How I Broke My Arm

When the landlord of the building gave me the basement apartment, he said, “Be sure to check out the bar right above you—my brother-in-law is the owner and they serve a great steak. Tell him I sent you. And you should visit the barbershop on the other side of the building; my nephew owns it, and I’ll tell him you’ll be stopping by. But you don’t need to go up to any of the floors above, and in fact it’d be great if you would just stay out of the lobby altogether—it’s really for the people in the building.”

So I got the haircut, and it wasn’t bad, and I had the steak, which was pretty good, which in fact you might even say had me—coming back for more, that is. It was the during the third or fourth charbroiled that I met the fourth member of the family reigning at 111 Furth. Now, when it comes to socializing, let me say that I’m all for it. I no longer wish to leave early, slamming the door behind me as I go, and in fact I plan to stay here drinking until they turn off the lights. Getting back to the event under consideration here, I saw no reason to get a nice girl mixed up in the whole lousy business. But she, all curls, pearls and swirls, simply would not let up. Well, she didn’t much like the basement, what with all the oil and the machine parts lying around, on account of it was my job to fix ’em. And she lived in the building, too—had somehow talked the old man into giving her one of the studios with a view of Elliot Bay. So you can see the problem in all this, I’m sure.

Hell, I’m going to stop right there; the story tells itself, really. That’s how I broke my arm.


  1. Quin,

    If you keep teasing, I’m going to break your other arm and all your fingers.

    I do hope for your sake – and for the sake of your piano career – that you just ran out of cigarettes and now that you’ve returned from the corner shop, you are just now settling down, fishing a filterless Camel from the pack, lighting it up, and gazing out into the middle distance as you return to the story…

    “But just in case,” you type out, “some of you think a story needs to be told even when it tells itself…” etc.


    • JOB,
      I’m guessing it’s a riddle – the story is already told within the information we’ve been given.

      • Yeah, but I thought that was too obvious. So my next thought was, he’s going to get mixed up with the goil and her relatives are going to get mixed up with the narrator and then we’ll have great fun commencing…


        • Quin Finnegan says

          Exactly—that part gets filled in pretty easily. “Commencing” being the operative word there. It was a while ago, but I think had the most fun just describing how she was “all curls, pearls and swirls”. But I’ll grab my Lucky Strikes and see what I can come up with.

          • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

            My guess: The bar is called ‘Chub’s’, and Quin winged himself with a ricocheting fastball.

  2. Quin Finnegan says

    It’s a teasing riddle, I guess. Unlike the girl, evidently. I wrote this seven or eight years ago after rereading the likes of Chandler, Hammet, and Jim Thompson, and it seemed to coincide with the story about George M. Cain that Expat linked to below. I thought about rewriting the last sentence, “That’s how I got my arm broke”, but that would have been pretty obvious, maybe too obvious. Plus, he’s a grown-up. He can take responsibility for going where he shouldn’t have gone.

    Thanks to both of you for reading!

  3. Jonathan Webb says

    Will there be heavies who re-break it?

    Good work.

  4. Quin Finnegan says

    Maybe. But they let him keep his testicles. They know the girl, after all.

  5. Cubeland Mystic says

    A lot of Irish on this post.

  6. Southern Expat says

    Were you typing this with one arm in a sling?

  7. I hate to interrupt a perfectly fine thread, but y’all are needed over there.

  8. Jonathan Webb says

    Yes, maybe keep the testicles. But, wouldn’t it be groundbreaking for genre if he lost them?

    • Jonathan Webb says

      It would double-down the Farewell My Lovely/Miller’s Crossing motif of the scrourged protagonist.

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