May 13, 2014

Cocktail Talk: The Heat Is On

I’ve been re-reading some of my favorite Chester Himes books lately (if you haven’t read Chester Himes at all – then get to it, cause he’s one of the real greats – if you have read some of his books, then let me say, re-reading them is well worth it), and realized that when Cocktail Talk-ing them earlier on this blog, I overlooked some choice quotes. Including the below from the book The Heat is On, which stars (of course) the finest Harlem detectives – and best named detectives – Grave Digger Jones and Cotton Ed Johnson, as well as an albino called Pinky.

     Mamie Louise was sick and the other all-night greasy spoons and barbecue joints had no appeal. They decided to eat in the Great Man nightclub on 125th Street.

     ‘I like a joint where you can smell the girls’ sweat,’ Coffin Ed said.

     It had a bar fronting on the street with a cabaret in back where a two-dollar membership fee was charged to get in.When the two detectives flashed their buzzers they were made members for free . . .

     ‘You want stink, you got it,’ Grave Digger said.

     ‘And everything that goes with it,’ Coffin Ed amended.

     Some joker was shouting in a loud belligerent voice, ‘I ain’t gonna pay for but two whiskeys; dat’s all I drunk. Somebody musta stole the other three ‘cause I ain’t seen ‘em.’

The Heat is On, Chester Himes

October 30, 2010

Cocktail Talk: The Heat Is On

My Chester Himes quote from a couple days ago has spurred me to want to put up a couple more from his Harlem series starring the two toughest-named detectives ever: Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones. In The Heat Is On, Grave Digger almost buys it, which almost has Coffin Ed taking out half the city. But by the end, Grave Digger is okay, and Coffin Ed is going out for a calmer.

Leaving the hospital they ran into Lieutenant Anderson, who was on his way to see Grave Digger, too.

They told him how he was, and the three of them went to a little French bar over on Broadway in the French section.

Coffin Ed had a couple of Cognacs to keep down his high blood pressure. His wife looked at him indulgently. She settled for a Dubonnet while Anderson had a couple of Pernods to keep Coffin Ed company.

–Chester Himes, The Heat Is On

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