I'm going to freeze your face
David Schmid Selections

moon in the gutter

The Moon In The Gutter
(NY: Fawcett, 1953)

'Under the vermilion glory of the evening sun, the vast magnificence of an opal sky, the Vernon Street citizens had no idea of what was up there, they scarcely bothered to glance up and see All they knew was that the sun was still high, and it would be one hell of a hot night. Already the older folks were coming out of shacks and tenements to sit on doorsteps with paper fans and pitchers of water. The families who were lucky enough to have ice in the house were holding chunks of it in their mouths and trying to beat the heat that way. And a few of them, just a very few, were giving nickels to their children, to purchase flavored ice on sticks. The kids shrieked with glee, but their happy sound was drowned in the greater noise, the humming noise that was one big groan and sigh, the noise that came from Vernon throats, yet seemed to come from the street itself. It was as though the street had lungs and the only sounds it could make were the groan and the sigh, the weary acceptance of its fourth-class place in the world. High above it there was a wondrous sky, the fabulous colors in the orbit of the sun, but it just didn't make sense to look up there and develop pretty thoughts and hopes and dreams. The realization came to Kerrigan like the sudden blow of a hammer, putting him down on solid ground where a spade was never anything but a spade. He looked at the torn leather of his work shoes, the calloused flesh of his hands. He thought, You better wise up to yourself and stay out of the clouds.'


The Burglar
(NY: Lion, 1953)

'He saw her. Off to one side, and floating down easily, very gently going down, Gladden had her head lowered on her chest, her arms away
from her body, her gold hair weaving in the green water. He swam down and saw Gladden's arms moving out toward him. It was as though
the arms were reaching toward him. He told himself it was too late, he couldn't do anything for her now. They went down very very deep in
the water and he realized there was no more air in his lungs. He told himself to hurry and kick his way to the surface. But he saw Gladden's
arms reaching toward him, and it was Gladden, it was Gerald's child, and there was only one thing to do, the honorable thing to do. He
went down toward Gladden and got to her and held her and tried hard to lift her and himself up through the water and couldn't do it and
they went down together.'


Street of No Return

(NY: Fawcett,1954; London: Miller,1958; Colorado:Centipede Press, 2007)

'There were three of them sitting on the pavement with their backs against the wall of the flophouse. It was a biting cold night in November and they sat there close together trying to get warm. The wet wind from the river came knifing through the street to cut their faces and get inside their bones, but they didn't seem to mind. They were discussing a problem that had nothing to do with the weather. In their minds it was a serious problem, and as they talked their eyes were solemn and tactical. They were trying to find a method of obtaining some alcohol.'


Down There

(Greenwich, Conn: Fawcett, 1956; London: Fawcett, 1958); Republished as SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER (NY: Grove Press, 1962)

'There were no street lamps, no lights at all. It was a narrow street in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. From the nearby Delaware a cold wind came lancing in, telling alley cats they'd better find a heated cellar. The late November gusts rattled against midnight-darkened windows, and stabbed at the eyes of the fallen man in the street. The man was kneeling near the curb, breathing hard and spitting blood and wondering seriously if his skull was fractured. He'd been running blindly, his head down, so of course he hadn't seen the telephone pole. He'd crashed into it face first, bounced away and hit the cobblestones and wanted to call it a night. But you can't do that, he told himself. You gotta get up and keep running..'

'Now, looking back on it, he saw the wild man of seven years ago, and thought, What it amounted to, you were crazy, I mean really crazy.

Call it horror-crazy. With your fingers, that couldn't touch the keyboard or get anywhere near a keyboard, a set of claws, itching to find the throat of the very dear friend and counselor, that so kind and generous man who took you into Carnegie Hall. But, of course, you knew you mustn't find him. You had to keep away from him, for to catch even a glimpse of him would mean a killing. But the wildness was there, and it needed an outlet. So let's give a vote of thanks to the hooligans, all the thugs and sluggers and roughnecks who were only too happy to accommodate you, to offer you a target.'