Murder Most Grievous: Sedgwick

20 Oct

Murder Most Grievous


By L. Stewart Marsden



Sedgwick was a gay and carefree lad. At least he was certainly happier and less encumbered than others of his same age. Perhaps that was due to his being overly naïve, or more protected from the outer world. Nevertheless, he was who he was, and strongly encouraged by his mother to ignore those who were not as enlightened and confident as he.

Being of such composition, his worries and concerns were few. He cared little for the accoutrements of style or possessions. Those were unnecessary drags against his long-range goals, and merely weighed and mired others down in the common muck of life. In his opinion.

He was not aloof nor condescending in spite of his judgment of others. After all, they were who they were, too — and why should they care that he deemed them inferior? He, to them, was but a spot in their passing blurs of life.

He surmised that his impact on the lives of others was as inconsequential as theirs on his. And he felt no obligation to be anything more or less than what the gods had already ordained. He would live his life, and they theirs.

To that end Sedgwick employed all his talents and resources, the first which were many, the last which were few. Of the two he found talents more important not only when mined, but arduously developed.

His primary talent was thought. It was thought that quickly carried him from those life moments each one of us faces: pain, humiliation, self-doubt, loss, frustration, anger and more. When he found himself drawing toward the edges of such devouring eddies, he consciously triggered his thought process. Soon he was beyond the moment, and delighted in Elysian fields of comfort and rest. He was, after all, one of those chosen few — as his mother often told him.

In that conscious state of removal, Sedgwick not only endured, but prevailed and benefitted from each life crisis. He learned. He equipped himself. He grew stronger.

While he didn’t seek trouble out, he deeply understood the words “bring it on” uttered by countless heroes depicted in movies he watched.

And he watched a lot of movies.

And, he read voraciously.

As a child the library was his primary home, and his home merely the location where he ate and slept — and watched movies. His mother was grateful for his bookishness, for the library also served as her no-cost daycare when Sedgwick was younger. She would drop him off in the morning with a small backpack that contained a crinkled paper sack. In the sack was a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich, wrapped in waxed paper. Also a library card, and a note explaining how to contact her if anything should occur.

Nothing ever occurred. Odd as it was, Sedgwick had the ability to blend in among the book stacks, and in corner reading nooks. No librarian or other person ever noticed or bothered him.

At noon he would take a brief break and go outside to eat his sandwich, then carefully fold the waxed paper and insert it into the paper bag, which he stored in his back pack. On rainy and very cold days, Sedgwick would go into the men’s room and enter one of the toilet stalls, where he sat carefully balanced on the john and ate. He looked about and read the penciled and scratched graffiti that covered its walls.

His real food was the sumptuous diet of books he read. He devoured the classics: Stevenson and Kipling; Dickens and Hawthorne; Twain and Poe. He feasted on O’Henry. He coursed through Crane and Hemingway, Steinbeck and Kerouac. His desserts were Dahl and Silverstein. By the end of each day when his mother came to pick him up, he was temporarily sated. But he knew he would be mentally hungry again an hour later — like after eating take-out Chinese.

Back in the thin-walled apartment, Sedgwick sat hours in front of the bulky RCA television and plugged in  VCR cartridges. The TV was a holiday special from Goodwill. Hues were washed out, and the sound crackled at times, but it still served its purpose.

Again, only the best movie fare: “Lord Jim,” “Bridge Over the River Kwai,” “Casablanca” and “The African Queen,” “Citizen Kane.” Nothing common. Nothing trite. No mere mortal actors. Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Ernest Borgnine, Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Elizabeth Taylor. Sedgwick’s film repasts were carefully selected and screened by his mother from what was available at the library and the various second-hand locations she frequented. Only rarely did she actually purchase a film in good condition, and then on sale at Kmart or Walmart.

Sedgwick never felt the pinch of poverty. Just the opposite. His was a life full of riches, in his own estimation. He pitied those around him who were unable to luxuriate in experiences like his. Who were tripped up by convention and fad and who had to appear as what they were unable to be. In his mind, they lived a perpetual Hallowe’en, dressed up in order to go through life tasting only the candies of life and not feast on real food.

And so Sedgwick passed each day, month and year. He grew tall and sinewy, and his mother old and bent. He slipped through public school uneventfully, and obtained his associate library science degree from the local community college. He went to work at the very library in which he passed so many days and months and years.

When his mother breathed out her last, Sedgwick entered his Elysian Fields, and drew upon the strength and sustenance of his books and his films until he felt the time to emerge had come.

Which it inevitably did.

 * * * * *

For the next Sedgwick installment click here.

Copyright ©  by Lawrence S. Marsden, 20 October, 2014


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