“When we get near the station there may be some more trouble,” I said.
“Maybe gunmen. Whitey D'Arcy's men. The opposition knows an attempt will be made to do Black's expose on the political telecast at nine.”
“Gunmen. What's the term – 'gunsels'? A shamus named Podden, and a ring of gunsels around the station. Melodrama, Oxford, melodrama!”
Ann's voice was cold. “I had a friend who used to read those books. A Jewish friend who found those words very funny. He explained to me that some writer named Dashiell Hammett used them first, years ago, and used them right, but since then other writers have picked them up without knowing what they really mean.”
“Oh?” said Nile.
“A gunsel isn't a gunman. It's Yiddish for a young, weak homosexual. Shamus is a Yiddish word, too. It means somebody that's a know-it-all, not a private detective. A shamus is the janitor at a synagogue, and it's an old joke that he always acts as if he knows more than the rabbi. It's kind of funny.”
“It's still melodrama, but thanks for the explanation,” said Nile.
- John McPartland, The Face of Evil (Fawcett Gold Medal, 1954)