The Overton Window: Chapter 24
As I mentioned I am once again selecting a comment of the week, and this week that "honor" goes to Sassafras for finally introducing an interesting character into this book:
Day 467 of my captivity, Comrades.
Today was a close call. My top secret diary, cleverly written on the neglected local newspaper, was nearly snatched by a foolish enemy. Fortunately, I was able to use my mind-melting powers and impressive hissing to frighten him away. Also, I have managed to record the requested conversations, Code Named "Bullshittery Log" and keep them safely hidden in my box of excrements.
Do not fear, Comrades. These fools have no idea how to use geiger counters, and I anticipate no trouble in subduing the fat idiot in glasses, Code Name, "Beck Stand-in."
However, my fur continues to take on damage from living in this armpit of the US and my only entertainment comes from completing the crossword in my mother Russian tongue to the befuddlement of Agent K, aka "Retarded Sparrow."
(aka "Ninja Cat,"
aka "Mr. Puddles.")
My god, I would actually read that book with something approaching pleasure! And oddly I find it easy to believe that Stuart's cat is a more effective secret agent than he is. Hell, I rather suspect a postbox is a more effective secret agent than Stuart. Well done, Sassafras! I'd also like to thank my mystery commenter last week, who managed to make the comment counter increment to "4" yet somehow never had the satisfaction of seeing their comment appear. Commenting with that much stealth is no small accomplishment!
And, with that, let's begin! As always, page/line numbers are in bold, quotes from the book are in block quotes, my commentary is in regular print, and you can navigate the whole series with the provided tag. My footnotes use the traditional star system (e.g. *, **, etc) while references included in the Afterword to the book are noted with numbered parenthetical tags (e.g. (1), (2), etc.). Ole!
Dramatis Personae: In an order determined by one of those drinking bird toys.
Eli Churchill: Former janitor at a volcano lair. Fan of remote telephone booths. Shot in the head by parties unknown.
Beverly Emerson: Mysterious correspondent of Eli Churchill's. Molly's Mom.
Noah Gardener: 28 years old. Sets the dating bar "medium-high".
Molly "Hottie McPretty" Ross: Dresses like a hippie, but not really. Looks like a free spirit. Perfectly captures the essence of womanhood. Auburn hair. Green eyes. Pale skin. Has a tattoo on her chest. Wears a silver cross around her neck. Lost her father when she was young. Impressed by fancy cars. Cocktease. Possibly suffering from bipolar disorder.
Arthur Gardner Noah's father. Owner of Doyle & Merchant. Megalomaniac. Surprisingly vigorous for a 74 year old man.
Khaled: Lebanese cab driver. Sold out by Noah Gardener.
Hollis: Friend of Molly Ross. Very polite. From the country. May be a Yeti.
Danny Bailey: Some kind of YouTube celebrity. Former lover of Molly Ross. Kind of a dickhead. Loves conspiracy theories and incoherent speeches. Sodomized by inmates following the rally. Once dressed up as Colonel Sanders to infiltrate the United Nations.
Charlie Nelan: Gardner family lawyer. Silver hair. Impeccably dressed. Looks awesome. Has some sort of weird relationship with GQ. May have the ability to sense when Noah's in trouble using some sort of clairvoyance. Possible kleptomaniac.
Stuart Kearns: FBI agent. Works on homeland security matters. Kinda old and wrinkly. Not particularly trusting. Lives in a double-wide trailer.
Chapter 24: In which Kearns and Bailey have a romantic moment, Bailey assures us that he does not condone terrorism, and we meet nameless dudes only to discover that one nameless dude is missing.
Recommended Mood Music:
Page 177, Line 1-4:
They'd been rolling down a desolate, moonless stretch of Interstate 80 for a number of miles. The road was so dark that the world out front seemed to end at the reach of the headlights, and there was nothing to see at all out the window behind.
Right. So, apparently, their secret meeting is taking place in the middle of the night. I'm not sure if that's supposed to be dramatic, or what, but generally speaking if you don't want to look suspicious, you should do shit in the daytime. Then again, maybe Stu and Danny are just taking a romantic drive?
Page 177, Line 5-12:
"I wouldn't be doing this if I agreed with these hoodlums, even one percent. I'm not a terrorist, and I'm not a turncoat."
"I didn't think you were," Kearns said, his eyes on the road.
"Like I said before, these aren't my people, and what they want to do isn't the way to change things, and I've never said it was."
