Chapter 22

The ambience in the Cypress Club is dark and sultry, not glitzy like other spots in Hollywood. Nonetheless, it is beautiful, as signs of its previous state as a ballroom show through. Vivian Sternwood is playing roulette and bidding high—so high that the croupier does not want to allow her to place her bet. Eddie Mars is called in. Vivian wants to play everything she has, $6,000. Mars places his wallet on the table and tells the croupier to cover the bet with Mars's own money. Vivian wins. Mars, seemingly unfazed, returns to his office.

As Vivian collects her winnings and belongings and gets ready to leave, Marlowe exits. Outside, Marlowe sees something in the dark. It is an incredibly foggy night. He hears a man cough and realizes that the man is wearing a mask. Marlowe then waits behind a tree to calculate his next move, to see what this masked man is up to.

Chapter 23

Marlowe hears the steps of a woman approaching. The masked man jumps out and holds the woman up at gunpoint. The woman is Vivian Sternwood, and the masked man wants the money she has just won at the roulette table. Marlowe comes out from behind the tree, manages to surprise the masked man, and takes the man's gun from him. Marlowe tells him to go ahead and leave; he will not say anything if the man in the mask does not either. Vivian thanks Marlowe sarcastically and asks him what he is doing at the Cypress Club. Marlowe responds that he had gone to see Mars to find out why Mars thought he was looking for Regan.

The two walk over to Larry Cobb, the Man who had been Mrs. Regan's escort for the night. Cobb is very drunk in the car garage. One of the Cypress Club workers promises to call Cobb's home and have him picked up. Marlowe agrees to take Vivian home. She seems nervous while they walk toward the car in the fog, as if the holdup has just hit her.

They stop by a drugstore and drink coffee, which Marlowe laces with rye. Marlowe tells Vivian she has "wicked eyes." He asks her what it is that Mars has on her, what he knows about her. Vivian says that Mars probably sent the masked man merely to recover the money she just won at Mars's expense. The conversation continues back in the car. Vivian asks Marlowe to drive down to the beach club because she wants to see the water. She throws herself at him, and they kiss.

Marlowe remains focused, however; even in the heat of the moment he has not forgotten what he is after. He again asks Vivian what Eddie Mars has on her, and she becomes upset. Marlowe tells her he believes the holdup was all an act—an act possibly staged for Marlowe's "benefit." Again, the two end their conversation on a negative note. Marlowe drops Vivian off at her house.