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City Of Glass - New York Trilogy #1, City of Glass CD 03 parte II (2)

City of Glass CD 03 parte II (2)

Today was to have been the crucial day, and Quinn had made elaborate and meticulous plans for it. Now his calculations were for naught. It disturbed him that he had not taken this contingency into account.

Still, he hesitated. He stood there under his umbrella, watching the rain slide off it in small, fine drops. By eleven o'clock he had begun to formulate a decision. Half an hour later he crossed the street, walked forty paces down the block, and entered Stillman's hotel. The place stank of cockroach repellant and dead cigarettes. A few of the tenants, with nowhere to go in the rain, were sitting in the lobby, sprawled out on orange plastic chairs. The place seemed blank, a hell of stale thoughts.

A large black man sat behind the front desk with his sleeves rolled up. One elbow was on the counter, and his head was propped in his open hand. With his other hand he turned the pages of a tabloid newspaper, barely pausing to read the words. He looked bored enough to have been there all his life.

“I'd like to leave a message for one of your guests,” Quinn said.

The man looked up at him slowly, as if wishing him to disappear.

“I'd like to leave a message for one of your guests,” Quinn said again.

“No guests here,” said the man. “We call them residents.”

“For one of your residents, then. I'd like to leave a message.”

“And just who might that be, bub?”

“Stillman. Peter Stillman.”

The man pretended to think for a moment, then shook his head. “Nope. Can't recall anyone by that name.”

“Don't you have a register?”

“Yeah, we've got a book. But it's in the safe.”

“The safe? What are you talking about?”

“I'm talking about the book, bub. The boss likes to keep it locked up in the safe.”

“I don't suppose you know the combination?”

“Sorry. The boss is the only one.”

Quinn sighed, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a five-dollar bill. He slapped it on the counter and kept his hand on top of it.

“I don't suppose you happen to have a copy of the book, do you?” he asked.

“Maybe,” said the man. “I'll have to look in my office.”

The man lifted up the newspaper, which was lying open on the counter. Under it was the register.

“A lucky break,” said Quinn, releasing his hand from the money.

“Yeah; I guess today's my day,” answered the man, sliding the bill along the surface of the counter, whisking it over the edge, and putting it in his pocket. “What did you say your friend's name was again?”

“Stillman. An old man with white hair.”

“The gent in the overcoat?”

“That's right.”

“We call him the Professor.”

“That's the man. Do you have a room number? He checked in about two weeks ago.”

The clerk opened the register, turned the pages, and ran his finger down the column of names and numbers. “Stillman,” he said. “Room 303. He's not here anymore.”

“What?”

“He checked out.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Listen, bub, I'm only telling you what it says here. Stillman checked out last night. He's gone.”

“That's the craziest thing I ever heard.”

“I don't care what it is. It's all down here in black and white.”

“Did he give a forwarding address?”

“Are you kidding?”

“What time did he leave?”

“Have to ask Louie, the night man. He comes on at eight.”

“Can I see the room?”

“Sorry. I rented it myself this morning. The guy's up there asleep.”

“What did he look like?”

“For five bucks you've got a lot of questions.”

“Forget it,” said Quinn, waving his hand desperately. “It doesn't matter.”

He walked back to his apartment in a downpour, getting drenched in spite of his umbrella. So much for functions, he said to himself. So much for the meaning of words. He threw the umbrella onto the floor of his living room in disgust. Then he took off his jacket and flung it against the wall. Water splattered everywhere.

He called Virginia Stillman, too embarrassed to think of doing anything else. At the moment she answered, he nearly hung up the phone.

“I lost him,” he said.

“Are you sure?”

“He checked out of his room last night. I don't know where he is.”

“I'm scared, Paul.”

“Have you heard from him?”

“I don't know. I think so, but I'm not sure.”

“What does that mean?”

“Peter answered the phone this morning while I was taking my bath. He won't tell me who it was. He went into his room, closed the shades, and refuses to speak.”

“But he's done that before.”

“Yes. That's why I'm not sure. But it hasn't happened in a long time.”

“It sounds bad.”

“That's what I'm afraid of.”

