I’ve been meaning to return to reading and reviewing books by Harold Ernest Kelly. Some years ago, I lucked into corresponding with a young lady that is related to the author, but, sadly, she has vanished without a trace. (If any other relatives see this, I’d love to carry on where Jayne left off)….
Now, let’s return to the blog.
Published in 1941 by Wells, Gardner & Co., this was one novel (among others) under the alias Darcy Glinto, that landed the author, Harold Ernest Kelly, a hefty fine from the English government. After his fines, Kelly abandoned the Glinto alias for five years, and began publishing stories under pseudonyms Buck Toler, Preston Yorke, Eugene Ascher and several others.
Let’s focus on the story itself, and note, that I am reading the TRUE FIRST EDITION.
IF anyone else has any of his other titles available, I would like to obtain them and read/review them for posterity, too….
Eilleen is sick and tired of working in a sweatshop. Further, she’s fed-up with the bitch supervisor, whom treats the workers like the slave labor that they are. The conditions are deplorable. The pay isn’t worth mentioning.
Eilleen bucks the owner of the business and gets into an all-out brawl with the bitch, and lands herself in jail. Earning her freedom from the cell, she bags her livelihood necessities and decides to walk across the country and take in the “freedom” of the outdoors. She’s tired of being cooped up daily. With what meager funds available, she ties up a bag of clothes and bare necessities and strikes out on the road, living life essentially as a hobo.
If she thought working the sweatshop racket was shitty-business, she’s in for an eye-opener, for her troubles are just beginning….
First, her soft feet blister from unaccustomed walking, and improper shoes for the hike. Hitting a town store, she swaps in her shoes for proper gear but is short on funds. She permits the clerk to feel her up but not any further than her thighs, all to save herself a dollars’ expense.
Next, back on the road, a trucker by the name of Cal Morley picks her up, and thinks she is a floozie (hooker), but she insists that he has her all wrong. This sorted, he’s relieved that Eilleen is not a floozie, drops her off but hopes to run across her again in the pending days. She agrees, since he was kind and did not molest her.
Parting ways, she continues her hike toward Cincinnati. It begins to rain, and she is caught unprepared for the deluge to follow. Accepting the offer from another trucker to catch a ride, she begins to doze off in the cab and awakens to the reality that he is groping her. Fending him off, she bails and realization dawns upon her that she left her bag and money in the truck. Frustrated and broke, she hikes the rest of the route to the next truck stop. However, that trucker is not there. She’s out of luck.
While at the truck cafe, she accepts the offered steak from one trucker. She’s starving and drenched, and not thinking straight. That meal ticket leads to a ride in his truck. While aboard, he gets her liquored up to the point that she isn’t fully cognizant of the fact that he is raping her. The author is rather coy about how he presents the reader to the situation, more likely trying to avoid getting in trouble than anything else:
“He lifted her, swung her round and laid her down along the seat.”
This is as close as we get to being informed that she is molested….
Reviving later, after intoxication has worn off, they part ways, and she is $5 richer for the rape of her body. They have arrived in St. Louis. Realizing that she is now tainted, and her body can earn her quick money, she decides to carefully play the floozie role and begins earning quick cash.
The plot cheapens into the sleaze realm rapidly; Eilleen soon becomes penniless after a massive rainstorm keeps her holed up in a motel. She is forced to accept a Denver-bound ride from a burly white beast, only to learn that he has a sidekick riding shotgun with him. As the author proclaims, a big “nigger,” by name of Sambo. Now the book has degenerated into the realms of racism, however, keep in mind that the author, English, is writing to American style.
They pull off the road and viciously rape her. To further her humiliation, they rub a can of truck gear grease up her crotch and surrounding areas, essentially hazing her. She’s then dumped along the roadside, and found the next day by a milk man, whom brings her to town and hails a cop, as he thinks she is loonie. Arrested and brought to court, she admits her whole life story and they take pity on her. Thus, she lands in a hospital and is cleaned up. However, despite being offered honest jobs, she turns them down and returns to the life of a road floozie.
Returning to the road, she robs a drunk trucker of his funds, then buys a fresh wardrobe and a revolver, for protection against brutes.
Her second victim is too damned tired to be driving. She convinces him to take to the road, and she will “prod” him if he begins to doze. This she does, mercilessly, then, during a spell when he nods off, she bails as the truck rolls off the road. She’s now made her first kill.
Eilleen makes her next kill when the drunkard she robbed earlier catches her at a trucker’s cafe. He slugs her and tells all present that she is poison. Cunningly, she later sneaks into his truck, and convinces him that she wishes to repay him. This she partially does. While on the road, she wrenches on the steering wheel and crashes the truck through a 50-foot drop. She bails out the window and awakes from unconsciousness, once again, in a hospital, and spends a month there, recuperating.
Trying to hunt up fresh game, she is kicked out of a truck station, upon recognition. Realizing that word has rapidly spread, she becomes incensed against the original pair that forced her to lead the floozie lifestyle. She tracks the burly white man and Sambo to Denver, and hooks up with them, playing the part of floozie tremendously. With her first-ever thoughts of premeditated murder coming to fruition, the only thing that could possibly derail her plans include the impressive arrival of Cal Morley, the only honest trucker that tried to help her! He insists on their pairing up again. She finally agrees, but not until the next night. That night…she has plans.
Hooking up with the evil pair, she steers them to an off-road barn, where she intends to permit the burly one first dibs at her body, but insists Sambo go blow, as she doesn’t want to be gang-banged nor watched. They agree, and while he is bullying his way onto her, she pulls the revolver and blows a hole in his chest. Sambo comes running up, thinking that she is the dead person. She shoots him and as he staggers away, screaming, she stalks him like an animal and empties the gun into him.
Cleaning up for the “date” with Cal Morley tomorrow, she finally finds Cal’s rig, and hops in while he is inside the cafe. He clambers in and is surprised to find her inside (honestly! Do all truckers leave their rigs unlocked?)
She confesses her whole life story to him, including the murders. He’s agitated. He professes he is essentially in love with her, but with THIS between them every day of their lives, how will they handle it? He dare not let her go, lest one day she kills herself or someone else, either. She takes matters into her own hands, when she spies the 50-foot drop fence that she used to kill another trucker with earlier in the novel. Eilleen wrenches on the wheel and wraps herself securely about Cal, blocking his ability to bring the wayward truck back under control.
The truck careens off the side and….. THE END !!!