When Frederic Dannay, a.k.a. Ellery Queen, collected the Continental Op yarn “Corkscrew” in the 1948 Lawrence Spivak digest Nightmare Town, he resurrected it from the crumbling wood pulp pages of Black Mask much like Dr. Frankenstein rescued the monster from the grave — lots of cutting involved. . . .
In the opening post of this mini-series Terry Zobeck gave you the background, and in the second he popped through one editorial change made by Dannay after another. If you’ve never been able to read “Corkscrew” from the Black Mask text, it may have been a shock to see so much of Hammett’s wordage cast aside — and still the story ranks as one of the white-hot reads from the Op run.
Here are the rest of the pure text restorations — providing the page number, the line number and whether it is from the top or bottom of the page, and the affected text — Hammett’s original wording is underlined.
The first set of page numbers, line numbers, and position in relation to the top or bottom of the page refers to the story as it appears in Nightmare Town in 1948, the second to the Lillian Hellman edited The Big Knockover from 1966.
Take it away, Terry:
101 13 top
212 19-20 top so I’ll have to enforce no laws I don’t like. If you want to have me hanging around you sort of loose and individual-like, I’m with you.”
101 14 top
212 21 top Now what can you tell me that I ought to know?”
He blew more smoke at the ceiling.
101 13 bottom
212 12-13 bottom they’re just as tough as the next one—and tougher.”
101 10 bottom
212 9 bottom “I reckon Bardell’s your big meat. Whether you’ll ever get anything on him is another thing—something for you to work up a lather over. Next to him—Big ‘Nacio.
102 6-7 top
213 8-9 top [Between these lines should be the chapter number: VIII]
102 17 top
213 22-23 bottom riding herd on law and order.”
Something that could have been worry flashed into her dark eyes, and out again.
“You might just as well start looking for another hired man right away,” she advised me. “He never kept a job longer than a few days in his life.”
102 5 bottom
212 7 bottom “Cold murder!”
“He say anything before he died?”
“No. He was dead when we got to him.”
103 8-9 top
214 8-9 top I pointed at the rope.
Bardell swore savagely. [these two sentences should be a single paragraph]
103 18 bottom
214 19 top I stood up, pulling up the rope and. A rope such as any one of a hundred cow-hands might have owned, in no way distinguishable from any other to my eyes. I handed handing it to Milk River.
104 2-3 top
214 2-3 bottom [Between these lines should be the chapter number: IX]
104 8 top
215 4 top down to the cañon. Don’t be too hard on the boys.”
104 12 top
215 9 top dust caked my throat. That same dust rose behind me in a cloud that advertised me to half the state, notwithstanding that I was riding below the landscape.
104 17 bottom
215 18 top He looked at the rope, but made no move to take it.
105 13 top
216 7 top I’d ride back to Corkscrew and go to bed.”
105 13 bottom
216 19 top winding gutter across the face of Arizona. But it was nicely green and cool compared to most of the rest of the State.
106 1 top
216 12 bottom and save you the trouble of making any strong play of your own.”
106 2 top
216 11 bottom You could be either right or wrong.
106 4-5 top
216 8-9 bottom [Between these lines should be the chapter number: X]
106 6-7 top
216 6 bottom so we got down in front of the Toad’s Jew’s shack.
106 17-18 top
217 6-7 top I got a great mind to smack you down, you shine elbow, you!”
106 14 bottom
217 13 top “Hold these, Milk River. And make the spectators behave while I take this pork-and-beaner for a romp.”
106 8 bottom
217 29 top while bare knuckles were more in my line.
Popular belief has it that you can do more damage with bare knuckles than with gloves, but as usual, popular belief is wrong. The chief value of gloves is the protection they give your hands. Jaw-bones are tougher than finger-bones, and after you’ve pasted a tough face for a while with bare knuckles you find your hands aren’t holding up very well, that you can’t get the proper snap into your punches. If you don’t believe me, look up the records. You’ll find that knock-outs began to come quicker as soon as the boys in the profession began to pad their fists.
So I figured I hadn’t anything to fear from this Chick Orr—or not a whole lot. I was in better shape, had stronger hands, and wasn’t handicapped with boxing-glove training. I wasn’t altogether right in my calculations.
106 3 bottom
217 18 bottom I stopped trying to out-smart him and. His left hand played a three-note tune on my face before I could get into him.
I smacked both hands into his body,
107 1 bottom
218 16 bottom Do you think that is satisfactory? Do you think you are performing the duties for which you were employed?”
108 16 bottom
219 9 top Milk River and I went ten steps toward the Cañon House, and came face to face with the Reverend Dierks, Miss Janey, and old Adderly. None of them looked at me with anything you could call pleasure.
“You should be ashamed of yourself!” Miss Janey ground out between her false teeth. “Fighting in the street—you who are supposed to keep the peace!”
“As a deputy sheriff you’re terrible,” Adderly put in. “There’s been more trouble here since you came then there ever was before!”
“I must say, brother, that I am deeply disappointed in your action as a representative of the law!” was the minister’s contribution.