“Don't worry. I have a few ideas. I'll get to work on them right away.”

“How will I reach you?”

“I'll call you every two hours, no matter where I am.”

“Do you promise?”

“Yes, I promise.”

“I'm so scared, I can't stand it.”

“It's all my fault. I made a stupid mistake and I'm sorry.”

“No, I don't blame you. No one can watch a person twenty-four hours a day. It's impossible. You'd have to be inside his skin.”

“That's just the trouble. I thought I was.”

“It's not too late now, is it?”

“No. There's still plenty of time. I don't want you to worry.”

“I'll try not to.”

“Good. I'll be in touch.”

“Every two hours?”

“Every two hours.”

He had finessed the conversation rather nicely. In spite of everything, he had managed to keep Virginia Stillman calm. He found it hard to believe, but she still seemed to trust him. Not that it would be of any help. For the fact was, he had lied to her. He did not have several ideas. He did not have even one.

10

Stillman was gone now. The old man had become part of the city. He was a speck, a punctuation mark, a brick in an endless wall of bricks. Quinn could walk through the streets every day for the rest of his life, and still he would not find him. Everything had been reduced to chance, a nightmare of numbers and probabilities. There were no clues, no leads, no moves to be made.

Quinn backtracked in his mind to the beginning of the case. His job had been to protect Peter, not to follow Stillman. That had simply been a method, a way of trying to predict what would happen. By watching Stillman, the theory was that he would learn what his intentions were toward Peter. He had followed the old man for two weeks. What, then, could he conclude? Not much. Stillman's behavior had been too obscure to give any hints.

There were, of course, certain extreme measures that they could take. He could suggest to Virginia Stillman that she get an unlisted telephone number. That would eliminate the disturbing calls, at least temporarily. If that failed, she and Peter could move. They could leave the neighborhood, perhaps leave the city altogether. At the very worst, they could take on new identities, live under different names.

This last thought reminded him of something important. Until now, he realized, he had never seriously questioned the circumstances of his hiring. Things had happened too quickly, and he had taken it for granted that he could fill in for Paul Auster. Once he had taken the leap into that name, he had stopped thinking about Auster himself. If this man was as good a detective as the Stillmans thought he was, perhaps he would be able to help with the case. Quinn would make a clean breast of it, Auster would forgive him, and together they would work to save Peter Stillman.

He looked through the yellow pages for the Auster Detective Agency. There was no listing. In the white pages, however, he found the name. There was one Paul Auster in Manhattan, living on Riverside Drive—not far from Quinn's own house. There was no mention of a detective agency, but that did not necessarily mean anything. It could be that Auster had so much work he didn't need to advertise. Quinn picked up the phone and was about to dial when he thought better of it. This was too important a conversation to leave to the phone. He did not want to run the risk of being brushed off. Since Auster did not have an office, that meant he worked at home. Quinn would go there and talk to him face to face.

The rain had stopped now, and although the sky was still gray, far to the west Quinn could see a tiny shaft of light seeping through the clouds. As he walked up Riverside Drive, he became aware of the fact that he was no longer following Stillman. It felt as though he had lost half of himself. For two weeks he had been tied by an invisible thread to the old man. Whatever Stillman had done, he had done; wherever Stillman had gone, he had gone. His body was not accustomed to this new freedom, and for the first few blocks he walked at the old shuffling pace. The spell was over, and yet his body did not know it.

Auster's building was in the middle of the long block that ran between 116th and 119th Streets, just south of Riverside Church and Grant's Tomb. It was a well-kept place, with polished doorknobs and clean glass, and it had an air of bourgeois sobriety that appealed to Quinn at that moment. Auster's apartment was on the eleventh floor, and Quinn rang the buzzer, expecting to hear a voice speak to him through the intercom. But the door buzzer answered him without any conversation. Quinn pushed the door open, walked through the lobby, and rode the elevator to the eleventh floor.

It was a man who opened the apartment door. He was a tall dark fellow in his mid-thirties, with rumpled clothes and a two-day beard. In his right hand, fixed between his thumb and first two fingers, he held an uncapped fountain pen, still poised in a writing position. The man seemed surprised to find a stranger standing before him.

