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CLICHE TOWN Introduction
by David Ian
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NARRATOR’S VOICE: It was a grey filled night sprinkled in rain with buzzing neon reflecting off oily streets and casting shifting shadows in dark back alleyways. It’s always night and always wet in Cliché Town, though in varying degrees. The streetlamp you need is always broken and so you grope your way by the dim glow of Laundromats and the bars that are always giving Last Call. That’s how things are in Cliché Town.

Men slick their hair down, wear trench coats outdoors and brimmed hats indoors as they brood in silent reflection of days never gone by while sitting on cheap apartment cots chain smoking Luckys and shooting down whiskey straight. It’s a city ordinance in Cliché Town.

Uniform cops sport brass buttons and shiny badges and drive black and white squad cars with large round fenders, growler sirens, spotlights and uncomfortable black leather seats. And detectives with thick necks prowl in twos, sling their guns in shoulder holsters under their suit coats and talk in a sneer with Jersey accents. It’s the law in Cliché Town.

ROUGH VOICE: There’s all types of cabbies in Cliché Town, an’ dispatch is suppos’ to get the assignments sorted out right. I mean, you don’t want to send a “Gabby Cabby” to some guy who wants a “Follow That Car” Cabby. Follow That Car cabbies have got the toughest jobs. They have to be good fast professional drivers, and usually they don’t get tipped. Then there’s the Blowin’ the Horn cabby. That’s the worst. Sit outside some place idling, and yer required to blow yer horn impatiently whilst some guy an’ some broad try to figger out if someone’s leaving or stayin’ or what. Sometimes ya git sent off without any fare at all. Tch!

Ah, the job ain’t bad, and usually ya get a good thick cigar to chew on to make the day go better, unless ya git a Gabby Cabby job from dispatch. Then ya gotta talk incessantly while some guy or some broad brood in the back, an’ don’t listen to ya, and then at some point they have ya stop unexpectedly t’ let ‘em out. Gabby Cabbies usually get good tips, though, so ya gotta kiss up t’ dispatch t’ get the assignments. Cabbies are the lifeblood of Cliché Town, so we’re about the highest paid jobs besides bartenders and saxophone players. Oh, then there’s the Private Dicks, but that’s a whole ‘nother league with a lot of liabilities. Word is, they can’t even get insurance, but that’s not for me t’ say. I’m just a cabbie, but that’s sayin’ a lot… in Cliché Town.

BOY’S VOICE: Yeah, it’s a thankless job being a paper hawker in Cliché Town. Every edition is an Extra, an’ you shout at the top of your voice the headlines, and every Tom, Dick an’ Harriet walks by and looks at the headlines and THAT’S all they need to know. It’s a city ordinance. No one ever reads the details, no one needs to “Read all about it”. And pretty soon yer out of a job because paper bundles just fall off the truck an’ that’s all that’s necessary. An’ if that don’t drive ya ta early drink, these knicker-pants and over-sized cloth hats will do ya in fer sure. Can’t wait ‘til I get bigger an’ get qualified for telegram delivery boy or bell hop. Now that’s a job for an up an’ coming kid with aspirations.

HARDBOILED P.I. VOICE: There’s two kinds of dames in Cliché Town. Them that’s trouble, an’ them that’s too much trouble. An’ ya never know which is which until it’s too late. And they all look like angels from heaven with red lipstick and red shoes and wear stylish hats with netting to hide their eyes, and that’s a city ordinance, too, in Cliché Town.

You start your day with a shot of cheap rot-gut, the Breakfast of Champions, and try to shake out the cobwebs from the night before. Who were the players? Who were the patsies? Who was the society dame and why did you think you had a chance with her? You replay the scenarios in a fuzzy haze that all run together and in the end it all boils down to the reality that at least you’re still alive to slug out one more meaningless day. Barely alive, but it’s enough to keep you going. That’s how life is….. in Cliché Town

SULTRY WOMAN’S VOICE: There’s two types of guys in Cliché Town. Jerks With No Money and Jerks With Too Much Money. They all try to keep you under their thumb, no matter who they are. The ones with no money just beat you up and convince you that you don’t deserve any better and you end up thanking them for it and crawl back crying for more. Then you spend your day in the rusty bathroom smoothing away the welts on your face and painting it up so the black and blue doesn’t show through, and then you go through it all over again.

The ones with power and money keep you in big houses with columns on the outside and endless rooms, sweeping staircases and glass chandeliers on the inside. And most of the time you’re kept in some ivory tower to idle away the endless hours and only get to come out to be displayed when there’s a party or an opening searchlight gala like some kind of arm candy, and then you’re thrown back under lock and key again. Yeah, it’s a gilded cage and you get abused like a dog to make sure you have no shred of self-respect or personal worth, and you start feeling lucky for the clothes on your back and the satin pillows you cry on. 'Cause that’s all you got, your wardrobe and your tears.

And through all this the knights in shining armor have got some sweetheart in their past who’s sapped the man out of ‘em, and they just sit on their hotel cots and drink and brood about the past with the neon lights flashing in their faces, hypnotizing them into oblivion. They’re paralyzed in their own self-wallowing and there’s nothing to pull them from their downward bottomless spiral.

Not that any gal couldn’t just grab a knife and stab any of these sorry losers and walk away head held high, but that’s not how things are done in Cliché Town. It’s a city ordinance for women have their lives wrung dry by some Jerk Guy, and the wheels of this town would crash to a halt without a steady supply of skirt to crush under its weight.

Yeah, it sucks to be a woman in Cliché Town, but the clothes are good, the gin is steady and the hours aren’t bad. But I think it’s time for all this to change and unfortunately, I need a man to help me do it.

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