag in the back of the Land Rover and was clambering into the front seat.) “You should have let me help you,” said Lajos as he started the engine.
“Hello Lajos,” said Ivy, extending her hand for him to shake, but instead he took it, and leant low to kiss it.
“My deepest respects,” he declared.
His accent was formidable. The Land Rover sprang into motion and headed at first towards the sea, entering Dieppe via the long, straight downslope of Rue Gambetta. Electoral billboards fled past in the winter dusk. National Assembly candidates were vowing to finish the Algerian rebels. Other posters pitched films currently showing at the town’s movie theaters: School for Love, Kiss Me Deadly, East of Eden. Meanwhile, considering Lajos’s accent and his manners, Ivy was asking him if he had been in France long.
“A year, or not quite,” he said. “I left Hungary in ’52 but after that I was in Austria. Then I came to Paris, where I soon met Samuel.” He cast an anxious glance at Ivy. “I don’t know why he didn’t come to greet you in person. I fancy he wants you to form an opinion of me.”
Ivy made no reply. At the bottom of Rue Gambetta the Land Rover turned right into a hairpin bend. The vehicle crossed Dieppe skirting the train station, taking side streets so as to avoid traffic jams or being held up by a closed railway crossing. They soon reached the heights above Le Pollet, which they climbed rapidly, overtaking family sedans: Peugeot 203s and 403s, Renault Frégates, Citroën DS19s, etc. Reaching the top, at the traffic circle, instead of taking the road to Eu and Le Tréport they bore right and headed east on National 320. Lajos had put his sidelights on when they left the airfield. Now he lit his beams, for night had fallen. Ivy took off her dark glasses. Beneath her black felt hat she had a long face and a broad brow, prominent cheekbones, an elegant nose and large dark flinty eyes. Her straight brown hair was medium-length, brushing her shoulders, and she had short bangs and smelt slightly of expensive perfume and a little of kerosene. She lit a Gitane with a Zippo lighter.
“Do you mind if I smoke?” she asked belatedly.
“No,” said Lajos. “I may be queer, but I’m not a sissy.” He looked at her sideways. He seemed to be expecting a reaction or something of the sort.
“If you don’t ask me any questions,” he went on, “how can you form an opinion of me? I am sure that Sam sent me to meet you for you to form an opinion of me.”
“Samuel Farakhan hates driving. He hates being a passenger in a car even more. He is horrified by the fact that we drive on the right in France. That’s why he sent you. Aside from that you are cute, you drive very well, and you are overanxious and useless. And as for me I am worn out because I was up until seven this morning tying one on at the house of a bunch of idiots. And worn out because the last year has worn me out. So fuck off and leave me be.”
“Oh my goodness!” said Lajos with affected consternation. He seemed about to apologize or something, but thought better of it and kept silent for a moment as the Land Rover reached Envermeu, made its way through the little town and carried on down N320, a two-lane blacktop running along a hillside amid damp meadows yellowing in the obscurity and muddy fields sprinkled with thatched cottages and clumps of leafless trees.
“You did some research for me this year,” said Lajos in a timid and courteous way. “Thank you for that.”
“Research? Oh yes. It was nothing. I’m a reporter—I have my sources. When Sam wrote me, or rather when I got his letter in Paris two months later, I asked friends of mine and we looked in the newspaper morgues. Two childhood buddies of yours, huh?” (Without being aware of it, she had begun to address Lajos in the familiar form, from distraction perhaps, or from fatigue or because of remembering her journalist pals.) “Strange friends, I must say. Anyway, it was no trouble. I can’t even recall their names now.”
“Balazs, like the China specialist, and Branko. Zoltàn Balazs and Rustem Branko. They weren’t really friends of mine. They were five or six years older. At that age, it makes a difference. I suppose they helped me survive.”
“The hard way?”
“Tough, yes. I don’t know whether I wanted to find them to say hello or to beat them up when I left Hungary too.” Lajos was speaking slowly now, and driving fast. “They were shits. They boasted about having been informers, at thirteen or fourteen, for the Germans and for Horthy’s police, and then about going over to the Communists. In 1948 they joined the AVO, the secret police. They could have made a career of that. They were earning three thousand forints a month, and there were perks. I think they left Hungary because they were afraid their past would come out, but perhaps they were just looking for adventure.”
“They found it.”
“They weren’t really smart,” said Lajos. “Just cunning and suspicious. But avaricious.”
“Well,” said Ivy, exhaling cigarette smoke, “they had Cadillacs and women for a while. Then they were dead.”
“But are you quite sure about that, when it comes to Branko? Sam showed me your letter: you wrote that the body was almost entirely destroyed.”
“But identifiable. A few fingers, all the same. And teeth. He had had dental work. In Miami, I think. In any case, it was certain.”
In the night the lights of Londinières were getting closer. Lajos shifted down.
“But you did say that someone got out.”
