While in NYC, my daughter and I walked a lot in her family-oriented neighborhood. Lots of kids; lots of moms pushing babies in prams. And no less than three times, we saw the Ice Cream Man. Oh, we heard him before we saw him – the odd, lyrical melody that sings to children anywhere within hearing that tasty treats are just around the corner. And when I heard that little melody, what was I thinking about? Soft serve ice cream? Blue freezer bars? Drumsticks?
Uh, no. I was thinking about Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes. Mr. Mercedes, a cold blooded killer, was the Ice Cream Man. And now, at least in my mind, all Ice Cream Men will be suspected of being cold blooded killers. Interestingly, the Mercedes car, the actual murder weapon, does not make a similar connection to cold blooded killing. Blame Stephen King for that quirk.
With my mind now fixated on things that remind me of murder, I took pause and gave thought to other images from books that remain with me, stirred by otherwise an otherwise ordinary stimulus. I came up with several examples.
- Smooth, dark rocks always evokes the seminal scene of the exploding rocks in A Candle in Her Room.
- Driving my convertible always reminds me that Nancy Drew drove her blue roadster in The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew, Book 1) and she had “luncheon,” not “lunch.” (although I have never had a blue convertible – I am a red convertible kind of girl).
- Tomato sandwiches take me back to Harriet in Harriet the Spy.
- A full moon conjures up Tommy, “m-o-o-n – that spells moon,” in The Stand.
- Funeral food warns me to “beware of the person bearing the soup,” from East of Eden.
Most of these books were written and read decades ago, and yet a piece of them lingers in my memory, under the radar, ready to surface unexpectedly. I love that books I have read have become a part of me. Even just a piece of the book brings back the story, the enjoyment, the craft.
I hope to write just such a memorable line one day.