The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich Quotes

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The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich (Alternatives SF Series) The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich by Cornell Woolrich
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The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich Quotes Showing 1-30 of 57
“Beside her, her husband could only splutter, and he stopped even that when she half turned to flash him a smile - the instinctive, brilliant smile of a woman who knows what feeble creatures men can be. You couldn't learn to smile like that. It was something a woman either knew the minute she was born, or never knew at all. ("I'm Dangerous Tonight")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“She's a slinky sort of person, no angles at all; and magnetic - you can't take your eyes off her. She's dressed like a Westerner, but her eyes have a slant to them. They are the eyes of an Easterner. She doesn't walk like our women do, she seems to writhe all in one piece - undulates is the word. ("Kiss Of The Cobra")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“Home? What is home? Home is where a house is that you come back to when the rainy season is about to begin, to wait until the next dry season comes around. Home is where your woman is, that you come back to in the intervals between a greater love - the only real love - the lust for riches buried in the earth, that are your own if you can find them.

Perhaps you do not call it home, even to yourself. Perhaps you call them 'my house,' 'my woman,' What if there was another 'my house,' 'my woman,' before this one? It makes no difference. This woman is enough for now.

Perhaps the guns sounded too loud at Anzio or at Omaha Beach, at Guadalcanal or at Okinawa. Perhaps when they stilled again some kind of strength had been blasted from you that other men still have. And then again perhaps it was some kind of weakness that other men still have. What is strength, what is weakness, what is loyalty, what is perfidy?

The guns taught only one thing, but they taught it well: of what consequence is life? Of what consequence is a man? And, therefore, of what consequence if he tramples love in one place and goes to find it in the next? The little moment that he has, let him be at peace, far from the guns and all that remind him of them.

So the man who once was Bill Taylor has come back to his house, in the dusk, in the mountains, in Anahuac. ("The Moon Of Montezuma")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“But that's the Way, and there is no other. And once his mind's made up, the trembling and aimless walking stops, and he can look doom in the face without flinching. ("Jane Brown's Body")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“The girl's face was the color of talcum. Her uncle's was a death mask, a bone structure overlaid by parchment. Shane's was granite, with a glistening line of sweat just below his hair line. He'd never forget this night, the detective knew, no matter what else happened for the rest of his life. They were all getting scars on their souls, the sort of scars people got in the Dark Ages, when they believed in devils and black magic. ("Speak To Me Of Death")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“She thrust out her arms wide, in strange ritual of triumph, as Mimi Brissard had in Paris. She was a black, ominous death-cross against the starlight for a moment. Then she turned slowly, her eyes two green phosphorescent pools, toward where the helpless secret service man lay. ("I'm Dangerous Tonight")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“The thing, whatever it was - and no one was ever sure afterwards whether it was a dream or a fit or what - happened at that peculiar hour before dawn when human vitality is at its lowest ebb. The Blue Hour they sometimes call it, l'heure bleue - the ribbon of darkness between the false dawn and the true, always blacker than all the rest of the night has been before it. Criminals break down and confess at that hour; suicides nerve themselves for their attempts; mists swirl in the sky; and - according to the old books of the monks and the hermits - strange, unholy shapes brood over the sleeping rooftops.

At any rate, it was at this hour that her screams shattered the stillness of that top-floor apartment overlooking the Pare Monceau. Curdling, razor-edged screams that slashed through the thick bedroom door. ("I'm Dangerous Tonight")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“Extreme joy and extreme sorrow are indistinguishable beyond a certain point. ("Jane Brown's Body")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“Fear! Fear again, for the first time since his 'teens. Fear, that he thought he would never know any more. Fear that no weapon, no jeopardy, no natural cataclysm, has ever been able to inspire until now. And now here it is running icily through him in the hot Chinese noon. Fear for the thing he loves, the only fear that can ever wholly cow the reckless and the brave. ("Jane Brown's Body")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“And he's alone there, with the unconscious pilot lying a little way off for company, and some other guy he's never even seen, only spoken to over the radio.