“Yes?” he asked tentatively.

Quinn spoke in the politest tone he could muster. “Were you expecting someone else?”

“My wife, as a matter of fact. That's why I rang the buzzer without asking who it was.”

“I'm sorry to disturb you,” Quinn apologized. “But I'm looking for Paul Auster.”

“I'm Paul Auster,” said the man.

“I wonder if I could talk to you. It's quite important.”

“You'll have to tell me what it's about first.”

“I hardly know myself.” Quinn gave Auster an earnest look. “It's complicated, I'm afraid. Very complicated.”

“Do you have a name?”

“I'm sorry. Of course I do. Quinn.”

“Quinn what?”

“Daniel Quinn.”

The name seemed to suggest something to Auster, and he paused for a moment abstractedly, as if searching through his memory. “Quinn,” he muttered to himself. “I know that name from somewhere.” He went silent again, straining harder to dredge up the answer. “You aren't a poet, are you?”

“I used to be,” said Quinn. “But I haven't written poems for a long time now.”

“You did a book several years ago, didn't you? I think the title was Unfinished Business. A little book with a blue cover.”

“Yes. That was me.”

“I liked it very much. I kept hoping to see more of your work. In fact, I even wondered what had happened to you.”

“I'm still here. Sort of.”

Auster opened the door wider and gestured for Quinn to enter the apartment. It was a pleasant enough place inside: oddly shaped, with several long corridors, books cluttered everywhere, pictures on the walls by artists Quinn did not know, and a few children's toys scattered on the floor—a red truck, a brown bear, a green space monster. Auster led him to the living room, gave him a frayed upholstered chair to sit in, and then went off to the kitchen to fetch some beer. He returned with two bottles, placed them on a wooden crate that served as the coffee table, and sat down on the sofa across from Quinn.



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City of Glass CD 03 parte II (2)

Today was to have been the crucial day, and Quinn had made elaborate and meticulous plans for it. Hoy iba a ser el día crucial, y Quinn había hecho planes elaborados y meticulosos para ello. Now his calculations were for naught. Ahora sus cálculos eran en vano. It disturbed him that he had not taken this contingency into account. Le inquietaba no haber tenido en cuenta esta contingencia.

Still, he hesitated. Aun así, vaciló. He stood there under his umbrella, watching the rain slide off it in small, fine drops. Se quedó allí bajo su paraguas, mirando la lluvia deslizarse en pequeñas y finas gotas. By eleven o'clock he had begun to formulate a decision. A las once había comenzado a tomar una decisión. Half an hour later he crossed the street, walked forty paces down the block, and entered Stillman's hotel. Media hora más tarde cruzó la calle, caminó cuarenta pasos por la manzana y entró en el hotel de Stillman. The place stank of cockroach repellant and dead cigarettes. El lugar apestaba a repelente de cucarachas y cigarrillos muertos. A few of the tenants, with nowhere to go in the rain, were sitting in the lobby, sprawled out on orange plastic chairs. Algunos de los inquilinos, sin ningún lugar adonde ir bajo la lluvia, estaban sentados en el vestíbulo, tumbados en sillas de plástico naranja. The place seemed blank, a hell of stale thoughts. El lugar parecía vacío, un infierno de pensamientos rancios.

A large black man sat behind the front desk with his sleeves rolled up. Un gran hombre negro estaba sentado detrás de la recepción con las mangas arremangadas. One elbow was on the counter, and his head was propped in his open hand. Un codo estaba en el mostrador, y su cabeza estaba apoyada en su mano abierta. With his other hand he turned the pages of a tabloid newspaper, barely pausing to read the words. Con la otra mano, pasó las páginas de un periódico sensacionalista, deteniéndose apenas para leer las palabras. He looked bored enough to have been there all his life. Parecía lo suficientemente aburrido como para haber estado allí toda su vida.

“I'd like to leave a message for one of your guests,” Quinn said. “Me gustaría dejar un mensaje para uno de tus invitados”, dijo Quinn.

