Get ready, folks. Midnight is about to get spicy.
This month’s chapter is titled “A Walking Streak of Sex”, referring to a character named Danny Hansford. He’s appeared briefly before, particularly in the very first chapter when he storms out of the mansion owned by Berendt’s friend Jim Williams. This chapter is the first time we learn much about Danny, and boy, is it wild.
Danny is first introduced as the young friend of Savannah aristocrat Jim Williams. Though they are supposedly friends, Danny hasn’t shown much respect for Jim or his opulent mansion. Danny works maintenance in the house, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have sex with a stranger in Jim’s bed. Classy, right?
Let me tell you some more about Danny: he’s described as “tempestuous”, and walks about displaying his confederate flag tattoo while wearing a shirt that says FUCK YOU in all capitals. He’s got an explosive personality and likes to drink and drive through Savannah with music blaring and tires squealing.
This chapter focuses on him from the secondhand-perspective of a neighbor named Corinne. She is, as the book puts it, ‘thrilled’ by Danny’s body. They’re both in their late teens and are highly attracted to one another, which leads to a day of whirlwind lust and adventure.
They get into plenty of trouble, but what sticks out to me is the moment of tender characterization for Danny, and the drama which follows. The pair enjoy their time together, and Danny asks Corinne to accompany him to his favorite place in Savannah. It turns out to be a beautiful old cemetery with an ‘avenue of oaks’ as a primary feature. I wondered for a moment, is this the Garden of Good and Evil?
Probably not, but it holds some significance. Danny chooses that as a place to be both reflective and vulnerable. He reveals a troubled background to Corinne, including deep nihilism and rampant suicidal thoughts. Corinne pities him, but it takes a turn shortly after. I won’t spoil it here, but let’s say that vulnerability isn’t Danny’s biggest strength.
Danny was always an obnoxious background character, but he stuck out a little too much to be a background character forever. I always knew he’d be relevant based on his physical description alone, which Berendt lingered on each time: the distinctive tattoos, the FUCK YOU shirt, and the whirlwind of angry body language.
Now that we know more about him, how will he affect the story?