Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Noir

It was a dirty town. The cops were crooked and the streets were coated with broken glass like an over-salted corn chip, from a good distance, beautiful but not something you want to cozy up to. Times was tough; it was three cats to a corn chip. I can watch them fighting it out in the alley from my front-row seat courtesy of the sole window in the broom closet I call an office. I don't get any pleasure from the pugilistic efforts of half-starved alley cats, but the only way to fit a desk and two chairs in here is to have my chair right in front of the window.

A new sound takes my mind off the cats. It's Bartholomew pounding the furnace like a sailor on shore leave. The exposed pipes in my office started up their crazed dance to Bartholomew's jazz drum solo and tiny plaster flakes fell from what was left of the ceiling. Bartholomew's official title is building super, but his two main activities are denting the mummified furnace and staring into half-empty bottles of gin. I can't complain, because whatever answers he finds in those bottles don't seem to mention the fact that my rent is 4 and a half months overdue. I could've finished a shorthand typing course by now, but I just sit and wait. Wait for her.

She had all the charm and sophistication of a stale unsalted corn chip, but she needed me, and that counted for something. Or at least that's what I told myself. I still remember the tears flooding those big Bakelite eyes as she tried to tell me it was over.

"Please, Johnny-" she whispered. I grabbed her by her shoulders as she turned to leave.

"Now listen up toots, and you listen good because this is the last time." By now I was shaking her, hairpins scattering to the floor like the last few crumbs of a starving man's last bag of corn chips. I knew this was it for us, but I couldn't help myself. I shook her harder.

"Toots, my name isn't Johnny."

Moral: a diet high in sodium can lead to an increased risk of excess fluid retention and high blood pressure.

This eye-watering blast of cliche was provided by the lovely and talented Zelda Graves, who most definitely doesn't sit on the board of Crunchy Corn Chips Inc.

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