So we’re watching, David and I, and I see a scene that seemed to me to have dropped right out of Death Was the Other Woman. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that it did. It’s actually one of those scenes that make the era so terrific to write about, in terms of crime fiction. I mean, things like this happened to people. As they always will when you mix organized crime and a lot of money with illegal substances. It’s a deadly cocktail.
So the scene. Dex an Kitty are in a speak in San Francisco with a lot of Kitty’s old school friends. Kitty leaves the table to do some sleuthing and when she comes back, she finds all of her friends looking at Dex, “and each face held a look of sheer horror.”
“ONCE A WEEK like clockwork this guy went to his barber for a haircut and a shave. One day he goes in to get his ears lowered and his chin scraped and notices there’s a different barber. Doesn’t think anything of it. Sits down in the chair, starts talking baseball, the weather, the price of biscuits, who knows? Next thing you know, fffft.” Dex sliced his index finger across his own throat. “Straight razor. They left him in the chair in front of the big picture window as a sign.”Lately, watching television has offered me many moments like that, though that’s a pretty new sensation. When I first started writing books set in the 1930s, I sometimes had a tough time convincing people it was historical fiction. (It was. It is. But don’t get me started.) The funny thing is, I’ve been so focused on writing contemporary fiction of late, Kitty is far from my mind (though never, of course, entirely from my heart). So its fun, in television shows like Boardwalk Empire and the beautifully detailed Kate Winslet miniseries Mildred Pierce, to see the era so skillfully depicted. And, who knows? The sudden interest in the era might even pull Miss Kitty off the bench.
“What kind of sign?” Gladys asked shakily. Our other friends were just as mesmerized, their faces never leaving Dex’s. And he does so love an audience.
“The kind of sign that says: This man messed with the wrong people.” Dex shrugged his shoulders, as though acknowledging another element of the universe’s great inevitable. “There you are, kid,” he said, noticing me. “I was startin’ to get worried.”