The man looked up at him slowly, as if wishing him to disappear. El hombre lo miró lentamente, como si deseara que desapareciera.

“I'd like to leave a message for one of your guests,” Quinn said again. "Me gustaría dejar un mensaje para uno de tus invitados", dijo Quinn de nuevo.

“No guests here,” said the man. “No hay invitados aquí”, dijo el hombre. “We call them residents.” “Los llamamos residentes”.

“For one of your residents, then. “Para uno de sus residentes, entonces. I'd like to leave a message.” Me gustaría dejar un mensaje.

“And just who might that be, bub?” "¿Y quién podría ser, amigo?"

“Stillman. Stillman. Peter Stillman.” Peter Stillman.

The man pretended to think for a moment, then shook his head. El hombre fingió pensar por un momento, luego negó con la cabeza. “Nope. "No. Can't recall anyone by that name.” No recuerdo a nadie con ese nombre.

“Don't you have a register?” "¿No tienes un registro?"

“Yeah, we've got a book. “Sí, tenemos un libro. But it's in the safe.” Pero está en la caja fuerte.

“The safe? "¿Lo seguro? What are you talking about?” ¿De qué estás hablando?"

“I'm talking about the book, bub. “Estoy hablando del libro, amigo. The boss likes to keep it locked up in the safe.” Al jefe le gusta guardarlo bajo llave en la caja fuerte”.

“I don't suppose you know the combination?” "¿Supongo que no conoces la combinación?"

“Sorry. "Lo siento. The boss is the only one.” El jefe es el único”.

Quinn sighed, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a five-dollar bill. Quinn suspiró, metió la mano en su bolsillo y sacó un billete de cinco dólares. He slapped it on the counter and kept his hand on top of it. Lo golpeó en el mostrador y mantuvo su mano encima.

“I don't suppose you happen to have a copy of the book, do you?” he asked. "Supongo que no tienes una copia del libro, ¿verdad?" preguntó.

“Maybe,” said the man. “Tal vez”, dijo el hombre. “I'll have to look in my office.” "Tendré que buscar en mi oficina".

The man lifted up the newspaper, which was lying open on the counter. El hombre levantó el periódico, que estaba abierto sobre el mostrador. Under it was the register. Debajo estaba el registro.

“A lucky break,” said Quinn, releasing his hand from the money. “Un golpe de suerte”, dijo Quinn, soltando su mano del dinero.

“Yeah; I guess today's my day,” answered the man, sliding the bill along the surface of the counter, whisking it over the edge, and putting it in his pocket. "Sí; Supongo que hoy es mi día”, respondió el hombre, deslizando el billete por la superficie del mostrador, moviéndolo por el borde y guardándoselo en el bolsillo. “What did you say your friend's name was again?” "¿Cómo dijiste que se llamaba tu amigo?"

“Stillman. Stillman. An old man with white hair.” Un anciano de pelo blanco.

“The gent in the overcoat?” ¿El caballero del abrigo?

“That's right.” "Así es."

“We call him the Professor.” “Lo llamamos el Profesor”.

“That's the man. “Ese es el hombre. Do you have a room number? ¿Tiene un número de habitación? He checked in about two weeks ago.” Se registró hace unas dos semanas.

The clerk opened the register, turned the pages, and ran his finger down the column of names and numbers. El empleado abrió el registro, pasó las páginas y pasó el dedo por la columna de nombres y números. “Stillman,” he said. —Stillman —dijo—. “Room 303. “Habitación 303. He's not here anymore.” Ya no está aquí.

“What?” "¿Qué?"

“He checked out.” "Se fue".

“What are you talking about?” "¿De qué estás hablando?"

“Listen, bub, I'm only telling you what it says here. “Escucha, amigo, solo te estoy diciendo lo que dice aquí. Stillman checked out last night. Stillman se fue anoche. He's gone.” El se fue."

“That's the craziest thing I ever heard.” “Esa es la cosa más loca que he escuchado”.

“I don't care what it is. “No me importa lo que sea. It's all down here in black and white.” Todo está aquí abajo en blanco y negro”.

“Did he give a forwarding address?” "¿Dio una dirección de reenvío?"