"I believe you."
I don't. Oh, I believe that Bailey never really meant for someone to go out and nuke an American city BUT when you incite violence (Page 83, Line 7-14) and violence then erupts you don't get to turn around and say, "Gee whiz! I never meant for that to happen!" Hyperbole is one thing, I engage in hyperbole all the time, but I've never provided a list of people whom I would like to beat to death with a shovel. Unlike, I might add, certain other people. So, yeah, I appreciate what Bailey is trying to do here, but he can't retcon things so that he's anything other than an irresponsible weasel. Anyway, Bailey decides to change the subject by asking about an unusual looking phone that Kearns has.
Page 178, Line 3-4:
"Satellite phone," Kearns said. "Works anywhere. Cell phone coverage in a place like this is pretty spotty."
In my copy of the book, my margin note here reads, "Hey! Everyone! Kearns has a sat phone. Plot point!" but in retrospect, that's a really optimistic comment. I mean, I'm almost two hundred pages into this nightmare and yet somehow I still seem to be clinging to the notion that details like this might at some point become relevant. Yet, they never do. So no, as it happens, this sat phone will never really mean anything to us at all. I have no idea why it's here, except maybe to point out what a badass
Page 178, Line 17-27:
"Well, there's only about three things to see out here in the middle of nowhere," Kearns said, "but this is one of them."
"Oh. My. God."
The air was perfectly clear, it seemed, from the barren ground all the way out to the edge of space. From horizon to horizon there was no man-made light to obscure the view up above. Thousands of stars, maybe tens of thousands of them, were shining up there like backlit jewels in a dark velvet dome. Sprays of tiny pinpoints in subtle colors, blazing white suns in orderly constellations arrayed across the heavens, ageless by the measure of a human lifetime, all light-years away but seeming to be almost near enough to reach out and touch.
As a space nut, I'll be the first one to note that the night sky out away from light pollution is hella cool. It's really something else to be able to look up and actually see the colors of the stars. That said, this lovely scene has absolutely nothing the hell to do with anything. Except, perhaps, with Danny and Stuart's budding relationship. I'm also weirdly reminded of that bit in Full Metal Jacket where R. Lee Ermey explains that only two things come from Texas:
I wonder what the other two things worth seeing are?
Page 179, Line 4-7:
"You know? I saw on your business card, but now I understand why they call you a special agent."
"Well, son, whether you want me to or not, I'm going to take that as a compliment."
Ah, bromance at its finest. On an unrelated note: he's under such deep cover that only one guy in the FBI even knows he's on the payroll (Page 174, Line 16-24), and yet he has business cards? What. The. Fuck? Regardless, after a bit more driving they pull off onto a dirt road and then onto a gravel driveway.
Page 179, Line 17-26:
The garage door was up, and from their parking spot Danny could clearly see the men seated around a couple of card tables, surrounded by stacks of stored junk, auto parts, and red tool cases. They'd all turned when the headlights swung across the wide-open doorway and upon recognizing the vehicle they motioned for their guests to come on in.
Kearns stayed in the van as Danny got out and walked up the paved incline toward the house, his hands clearly open at his sides in an effort to let everyone know he wasn't armed. Evidently these guys had no such concern. They met him halfway up the sidewalk to the garage and greeted him like he was a long-lost friend.
I'm guessing they won't be so excited once they realize what an ass Danny is. On another note: this is the exciting chapter about driving around at night and walking up a driveway. As thrillers go, this sucks. Still, the authors do try to wrest a tiny sliver of drama out of this.
Page 179, Line 27-28:
There was only one thing amiss. He and Kearns had come expecting to see all five men at this meeting, and one of them wasn't there.
Dun-DUNH-DUNNNNHHHH!!!! Ooooh, that's ominous- what could it mean? Who knows? Moreover, who cares, because we as the readers have no clue why the number of psycho terrorists is even slightly relevant. Way to set up the scene, authors!
But, exciting or not, that's the end of the chapter. All three pages of it. Now, I could go ahead and include the next chapter in this episode- a chapter which is also three pages long- but for a variety of important reasons* I've decided not to. If nothing else, this helps to really convey how goddawful stupid this book is. So, hey, come back next time when we have a really uninteresting visit with some terrorists and then- I f-ing kid you not- have another scene with Danny and Stuart driving around in a bloody van.
See you then.
* Mostly laziness, as it happens.
Labels: The Overton Window