Thursday, November 22, 2007

A story of heartbreak

I'm rereading The Lonely Silver Rain by John D. MacDonald. It's certainly the most mordant of all the McGees, many bloody deaths and a far more somber McGee who is much aware of his own mortality throughout. The structure's always fascinated me. It seems to start and stop at three different points. But JDM wraps it up neatly. There's one very funny bit.
McGee had warned this local woman about marrying a local TV weatherman. McGee spotted him immediately for the bounder he proved to be. McGee runs into the woman and here's how she tells her story about how they moved Philadelphia for a better weather job. But once there he dumped her.

"The bad thing about the situation in Philadelphia, that sports girl (his latest flame to quote Elvis) is a little thing with hips out to here and a tiny mustache. I mean it hurts your pride along with everything else. Stu was okay until he started getting fan mail. He never got any down here because he had the wrong haircut. In Philadelphia they fixed him up. The mail started coming in. He grinned into every mirror he saw and he kept doing things with his eyebrows. And taking an interest in sports. He always hated sports. He throws like a girl."

That is a novel in very few words.

5 comments:

Duane Swierczynski said...

And man, that even has Philly down cold! Great passage. Ed.

Don McArthur said...

Ed, sorry that this is long (feel free to delete it if it's too long) but I've been thinking about the local morning newspaper as the source of novels of late. This is from the Chattanooga Times Free Press from a week or so ago, and it has everything:

"2 face felony charges in drinking death

JASPER, Tenn. -- The parents of 18-year-old Hershel Privett Jr. believe his death was no accident and that his autopsy will reveal foul play was involved that others tried to cover up.

"The truth hasn't come out about the death of our son," Stacy White said just minutes after burying her son on Tuesday afternoon.

"There's more to the story," Ms. White said.

Authorities said the young man died of alcohol poisoning after a Friday night party at Powells Crossroads in Marion County. His father doesn't believe that, and he thinks the death was deliberate.

"He had been stripped naked and his body had been painted with fluorescent green paint," Mr. Privett Sr. said. "They tried to shave his head with clippers and ripped his hair out by the roots."

Mr. Privett Sr. said he can't understand why his son was treated so badly.

"These boys, all but one, were his friends. One was his very best friend," he said. "How does a friend do a friend that way? This is wrong. It's just wrong."

Warrants filed Tuesday in connection with Mr. Privett Jr.'s death charge one man with negligent homicide and another with trying to hide the victim's car...

...According to affidavits of complaint filed in Marion County, the party was held at Mr. Dickens' parents' home on Osceola Drive. Mr. Dickens, who is charged with criminally negligent homicide and five counts of providing alcohol to underage persons, bought beer and a bottle of liquor for five males, all under age 21, who were at the party, warrants state.

Mr. Privett "consumed a large amount of alcohol" and later "passed out at the party and died while two of the other people at the party were transporting him to the hospital," warrants state.

Warrants state Mr. Smith was charged with tampering with evidence because he "was attempting to take Mr. Privett's vehicle to another location in order to cover up a crime scene."

Records state Mr. Smith wrecked the vehicle on River Mill Road. He also is charged with underage consumption and joy riding, warrants state.

In all, five men were charged in connection with the party or Mr. Privett's death, Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnett said. Three 18-year-olds were cited to court for underage drinking, he said...

...Sheriff Burnett said two 18-year-olds from the party were taking Mr. Privett to the hospital when they were pulled over by a Powells Crossroads police officer. The officer discovered Mr. Privett's body in the back of the SUV, he said.

The incident has created tension among the families, the sheriff said.

"Emotions have been running high the last couple of days," Sheriff Burnett said..."

Ed Gorman said...

That is one strange nasty story.

Don McArthur said...

Ed, if I had to guess at what was really going on, I would say that these kids were indulging in a nowadays common activity among those their age - get someone drunk enough to pass out, dress him ridiculously, pose him, take a digital picture, and then post it on web sites devoted to such shenanigans.

Only he couldn't be roused...

John Robison said...

Mr. Gorman,
I just finished reading Cavalry Man: The killing machine. I must say that it is action packed and has a surprise ending. I did find a fairly serious error on pg 165. You mention the "Trail of Tears" inconnection with the Cheyenne being forced out of Georgia. I believe it was the Cherokee who were forced to leave Georgia via the Trail of Tears. The Cheyenne are a native american nation of the Great Plains. Wikipedia has a good article about them. I enjoyed your book anyway.