She was standing at the bus stop. Sounds like a Hollies song. But she had a wedding ring on, and I already had a moll. No romance here. But she was still standing at the bus stop. Reading a book. I was curious. I glanced over to see what it was. It was a Robert B. Parker.
She saw me looking. Glanced up. I nodded. Pulled the Mike Hammer I had in my messenger bag and held it up. She smiled and nodded back. She turned back to her book. I put mine away. Checked my watch and wondered when the goddamn bus would get there.
Nothing more was said. Nothing more to say. We were both members of the same fraternity. It has no name. Doesn’t need a name. All it needs is a dirty world—and an avenging angel. Or several: Spade, Hammer, McGee, Spenser, whoever. Someone to tame the monsters in a dirty world.
James Ellroy said the message of film noir is “You’re fucked.” It isn’t just in the movies. It was in the books before that, and it’s still there. That’s why we read. And that’s why we have our heroes: they make sure the bad guys get fucked just a bit faster.
That’s what this fraternity is about. There may not be much justice around. But there’s some “get fucked” vengeance stored away in books. So we keep that alive—we’ll take what we can get. We may not have anything else in common. We don’t need anything else in common. We just share little nods of recognition and respect. Because we know who we are.
We keep the avenging angels alive. Every time we turn a page.