An old man dozed in the elevator,
on a ramshackle stool,
with a burst-out cushion under him.
His mouth was open,
his veined temples glistened in the weak light.
He wore a blue uniform that fitted him
the way a stall fits a horse.
Under that gray trousers with frayed cuffs,
white cotton socks and black kid shoes,
one of which was slit across a bunion.
On the stool he slept miserably,
waiting for a customer.
I went past him softly,
the clandestine air of the building prompting me,
found the fire door and pulled it open.
The stairs hadn’t been swept in a month.
Bums had slept on them, eaten on them,
left crusts and fragments of greasy newspaper,
matches, a gutted imitation-leather pocketbook.
In a shadowy angle against the scribbled wall
a pouched ring of pale rubber had fallen
and had not been disturbed.
A very nice building.
Raymond ChandlerThe Big Sleep1939