Was in the car running errands and listening to Michael Savage as he interviewed James Ellroy who has just published Blood is a Rover. The interview interested me. Savage read a paragraph from the book and I was taken by the simplicity of the scene described and the language used to describe it. Back at the office I looked Ellroy up in Wikipedia. Wikipedia is the first place to go if you want it quick, do not want much, and there are no ethical or moral issues involved.
I googled Ellroy and looked for an excerpt from the book. I found one. Part I, a section titled “Wayne Tedrow Jr. (Las Vegas, 6/14/68)” The language was simple and direct and loaded with information. It was in too much of a hurry. Not for me. What’s the hurry?
I watched a video of Ellroy giving a talk about the connections in his childhood that tied together for him the 1947 murder of the Elizabeth Short, who became known as the Black Dahlia, in South Central Los Angeles, and that of his mother Jean Ellroy, a tart I suppose, who was found strangled with her own nylon stocking in El Monte, California in 1958. James was ten years old when his mother was strangled. His talk (I can’t find it now or I would link to it) was professional, idiosyncratic, and good. Nothing messy there.
I myself recall very well the murder of the Black Dahlia. I was seventeen years old then, living in South Central where she was killed. I can’t remember a bigger story that year. Of course I didn’t read the papers, didn’t listen to the news on radio, and didn’t talk to anyone who did so there was no reason for me to remember the other stories.
One evening Mother, Father and me were having dinner with Aunt Grace and Uncle George in a one-room house with a kitchen on Hawthorne Boulevard at 110th street. The Black Dahlia story came up. It took me a moment but pretty soon I understood that Uncle George was saying that his son had gone to the police and confessed to having murdered the Black Dahlia himself. Mother and Father were astounded. Aunt Grace didn’t say anything. Uncle George didn’t want to go on about it. He was slumped down in his chair at the dinner table shaking his head slowly from side to side. I understood by a word or two that the claim of Uncle George’s son to having murdered the Black Dahlia was unbelievable. I had never met Uncle George’s son. Now I kind of understood why. He had gone his own way. I remember thinking it a funny story, but knowing not to laugh.
The time came when James Ellroy decided to try to solve the Black Dahlia murder himself. He failed. It was never solved.