Quantcast
PDF

What Would Philip Marlowe Do


by Joshua Michael Stewart


The shortest distance between two points is from a blonde to a bed.

                                                                     

                                                                       —Raymond Chandler

 

 

She was a blonde with chestnut eyes

wearing a street dress of pale green wool.

 

She was a .25 caliber purse gun

with an engraved butt inlaid with silver

 

and ivory. The detective followed her

into a paneled room. They sat close

 

to one another on a rose davenport.

He noticed the Scotch on a tabouret

 

and a cigar box near a chromium

smoking stand. “Ruin me, baby,”

 

her voice was lisping smoke from a long

cigarette. His heart flickered like a blue

 

neon sign outside a seedy joint. He saw

no reason to search for clues that night.

 

 

section break

 

He wished he spent the night looking

for clues. The blonde held a pistol

 

snug against the detective's gut,

and two thugs guarded the door.

 

One was a frowsy fat fellow

with the features of a slug—a slug

 

that wore a derby and a cheap suit

two sizes too small. The other resembled

 

a streetlamp in his black suit with no meat

underneath, not to mention the moths

 

flying around his fedora. The detective

took a fist to the chin, a knee to the groin,

 

a glass ashtray to the temple and a floor

lamp across the neck. He passed out

 

before the blonde's flunkies had their turn

with him. When the detective cracked

 

an eyelid, he was using a curb for a pillow

and traffic whizzed past his mangled mug.

 

He was limp as a handkerchief. His mind

was a scratchpad and he couldn't read

 

his own writing. He checked his pockets,

found his gun and the bottle of Scotch

 

he swiped earlier were missing. He stumbled

inside a nightclub called The Boogaloo,

 

and took a swig of whatever the bartender

splashed in front of him. On the bandstand

 

stood a lapis-lazuli blue evening gown

with a fresh gardenia in her hair.

 

She had a putty-face, but as she sang

As Time Goes By, her voice dripped

 

like molasses off a silver spoon.

After her number, she sat next to him

 

at the bar. They talked about women

and love and head wounds. “Honey,

 

don't dangle nothin' you can't risk

gettin' caught in a bear trap.”

 

She was a woman built like a phone

booth, all steel and glass, no smooth edges,

 

and at 3:00 A. M. when the streets are deserted

you can hear a ringing coming from inside.

Endcap