Post Office Noir

Jackson Heights Post Office, 9:30 a.m.

This morning, I stopped at the post office to pick up a parcel. A parcel that would not fit into our impossibly small mailbox. Apartment buildings, you know how it is. City life.

Everyone in line had a similar salmon-colored slip in hand. No one came for stamps.

Stamps? Remember those?

As long as I have something to read I don’t mind waiting in line. A year ago, I never thought I’d be reading Raymond Chandler.

On my phone.

But there you have it.

I’m enthralled.

I’ve seen “The Big Sleep” and “The Maltese Falcon” many times, but this is my first Chandler, in print.

What a storyteller. His perspicacity, wit and velvety prose knock me out.

Here’s a wonderful bit of trivia. William Faulkner penned the screenplay for “The Big Sleep.” But it’s Chandler’s sharp, punchy dialog that he’s woven into the script.

The direction by Howard Hawk is sumptuous. Lauren Bacall’s performance is cryptic and sultry. The film is a work of art.

Chandler’s writing, though — WOW.

But then my post office reading time was interrupted by the women pictured at the top of this post. She started yelling, “Do you think I’m stupid? Do you think I’m stupid?” at a postal worker behind the glass.

What her problem was, no one knew. Something to do with the salmon-colored slip. I lifted my chin and addressed her.

“Ma’am, we all have a slip,” I said. “We’re all waiting to pick something up. Relax.”

She stared at me. She relaxed. She grinned.

“…she giggled. Very cute. The giggles got louder and ran around the corners of the room like rats behind the wainscoting. She started to go hysterical.” 

– Raymond Chandler

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