THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE BY JAMES M. CAIN

You want me to tell you what I know? What I know is that there was no postman; that was just a ruse, see? But there was a dame; there’s always a dame. Cora had fulsome red lips and dark blue eyes, like someone had smacked her up; and you thought about actually doing it, is how Frank told it, but you knew that if you tried you’d end up coming off worse than she did. She liked it rough, he said, but in the end things got so rough they couldn’t make it work. Yeah, she was a real puma, but not as real as the really real puma that Madge gave Frank. Anyways, Frank wanted Cora to ditch her old man and go on the road, but she had her feet under the table and wouldn’t budge. A real homebody. Cora was married to the Greek, but trying to tie down a woman like that is like trying to juggle water. So Cora comes up with this plan, and course something’s gotta die. A woman like that don’t make plans and everyone lives happily ever after. Now, I’ve never tried to kill a man myself, but Frank said it ain’t as easy as you’d think, like whistling. And, boy, those two sure gave whistling all they had. Greeks must have hard skulls, Frank said, and the harder the skull the harder you gotta hit ’em. If you want the dame, you gotta take out the husband, that’s how he saw it. Course the auto court was part of it too, and any money coming your way. But that was mostly Cora, Frank said. If you want my opinion, she was nasty; and not good nasty, but nasty nasty. And, yeah, good nasty too I guess, because a man don’t go for murdering the husband of a girl who ain’t taking good care of him too, if you know what I mean. A sordid business all right, is how I’d describe it. From start to finish. And knowing what you know about the finish ought to give you some idea of how sordid it was from the start. But that’s all I got; Frank don’t talk much, as you know. He’s short on the details; he’s not one for describing everything. And you won’t get a word out of the dame. Not anymore. What do I think it all means? That there’s a lot of shit can hit the fan when the wrong man meets the wrong woman at the right time.

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