He wants to sleep so badly - dying they call it - and he can't. Something's bothering him to keep him awake. ("Jane Brown's Body")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“When she comes down to supper I don't like her any better; in fact, a hell of a lot less. She's put on a shiny dress, all fishscales, like this was still India or the boat. On her head she's put a sort of beaded cap that fits close-like a hood. A mottled green-and-black thing that gleams dully in the candlelight. Not a hair shows below it, you can't tell whether she's a woman or what the devil she is. Right in front, above her forehead, there's a sort of question-mark worked into it, in darker beads. You can't be sure what it is, but it's shaped like a question mark. ("Kiss of the Cobra")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“A raging, glowering full moon had come up, was peering down over the side of the sky well above the patio.

That was the last thing she saw as she leaned for a moment, inert with fatigue, against the doorway of the room in which her child lay. Then she dragged herself in to topple headlong upon the bed and, already fast asleep, to circle her child with one protective arm, moving as if of its own instinct.

Not the meek, the pallid, gentle moon of home. This was the savage moon that had shone down on Montezuma and Cuauhtemoc, and came back looking for them now. The primitive moon that had once looked down on terraced heathen cities and human sacrifices. The moon of Anahuac. ("The Moon Of Montezuma")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“On hands and knees the figure comes pacing along beside the wall that flanks the patio, lithe, sinuous, knife in mouth perpendicular to its course. In moonlight and out of it, as each successive archway of the portico circles high above it, comes down to join its support, and is gone again to the rear.

The moon is a caress on supple skin. The moon of Anahuac understands, the moon is in league, the moon will not betray. ("The Moon of Montezuma")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“And I still say it was just a coincidence;' he muttered pugnaciously. 'You say it too! Look at me and say it! It was just a coincidence. That happened to be the nearest place on the dial where they both met exactly, those two hands. My blows dented them. They got stuck there just as the works died, that was all. Stay sane whatever you do. Say it over and over. It was just a coincidence!'

Outside the tall French windows, in the velvety night-sky, the stars in all their glory twinkled derisively in at them. ("Speak To Me Of Death")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“Maldonado's face was ghastly. 'That' she said, pointing below the bed where the cat lurked, 'and that' - pointing to what lay on the floor - 'prove it was no dream. Do dreams leave marks behind them?' ("I'm Dangerous Tonight")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“The sightseers would have been disappointed, as the real thing always makes a poorer show than the fake. ("I'm Dangerous Tonight")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“As the bartender struck a match to light her cigarette, she put her hand on his wrist to steady it. Travis saw him jump, draw back. He held his wrist, blew on it, looked at her reproachfully. Travis said: 'Why, you scratched him, Sarah.'

'Did I?' And as she turned and looked at him, he saw her hand twitch a little, and drew still further away from her. 'What - what's got into you?' he faltered.

There was some kind of tension spreading all around the horseshoe-shaped bar, emanating from her. All the cordiality, the sociability, was leaving it. Cheery conversations even at the far ends of it faltered and died, and the speakers looked around them as though wondering what was putting them so on edge. A heavy leaden pall of restless silence descended, as when a cloud goes over the sun. One or two people even turned and moved away reluctantly, as though they hadn't intended to but didn't like it at the bar any more. The gaunt-faced woman in red and black was the center of all eyes, but the looks sent her were not the admiring looks of men for a well-dressed woman; they were the blinking petrified looks a blacksnake would get in a poultry yard. Even the barman felt it. He dropped and smashed a glass, a thing he hadn't done since he'd been working on the ship. Even the canary felt it, and stood shivering pitifully on its perch, emitting an occasional cheep as though for help. ("I'm Dangerous Tonight")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“The honky-tonk bartender, who doubled as bouncer, waiter, and cashier, was in no mood to compromise. Mercy was not in him. He came out around the open end of the long counter, waddled threatening across the floor in a sullen, red-faced fury and began to shake the inanimate figure lying across the table with its head bedded on its arms. "Hey, you! Do your sleeping in the gutter!"

If you gave these bums an inch; they took a yard. And this one was a particularly glaring example of the genus bar-fly. He was in here all the time like this, inhaling smoke and then doing a sunset across the table. He'd been in here since four this afternoon. The boss and he, who were partners in the joint - the bartender called it jernt - would have been the last ones to claim they were running a Rainbow Room, but at least they were trying to give the place a little class, keep it above the level of a Bowery smoke-house; they even paid a guy to pound the piano and a canary to warble three times a week. And then bums like this had to show up and give the place a bad look!

