Agnes is in the gray Plymouth, demanding the money from Marlowe with an outstretched hand. She asks what happened to Jones. Marlowe repeats the story that Jones ran for it, scared of Canino.
Agnes and Marlowe, on two sides of a deal, meet each other with their own goals their main priority. Agnes is worries about Jones, but that doesn’t stop her from taking the money. Meanwhile Marlowe wants his information, and doesn’t want to scare Agnes off, and so continues to conceal Jones’s murder.
Agnes recounts seeing Mona Mars driving with Canino in the car a couple weeks ago. Agnes was with Joe Brody at the time, and they tailed the car to the hideout location, near a garage which is near a cyanide plant in the hills. When it was dark, Joe went up to see the house Mona was hiding out in.
The ominous presence of the cyanide plant near Mona’s hideout suggests death lurks near the house. If Marlowe is to go there, it will be a fight for survival. The fact the plant produces the poison for fumigation, as Agnes specifically notes, indicates those who die by cyanide were treated like vermin.
Marlowe gives Agnes the money. Agnes says to wish her luck, as she’s had a hard time, but Marlowe sneers. As she drives off with the money, Marlowe thinks of all the men who have died—Geiger, Brody, and Jones—while Agnes doesn’t have a scratch.
For Marlowe, suffering is primarily a physical phenomenon, as he focuses on deaths rather than other forms of suffering as the worst fate to befall someone. He emphasizes the importance of survival over success, perhaps the best to hope for in this city’s kill or be killed climate.
The rain is falling hard as Marlowe drives north. He passes through towns and empty fields. As he takes a curve, he loses control of the car and hits a curb, blowing out two tires. He only has one spare. Luckily, there is a garage nearby.
As the storm grows, the tension builds, and Marlowe drives toward what he knows will be a hard battle. Given that General Sternwood considers the case closed, Marlowe continues under his own steam, perhaps because this knight wishes to save the damsel in distress, and perhaps because he wants to see the truth come to light. Either way, it will be his own life on the line, in exchange for no personal victory, unlike most of the other characters’ approach to life.
Marlowe hides his driver’s registration and takes a gun from the car, hiding another in a sealed compartment. He walks to the garage—Art Huck’s Auto Repairs. Marlowe knocks the door and tells the voice inside he’s got two flat tires. They try to turn him away but he insists. They pull a gun on him.
Marlowe prepares for the worst, expecting a tough fight. Usually unarmed, the detective decides to take a gun with him, suggesting this will be a fight to the death. Marlowe’s flat tires offer him the perfect cover, leading to the question of whether he really lost control of the car at all.
Art invites Marlowe in, keeping his gun aimed at him, explaining there was a bank heist in the next town. Marlowe says he is a stranger in this town, and didn’t pull the heist. Canino tells Art to back off. Marlowe gets his first glance at Canino.
Neither Art not Marlowe is telling the truth. Marlowe finally locks eyes with Canino, and sees he is as fearsome as Jones said.
Art sets off to sort out Marlowe’s tires. Canino pours himself and Marlowe a drink as they wait for Art. Marlowe sniffs the glass before he sips. It’s safe. The men make small talk as Art’s cursing drifts in from the rain.
His guard fully up, Marlowe is not likely to unwarily sip from a cup Canino offers given what he just witnessed. The rain provides an ominous backdrop to their conversation, blanketing the scene with growing tension.
The door opens and Art rolls in the two flats. He fixes them quickly. As Art is bouncing one of the repaired tires, and with no break in rhythm, he brings it down over Marlowe’s head. Unable to move his arms, Marlowe can’t reach his gun or protect his face from Canino’s punch. Marlowe falls unconscious from the second punch.
Despite being fully alert, Marlowe is outnumbered and outmaneuvered. He notes with some praise that the two men made no visible signal of their well-coordinated attack, showing they are even more practiced in deception than Marlowe.