“Yes,” answered Gabby who then remained mute. An attitude that was so unusual for him that everyone in the room, including Walker, began to squirm as though suddenly infected with malignant Shpilkes.
Finally, Walker who could endure a thousand “bullshits” better than silence, asked, “How’s his English?”
More unendurable silence. Even (especially) Gabby was affected; he then began to chatter. “His Spanish is very good.” The new Spanish fellow, Juan Pablo Mercado, had been sold by his chief in Madrid (a source of free tapas when Walker was in Iberia) as fluent in English. He was also in possession of a stipend from The Spanish Government alleged to be sufficient to meet all his needs while in training in America. Thus, Walker saw him in the same frame as Grollman – free labor. “He has a wife. She’s very pregnant. She also speaks very good Spanish. His stipend is in pesetas. Five hundred a month. He has no place to live.”
Tim Stuart surreptitiously looked up the exchange rate in his Wall Street Journal while Gabby was jabbering and then whistled.
“What did you say, Tim?” asked Walker. “Didn’t I tell you not to bring that in here?” Gabby, I expect you to fix this for me,” said Walker deciding to let the Journal slide to another day. “You won’t let me down, will you?”
“Dr Walker, 500 pesetas won’t even pay part of the rent.” The declaration was a dagger to the chief’s heart.
“I’ll supplement it. He…. they….won’t starve.” He looked calm, but inside a blender was liquefying his intestines.
Gabby started to depict another problem, but Walker stopped him before he could emit a sound. “Gabriele,” he pronounced the name Gab-ree-el, accenting each syllable equally as well as elongating each one for at least a second, “I’ve done my part now it’s up to you to take care of them. You do speak Spanish.” It was a statement not a question. It’s logic, however, was lost on both Grollman and Gabby.