He shook the recumbent figure again, more roughly than the first time. Shook him so violently that the whole reedy table under him rattled and threatened to collapse. "Come on, clear out, I said! Pay me for what you had and get outa here!" ("I'm Dangerous Tonight")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“Three o'clock in the morning.

The highway is empty, under a malignant moon. The oil drippings make the roadway gleam like a blue-satin ribbon. The night is still but for a humming noise coming up somewhere behind a rise of ground.

Two other, fiercer, whiter moons, set close together, suddenly top the rise, shoot a fan of blinding platinum far down ahead of them. Headlights. The humming burgeons into a roar. The touring car is going so fast it sways from side to side. The road is straight. The way is long. The night is short. (Jane Brown's Body")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“A scattering of pinpoint lights shows up in the blackness ahead. A town or village straddling the highway. The indicator on the speedometer begins to lose ground. The man glances in his mirror at the girl, a little anxiously as if this oncoming town were some kind of test to be met.

An illuminated road sign flashes by:

CAUTION!
MAIN STREET AHEAD - SLOW UP

The man nods grimly, as if agreeing with that first word. But not in the way it is meant.

The lights grow bigger, spread out on either side. Street lights peer out here and there among the trees. The highway suddenly sprouts a plank sidewalk on each side of it. Dark store-windows glide by.

With an instinctive gesture, the man dims his lights from blinding platinum to just a pale wash. A lunch-room window drifts by. ("Jane Brown's Body")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“It isn't dying I'm afraid of, it isn't that at all; I know what it is to die, I've died already. It is the endless obliteration, the knowledge that there will never be anything else. That's what I can't stand, to try so hard and to end in nothing. You know what I mean, don't you? ... I really loved to write.”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“He began as a minor imitator of Fitzgerald, wrote a novel in the late twenties which won a prize, became dissatisfied with his work, stopped writing for a period of years. When he came back it was to BLACK MASK and the other detective magazines with a curious and terrible fiction which had never been seen before in the genre markets; Hart Crane and certainly Hemingway were writing of people on the edge of their emotions and their possibility but the genre mystery markets were filled with characters whose pain was circumstantial, whose resolution was through action; Woolrich's gallery was of those so damaged that their lives could only be seen as vast anticlimax to central and terrible events which had occurred long before the incidents of the story. Hammett and his great disciple, Chandler, had verged toward this more than a little, there is no minimizing the depth of their contribution to the mystery and to literature but Hammett and Chandler were still working within the devices of their category: detectives confronted problems and solved (or more commonly failed to solve) them, evil was generalized but had at least specific manifestations: Woolrich went far out on the edge. His characters killed, were killed, witnessed murder, attempted to solve it but the events were peripheral to the central circumstances. What I am trying to say, perhaps, is that Hammett and Chandler wrote of death but the novels and short stories of Woolrich *were* death. In all of its delicacy and grace, its fragile beauty as well as its finality.

Most of his plots made no objective sense. Woolrich was writing at the cutting edge of his time. Twenty years later his vision would attract a Truffaut whose own influences had been the philosophy of Sartre, the French nouvelle vague, the central conception that nothing really mattered. At all. But the suffering. Ah, that mattered; that mattered quite a bit.”
Barry N. Malzberg, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“That's a man's vital spot, the helpless thing he loves. ("Jane Brown's Body")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“He's prowling back and forth like a lion with distemper now. There's a shiny streak down one side of his face. "I shouldn't have let her go ahead - I ought to be hung! Something's gone wrong. I can't stand this any more!" he says with a choked sound. "I'm starting now -"

"But how are you -"

"Spring for it and fire as I go if they try to stop me." And then as he barges out, the fat lady waddling solicitously after him, "Stay there; take it if she calls - tell her I'm on the way-"

He plunges straight at the street-door from all the way back in the hall, like a fullback headed for a touchdown. That's the best way. Gun bedded in his pocket, but hand gripping it ready to let fly through lining and all. He slaps the door out of his way without slowing and skitters out along the building, head and shoulders defensively lowered.

