Monday, February 21, 2005

If Bookstore's Sold Popcorn and Three Dollar Waters.

There was this old dance joint in a predominately white town. It was created by a group of black army men who’d been denied access to the base’s only hangout. Well, soon this black juke joint, with its live band and livelier clientele started attracting the white youth.

Cool. Right?

Not. ‘Cause one night that hoppin’ place was hot. Literally. Set on fire by a set of vindictive and soulless men who couldn’t stand the success nor the popularity of the upstartin’ juke joint.

The scene is so clear in my mind: the one man jamming on one of those big ol’ guitars (a bass?), while the other guy is behind him on drum and their on this platform with the rest of the band. The music is loud and the only thing louder is the crowd, on the floor, twirling, smiling, laughing, egging on the musicians and each other. Skirts fly in circles and wrap around the waists and thighs of brown skinned ladies and lighter toned women, with straight hair, frizzy hair, nappy hair that’s wet from sweat. Men in those loose pants, and those comfy brown vests, white shirts rolled up at the sleeves. Floppy hats that hang on for dear life on heads whose brows glisten with dew under cheap but effective overhead lights.

And, I see the other scene, fire, smoke, terror, screaming, crying, hysteria as people rush for doors that open inward, instead of out. Trapping them. People trying for windows. The flickering golden-red-orange glow. The roar of the fire. The flames. The man that didn’t make it. The woman, a walking cone of fire before she collapses in a heap. The memory of the old Negro gentleman retelling the story.

And then, as I try to recall if this is a scene in a movie that I can’t remember, I realize that it’s actually several pages in Stephen King’s “It.”

I love my imagination. Though, I honestly have to give much of the credit of the clarity of these images to the writer. This is the first and only S.K. book I’ve read. And it was, at times, arduous. But, I appreciate his attention to detail. His ability to bring you right there, into the place, the neighborhood, the sewer. Whereever.

Damn, he’s too good. If he didn’t cover every minute detail, making the book immeasurably long (and tedious as the end neared), I’d’ve picked up another of his novels immediately after. As it is, I’ve had “The Tommyknockers” on standby for the past year.

I’ll get to it, eventually; at least I know the experience will be memorable.

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