Without removing his cigar from his lips, Demetrio, buried in a sullen silence amid the bustle and uproar, offered his hand and said:
“I’m delighted to meet you!”
“So your name is Demetrio Macias?” the girl asked suddenly. Seated on the bar, she swung her legs; at every swing, the toes of her shoes touched Demetrio’s back.
“Yes: I’m Demetrio Macias!” he said, scarcely turn-ing toward her.
Indifferently, she continued to swing her legs, display-ing her blue stockings with ostentation.
“Hey, War Paint, what are you doing here? Step down and have a drink!” said the man called Blondie.
The girl accepted readily and boldly thrust her way through the crowd to a chair facing Demetrio.
“So you’re the famous Demetrio Macias,
the hero of
Zacatecas?” the girl asked.
Demetrio bowed assent, while Blondie, laughing, said:
“You’re a wise one, War Paint. You want to sport a general!”
Without understanding Blondie’s words, Demetrio raised his eyes to hers; they gazed at each other like two dogs sniffing one another with distrust. Demetrio could not resist her furiously provocative glances; he was forced to lower his eyes.
From their seats, some of Natera’s officers began to hurl obscenities at War Paint. Without paying the slightest attention, she said:
“General Natera is going to hand you out a little general’s eagle. Put it here and shake on it, boy!”
She stuck out her hand at Demetrio and shook it with the strength of a man. Demetrio, melting to the con-gratulations raining down upon him, ordered champagne.
“I don’t want no more to drink,” Blondie said to the waiter, “I’m feeling sick. Just bring me some ice water.”
“I want something to eat,” said Pancracio. “Bring me anything you’ve got but don’t make it chili or beans!”
Officers kept coming in; presently the restaurant was crowded. Small stars, bars, eagles and insignia of every sort or description dotted their hats. They wore wide silk bandannas around their necks, large diamond rings on their fingers, large heavy gold watch chains across their breasts.
“Here, waiter,” Blondie cried, “I ordered ice water. And I’m not begging for it either, see? Look at this bunch of bills. I’ll buy you, your wife, and all you possess, see? Don’t tell me there’s none left—I don’t care a damn about that! It’s up to you to find some way to get it and Goddamned quick, too. I don’t like to play about; I get mad when I’m crossed. . . . By God, didn’t I tell you I wouldn’t stand for any backchat? You won’t bring it to me, eh? Well, take this. . . .” A heavy blow sent the waiter reeling to the floor.
“That’s the sort of man I am, General Macias! I’m clean-shaven, eh? Not a hair on my chin? Do you know why? Well, I’ll tell you! You see I get mad easy as hell; and when there’s nobody to pick on, I pull my hair until my temper passes. If I hadn’t pulled my beard hair by hair, I’d have died a long time ago from sheer anger!”