Anna Halsey was about two hundred and forty pounds of middle-aged putty-faced woman in a black tailor-made suit. Her eyes were shiny black shoe buttons, her cheeks were as soft as suet and about the same color. She was sitting behind a black glass desk that looked like Napoleon’s tomb and she was smoking a cigarette in a black holder that was not quite as long as a rolled umbrella. She said: ‘I need a man.‘
I watched her shake ash from the cigarette to the shiny top of the desk where flakes of it curled and crawled in the draft from an open window.
‘I need a man good-looking enough to pick up a dame who has a sense of class, but he’s got to be tough enough to swap punches with a power shovel. I need a guy who can act like a bar lizard and backchat like Fred Allen, only better, and get hit on the head with a beer truck and think some cutie in the leg-line topped him with a breadstick.’
‘It’s a cinch,’ I said. ‘You need the New York Yankees, Robert Donat, and the Yacht Club Boys.’
—Raymond Chandler (‘Trouble is My Business’, 1939)