Author: Wesley Brighton, Jr. (pseud.)
Country Girl in Town
by Wesley Brighton, Jr., is the story of a runaway who arrives in
Los Angeles confused and almost penniless. The home Suzanne Corville
has left is not typical; it consists of a poor farm sporadically tended
by her scrawny, besotted uncle Tom, who brings Suzanne's life there to
a climax when he tries to rape her. But Suzanne is typical in being
young, inexperienced, and totally unaware of the many dangers she faces
in the big city. Many writers — ranging from crime writers like
Dashiell Hammett through more “serious” ones like Nathanael West to the
English satirist Evelyn Waugh — have tried to capture and evoke the
strange quality of the loneliness an individual can feel in this
strange, sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly sprawl. Hard as it may
be for an outsider to believe, it is a feeling unique to this place and
no other. And in trying to escape it, Suzanne goes from the frying pan
straight into the inferno.
Suzanne moves into an apartment house—a house that looks like
thousands of others but contains many strange secrets. She meets two
men, Walter Craft and Roger Watlington, who superficially appear to be
solid professional types but strike her as somehow furtive and
But this is a book full of surprises, and we don't want to spoil any
of them. It is also a novel about an important segment of modern
American society, but one that as a story is utterly unique — as
unique as that feeling of Los Angeles loneliness which Wesley Brighton,
Jr., describes as well as or better than any other writer so far.
She made the rounds, going from employment agency to restaurant to
circled advertisement possibility. And going from disgruntledness to
hopelessness to despair. There simply was no work in Los Angeles. At
least not for a country girl with some typing and no experience. Even
the waitress jobs were taken by experienced girls.
Around six, she gave up and had coffee in a diner. When she went to
pay her check, she discovered that her wallet was missing. She'd had it
when she came in, she knew. But now it was gone. The manager was
sympathetic, commiserating with her over the high crime rate in Los
Angeles. Could she get home, he wondered? No? Well, if she'd care to
wait a half hour, he was off and could drive her. No trouble. Suzanne
gratefully sat out the thirty minutes and felt miserable.
“Ready, Miss? I'm off now.”
She looked up. “Oh. Y-Yes. Thank you.”
In the lot, the man handed her into a Ford van and let himself in the
driver's side. “Where to, Miss?”
She told him the address.
“Know how to get there from here?”
“No. I don't know my way around very well yet.”
“Yeah. It's an easy town to get lost in when you're new.”
There was something in his tone that made Suzanne look closely at
him. He was a short, stocky man, thickly covered with reddish hair. He
was smiling to himself and humming a tuneless hum.
They pulled out into the evening traffic and he began expertly
threading his way through the traffic. He talked almost incessantly,
once they were underway. About wife and kids, weather, other trivia. He
asked her questions about herself. Where was she from? Relatives living
in the city? Where did she work?
Suzanne answered his questions, her mind on her troubles. It was a
good while before she began to notice the traffic thinning out. “Where
“This is a little shortcut I know about.”
“It doesn't look like the right direction to me. We're going up, and
I live below Hollywood. I know that.”
“This is Griffith Park. It beats the traffic if you go through here.”
Suzanne felt an unease creeping into her. The rush hour had been
ending when they left. And traffic wasn't that heavy anyway. “I
think... I think I'd better get out here, please. I'll find my way home
The man looked at her and grinned, showing large, yellowed teeth.
“Relax, honey. I'll get you home okay.”
“No, please. Just let me out here.”
The hairy man laughed. “There's lots of bad things up in the woods
here, little girl. I wouldn't want anything to hurt you, no siree.”
In panic, Suzanne reached for the door handle. Better to be skinned
up from a fall than... But the hairy man reached quickly beneath the
dash on his side and something clicked. Suzanne found the door handle
firmly locked. She tried the window. The knob wouldn't turn.
“How you like that, chickee? Little thing I rigged up myself. All
The van slowed and eased off the road under the trees. Suzanne felt
her heart pounding against her ribs. “Please,” she whispered. “Just let
me go. I'll give you money. I'll send you some, I promise.”
The squat man laughed again, more loudly this time. “Please,” he
squeaked in a falsetto imitation of her voice. “I'll send you all my
money.” He roared with laughter. But there was no humor in it.