I didn’t like to say “Go to hell!” to a group that included a minister and a woman, and I couldn’t think of anything else, so, with Milk River making a poor job of holding in his laughter, I stepped around the better element, and we went on to the Cañon House.
108 5-6 bottom
219 20 top Milk River sat on the bed and grinned and watched me.
“How does a fellow go about winning a fight he gets the worst of?” he inquired.
“It’s a gift,” was the only answer I could think up.
“You’re a lot gifted. That Chick give you more gifts than a Christmas tree could hold.”
108 4 bottom
219 21 top we went down to the Toad’s Jew’s for food.
109 9 top
219 10 bottom low on his thighs, the holsters tied down.
109 17 top
220 1-2 top to look under a man’s coat for them. You can’t wear them out in the open, though.”
109 18 bottom
220 7 top “No. You put ‘em away.”
His smile spread.
109 15-16 bottom
220 10 top going back to the Toad’s Jew’s shack.
109 8 bottom
220 18 top All wore guns. All had the look of thugs.
110 16-17 top
221 3 top That’s what beat me in the profesh.
I tried to look sympathetic, while he studied my face carefully.
“I messed you up, for a fact.” His scowl curved up in a gold-toothed grin. The grin went away. The scowl came back. “But Ddon’t pick no more fights with me—I might hurt you!” [Dannay edited this last sentence to follow: That’s what beat me in the profesh.]
111 12 top
221 9-10 bottom a mixture of bookies, con-men, and the like. When I was living in New York, back before the war, I had spent quite a few of my evenings in Dick Malloy’s Briar Patch, a cabaret on Seventh Avenue, near where the Ringside opened later. This girl had been one of the Briar Patch’s regular customers a few years after my time there.
111 9 bottom
222 9 top Saved me a lot of trouble, maybe.
112 8 top
222 19 bottom and might be riding that way before morning. And don’t let the information get out to anybody else.”
112 10-11 top
222 15 bottom Get going, and don’t let the information get out to anybody else.”
112 13-14 top
222 12 bottom bottle of liquor. I gave my oath of office the laugh to the extent of three drinks. We talked and smoked a while and then the party broke up. Milk River told me he had the room next to mine.
I added another word to the report I had started, decided I needed sleep more than the client needed the report, and went to bed.
112 14-15 top
222 9-10 bottom [Between these lines should be the chapter number: XII]
112 12 bottom
223 2 top Toad’s Jew’s ordering breakfast
112 7-8 bottom
223 8 top which would be as nice as a dusty stove-top later—had a fresh, pleasant odor. There was nothing to hear but the creaking of leather, the occasional clink of metal, and the plopping of the horses’ feet on hard ground, which changed to a shif-shif when we struck loose sand.
The battle seemed to be over, unless the battlers had run out of bullets and were going at it hand to hand.
113 15 bottom
223 4 bottom The sun climbed high enough to let its rays down on us, and the comparative coolness in which we had been riding went away. At noon we stopped to rest the horses,
113 2-3 bottom
224 10 top a thin plume of bluish smoke rose. Water ran out of a rock-bordered hole in one sloping cañon-wall, disappearing in a thin stream that curved behind one of the buildings.
114 8 top
224 21 top Thirty feet from the nearest building, he ran out of places to hide. I thought he would scout the buildings from that point, and then come back. Instead and, he jumped
114 12 top
224 19 bottom A hatless Mexican came around the corner.
114 7 bottom
225 3 top But the hop-head didn’t want to talk. He looked sullenly at the ground and made no reply.
114 3-4 bottom
225 8-9 top [Between these lines should be the chapter number: XIII]
115 8 top
225 18 top “Quiet!” I yelled to at them.
115 11 top
225 21 top and a hard-looking gang of cutthroats. A short Jap with a scar from ear to ear, three Slavs, one bearded, barrel-bodied, red-eyed, the other two bullet-headed, cunning-faced; a swarthy husky who was unmistakably Greek; a bowlegged man whose probable nationality I couldn’t guess, and a pale fat man whose china-blue eyes and puckered red mouth were probably Teutonic.
116 6 top
226 13 top we got our company along towards dark.
116 14 top
226 23 bottom coming likety-split down to the lighted door.
117 12 top
227 15-16 top it’s a gut that you’re in for a lynching. Ahorcar, understand?”
117 8-9 bottom
227 11-12 bottom [Between these lines should be the chapter number: XIV]
118 10-11 top
228 8-9 top Peery growled down at me. “You ain’t done nothing since you been here, and it ain’t likely you ever will. I’m making sure that this Big ‘Nacio’s riding stops right here.
118 15-16 bottom
228 19 top I don’t think you want him bad enough to go that far. Right or wrong, I’m playing it that way.”
118 5-6 bottom
228 15 bottom A queer light flickered in his red-rimmed eyes. [The three sentences that make up this paragraph should each be separate paragraphs]
118 1 bottom
228 8 bottom Dunne’s revolvers coughed [Should be a separate paragraph]
119 4 top
228 2 bottom Dunne’s horse was down. [This and the next sentence should be a separate paragraph]
119 9 top
229 4 top Bullets made music on door and wall. [This should be a separate paragraph]
120 4 top
229 10 bottom But Milk River hadn’t ought to of killed Peery!”
