Streetwise, too, continues the fierce odyssey of Rachael Lonnigan, her descent into dark anarchy of sex, drugs and life on the streets. But a dangerous adventure drives her underground, and she flees with ‘crazy’ Dave. They careen out of control, he falls for her and finally adores her. But they have to return to face Buzz, her pimp, and all the violence she’d left behind. The ending terrifies. More
Streetwise, too, is the sequel to Streetwise, and we begin with fast and flashy action. Rachael, a couple of years older but seemingly little wiser, is woken from a deeply drugged sleep by Buzz Bains, everyone’s perfect nightmare of a pimp, supplier and small town crook.
Rach and another zonked out young call girl, Bliss, have a gig to ‘perform’ for a famous rock group, Fur Balls. Nicky and Beel, druggies and high flying super stars, want to party. Buzz sets it up and orchestrates the drug-a-thon, Rachael and Bliss are the main courses. The scene is wild and raw.
Rachael is living with Dana, an older (30 +, over the hill) prostitute who has taken a liking to the wild youngster. We catch fascinating, painful glimpses of the underbelly of big city depravity, and feel for women losing themselves, being used by everybody.
Dana’s heroin habit is overwhelming, and she’s controlled by Buzz, whom she despises. Dana is percolating a crazy plan of revenge. A friend has this place ... kind of like a dungeon ... she’s scarfed a couple of large bottles of chloroform, if they can .... Rachael doesn’t take it as much more than babbling daydreaming.
A phone call interrupts Rachael’s partying. Dana’s in trouble. She has ‘captured’ and drugged Buzz out of his mind, conked him out with the chloroform, strung him up. Rachael freaks, but runs to the rescue, to find a nightmare. Dana needs her fix, talks Rachael into holding Buzz, then disappears. Buzz wakes in fury and brimming with threats of revenge at Rachael! An almost slapstick series of crazy attempts to keep Buzz down almost result in Rachael getting clobbered, or killed. In the end the scene is catastrophic, with no way out from the mad dog drug dealer.
The second section of Streetwise, too, begins with someone different, David Reilly, just as he’s being released from Hillview Psychiatric Hospital. David is a completely new type of character: troubled, borderline mentally ill, funny and extremely fragile, repressed and unable to find his way in a harsh world. He is going to ‘bolt’, to escape his own insanities and pressures, and he hops in his old beater of a Toyota only, in a funny scene of absolutely contrasting styles, only to run in to ... Rachael Lonnigan, on the run from her demons, in particular Buzz Bains and his henchmen.
Rachael is powerful and unbridled, a spaced out drug addled seventeen year old who fears nothing --- craves overwhelming energy of all sorts --- has neither modesty nor shame and seems impervious to consequence or punishment. She wheedles David, tricks, seduces and cajoles him into taking her with him across the American border.
This third of the novel is less ‘fraught’, but interesting in the clash of two types of insanity. David is neurotic, analyzing, weak willed and a ‘horn dog’ with an overwhelming conscience. Rachael has slipped acid across the border without a thought, and drags David along on many wild and sensual experiences he scarcely imagined even a few days previously. And he falls head over heels, against all better judgment, almost in spite of the crazy hyper-sensuality Rachael exudes. They end up in Reno where the young vixen loses what’s left of their money at roulette.
They have to return to Vancouver. Rachael, heedless of danger, as always, falls into a trap by none other than Buzz Bains! She and David are taken to the bunker where Dana has been held and brutally deprived of her heroin. A scene of overwhelming threat and seeming sure violence turns on David’s courage, and one call to the Vancouver vice squad.
In the end the absolutely irrepressible Rachael Louise is still stringing flights of fantasy, even fame and fortune. Dave remains Dave.
This is a different novel than Streetwise. Rachael is as unreflective and madly unconcerned with outcome, but her adventurous vitality and ribald sensuality rule. David, her foil, and a voice of love and a promise that she might just make it to her 21st birthday!