lines from the pulps: “her lips stuck out in a way that made me want to mash them in for her”

The opening chapter of James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice:

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They threw me off the hay truck about noon. I had swung on the night before, down at the border, and as soon as I got up there under the canvas, I went to sleep. I needed plenty of that, after three weeks in Tia Juana, and I was still getting it when they pulled off to one side to let the engine cool. Then they saw a foot sticking out and threw me off. I tried some comical stuff, but all I got was a dead pan, so that gag was out. They gave me a cigarette, though, and I hiked down the road to find something to eat.

That was when I hit this Twin Oaks Tavern. It was nothing but a roadside sandwich joint, like a million others in California. There was a lunchroom part, and over that a house part, where they lived, and off to one side a filling station, and out back a half dozen shacks that they called an auto court. I blew in there in a hurry and began looking down the road. When the Greek showed, I asked if a guy had been by in a Cadillac. He was to pick me up here, I said, and we were to have lunch. Not today, said the Greek. He layed a place at one of the tables and asked me what I was going to have. I said orange juice, corn flakes, fried eggs and bacon, enchilada, flapjacks, and coffee. Pretty soon he came out with the orange juice and the corn flakes.


"Hold on, now. One thing I got to tell you. If this guy don’t show up, you’ll have to trust me for it. This was to be on him, and I’m kind of short, myself."


"Hokay, fill’m up."


I saw he was on, and quit talking about the guy in the Cadillac. Pretty soon I saw he wanted something.


"What you do, what kind of work, hey?"


"Oh, one thing and another, one thing and another. Why?"


"How old you?"


"Twenty-four."


"Young fellow, hey? I could use young fellow right now. In my business."


"Nice place you got here."


"Air. Is a nice. No fog, like in a Los Angeles. No fog at all. Nice, a clear, all a time nice a clear."


"Must be swell at night. I can smell it now."

"Sleep fine. You understand automobile? Fix’m up?"


"Sure. I’m a born mechanic."


He gave me some more about the air, and how healthy he’s been since he bought this place, and how he can’t figure it out, why his help won’t stay with him. I can figure it out, but I stay with the grub.


"Hey? You think you like it here?"


By that time I had put down the rest of the coffee, and lit the cigar he gave me. "I tell you how it is. I got a couple of other propositions, that’s my trouble. But I’ll think about it. I sure will do that all right."


Then I saw her. She had been out back, in the kitchen, but she came in to gather up my dishes. Except for the shape, she really wasn’t any raving beauty, but she had a sulky look to her, and her lips stuck out in a way that made me want to mash them in for her.


"Meet my wife."


She didn’t look at me. I nodded at the Greek, gave my cigar a kind of wave, and that was all. She went out with the dishes, and so far as he and I were concerned, she hadn’t even been there. I left, then, but in five minutes I was back, to leave a message for the guy in the Cadillac. It took me a half hour to get sold on the job, but at the end of it I was in the filling station, fixing flats.


"What’s your name, hey?"


"Frank Chambers."


"Nick Papadakis, mine."


We shook hands, and he went. In a minute I heard him singing. He had a swell voice. From the filling station I could just get a good view of the kitchen.

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