How to Tell if You’re in a Raymond Chandler Story -The Toast

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You are the beautiful only daughter of an invalid.

You are the disappointing son of a cold-hearted woman with thick arms.

Your name is Derace, Orfamay, Moose, or Rusty, but you’ve asked to please be called Steelgrave.

You keep a photo on your mantel that proves your guilt in a capital crime.

You have in your possession an envelope of negatives that, if made public, could ruin the rising career of a young starlet.

In a dirty business, you have kept your hands clean. Almost.

You have shed aliases like the layers of an onion.

You have left many men crying.

You self-identify as a henchman.

The scandal will be kept out of the papers out of respect for your father.

You are a simple fortune-teller but your business cards say “Psychic Consultant.”

The secretary has a hard face but kissable lips. Very kissable lips.

Your fingerprints are on a dead man’s gun.

Your lipstick is on his cigarettes.

You have been at least a little pickled since Ferdinand was assassinated.

It’s not that wouldn’t murder your wife—it’s just that you wouldn’t bludgeon her with a statue.

What you’re looking for is under the toupee of a freshly murdered drifter.

In your overcoat pocket is a beautiful enamel case with three marijuana cigarettes that, if bisected, could connect your murder to a crooked cop, vengeful showgirl, and dimwitted felon.

You have been careless with something priceless—your heart.

You know a guy who can appraise antique coins.

You have frequently embarrassed yourself in front of the valets at The Dancers club on Sunset but you are always too boozed to care.

Your hair is parted in the middle and braided in a childish style that belies your wickedness.

Your doctor is a known dope-peddler but he has a great bedside manner.

You are in desperate need of a detective yet very rude and snobby towards the one you acquire.

Your hat is tilted at a particular angle that suggests both your fastidiousness and duplicity.

You are blackmailing a powerful but shady man.

You are a powerful but shady man being blackmailed.

You have been gut-punched within the last 24 hours. You still feel it in your teeth.

You chew at your lip to show you are full of thought or lust.

You are often in great danger, but you almost never take out your gun. Instead, you make wise cracks to lighten the mood so gangsters think you’re crazy and that usually works.

You have committed many wasteful murders to cover your tracks.

To you the air in Hollywood always smells sweet, like honeysuckle and impurity.

You have nothing in your apartment but a yellow davenport, a small fold-out table, and fourteen bottles of Scotch.

You only carry a .32 caliber gun with a white-bone grip because you are a lady and that is a gun for ladies.

You are a blonde who is neither icy nor languid, which makes you unclassifiable.

You are always many steps ahead of the cops, whom you do not respect.

The paint is peeling on the exterior of your bungalow, which is a metaphor for the loose sexual mores that will ultimately kill you.

You have a few hours or days to spare so you’ll swing up to Idle Valley to check on a client and his wife with the sexy eyes, then head over to Encino and down Ventura Boulevard to Cahuenga Pass and into Hollywood to stop by your office on Franklin (where no one will be waiting for you), then go west through Beverly Hills and Bel-Air past that old nightclub owner Morny’s mansion (“nightclub owner”) ’til you hit Bay City on the coast, where you will meet a corrupt police chief who has heard all about you and to whom you can connect at least three unsolved homicides.

It is time for you to go back to Kansas.

Carolyn Seuthe is a writer living in DC. In a Raymond Chandler novel, she would be the beautiful, lost, wicked girl or the first goon—the decoy goon.

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