I shall never forget the weekend Laura died. A silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying glass. It was the hottest Sunday in my recollection. I felt as if I were the only human being left in New York. For Laura's horrible death, I was alone. I, Waldo Lydecker, was the only one who really knew her. And I had just begun to write Laura's story when - another of those detectives came to see me. I had him wait. I could watch him through the half-open door. I noted that his attention was fixed upon my clock. There was only one other in existence, and that was in Laura's apartment in the very room where she was murdered.
[to Laura] Young woman, either you have been raised in some incredibly rustic community where good manners are unknown or you suffer from the common feminine delusion that the mere fact of being a woman exempts you from the rules of civilized conduct, or possibly both.
I don't use a pen. I write with a goose quill dipped in venom.....I'll neither consider, endorse, or use the Wallace pen. I hate pens. If your employers wish me to publish that statement in my column, you may tell them that I shall be delighted to oblige.
Her career began with my endorsement of the pen. I secured other endorsements for her, introduced her to important clients. I gave her her start. But it was her own talent and imagination that enabled her to rise to the top of her profession and stay there. She had an eager mind always. She was always quick to seize upon anything that would improve her mind or her appearance. Laura had innate breeding. But she deferred to my judgment and taste. I selected a more attractive hairdress for her. I taught her what clothes were more becoming to her. Through me, she met everyone - the famous and the infamous. Her youth and beauty, her poise and charm of manner captivated them all. She had warmth, vitality. She had authentic magnetism. Wherever we went, she stood out. Men admired her. Women envied her. She became as well-known as Waldo Lydecker's walking stick and his white carnation. On Tuesday and Friday nights, we stayed home, dining quietly, listening to my records. I read my articles to her. The way she listened was more eloquent than speech. These were the best nights.
[about Shelby] He's no good, but he's what I want. I'm not a nice person, Laura, and neither is he. He knows I know he's just what he is. He also knows that I don't care. We belong together because we're both weak and can't seem to help it. That's why I know he's capable of murder. He's like me.
McPherson: You said Harrington was rubbed out with a shotgun loaded with buckshot, the way Laura Hunt was murdered, the night before last.
Lydecker: Did I?
McPherson: Yeah. But he was really killed with a sash weight.
Lydecker: How ordinary. My version was obviously superior. I never bother with details, you know.
McPherson: I do.
McPherson: Were you in love with Laura Hunt, Mr. Lydecker? Was she in love with you?
Lydecker: Laura considered me the wisest, the wittiest, the most interesting man she'd ever met. And I was in complete accord with her on that point. She thought me also the kindest, the gentlest, the most sympathetic man in the world.
McPherson: Did you agree with her there, too?
Lydecker: McPherson, you won't understand this; but I tried to become the kindest, the gentlest, the most sympathetic man in the world.
McPherson: Have any luck?
Lydecker: Let me put it this way. I should be sincerely sorry to see my neighbors' children devoured by wolves.
Lydecker: Laura had not definitely made up her mind to marry him. She told me so herself, last Friday when she called up to cancel our dinner engagement. As a matter of fact, she was going to the country to think it over. She was extremely kind, but I was always sure she would never have thrown her life away on a male beauty in distress.
Shelby: [To McPherson] I suppose you've heard losers whine before, especially in your profession, eh?
Lydecker: Have you ever been in love?
McPherson: A doll in Washington Heights once got a fox fur out of me.
Lydecker: Did you ever know a woman who wasn't a doll or a dame?
McPherson: Yeah, one. But she kept walking me past furniture windows to look at the parlor suites.
Lydecker: [about the music playing] Would you mind turning that off?
McPherson: Why? Don't you like it?
Shelby: It was one of Laura's favorites. Not exactly classical but sweet.
Lydecker: In my case, self-absorption is completely justified. I have never discovered any other subject quite so worthy of my attention.
Laura: But you write about people with such real understanding and sentiment. That's what makes your column so good.
Lydecker: The sentiment comes easy at 50 cents a word.
