UnBooks:Pulp Novel, the case of the dashing dame

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Pulp Novel: The Case of the Dashing Dame

Author = A real tough palooka[1]

Main Characters = Gwendolyne, "classy broad"[2]

Other Characters = Rotary telephone, bourbon, ice[3]

Publisher = Big City Press

Release Date = January, 1947

No. of pages = Who wants to know?[4]

Language = Real tough language, see?[5]

I'm a dick. A private dick. That's like a private dancer but with a gun and dances cost extra. That's how we do it in the detective game. It's a game like Clue, but without the cards or the board. Just the dice.

And they always come up snake eyes.

The name is Gwendolyne. Last name's not important. All you need to know is my friends call me Gwendolyne. My friends are bourbon and ice and I haven't spoken to ice in years.

It was a stormy and dark night. Not a dark and stormy night. That's an unrelated story, one that’s got little to do with this narrative. That somber tale has got something to do with Paul Clifford and I'd tell you about it, but the library revoked my card. Something about expositioning too loud last time I was there.

Come to think of it, this narrative has little to do with this narrative.

It was dark, like under the bed where you hide when a dame’s husband comes home early, and stormy like when he finds you and you put up a fight with your pants down. His pants are up and zipped, too, but his belt’s off 'cause he’s beating you with it. Husbands whose wives are two-timing tend to get like that.

So it's a stormy and dark night, right? And this dame walks into my office. I know it's mine, 'cause it's got my name on the door, see? No, go up a little...left, no, look left, you got it; Gwendolyne: Private Eye. That's it. Dick, Eye. They're the same thing, sometimes. Other times it's an embarrassing trip to the optometrist.

Then he stops taking your calls.

And this dame, see, I can tell just by looking at her that she's a real classy broad, uptown all the way. Classy like that lollipop she's sucking on. A grown man would give a kidney to be a lollipop like that. Not me though; I gave at the office. An office just like this one. One with a girly-named detective sitting behind a desk expositioning to himself and a classy broad sucking on the luckiest lollipop in the whole damn city.

She smells like old money. Money so old that you could hardly see the blood that was spilled to earn it. Prim and proper, with the upright posture of a minister's daughter. A minister like the one from Pulp Novel: The Case of the Murdered Minister. Can't remember what that was about.

This is the dame that walked into my office. A girl so hot that she set that lollipop on fire. Never did get her name. Probably something classy like Eunice or Gertrude.

I really should write these things down.

So she walks over to me and says, "Are you a detective?". I reply, "Sure." It doesn't sound like much, but from me it sounds like it's comin' from a hardboiled detective. Which is me. A detective, I mean. Can't stand things hardboiled.

Detectives are like that.

Now that she's walked over I see this broad's got legs that just won't quit. Round, tasty things with thighs big like ham hocks, going all the way from her succulent hips right to the ground, where they end with little piggies so sweet that a fella like me just wants to dip them in sauce and eat 'em right up.

Note to self: order lunch.

And that's not all, see? They go all the way up, too. Up to a place so nice that a down-on-his-luck private dick would sell his own mother to pay for a cab to the airport to buy a one way ticket on an airplane just for the view. A private dick who's afraid of flying. And one who'll give you a good deal on a mother, slightly used, for cab fare and a plane ticket to whatever they call that place up there. I'm starting to wish I hadn't skipped out on so much school.

Too busy solving crime.

So, just like a dame, she starts talking. Classy broads like her don't skip a beat. They're cool like that. Cool like that time I passed out with my head in the refrigerator.

Never did find that salami.

She says, "I hope you can help me. It's about my husband, you see. He is, or was, involved with a real shady character."

'Shady like 'good on a sunny day' or shady like 'five o'clock shadow at ten in the morning'?' I ask. She just sits there, staring at me with those big, beautiful doe eyes like a red dress wearing bombshell Bambi caught in the headlights of my question. Or maybe I didn't ask out loud. Internal monologue, probably.

This is how real men drink. From a jar. A mason jar. Filled with bourbon. Real men drink to forget. Drink to forget drinking bathtub hooch from a mason jar.

Even odds I'd learn soon enough. Enough like three helpings of spaghetti at the twenty four hour diner.

Note to self: have spaghetti for dinner. Spaghetti and bourbon.

Hold the spaghetti.

"He's a real bad son-of-a..." her eyes dropped to the floor as she trailed off.

'She's classier than I thought.', I thought to myself. She couldn't even lower herself to say that word. Monkey, probably. Monkeys are always causin' trouble. Never go to jail for it though; they yank their Johnsons and throw their own scat and what do they get? Bananas. What do I get? Banned from the zoo.

And a date with the judge.

Problem is, I hit a Jap tourist with one of my steamers. I tell His Honor I got a medal for the same thing during the war, but no dice. Still don't know what Japs were doing at the Somme, anyway. Serves 'em right for being cheap seat rubberneckers in the wrong war.

So she says, "Mister Gwendolyne. Are you listening to me?"

"Sure thing, doll." I say, while I think to myself, 'Listening like a guy with attention deficit disord...hey! What's that on my desk? I always wanted one of those things! A rotary telephone, just like the kind of rotary telephone that a private dick would have in his office on a desk. Which is also his.' I hope the telephone is mine. Maybe later I'll try calling myself to see if I answer.

