Tom approaches Dickie with an offer to travel to Paris “in a coffin.” An Italian man has offered to pay them each a hundred thousand lire to conspire in the stunt, which both Tom and Dickie assume is related to transporting drugs across the border. Dickie is reticent, leading Tom to question where Dickie’s “spirit” has gone. Dickie agrees to go speak to the Italian man offering the trip, and they head down to the café. After the Italian man decides that Dickie is not right for the job, Tom notices Dickie eyeing the man judgingly. Tom becomes upset, and accuses Dickie of ruining his fun. Dickie tells Tom that he’s under no obligation to “do what I do,” and Tom sees “nothing more in Dickie’s eyes that he would have seen if he had looked at the hard, bloodless surface of a mirror.” He realizes that he and Dickie are not friends; they hardly even know each other. Dickie asks Tom if he is okay, and Tom laughs off his despair.
Tom presents Dickie with a far-fetched, ridiculous opportunity to try to amuse him—it is what he feels he can offer Dickie. Dickie, however, in the wake of his confrontation with Tom, is on the defensive, and he rejects Tom’s idea and criticizes Tom’s propensity to follow Dickie around and imitate him. Tom’s realization that he still is no more important to Dickie than he was on the day he first arrived, when Dickie could not remember him, shakes him to his core. This is an important moment in Tom’s life, because it catalyzes his desperation to keep Dickie close at all costs.
Tom heads home while Dickie goes off to visit Marge. On the way back to the house, Tom stops and retrieves a letter from the post office—it is a letter from Herbert, writing to say that he has concluded that Tom’s mission has been unsuccessful, as Dickie seems to be, from his letters, “more determined than ever to stay where he is.” Tom realizes that his funds are soon to run out, and he becomes paranoid as to what Dickie and Marge’s conversations about him might be. Back at the house, Tom tries to sell Dickie on the idea of a Paris trip of their own, but Dickie says he’s “not in the mood.” As a compromise, Tom suggests San Remo, and Dickie agrees. While fixing himself a drink, Tom sees that Dickie has purchased a refrigerator, and he realizes that Dickie is committed to staying in Mongibello with Marge rather than traveling or moving across Europe with him. Hurt and isolated, he decides to leave Mongibello before Christmas.
The news from Herbert, on the heels of Dickie’s coldness, creates in Tom a new kind of panic. His funds, which he’s been spending carelessly, are about to run out. He’s disappointed Herbert, a man he didn’t quite respect but with whom he hoped to remain in good favor. This panic fuels his anxiety regarding his relationship to Dickie and Marge’s intrusions into it. Desperate to ingratiate himself to Dickie once more, Tom suggests a trip, and the two men settle, begrudgingly, on San Remo, in a move that betrays both their exhaustion with one another. The refrigerator delivers the final blow as Tom realizes that Dickie is not interested in sharing a life of travel and leisure with him; Tom is once more on his own.