Laura: Well, if that's the way you really feel, you must be very lonely.
Lydecker: Will you kindly continue this character analysis elsewhere? You begin to bore me.
Laura: You're a poor man. I'm very sorry for you.
Lydecker: Haven't you any sense of privacy?
McPherson: Murder victims have no claim to privacy.
Lydecker: Have detectives who buy portraits of murder victims a claim to privacy?...McPherson, did it ever strike you that you're acting very strangely? It's a wonder you don't come here like a suitor with roses and a box of candy - drugstore candy, of course. Have you ever dreamed of Laura as your wife, by your side at the Policeman's Ball or in the bleachers? Or listening to the heroic story of how you got a silver shinbone from a gun battle with a gangster? I see you have.
McPherson: Why don't you go home? I'm busy.
Lydecker: You better watch out, McPherson, or you'll end up in a psychiatric ward. I don't think they've ever had a patient who fell in love with a corpse.
Laura: What are you doing here?
McPherson: You're alive.
Laura: If you don't get out at once, I'm going to call the police.
McPherson: You are Laura Hunt, aren't you? Aren't you?
Laura: I'm going to call the police.
McPherson: I am the police.
Lydecker: [to Laura] Don't worry, darling. Let them accuse you. We'll fight them. I have every weapon. Money, connections, prestige, and my column. Every day, millions will read about you and rally to your defense.
McPherson: You talk as if you wanted to see her tried for murder.
Lydecker: Yes, rather than let you blacken her name with suspicions and rumors. Try to prove her guilty. Get on the witness stand with your poor shreds of evidence. I'll expose your cheap methods you used on her.
Lydecker: [about McPherson] It still doesn't make sense to me, Laura. He's playing some sort of a game with you.
Laura: I don't think so.
Lydecker: I don't deny that he's infatuated with you in some warped way of his own. But he isn't capable of any normal, warm, human relationship. He's been dealing with criminals too long. When you were unattainable, when he thought you were dead, that's when he wanted you most.
Laura: But he was glad when I came back as if he were waiting for me.
Lydecker: Do you know what he calls women? 'Dames.' 'A dame in Washington Heights got a fox fur out of him.' His very words.
Laura: That doesn't mean anything. He isn't like that.
Lydecker: Laura, you have one tragic weakness. With you, a lean strong body is the measure of a man. And you always get hurt.
Laura: No man is ever going to hurt me again. No one. Not even you.
Lydecker: I? Hurt you? Laura - look at me. When a man has everything in the world that he wants, except what he wants most, he loses his self-respect. It makes him bitter, Laura. He wants to hurt someone as he's been hurt. You were a long time finding out about Shelby but that's over now. We'll be back together again.
Lydecker: It's the same obvious pattern, Laura. If McPherson weren't muscular and handsome in a cheap sort of way, you'd see through him in a second.
Laura: Waldo, I mean to be as kind about this as I know how. But I must tell you. You're the one who follows the same obvious pattern. First it was Jacoby, then Shelby, and now I suppose - I don't think we should see each other again.
Lydecker: You're not yourself, darling.
Laura: Yes I am. For the first time in ages, I know what I'm doing.
Lydecker: Very well. I hope you'll never regret what promises to be a disgustingly earthy relationship. My congratulations, McPherson. And listen to my broadcast in fifteen minutes. I'm discussing Great Lovers of History.
Lydecker: That's the way it is, isn't it, Laura?
Radio Announcer: 'You have heard the voice of Waldo Lydecker by electrical transcription.'
Laura: [begging] Waldo, you've taken one life. Isn't that enough?
Lydecker: The best part of myself - that's what you are. Do you think I'm going to leave it to the vulgar pawing of a second-rate detective who thinks you're a dame? Do you think I could bear the thought of him holding you in his arms, kissing you, loving you?
[McPherson has returned with the police and is ringing the doorbell]
Lydecker: [as he raises the shotgun] There he is now. He'll find us together, Laura as we always have been and we always should be, as we always will be.