The Man With The Scar
by William Somerset Maugham
It was on account of the scar that I first noticed him, for it ran, broad and red, in a great crescent from his temple to his chin. It must have been due to a formidable wound and I wondered whether this had been caused by a sabre or by a fragment of shell. It was unexpected on that round, fat and good-humoured face. He had small and undistinguished features, and his expression was artless. His face went oddly with his corpulent body. He was a powerful man of more than common height. I never saw him in anything but a very shabby grey suit, a khaki shirt and a battered sombrero. He was far from clean. He used to come into the Palace Hotel at Guatemala City every day at cocktail time and strolling leisurely round the bar offered lottery tickets for sale. If this was the way he made his living it must have been a poor one, for I never saw anyone buy, but now and then I saw him offered a drink. He never refused it. He threaded his way among the tables with a sort of rolling walk as though he were accustomed to traverse long distances on foot, paused at each table, with a little smile mentioned the numbers he had for sale and then, when no notice was taken of him, with the same smile passed on. I think he was for the most part a trifle the worse for liquor. I was standing at the bar one evening, my foot on the rail, with an acquaintance – they make a very good dry martini at the Palace Hotel in Guatemala City - when the man with the scar came up. I shook my head as for the twentieth time since my arrival he held out for inspection his lottery tickets. But my companion nodded affably. ‘Qué tal, general? How is life?’
‘Not so bad. Business is none too good, but it might be worse.’ ‘What will you have, general?’
He tossed it down and put the glass back on the bar. He nodded to my acquaintance. ‘Gracias. Hasta Luego.’ Then he turned away and offered tickets to the men who were standing next to us....
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