“Are you kidding?” "¿Estás bromeando?"

“What time did he leave?” "¿A qué hora se fue?"

“Have to ask Louie, the night man. “Tengo que preguntarle a Louie, el hombre de la noche. He comes on at eight.” Viene a las ocho.

“Can I see the room?” "¿Puedo ver la habitación?"

“Sorry. I rented it myself this morning. Lo alquilé yo mismo esta mañana. The guy's up there asleep.” El tipo está ahí arriba durmiendo.

“What did he look like?” "¿Como se veia?"

“For five bucks you've got a lot of questions.” “Por cinco dólares tienes muchas preguntas”.

“Forget it,” said Quinn, waving his hand desperately. "Olvídalo", dijo Quinn, agitando la mano desesperadamente. “It doesn't matter.” "No importa."

He walked back to his apartment in a downpour, getting drenched in spite of his umbrella. Caminó de regreso a su apartamento bajo un aguacero, empapándose a pesar de su paraguas. So much for functions, he said to himself. Hasta aquí las funciones, se dijo a sí mismo. So much for the meaning of words. Hasta aquí el significado de las palabras. He threw the umbrella onto the floor of his living room in disgust. Arrojó el paraguas al piso de su sala de estar con disgusto. Then he took off his jacket and flung it against the wall. Luego se quitó la chaqueta y la arrojó contra la pared. Water splattered everywhere. El agua salpicó por todas partes.

He called Virginia Stillman, too embarrassed to think of doing anything else. Llamó a Virginia Stillman, demasiado avergonzado para pensar en hacer otra cosa. At the moment she answered, he nearly hung up the phone. En el momento en que ella contestó, casi colgó el teléfono.

“I lost him,” he said. “Lo perdí”, dijo.

“Are you sure?” "¿Está seguro?"

“He checked out of his room last night. Salió de su habitación anoche. I don't know where he is.” No sé dónde está.

“I'm scared, Paul.” Tengo miedo, Pablo.

“Have you heard from him?” "¿Has oído hablar de él?"

“I don't know. "No sé. I think so, but I'm not sure.” Creo que sí, pero no estoy seguro”.

“What does that mean?” "¿Qué significa eso?"

“Peter answered the phone this morning while I was taking my bath. “Peter contestó el teléfono esta mañana mientras me estaba bañando. He won't tell me who it was. No me dirá quién fue. He went into his room, closed the shades, and refuses to speak.” Entró en su habitación, cerró las persianas y se niega a hablar”.

“But he's done that before.” “Pero ya lo ha hecho antes”.

“Yes. "Sí. That's why I'm not sure. Por eso no estoy seguro. But it hasn't happened in a long time.” Pero no ha sucedido en mucho tiempo”.

“It sounds bad.” "Suena mal".

“That's what I'm afraid of.” “Eso es lo que me asusta”.

“Don't worry. "No te preocupes. I have a few ideas. Tengo algunas ideas. I'll get to work on them right away.” Me pondré a trabajar en ellos de inmediato”.

“How will I reach you?” "¿Cómo te alcanzaré?"

“I'll call you every two hours, no matter where I am.” “Te llamaré cada dos horas, sin importar dónde esté”.

“Do you promise?” "¿Prometes?"

“Yes, I promise.” "Sí prometo."

“I'm so scared, I can't stand it.” “Tengo tanto miedo, no puedo soportarlo”.

“It's all my fault. "Todo es mi culpa. I made a stupid mistake and I'm sorry.” Cometí un error estúpido y lo siento”.

“No, I don't blame you. “No, no te culpo. No one can watch a person twenty-four hours a day. Nadie puede vigilar a una persona las veinticuatro horas del día. It's impossible. Es imposible. You'd have to be inside his skin.” Tendrías que estar dentro de su piel.

“That's just the trouble. Ese es el problema. I thought I was.” Yo pensé que era."

“It's not too late now, is it?” "No es demasiado tarde ahora, ¿verdad?"

“No. "No. There's still plenty of time. I don't want you to worry.” No quiero que te preocupes.

“I'll try not to.” “Trataré de no hacerlo”.

