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Dashiell Hammett

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Spade pulled his hand out of hers. He no longer either smiled or grimaced. His wet yellow face was set hard and deeply lined. His eyes burned madly. He said: "Listen. This isn't a damned bit of good. You'll never understand me, but I'll try once more and then we'll give it up. Listen. When a man's partner is killed he's supposed to do something about it. It doesn't make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you're supposed to do something about it. Then it happens we were in the detective business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed it's bad business to let the killer get away with it. It's bad all around bad for that one organization, bad for every detective everywhere. Third, I'm a detective and expecting me to run criminals down and then let them go free is like asking a dog to catch a rabbit and let it go. It can be done, all right, and sometimes it is done, but it's not the natural thing. The only way I could have let you go was by letting Gutman and Cairo and the kid go. ... Fourth, no matter what I wanted to do now it would be absolutely impossible for me to let you go without having myself dragged to the gallows with the others. Next, I've no reason in God's world to think I can trust you and if I did this and got away with it you'd have something on me that you could use whenever you happened to want to. That's five of them. The sixth would be that, since I've got something on you, I couldn't be sure you wouldn't decide to shoot a hole in *me* some day. Seventh, I don't even like the idea of thinking that there might be one chance in a hundred that you'd played me for a sucker. And eighth but that's enough. All those on one side. Maybe some of them are unimportant. I won't argue about that. But look at the number of them. Now on the other side we've got what? All we've got is the fact that maybe you love me and maybe I love you." ... "But suppose I do? What of it? Maybe next month I won't. I've been through it before when it lasted that long. Then what? Then I'll think I played the sap. And if I did it and got sent over then I'd be sure I was the sap. Well, if I send you over I'll be sorry as hell I'll have some rotten nights but that'll pass. Listen." He took her by the shoulders and bent her back, leaning over her. "If that doesn't mean anything to you forget it and we'll make it this: I won't because all of me wants to wants to say to hell with the consequences and do it -- and because God damn you you've counted on that with me the same as you counted on that with the others. ... Don't be too sure I'm as crooked as I'm supposed to be. That kind of reputation might be good business bringing in high-priced jobs and making it easier to deal with the enemy. ... Well, a lot of money would have been at least one more item on the other side of the scales." ... Spade set the edges of his teeth together and said through them: "I won't play the sap for you."
--
Chap. 20, "If They Hang You"
--
spoken by the character "Sam Spade" to "Brigid O'Shaughnessy."

 
Dashiell Hammett

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"If you kill me, how are you going to get the bird? If I know you can't afford to kill me till you have it, how are you going to scare me into giving it to you?"
Gutman cocked his head to the left and considered these questions. His eyes twinkled between puckered lids. Presently he gave his genial answer: "Well, sir, there are other means of persuasion besides killing and threatening to kill."
"Sure," Spade agreed, "but they're not much good unless the threat of death is behind them to hold the victim down. See what I mean? If you try anything I don't like I won't stand for it. I'll make it a matter of your having to call it off or kill me, knowing you can't afford to kill me."
"I see what you mean." Gutman chuckled. "That is an attitude, sir, that calls for the most delicate judgment on both sides, because, as you know, sir, men are likely to forget in the heat of action where their best interest lies, and let their emotions carry them away."
Spade too was all smiling blandness. "That's the trick, from my side," he said, "to make my play strong enough that it ties you up, but yet not make you mad enough to bump me off against your better judgment."
Gutman said fondly: "By Gad, sir, you are a character!"

 
Dashiell Hammett
 

Listen, I have no judgment about anything. Some people will bring certain celebrities up to me who are presumably or known to be gay and ask "Why don't they come out?" But we don't know why they don't, and it's none of our business, really. In '75 I was making the Modern Scream album, and Jane and I were in the studio. My publicist called me and said "Time will give you the cover if you'll come out." I was more offended than anything that they thought we'd make a deal. But that was '75 it would have been a hard thing to do at that time.

 
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[About going upstairs to "kill his son."] So I say, "Your mother sent me up here to kill you." He says, "Uh-huh." So I looked at him. And I noticed that from here...[points to one side of his head and circles around to the other side] all the way around to here...there was no hair! I said, "Son?" Called him "son". "What happened to your hair?" He said, "I don't know." I said, "Son, take your hand and put it on top of your head and tell me what you feel." He said, "There's no hair." I said, "Right! Now, tell Dad what happened to your hair." He said, "I don't know." I said, "Son, was your head with you all day today?" He said, "Uh-huh." I said, "Was this the hairstyle you wanted?!" He said, "Uh-huh." I said, "A reverse MOHAWK?!!" He said, "Uh-huh." I said, "Did you cut your hair off?" He said, "Uh-huh." I said, "Well, why didn't you tell me that?" He said, "I don't know!" I said, "Is this the hair style you wanted?!" He said "Uh-huh!" I said, "A REVERSED mohawk?!" So I went back downstairs, and my wife said "DID YOU KILL HIM?!" I said "No!" She said, "Why?" I said "I don't know!!!"

 
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"Listen, he carved out a hole in the middle of the floor and he's building you a volcano. That's all I know. And you're supposed to come down with your flowers and make sacrificial offerings. And he's supposed to throw you into the volcano. This is all I understand." (from "Flower Lady #2)

 
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I'm a lousy piece of ass, and I should know every man I have been with has told me so, I've been there almost every time. I mean, the closest thing I got to a birds and bees talk was with my dad. He was like, "Son, sex is a lot like this egg." "Dad, I think those are drugs." "Whatever, queer." "Why does everyone keep saying that?" "Listen up, son, listen good. You take a woman and crack her over the head and lie her flat. Make sure she sizzles and then flip her over. Don't stand too close or you'll get yellow stuff all over your bacon" What? I see some of you holding your stomach and feeling: "No, you shouldn't." That's a breakfast joke. That's the most important joke of the day. If you don't laugh at that, you're gonna be sleepy around 11:30. And you'll be like, "Why am I so tired?"

 
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