It *was* the taxi, you bet. No sound from it, at least not at this distance, just a thin bluish haze slowly spreading out around it that might be gas-fumes if its engine were turning; and at his end a long row of un-colored spurts - of dust and stone-splinters - following him along the wall of the flat he's tearing away from. Each succeeding one a half yard too far behind him, smacking into where he was a second ago. And they never catch up. ("Jane Brown's Body")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“He just lingers long enough to see his plane put to bed properly, then grabs a cab at the airport-gate. "The Settlement" and forgetting that he's not inland any more, that Shanghai's snappier than Chicago, "Chop-chop."

"Sure, Mike," grins the slant-eyed driver. "Hop in."

A change has come over the city since he went away, he can feel that the minute they hit the outskirts, clear the congested native sections, and cross the bridge into the Settlement. Shanghai is already tuning-up for its oncoming doom, without knowing it. A city dancing on the brink of the grave. There's an electric tension in the air, the place never seemed so gay, so hectic, as tonight; the roads opening off the Bund a welter of blinking, flashing neon lights, in ideographs and Latin letters alike, as far as the eye can see. Traffic hopelessly snarled at every crossing, cops piping on their whistles, packed sidewalks, the blare of saxophones coming from taxi-dance mills, and overhead the feverish oriental stars competing with inter-crossed searchlight beams from some warships or other on the Whang-poo. Just about the right town and the right night to have fifteen thousand bucks in, all at one time. ("Jane Brown's Body")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“The glove comes off, flops loosely over, and there's suddenly horror beating into his brain, smashing, pounding, battering. He reels a little in his chair, has to hold onto the edge of the table with both hands, at the impact of it.

A clawlike thing - two of the finger extremities already bare of flesh as far as the second joint; two more with only shriveled, bloodless, rotting remnants of it adhering, only the thumb intact, and that already unhealthy-looking, flabby. A dead hand - the hand of a skeleton - on a still-living body. A body he was dancing with only a few minutes ago.

A rank odor, a smell of decay, of the grave and of the tomb, hovers about the two of them now.

A woman points from the next table, screams. She's seen it, too. She hides her face, cowers against her companion's shoulder, shudders. Then he sees it too. His collar's suddenly too tight for him.

Others see it, one by one. A wave of impalpable horror spreads centrifugally from that thing lying there in the blazing electric light on O'Shaughnessy's table. The skeleton at the feast! ("Jane Brown's Body")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“Louisville, an hour after dark, is a carpet of gilt thumbtacks below them, with straight, twinkling lines like strings of beads leading out from it. Southeastward now, toward the Tennessee state-line. ("Jane Brown's Body")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“A second red-orange spearhead leaps straight at O'Shaughnessy. The whole world seems to stand still. Then the gun behind it crashes, and there's a cataclysm of pain all over him, and a shock goes through him as if he ran head-on into a stone wall.

A voice from the car says blurredly, while the ground rushes up to meet him, 'Finish him up, you guys! I'm getting so I don't trust their looks no more, no matter how stiff they act!' ("Jane Brown's Body")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“The struggle doesn't last long; it's too unequal. Their momentary surprise overcome, they close in on him. The well-directed slice of a gun-butt slackens the good arm; it's easy to pry the disabled one from around the racketeer's collar.

Tereshko is trembling with his anger. 'Now him again!' he protests, as though at an injustice. 'All they do is die and then get up and walk around again! What'sa matter, you guys using spitballs for slugs? No, don't kick at him, that'll never do it - I think the guy has nine lives!' ("Jane Brown's Body")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich
“It takes will power and nerve to hold the stick that way, to keep his eyes open and watch the rocky face of the cliff, pine-bearded, rush up at them. O'Shaughnessy's mouth flattens, his face goes white. And then in that final fraction of a moment, he laughs, a little crazily - a laugh of defiance, of mocking farewell, and, somehow, of conquest.

'Here we go, baby!' he shouts, teeth bared. 'Now I'm going to find out what it really feels like to fly into the side of a mountain!...'

There is only the storm to hear the smash of the plane as it splinters itself against the rock - and the storm drowns the sound out with thunder, just as the lightning turns pale the flame that rises, like a hungry tongue, from the wreckage. ("Jane Browns Body")”
Cornell Woolrich, The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich

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