“Good. "Bueno. I'll be in touch.” Estaré en contacto."

“Every two hours?” "¿Cada dos horas?"

“Every two hours.” "Cada dos horas."

He had finessed the conversation rather nicely. Había afinado la conversación bastante bien. In spite of everything, he had managed to keep Virginia Stillman calm. A pesar de todo, había logrado mantener tranquila a Virginia Stillman. He found it hard to believe, but she still seemed to trust him. Le resultó difícil de creer, pero ella todavía parecía confiar en él. Not that it would be of any help. No es que fuera de alguna ayuda. For the fact was, he had lied to her. Porque el hecho era que él le había mentido. He did not have several ideas. No tenía varias ideas. He did not have even one. No tenía ni uno.

10

Stillman was gone now. Stillman ya no estaba. The old man had become part of the city. El anciano se había convertido en parte de la ciudad. He was a speck, a punctuation mark, a brick in an endless wall of bricks. Era una mota, un signo de puntuación, un ladrillo en una interminable pared de ladrillos. Quinn could walk through the streets every day for the rest of his life, and still he would not find him. Quinn podría caminar por las calles todos los días por el resto de su vida, y aun así no lo encontraría. Everything had been reduced to chance, a nightmare of numbers and probabilities. Todo se había reducido al azar, una pesadilla de números y probabilidades. There were no clues, no leads, no moves to be made. No había pistas, ni pistas, ni movimientos que hacer.

Quinn backtracked in his mind to the beginning of the case. Quinn retrocedió en su mente hasta el comienzo del caso. His job had been to protect Peter, not to follow Stillman. Su trabajo había sido proteger a Peter, no seguir a Stillman. That had simply been a method, a way of trying to predict what would happen. Eso había sido simplemente un método, una forma de intentar predecir lo que sucedería. By watching Stillman, the theory was that he would learn what his intentions were toward Peter. Al observar a Stillman, la teoría era que sabría cuáles eran sus intenciones hacia Peter. He had followed the old man for two weeks. Había seguido al anciano durante dos semanas. What, then, could he conclude? ¿Qué, entonces, podría concluir? Not much. Poco. Stillman's behavior had been too obscure to give any hints. El comportamiento de Stillman había sido demasiado oscuro para dar pistas.

There were, of course, certain extreme measures that they could take. Había, por supuesto, ciertas medidas extremas que podían tomar. He could suggest to Virginia Stillman that she get an unlisted telephone number. Podría sugerirle a Virginia Stillman que consiguiera un número de teléfono no registrado. That would eliminate the disturbing calls, at least temporarily. Eso eliminaría las llamadas molestas, al menos temporalmente. If that failed, she and Peter could move. Si eso fallaba, ella y Peter podrían mudarse. They could leave the neighborhood, perhaps leave the city altogether. Podrían abandonar el barrio, tal vez dejar la ciudad por completo. At the very worst, they could take on new identities, live under different names. En el peor de los casos, podrían adoptar nuevas identidades, vivir con nombres diferentes.

This last thought reminded him of something important. Este último pensamiento le recordó algo importante. Until now, he realized, he had never seriously questioned the circumstances of his hiring. Hasta ahora, se dio cuenta, nunca había cuestionado seriamente las circunstancias de su contratación. Things had happened too quickly, and he had taken it for granted that he could fill in for Paul Auster. Las cosas habían sucedido demasiado rápido y él había dado por sentado que podía reemplazar a Paul Auster. Once he had taken the leap into that name, he had stopped thinking about Auster himself. Una vez que dio el salto a ese nombre, dejó de pensar en el propio Auster. If this man was as good a detective as the Stillmans thought he was, perhaps he would be able to help with the case. Si este hombre era tan buen detective como pensaban los Stillman, tal vez podría ayudar con el caso. Quinn would make a clean breast of it, Auster would forgive him, and together they would work to save Peter Stillman. Quinn se lo negaría todo, Auster lo perdonaría y juntos trabajarían para salvar a Peter Stillman.

