I’m sitting beside a second-floor window in a room in a not too clean hotel in a town called Otatocán, a mountain town with a lake. There’s a mailbox just below the window and when the mozo comes in with some coffee I’ve ordered he is going to mail the letter for me and hold it up so that I can see it before he puts it in the slot. When he does that he gets a hundred-peso note, which is a hell of a lot of money for him.
Why all the finagling? There’s a swarthy character with pointed shoes and a dirty shirt outside the door watching it. He’s waiting for something, I don’t know what, but he won’t let me out. It doesn’t matter too much as long as the letter gets posted. . . .
I have written a confession. I feel sick and more than a little scared. You read about these situations in books, but you don’t read the truth. When it happens to you, when all you have left is the gun in your pocket, when you are cornered in a dirty little hotel in a strange country, and have only one way out—believe me, pal, there is nothing elevating or dramatic about it. It is just plain nasty and sordid and gray and grim.
So forget about it and me. But first drink a gimlet for me at Victor’s. And the next time you make coffee, pour me a cup and put some bourbon in it and light me a cigarette and put it beside the cup. And after that forget the whole thing. Terry Lennox over and out. And so goodbye.
A knock at the door. I guess it will be the mozo with the coffee. If it isn’t, there will be some shooting. I like Mexicans, as a rule, but I don’t like their jails. So long.
—The Long Goodbye, by Raymond Chander