The Overton Window: Chapter 40
As I mentioned I am once again selecting a comment of the week, and this week that "honor" goes to Sassafras for looking on the bright side:
We were mercifully spared the description of their adventure on the people mover, as well as the riveting depiction of waiting in line at the car rental counter.
Of course, little does Noah know that Molly is smuggling the Gray Ninja Cat of Death in her bag....
Leaving aside the question of how Molly would get Stu's cat into her bag (and I mean that- such a thing is really not beyond the idiocy of these authors) I'm forced to agree: at least we didn't have to suffer through meticulous depiction of yet more shite that nobody cares about. This is especially the case given that, based on his behavior thus far, we would have spent the entire time watching Noah try to hump her leg while on the people mover or at the rental counter. And what's funny in a National Lampoons film is just tedious in print. Well done, Sass, and keep it up folks! I need all the help I can get.
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.). Insert witty rejoinder here!
Dramatis Personae: In an order determined by the fates.
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. Injected with weed killer by parties
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. Looks just like Noah's mom. Also looks just like Natalie Portman.
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. May be afraid of cats.
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. Sixty-three years old.
Mr. Puddles: AKA Gray Death. AKA Ninja Cat. Stuart's cat. Large. Dangerous looking. Possibly plotting his demise.
Tiffany: A stripper at the Pussycat Ranch. Thinks Danny is awesome.
Ellen Davenport: Old friend of Noah's. Second-year neurology resident at Mt. Sinai. Doesn't appear to need sleep or have good taste in her associates.
Chapter 40: In which nothing at all happens.
Recommended Mood Music:
Page 251, Line 1-2:
"This must be the place," Danny said. He folded the printout of directions and slipped them into a side pocket of the door.
Ooooh! Can't you just feel the excitement? I mean, these guys are about to meet with terrorists, and it sounds like they're just driving to Grandma Edith's so they can break the news about their new life partnership to her in-person. Regardless, the description (which I omit in order to preserve your sanity) makes it clear that they're in the middle of a whole shit-ton of nothing. Danny sees dirt, he sees sand, he sees more dirt- and that's just on the dashboard! Still, "shit-ton of nothing" is just what Danny thinks, but he's got Stu around to teach him otherwise.
Page 251, Line 8:
Kearns tapped him on the leg. "Over here."
Kearns did what now? Tapped him on the leg? Do strange men ever do that to each other? Because if I were an FBI agent in a car with a strange, potentially hostile guy that I'd coerced into helping me, I do not think I'd be pawing at his legs, you know? Regardless, Danny notices some kind of artificial structure about three hundred yards off thattaway and Stu takes the crappy old van off road to get to it. What they find is quite possibly the best described location in the entire freaking book.
Page 252, Line 3-12:
"Building" was an overstatement, actually; the simple ten-foot-high enclosure appeared to be made of nothing but cinder blocks and dark mortar. There was an open arched doorway but no roof overhead. About a stone's throw away from the main structure, in a perfectly spaced circle surrounding the building on all sides, were a number of bizarre freestanding walls and angled edifices jutting up out of the sand. Some looked like backstops from a playground handball court, one like the black alien monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The layout reminded him a little of Stonehenge, but only if Stonehenge had been built over one hurried weekend by an amateur bricklayer on acid. [emphasis original]
"My god! It's full of suck!" Bad 2001 jokes aside, we at least have a grip on the scene here, weird as it is. I'd say this shows a lot of creativity on the part of the authors but... well, if you looked at the satellite imagery I linked to several chapters ago (Page 195, Line 7-15- look at the discussion following), you realize this shit actually exists. So the most creative description in the entire book isn't so much "creative" as "a description of a real thing". Ah, well. Moving on, the boys talk about what this freaky shit is, failing to wonder along the way why the hell these guys want to meet in the local M.C. Escher Theme Park. Then Stu tells Danny that everything is going to be okay, only to trail off suddenly.
Page 252, Line 25-29:
He'd stopped talking because something had caught his attention out the front windshield. One of the men they were meeting had appeared by the corner of the main cinder-block building, and with a broad gesture he beckoned them to come on over. Another of the men was behind the first, standing there with an assault rifle slung over his shoulder.
Yeah. That just doesn't bode well, you know? When you arrive at an exchange of illicit materials in the middle of nowhere and the other side is openly brandishing assault weaponry, you had really better have a helicopter with a minigun en route or you're pretty much screwed. Anyway, Danny gets out of the van, puts Kearns' satellite phone in a pocket and then gets the pistol out of the glove box.
Page 253, Line 6-15:
The pistol went snugly into Danny's belt in the back, not in the middle but closer to the right side; the long jacket hid it completely. "I'm getting ready for this whole thing to go to hell in a handbasket. If everything's fine you can say I told you so. But in the meantime, if I can make a suggestion, why don't you take the .38 out of your ankle holster and put it where you can get it if you need it."
Thankfully the older man was listening, and even if he wasn't quite convinced that there was going to be trouble he was at least open-minded enough to move his small revolver to the right-hand pocket of his bomber jacket.
Right, so, just to recap: the radio host is currently schooling the experienced FBI agent on firearms. Sounds totally plausible to me, how 'bout y'all? And as a side note, I'm fairly comfortable around firearms and have a good friend who regularly, and legally, carries a concealed pistol. And yet still the notion of Danny packing heat just scares the shit out of me.
Page 253, Line 16-17:
"I thought you said you didn't know much about guns," Kearns said.
"That's not what I said. I said I wasn't an expert."
And he means, in anything.
Page 253, Line 18-27:
Expert wasn't a term to be bandied about among Danny's gun-savvy friends. An expert might be someone who could call their shot from ten yeards and then, from a cold start, draw their pistol from concealment and put a bullet right where they said it would go, all in seven-tenths of a second or less. Molly Ross was one of those, and a few years back over one hot and memorable Tennessee summer, she'd taught him everything he knew. He'd been getting even more death threats than usual that year, and she'd wanted him to be safe. So, while he wasn't an expert, his draw was pretty fast- it was the part about hitting what he shot at that still left a lot of be desired. [emphasis original]
Oh my. Just wow. That paragraph has it all! Heroic fetishization of firearms, mention of yet another thing that Molly can supposedly do, and even a joke about how bad a shot Danny is. And ironically, it's a pretty crappy firearms instructor who focuses on getting the gun out over hitting what you freaking aim at. Speaking personally, I don't want a guy to draw fast if he can't hit what he means to hit- that's just terrifying.
But, terrifying or not, that's actually the end of the chapter. I would continue into the next chapter, but I don't have a ton of time this week, and the next chapter is (comparatively) long. So, come back next time when we talk to the terrorists and the shit does, indeed, hit the fan. And as a special treat, a named character is going to get shot.
And no, it won't be Elmer!
Labels: The Overton Window