I look up. The broad is gone. Guess she got tired of my expositioning. Dames are like that. Sure, they need you to put yourself in harm's way for four bits a day plus expenses, but if you sit there thinking to yourself they just walk out without so much as a...whatever it is people say when they walk out.

Too busy solving crime to pay attention.

I didn't need her anyway. Last time a girl like that walked into my office the next thing I knew I woke up with a concussion in a ditch outside Chicago.

And my name was Gwendolyne.



^  Author = A real tough palooka. The type of hard drinking, chain smoking, no good ex-con who has dirt under the dirt under his fingernails. Dirt like the grime of the big, cruel city.

Tough like a nickel steak. Steak from a cow so worn down by life in the big, cruel city that a piece of it, tossed and burned on the grimy grill at a filthy all-nite diner, only costs a nickel.

You get the drift.

A face not even a mother could love. Not even when it's dressed up for the Prom. Sure, it's an ugly mug, see, but I grew into it. Still have the suit, too. Except the pants. Private eyes don't have time for pants. Too busy solving crime.

^  Main Characters = Gwendolyne, "classy broad". Gwendolyne's a private dick, see? A gumshoe, a detective.

A man who gets things done when the coppers can't. A guy who solves whodunits so twisted that even he doesn't know who dun it. That's right, see. Up to the second the dame double-crosses him, pushes the pistol into his belly and stabs him in the back, he's got no idea that it was her all along. Up 'til that cold-hearted, no good, callous broad betrays him he's in the dark, while she plans to send him down the river. 'Cause she pulled the wool over his eyes.

Dames are like that.

The unnamed classy broad is that very girl. Sure, on the outside she's all sugar and spice, but on the inside she's a bad apple, rotten to the core. She's the kind of girl who would use her wily feminine wiles to get what she wants from some poor schmuck. She'd pull the wool over his eyes real good, see? He'd be blind. Ensnared in her wicked plot. Unable to see her for what she is. This gal's a hard nut to crack.

But little does this girl know that the only thing harder than her black heart is the sound of the touch of the soft patter of the warm light of love. 'Cause she loves the big palooka, see? Loves him like kids love candy. She's head over heels crazy in love for the buffoon.

The only thing this cheesecake fantasy loves more than this poor lovestruck gumshoe is diamonds. Diamonds are cold and hard, just like her heart. Diamonds so cold and so hard that they make her feel all warm inside, down where the pit of her cold heart burns. Burns with greed. Greed for diamonds, 'cause diamonds are worth their weight in gold. Gold is on her mind all the time, see. It's shiny and hard. When she dreams about looking at it in her mind's eye, the reflection of her big brown eyes on its gleaming surface fills her dark soul with the warm glow of the golden light of its shiny hardness. Gold shines green. Green with envy. Envy with greed.

So she pulls a pistol, stabs him in the back right up to the hilt, shoots the dumb ox right through his broken heart, twists the knife and skips town. Skips town with the diamonds, see? And this girl won't feel bad about it, not even for a second, 'cause diamonds are a skirt's best friend.

She's that kind of broad.

This is the telephone that sits on my desk. It only rings when I'm taking a bath and it's never for me. Telephones are like that, here in the cruel, hard city.

^  Other Characters = Rotary telephone, bourbon, ice. A telephone to ring up that old flame. Calling her from the bottom of a bottle. A bottle of bourbon. Not the classy kind of bourbon, in a bottle with a label that says "Bourbon", but the kind that comes in a Mason jar with a label that says "Mason Jar". The kind that makes you hurt inside.

Hurt like life, see? Hurt to numb the pain of the hurting that hurts you real bad, where you're hurting with pain, deep down inside. Deep down inside where your heart used to be before that cold-hearted broad tore it out of your chest, dropped it on the cold, hard ground, and crushed it between her stiletto heel and the filthy asphalt of the big, cruel, cold city.

Cold like ice, see? Cold like the icy dame who never calls you back. I never met anyone who could have been colder than Ice. We was friends in college. Not like a fancy college with a campus, but a school of hard knocks where a a guy can learn the real gritty facts about dames and rotary phone operation. Operation like the operation that led me to look for that salami on that dark and moderately windy night. Sure enough, the drugs Ice had slipped me took effect just as I was poking my head in the fridge. She took her cold salami and her cold heart and I never saw her again. Neither did bourbon.

Yeah, that kind of hurt.

^  No. of pages = Who wants to know? You're mighty nosey for one of them fancy book-readin' guys.

^  Language = Real tough language, see? Tough like a hardboiled private dick workin' his fingers to the bone. Tough like trying to scrape up enough to get by in the big, cruel city.

A big, cruel city like the kind of place where Eagle Scouts push tired old ladies in threadbare shawls and worn out shoes into traffic. Traffic driven by the kind of driver who'd sooner spit on you than slow down. Down like being so low that even a Mason jar of cheap bourbon can't lift your spirits. Spirits like the bathtub hooch that you drink to numb the pain of being run over by the car driven by a guy who didn't even slow down when he spit on you.

That kind of tough.

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