Monday, 25 January 2010
Perry and Dick stopped at an isolated gas station near Garden City before reaching their final destination, River Valley farm. Dick got annoyed with Perry for staying inside the bathroom for too long. The pump attendant complained the next day that he’d had some “tough customers in here last night,” woefully unaware that the unpleasant stench they’d left behind was an ill portent blowing in the Clutter family's direction.
Perry crouched in pain waiting for his aspirin to take effect – I believe he was hoping for a get-out, stalling for time, that it was an indication of his reticence. In prison Perry had met Willie Jay: "the chaplain's clerk, a slender Irishman with prematurely grey hair and grey, melancholy eyes". In the prison's distorted microcosm he was Perry's beacon, a mentor who saw Perry's creative potential but warned him against his fatal flaw, his explosive temper, his capacity for self-destruction. Willie Jay said Perry had a finely tuned sixth sense, he hailed him as a “natural born medium.”
Perry respected a host of superstitions – the number 15, red hair, white flowers, priests crossing a road, nuns, snakes appearing in a dream. Any one of those might have warned him against what was to come. But Dick was rattling the door, insistent and like actors resuming their parts in a tragedy they got back in the car and drove on.
This is episode four in a series of nine installments based on Truman Capote's novel In Cold Blood. You can read the other episodes here