Bob’s note: written for the season of good natures and with love and respect for Raymond Chandler’s work. The main case referenced below is the plot thread of Farewell, My Lovely, my favorite of the Marlowe books and set in 1939.
Christmas Eve, and a blade-straight wind is scraping dirt off the San Gabriel Mountains. Out my window the drunks are slurring carols, and eggnog-soaked housewives are screaming their holiday wishes. So much for throwing open my sash.
I shouldn’t complain. Tonight marks the first holiday in memory no one has sapped me roadside, bedside, poolside, ringside or portside. Take how 1939 came: the hard way. My first waking moment of it was from the bottom of a Malibu ravine, courtesy of whoever dumped me there. Midnight on December 31 some people got a kiss. I took a sap to the head. Happy New Year, Marlowe.
I write you from inside a cloud of cigarette smoke. Outside the cloud is my room at the Bristol. It is the kind of place you might want to call home, but only after waking up in a few ravines. On my door hangs a sunburned wreath as gnarled as the traffic on Sunset. Around my window is a strand of colored lights supposed to make the season merry. Half the bulbs have already called it quits. I don’t blame them. In Hollywood neon outmuscles electric and keeps my apartment tinged the local brand of scarlet. I also tied a bow atop my house bottle of Four Roses. I am in a cloud of that too.
The bourbon is in the hopes