He looked through the yellow pages for the Auster Detective Agency. Buscó en las páginas amarillas la Agencia de Detectives Auster. There was no listing. No hubo listado. In the white pages, however, he found the name. En las páginas blancas, sin embargo, encontró el nombre. There was one Paul Auster in Manhattan, living on Riverside Drive—not far from Quinn's own house. Había un tal Paul Auster en Manhattan, que vivía en Riverside Drive, no lejos de la casa de Quinn. There was no mention of a detective agency, but that did not necessarily mean anything. No se mencionó una agencia de detectives, pero eso no significaba necesariamente nada. It could be that Auster had so much work he didn't need to advertise. Podría ser que Auster tuviera tanto trabajo que no necesitara anunciarse. Quinn picked up the phone and was about to dial when he thought better of it. Quinn levantó el teléfono y estaba a punto de marcar cuando se lo pensó mejor. This was too important a conversation to leave to the phone. Esta era una conversación demasiado importante para dejarla al teléfono. He did not want to run the risk of being brushed off. No quería correr el riesgo de ser rechazado. Since Auster did not have an office, that meant he worked at home. Como Auster no tenía oficina, eso significaba que trabajaba en casa. Quinn would go there and talk to him face to face. Quinn iría allí y hablaría con él cara a cara.

The rain had stopped now, and although the sky was still gray, far to the west Quinn could see a tiny shaft of light seeping through the clouds. Ya había dejado de llover y, aunque el cielo seguía gris, Quinn pudo ver un diminuto rayo de luz que se filtraba entre las nubes hacia el oeste. As he walked up Riverside Drive, he became aware of the fact that he was no longer following Stillman. Mientras caminaba por Riverside Drive, se dio cuenta de que ya no seguía a Stillman. It felt as though he had lost half of himself. Se sentía como si hubiera perdido la mitad de sí mismo. For two weeks he had been tied by an invisible thread to the old man. Durante dos semanas había estado atado por un hilo invisible al anciano. Whatever Stillman had done, he had done; wherever Stillman had gone, he had gone. Todo lo que Stillman había hecho, lo había hecho; dondequiera que Stillman había ido, él había ido. His body was not accustomed to this new freedom, and for the first few blocks he walked at the old shuffling pace. Su cuerpo no estaba acostumbrado a esta nueva libertad, y durante las primeras cuadras caminó al viejo ritmo arrastrando los pies. The spell was over, and yet his body did not know it. El hechizo había terminado y, sin embargo, su cuerpo no lo sabía.

Auster's building was in the middle of the long block that ran between 116th and 119th Streets, just south of Riverside Church and Grant's Tomb. El edificio de Auster estaba en medio de la larga manzana que discurría entre las calles 116 y 119, justo al sur de la iglesia Riverside y la tumba de Grant. It was a well-kept place, with polished doorknobs and clean glass, and it had an air of bourgeois sobriety that appealed to Quinn at that moment. Era un lugar bien cuidado, con picaportes pulidos y vidrios limpios, y tenía un aire de sobriedad burguesa que le atrajo a Quinn en ese momento. Auster's apartment was on the eleventh floor, and Quinn rang the buzzer, expecting to hear a voice speak to him through the intercom. El departamento de Auster estaba en el undécimo piso, y Quinn tocó el timbre, esperando escuchar una voz que le hablara a través del intercomunicador. But the door buzzer answered him without any conversation. Pero el timbre de la puerta le respondió sin ninguna conversación. Quinn pushed the door open, walked through the lobby, and rode the elevator to the eleventh floor. Quinn empujó la puerta para abrirla, atravesó el vestíbulo y tomó el ascensor hasta el undécimo piso.

It was a man who opened the apartment door. Fue un hombre quien abrió la puerta del apartamento. He was a tall dark fellow in his mid-thirties, with rumpled clothes and a two-day beard. Era un tipo alto y moreno de unos treinta y tantos años, con la ropa arrugada y una barba de dos días. In his right hand, fixed between his thumb and first two fingers, he held an uncapped fountain pen, still poised in a writing position. En su mano derecha, fijada entre el pulgar y los dos primeros dedos, sostenía una estilográfica destapada, aún en posición de escritura. The man seemed surprised to find a stranger standing before him. El hombre pareció sorprendido de encontrar a un extraño parado frente a él.

