Cornell Woolrich Quotes

Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Now the evening's at its noon, its meridian. The outgoing tide has simmered down, and there's a lull-like the calm in the eye of a hurricane - before the reverse tide starts to set in. The last acts of the three-act plays are now on, and the after-theater eating places are beginning to fill up with early comers; Danny's and Lindy's - yes, and Horn and Hardart too. Everybody has got where they wanted to go - and that was out somewhere. Now everybody will want to get back where they came from - and that's home somewhere. Or as the coffee-grinder radio, always on the beam, put it at about this point: 'New York, New York, it's a helluva town, The Bronx is up, the Battery's down, And the people ride around in a hole in the ground. Now the incoming tide rolls in; the hours abruptly switch back to single digits again, and it's a little like the time you put your watch back on entering a different time zone. Now the buses knock off and the subway expresses turn into locals and the locals space themselves far apart; and as Johnny Carson's face hits millions of screens all at one and the same time, the incoming tide reaches its crest and pounds against the shore. There's a sudden splurge, a slew of taxis arriving at the hotel entrance one by one as regularly as though they were on a conveyor belt, emptying out and then going away again. Then this too dies down, and a deep still sets in. It's an around-the-clock town, but this is the stretch; from now until the garbage-grinding trucks come along and tear the dawn to shreds, it gets as quiet as it's ever going to get. This is the deep of the night, the dregs, the sediment at the bottom of the coffee cup. The blue hours; when guys' nerves get tauter and women's fears get greater. Now guys and girls make love, or kill each other or sometimes both. And as the windows on the 'Late Show' title silhouette light up one by one, the real ones all around go dark. And from now on the silence is broken only by the occasional forlorn hoot of a bogged-down drunk or the gutted-cat squeal of a too sharply swerved axle coming around a turn. Or as Billy Daniels sang it in Golden Boy: While the city sleeps, And the streets are clear, There's a life that's happening here. ("New York Blues")

Cornell Woolrich
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And then, with a shock like high-voltage coursing through me, the phone beside me started pealing thinly. I just stood there and stared at it, blood draining from my face. A call to a tollbooth? It must, it must be a wrong number, somebody wanted the Information Booth or-! It must have been audible outside, with all I had the slide partly closed. One of the redcaps passing by turned, looked over, then started coming across toward where I was. To get rid of him I picked up the receiver, put it to my ear. 'You'd better come out now, time's up, ' a flat, deadly voice said. 'They're calling your train, but you're not getting on that one - or any other.' 'Wh-where are talking from?' 'The next booth to yours, ' the voice jeered. 'You forgot the glass inserts only reach halfway down.' The connection broke and a man's looming figure was shadowing the glass in front of my eyes, before I could even get the receiver back on the hook. I dropped it full-length, tensed my right arm to pound it through his face as soon as I shoved the glass aside. He had a revolver-bore for a top vest-button, trained on me. Two more had shown up behind him, from which direction I hadn't noticed. It was very dark in the booth now, their collective silhouettes shut out all the daylight. The station and all its friendly bustle was blotted out, had receded into the far background, a thousand miles away for all the help it could give me. I slapped the glass wearily aside, came slowly out. One of them flashed a badge - maybe Crow had loaned him his for the occasion. 'You're being arrested for putting slugs in that phone. It won't do any good to raise your voice and shriek for help, try to tell people different. But suit yourself.' I knew that as well as he; heads turned to stare after us by the dozens as they started with me in their midst through the station's main-level. But not one in all that crowd would have dared interfere with what they mistook for a legitimate arrest in the line of duty. The one with the badge kept it conspicuously tilted in his upturned palm, at sight of which the frozen onlookers slowly parted, made way for us through their midst. I was being led to my doom in full view of scores of people. ("Graves For The Living")

Cornell Woolrich
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I must have roamed dementedly about for a time in the streets. When I at last got back to my own place, Faustine was again there ahead of me, coiled torpid in the bed like a loathsome boa-constrictor. She was already in the never-never land where ghouls like her belonged. I covered her face with one of the pillows, pressed down upon it with the weight of my whole body, held it there until she should have been dead ten times over. Yet when I removed the pillow to look, the black of strangulation was missing from her face. She was still in that state of suspended animation that defied me, a taunting smile visible about her lips. I had a gun in my valise, from years before when I'd been on an engineering job in the jungles of Ecuador. I got it out, looked it over. It was still in good working order, although it only had one bullet left in it. That one would be enough. She wasn't going to escape me! I pressed the muzzle to her smooth white forehead, mid-center. "Die, damn you!" I growled, and pulled the trigger back. It exploded with a crash. A film of smoke hid her face from me for a minute. When it had cleared again, I looked. There was no bullet-hole in her skull! A black powder-smudge marked the point of contact. The gun dropped to the floor with a thud. That ineradicable smile still glimmered up at me, as if to say: "You see? You can't." I rubbed my finger over the black; the skin was unbroken underneath. A blank cartridge, that must have been it. I raised her head; there was a rent in the sheet under it. I probed through it with two fingers. I could feel the bullet lying imbedded down in the stuffing of the mattress. ("Vampire's Honeymoon)

Cornell Woolrich
He handed me something done up in paper. 'Your mask, ' he said. 'Don't put it on until we get past the city-limits.' It was a frightening-looking thing when I did so. It was not a mask but a hood for the entire head, canvas and cardboard, chalk-white to simulate a skull, with deep black hollows for the eyes and grinning teeth for the mouth. The private highway, as we neared the house, was lined on both sides with parked cars. I counted fifteen of them as we bashed by; and there must have been as many more ahead, in the other direction. We drew up and he and I got out. I glanced in cautiously over my shoulder at the driver as we went by, to see if I could see his face, but he too had donned one of the death-masks. 'Never do that, ' the Messenger warned me in a low voice. 'Never try to penetrate any other member's disguise.' The house was as silent and lifeless as the last time - on the outside. Within it was a horrid, crawling charnel-house alive with skull-headed figures, their bodies encased in business-suits, tuxedos, and evening dresses. The lights were all dyed a ghastly green or ghostly blue, by means of colored tissue-paper sheathed around them. A group of masked musicians kept playing the Funeral March over and over, with brief pauses in between. A coffin stood in the center of the main living-room. I was drenched with sweat under my own mask and sick almost to death, even this early in the game. At last the Book-keeper, unmasked, appeared in their midst. Behind him came the Messenger. The dead-head guests all applauded enthusiastically and gathered around them in a ring. Those in other rooms came in. The musicians stopped the Death Match. The Book-keeper bowed, smiled graciously. 'Good evening, fellow corpses, ' was his chill greeting. 'We are gathered together to witness the induction of our newest member.' There was an electric tension. 'Brother Bud!' His voice rang out like a clarion in the silence. 'Step forward.' ("Graves For Living")

Cornell Woolrich
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