Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Little Scarlet

Little Scarlet by Walter Mosley, published in 2004, is the eighth in the Easy Rawlins Mystery series. Just as the 1965 Watts riots were quieting down, Rawlins is asked by the police to help solve a murder. Searching for a homeless man who may have information about the crime, Rawlins spends the night in make-shift homeless shelter. He also visits the L.A. Mission. There are several descriptions of homeless men, sleeping in cardboard boxes and so on. Part of a description of a homeless camp spot:

"A glass bottle half filled with water, a dirty green blanket on a foam mat. He had a fork and three cans of sardines, a chipped china plate, and three Playboy magazines."

I think about a person living in small town U.S.A. that has never been to a big city, nor seen homeless people, let alone their little patch of dirt they call home, reading this book. Would the details have the same impact as they have on me? Rather than sardines, I picture little cans of Vienna Sausages or Spam. Yet the descriptions bring memories, not just from my street living days, but prior to.

Mosley writes about why people move to Los Angeles. He says "And when night comes, people curl up in their beds and dream about the morning and all the promise of light." That reminds me of me, now, wishing for morning. Um, guess, I often wished for morning during all those sleepless nights on the street. Tossing and turning at home, in a bed is bad, insomniac on the streets worse.

I would have to google it to know if Banjo by Claude McKay is a real book or part of the fiction. Mosley says there is a phrase on the title page "Story Without a Plot". Rawlins thinks that is how most people live. "We went from day to day with no real direction or endpoint." That had me thinking of the story of my life. Was there a plot?

In his book, Illusions , Richard Bach says "...people are acting out their movies like crazy". May be an exact quote. No longer have my copy of the book. My personal library of books, long gone. Long forgotten is something I read about talking to people, that they have a theme they keep returning to time and again. Or that is their plot ~ life movie. Mine most likely would be Ziggy or Rodney Dangerfield: No Respect.

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