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Beautiful and Dangerous 

The Noir City series of crime films from the '40s and '50s slinks into town

Wednesday, Jan 14 2004
The winter rain pummeled the sidewalk hard and steady, like a Bernal Heights cop slapping a confession out of a hood. I pulled my collar a little higher, trying to keep the wind from blowing icicles down my neck. Water dripped from my fedora brim onto my soaked Florsheims. Regular people streamed by, with regular lives. They had umbrellas, PDAs, three squares a day. They had no idea what it was like to be dealt a bum hand. I shrugged and lit a smoke. I wasn't gonna let it eat at me tonight. I had a date.

I glanced up at the marquee. "DETOUR WITH ANN SAVAGE IN PERSON JANUARY 16." She was quite a dame, that Ann. Cruel, some said. Heartless. Nah, she just looked out for herself. She'd heard every line men peddled and seen every weakness, and learned that a smart broad didn't count on them for nothing. Hell, she'd even turned down an A-list director who'd asked her out! Any break she'd ever had she'd made herself. She was almost a match for Cora.

Cora and I had met near a downtown cafe five days earlier. I'd boosted a wallet from a natty deal-maker busy chatting up a floozy on his cell phone while he dusted his no-fat latte with nutmeg, and eased out the door onto Montgomery. A block away, I ducked into a doorway to check my score and gulp my java. A long-legged brunette sidled up, gave me the once-over, and murmured, "That was a nice five-finger scam." "Beats telemarketing," I replied. "Or waiting for the mayor to grease me with a desk job."

She gave a short, bitter chuckle. Like either of us would land within six blocks of a swell ferried to work in a limo. Aromatic steam rose from our murky cups as we looked into each other's eyes, but all I could smell was trouble. The next morning, while I knotted my tie, Cora said, "I got a bit of money saved. All right, it's my husband's."

A foghorn bellowed, waking the debutantes and their middle-aged consorts in Pacific Heights and jolting me out of my reverie. Cora and I had agreed to meet at the Castro tonight for the Noir City Film Festival. She'd bring the cash and a suitcase, I my fast fingers. She was an hour late. I shivered and shook the rain off my hat. How long was I going to play the fool? I slipped the cashier a bill and ducked into the dark theater. Ann Savage was up on the screen trampling Tom Neal's heart, and I couldn't get enough.

About The Author

Michael Fox


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