Nov. 10th, 2011

kitsjay: (Wisecracks Dresden)
And this, johns and janes, is how you open a hard-boiled detective story:

The man said: "McCary."

"No." I shook my head and started to push past him, and he said: "McCary," again thickly, and then he crumpled into a heap on the wet sidewalk.

It was dark there, there wasn't anyone on the street--I could have walked away. I started to walk away and then the sucker instinct got the best of me and I went back and bent over him.

I shook him and said: "Come on, chump--get up out of the puddle."

A cab came around the corner and its headlights shone on me--and there I was, stooping over a drunk whom I'd never seen before, who thought my name was McCary."

--Black, by Paul Cain

Also, I feel like I need a dictionary to read some of these:

"One of the guys," he growled over his beer. "What's she pulled this time?"

Steve shrugged and said: "I guess it's the usual. The torn-pajama act. Only there's a kickback this time."

"How come? You handling it, huh? Must be a nice cozy one."

Steve nodded. The big man blew smoke from his mouth. "Go ahead and handle it," he said.

"You don't mind a pinch here?"

The big man laughed heartily. "Nuts to you, brother," he said pleasantly enough. "You're a private dick. So it's a hush. O.K. Go out and hush it. And if it was a pinch--that bothers me like a quart of milk. Go into your act. Take all the room you want. Cops don't bother Jack Stoyanoff."

--The King in Yellow, by Raymond Chandler

So alongside, "Tell it to Sweeney", I'm adding, "That bothers me like a quart of milk" to the slang I want to bring back into common usage. Modern lingo just isn't as delightfully opaque as thirties slang was, sadly.

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