“Lajos,” said Ivy rather tiredly, “All I did was consult some press files and talk to some friends and checked a few things. I work as a photographer on major features. I’m not a detective. The files say that Alba Black, niece of the international arms trafficker Aaron Black, disappeared as well as a German or Dutch seaman whose name I forget. The others are dead: your two guys and two Americans at the scene, and a third American with an Italian name died en route to the hospital.”
“They killed one another, did they”
“Over the split of the spoils,” said Lajos, talking like a book.
In the darkness of the Rover’s interior the wide and beautiful mouth of the young woman gave a cold smile that quickly vanished.
“You can’t split up a ransom that hasn’t been paid,” she said.
“And you can’t split up a little girl,” said Lajos, smiling almost merrily, and adding: “unless you are cannibals.”
“Or bastards,” said Ivy in a steely tone.
At this moment Samuel Farakhan was in his large residence a few hundred meters from National 314, the road from Londinières to Neufchâtel-en-Bray. Sitting in his upstairs study, he was rereading and correcting an article he had written for a limited-circulation newsletter called Telos. The article examined the campaign of resistance, strike action and revolt at Camps 3, 4 and 5 in Norilsk, near the estuary of the Yenisei. Farakhan, after checking a reference in Grenzen der Sowjetzmacht by W. Starlinger (Wuerzburg, 1955), and apparently satisfied at last with his text, stood up and put the sheets of paper down near his Underwood typewriter in the desk lamp’s pool of brutal light. Turning the lamp off, he went down to the living room. Hefty logs were flaming in the fireplace even though the house was centrally heated by an oil-fired boiler in the basement. The man poured himself a scotch-and-branch-water and sat down in an armchair, designed early in the century by Bernhard Pankok, which was positioned behind a low table of the same period from the Josef Hoffmann school—and the remainder of the furniture was in the same style, namely Art Nouveau, especially of the Austrian variety; most of the pieces, nevertheless, were replicas, albeit just about as antique as the originals. Farakhan took a sip of his very pale whisky and glanced at his Jaeger watch. He seemed to be waiting. He was waiting for Ivy and Lajos. Perhaps he was remembering his first real encounter with Ivy; she was still almost a child then, and men nicknamed her Ivory Pearl.
It was a December night in 1945, and Ivory sat facing Samuel in a Berlin bedroom. The adolescent girl, no more than fourteen or fifteen, was devouring pastries without saying a word. From time to time she grasped her mug of beer, gulped a mouthful, smacked her lips and sighed contentedly. Once she burped discreetly. She was sitting on the floor on a military blanket that did service as a rug. She wore army boots too big for her, a voluminous khaki sweater by way of a dress, a Royal Air Force leather flying jacket by way of a coat and a black beret with its insignia snipped off pulled down over her ears by way of a hat. It was cold out, freezing, and the snow and puddles were hardening over the streets and ruins of Berlin.
It was not so cold inside the room because the window had been bricked up and the floor was entirely covered by army blankets, while a kerosene stove was lit not far from Ivory Pearl.
“Watch it with that thing,” the young girl counseled reasonably. “It’s damn stuffy in here and it eats up the oxygen as well as stinking. It would be pretty dumb to die of asphyxiation after getting out of the Second World War alive, don’t you think, Lieutenant?”
“Why do you call me Lieutenant?” asked Samuel Farakhan, who was sitting in a leather coat bearing no marks of rank on a burst and stained mattress where he had tossed a simple private’s beret.
“You can address me as tu,” Ivory Pearl informed him. “I call you Lieutenant because you are a lieutenant, you dodo! Flight Lieutenant, Royal Air Force, and your name isn’t Harry. It’s Lieutenant Samuel Farakhan. Mine is Marie, but they call me Ivy, as I told you.”
She spoke in French, but an imperfect French. An hour earlier it had been in English that Farakhan had struck up conversation with her in an off-limits bar full of booze, girls, catamites, black market goods and common soldiers with no right to be there. But as they left the dive Ivory Pearl twisted her ankle on the ice and let loose a volley of expletives in French. So from then on Farakhan had talked to her in that language.
“Don’t pull a face like that,” she cautioned, wiping pastry cream from her mouth with the back of a dirty hand. “You’ve been watching me for at least ten days. Do you think I didn’t notice? Well, I did notice, and I watched out. You have just come out of a war, Lieutenant, but so have I. You don’t come out of a war without watching out. I spotted you, I followed you; you didn’t spot me, though. I did some research. You’re a pilot. Aerial reconnaissance, no less. Not the sort of business where you don’t keep a lookout. So you certainly understand my point of view.”
Then “Hey!” she cried, as Samuel Farakhan lit a Player’s from the flame of the stove. “And the young lady? She’s not entitled to a smoke?”
“Excuse me,” said Farakhan courteously, proffering his open pack to the young girl, who plucked out three cigarettes at once, slipping two of them into the inside pocket of her jacket, lighting the third from the stove, inhaling her first drag to the depths of her lungs, sitting back and slowly blowing clouds of smoke from her nostrils and wide-open mouth.
She gave a noisy sigh of satisfaction and took another puff. Contrary to what one might have expected, she did not keep the cigarette in her mouth: after each intake she would take the Player’s out and hold it between her thumb and forefinger, the incandescent tip sheltered in her palm, the way fearful prisoners do, or wise soldiers in the nighttime.
