Alfred Hitchcock

Death in the bookmobile

Death in the bookmobile

The Riverside County bookmobile came to the Alpha Beta parking lot on Fridays from 2:30 to 4:45, and I would sit there on the long strip of carpet in the air-conditioned hum reading books not appropriate at all for me, full of death — until the poor librarian who not only drove the coach but also checked out books and kept an eye on the patrons announced that I had to go down the black rubber-grooved steps and head home.

It was 1970, I was 9, and those hours were my own. There were four younger siblings at home but no one wanted to come along, and I was not made to take them. I was thrilled to walk alone through the vacant lot tall with wild oats and yellow mustard, across the...