“Yes?” he asked tentatively. "¿Sí?" preguntó tentativamente.

Quinn spoke in the politest tone he could muster. Quinn habló en el tono más cortés que pudo reunir. “Were you expecting someone else?” "¿Esperabas a alguien más?"

“My wife, as a matter of fact. “Mi esposa, de hecho. That's why I rang the buzzer without asking who it was.” Por eso llamé al timbre sin preguntar quién era”.

“I'm sorry to disturb you,” Quinn apologized. "Lamento molestarte", se disculpó Quinn. “But I'm looking for Paul Auster.” “Pero estoy buscando a Paul Auster”.

“I'm Paul Auster,” said the man. “Soy Paul Auster”, dijo el hombre.

“I wonder if I could talk to you. “Me pregunto si podría hablar contigo. It's quite important.” Es bastante importante.

“You'll have to tell me what it's about first.” Primero tendrás que decirme de qué se trata.

“I hardly know myself.” Quinn gave Auster an earnest look. “Apenas me conozco a mí mismo”. Quinn le dirigió a Auster una mirada seria. “It's complicated, I'm afraid. “Es complicado, me temo. Very complicated.” Muy complicado."

“Do you have a name?” "¿Tienes un nombre?"

“I'm sorry. "Lo siento. Of course I do. Por supuesto que sí. Quinn.” Quinn.

“Quinn what?” "¿Quinn qué?"

“Daniel Quinn.” “Daniel Quinn”.

The name seemed to suggest something to Auster, and he paused for a moment abstractedly, as if searching through his memory. El nombre pareció sugerirle algo a Auster, y se detuvo un momento abstraído, como si buscara en su memoria. “Quinn,” he muttered to himself. "Quinn", murmuró para sí mismo. “I know that name from somewhere.” He went silent again, straining harder to dredge up the answer. "Conozco ese nombre de alguna parte". Se quedó en silencio de nuevo, esforzándose más para sacar a relucir la respuesta. “You aren't a poet, are you?” “Tú no eres un poeta, ¿verdad?”

“I used to be,” said Quinn. "Yo solía ser", dijo Quinn. “But I haven't written poems for a long time now.” “Pero hace mucho tiempo que no escribo poemas”.

“You did a book several years ago, didn't you? “Hiciste un libro hace varios años, ¿no? I think the title was Unfinished Business. Creo que el título era Asuntos pendientes. A little book with a blue cover.” Un librito de tapa azul.

“Yes. "Sí. That was me.” Ese fui yo."

“I liked it very much. "Me gusto mucho. I kept hoping to see more of your work. Seguía esperando ver más de tu trabajo. In fact, I even wondered what had happened to you.” De hecho, incluso me preguntaba qué te había pasado.

“I'm still here. "Todavía estoy aquí. Sort of.” Algo así como."

Auster opened the door wider and gestured for Quinn to enter the apartment. Auster abrió más la puerta y le hizo un gesto a Quinn para que entrara en el apartamento. It was a pleasant enough place inside: oddly shaped, with several long corridors, books cluttered everywhere, pictures on the walls by artists Quinn did not know, and a few children's toys scattered on the floor—a red truck, a brown bear, a green space monster. El interior era un lugar bastante agradable: de forma extraña, con varios pasillos largos, libros amontonados por todas partes, cuadros en las paredes de artistas que Quinn no conocía y algunos juguetes para niños esparcidos por el suelo: un camión rojo, un oso pardo, un monstruo del espacio verde. Auster led him to the living room, gave him a frayed upholstered chair to sit in, and then went off to the kitchen to fetch some beer. Auster lo condujo a la sala de estar, le dio una silla tapizada deshilachada para que se sentara y luego fue a la cocina a buscar una cerveza. He returned with two bottles, placed them on a wooden crate that served as the coffee table, and sat down on the sofa across from Quinn. Regresó con dos botellas, las colocó en una caja de madera que servía de mesa de café y se sentó en el sofá frente a Quinn.

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