“Thank you very much, Lieutenant,” she said after inhaling for the second time. “But your beer is piss. Be a real gentleman, pour us some champagne.”
There were in fact two bottles of Aÿ brut champagne laid in an enormous open metal locker alongside other excellent bottles of wine and spirits, cartons of English and American cigarettes, canned chicken and meat, and chewing gum, as well as other things in unmarked wrappings. On top of the unidentified packages lay a semiautomatic Colt .45 pistol with no magazine and the breech open.
“Champagne is not for naughty children.”
“I’m not a child anymore.”
“The champagne is not for you, Mademoiselle.”
“Oh yes, of course, it’s for some pretty soldier with a big prick!” Then she said “Oops! The lieutenant is going to sulk. He’s getting the homo shits. Think again, Lieutenant, Sir! Did you really think that I would have followed you into your little room if I didn’t know that you were queer? Listen, I really am a young girl, a virgin, Lieutenant Sam. Maybe I’ve done quite a lot of stuff that you don’t need to know about, but I’ve preserved my honor. These days, that’s a kind of capital.” She snickered unpleasantly, swallowed the remainder of her beer in a single gulp, turning the mug upside down and shaking it to get the very last drops, and then without getting up held the glass out in an outstretched hand almost three-quarters covered by her jacket’s large crumpled sleeve. “Champagne!” she demanded. “Or else I’m going to your superiors. I’ll tell them about this joint. How you train your cute raw recruits here.”
“Go right ahead! Get me cashiered if you can. I’m sick and tired of the army.”
“Dishonorable discharge! You won’t get a penny for a pension.”
“I couldn’t care less,” said Samuel Farakhan. “I’m rich. Furthermore, even if you managed to carry out your grotesque threats, everything would be hushed up in the most discreet fashion. You must know how attached to appearances the officer corps is.”
“All I know is the rank and file,” retorted the young girl.
“Scandal would be avoided,” the lieutenant went on relentlessly. “On top of that, I’m an elite officer, twice decorated for valor.” He smiled drily. “You may take a bottle of champagne. You may take both, you pathetic little bitch. But do me a favor and go and drink them somewhere else. I don’t drink with idiots.”
Ivory Pearl put down her mug, got up and stood still, her cigarette cupped in her right hand.
“I don’t want your wine. And I won’t snitch on you.”
“Makes no difference. Just get out.”
“When you asked me up, you spoke about making me an interesting commercial proposition.”
“You’re too stupid. Scat, kid.” The girl hesitated for a moment longer, then grabbed one of the bottles of champagne and left without another word. The day after the next, however, Flight Lieutenant Samuel Farakhan, at the office he occupied as a liaison officer of the Royal Air Force, received a message from Ivory Pearl. The underling who delivered it said that a street kid had handed it to him and immediately run off. The letter was written in crude and hesitant capitals on a magnificent sheet of vellum (obviously an endpaper torn from some antiquarian book).
Ten years later Samuel Farakhan would still treasure this missive, whose text he knew by heart and which read as follows:
i am honored to convay to you hereby my most sincere regrets and my deepest respect re our conversation the other evening night i am honoured to request of your highest beneficence a minimum of comprehension for christ’s sake!!!
without going too far back in time i have been with montgomery’s army since 44 in france then we crossed the rhine in 45 headed for bremen & hamburg
before 44 my life was hard because i was always having to move to get myself out of many impossible situations and i met with many obsticles for 4 years from 10 years old to 13 1/2
but later after running into an infantry platoon i was under their protection summer autumn winter up to now but mind you i was not a hore!!! I salute those soldiers of his imperial british majesty because they were always extremely decent to me and since their protection of me was against regulations i will never give their names not even under torture and never identify their unit or give their numbers no not a thing!!! have you seen the film wee willie winkie by rudyard kipling? The comradeship between these brave guys and me is like victor maclagen and shirley temple only more realistic & i am not as stupid as her&myheadisnotsofullofshitifican have stuck it out for four years on my own and then for 1 1/2 with 40 blokes even if there were only 25 or 30 on account of severe casualties & believe me they were not pervs & i’m not just saying that because of you
the point of these lines is to explain my dopey attitute the other night because living with 25 men and keeping one’s virginity is a strategy youve got to admit that & youve got to be informed about the enemies movements or you advance like sacrificial lambs & get masacred so according to my system you have to keep chaps on a tight leash
you are the first officer i ever met & i watched out like with any man & i beg that from your high beneficence youll accept my apologies
i suppose that doing business together you and me is dead in the water but otherwise you would have had in me a young lady knowing berlin very well & with a good grasp of supplies tactics & photography i beg to remain lieutenant sir your humblest servant
It was on New Year’s Day 1946 that Samuel Farakhan made a pact with Ivory Pearl, whom he had found once more ten days or so earlier in the same off-limits nightspot where he had first run into her.
For ten years thereafter that pact sealed on January 1, 1946, held good.