Pinkie lies in his bed and composes a letter to Tate, demanding repayment. He falls into a dreamless sleep and wakes to Dallow handing him an envelope. The letter is from Colleoni, who has invited Pinkie to meet with him at the Cosmopolitan. Dallow urges Pinkie to refuse the invitation, but Pinkie says he will not be intimidated. He gets ready, paying some attention to his appearance but not too much. He has too much pride to be too careful about such things.
Like Hale, Pinkie has his pride, and much of it concerns his rivalry with Colleoni. His decision to dress well but not too well is indicative of his inexperience. Presumably, the powerful Colleoni has more pressing matters on his mind than Pinkie’s appearance.
Later, in the Cosmopolitan waiting for Colleoni, Pinkie is completely at ease. He watches people drift through the lobby. Motorcyclists lead tiny women across the floor. The women ring like expensive glass when touched but look to Pinkie to be as brittle and lethal as tin. Colleoni appears in a double-breasted suit, walking toward Pinkie on tip-toe. Two “bitches” look up at Colleoni as he passes. Despite his unassuming appearance, he demands attention.
To Pinkie, the women in the Cosmopolitan are like crystal goblets, brittle and potentially deadly. This is consistent with Pinkie’s views on women in general, as is his comparing the patrons’ pampered dogs to petty, gossiping ladies. Colleoni, too, is effeminate, but manages to be intimidating all the same.
Colleoni greets Pinkie but does not realize at first who he is because he is so young. He had been expecting someone Kite’s age. There’s a wet spot on Pinkie’s freshly ironed jacket. Pinkie is embarrassed. Colleoni hopes to end the meeting, but Pinkie insists they talk. Colleoni pats him condescendingly on the shoulder and leads him out of the lobby, past the whispering “bitches” and people laughing in the American bar and a man snoozing over his tea.
The wet spot on Pinkie’s jacket is a tangible reminder that he is out of his league. He is, after all, a seventeen-year-old gangster. Colleoni has decades of experience on him. The whispering women and laughing patrons only add to Pinkie’s insecurity. It is as if they are making fun of him.
Pinkie and Colleoni take an elevator to the fifteenth floor, where the hubbub of the lobby is replaced with a sort of heavenly hush. Colleoni’s room is luxurious, with windows that look out onto the sea. He lights a cigar. Pinkie is impressed to see that Colleoni’s cigar case is real gold. Colleoni asks what happened to Kite, and Pinkie grows vague, saying that it’s an old story, but that Kite would not have died had a journalist not crossed them. Colleoni then asks Pinkie if he’s interested in automatic machines. Pinkie sidesteps the question, saying that Kite trespassed and he never should have done that.
Colleoni, with his luxury apartment and beautiful view, lives in a different world from Pinkie and his gang. This conversation, while light on details, suggests that Kite talked to Hale about the gang’s activities and died as a result of Hale exposing those activities in an article. Although Colleoni’s reference to automatic machines and Pinkie’s mention of trespassing are ambiguous, it suggests that Kite may have encroached on Colleoni’s gang’s territory in business.
Pinkie tells Colleoni that he’s the one who will soon need protection. Colleoni responds by suggesting Pinkie come to work for him. He likes the young man’s hustle. Pinkie replies that he’ll see him on the race course, but Colleoni laughs gently at the suggestion. He dismisses the idea out of hand that his life and Pinkie’s could intersect, but Pinkie remembers what happened to Kite and knows that their lives already have.
Pinkie’s bravado, like his freshly ironed suit, is proof of his youth and inexperience. Colleoni has amassed enough power and wealth that he has no need to impress anyone. Still, the two men share a common ruthlessness and tendency toward amorality.
Colleoni assures Pinkie that there’s nothing he can do to hurt his business. He can try to injure his men. It wouldn’t matter. Colleoni has two men in the hospital right now and they’re being showered with grapes and flowers because Colleoni can afford it. Pinkie can’t really touch him, Colleoni says. He’s too young and inexperienced. He tells Pinkie that Napoleon and Eugenie used to stay in this room. He puts a flower in his buttonhole and says that Pinkie should not try to hurt him specifically because such violence would only backfire. Colleoni tells Pinkie not to bother Brewer and Tate anymore. Those efforts, too, will lead nowhere. Pinkie leaves, thinking that the visible world, the world of riches, belongs to Colleoni and men like him.
In this scene, flowers represent a level of luxury that Pinkie can only aspire to. Flowers are impractical; they’re expensive and need to be replaced often. Colleoni can afford to throw his money away on such creature comforts. Pinkie, on the other hand, has no choice but to focus his energies on getting paid by the likes of Brewer and Tate. Pinkie has brutality and hustle on his side, but all the power is in Colleoni’s sphere. Money begets more money, which allows men like Colleoni to purchase not only worldly goods but influence and security.
In the hotel hallway, a police officer taps Pinkie on the shoulder. Pinkie experiences a moment of panic, wondering if Rose might have squealed on him, but the cop says he’s wanted at the station for slicing Brewer’s cheek. Pinkie agrees to come into the station. Outside the Cosmopolitan, a street photographer snaps Pinkie’s picture with the cop. Then the cop mentions that Brewer’s wife is gravely ill. Pinkie thinks all of this—the police officer, the talk of Brewer’s wife—is Colleoni’s way of intimidating him.
Pinkie and his men are always having their pictures taken by the same Brighton street photographer at inconvenient times. This moment suggests that Pinkie will continue to have run-ins with the cops, and that no matter what clever moves he makes to avoid the authorities, their paths will cross again.
The police inspector, a tired man, old before his time, is waiting for Pinkie in the station charging room. He isn’t going to book Pinkie. Brewer has decided to let the matter drop. The inspector only wants to talk. He tells Pinkie that, since the horse races are to begin in a week, he hopes Pinkie’s men and Colleoni’s can refrain from starting the kind of mob war that is bound to end with innocent people getting hurt. He suggests that Pinkie get out of Brighton. He’s too young to be running an operation on his own, and, the inspector adds, there’s no way he can hold his own with Colleoni.
The insults continue to pile up. First, Colleoni tells Pinkie that his time as a gang leader is limited; now the police inspector is suggesting the same. The fact that the police inspector doesn’t even bother to arrest Pinkie for his assault of Brewer likewise underscores the idea that Pinkie is not considered much of a threat.
Pinkie eyes the notices above the inspector’s shoulders. He sees a picture of a drowned man. It is as if the man is looking at him. Pinkie tells the inspector he’ll consider his proposal. Then he leaves the office, more determined than ever to show the police and Colleoni that they’re wrong about him. He killed Hale and the police were too dumb to realize it. He could keep outsmarting them and his Italian rival. Having been born in hell, he is not afraid of more death.
This scene parallels the moment when, waiting for Brewer to pay his subscription, Pinkie had a staring contest with a cat. The drowned man, though, is more foreboding. It hints at Pinkie’s sad end on the cliff near Peacehaven. Pinkie is determined, though, to triumph, even if that triumph means more bloodshed.