“What?” I inquired politely.
But evidently he was not addressing me, for he dropped my hand and covered Gatsby with his expressive nose.
“I handed the money to Katspaugh and I sid: ‘all right, Katspaugh, don’t pay him a penny till he shuts his mouth.’ He shut it then and there.”
Gatsby took an arm of each of us and moved forward into the restaurant, whereupon Mr. Wolfsheim swallowed a new sentence he was starting and lapsed into a somnambulatory abstraction.
“Highballs?” asked the head waiter.
“This is a nice restaurant here,” said Mr. Wolfsheim, looking at the Presbyterian nymphs on the ceiling. “But I like across the street better!”
“Yes, highballs,” agreed Gatsby, and then to Mr. Wolfsheim: “It’s too hot over there.”
“Hot and small — yes,” said Mr. Wolfsheim, “but full of memories.”
“What place is that?” I asked.
“The old Metropole.
“The old Metropole,” brooded Mr. Wolfsheim gloomily. “Filled with faces dead and gone. Filled with friends gone now forever. I can’t forget so long as I live the night they shot Rosy Rosenthal there. It was six of us at the table, and Rosy had eat and drunk a lot all evening. When it was almost morning the waiter came up to him with a funny look and says somebody wants to speak to him outside. ‘all right,’ says Rosy, and begins to get up, and I pulled him down in his chair.
“‘Let the bastards come in here if they want you, Rosy, but don’t you, so help me, move outside this room.’
“It was four o’clock in the morning then, and if we’d of raised the blinds we’d of seen daylight.”
“Did he go?” I asked innocently.
“Sure he went.” Mr. Wolfsheim’s nose flashed at me indignantly. “He turned around in the door and says: ‘Don’t let that waiter take away my coffee!’ Then he went out on the sidewalk, and they shot him three times in his full belly and drove away.”
“Four of them were electrocuted,” I said, remembering.
“Five, with Becker.” His nostrils turned to me in an interested way. “I understand you’re looking for a business gonnegtion.”