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.

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.


# # #

What Would Philip Marlowe Do by Joshua Michael Stewart
originally published in the Winter 2010 print edition



Joshua Michael Stewart's poems have been published in Massachusetts Review, Rattle, Georgetown Review, William and Mary Review, Flint Hills Review, Pedestal Magazine, Evansville Review and Worcester Review. His chapbook Vintage Gray is available online.

For more of Joshua's work,
visit his Big Pulp author page


This feature and more great
fiction & poetry are available in
Big Pulp Winter 2010:
Ted Bundy's Beetle

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