Milk River bounced stiff-legged out of the door.
“Any time you want any part of me you pop-eyed this-and-that, all you got to do is name it!”
Small’s hands curved toward his holstered guns.
“Cut it!” I growled at Milk River, getting in front of him, pushing him back to the door. “I’ve got work to do. I can’t waste time watching you boys cut up. This is no time to be bragging about what a desperate guy you are!”
I finally got rid of him, and faced Small again.
120 16-17 top
230 5-6 top I’d rather lose every damn one of them that way then let you take one of ‘em away from me! [Dannay has the sentence ending in a period]
120 6-7 bottom
230 21-22 top [Between these lines should be the chapter number: XV]
121 17 top
231 5 top without the drug any longer. I would have given him an injection, but Milk River stopped me, saying you had given orders that nothing was to be done without instructions from you.”
121 15 bottom
231 11-12 top and he gets no more until he’ll talk. Maybe he’s ripe now.”
121 13 bottom
231 14 top Milk River was squatting on his heels outside the door, talking to one of the guards.
121 5-6 bottom
231 22 top He was writhing with cramps. The other prisoners were trying to get some sleep, their blankets spread on the floor as far from Rainey as they could get.
122 1 top
231 16-17 bottom The straight story will bring you a shot, and nothing else will.”
122 2 top
231 15 bottom “I didn’t kill him! He screamed. “I didn’t! Before God, I didn’t!”
122 12 bottom
232 11-12 top and cried over them. She poured out all of her hopes and fears to me—including her liking of Milk River, who was a good kid even if he had never been within two thousand miles of Forty-second Street and Broadway.
The talk always came back to that: New York, New York, New York.
122 7 bottom
232 17 top he commented, jovially, and went on.
I took her slippers off, tucked her in bed, opened the window, and went out, locking the door behind me and chucking the key over the transom.
After that I slept.
123 8 top
232 10-11 bottom Gimme th’ shot! Gimme it!”
124 2-3 top
233 19-20 bottom Inside the door I ran into sallow Vickers, who was hurrying to see what the rumpus was about.
125 2 top
234 22 bottom sound in his mouth.
His gold teeth showed in a grin.
125 6 top
234 18 bottom but it bled a lot—all over me, in fact.
125 11 top
234 11 bottom She went past me without looking at me—deliberately not looking at me.
125 13 bottom
235 7 top He was beyond reasoning with.
“Put it away!” I ordered, though I knew the words were wasted.
125 10 bottom
235 10 top I stopped looking for an out. Blood thickened in my head, and things began to look queer. I could feel my neck thickening. I hoped I wasn’t going to get too mad to shoot straight.
and I went for my gun.
126 17-18 top
235 7-8 bottom [Between these lines should be the chapter number: XVII]
126 13 bottom
235 2 bottom “Get the Toad Jew.
126 4 bottom
236 9 top It got to be a damned nuisance. No sooner would I say that everything was all right than she’d begin all over again to ask me to forgive her.
“I was so afraid you’d kill him, because he’s only a kid, and somebody had told him a lot of things about you and me, and I know how crazy he was, and he’s only a kid, and I was so afraid you’d kill him.” And so on and so on.
Half an hour of this had me woozy with fever.
“And now he won’t talk to me, won’t even look at me, won’t let me come in here when he’s here. And nothing will ever make things right again, and I was so afraid you’d kill him, because he’s only a boy, and . . .”
127 5 top
236 17 top I growled at him.
His face got beet-color and he shuffled his feet.
127 7-8 top
236 20 top you was playing me for a sucker Chinaman.
127 10 top
236 23 top “hell, no, Chief! I’d give a leg if none of it had never happened.”
127 19 bottom
236 11 bottom is worth a million an ounce, and you’d know it if you had anything to know anything with. Now you run out and find this Clio person, and bring her back with you and no nonsense!”
127 11 bottom
236 2 bottom “Did you get the Toad Jew?
127 5 bottom
237 5 top “That the Toad Jew killed poor old Slim.
127 2 bottom
237 8 top and the Toad Jew gets scared
128 1-2 top
237 12 top The Toad Jew was cleaning house
128 5-6 top
237 16 top Slim had bled some on the that floor.
128 11 top
237 21 top of the time the Toad Jew had followed him
128 12 top
237 20 bottom his meanness into the Toad’s Jew’s shack
128 14 top
237 18 bottom If the Toad Jew had been depending
128 7 bottom
237 9 bottom Milk River grinned at me, pulling the girl closer with the one arm that was around her.
And now, after digging up the pure text for nineteen Hammett stories, there’s only one more! The final story for which we currently do not have the original pulp appearance to check is “The Nails in Mr. Cayterer” from the January 1926 issue of Black Mask. If anyone has a copy, please drop Don a line and consider photographing it for us.