Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday Snippet: The Devil Met a Lady by Stuart Kaminsky (ibooks, 1993)

The Devil Met a Lady blends facts concerning Bette Davis’ life with the fictional world of private investigator Toby Peters (my review here). Kaminsky’s dialogue is snappy and smart, and the book would easily translate into a retro-noir movie or be updated to be set in the present.

The emergency room nurse patched up Jeremy’s head with iodine and strips of gauze held down with tape, and then she took care of me. She was dressed in white, smelled like rubbing alcohol, and reminded me of my ex-wife Anne. The nurse’s name was Joanne Writz. Her hair was yellow, her body thin. She didn’t look the least bit like Anne, but she noticed that my wounds were not fresh and she looked at me with the disapproving eyes of someone who expected no better from men.

‘I saw them enter the hotel,’ Jeremy explained as he watched me being cleaned and chastised. ‘I wasn’t sure it was them or I would have come inside.’

‘We’ll find her,’ I said.

‘You sure you want me to hear this?’ asked Joanne the nurse.

‘You plan to talk to anybody about it?’ I asked.

‘Only if I’m asked,’ she said, touching a rib. ‘Body’s not bad, if you ignore the scars.’

‘You like movies?’ I asked her.

‘Sure,’ she said, wrapping tape around my chest. ‘Judy Garland and Gene Kelly in For Me and My Gal?’ I tried.

She looked at Jeremy and then at me.
‘Are you asking me for a date?’ she said, putting her hands on her hips.

‘Says ‘Miss’ on your name tag,’ I answered with a grin.

‘I don’t go out with suicidals and children,’ she said.

‘I’m not suicidal.’

The nurse looked at Jeremy.

He looked back at her and nodded.
‘I’m sorry, Toby,’ he said. ‘But she may be right.’

‘Anne used to say I wouldn’t grow up,’ I said, as Joanne stepped back to survey her work.

‘Hmm,’ she said, satisfied.

‘Anne’s my ex-wife,’ I explained.

‘From what I can see, she’s a wise woman,’ said Joanne. ‘You can go now. Come back when you grow up.’